Saturday, February 25, 2012

Seeing My Daughter Today

If all goes as planned, I will have opportunity to spend a few hours with my daughter today. This is very important to me.

I am going to try to introduce her to my mother, and perhaps other relatives....

It will be a good day

Friday, February 17, 2012

I just entered another contest

I have this obsession with entering contests online. Not all contests. The ones that give away kitchens, kitchen makeovers, new appliances. Maybe you wonder why....

It is now 3 pm .... I am going to take photos of my kitchen, post them, then let you be the judge.

Hit pause now.

 This is not actually in the kitchen. It is what is supposed to be the dining room. Note Roger's toolbox - evidence of intent. The bakers rack holds my large cookbook rack and a few of my dozens of cookbooks. The bulk of them are in the outside storage shed. My mother-in-law Ann have given us a great many things over the past decade, the bakers rack is one of the prettiest and most used. You cannot see, but the metal is a dark green. Oh, and there are home canned items stacked on here as well.
The next picture is the wall between the kitchen and dining room, where the main breaker box is located. The plumbing for the ice maker is located behind the cabinet. This is a cabinet my sister had in her home for years. She very kindly gave it to us when she was blessed with an update to her kitchen not long after Roger and I were married. This cabinet houses my dishes, drink-ware, toaster, pitchers, some utensils, has a drawer where I keep kitchen towels and an area on the bottom where serving ware and my slow cooker are stored. 
 The refrigerator we purchased new. Note the OSB wall. Two of the four walls are OSB, two are partially insulated but no OSB or drywall has been applied. 
 Beside the refrigerator is a base cabinet meant to be a sink base. It has casters attached to the bottom and can be easily moved. The drawers hold utensils and flatware. The cabinet serves as storage for baking pans, mixing bowls, and storage containers. The top is used for the microwave, the bread box, coffee, a glass jar of sweetener packets, the food processor and a mug tree.
 Beside the cabinet is a bookcase unit I use as a pantry for condiments, spices, oils, dried beans and pastas and miscellaneous baking supplies.
 There is a shelf Roger made that is above the cabinet. We store canisters with flours and sugars, as well as boxed cereals and some crackers here. I like the open shelving, and dream of having more. not so fond of the metal brackets though. Too utilitarian and industrial looking. Oh well.
 The opposite wall is taken up by the window. Roger purchased it from someone he knew in Abingdon. I really like the size. Lots of light. My pot rack is hung from a rafter above the table. In the lower left corner of the window is where Roger turned a crack in the storm window into a flower vine and hummingbird painting. He is resourceful. And the ceiling? Right now it is plastic sheeting.
 My stove. I am the third owner. My grandfather, Roy Slade, bought this stove before he passed away. He passed in 1986. My brother Steve used it for years, and gave it to us when he and Kathy did updates to their kitchen soon after Roger and I purchased the house.
 Ah, yes. The sink. More of Roger's resourcefulness. 2x4's supporting a plywood counter top, with a stainless steel double sink. Room on one side for the coffee maker. An electric outlet, Ground Fault Protected, means this is where I have to manage to do any mixing, processing, grinding, grilling, slow cooking. There is a piece of 3/4 inch plywood that will fit over 1/2 of the sink that I use to have more workspace. My dish drainer is in the left-side bowl of the sink. No dishwasher. My Kitchenaid stand mixer is in a box under the sink, as are boxes holding canning jars, some cleaning supplies, my hand mixer and wineglasses.

In the hallway we have a Rubbermaid shelving unit that is the completion of our storage solutions. Top shelf - box mixes, instant potatoes. Behind the boxes is a cake carrier. The second shelf is crammed full. There are home canned green beans and tomatoes, all manner of canned fruits and vegetables and assorted cooling racks, storage bins and cutting boards.
 The third shelf holds pots, pans. skillets, is a make-shift liquor cabinet, and my Oster Kitchen center is there as well. I seldom use the Oster, but will admit to an emotional attachment. It has served me well for about twenty years. I cannot even begin to think how many pound cakes I have made using that mixer.
And we finish our tour with a look at the OSB sub-floor. I am supposed to have a wood floor. Some day.

I did not do this for sympathy, or to ridicule Roger. Were it not for his abilities, and the generosity of our family, we would have much less than we do. I guess I put this out there to show people, this is my reality. I do not feel sorry for myself, it is what it is as the saying goes. We were able to cobble together the resources to buy the property, and have a very very very low mortgage payment. We have heat, we have dry, we have our little corner of the world and are happy here.

But I sure would like to have a real kitchen again.

It has been a long time.

And that is why I just entered another contest.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

So, Today is Valentines Day ...

