Friday, April 11, 2014

Life: Sweet and Sour, Part 1

I posted an iPhoto of some lovely Redbud blooms the day before yesterday. "Wordless Wednesday" gave me the perfect excuse not to write words. Ya know, like blogging? I wrote the title, uploaded the photo and boom, I was outta here!

I haven't written a real blog post since March 20th, so much life has happened since then. Sometimes that subject is fun to write about immediately and other times, you have to ruminate on it for a while.

My sister's wedding, the subject of my last post, turned out as wonderfully as she planned...except for the the gale force winds and rain-interrupted ceremony on the beach. She asked her new husband if she looked okay after they emerged from the cover of a nearby palm tree and he said something like "You're not going to be happy with some of these pictures." I think my new brother in law faced his first marriage challenge with truth and humor. Great answer in my books and as you can see, they both looked newlywed perfect.

Rain on your wedding day is lucky
The weekend after my sister's wedding, my Mom and step dad were facing another type of marriage challenge - the inevitable and devastating SOB known as Father Time. On the eve of their 30th wedding anniversary month, my Mom is caring for her husband, Bill as he battles some pretty fierce health issues. 

My sister and I raced to Hot Springs to be with her - she'd worked so hard and was stretched to her emotional limit. I was afraid for him and for her and for all of us. We waited with her in the abysmal ICU waiting room for 3 days while my step dad recovered enough to graduate to his own private room. I'm ashamed to admit how quickly my empathy for waiting room occupants waned under the stress of germaphobia, weariness, and uncertainty.

I was sick of hearing their stories and being an unwilling witness to their pain. I judged them harshly and literally fled the room when our new friend Loretta spoke of a self-proclaimed prophet and how his prayers, spoken in just the right way, led God to honor them more often than the prayers of just normal ol' sinners like myself. At that point, I was proud of myself for not strangling her and everyone in the room...I'm pretty sure my Mom and sister expected a totally inappropriate retort from me but instead, I just ran. The hospital wasn't clean enough nor the staff too kind.

Aging is ugly and cruel. Dread. Anxiety. Oh shit, I need to buy long term care insurance! 

Bill and Mary Jo, 1988
The camaraderie between a mom and her girls was healing. We laughed, reminisced, ate out, and cooked for each other. During times of stress, I try to become the court jester...sometimes it works, sometimes it only amuses me. It occurred to me that it's a role I've played my whole life. Hmmm, introspection. 

I read a tweet by SNL writer Paula Pell that perfectly captured how I felt during these days.  "Anxiety is a heart fulla bees."  In my case they were not cute little honey bees but angry killer bees and of course, I forgot to pack my Xanax for the trip.

A warm foggy morning in the woods, listening to the birds welcome the sunrise was just the salve my spirit needed. The 5 curious, white tail deer I saw the next morning, just a few feet past the flower bed, were a generous gift of joy from the Universe. No doubt.

The view from Mom's back porch
While I was out of town, my sweet Hubs held down the fort. He's totally allergic to cats but took on my duties of feeding and scooping poop for my 2, Scout and Madeline. Scout's health has been on the decline, again that bastard Father Time. Scout turned 19 years old this year and it was time for us to make that decision that every pet owner has to face. Guilt, regret - a week after my return from Arkansas, just about the time that the bees in my chest had been subdued, I called a home health vet to schedule a visit. Just 3 days ago, we cried giant tears as we said goodbye in a veterinary RV parked in front of our house. Thank you Dr. Cary, you were an angel for us and I'll never forget the heartfelt hug that we shared after Scout was gone.

It was a monumental marital challenge for Mr. Rock and me; one that we'll unfortunately face a few more times in the coming years. I'm thankful for the compassion of friends and how we continue to love each other through this time.

So the last 22 days have been ripe with life. Happy, sad, scary, funny, often times shitty life. My focus now, stronger than before, is to recognize my gratitude. Everyone has a sweet and sour life, I'm not special. Writing about it almost makes it hurt less.

I hope you'll come back on Sunday to read more about my tales of sweet life. 

Always hugs,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

To Spring and Sisters and Happiness

Cute pic of the happy couple, stolen straight from her FB page. Boomer Sooner!

Today is the first day of Spring and my sister Cathy's wedding day. The symbolism of a new season in her life is undeniable. It's also the International Day of Happiness...coincidence? I think not.

Almost 3 years ago, I met Cathy's friend, Jeremy when we were at the Arts Festival Oklahoma. Attending together each year is our tradition but she always likes to stay longer than I do. We met in the late morning before the day became too hot (and I became too bitchy and impatient with the crowd) then she planned a 2nd tour of the festival with Jeremy. Since the festival always falls near her birthday, I usually buy her a birthday gift from an artisan. She gets to pick what she likes (only if it fits somewhere in the $20 range), I buy one for me too and everybody's happy. That year, we were looking at hand-painted glass block necklaces and that's where I first met Sweet J. (I love to give people nicknames and he earned this one.)

