Category Archives: Journey

Make Lemonade

basket of lemons

What’s that old saying? Something about about Make lemonade when life gives you lemons’? I think it goes something like that, however, I can certainly think of several variations of the original version. In my own particular life there are oh-so-many different ones that it’d either make me laugh or cry if I decided to sit down and make a list. Or perhaps I could plant my own mini-orchard outa the assortment of fruits and nuts that my so-called LIFE has tossed at me! I’ve learned, mostly from the time-tested ‘trial-and-error method‘, to make all kinds of things from these fruits and nuts: juices, smoothies, jams, jellies, dried fruits, preserves, muffins and other baked goodies, and nut butters!

Of course, that’s just speaking literally. Lessons and growth make my ‘wisdom‘ increase with each passing year. Remembering my teenage years, I thought that my 50-ish Grandparents were OLD, although absolute gems! I enjoyed spending time with them. The little ‘bursts of knowledge’ that our parents liked to cleverly dole out didn’t quite have the same impact as that of sitting on the porch with Gramma (Mama’s Mother) or fishing off the dock in the early summer mornings at the lake cabin with Grandpa (Daddy’s Dad). Even though both of these grandparents lived quite nearby, I was lucky enough to have them as an almost-daily ‘constant’ in more than half my life. Luckily, my 3 children also got to know their Great-Gramma too until they were young teens; they weren’t fortunate enough to have met their Great-Grandpa (my Grandpa) but surely they will someday.

Now I’m the one that’s 50-ish and I haven’t any grandbabies yet. I very often wonder, since I am now disabled and have only been worsening these past few years, if I will be able to pass on any of MY WISDOM to that next generation!!?!? Like many parents, I usually feel that what advice I offer to my darling children is tolerated, but I soooo long for grandbabies to teach. It seems that when the kiddies are at the ‘tween stage’ throughout the younger teen years is a good time for the grandparents to teach them. Often that is the time that the youngsters aren’t feeling ‘understood’ by their own folks so the grandparents’ house is a good place to visit! I wanna be that REFUGE! But, alas, I feel that by that time for me it will have been too late as my illness has taken control more and more of my mind (IF I’m still here).

When I homeschooled my children throughout Middle School and High School, I had a rule that we’d never start the day on a ‘bad note’ or unhappy in any way! I always always ALWAYS found a way to ‘turn around’ a situation, small or large; hence learning to problem-solve. This was important for me to teach my children and wasn’t necessarily something that they would’ve learned in the regular school system. I wish more schools would do this and I wish more parents would do this. Our children oughta be taught to MAKE LEMONADE whenever they’re given lemons long before they allow their small ‘mole hills’ to grow into mountains!

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Easter Loneliness

Easter Kids

 

I certainly didn’t anticipate having an overwhelming sense of loneliness on this Easter Sunday, but the day unfolded that way anyhow. The kids are all working today; the tourists don’t care if it’s a holiday or not so the theme parks are gonna be ‘business-as-usual’. My two oldest kids and my daughter-in-law work at the so-called ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ so I’m sure that they are making Magical Memories for folks from all over the globe, while my youngest son is in Pennsylvania showing whatever movies are popular on this particular weekend while his fiancee spends the day with her family. Today is the day that my Mama is meeting her very first Great-Grandbaby so I’m pretty sure that she’s having the most fun of all! One of my brothers is spending his evening at Medieval Times in Chicago. Seems an odd choice for Easter but today also happens to be his daughter’s birthday and that was her choice of entertainment this year! My other brother is undoubtedly spending time with his family.

Last night we had an early Easter dinner at our house, just the four of us that live here in central Forida: my daughter, my son and his wife, and myself. It was a pleasant evening. We enjoy ‘potluck dinners’, each of us bringing our usual favorites to share. My son has a birthday in a couple of days so we’ll go out somewhere to eat then. I enjoy both, being surrounded by my little family at the house with our favorite foods, and also getting to have the treat of going out someplace nice and letting somebody else do the cooking and serving and cleaning! I really miss my youngest son especially during these ‘family’ times though. The fun just never seems complete without ALL of them!

The photo that I’ve included is from an Easter Sunday when we were living in Ft. Walton Beach, FL and their dad was stationed at Hurlburt Field. The kiddies were ages 4, 5, and 7 at the time. It was fun getting them dressed up for church but they didn’t stay clean for very long! That’s probably one of the reasons that this is one of my favorite photos….because they’re all smiling at the same time plus they’ve not yet dirtied their clothes. I miss those days, even though I did 3-5 loads of laundry daily!

