Monthly Archives: October 2012

I Wish I Were…

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My mother died in March 1983, almost 30 years ago.  She was 49 and I was 23.

A lot of living has happened in between then and now, joy and sadness and everyday stuff I would have loved sharing with her.  At what age do you get over the ache of wanting to put your arms around your mom, snuggle on the couch together and just be?

I wish I were able to bring her back for a visit.

If I could have 1 day for each year, I’d have 30 days.  Thirty days for her to get to know the outlaws (how our extended family refers to those souls fortunate enough to marry in).  Wanda, Don, Stan and Phillip have personalities and talents she would have liked and interests she shared.  And they could begin to know why we thought she was such a great mom.

Thirty days for her to wrap her love and laughter around the grandchildren she never knew.  Did she dream of having them when we were young?  Kristen, Alex, Emily, Heidi and Blair have heard the stories and seen the pictures, but none of that comes close to making up for not having been rocked in her lap, read to, and cherished as only a grandmother can do.

Thirty days for her four children to show her that her love, her tears, her prayers and her guidance were not given in vain.  I think she would be proud of who we have become, of how we have tried to live up to the standards she set.

And at the end of thirty days, I would let her go.  How could I keep her from the glories of heaven?  Dad would be waiting for her.  After being separated for 20 years after she died, I know he’d be waiting for her to get back to her rocking chair on the front porch of heaven, right next to his. And maybe, just maybe, this would hold me over for the next 30 years.

Voting Excitement

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The husband and I headed out to the early voting site this morning.  I had the ever present coffee travel mug in hand, filled to the brim.   My husband was predicting a very low attendance as we pulled into the parking lot.  The site had been a local Lions Club at one time and is now owned by the county.
In addition to the usual group of volunteers and candidates stumping out front, there was a short line of people outside the door.  We walked up and got into place, saying “good morning” to the couple in front of us.  My husband began to feign indifference, knowing I was going to jump into a conversation with them.  She then turned and said, “This is my first time voting, ever.”  I said “Congratulations!  It’s an exciting day for you.”  She then flashed us the biggest, brightest smile and her eyes lit up like sparklers.  It was clear she was very excited about the occasion.  And Mr. “I’m not interested” began listening; he doesn’t fool me.  Another man overheard her remark and told a story of how his  mother died at age 90 without ever having voted.

This is not a large place and it didn’t take long to get inside the doors.  We slowly edged our way to the entryway of the large room where we would check in and get our ballots. On the left door was the sample ballot.  The woman’s husband began to explain how the ballot was organized, showing her where the presidential candidates were listed, then moving down to the next area where she could indicate a straight ticket vote.  She turned back to me with another excited smile and I laughed as I told her it was like taking a test when were children in school.  You had to color in the circles to indicate your choices.  (Remember, we are talking small town, still somewhat rural – no electronic ballot machines here!)

We then moved into the voting area.  She went to a separate line to register while her husband and most of the rest of us just checked in.  They got their ballots and went to two adjacent booths as my husband and I did the same.  I so wanted to watch her vote.  I know her husband was helping her get everything completed.  We finished about the same time and after they put their ballots in the machine, she picked up her “I Voted” sticker and had it on before they got through the doorway.

It has been a very long time since I have seen anyone that excited to be at the polls.  It reminded me of the little children who run down the aisle at church when it’s time for the children’s message – they don’t want to be left out.  We should all be that excited to exercise our right and our privilege to vote.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge

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One of the many ways WordPress (the home of On the Sunnyside) makes blogging fun is with a weekly challenge.  There is one for writing as well as photography.  These challenges are a great way to inspire bloggers to work on improving their skills.  This week, the photo challenge is to take and submit a picture of a silhouette.

As I pondered the challenge, the first thing that came to my mind was Two Silhouettes on a Shade.  There is a song for every occasion!

However, a song is not a picture, so I had to move on.

Dog Silhouettes

Ready for the geese

My photo?  Actual stick-in-the-ground-where-needed silhouettes of dogs.  These have gained popularity in our area as a way to keep the Canadian geese off the property.  I certainly believe the South is a great place to live, but we have enough geese here year round to solve world hunger (if we were allowed to make them available for consumption).  Geese make a gross mess wherever they hang out, hence the effort to keep them from landing in the first place.  Maybe the dog silhouette is something to consider if you have your own goose problem.

The Sunny Side of Darkness

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Halloween has taken such a beating it’s barely recognizable these days.

I have great childhood memories of Halloween.  I was one of four children and mom helped us make our costumes every year.  We were ghosts, cats, superman, whatever we could dream up and put together with a minimal amount of sewing.  One year my brother begged and begged to go as a gorilla.  Of course, he wanted to use mom’s fur coat as his costume.  That didn’t happen.

As teenagers, he and I rigged up a great scare experience for trick-or-treaters.  We lived in a two story house.  My parents’ bathroom window was right over the front porch steps.  There was a small roof ledge there.  So we made a ghost and tied a rope around its neck, long enough for the ghost to hang almost to the top of the front steps.  Then we brought the portable record player into the bathroom.  We hooked up a small speaker and put that on the roof ledge just outside the window.  Mom had a great Halloween sound effects album – creaking door noises, moans, screams, etc.

With the lights out, record player on, and the window open we waited for our prey.  As little children would come up the front walkway, we’d put the needle on the album, turn up the volume and then, just as they got to the first step, we’d throw the ghost out the window and it would land right in front of them.  They’d scream and turn and run back to their parents waiting at the curb (nursing their mixed drinks).  We had a blast!  I think we had candy left in the bowl that year.