It was SO hot and humid that day and Sweet J showed up with ice-cold bottled water for us. Awesome first impression! He joined our little shopping session, giving his opinion about what looked cute on my sister and asking me questions to help me decide which necklace I should pick. It was very endearing to me how he jumped right in...most men run away from shopping women. What was truly amazing is that he had the uncanny ability to steer my sister in making her decision in less than an hour, hooray! This girl loves to browse, I on the other hand, do NOT!  Bonus points again, my new friend.

After we picked out our necklaces, we made our way to the food court and then to the shady tents to have some lunch before I left the festival. We chit chatted throughout our meal and Sweet J gathered up our trash when we were done eating. As he took it to the dumpster I whispered to her "You better marry this guy, like...TOMORROW!" She giggled hysterically, I think she may have even snorted and told me they weren't even dating but she would keep my opinion in mind. So today, at 5pm Hawaii time, I will add fortune teller to my resume. As a big sister, it gives me great pleasure to say "I told you so!"

Jeremy has always adored Cathy and no one deserves to be adored more than my sister. Jeremy is a straight shooting, hard working, can fix anything and does it, no filters, in your face kind of guy and she's equally crazy about him. With 4 teenagers still at home, they have a ways to go and it'll be rocky sometimes. But once all the little birds fly the coop, Cathy and Sweet J will enjoy some great years ahead.

At a small private wedding, on the beach, in her jeweled sandals and her gorgeous white sundress she will become 'CathyMac' today. I love this new nickname for her, I wish I could be there today and I'm so happy for the both of them! I'm wearing my arts festival necklace today and sending all my love to them. I hope the hairstyle that she fussed over for weeks, will work out just fine. I know Sweet J will look so handsome in his linen shirt and his sexy goatee. I bet they both cry. I hope they both laugh so hard that they snort at least once about how damn happy they are today. This second time around is where the good stuff happens. I wish you all the happiness that I have found CathyMac, I love you!

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Facebook and Real Friends

In 2009 I joined Facebook. I let everybody who requested become my 'friend.' Social media was new to me. My account was private but I really should've kept it exclusively private for people who were involved in my life. 

I admit that I was whooed by the numbers. Now I care more about the engagement and community than the numbers. I'm losing Facebook friends, on purpose. 

It's nothing personal, but I wouldn't recognize them on the street. We were classmates 30 years ago, friends that does not make us. I understand the fun of Facebook peeping. We're all curious about old flames and who looks the best after all these years; I don't care about that so much anymore. I also don't care about online games, Jesus posts (every damn day) or Obama haters. I respect our differences, I wish you a wonderful life, but I won't let the fear of offending you let your ignorant posts get in the way of looking at pictures of my grandkids or sharing a laugh with clever thinkers and real life buddies.

I determined that if we were related by blood or marriage, you were safe. If we shared a special circumstance or time in our lives, safe. If we'd interacted in the last 6 months, also safe. Ultimately, I unfriended over 100 people last week and I'm proud of myself for finally having the nerve to do it. Resisting the urge to be a people pleaser is exhilarating and liberating beyond belief. I just wish it hadn't taken me 30 years to get here.

Your Friend,

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Winter, winter go away!

Here I am, 18 days away from the 1st day of Spring 2014. The weather just a couple of weeks ago was gorgeous. We had daytime temps in the 60s, sunshine so warm, I wanted to curl up in my dining room window seat and take a cat nap. I had the back door open, the dogs coming in and out for the fun of it and the smell of coconut wafting through the house, thanks to my Scentsy warmer.

I've lived in Oklahoma since 1967 so I know better to believe for one, delusional moment that Spring is here already. But we all must be crazy fools, because while the rest of the country is buried in snow, we start breaking out the shorts and flip flops when it gets above 50 degrees and I actually heard a lawn mower in my neighborhood last weekend!

Last night on the 10 o'clock news, our local weather guru waxed poetically (or maybe squawked hysterically) about the impending doom of winter weather that snuck into Oklahoma throughout the day and would surely ruin Sunday and Monday as well. Rain, sleet, snow and ice - give me a break!

But in perfect Oklahoma style, by next Saturday, I should be able to get out in the yard and start working on redesigned and presentable flower beds. 

I have an Oklahoma Blogger friend Dee Nash. She is a talented writer, she blogs at Red Dirt Ramblings and she has a book signing next Saturday. I'm really excited about new book, The 20-30 Something Gardening Guide. Although my age is more like the sum of those two ages, I am truly a gardening beginner so I know this book will be a wonderful tool to get me started.

So today, as the ground outside is frozen and inhospitable to the spade, I'm baking banana pecan muffins, watching some Oscar-nominated movies before the big show tonight and trying not to feel like this grumpy bluebird...all puffed up for warmth and waiting impatiently for springtime.


Thanks to my Twitter friend @BirdandGarden for the permission to use her photo, I just fell in love with it!
Go away winter, you're not welcome here anymore!

Dreaming of daffodils,
Rose Marie B