When I was young, Easter dinner was quite the big event. After church we would have a huge dinner at our house or Gramma’s or my Aunty’s (the three of them took turns each holiday) and would include my brothers and I plus my eight cousins. There’d always be an Easter egg hunt, which was usually won by my cousin Ronnie or my brother Alan. The feast was always delicious and plentiful and marvelous. That’s because my Mama and Gramma and Aunty have always been the World’s Best Cooks! Holidays in my childhood were fantastic and among the best of my memories. I’ve always tried to instill holiday traditions within my own little family but we’ve usually lived far from my kin and cozy hometown where I grew up so I’ve had to make our memories more ‘portable’, as we moved from Texas to Hawaii to Florida to Indiana and back to Florida, then to Georgia and now back to Florida again. My kids have had more than two dozen homes. I’d only had two until I left for college! I really miss having the large family get-togethers but am glad that I get to keep in contact with all of my cousins anyway.

My Easter loneliness is about to come to an end….all of this reminiscing has brought joy to my heart and a smile upon my face. Now it’s nearly time for my darling daughter to arrive home from work. On Sundays she drives the special Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom so I look forward to hearing what cute little ‘critter stories’ she has to share today!

Flower Delivery

protea & other tropicals

My 1st job as a college student in Hawaii was at a boutique-type flower shop making leis and flower deliveries in an upscale mall less than 2 miles from my dorm. It took me less than 15 minutes plus 2 quarters by The Bus to get there, or I could take a brisk walk and make it in half-an-hour. Usually I took The Bus (that is literally the name of the public bus system) because it was handy and extremely efficient. Anywhere on the island of Oahu could be reached by The Bus for 50-cents each way. Although I’d begged my Daddy for a car, when he visited me he went with me to all of the places that I would ever need or want to go to….then he declared that I did NOT need a car because The Bus was well-suited for anything that I’d need it for.

The flower shop owner was, at the time, the top designer in the entire state and was much in demand for weddings as well as office and resort floral displays. This kept him very busy jetting to the other islands, and he was only at the store during business hours a couple of times per week to check on bookings. Those of us working there basically answered the phones, helped the walk-in customers, and constantly made leis of every kind. The boss had several gigantic coolers of beautiful tropical floral displays that were ‘sold out’ daily. Somehow, as if by magic, the coolers were refilled with dozens of new ‘creations’ by the next morning. Our boss was amazing at creating unique designs….the prices were expensive but the guests did not complain.

Our boss also had another business, a limousine service. The fleet of limos only had Silver Cloud Rolls Royces! Part of my job was to make flower deliveries. IF the boss gave me a large delivery AND ALSO had me deliver it by limo, then I knew that the flowers were going to a V.I.P. The limo driver, of course, wasn’t telling me where we were going. Usually we didn’t get to actually meet any celebrities. If the deliveries were made to a luxury hotel, then the flowers and I only made it as far as the Concierge. If the flowers were going to an individual’s personal home, usually a mansion or mini-mansion, then a maid or butler would take the flowers and I’d get a decent tip. I could drive up and down the streets of Kahala and Black Point and Aina Haina; also around Diamond Head and all the way up the ‘Gold Coast’ and point out the homes of every celebrity if I’d wanted to. But usually that didn’t excite me anymore because, with the exception of Cher, most of them were not especially what I would call NICE.

Usually my boss didn’t take me along with him to help set up for weddings and I didn’t particularly enjoy it anyway because of a nasty motorcyle-riding has-been celebrity, whom I won’t name, that made it not at all fun. Besides, I never did like those quickie Hawaiian weddings that folks do on the spur-of-the-moment because it’s not the way I was raised (to honor and sanctify marriage). Naturally, this was a huge money-maker for my boss tho! One of my favorite set-ups, however, was at Christmas. There were dozens of large banks and other office buildings that hired us to totally transform their lobbies into a Christmas wonderland, and it had to be done overnight so that their employees would come in the next day to see the ‘magic’ that had taken place. That was so much fun! My favorite was the 3-story Christmas tree that we erected totally out of red poinsettia plants. It was awesome. Lotsa folks don’t realize that most of the potted poinsettia plants that we buy at Christmastime on the mainland come from flower farms on the Big Island of Hawaii. My boss had a couple of plane-loads of plants for making these trees. The ingenuity and the work that went into making this happen was great to be a part of!

