Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kids...What They Say...

You never know what a child is going to come out with next. They seem to have way of thinking and a way of using words that make us smile, with no intention of doing so.

When she was two, she walked in while we were having dinner. It was a simple meal, loose chopped meat, potatoes, some vegetables. After checking out the fare, she looked quizically at me and asked, "Grammie, why you eatin' cat food?" On a cold day in the same winter she laid down on the floor and began waving her arms up and down and moving her legs in and out. I asked if she was making snow angels. She answered, 'No...RUG angels."

When she was a six years old, I was waiting in the bathroom while she took a shower. When she was finished, she wrapped the clear shower curtain around her little body, and said, "Look! I'm laminated!"

One of my daughters, upon hearing the band play a familiar song in the Christmas parade piped up, "Mommy! they're playing "'Oh Don't Let Us Ignore Him." Another of those I've had the pleasure of rearing was curious, at the age of 7, to know whether God had a wife. Her sister, who had nearly three years on her, thus a bit of wisdom, answered her. " God doesn't have time for a wife."

Looking back to the days before I had my own little ones, I was a Sunday School teacher of three year olds. To this day I remember the answer I was given from one young man. I'd finished the lesson of the first family God created, Adam and Eve and their children. As was my habit, I asked a few questions following the teaching, just to see how much was retained. I said, "who can tell me who the first family was?" Robert answered, "The Addams Family!"

Recently my youngest granddaughter lost her first tooth. She thought she was pretty special, as she'd pulled it out herself, and was an equal to her older sister, still wearing smiles with missing teeth. Soon after, her second tooth was loose. Big sister had just lost one too. Not to be outdone, Abigail remarked, "I believe my tooth will come out on Tooth's Day!"

Where would we be without these sweet, smile-bringing beings in our lives? What a serious place the world would be without the wit and wisdom of little people! Thank the Lord that He gave them to us,...precious and special day-brighteners as they are!

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like....

Christmas. Thanksgiving sort of 'breezed in and out' with many people giving it little thought. Others thought of it kindly and celebrated it's meaning. For some, it simply signaled the day before their Christmas decorations went up.

In our house, we like to give each holiday it's due...when it's due. We aren't pleased to see Christmas trees going up in the stores before Halloween arrives and we're still walking around in short sleeved shirts. We know about the commercialism and the need to advertise for business reasons, but we also understand that everyone knows that Christmas is on the way, and will do their fair share of shopping for gifts. We'd rather see the anticipation rising as the costumes and masks are taken from the shelves and the Autumn garlands and flowers are put out. When those are past, and taken down, perhaps on the first of December, then we'd welcome the lit trees and huge red bows all over creation.

As it is, our neighborhood is already decorated, but for a few homes, Mom's and ours included in the 'but for' category. We are beginning to think about it, and how things will be decorated this year, but we are sticklers for live trees in the living room, and we like to leave them up into January, so we're not in a great rush to put them up too early. I will say that I like to shop for Chrismas all year long, as I don't like crowds, and as the years go on, I'm getting slower and less apt to love the 'meandering' all day long. I tend to be on the lookout whenever I'm shopping, and if something 'jumps out' at me for someone on my list, it's purchased then and there. However, I do save the wrapping for a cold, December day, when I can put on the Christmas music and take care of the tasks.

So, we'll be the last in our subdivision to put our lights on the house and bushes, and probably the last to take them down. It's such a busy time, we like to enjoy things, after Christmas, without the confusion, rather than packing things up the day after the holiday, as we see so many folks doing here. Sometimes, I think it's nice not to be 'first'. We savor our holidays, the way we enjoy our food....one bite at a time...in order to allow the fragrances, the look and the taste to make it's own impression.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's Thanksgiving Day

It's Thanksgiving Day....a day we have set apart to remember all of our blessings and give thanks to our God for all He has provided. I feel that we ought to do that, daily, but still, this is a special day. It is one that promotes family and friends getting together around a heavy-laden table, and that, in itself, is a blessing.

This year there will be but four of us. My children and grandchildren will be in various places. The two Georgia families will be staying in their area, as their father, stepmother and half-brother will be visiting from Florida. My other two daughters in New York will be sharing the day with friends. My son's family will enjoy their day in their own special way, as will my stepsons. It's a day when we will miss the faces who aren't joining us at the table.

One of those faces is that of my father. He passed away twenty five years ago, on November 25, 1985. We will all remember him on this day, each one of us reliving our memories of him. Thinking about that, I have remembrances of times with him that are solely mine. There were few times when my Dad and I were alone together, and so that makes them special to me. Silly little things come to the surface...his waking me early to catch the bus when I was going to Cosmetology school. He once took a feather that had escaped from my down pillow, and tickled me under my nose with it until I woke up. There were rides home from school with him, after I would walk to his job site and sit in the car, waiting for his workday to end. There were longer drives to my orthodontist appointments. He encouraged me to write and asked to hear my scribblings. He praised my singing when he heard me in the shower or singing in my room. He tormented me about my rock and roll, but he thought that the Beatles weren't half-bad and liked their harmony. There were quiet conversations in the yard as he puttered with something, and early mornings in the kitchen while he had his coffee and I had my breakfast before school. There were the times of frustration for both of us as he taught me to drive a standard shift vehicle. "Don't ride the clutch" or "Take your foot off the brake". I'll bet he was extremely pleased when I finally got the hang of it!

