Golden Years, Where are you?

Nope! I haven’t been writing. Haven’t been walking. Haven’t been sipping champagne and loving the golden years. To be honest, the golden years is a highly over-rated, over-used, big fat lie!

Take a giant step into my world and you’ll see what I mean . . .

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Hubby and I decided to take up our nasty, thirtysomething carpet and install vinyl plank flooring. Just the two of us. Throughout the entire house. Piece of cake!

But first, we had to move furniture . . .

Then take up the carpet and the padding and staples and nails and carpet strips. Those carpet strips were almost as stubborn as me (I know it’s “I” but “me” sounds better).

Then we saw the horror Bella and Pepper caused. I still get angry thinking about it. Owning pets is not the easiest job in the world. Along with their cuteness comes a truckload of bad-mannered behavior and destruction. Rascal never behaved like these two wannabe queens of the house!

Thankfully, Kilz came to the rescue. Of course, it didn’t jump out of the can and spread itself all over the floor. And hubby got wore out watching me do it. Poor baby. I think he needs a nap.

We’re on day five. Am I frustrated? Have I cried a river of tears? Am I ready to leave the country? Oh, yeah! But, wait! There’s more . . .

Two days into this Mt. Everest project, hubby had an oncology appointment at the VA.  Things are looking good. So far, he is still cancer-free for the second time around.

But . . .

On the way to picking up hubby’s uncle and aunt for a day of fun, a woman ran the red light and plowed into us. No one was hurt, thankfully. The surveillance video and police report were on our side confirming that she ran the light in spite of what she told her insurance agent. Seeing is believing, except for those wearing blindfolds of denial.

So. How did you enjoy your little visit to my world? Would you like to come back and help us install the rest of the flooring?

No?

I don’t blame you!

 

 

My Four-legged Migraines

I love my dogs.

I really do.

But . . .

They dig holes in the yard, chew my pillows, pencils and pens and everything in between. They pee and poop on the floor. Run around the house like a couple of chimpanzees, and now this! A whole loaf of bread gone!

Just like that!

I’m going to the dog pound, lock myself in a cage, and pray some nice family will come along and adopt me!

We never owned two dogs at one time before. We never owned females before, either.

Double trouble!

Bella, our greyhound mix was finally potty trained after six months. We’ve had Pepper, our dachshund lab mix for nearly two years and she still squats whenever and wherever she pleases. Our carpet is a roadmap of pee stains throughout the entire house.

Pepper’s a little scavenger, too, jumping on the kitchen counters and dining room table looking for something to get into. I think Bella puts her up to it, though.

One day, Pepper dragged a jalapeno pepper under the dining room table. Needless to say, it was still intact.

Just yesterday, she snatched a slice of bread off the counter. Luckily there was one slice left to complete my grilled cheese sandwich.

Little brat!

Some days I want to ship the pair of them to another planet, but my nagging conscience won’t let me . . . Who would take care of them? Who would play with them? Who would whisper silly stuff in their floppy ears? Who would tuck them in every night and tell them a bedtime story? Who would love them? Feed them? Rush them to the doctor when they get sick?

Besides, I’d be jealous that someone else was getting all their slobbery kisses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Can’t Run . . . Walk

It was unusually quiet and peaceful during my walk this morning. No lawnmowers. No traffic. Not even a barking dog. Either my neighbors were still in bed, already at work, or the rapture took place and left me behind.

As I always do when I’m outdoors I looked for critters. They must have been raptured, too, except for two fuzzy caterpillars and birds chattering back and forth from the trees. Maybe they were having church or gossiping or both.

Shuffling along, I’m not even halfway into my walk and my body is already whimpering, especially my back. It’s been out of whack ever since Bella, our greyhound mix jerked me off the deck. Several weeks later I was in the emergency room begging to be put me out of my misery.

Not many years ago I jogged the city streets, rain or shine; pounding the pavement, dodging cars, yapping dogs and guys trying to pick me up. Twenty years, twenty miles every single week.

Walking was too easy. I had to run. It was in my blood. I swore I’d never stop.

Then, I did.

I got stupid. I got bored. I lost my drive. I dove into the sea of wimpy excuses and drowned there.

Ten years and thirty pounds later, I tried to pick up where I left off.

Ha!

I walk, now. At my pace, whatever that pace may be. I do what I can when I can without feeling the world depends on me to keep it spinning. No guilt. No shame . . . well, maybe just a little.

On the home stretch, I stopped and talked to the neighbor that lives across the road from us. She was walking her little Russel Terrier, the neighborhood-yapper.

She’s quiet-spoken with a shy little-girl personality and lots of southern charm. I admired her white hair peeking beneath her pink floppy hat and told her I was so happy that her cancer is in remission. We both said we’re ready to leave this earth but not right now because we don’t want to make our families sad. Cancer makes one think like that. Just getting old makes one think like that.