My best memory of my short stint working in the flower delivery business was the time when I had to deliver the biggest bouquet of daisies and roses that I’d ever seen. It’d seemed unusual that there weren’t any tropical flowers in the arrangement but this was an Anniversary bouquet for an older couple and supposedly was ‘their usual’ except that every year the bouquet would get larger. The bouquet was soooo big that my boss’ wife was assisting me in delivering it because I couldn’t handle it alone! So we got into 1 of the large Silver Clouds and the driver headed into Kahala. I asked where we were delivering and the boss’ wife and the driver just smiled. I knew then that it’d be yet another celebrity. We pulled into a circular driveway and started to the door with the bouquet. I wondered if it’d be a maid or a butler that answered, as usual. I was surprised when the door opened….I stood there speechless, mouthing words that wouldn’t come out! The older gentleman smiled that familiar-but-devious smile and said “Yes, I am Vincent Price. Do come in.” He laughed THAT laugh as we sat the lovely bouquet on the antique table in his round foyer. He was nicer than any of the other celebrities I’d met while in Hawaii, thus far, and he gave me a $50 tip!

Punch Scars

Parr schoolhouse

 

My dearest & oldest friend is visiting from Indiana! We were enjoying supper the other night at ‘Bahama Breeze’ restaurant and I mentioned to her that in a couple of years we will have been the closest of friends for 50 years! That’s half-a-century of  ‘secrets’, chattering and silliness, crying on her shoulder, rejoicing in each other’s accomplishments, heartbreak over our precious Daddys’ deaths, long phone conversations, exchanging our gorgeous children’s photos, numerous cards and letters, and visits whenever possible. I sang at her wedding and she was my Matron-of-Honor. I told her that she was actually my VERY FIRST friend that’s a girl….I think she was surprised at that. But I grew up in a teeny tiny town with approximately 40 homes plus a little white country church and a Grain Elevator; there just weren’t girls in my particular age group. So I grew up with my brothers and the boys in the town. I showed her the scars that still remain on my knuckles from punching other kids!

I adored my hometown. We lived on one end, Gramma lived 2 houses away. There was one intersection and that was where the Post Office used to sit; at the time it was literally ‘The World’s Smallest Post Office’ but now rests at the Jasper County Fairgrounds for all to see as a historical treasure. Grandpa lived next to the Post Office. Turn to the right at that intersection and at the other end of town was the Grain Elevator that the family owned and Daddy managed. The town also had a school for grades 1, 2, and 3. The photo above shows the version of it’s remains.

Kindergarten was optional when I was 5 and would’ve meant a long ride on the schoolbus into a bigger town so my Mama taught me what I needed to know before entering 1st grade. Besides, she knew the 1st grade teacher very well because Mama had been Mrs. McColly’s student in 1st and 2nd grades! The 2nd grade teacher that I’d have would be Mrs. Switzer, a sister of Mrs. McColly, and Mama had been her student in 3rd and 4th grades. I was rather excited to go to school, although I felt that it was unfair that I wasn’t allowed to ride my bike….there were only 6 homes between our house and the school, and one of them was my Gramma’s!

My 1st day of school was not at all fun as I had hoped it’d be. Right away my Mama got called to come and get me because I wasn’t properly attired. We didn’t realize that I was supposed to wear a dress so I had to go home and change my clothes! The only dresses that I owned were my frilly Sunday School dresses and they were uncomfortable and not at all appropriate for classroom. We did not realize this and had not bought the right ‘school clothes’. My parents weren’t too happy about this miscommunication but I had to wear Sunday School dresses for a week until Mama could get ‘to town’ and buy a couple of outfits. She also ordered several outfits from the Sears Roebuck and JCPenneys catalogs after I got an idea of what the other little girls were wearing. Thus started my dismay at NOT liking fashion! (this has NEVER changed) So right away I didn’t like the other little girls and they laughed at me since I was wearing fancy clothes meant for church.

