Information Overload And The Quilt Show

This is my favorite quilt.

Yesterday my friend, Patti, and I went on our annual outing to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show. As always, the talent of these fiber artists overwhelmed me. I will include a few of my favorites in this post, and include a link where you can view the gallery of my favorites. Once I tell you the story of taking these pictures, you will enjoy them all the more.

This is for CaliKaral because it reminds me of her dogs.

Every year I go to this show, and every year I talk endlessly about the quilts. But I never seem to remember to take a camera to take pictures. I’ve always had my phone with me, but duh, it never occurred to me to take pictures with it at the show. And yes, I DO know how to take pictures with it. A digital camera? Not so much. I’ve told you all before that I am extremely technologically impaired. And I’ve told you that I never worry too much about it because Dirt Man always has me covered.

The detail in this one is amazing.

Every year, Patti graciously offers to drive because she knows about my interstate driving phobia, and she probably values her life too much to rest it in my hands! Anyway, I got my back pack ready. We decided to pack our lunches this year so we wouldn’t have to wait in the lines. Check. Lots of water, check. Cash, check. Drivers license (you know in case Patti’s driving sucks as bad as mine and my body needs to be ID’d), check. Debit card (in case I don’t have enough cash for my wants/needs/desires), check. Credit card (in case of an extremely expensive desire), check. Tylenol (because I’ve had a headache for two days), check. Cell phone, check. Digital camera, check. Note pad and pen (you never know!), check. All was in order and ready to go.

Looks real, doesn't it?

I decided to wear my TOMS instead of my good New Balance walking shoes. Made a great choice there. After four hours of walking, I didn’t have any back, leg, or feet pain which I usually do.

In preparation for this event, my son trained me in the use of his digital camera. I just get so confused with all those buttons and options. It is just information overload! Well, being a sweetie and knowing his mom is a dummy, he set the controls so that all I’d have to do is aim (see image in the viewer) and shoot (push the button). Simple right? Yeah, you’d think.

Can you believe this is a quilt and not a painting?

I must mention here that I took a picture at a vendor’s booth which every one was doing everywhere, and the woman nearly jumped down my throat. Actually, she wanted to LET ME KNOW that I needed to ask permission before doing that because some vendors would not be as nice. I offered to erase it, but she said it was fine, she was just letting me know so that someone else would not be angry at me. I was probably oversensitive as she continued explaining the etiquette of picture taking of vendors crafts and licenses and people copying them. I offered like four times to erase it, and she insisted I could keep it. It really didn’t matter because it was a deer that I wanted to show Dirt Man. It wasn’t something I was particularly crazy about.

Check out her hair!

Half way through the show, I ran out of memory. How the heck could I have gone through 2 GIGS? Well, I started deleting the not so important pics. The ones of Patti and I had to go. Heck, we can look at each other any time. Yep, the picture of the deer at the vendors booth got trashed. Every time I came to another quilt that I just had to have a picture of, I’d have to make a choice and delete a previous picture. I noticed that sometimes it beeped and sometimes it didn’t. I also noticed that the red Rec. light would come up, it hadn’t done that when my son showed me how to use it.

Well, I’m not intelligent enough to go back into the settings and figure it out because I didn’t want to mess it up. After all, I could look back and see each picture I took, and they looked pretty good.

Marbles. Check out the details of the mini quilts in this quilt.

When I got home, Dirt Man told me that there was absolutely no way I could have taken 2 GIGS. I tried to download the pictures from my card and my computer told me my card was empty. I knew that wasn’t possible because I could see the pictures on the camera. Either the camera or the computer just didn’t like me. Well, Dirt Man took over. Then, he had the nerve to demand why the heck I took all those videos instead of pictures. What the heck? I didn’t take any videos. Dang it, I took pictures! What I forgot to mention was that the night before Dirt Man insisted that he teach me how to take a video (which I counter insisted was no need as I had no intentions of doing so!) with the digital camera. So, Dirt Man had changed the setting and did NOT put it back to where my son had set it.

There were dragon flies etc. beneath the fungi on the trees.

So, I had taken 2 GIGs of video and not a single picture. I was po’d to say the least. I wanted to take my laptop and beat Dirt Man over the head with it because he knew he should never have tried to teach me something I wasn’t going to do, and he should have known I would never look at the settings. Heck, our son knew me well enough to set it for me to not have to do ANYTHING but click! Then he had the nerve to shift the blame on me for not checking the settings. Dirt Man was quickly becoming Dirt Bag in my book. Fortunately, he is extremely technologically savvy. He was able to go into my videos and capture the still images that I thought were snapshots. Thus the day and our marriage was saved!

