Friday, July 29, 2011

Summertime and the Living isn't Easy

The dog days of summer are here. Temperatures are hovering in the upper 90s, the humidity is 110% and the heat index is around 110. It's days like this make me miss living at the beach. But that poses its only set of problems. (LIST TIME!)

1 - When summer is this hot, no water is cold. Not the lake, unless you can find the lower current where the rivers are still moving under the surface. Not any pools, they all feel similar to a hot tub, all chlorine and floating dead bugs. Even the water park cannot cool the water enough to make paying the small fortune it takes to get in worth while.

2 - Watering bans in preparation for another drought are already making their presence felt in this area. That means no watering your lawn except between midnight and 5am. This makes it rather difficult to play in the sprinklers. Another favorite memory of my childhood gives way to modern reality.

3 - Even the beaches in the Southeast are not centers of cool relaxation. The water is too warm, sharks are prowling just of the coasts, we are in the middle of a jelltfish explosion not to mention the still lurking spectre of the oil spill from 2010. There might not be any oil on the beaches themselves but we all know it is just off shore, ready to leap upon our Wal-Mart bathing suits and ruin our summer vacations.

4 - The mountains are cooler, but not by much. The only respite one can gather in the upper elevations of the South is the sun goes down earlier because of the hills and the streams and rivers are ice cold but every other person in a 100 mile radius has the same idea. The congestion and exhaust fumes contribute to the name "Smokey Mountains".

SO how does the 21st century Southerner keep cool? Thank God for central air conditioning and sweet tea. As long as we have these staples of our civilization life will remain bearable until Fall can roll around with his cooler temperatures and brilliant blue skies.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An Unwanted Anniversary

My mother-in-law died July 29, 2010. I have waited to write this out of respect for her.

When I began dating Helpful Hubby many moons ago (26 years!), his mother was the bane of my existence. She was overbearing, demanding and had no sense of personal space. It was a running joke around our friends that if the phone ran at anyone's house, it was probably his mother looking for him. She took noisy to the highest level.

Over the years, we had our arguments, our agreements and our moments of mutual silence but I had come to appreciate the struggles she had been through. MIL was the oldest of seven children (six girls and one boy) born to dirt poor parents in the North Georgia mountains. To escape an alcholic father and enabler mother she married at the age sixteen and was pregnant with HH's sister before she was seventeen.

Helpful Hubby's father wasn't the greatest catch in the mountains, but he had a fast car and was just back from Korea. Of course Daddy Dearest hadn't come from the greatest family either. MIL survived spousal abuse, verbal abuse from his sisters and low self-esteem for more than twenty-five years before gathering the courage to throw his sorry butt out the door.

With only a high school education and two children still at home to support (HH's sister went to live with Daddy Dearest) MIl put her energy into insurance. She married again to a strange but wonderful man and built a wonderful life for the last twenty-five years of her life, but some of the old habits never truly died.

She never completely trusted anyone to tell her the truth, but she wasn't know for honesty either. She took possession of my children and was angry when I planned events that thwarted her plans, but they were also her greatest joy. We fought about the best ways to raise children and over Helpful Hubby's love. She exasperated me more than any six other people on this planet. And I miss her more today than the day she suddenly dropped dead of an anurism.

Through adversity she learned strength and determination, but never let go of the baggage that prevented her from true happiness. She took everyone's burdens upon herself, planned for everyone's future save her own and left those of us who loved her with more questions than answers. But she gave birth to my Helpful Hubby and that forgives a lot with me. He might not be perfect, but he is loving and supportive and a lot saner than he should be based upon his home life while growing up.

So lift a glass to Janie Sue. She had a hard childhood, a disappointing first marriage, a true love in her second marriage and an early death from elective surgery. We will love you, hate you, cry for you, scream your name into the emptiness of the night and bless your acchievements every day, especially July 29th of every year.

So - Happy Anniversary of your Death Janie Sue Sanders Reece Blalock. We do miss you, warts and all.
Love Nancy

"Death would be an awfully big adventure." Peter Pan

Monday, July 25, 2011

Writer's Block

It finally has hit me hard. Writer's Block, the common name for being stuck up a plot with no contrivance, is keeping forward progress in any of my stories from occurring. However there is a small difference - it isn't that I can't write anything, I can't write anything I need to write. In other words, the right story is stuck and others are now pressing their own plot lines individual advantages.

Most days I try to keep two or three characters rolling around in my head for story development. Which is interesting while trying to work a full time job because I must admit sometimes the noise is quite deafening. After completing 'Catalyst' I began two other projects not remotely similar to each other: 'January Frost' a story for my daughter and her friends and 'Nishamora' an adventure novel.

The second in the Guardian Series has a working title as well, 'Piaculum - The Price of Redemption'. So, that makes three main stories in my head with a dozen or so major story arcs. Which makes more personalities in my head than 'All About Eve'! This much inspiration keeps my spare attention span close to zero, which does not make my husband very happy.

Currently my house is in a state somewhere between cluttered and "omg my mother is a closet hoarder!" This does not make me a happy camper. So, with this being the last week of school I have decided no matter how long it takes me I will clean up my house, work my job, be a mom, take care of my horses and still find time to write every day. I never thought I would lose my patience but I sense the end approaching.

My Loving Mother managed to accomplish all those things and much more, so I have the genetic makeup to follow in her footsteps and yet, I feel less than worthy of her apron. Were the truth of things to be told I despise cleaning. Until recent events conspired to overwhelm me my house was neat. Now though the beginnings of clutter are starting to arise.