Recess was another eye-opener! Separation! I couldn’t wait to finally play with my friends but immediately was told by the teacher that the girls play on one side of the playground while the boys play on the other….the next day the sides would be switched to make it ‘fair’. What was fair about that? I sat on a swing and watched the boys, my constant companions and only friends in the world, playing on the monkey bars without me. My anger seethed inside of me. The next day the teacher urged me to play with girls but I knew none of them, they’d ALL been brought to my little town by a schoolbus from out in the country somewhere and were total strangers to me. I had no interest in them whatsoever so I climbed up into the big tree in front of the schoolyard….and decided to stay put! No coaxing by the Principal was getting me down. Next thing I knew, here came my Daddy. They’d called him at work so he had to come from the Grain Elevator to the school. He stood at the bottom of the tree and looked up at me and I knew that I was in trouble! I could hear children chanting for him to paddle me. But my dear Daddy climbed up into that tree and sat beside me without saying a word. After several long moments he looked at me and I got onto his back, feeling safe at last, and he took me home for the rest of the day. He wasn’t going to holler at me in front of others, that wasn’t his way. Our ‘discussion’ was later.

After a couple of lonely days on the playground, I started to try to get the other little girls to play with me but they wouldn’t include me. So instead I started punching them in the mouth. Some of their teeth dared to make my knuckles bleed! That’s why I have these PUNCH SCARS….they are my reminders of when I was a bratty little 1st-grader who wouldn’t make friends! I did not wanna conform to the system and play with only the girls. I am so glad that my own children, 3 decades later, didn’t have to endure these kind of ridiculous limitations! Oh, and as for my very first girl friend….I didn’t meet her until 4th grade when I started riding the schoolbus to the next town. She was my first real friend and has been my longest and best friendship!

Leftover Oomph

Jill's pool

 

I reckon I still have a little bit of OOMPH left in me….the kids & I were in the pool, didn’t even wanna get out when it started raining BUT when thunderclaps started sounding, we were being cautious. Then when it started lightning, those kids were surprised at HOW FAST THIS OLD MAMA did the backstroke to get outa that pool!!! HA! They didn’t think that I really still knew how to swim….I showed them!

I live with my darling daughter now because I probably ought not be living on my own any longer. Having been Diagnosed with Extreme Vertigo/Imbalance/Severe Dizziness a few years ago has been a rather odd illness to have acquired and one that is somewhat perplexing. Most folks don’t quite understand the depths (by the way, I also haven’t any ‘depth perception’) of this illness so I get some strange looks and raised eyebrows when I tell folks what my ‘handicap’ is. Most people doubt that this is even a true illness. Believe me, I certainly am the 1st to wish that it weren’t! I’ve had to make total adjustments in many areas of my life, including re-learning how to do several things in a totally new way. Add to that the other maladies that have gone wrong in the past couple of years: diabetes, osteoarthritis in both knees, rheumatoid arthritis in a shoulder, tinnitus, sleep apnea, and the latest is the horrid diabetic neuropathy in both hands and feet. All of this has occurred within a few short years so I’ve had to do lotsa research and make adjustments quickly.

Physical Therapy was getting rather expensive so 2 years ago my daughter decided that it was time to quit renting and buy a house! Her credit was excellent but her patience was not….so the realtors and I spent a few months looking at dozens and dozens of homes before presenting her with several to check out. It took many disappointments until we found just the right one because my daughter is just as ‘picky’ as I am, but luckily we had a great husband-and-wife realty team that got to know all of our idiosyncrasies and only showed us properties that they were sure were a ‘good fit’. My precious daughter’s top priority was to have a pool because she wanted to make sure that I could do my physical therapy at home, thus eliminating the thrice-weekly expensive health club visits (she’d attended half of these and was confident that she could assist me adequately). I had serious doubts about finding an in-ground pool in her price range; after all, she’s a full-time theme-park Castmember plus a college student….but we found a house that she loves because of it’s quirkiness AND it’s less than a block to the college!

The only time that I can do ANY type of exercise is while in the pool. I am most comfortable in the water. I cannot do running or jogging or walking or stairs or jumping or anything in which I’m in an upright position; even so I’ve gotta be holding onto something with both hands. This is because of the dizziness; it becomes magnified much more if I would even try. Not only do I become more unbalanced, but I also experience these weird ‘tinglies‘ in my head that feel like teeny insects crawling underneath the skin along the sides and top of my head. However, in the water I FEEL FREE!!! Sure, I’m still dizzy but it doesn’t matter because if I am falling that’s okay because I’ll be floating. I never ever end up in the same spot of the pool that I started out doing my exercises because my dizziness makes me lose track of where exactly I am, but at least I’m able to do them! I sooooo enjoy this feeling of being able to exercise and swim; I’ve always been a good swimmer so it boosts my confidence a bit and just gives me a feeling of well-being! When any of my kids are with me (they insist upon my not swimming alone, naturally!), I am always the one begging to stay in the pool longer….just as they did when they were little kiddies! Second childhood, perhaps? Well, if it involves anything that’ll give me a bit of EXTRA OOMPH….I say to BRING IT ON!