Maybe this will be Dirt Man and I in a few years!

Here is link for a gallery I created of my favorite quilts. http://cid-190d6822c9b2db09.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/Quilting%20Show%20%5E5Public%5E6?view=thumbs&uc=3    Who am I kidding? You know darn well I didn’t create this album! Dirt Man did it for me.

At least, these are the pictures I was able to take until I ran out of memory. Enjoy!

Spreading The Love

 

I have been thinking a lot lately about how one “spreads the love” in bloggy land. People do it in different ways. The important thing is that we do it. It is such a wonderful feeling to have your voice validated by another writer, especially by one whom you have great respect and admiration.

This brings me to Nancy over at f8hasit. She was one of the first people to comment on my blog. She gave me my first blog award. I’d only been blogging for a couple of weeks. I was floored and had no idea what to do with it or how to respond. After I picked myself up, I sent her an email, but wasn’t sure if it was sent from my comments. Then, I commented below where she left the message on my blog, and wondered if she’d ever see it. So, then I scooted over to her blog and left a message. I wonder if she ever got the point that I was thankful?! Later Nancy named me as a “follower of note”. I had no idea how that worked…I just happened to see it when I was reading her post. What was the proper etiquette? Was I supposed to thank her, post it on my blog? My point here is that Nancy is one of those kind and compassionate souls who generously promotes other bloggers.

Nancy has received many blog awards that she greatly deserves. I think she deserves one that is made especially with her in mind. (For all I know, she may just have received those as well.) I decided that since Nancy spreads the love in so many ways to her fellow bloggy friends, that the perfect way to represent that would be a slice of bread with some sweetness (grape jelly!) spread across! Don’t you remember feeling the love when someone made one for you as a kid? I didn’t actually make this because I’m not that talented. I told Dirt Man what I wanted, and he did his magic for me!

So, I’d like to present the “Spread the Love” award to it’s first recipient, Nancy@f8hasit. The rule that I’m going to impose as that it is to be given to only ONE blogger at a time. The giver must state why they share the love and then tell how the person they are passing it to spreads the love.

Nancy is a truly gifted writer. She writes with integrity, honesty, passion, and a splash of humor. I aspire to be like her. If you don’t know Nancy, you’re really missing out. Go on over and get aquainted.

So, here’s to Nancy for spreading the love!

The Rattle Was Bigger Than His Bite!

My father had ALWAYS had a fascination with snakes, especially Rattlesnakes. He let most snakes go. But Timber Rattlesnakes, Eastern Cottonmouths, and Northern Copperheads were the ones that were doomed to death when their fate rested in his hands. Now, don’t be going and calling PETA. This was back in the day and way out in the boonies. Dead snakes (the larger the better) were carried around on the backs of men’s pick ups like trophies to be showed off to anyone they saw at the local general store or around town. Sorry, but it’s just the way it was. And if it was a rattler, the rattles were cut off and hung from the rearview mirror. No one would have dared to kill a nonpoisonous snake because they kept vermin under control. Poisonous snakes were killed because they were a threat to the children playing outside and the dogs and cats etc…

This particular event happened at my Big Mama’s house. Big Mama was my father’s mother. It was not uncommon to find a Rattlesnake (or a black or garden snake for that matter) in her yard. It was so common through the years, the relatives wondered if there was a Rattlesnake den under the house, but no one dared to go searching for one! All of the relatives met at Big Mama’s house every Sunday for dinner. This Sunday was no different from any other. The women were cooking, the men were shooting the breeze, and the kids were spread all over the two hundred plus acres getting into all sorts of mischief.

My cousin and I (we were probably about six years old at the time.)were searching for jack rocks in the red clay dirt road just in front of the house. We went to show off our treasures and as we rounded the huge cacti we saw a Rattlesnake coiled (meaning it was rattling and ready to strike!) at the base of the bush at the edge of the yard. We started screaming our fool heads off. My father came racing over and grabbed the snake. Yes, he picked the dang thing up with his hands. No, he didn’t throw rocks at it or hit it with a stick. He taunted the dang thing. I remember being mesmerized by the rich brown and the black diamond zig zag stripes running down it’s back. It was beautiful. I was scared to death because I also knew it could be deadly. I was afraid it was going to bite Daddy.