When I was an adolescent, my mother was a stay at home mom until my younger brother started school. I am four years older than he. She was able to have a few more dollars here and there, to spend on herself and her children. 

Mom had her early version of gift baskets, in the form of a box of goodies, gaily wrapped for the occasion. Not a big gift, but a collection of smaller gifts, each thoughtfully chosen with her children in mind. One year in particular, on Valentines day, I recall receiving a 45 rpm record, a suede purse with fringe and beads and socks. I think I was probably in about seventh grade, maybe sixth. Just past the age when boys and girls would take stacks of valentines to school to drop in gaily decorated brown paper bags or shoe boxes. Into that age when there was giggling and teasing about 'girlfriends' and 'boyfriends'. Mom made us feel special, feel loved.

I have a daughter. She was born February 21, 1985. She was adopted at birth by a wonderful, loving family in Rhode Island. I think somewhere in my mind I imagined I would have another child. Never happened. I have mentioned before how hard this time of the year has been for me through the years. The exquisite pain of being without the only child I would ever bring into this world is part of that desolation and despair. 

I was blessed with a new appreciation for life in 2008 when she and I 'found' one another. I refrain from talking about her very much online, not because I am ashamed of her but because I want to respect her privacy. She and I are slowly getting to know one another, and it is at times scary. She is so like me, in odd and different ways. We look alike, which I suppose is not surprising. We have very similar tastes in food, aversions to the same items, and an addiction to cheeses. If it were our choice, mayonnaise would never be smeared on another sandwich. One day, when the courage factor is high, I will share more detail about the months leading up to her birth publicly. Not today though. She knows the story, that is what matters. I openly and honestly answered every question she had after 23 years of conjecture the first few times we talked. We both cried many tears during those conversations. 

So rather than giving her a box of goodies this Valentines Day, the way my mother would give me, I am working at giving her pieces of who she is. She reads this blog, every post. She tells me so, when we talk. The pictures I post from time to time, the stories of my family and friends, the ramblings of my adult ADD mind, all of these are for her.

Happy Valentines Day, to my beautiful, amazing daughter. I look forward to seeing you soon. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

NaBloPoMo For February? Pffftttttttt

Ironic, in a way, that the theme for February is "Relative" because the immediate attention to family has necessitated in my admitting defeat in the challenge.

In Song of Solomon in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, there is a verse that says: The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land

This quote came to mind today while I was reading the Monday post in one of my favorite blogs. Hope is so essential to us in life. I have been in a very deep despair as of late, and there are days when the struggle is almost too much for me to bear without weeping. There are myriad causes, and that is not what I want to address. What I want to address is our ability to emerge from the despair. Because we do - I do. We can - I can. 

I am aware there are people who can't, who don't. I am aware that there are people who can and do only after using medications. Nothing wrong with that. I know that other things can lift that grey from our spirit. Prayer, meditation, changes in finances, loss or additions to our families and friends. Many things can be the catalyst. 

Who and what we are that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is spirit. The capacity to experience emotion, our propensity to become obsessed with some feelings, mired in others. Our reaching and searching for answers and experiences that validate our existence. 

I am ready to feel good again. I am wanting big gulping breaths of fresh air, long soothing sips of iced tea and easy happy chats with people I really like being around. Yet there is more. I want to know I matter, that I make a positive impact on someone's life. I do not think I am alone in these desires, I think they are what drive many of us. We do not want to have has our time on this plane of existence to have been in vain. We want to know that we gave, did something of value and merit. We want to be able to look back as the months and years melt one into another and say, This was a good life, well-lived.

It is easy to spout cliches and platitudes. We all use them. But there is a great deal of truth in some of them. 

To be continued ... 

Monday, February 6, 2012

No real post today

Paul Edward "Ed" Smith was born March 31, 1963. He is the youngest child of Poss and Janet Smith.

I remember when Eddie was born. I was just over 4 years old, and I was resentful at being usurped as the baby of the family. 

My family is going through some issues right now, and I just cannot concentrate on blogging.
I will return ASAP.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sindia Apple

Such a pretty name, pronounced "Cindy", with a totally unique spelling.

She is my mother-in-law, born in 1938 in Wise County, Virginia. Her name at birth was Willie Ann. After she married, she grew weary of constantly being assumed by virtue of her first name alone to be male and receiving mail addressed to Mr. Willie Apple. Having been enamored of her mother's given name of Sindia since she was a wee girl, she went through the legal process of changing her first name. 

She married very young, leaving the mountains of her youth for the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She and her husband had three children. Allen, Roger and Patricia. Allen had two children, Oscar and Dianna. Patricia had two sons, Daniel and Michael. Roger? Roger has had a steady stream of fur-babies his entire life and was the bachelor uncle to his niece and nephew from the time of his divorce from Ula in the early 80's until he was transported to this amazing life of  ours when we met in 2001.