Though I enjoyed my thirty-minute walk I was relieved to get back home, pour a cup of coffee and plop into my favorite chair by the window.

That’s what old people do when they’re too tired to do anything else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Still and Listen

I raised the windows in the living room, poured a cup of coffee and snuggled in my favorite chair. The one that glides and swivels so I can keep busy while I’m sitting and doing nothing. The one that Pepper loves when she curls on my lap and I rock her to sleep. The one where I sit and think and dream and talk to God.

So, as I sat gazing out the window, feeling the breeze, listening to the wind chimes, and watching the salamander skittering across the porch rail, God whispered,

“Stop pushing so hard and trying to fix everything. Stop fretting about getting old. Stop worrying about your husband’s diabetes. Stop complaining because you can’t do things you did ten years ago. Just keep trusting me. I have everything under control. I will never let you down.”

Yeah. God whispered that to me this morning through the gentle breeze, the tinkling wind chimes, and the salamander skittering across the porch rail.

Don’t Make Me Come Over There!

Okay, I admit it. I’d rather fight a grizzly bear than run from an argument when my rights are being violated. And the more stressful the situation, the more fiercely I’d fight, from getting my hair washed to having to take a nap when I wasn’t even sleepy.

And speaking of getting my hair washed, It was the worst thing ever! Worse than getting it tangled in the bed springs. Even worse than falling off the high bridge into the rocky creek and getting my new shoes soaking wet.

One night, stripped down to my little white panties, my scrawny half-naked body wet and slippery, I wriggled free from mom’s Hulk-like grip. Out the door I ran, squealing like a terrified pig in the pitch dark, down the wooded, dirt path where bears and tigers and rabid wolves crouched and snarled and growled. Deciding that drowning was better than being eaten alive, I made a frantic U-turn back to the house. To my dismay, mom and daddy were still sitting beside the galvanized washtub, mom holding the shampoo bottle and daddy holding the switch.

And then, there were my brothers, pushing all the wrong buttons, especially when they began taking parts off my bike and putting them on theirs. One day I went to ride it and the handlebars were missing. Another time my light disappeared. Then my bicycle seat. They’d even take off the chain and peddles!

I worked hard to win that bike, in the wind and freezing cold painting a Halloween scene on the grocery store window. I earned it. It was my baby. My pride and joy. They had no right to even look at it without my permission!

One day I caught my brother taking a wheel off my bike. He didn’t know what stop meant so, I picked up a hammer and hit him on the head with it. Not hard. I didn’t kill him for Pete’s sake! But he made such a screaming-bloody-murder commotion that daddy came after me with the switch and I took off running.

Round and round the house we ran, daddy dragging a mile behind me, huffing and puffing like a freight train. Fearing he’d drop dead of a heart attack, I let him catch me. By then he was too weak and out of breath to give me the switching I deserved.

The most frightful event, however, was when I worked at Dunkin Doughnuts. I was having what I thought a playful argument with the baker, a fiery red-haired punk with a zillion freckles splattered all over his face. I knew he was crazy, but I didn’t know he was a blooming idiot.

As I turned to walk away, he grabbed my arm and began dragging me across the floor yelling, “I’m going to put you in the fryer!”

Fearful that I was going to be cooked alive, I punched him in the nose. Dazed, bleeding, and staggering like a drunk on a three-day binge, he loosened his grip and I ran.

Completely deranged now, he ran after me and pushed me on the floor. Before I could figure out what the heck just happened he straddled my back and began choking me. Immediately, several female co-workers attempted to pull him off, but fearing for their own lives, they gave up. Finally, hearing my piercing screams, three burly customers burst through the swinging doors and pulled the psychopath off me.

Then there was that time I got arrested. That was embarrassing, sitting in the back seat of the patrol car with my hair in rollers, wearing short shorts and a little white tank top. I didn’t feel like a tramp till another cop pulled up, rolled down his window and asked with a devilish grin, “Where’d you pick her up?”

I couldn’t believe she had me arrested! I kept telling her to stay away from me. But she insisted on barging into my life, spinning lies, causing trouble, and parking her butt on my doorstep when she pleased. So, she asked for it when I jerked her out of the chair and wrestled her out the door. Not my fault her skimpy dress ripped apart at the seams.

Having to appear in court was no trip to Disneyland, either, standing there listening to her ranting and raving. On the outside, I was a harmless pussy cat. But on the inside, I was a roaring lion ready to leap and rip out her lying tongue.

Maybe the judge possessed a sixth-sense. Maybe that’s why he pointed his finger at her saying, “Stay away from her!” and dismissed the stupid assault and battery charge. I did tell him determinedly, however, that if she ever came to my door again she would suffer the consequences. But I don’t think that had anything to do with his ruling.