I ran up to the porch screaming for my mother. As she scooted out of the house, Big Mama pulled my cousin and I in and locked the screen door behind us. I guess it was her way of shielding us from what was happening. All of the grown ups were glued to the action outside and were covering our eyes with their hands so we couldn’t see what was going on. I kept pushing the hands away because if Daddy was bitten, I wanted to know it.

My mother yelled for Big Mama to give her a shot gun. In all her naïveté, she retrieved the gun, cracked the door enough to hand it to her, and relatched the screen. Now, how she thought my mother could actually hit the snake is beyond me. Then my aunt yelled, “Oh, my Lord, she’s going to kill HIM!”

I shoved the hand out of my face to see my mother aiming the gun at my father and words to this effect came out, “If you don’t put that blame snake down, he won’t be able to bite you because I’m going to shoot you!”.

“Well, I be drop dead! Well, da Lawd she gonna kill my son! Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, what have I done? Lawd how mercy on me!” Big Mama was wiping her hand across her forehead and wringing her apron with her other hand. I was torn between the spectacle my grandmother was putting on and the drama going on outside.

I watched my father take both hands and twist the snake right below the head. Then he reached in his right pocket and pulled out his pocket knife and sliced the head right off.

I have never heard so many sighs of relief at once. It was almost as if silence and chaos crashed for a single second in time.

My mother started crying and accused my dad of almost making her kill him…not that she was really going to she explained. She just thought that was the only way to get him to put the snake down. So, I guess she thought he’d put the snake down if he thought he was going to die at the hands of his wife?! Oh well, it worked. Of course, I had been crying originally thinking my Daddy was going to die from a snake bite and then my thoughts moving on to my mother killing him and going to jail thus leaving me parentless!

Daddy then laid his rattler on the ground for all to inspect. Everyone oohed and awed, and he became the infamous hero of the day. He placed him in a paper sack, and stopped to show it off to everyone we met on our way home. I swear it was still moving without it’s head. A labyrinth of blood absorbed into the paper and dried into a crimson memorial for the snake’s tomb. My knees grew weak and I shook every time Daddy yanked the snake from the sack. I put on a brave proud face until we got home and then I quietly cried into my pillow that night. I had nightmares about snakes for days.

I tried my best to keep a safe distance between myself and snakes from then on. I’ve only killed one Rattlesnake. And then only because it was about to strike at my cousin (same one) and I when we were teenagers. I dropped a huge rock on it and then she tossed another one on for good measure. We were afraid to lift the rocks to see if we’d killed him. We got my aunt to check out the damage for us.

 Now, I don’t want you to think I go around killing snakes ‘cuz I don’t. I have grown up with an intense fear of snakes. Any of them. I’ve been taught how to identify which are poisonous, but I try not to get close enough to know the difference! Being near them causes me extreme anxiety. I’ve gotten a little better but not enough to stop avoiding them because I just don’t trust them.

I think that the Timber Rattlesnake, Eastern Cottonmouth, and Northern Copperhead are the only three venomous snakes found in Virginia. And of course, all three were prevalent in the area where I grew up.

Am I Really Label-less?

I am not a materialistic person. I have not always been this way. Many years ago, I cut the ties of materialism and became the beater of my own drum. This is not to say that I don’t like or buy nice things because that is not true. But I know they are not necessary for my happiness. Sorry if I lost you there, let me explain.

When I was in middle school anyone who was anybody wore Levis jeans. I did not own a single pair. My mother refused to pay almost twenty dollars for a single pair of jeans when she could get me two pairs for that price at Kmart. Man, how I loathed Kmart! My older sister, Peg, knew the importance of fitting in. She bought me my first pair. I would wear them for three days straight. I know, disgusting. Then I’d wash them and repeat the process. I saved my money and eventually got a second pair. At some point, I finally convinced my mother to give in and buy me another pair. So, I guess maybe you could call it peer pressure that brought name brands to my attention.

Now Dirt Man was the opposite of me. He was a rebel. I remember when I first started dating him all of his shirts had a small tear in his upper left chest area. He had actually cut off the Izod alligators on all of his shirts. He did not want to be like everyone else! I was drawn to his individuality and self-confidence. Or maybe opposites attract!