The dining room table is covered with items that have no immediate home. The trouble always starts with items that have no immediate home. The living room is the object of my Dearest Daughter's possessions: lunchbox, jackets, clothing, blankets, anything she comes through the door carrying end ups on my couch and spills down to the floor and surround grounds.

The steps to the second floor are lined with Helpful Hubby and Dearest Daughter's shoes, soldiers of inattention neglected until searched for in panic when they are needed. The upstairs bannister has become a resting zone for items which need to go downstairs or into the laundry.

The three bedrooms are all in states of stacking up. However, I will give Dearest Daughter props, her room is much neater than any room in the house with the exception of dishes that don't always make it back to the kitchen in a timely fashion. And her laundry sometimes exists in two piles: 'dirty' and 'known only to her'. She obviously has more of her grandmother in her than I do.

My room is the worst, and I think it's because a man lives in there. Actually it is worse because I have always kept the mess out of public view. So the ironing has piled up on the cedar chest from lack of time. I need to take clothes to the thrift box which makes another pile to be cleared out. If I work on the missing sock table and reorder the DVD stack that makes five stacks I could clean out of my bedroom today!

Which brings me back to...

Writer's Block has a friend whose name is "Indecision". So unable to decide which project to tackle first I have made the first step toward planning my last week before school starts.

Let's Go Shopping.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer's End

In one more week my daughter will start high school. This is a momentous time in my life. In four more years she will head off to college, leaving the hubby and me empty-nesters. More important, over the next four years I will be handling problems my own parents dealt with as the parent of a high school teenage female. Here are some of the issues I brought to the table as an adolescent that I dread being on the receiving end of:

1 - Boy friend drama. I consider myself fortunate in that my daughter is not currently that interested in boys. She has had one brief relationship that she ended when he became too clingy. Here's to hoping that trend continues.

2 - School Work. Darling Daughter is very bright and wants to go to vet school. She also wants to go out of state. To get a scholarship, which is necessary for out of state tuition, she needs excellent grades. That's never been a problem, but this is high school.

3 - Sleeping. High school starts around 7:30am. That means the bus comes at the unearthly time of 6:25. What teenager voluntarily gets up at 5:45am to get on a bus to go to school??!?! I foresee four years of torment attempting to get her on the bus, or with a ride. Why our high school starts an hour ahead of every other school in the county has been the subject of much debate, but hasn't changed anything. I bet none of the school board has teenagers.

4 - Parties. Need I say anything else?

5 - Taxi Service. My child is only thirteen. With the current driving regulations, it will be at least four years before she can move herself around town. Four more years of Mom's Taxi Service - glad we downsized the car this year.

6 - Teenage Attitude. Angst, surliness, sarcasm, crying, laughing, yelling, whining, cone of silence, bratty, adventurous, fear, anxiety - yep that about covers it. If I don't like the mood, just wait a few moments. Change is guaranteed.

So I intend to spent this last week of vacation with my daughter. Enjoying the last few minutes of days with my child. The next time she shows up might be a long time coming.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What A Bummer...

This summer hasn't exactly been the greatest summer of my life. My ninety year old mother had to be moved quickly into my brother's house and we have been coming to grips with a life that will be ending sooner than later. Others in our family have been dealing with equally life changing issues and it has brought me to the following realization:

No matter where we are on the timeline, there is no rewind button.

As I watch my children growing, I am flooded with memories of myself at their ages (23 and 14). At 14 I was in high school, dealing with acne and boys and Algebra. At 23 I was working for a living, dealing with boys and acne and COBOL. No matter how old I get those memories are just as vivid now as they were then.

Which brings me to our recent loss, an employee of more than 12 years succumbed to rapidly advancing cancer. He was diagnosed on 2/15/11 and died 7/3/11. While I have known and seen many people go through various forms of cancer, this was the fastest downhill slide I have ever personally witnessed. And the real bummer... this was a wonderful man.

A true Christian, devoted to his church and his family. A good man on all accounts, but mortal, just like the rest of us. But the peace he and his wife exhibited during that last month was unlike most. With the security of knowing they would meet each other again for eternity both husband and wife met death head up, unlike most of us who run kicking, screaming and bargaining with God for more time.

If life had a rewind button here are a few days I would like to either relive as they were or have an option for a re-do:

1 - The day I spent extra time on the beach before driving home to Atlanta from Destin with first degree burns on my body. I then got stopped by the police 10 minutes from my home and almost got thrown in jail for being 'mouthy'. Of course my body temp was over 100 degrees! You be all nice and polite when your body is on fire.

2 - The night my dad died. My husband and I had gone out with friends and when the phone call came in the wee hours of the morning I didn't answer the first two times they called. It wouldn't have made any difference in terms of being there when he dies, but I wish we had gone to the hospital instead of going out. Wisdom though, only comes with age and experience.

3 - The birth of my son. I was too scared to enjoy the 'wonders of childbirth'. First children get the short end of the stick on this matter - their mothers aren't overprotective, just panicked they will do something wrong and their mother-in-law will get the chance to snark on them.

4 - My 48th birthday. My husband forgot my birthday.

5 - Our last family vacation. No explanation at this time required.

Unfortunately there isn't a rewind button, so all we can do is make the best of the days before is. Too much looking back isn't good for our futures.