Others who knew my father always tell me things that they remember about him, all of them telling me that he was a truly 'nice' man. Yes, he was. Everyone has memories of their father whether good or bad. I cannot say I have anything bad to report, honestly. I didn't know Daddy well enough, due to his working so hard to take care of his family, and none of us had enough time with him. He was taken from us when he was just sixty one years old, but the nearly 40 years I had with him was far too short.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I will give thanks for all my blessings, but mostly that I was given the man I knew as my father. I was given the most wonderful parents, and am truly grateful for them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November Morning

The other morning I woke to find a glorious morning. The sky was waking from it's night's sleep and was a soft blue with pink and gold marbling. The oaks , the cherries and the maples were vividly displaying their Autumn colors as they swayed in the wind. The grass was still green but covered with a frosty coat.

Deer ambled through the empty field next door, nibbling as they wandered. Before I knew it, a parade of wild turkeys made their way through the yard, bobbing like children's toys as they pecked at the ground.

The traffic was increasing as drivers made their way to work or to deliver children to school. The sound of their tires on the damp pavement added a 'swish' rhythm to the song of the wind. I was glad to be on the inside, in the warmth, looking out through the cold window glass.

The day was beginning and it promised to be a busy one for us, as we prepared Mom's rental house for the next tenant. I put on the coffee and listened for the dripping brew to signal it's completion. Sitting down at the table with the fragrant mugful of caffeine, I breathed a deep sigh, and wished our chore was finished so that we could get back to our own home. It hadn't been a pleasant time, so far, in our hometown. But, things were underway, and soon we would end the camping out in the vacant house and we'd make our way south to our lovely, quiet home.
Until then, I determined, I would grab the beautiful moments, however few there might appear to be, and I'd hang on for dear life and sanity.

The morning was giving me something to hold on to all day.... the blessing of ever changing nature in a lovely place. I gave thanks as the steamy coffee was lifted to my lips. I could have been placed in the middle of a dingy, noisy, city neighborhood, with nothing of a view but the brick wall outside the window. "We must remember small pleasures, and give thanks", I reminded myself, and I took another look outside the sliding glass door to notice that the leaves were falling like snowflakes upon the deck.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nov 23, 1963

The day was one of mixed emotions. There was a pallor over the country, a feeling of disbelief and of grief. We'd lost our beloved President just 24 hours before, at the hand of an assassin. We had a new President, our former Vice President, and none of us knew where we were headed in the future.

On the other hand, my tiny, fashionable aunt and I were about to journey off to New York City, to embark on the British cruise ship, the Ocean Monarch, for a week's trip to Bermuda. There was excitement within me, for this 16th birthday gift was a big adventure for me. I was dressed in my best church attire, a lilac plaid coat and a deeper shade of purple wool dress. (Looking back on those pictures, I realize that I'd always hated that coat!) I felt very special as I was greeted at the gangplank by a handsome, uniformed crew member with the cheerful "Welcome Aboard" tinted with a charming British accent.

We stood against the rail of the ship, looking down upon the crowd below, waiting to send off the travelers. I picked my parents out in the crowd, and felt somewhat anxious, suddenly thinking of the 'what if's'. "What if the boat sinks?" "What if I get sea sick?" For a brief moment, I wanted to bolt from the ship, but I held it together, and waved as the vessel slowly slipped from the pier, without the usual fanfare of confetti and noise. We were all respectfully somber in our behavior, in respect of John F. Kennedy.

As the televisions across the world broadcast the events of the day, the updates of the assassination, the way the world was responding to our loss, we slushed through New York Harbor to the open sea. The gray skies were appropriate, the gray sea reflecting the sky. The mood aboard ship, as well, was somewhat gloomy. We looked over the scheduled events, some of which had been curtailed until after Sunday services, out of respect.

I had many moments worthy of remembering in my life up until then, many of which have long been forgotten. However, November 23, 1963... was memorable day for a teenaged girl for many reasons, and one that would be remembered for my lifetime.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A New Day....

We're home again, back to the serenity of my own peaceful home, after three weeks of stress while trying to undo the damage of difficult tenants in my mother's little house in East Hampton. The first week, we stayed with my daughter and her family. Beggars can't be choosers, they say, and we were grateful for the warm space to be as we waited for the tenant to vacate and return the keys so we could begin the work ahead of us. But, accommodations left something to be desired, as my daughter and her housemate were having some real difficulties, so even when the drama was not being played out, the air was thick with tension and uncomfortable to be in the middle of.