Today, I still wear Levis but not for the reasons I wore them then. Now I buy them for comfort and quality. I wear other jeans as well, but they were not bought because of name brand, but because they made my big butt look just a teensy bit smaller in my mind.

When I shop, I do take price into consideration, but quality is more important. I enjoy a bargain, but if the quality is poor then I don’t consider it a good deal. I like things that are not only nice looking but durable. Point is if I like it, I will buy it regardless of the label.

I do buy certain name brand cars, appliances, clothing, and accessories. But not to be like other people. I buy them because the quality has proven to be good in past experiences. I’d much rather pay top dollar and have something last than to buy something cheap and have to turn around and replace it.

Now, I’m thinking that I do wear certain name brands, and I’m wondering if I have contradicted myself. I do not by any means limit myself to these brands nor bring attention to brand name items. Now, I don’t profess to know what constitutes middle class, but that’s what I consider myself to be. I am comfortable. I just checked my clothing labels on what I am wearing at this exact moment: Shirt – Dress Barn, Jacket – Cold Water Creek, Jeans – Gloria Vanderbilt, Panties – Warners, Bra – Maidenform, Socks – ah ha, no brand! Shoes – Keen. However, in my own defense none of these labels are visible. Does that still make me a Designer Label Slut? Really everything is made by some company, so they’re all branded. But I guess what I was talking about was the trendy-see-how-much-money-I-have-labels that are soooo obvious. I’m talking about showing off and throwing stuff in peoples faces like we did in middle and high school., but in the adult world.

I feel it’s a tremendous difference in buying quality products and wearing designer labels as a status symbol. You know the difference. And you can tell it the second you meet the person. Their attitude says it all. They’re like name droppers, but they bring reference to their labels. I know people like that. Heck, I’m related to them. They’ll ask me what brand it is ,and my response is usually that I don’t know that I bought it because I liked it. Then they’ll start pulling the collar of my blouse to see the label. Seriously, isn’t that just crazy?! And I really don’t notice what brands other people are wearing either. It’s just not important to me. In recognizing the symbols of company brands, I’m probably limited to Nike and Reebok. But I’m just weird like that. Please tell me I’m not the only one.

I think most of us shop in relative terms of our economic status. Most of us frequent places that we can afford. Most of us do not sacrifice our first born to buy a name brand purse or other luxury item of sorts. Most people who can afford designer labels do not show them off. So when I use the term “Designer Label Slut”, I am not referring to you. I am referring to people who go to great lengths to get their hands on items that are brands that they most likely can not afford, and then make sure everyone within range knows they are sporting said deisgner label. I’m talking about the people who in a normal conversation must bring up designer lables constantly. The make sure you know what they own and want to know all about your possessions.

Now, if I did not mention my love for Coach purses, I’d be a total hypocrite. Yes, I do splurge on purses, but I always have. That is one thing that must look nice, be functional, and be of excellent quality. This not to say I’ve always bought Coach. I’ve been through many brands (and nonbrand) of purses. Coach just fits all of my needs at this time in my life. Now, if I find another type of purse that fits my needs, whether or not it’s a designer label, I won’t hesitate to switch. There, I said it.  Apparently, I am not as unmaterialistic as I thought. This post is taking a twist I didn’t expect, but it’s ok because I’m all about telling the truth even if it comes back to bite me in the @$$!

I have to admit to you that I once bought Dirt Man a gorgeous tie. (Never looked at the brand.) We were teaching Sunday School to eighth graders at the time, and he happened to wear it to church. One of our students asked him if it was a Louis Vuitton. He looked dumbfounded and explained that I’d bought it. So, then she asked me. I actually had to flip the tie over to look. Yeah, I am that stupid. She told us that she could spot Louis Vuitton a mile away because he was her favorite designer. Maybe, I should have someone young and in the know with me when I shop. Or maybe sometimes my fashion sense is fashionable as well as sensible. But then again who knows what fashion faux pas Dirt Man and I are sporting!

Now, I am picky about name brands when it comes to food. Yeah, I am. It’s not to say that I won’t try a store brand. I will try it, but it must meet my expectations to be bought a second time. When Dirt Man and I were first married, we’d fight over which brands to buy at the grocery store. He’d want whatever his mom used to buy, and I’d want what mine used to buy. We’d take turns. Eventually, I won that battle since I am the one who does the majority of the cooking.