Yellow Hair

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My oldest son was going to be the only one enrolling in school when we moved to the island of Oahu while their father was getting an assignment in an extremely remote location upon the Arctic Circle. We’d been stationed at Randolph AFB in San Antonio and my husband came home with the news one day that our time would be ending in Texas and that he’d be living the next 14 months in a place so cold that there weren’t even any trees! His next assignment after that wasn’t yet determined so we had to make a decision where the kiddies and I would be living. The Air Force gave us 2 choices: stay in San Antonio or move back to ‘where I came from’, with all moving expenses paid by the Air Force. I was then thrown-for-a-loop when my hubby grinned and informed me that the Air Force had ME listed as being a resident of the state of Hawaii! Oh My Goodness! I had never changed my residency out of the state of Hawaii since college, and apparently as a military spouse I never did have to renew my driver’s license….so I now had to make a choice of moving my 3 kids and myself to Hawaii or staying in San Antonio! I supposedly had until the end of the week to decide. REALLY? I decided instantaneously! We were moving to Hawaii with the move being paid for, even my car and my baby grand piano too; and also quite a hefty cost-of-living allowance increase, WOOHOO!

Hubby took us on the long flight to Honolulu. I’m so glad that we were given the ‘bulkhead’ seats because that gave us extra room. Back then, in the 80s, those seats were not necessarily reserved for particular passengers. I do feel sorry for the other folks on that plane. The stewardesses knew the kids’ names plus brought them extra treats and spent much more time on them than anybody else flying with us that day. My children have always been extremely well-behaved, but we must’ve made 3 dozen trips up and down the aisles to the bathrooms. They were sooo young and fidgeted and wanted to sing and be read to, etc. I’m just thrilled that they didn’t cry or scream like we heard some other children doing. I was embarrassed for those parents! Mine were ages 1, 2, & 4 when we flew from San Antonio to Honolulu. We were even allowed to disembark the plane 1st, along with the other family with kids, and I could swear that I heard cheering when we all got off that airplane!

After settling into our rental home, we enrolled Jerry in the preschool program at Pearl City Elementary. He needed to continue in Speech Therapy and that was a school that’d been on our list that supposedly had excellent teachers. I just wasn’t prepared that in Hawaii the preschool was going to be an all-day program! I didn’t know if I could handle having my 4&1/2-year-old away from me ALL DAY, 5 days per week! (in Texas it’d been 3 half-days) But the program was 1/2-day in preschool and 1/2-day in speech class. His 2 teachers, Miss Maile and Miss Glenda, were wonderful! He took a liking to them from the very beginning.

My biggest worry for my son was ‘culture shock’. When I’d gone to college at Chaminade College (now University) in Honolulu a few years before, I’d chosen to go there because it WAS so very far away from my tiny hometown in northern Indiana. I was from farm-country moving to a big international city and I wanted to see what folks were like elsewhere. I wanted to explore customs and cultures and religions. But Jerry was just such a little boy and had only lived in Indiana and Texas. He spoke English and was only used to hearing 2 languages spoken regularly: English and Spanish. Here in Hawaii there’s a myriad of languages heard, plus ‘pidgin’ is not at all like the English that he was used to. He also was accustomed to seeing people of only 3 nationalities in Texas….in Hawaii my children would hopefully be making friends with dozens of nationalities plus mixtures of those races, just as I had when I’d moved to Honolulu not-so-long-ago.That was certainly my dream, anyway!

During his 1st day of school, this Mama sat at home nervously wondering how his day was going and what he was doing. I fretted and fretted. I wondered if he was being accepted. I hoped he wasn’t crying or fighting or pouting. I made sure the phone was working about 15 times also, somewhat expecting the principal to call to inform me that I’d have to come and get him….I had at least a dozen scenarios imagined in my overworked mind! Finally it was time for us to go and pick him up at his new school. So into the carseats went the other 2 kids and away we drove. I’d been praying and praying all day for my son. We sat by the school sidewalk waiting for him. I was so very worried that he’d come running to the car with a black eye or bandaged knees or something. Instead, here comes Jerry surrounded by 7 lovely little Polynesian and Japanese and Hawaiian girls. He points at us and waves goodbye to them. When he gets into the car, I resist the urge to hug and kiss on him because I definitely don’t wanna embarrass him in front of the little girls! So as we drive away, I ask him if he likes his new school. He replied, “Yep. I’m the only one with Yellow Hair!” And THAT was THAT!