The second week found us purchasing a blow up bed so we could 'camp out' at the rental house. We borrowed a few pots and pans, brought in some food, and used the kitchen table and chairs the tenant had abandoned. It was peaceful there, and we gathered our strength and energy in order to tackle the repairs and cleanup and get a new tenant.

By the third week, confusion was at its height. We had little response from three classified ads for the rental. Out of nine responses, only one was a good match for us, but as it turned out, it was not for the potential tenant. So, the house was about to be shut down until the warmer weather, and placed into the hands of a housewatcher. It hadn't been painted inside, as planned, because it would be best to delay that job if the heat was to be shut off. The walls had been prepared and patched. The holes in the doors were repaired. The debris in the yard had been removed, the gutters cleaned, the tenant trash in the garage and basement carted off. The house was as clean as it could be and smelled of Mr. Clean. We couldn't stay much longer but Mom was hesitant to shut the place down and leave it empty for an unknown period of time.

Enter an unhappy daughter. She'd decided to part company with the roommate, but didn't know where she could afford to live on her own. The idea was presented to Mom that she might want to consider her granddaughter as a tenant. Never being a fan of 'doing business with family', she hesitated in her decision. I told her that it seemed she had two options, take my daughter or shut it down. Neither appealed to Mom, but in the end, she took the granddaughter as tenant at a reduced rent. It made sense to me, and my daughter was a very grateful woman.

We stayed in our new confusion for about three days, and then packed up and left for home. I've never been so glad to see my front door! I'm so blessed to be here, in my own environment, with my own work to do, with my holiday preparations to plan and carry out. I'm home and it's a new day....thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Autumn on Eastern Long Island

Things seem so much nicer this morning. The crisp, cool air and the colors of trees which umbrella above and crunch underfoot seem to have brightened my spirits.

We went back to the rental house yesterday, to find that the tenant had moved most everything out of the house and garage, leaving, what looks to me as if it would be one more truckload of stuff. Hopefully, she will be completely vacated by tomorrow, and we can begin the task of painting, repairing and cleaning the interior and getting the gutters cleaned, the bushes trimmed and yard raked. At the moment, it seems fruitless to clear the leaves, as they aren't finished falling. Maybe that should be the last job on the list, and yet, we are trying to schedule the outside work while the weather is cooperative. Hopefully we can get another pair or two of hands to help and we can get this work done 'pronto' and get back to our own home's work.

Before we can leave, however, we must get a tenant in. I really don't like having to choose a tenant, and since we've had little interest thus far, I'm not sure how quickly we can find an acceptable new resident for the little house. Always, in the past, we've had multiple people respond to ads for the house(s). That required interviews, reference calls, etc. and a final choice was made. These days, with the economy what it is, there are more homes available and less tenant choices. I've just got to trust that someone will appear 'out of the blue' as an answer to my prayers. We have had two parties that were interested, but one had a budget which might rent them a room, the other was able to locate another house while our tenant delayed her moving date. Back to square one, I guess.

Houses are always a chore, but it's especially difficult to accomplish a feat when the decisions are not yours to make about anything. Complaining about the frustrations does little, and so we'll move along, one step at a time, until we're happily back at home and diving into the 'catching up' of holiday preparations.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1

We arrived Saturday night...back to the old hometown area. We're freezing, having left our southern home in short shirt sleeves. I don't think I've taken off my heavy sweatshirt since I got here. It'll see a lot of the washer on this trip, I'm thinking.

I wish I was here for a vacation, but alas, we're in the area to prepare Mom's house for a new tenant. The existing one was to be out by today, and when I went yesterday to see what the progress with her move and work future was for us, she greeted me with a phone in her ear, a towel wrapped around her body, and a blotchy tearful face. I don't know what was happening, but she did inform me that she had not begun to move.

The news was not good for me to hear. I am on a somewhat limited time schedule, and we need to get in there and do what needs to be done to have the house ready for a new tenant which has not yet been found. This is all causing us a good deal of stress which we don't need. Had we been told that she would be delayed, we could have stayed at home until she was out of the house. Now, we have to sit and wait, with no idea as to when things will be accomplished so we can get back home.

If I had my will in this matter, the two houses in East Hampton would be sold and the problems with them would be done. But, they aren't my houses, they aren't my problems, they are only mine to deal with for my aging mother. I wonder if there is a property management company around here who could take this weight off me? I'll look into that... although my mother will probably not agree to the paying of someone to 'do nothing' most of the time. I wish I could say that I'm doing 'nothing' in all this...but I'm the 'go between' for everything that must be done, especially phone calls, since Mom cannot hear well anymore on the phone. Mom makes the decisions, collects the rent, and pays for the contractors. I set up all work, listen to tenants, and stand before the judge with tenants who have left her in the lurch for rent or damages. It's no picnic, but I don't know how else to do what needs to be done.

I need to go walk off this stress.