For the record, I’ve never killed anyone, never put anyone in the hospital, and never hit my brother again, not with a hammer at least. And when push comes to shove, I always growl before I bite.

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-fight-or-flight-response-2795194

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking Opens Your Mind

I woke up confused this morning thinking it was Thursday and scolding myself for not walking yesterday. What a relief to discover that it’s Wednesday and I’m not losing my mind.

At the end of the driveway, I turned left instead of right, this time. It’s a little longer and a lot tougher with the hills and all. We live in a pasture. Well, a once-upon-a-time pasture with houses now instead of critters. Some farmers kept their land, though; the ones with the cows, horses, and goats. Pigs, too. But they don’t smell as bad as some of the seeping sewage around here.

See that house on the hill? Hubby and I toured it after it was built. I loved the sunroom, and the basement, and the garage, and the kitchen, and the fireplace in the great room. It even had running water and inside toilets. Not that our house doesn’t have those bare necessities. They just felt more luxurious in a big brand spanking new house.

Trudging up the steep hill, my back whining now, a man with a Santa Clause beard swaying in the wind was unloading a bicycle from the truck parked in the driveway. The kid pacing back and forth excitedly must be his grandson, I mused.

I hollered, “Good morning! I love your beard. My son would be jealous!”

Beaming from ear to ear he chuckled, “Thank you! My grand-kids like it, too. Won’t let me cut it off!”

I’m walking slower by the second, now. Somehow the hill seemed bigger than the last time I walked it; like a Mount Everest kind of bigger.

Taking my mind off my grumbling hips and legs, I spied a tree I wanted to take home with me. It had huge branches perfect for a swing I’ve been pestering hubby to death for years to put up. But none of our trees have branches big enough to hold even my great-grandkids so I guess that leaves me freezing stark naked in a blinding blizzard.

Passing another house, I heard voices drifting from the driveway, a great relief knowing I’m not alone in case I pass out in the middle of the road. Wait. They weren’t just in my head were they?

I’m on the homestretch, now, feeling ecstatic considering the steep hills I just conquered. I wasn’t crawling anyhow. At least I didn’t think I was until a snail passed me, laughing his fool head off. Smart-aleck!

Suddenly, a bug smacked me on the arm. But I didn’t throw a conniption fit. Didn’t want the neighbors peeking out their windows and thinking they have a crazy person living near them.

Trudging up the long, narrow tree-lined driveway now, I didn’t realize it had so many cracks in it; more cracks than we have money to repair them. Then I got this great idea. I’m going to sit at the end of the driveway holding a cardboard sign that reads:

PAVE MY DRIVEWAY AND I WILL FEED YOU

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Do It!

I went for a walk this morning. A big deal since I barely remember the last time I laced up my walking shoes. But, this morning I decided to stop making stupid excuses and just get out there and do it.

I usually walk Pepper, our little black dachshund lab mix. Unlike our greyhound mix, Bella, jerking and pulling me around like a team of wild horses, Pepper’s a joy to walk. But, this morning I just wanted to walk doggie-free.

After feeding the dogs and putting on a pot of coffee I scrambled out the door and down the steps before changing my mind. For a split second, I was tempted to take the car instead. But since my eye surgery eight years ago, I don’t have a license. I don’t have a watch either. Pepper chewed it up. Along with some pens and pencils and probably other stuff I have yet to discover. But I know what twenty minutes looks and feels like, so I don’t need a watch today.

The last time I got serious about walking I was knocked out of commission for weeks. Ruptured disc. Pain that only a sledgehammer to the head would have relieved. Fearing I might end up like that again, I kept it at a turtle’s pace.

It was cooler than I expected; almost too cool for my favorite yellow jersey capris and faded short-sleeved shirt. But, the clean fresh air felt good washing over me, so I continued down the long, tree-lined driveway and across the road.

When we first moved here from the city, I didn’t like living in the country. I thought we had made the biggest mistake of our lives. I cried for weeks. Since we aren’t rich we couldn’t sell and move again. So I was stuck here to tough it out. Eventually, I did stop crying, but it would be years before I surrendered my heart and soul to country living.

Maybe that’s why the grass seemed so much greener today, and the sun beamed down so much brighter from the cloudless Carolina blue sky. I even smiled at the cows grazing on the hillside thinking what lovely, bawling neighbors they’ve become.

Looking down I saw a pulverized frog on the road. Poor thing. I hate when that happens. I wanted to scrape him up and give him a decent burial.

My girlfriend and I held a funeral for a dead bug once. Of course, we were only ten. We even put mercurochrome and a band-aid on a frog’s belly. I had accidentally run over him with the push reel lawnmower. I thought a rock had gotten stuck between the blades. To my horror, it was a frog instead.  After gently doctoring him up we laid him belly up on a clean white napkin in the cool grass praying for his recovery. Sadly, he didn’t make it.