I have a co-worker who loves Halloween and she has gone all out this year decorating her office.  As she explained to me when I asked her, “Why?” – her home is in the woods and she has a long dark driveway.  Her children are grown and out of the house and no one comes for trick or treating anymore.  So she is celebrating at work.

There are spiders, 18 skulls of various shapes and sizes, gravestones, bats, ravens, a hanging lady, webbing, and scary people pictures on the walls.  Best of all, there are 3 cauldrons of candy – one with candy corn, one with mints and one with mini candy bars.  Staff love it!  They have brought their children and grandchildren by to see the decorations.  Coworkers who never poked their heads in her doorway come by to say “hello’ and get a piece of candy.  It has been a much needed morale booster.

Do you do something fun or crazy for Halloween?  Share!  We still have time left for fun before November 1.

Let’s Go Fishing

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I love a class.   Going to workshops, taking a course at the local community college – it’s all about learning new things.  And if there’s a work-related conference that involves travel – count me in!

Friday I went to a one-day learning extravaganza called Converge South.  It was a full day focused on online branding and social marketing.  Now, I’m still climbing up the learning curve.  I’m not clueless, but no one would apply the words “tech geek” to me.  I knew there would be lots of gadgets in use by other participants, but hey – I replaced my cell phone with the antenna about a year and a half ago with an iPhone.  That puts me in the game!

Since I am equally enthusiastic about a cup of coffee in the morning, I headed for the carafes upon arrival and then took a seat for the opening session.  I spent a few minutes observing my fellow students.  I was happy to see a good showing of my peers in the over-40 (and -50) group.  Because it was auditorium seating, I had a clear view of the iPhone belonging to the younger person in front of me.  While I am thrilled with my page and a half of apps, this person had pages and pages of apps.  And lots of folders with even more apps stored within.  It was all I could do not to ask, “What in the world is all that stuff?” And maybe more importantly, “Who has time to look at all that stuff?

Thankfully the morning session was called to order and I had to get focused.

There were great topics to choose from each hour, with options for novices and the pros.  The best part of the day, however, was talking with other participants and learning together.  Every presenter was friendly and more than willing to talk with you after the session.  Business cards, email and twitter addresses were shared throughout the day.  Every attendee I approached before or after a session was more than happy to share their experiences and answer questions about what they were doing and how they got there.

What was decidedly absent was the guardedness that so often goes hand in hand with competition.  You could hear people encouraging one another and offering suggestions.  Very refreshing!

As I drove home, thrilled with the day and trying to mentally corral all the new ideas racing around in my brain, a Chinese proverb familiar to many of us made its way into my thoughts:  Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

I was “taught to fish” on Friday.  What a sunny day!

Momma said…

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“Remember your home training.”

You know what it means and you know who said it.  In fact, if you’ll close your eyes and be still for just a minute, you can hear her say it even now.

I enjoy idioms – those clever collections of words that may result in directives or descriptions.  So just for fun this week, I asked friends and co-workers, “What is something your mother or grandmother said to you as you were growing up that you have not forgotten?”

My mom often said, “Be sure your sins will find you out.”  Well, that has been a cloud over my head all my life.  Start to do a little something I probably shouldn’t and it’s like a hand comes out of the cloud and taps my shoulder.  This saying, I might add, has had the intended effect.  Mom would be happy with the results.

“You are old enough for your wants not to hurt you.”   Sandy’s mother said this, as did my husband’s.  Frankly, it IS a little painful to reach the age when you are expected to accept disappointments with some level of maturity.  This one goes hand in hand with Sandy’s other contribution from her mother:  “Life isn’t fair.”  Another bitter verbal pill, but one we have to swallow throughout our lives since life has yet to be fair all the time.  Which one has Sandy passed on to her children?  “Life isn’t fair.”

The appearance theme followed behavior.  “Never leave the house looking like a can of kraut.”  I had never heard this one, but Natalie hears it in her head every day, especially on Saturday when she doesn’t have (or want) to dress for work.  However, there’s something about kraut that makes me think of smell more so than dress.  Not a good combination.  Speaking of dress, didn’t most moms warn about not leaving the house wearing less than your best underwear?  The day you went out with a tear or hole would be the day you had a car wreck and someone else, presumably hospital or emergency personnel, would see your holey underwear, to your everlasting shame.

Donnie’s mother gave her a little mystery to ponder.  “Every goodbye is not gone; every shut eye is not asleep; and everything that glitters is not gold.”  Even though she could repeat this from a young age, “it was not until I was grown that I really understood what she meant.”

We had more laughs sharing the “what they didn’t say” expressions.  “Don’t get caught behind the barn,” was what Bernadette’s grandmother said to her.  Bernadette wondered for years what her grandmother was talking about, because they didn’t have a barn.  Back then no one would warn a girl not to get pregnant by actually using the “p” word – it just wasn’t spoken aloud.  When Berndette’s uncle would get dressed up and leave the house for an evening on the town, her grandmother knew he was dressed with the hope of success.  She’d stand in the doorway and holler out to him, “Boy, you better put a cap on your head.”  And Bernadette would wonder why her uncle needed a cap when the weather was warm and dry.

By now, I’m sure you have come up with more of these wonderful expressions that have helped make us who we are today.  And perhaps, if you are feeling a little guilty for not following your mom’s admonishments, remember:  “This too shall pass.”