But there are some items neither of us will budge on. I must have Charmin toilet paper. Sorry, no cheap one-ply scraping across this bum. Heinz ketchup…don’t even suggest another brand. The mayo must be Kraft, and the mustard is French’s. Food is more than sustenance to me; it is comfort. I am a nurturer, and this is the one area I will not compromise.

And there are things I refuse to purchase. Such as I will never buy Colgate toothpaste. It’s like having my mouth host the Ice Capades juggling fire torches. It is that painful to me. Burns the living crap outa me. I will never buy “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” because it’s not butter. And I have to have the real stuff! Nor will you ever catch me buying fake Oreos. They have no place in my house!

And I guess by materialism I mean that I don’t shop just to have things. I shop when I need something. Most of the time anyway. I am still guilty of wants, but I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be. Does that make me superficial?

If I can find a clothing label that meets my expectations, I will reconsider becoming a Designer Label Slut! These are my requirements:

1. Enables me to buy a size smaller.

2. Makes me look 2 sizes smaller.

3. Is of good quality.

4. Fits my taste, looks good.

5. Doesn’t cost me an arm, leg, and both front teeth!

So, how about it, folks, how important are food and clothing labels to you in your every day life?

Life Lessons

I did not grow up in a wealthy family. I didn’t have a lot of the finer things other kids had, but I had enough. I didn’t grow up in a perfect family either. We had our share of personal problems, but we persevered. I strongly feel these “difficulties” shaped me into the person that I have become. I think that given the circumstances, my parents did the best they could at the time. I don’t fault them for anything. After all, the jury is still out on my own childrearing abilities. One day, my kids might turn around and tell me how I screwed up their lives ,or they might say I did well by them. Only time will tell. The most important things my parents gave to me are not things that one instantly sees. They are things that one sees when they get to know me. They gave me morals, ethics, and character through life lessons and examples. These are the ten most important things my folks passed on to me.

1. Have a sense of humor. Life is much easier and more fun if you learn to laugh at yourself and with others. My parents are funny, and my father quite sarcastic (yeah, I know the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!) Our family times always have been and still are filled with laughter. Most times, when you get both my parents and all six of their kids with their families together, it’s like one big circus. I must say my sense of humor has gotten me out of more than one jam and has certainly eased tension at times. Unfortunately, there are times that I am slow on the uptake and will get a joke much after the fact. It could be because I am also a bit naïve at times.

“A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable.” ~Billy Graham

2. Stand up for what you believe in. Even if you’re the only one. And even others think you’re wrong. That is a hard place to be, but when it feels right in your soul, it is the only place to be. I’ve often stood alone on principle, and I am a better person because of it.

“Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits.” ~Robert Brault

3. Honesty. Don’t be a liar, a cheat, or a thief. Success is not worth achieving if you have to lie, cheat, or steal to achieve it. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to be friends with or conduct business with someone I can’t trust. Trust is the foundation of all relationships. And my mother always told us that she would rather resort to begging if in need that to steal something that was not rightfully hers.

“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” ~Albert Einstein

4. Integrity. This also goes along with saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Be who you are. But above all be someone that you can look at in the mirror and still sleep well at night. Be someone you’d want to be friends with. My parents are well liked in their community, and I think it all comes down to character.

“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised“. ~Chinua Achebe

5. Love above all, even if it hurts. Because if you don’t love, you will never fully live life to it’s richest. Even from the most painful experiences of love, we learn something. Those love lessons shape who we become in life. Just think of the tapestry that love alone has woven in your life. I’ll bet it’s rich and colorful, and if there’s a tear here and there, I’ll bet it’s reinforced with a pretty patch that adds a unique sparkle.

“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.” ~ Mother Teresa

6. Hard work. Work for the things you want in life and don’t expect for them to be handed to you. Many things in life are privileges not rights. I was taught to not just work but to work to the best of my abilities. I remember getting so upset with my father for asking why I had a B instead of an A in a subject. I don’t think he ever got that I was just dumb in algebra. Basically, he wanted me to go out there and make things happen, not to wait for them to show up at my door.

“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” ~ Napoleon Hill

7. Responsibility. Do what is expected of you at the time it is expected. Be where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. Have good work ethics. Responsibility is twofold. I was taught to be a person who can be depended upon, as well as being accountable for my actions. If you make the wrong decision, be ready to face the consequences.