Slow Motion

ImageThis morning I forgot to take my 6 a.m. meds that control my dizziness. I awoke at noon with my head spinning so much that the task of merely getting out of the bed and grasping the walker to go into the bathroom seemed as if it were a monumental undertaking, one that I’d not had to do for many months. But for some reason this morning I must’ve slept through the alarm that was supposed to alert me to take that medication, the first of 10 that I take daily. I’d also missed my 9:00 med plus my allergy pill. I get so frustrated with/at myself whenever this happens but usually it’s only a single pill that gets taken an hour or two late. Luckily my daughter is home today, it’s her day off from work and she’ll be studying for tonight’s class and an exam in another class later this week. So I’m happy to know that someone is at home as I clumsily wheel myself down the hall, banging my walker a couple of times on doorframes, into the kitchen to pour a glass of juice. Knowing that this is going to be a rough day because of my lack of early meds, I warn my daughter as I go back into my bedroom. It’s going to take several hours for the dizziness and vertigo to subside for today so I know from past experience that all I can do is to just take it easy.

‘One of those days’ is what I keep thinking to myself and I just wanna sit here and cry but know that’s not at all what I need to do. I notice a couple of CDs that my daughter had borrowed for me from the library. So I plug in Hank, Jr. and decide to play computer games. But I’m still tooooo dizzy for the games so I figured that it’d be a good time to go through my box of photos…. the photographs that hadn’t made it into any of my albums. It’s always enjoyable reminiscing but not so fun when realizing that the memories are not coming back as swiftly as they used to.

The most pleasant recollections are those when my children were young and also the years that I spent in Hawaii. Still dizzy, I propped myself upon the bed using all of my pillows and my largest stuffed Eeyore to support my back. (I have a LOT of Eeyores!) My dizziness, along with the photos, were carrying my mind to a more pleasant time period. I recalled day after day after day spent at various beaches. I could imagine that my life was in slow-motion and that I was still in that moment. I smiled upon hearing my children’s laughter while chasing the birds and building sandcastles or taking turns partially burying each other in the sand! EVERY time we were at a beach in Hawaii, I’d have some nice and polite Asian tourists asking permission to take pictures of my blonde and redheaded blue-eyed kids. I always got a kick outa that….when I was a teenager and my family came for the first time to Hawaii, it was the American ‘mainlanders’ that wanted to take photos of the Polynesian and Asian folks that inhabited those beautiful isles. Now they wanted to take photos of my keiki (Hawaiian for ‘child’)! Imagine that! So all over another continent there’s also pictures of my kids in somebody’s photo albums….I wonder what the captions say?

3 hours have gone by and I’m really REALLY wishing that I still lived on or near a Hawaiian beach! Florida beaches, especially the Gulf beaches, are a close 2nd and are much more affordable so that’s why I stay here for now. Besides, I have the world’s best Neurologist (in my opinion) and I don’t wanna leave him! He understands  my condition and I trust him….it’s amazing to fully trust any doctors nowadays, and mine is a gem. He’s actually a Neurotologist; he was an Otolaryngologist before specializing further in Neurology so he is an expert in balance and vertigo. I’m very lucky to be here in central Florida….‘right place, right time’, & I’ll add ‘right doc’! These times of having this feeling of being in Slow Motion is kinda par-for-the-course for my illness; that doesn’t mean that I have to like it though, eh? It’s just that I’ll have ‘an episode’ sometimes and have constantly been learning of ways to cope. I just wish I didn’t feel so sorry for myself each time! I reckon that’s another thing for me to work on….ah! Another little goal!

Hibiscus Shadow

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I’m growing several pots of herbs upon my kitchen windowsill. Outside the window, every afternoon I get to watch a Sandhill Crane family feeding. They never notice me because I’m hidden behind the cover of 5 beautiful hibiscus bushes that are now taller than I. One bush doesn’t like to bloom, one bush provides up to 9 blooms daily, and the others give me from 4 to 7 blooms each and every day. When my daughter bought this house more than a year ago, we were excited to see how many different colors of hibiscus we’d be getting. Alas though, all of these are a bright pink, but they are all splendid double-blossoms! We also have a red hibiscus in the backyard.