Walking does that to me; takes me to places I haven’t been in a long time. Happy places that only a child can relate to and understand. It clears my head. It helps me to get in touch with my feelings and to see things from a different perspective.

It was a short but invigorating walk. The wind threatened to yank off my orange, smiley face cap a few times, but I didn’t freeze to death. I even came across a critter in the road that wasn’t dead. A black bug the size of an elephant. I hate bugs. But I hate killing them even worse, so I made a wide circle around him and headed home.

The dogs met me at the front door, barking and jumping up and down like a pair of frenzied kangaroos, their tails waving frantically as if I’d been gone a week.

And where was hubby?

Still in bed. Hadn’t even moved. Snoring louder than a locomotive.

Silly man.

 

 

 

 

Voice of a Strong-willed Child

I was born this way. I don’t come with instructions. So, listen very carefully.

I will fight you. I will run from you. I will scream and yell at you. I will make the neighbors think you’re killing me. I will drive you utterly insane.

Love me anyway.

Don’t try to change me, break me, tame me; I will not be ridden. I am wild. I am strong. I am a free spirit. I will do things my way, in my time no matter how hard you push and tug and pull me.

Love me anyway.

I know I’m difficult. I know I don’t fit in. I know I will never be that prized child you hoped for. But don’t compare me. Don’t judge and criticize me. Don’t shut me out. That only enrages the beast within.

I will say and do things; mean things that neither of us understands. I will hate myself, hurt myself, hurt others if you’re not strong enough or love me enough to guide me down this troublesome path. Ignite your fuse of exasperation and I will blow up in your face. I won’t trust you. I won’t talk to you. I will move completely away from you and you may never get me back.

Love me. Respect me. Praise me . . . again and again. Talk to me. Protect me. Make me feel safe. Beneath this rock-hard fortress of stubbornness, I am a shattered mess of fears and emotions I don’t understand.

Value my honesty. Listen to my concerns. Laugh at my silly antics. Don’t get so worked up over everything I do and say that you think is so ghastly wrong. I’m just a kid with a different view of the world; searching for truth, honor, and strength. So, when you feel like knocking my brains out, hug me instead. If I resist, hug me tighter. Make me believe that you mean it. Make me feel your tender strength. Make me feel I’m not alone in this crazy, mixed up place.

If you don’t, my life will be a living hell of guilt and shame, forever feeling I should never have been born. Forever kicking and screaming against the world. Forever ravaged by the roaring beast within.

So, don’t make raising me more difficult than it already is. If I’m too much for you to handle, get help . . . PLEASE! And when you do, I will show you that I was worth it.

 

 

Deadly Addictions

I loved him. He was my brother. But there were times I wanted to kill him. Like when he was fourteen and burned down the vacant house up the street. When he broke into schools to steal pencils and erasers. When the cops came knocking on our door. When he made my mother cry. When he cussed me on the phone at three in the morning. When he stole from my husband. When he’d abandon his wife and kids for days. When his promises went up in smoke. When he shook his fist in my dad’s face and called him an old man; the same old man who bailed him out of trouble a million times over; the same old man that he never saw again after that. Didn’t even go to the funeral.

Drugs were his food. Alcohol was his water. Prison was his home.

Addicted to a life of thrills and chills, he was a living, breathing hurricane of total destruction in the lives he touched. Truth was a foreign language. Denial was a constant companion. Honesty was as fake as a two-headed dragon.

Why? Why was he so bent on self-destruction? What was so enthralling about running from the cops or living in the woods or spinning tails that even the devil couldn’t believe? Why did he think he was so entitled to do whatever he pleased regardless of the cost to society, to his family, to himself?

Why didn’t he do something constructive with his art, his poetry, and writing? He was brilliant. He could have flown as high as an eagle but chose to wallow in the mud like a pig. Why?

I don’t know. I just know that while he was high on drugs and living a life of crime I was wishing I had a brother I could depend on. A brother I could talk to. A brother I could trust. I was wishing he would straighten up before it was too late. I was wishing he would remove the blindfolds and see how much I loved him.

A few days before Thanksgiving 2014 we had a screaming match over the phone. I hung up on him, wishing he was in front of me so I could smack him upside the head. A few days later he called back. As always, I accepted his apology. The day after Thanksgiving, he was found dead in his apartment.

He was sixty-three.

It still hurts. I still miss him. I still wish he had chosen a sensible life. And regardless of the things he had done, the people he had hurt, the destruction he caused, I loved him. I loved him then. I love him now. I’ll love him till I die. He was my little brother and now he’s gone.

So I sit here, barely able to see the screen through my tears, wishing I could hear his voice once more. Wishing I could tell him I’m praying for him once more. Wishing I could convince him to change his ways before it’s too late . . . once more. Now, I can only hope that he did.