 ”Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” ~Johann van Goethe

8. Respect. Don’t look down on anyone else. Don’t ever think you are better than others. Never belittle anyone. Don’t try to make yourself look better at the expense of others. Treat others how you’d like them to treat you. Always be open to learning from those around you. Be courteous and show compassion to others.

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.” ~ Laurence Sterne

9. Be grateful and gracious. Be grateful for what you have; there are others who have less. Give thanks to those who give not only things but themselves to you. When you think you have nothing to give, there is always something even if nothing more than your time and talents, and there is always someone who can use your help.

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” ~Buddha

10. Be a class act. It’s simple, like love, respect, and honesty. Class can’t be bought. Real class is not determined by the clothes you wear or the car you drive. Real class is what you do with what’s in your heart, how you relate to your world and your people in it. It’s when you take your abilities and use them for the good of others, not expecting anything in return.

” Class is an aura of confidence that is being sure without being cocky. Class has nothing to do with money, Class never runs scared. It is self-discipline and self-knowledge. It‘s the sure footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life.” ~Ann Landers

Pouring On The Charm, Accent Included

small cycle

Many years ago, my family joined a church right down the street from us. It was a large Methodist (You know… Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors) congregation. It was what going home should feel like. We were instantly accepted by young and old alike. We were in our early thirties with young children. There were many other families just like ours. There were lots of older loving couples full of hugs just like grandparents. We just loved Sunday worship and all of the other weekly activities and events held there.

Now, you have to take in mind that while I am a compassionate person, I am also fun- loving. A sarcastic little twit if you must say it! One day I got a phone call. I did not have caller ID back then. On the other end of the line was an extremely drawn out Southern accent like a sweet little old man. Naturally, I thought it was my friend’s husband who was never beyond playing a prank on me. Being me, I turned on the Southern charm and sarcasm. Remember, I am from a small town in Virginia so I already have somewhat of an accent as it is. I continued this conversation with the most drawn out fake Southern accent you’ve ever heard in your life. It was so bad, I couldn’t even tell you what accent I was copying. Actually, I was imitating him! Now, I’ve never claimed to be a quick study! After about TWO minutes into the conversation, I realized this was not my friend. This REALLY was a sweet little old man with a Southern accent, and he was calling from my church! Instant panic…was I to continue the conversation with my fake accent or was I to fess up? NO, I didn’t fess up. I kept right up with my lovely slow charming Southern manner of speaking.

After, I hung up I realized that this might present a problem at church. So, what did I do? I did what any other self respecting charming Southern girl would’ve done. I poured on my lovely Southern charm and accent (hugs included!) every single time I spoke with this gentleman and his wife. After about a month, I relaxed the accent a little until I finally came back to my normal voice. Did he notice? Probably, but he much too much of a Southern gentleman to call me out on it.

So, now I have confessed, but please don’t make me go tell him. He would probably get quite a kick out of it. You know we Southerners have a great sense of humor to go along with our accents, don’t you?!

When You Give A Little, You Get A Lot

“If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.” ~Bob Hope

Charity begins at home. We’ve all heard that one. Isn’t it in the Bible? Or maybe it just should be. I like helping others, but if it’s monetary, I like it even better knowing that all of my money is helping someone rather than 80% going to some executive’s salary of the organization or to a bonus of the “fat cat” of the business. Know what I’m talking about? How many of you have really done your research on these companies to know exactly how much of your donation is actually going to the said cause in which you support? In all honesty, I haven’t done my research, so I don’t have the answers either. But in the last few years, I’ve gotten to the point that I like to see the faces of the people I help. Not necessarily a one on one connection. I just mean I like to support local ministries that I know the money is being invested on the needs of people in my community.

I have told you all about my elderly friend. I am becoming more and more aware of the plight of the elderly. Well, Saturday I woke up thinking that I really wanted to just have a stay at home pajama day. I was not going to get dressed; heck, I wasn’t even going to take a shower. I was going to read and write (and put off the taxes!) all day and into the night. As noon began to stare me down, “the voice” told me to stop being self centered and lazy, to just get up off my fat butt and call Chris to see if she needed anything. Bless her heart, she started crying when she found out it was me on the other end of the phone. She needed to do her laundry and was unable to go up and down the steps to go to the laundry. She didn’t want to call anyone and put them out. She had been crying out to God and praying that someone would help her.