Ann worked for a time in a zipper factory, cashiered at grocery stores, worked for 7-11, and eventually opened her own convenience store. After divorcing then remarrying her husband, she took on the monumental job of raising her grandson Oscar and only granddaughter Dianna. Mr. Apple became ill, and passed away after suffering a brain aneurysm and being diagnosed with lung cancer. She continued with the task at hand, never shirking her responsibilities. 

Her world was dimmed once again when she lost her oldest grandchild, Oscar, to cancer when he was only 26 years old.

My first husbands mother had passed away years before he and I met, so I had some degree of trepidation about having a mother-in-law. I am nothing if not honest, and I will admit there have been challenges. Ann has had a hard life, suffered the loss of many loved ones, and had numerous medical issues of her own to contend with through the years. She is the product of a time and experiences that are foreign to my own frame of reference. She is without a doubt one of the most fiercely independent and opinionated people I have ever known.

When you spend any amount of time at all with her, you learn what a generous person she is. I marvel at her determination to give to and do for people with such drive and focus. She seems compelled to nurture and mother people to a degree I have seen in few women. Having known her for 11 years, the one phrase that in my mind best describes her is, "beholden to no man".

I have a deep respect for her, and am appreciative of the person she is if for no other reason because she was able to produce a man who while not perfect, is perfect for me. In recent months she has had a few health issues. I am working with her on securing a place in an assisted living facility. This is a difficult time for her. She is frail, and I think more than a little bit afraid. Tough situation for such an independent person.

We would all be considered fortunate to have withstood some of the challenges she has faced, much less all of them. If there is someone like Sindia Apple in your life, take a closer look They may have more to teach you than you realize.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Broader Interpretation of Relative

I grew up in a small town in southwest Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains. An  agrarian, minimally industrial, coal mining, majority Protestant Christian town. Not the sort of place a lot of people hang around in once they grow up. We all had big dreams, high hopes, lofty ambitions. I myself excelled at not fulfilling potential, at least not in the manner that ensured a lucrative career and bragging rights at our Class of '77 reunions.

I was in high school with some pretty amazing people though. People who have over the past 30 +/- years traveled fascinating paths. They each have a very personal and unique story to their lives. Stories that are relative to my life because we each spent all or part of our formative years in the rich lands of the valley that the Clinch River flows through. The Mighty Clinch we used to call her, not understanding she was on her way to the Tennessee and then the Mississippi, pouring out in an offering of need and gratitude upon the Gulf of Mexico. A journey to her destiny as a part of the waters that nurture this earth, our mother.

We were too young for Vietnam, too young for Woodstock and Haight Ashbury. We were just old enough though, to know about these things. We were a generation that listened to Kiss and Judas Priest. We experimented with marijuana and drank jungle juice in the light of campfires on summer nights. We watched politicians fall from grace and men walk on the moon. We lived through floods and a gas shortage. Our experiences of these national and global milestones were filtered by being residents of Tazewell County. Our exposure to a rapidly changing world was tempered by the embrace of the mountains we roamed, looking for a way to be and do more than our parents had. 

So today when I read an article online written by a man I went to school and church with as a teenager a different understanding of relative was present. I knew about the article because Ron is on my Facebook friends list. I read the article because it is about someone we were both in school with in the '70s. I have an emotional response to the interview that would be foreign to the majority of the people who read the same words because the history and experience of both the journalist and musician are shared with me, and the other 1200 +/- young idealists who were students at RHS from 1972-1977.

I have a similar reaction each time I come across information that is connected to my roots, my past, my history. It is relative because it is in an odd way a part of me now. Relative to the person I was, am, and will be.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is it all relative?

The reason most of my posts appear in the late afternoon? Roger spends most afternoons outside, and I have 'free' time. 

I love my husband, and I like him as well. He tends to be quiet, not to be taken as being uninformed or unintelligent. He will talk in 'spits and spurts' though, here around the house. Often about something that he has been mulling over for some time. Earlier today, seemingly out of nowhere, he began to share an incident from his past, and suggested I blog about 'dark years' and how people can get through them by doing the right thing.

A dark year for him was 1982. He suffered a series of setbacks, details not important. He worked through things, and the experience left a deep impression on him.

He had a friend when he was young who committed suicide, and at the funeral the minister said something to the effect that no matter how bad you think things are right now, odds are in a year it will have evened out in the overall scheme of your life. Roger paid heed to this, and operates in the larger picture of life mindset. He will say, "What was so bad a year ago today that it is burned indelibly in your memory?" I get what he is saying.