I didn’t expect to get this much joy out of watching the crane couple and their baby. They come each day at the same time, about 15 to 20 minutes after the nearby Middle School has let forth it’s stream of students and those students have all made their way to their homes. Then a few moments later I hear them coming….their call almost sounds like the velociraptors from the ‘Jurassic Park’ movies but not as loud (or definitely not scary!) as they arrive to feed in our side yard from whatever has dropped from the trees. I peer through the window and through the bushes and watch them.

I have fun plucking a hibiscus and sticking it over & behind my ear like I used to do almost every day while living in Hawaii. As a student at Chaminade University in Honolulu, I lived in the dorm. The college is on the side of a mountain….most of my classes were on the 1st ‘level’, a few were on the 2nd ‘level’, and my dorm was quite a bit higher up the mountain. We had the most amazing vistas from Diamond Head to Waikiki, to all of Honolulu and Ala Moana Beach Park, to Pearl Harbor. God gave us the most spectacular sunsets every evening, which brought all the students out onto the lanais just to take a pause and watch the majesty of the best show of all! Amazing! It was so serene and well worth taking a break for! Anyway, coming up that mountain was extremely tiring and always left me breathless (and not the good kind). But in the mornings when I was hurrying to that 7 a.m. class, I’d be rushing (not a good idea in slippahs!) down that mountain via a well-worn ‘shortcut’ instead of the road….at the end of the trail I’d say a quick HELLO to the statue of Fr. Chaminade, then grab a hibiscus and enter the classroom! I usually was in my seat just as the Professor entered. What a life!

I was Hoosier-born and raised. I know that when this baby crane gets bigger, and he/she will do so at an amazingly fast rate, and when the weather up in the northern states warms enough for this year….then ‘my’ little Sandhill Crane family will be flying northward for the summer. My Indiana kin and friends always are happy to see the cranes return, as are we here in Florida. It’s something we share!

I look out my kitchen window and notice that the baby crane must be approximately a ‘teenager’ about now. Right now I’m living in central Florida. They’ll be going north soon, maybe even to Indiana! My gorgeous hibiscus flowers make me long for the Hawaii that I dearly miss! And it looks like it’s time to re-plant those herbs into the outside garden now.

Car Spider

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We’ve had a little puffy spider sticker stuck on the upper left corner of the rearview mirror throughout the past several cars. It’s been moved whenever we change cars. He’s a cute little fella perched upon what was once a lavender spiderweb. It probably used to be a darker purple but over the years has faded and isn’t even very attractive anymore but we keep him nonetheless. After all, I’m thinking that he must be our ‘lucky spider’ or something! Here’s why:

When I was left alone to raise 3 young kiddies that were ages 5, 6, & 8….we had a Dodge Aries that’d been selected by my USAF Officer husband. ANY and ALL vehicles I’d ever driven had been chosen by either my husband or by my Daddy before that. I’d never gotten to decide. When our divorce was finalized a few years later, I got a car that I finally chose!! I was in my 30’s and finally selecting my own car; YIPPEE!!! By this time the kids were in elementary school back in my small cozy hometown in Indiana. It started out that I kept having difficulty finding the button on the dashboard for the rear-window-defogger so 1 of my intelligent young’uns came up with the idea of placing a puffy frog sticker over that button so that I could easily find it in the dark without having to stop the car in order to do so. Since my children were young and creative, they had plenty of ideas to be ‘helpful’! These ideas (mostly stickers) wouldn’t have been allowed in the car if it’d been owned by their staunchy Air Force Captain father! The Spider was small and went on the upper mirror while other stickers went onto a few of the other dashboard buttons. This was such a fun project for the kiddies….all the while I was having to memorize which sticker (shape and feel) was covering which button. I sometimes think that my precious children were SOOOO helpful that they nearly forgot that I was not a blind person that was driving the car! What fun they had!

As the kids grew….through a Taurus, my Daddy’s prized old El Camino, 2 Cadillacs, a Saturn, a Toyota, and now a tiny Kia Spectra….only the spider is left on the mirror while the frog is on the button of the hazard lights (for some reason my daughter was having trouble finding that triangle….OR WAS SHE? hmmmm?).