Of course, I agreed to help her. I didn’t even grab a shower but just threw on my clothes and headed out. I first went to the store to pick up the few things she needed. Then, I went over to her apartment. I was going to take her laundry back to my house, but I could see she was really depressed, so I agreed to do her laundry on the premises of the apartment complex and spend the time while the clothes were washing and drying with Chris.

Have you ever considered how frustrating and depressing it must be to be physically unable to do the things you once did and have to ask for help and then depend on someone to do those things for you in their time? I can’t even begin to imagine. But I knew my friend needed me, and by golly, I was not going to let her down. We had a lovely afternoon of tea, talking, laughter, and even a couple of shots of Amaretto. I helped her do a few simple things like flipping her mattress and changing the sheets on her bed.

I wanted to clean Chris’ apartment for her, but we have a problem with that. The problem is that she won’t let me do it unless I agree to let her pay me for it, and I refuse to accept any money from her because I know that her income is fixed. She is currently paying almost $900 a month for rent. The management will put a washer and dryer in her apartment for about an additional $70, but it would only cost her about half of that to do it on the premises. So instead, I am going to pick up her laundry every week and do it at my house and return it to her the next day. I’m not quite sure how to get her to relent in allowing me to clean for her.

She was ever so grateful, but I knew she was still feeling down. So, Sunday I was going to have that pajama day that I had been wanting but while I was drinking my coffee, I had a great idea. I decided that I was going to surprise my friend. I thought her birthday was in May, but I wasn’t sure. She never tells her age and isn’t one to make a big deal over her birthday. I got a shower and then went shopping. I bought Chris a birthday cake, and flowers. I purchased her a pair of pants and a blouse and placed them in a gift bag with a card that read: Happy Birthday, Chris. We know this isn’t your REAL birthday, but want you to know that we love you every day as if it is your birthday! I tapped the secret knock on her door to let her know it was a friend or relative. Chris was surprised to see me at her door and down right shocked that I came bearing a birthday party. She said, “You are one crazy woman, but you have made my day!”. I even sang to her. We had cake and tea. She felt special, and I felt good for making her feel that way.

I have always been drawn to elderly people. I have always gone out of my way to try to help them. I honestly am not claiming to know the facts of what type of services that are offered to aid our senior citizens who don’t drive or have family member to do for them. But I imagine that if we really looked around there are probably many who are doing without or are lonely or just need a helping hand. So, I am challenging you to adopt an elderly person into your life. I’m not asking you to go spend your life savings on them. I’m asking you to donate a little of your time to a lonely senior. Call a grandparent if you have one. Go visit a nursing home. Ask your local church for suggestions of a senior that doesn’t have family nearby. There is so much you can offer with just time and a little energy. Trust me, the rewards are phenomenal . Not just for the senior. You’ll receive ten fold in your heart what you’ve put out! Now, go out there and make a difference.

Sunshine And All That Good Stuff

For goodness sakes, I wish the sun would shine. With the crazy weather here in Virginia, it looks like I must take matters into my own hands! No, I’m not a meteorologist and I don’t do rain dances, well at least not in public. So, instead of waiting for Mother Nature, I’m just going to give out a couple of awards I’ve been hanging on to.

The first one is the best blog award given to my by http://bnhwelch.blogspot.com/. Check her out. She is a down to earth thankful for her blessings kind of gal. You’ll love her for both her honesty and her humor. I think the only rule was to link back and pass on to ten other bloggers. There are so many great blogs out there, but these are the ten that I’m going to pass this on to:

1. What Passes For Sane On A Crazy Day

2. Vent

3. Ride My Mind

4. Motherese

5. Mostly Grocery

6. Sprite’s Keeper

7. Nine Kinds Of Crazy

8. Diary Of A Virgin Novelist

9. Headaches, Hotflashes, & Hormones

10. Still Breathing

The second award was bestowed to me by Jingle. Jingle has a great poetry blog. Jingle features a Thursday Poet Rally. There are a lot of talented participants…you need to check out Jingle. The rule on this award it to link back and pass it on to twelve other blogs. These are my twelve:

1. Unabridged Girl

2. Life’s Ups and Downs

3. Eternally Distracted

4. Square Peg In A Round Hole (This is my Sista!)

5. The Suburban Life

6. Making The Moments Count

7. Nathan Rising

8. Slam Dunks

9. The Mother Load

10. BiblioMama

11. Beyond The Diapers and Spills

12. Ivy League Insecurities

Ok…go spread some bloggy love and all that sunshine and goodness!