Perspective is always better when there is something to measure against. We all have dark times. They may be hours, days, weeks long. The really dark times can last months. Roger had a year of darkness. 1982.

His take away? Pushing things off to the side does not make them go away, they still have to be addressed and resolved. No matter how bad it looks now, in the end life has a way of achieving balance.

You know what? That husband of mine is pretty darn wise.

It is all relative.

As far back as my teenage years I bemoaned the advent of February. To me it was like the sludge field of the year. Grey. Dank. Dead. Depressing. Drizzly foggy days followed by long chilly nights. Naked trees, mud puddles, dead grass. I left my beloved mountains to live in sunny Florida after a particularly difficult winter, and an abysmal February. My daughter was born in February of 1985, and I would not see her again for 25 years. There were years that I would lie in bed, weep in despair, waiting for the agony that was ironically the shortest calendar month to end.

I gave up, ceded to the despair and depression for years.

I started to heal slowly, spent my last bad February in 2001 starring at Lake Ontario and finding me again. In April I came home to southwest Virginia and my beloved Appalachian Mountains. 

I see the sense in and truth behind what Roger says because I lived in a cycle of despair that I had to work through. And life does balance out. 

A year ago my mother had a fall in her home, and for a time we thought the worst. Time and grace healed and imbued perspective. She is much more limited now, and my sister bears the weight of most of her care. Life has gone on. 

It is all relative. And how life is faced, and lived, is inextricably tied to our relatives. This can be bad, more often it can be good. 

When you have that day or week or month or year of darkness, and look back upon it, the light that brought the balance? That is the blood and chosen relatives you have surrounded yourself with. 

It is all relative.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Practical Application of Relative

Oh my, it is late tonight. If I do not think and type fast, I may not even make it by midnight! Busy, busy day for this old girl.


I had such a satisfying afternoon and evening, sitting and eating and talking. I met with two "girlfriends" at a local Mediterranean restaurant today. Actually, this brings up a subject I wanted to cover this month anyway, my sisters-of-the-heart.

A sister-of -of-the heart is a female friend, age unimportant, with whom you have a bond beyond friendship. A girl or woman with whom you 'click'. They are vital to our sanity, girls, make no mistake about it. They may be local, or across the country, or in another country. They are not determined by age, race, or DNA. Education? Not a determining factor either. I have been gifted throughout my life with these women. Sometimes they are in our lives for only a season, to help us in ways we never knew we needed help. Sometimes they are in our lives because we have a skill or experience they have need of and do not yet know.

Leesa I have known since first grade, Sandi I met in the seventh grade. Leigh is my first cousin. Diane is ten years older than I, Andrea ten years younger. Dove, Rae, Mandi and Deb I met at work. I met Shari through a flyer posted in a coffee shop about ghost-hunting, Debbie I met because we both follow a Tarot blog "Beth Owl's Daughter". Pilarr I met through Shari. Shaunna and Sussannah I met through Rae.

There is a beauty and synchronicity to life, a serendipity, the lagniappe that is always just around the corner. Sisters-of-the-heart are like that.

My life is enriched beyond measure by their presence and would be drab and monotonous without them.

I hope each of you has sisters (or brothers!) of the heart.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We are many, we are one.

We are each at the center of our own world, whether we admit it or not.

We are the nucleus, the sun. We are the heart, the soul.

We are not the sole composition, just the center. It truly can be no other way. What makes our lives work is the things that surround the center, the people in our lives. Our parents, children, spouses, friends. Our aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, in-laws, neighbors. Our co-workers. Our employers, employees, service providers. 

The relatives, the friends, the enemies.

I am Ellen. The person who shares most of my world is my husband, Roger. We met through Yahoo personals in the late Spring of 2001. He asked me to marry him in October of the same year.We dated for over a year before we were married. I would have lived with him, truth be told. I had been married from October of 1986 until September of 2001, 15 years. That was all I wanted of marriage.

Roger insisted we marry, because he did not want "people talking about me". How could I refuse in the face of such chivalry and honor? July 25 will be our tenth anniversary.

I see the people in my life as petals on a flower, like a lotus blossom. Some are closer, some further removed. Some have drifted off from a lack of care, some have left this corporeal plane. Some were never really connected, just gave the appearance of being that way.

I would not be who and what I am today without every single solitary one of them.

The contributions and impacts we have on each other are so minute and monumental, a contradiction of life that I find fascinating.

Relative. Relatives. Relation. Relations. Relationships.

The impact our presence has on the lives of one another, like the silk of a spider, almost invisible but of amazing strength. Terrifying influence.

My words, actions, ideas matter because of each of you, and your words, actions, ideas have immeasurable impact in my life.

We are many, we are one.