Fast-forward a couple of decades. My oldest son is 31; he and his wife have an Explorer. I no longer drive due to neurological issues….I still CAN drive and I still HAVE a license but it’s just
probably not a good idea anymore. My daughter is 29 and she has the little Kia with the stickers and the revered froggy has broken apart. My baby boy is 28. He was driving a Hybrid vehicle until 3 weeks ago when he and I had a beach day but unfortunately totalled that car returning home. (THANKFULLY we only had bruises and sprains.) The end result is that he’s now getting the older uglier Kia because she’s going to get a small SUV as a trade-off.

Yesterday my son’s fiancee and I were cleaning the dashboard, preparing the car for their journey northward. I sadly removed the broken bits of the frog sticker. Then I reached up to start to peel off the spider sticker….I was surprised by a curt, emphatic, loud “NO!” from my son. His fiancee had a puzzled expression on her face as we told her the story of ‘our lucky spider’.

I reckon throughout all these years I’d taken for granted something as small as that teeny-tiny, or should I say ‘itsy-bitsy’ spider? It’s always been there and even though I’d not really forgotten about it….I suppose I’m so used to it being there that I didn’t realize that this small token of my children’s childhood had become such a fond memory and I am very glad of that! Come to think of it, the Hybrid car that we just crashed 3 weeks ago didn’t have a ‘lucky spider’! Oh my! My daughter is going to take possession of her Ford Escape in a couple of days….I’m thinking that I’d better go and buy a spider sticker for her rearview mirror right away!

 

Pearl’s Pearls

ImageMy Gramma Pearl went to heaven 10 years ago on Easter Sunday. Gramma lived next door to us, with just an acre of corn between us, in our tiny town as we were growing up. She most definitely was the “World’s Best Gramma” to my brothers & I plus a wonderful Great-Gramma to my kiddies. I have a feeling that my dozens and dozens of cousins would readily agree!

Gramma was our babysitter while our parents took their many vacations & would let us ‘get away with’ things that out folks never knew about! It was wonderful having her closeby so that she could be our confidante, referee when we quarreled with our folks, baker of numerous goodies, & she made sure we grew up in church. Big family get-togethers meant a lot to Gramma & really instilled a sense of FAMILY in us & I’m sooooo thankful for her. She liked telling people that she got 15 grandkids out of only 3 kids….but my favorite was the delightful twinkle she’d get in her eyes when somebody would ask her how many great-grandbabies she had because she’d say she wasn’t sure but that she knew it’s a LOT! (she honestly didn’t know!) She enjoyed telling others that she’d obeyed the Lord’s command to “be fruitful”! Seriously tho, it gave her tremendous pleasure to know that she will live on through (or dare I say ‘vicariously’?) her many offspring. She told me this numerous times; she loved us so much!

I got the strand of pearls for my Gramma that she wears in this photo. Many, many times I’ve enjoyed living in Hawaii and/or vacationing in these awe-inspiring islands of paradise. This particular time, my family was returning (once again) from a 14-month tour-of-duty in Hawaii & we managed to time it so that we could attend her 75th birthday celebration. I’d asked Gramma what gift she’d like from Hawaii this time (after soooo many visits, she had all the usual gifts that tourists bring to their loved ones back home!) Anyway, the subject of pearl earrings came up & Gramma mentioned that she’d have nothing to wear them with….upon further conversation I learned that my precious Grandmother was almost 75-years old & nobody had EVER given her a pearl…..AND HER NAME IS PEARL!!!! Oh My Goodness! I made up my mind that above all other gifts that I’d be bringing all my kinfolk this time, my Gramma was getting the best gift above all others. I would make sure that I found the prettiest pearl that I thought she’d adore since I adored her. It took me 2 months of searching (and saving money!) before I decided that I’d splurge and buy her a lovely strand of pearls because I knew that she’d wear them with pride. So that was my special gift that year, & she did wear them many, many times. Of course, I think she told anybody that’d listen about those pearls that her granddaughter brought to her from Hawaii!

After Gramma died, I got the pearls back. Now I proudly wear them every Easter in remembrance of the anniversary of her leaving us to go to live with our Lord, and also on every Mother’s Day, & on her every birthday! I love & miss my Gramma Pearl Jane Princie Bell Gross Spicer Zimmerman Nicoson! I was so very honored & privileged to have her as a constant part of almost 1/2-a-century of my life!