Are You Hearing Voices In Your Head Or Is That Your Cell Phone?

Mostly Grocery got me to thinking about this subject.

Are you a courteous cell phone user? I am.

I also do not talk on my cell phone while driving. That’s due to the fact that I don’t trust myself to be coordinated enough. Heck, I don’t even fumble with the radio, ipod, or CD’s.  Most people are perfectly able to carry on a phone converstion without being distracted from driving. I’m not one of those. In fact, if I’m am your driver, you’re better off not to even talk to me until we’ve stopped. Hey, I never claimed to be a great driver. But I am honest, so when I dish it, I don’t exclude myself!

If I must have a cell phone conversation while in public, I make it quick and to the point. I do not talk while I am in line to check out. That is plain rude and annoying to others. If my phone beeps, I don’t answer it. I return the call after I’ve left the store. This reminds me of the time I was walking through Dress Barn and an emegency siren sound went off. Dang, it sounded awfully close to me. When I got to the counter, everyone stared at me. I looked back and said, it’s not me. The cashier politely told me it was from my purse hanging from my shoulder. I could have died from embarrassment. My dear and loving Dirt Man (without my knowledge) had set my phone tone from home calls to an emergency signal. With a red face, I apologized and explained that my husband was a butt head, and I didn’t find it funny.

There is nothing more irritating than having someone trying to talk to you while conducting a phone conversation.

There are such people that talk or text nonstop. I’m talking about the one’s who are talking (often on a headset) while shopping. Like I or anyone else really cares to hear their conversations. And they are rude to their fellow shoppers, and don’t even stop talking long enough to answer the cashier or baggers questions. They flat out ignore them! Like they are better than the person trying to help them.

I realize that on occasion, one does receive or must make an important call even in the presence of others and it’s one that can’t wait. I am only referring to people who have the constant need to be validated by their cell phone connection.

I’m talking about the people who are trying to conduct business with you, but only nod because they are so caught up in their conversations. And I’m not only speaking of business phone interactions here, these are conversations about what cute dress someone bought, whose kid did what, and who got a promotion. Basically idle gossip…maybe fun but not newsworthy. When people used to do that to me, I felt unimportant to them. Now, I question if they are worthy of my undivided attention when they are requesting it. Generally, these same people would be horrified if someone did the same thing to them.

Don’t even get me started with people who receive or make calls during a movie, meeting, or even church! There are people out there who actually do this!

I have come to the conclusion, or ok, it’s just my opinion, that these are people who:

have jobs that can not conduct business without them,

are so super important that the world will stop rotation if they shut up for five seconds,

 must have constant reassurance of their worth from others,

OR

They are just plain butt heads.

Home Is Where The Heart Is, Literally

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned” ~ Maya Angelou

I wonder if that kind of a place truly exists in the physical sense. I mean for me.

I don’t know that I could go back to the town I grew up in and start over. That is a place I’d truly be judged. Not just in the town but in my family as well.

First of all, I am not the person at all that I was when I left. I’d like to think that I’ve grown and become a much better person. But small towns don’t like changes. Small towns can be suspicious. They can be accusatory as well. I remember hearing discussions among the adults when I was a kid about the choices people made that didn’t turn out well and were forced to move back in with their parents. I remember hearing about those who chose freely to come back and start businesses and their ethics were questioned.

I’ve listened to my family members questions the decision and motives of other family members. I’ve questioned them myself. I’ve listened to others be judged for their actions. I’ve judged others, and I’ve been judged. It may not be right, but it happens. And it happens in most (not all) families whether we want to admit it or not. That’s not to say that we’re not loved. But yes, love is conditional.

We are led to believe that the one place that we can always turn to be loved, accepted, and understood is home. Yes, I can turn there for love. And even acceptance. But actually understood, I’m not so sure.

I used to live to please others. But it came with a personal cost. I was being who I thought others wanted me to be. I was anxious, carefully teetering the line not to hurt anyone’s feelings. I did what was expected of me so that I fit in.

Now, I do what feels right to me. I don’t hurt others in the process, but I take care to nurture my soul. I have found my inner peace. When I feel this ache for home, I know I need go no farther than my heart.  When the anxiety is gone, my soul is comforted, and I can look at myself in the mirror and smile, I know that I am home.

Mama's Losin' Ithttp://www.mamakatslosinit.com/