author moments

Symbols

Meaning is hidden everywhere. Places. Signs. Memories. That little park you pass on the way to work every day is the place where someone proposed. It is also the place where some friends had a huge fight. It’s the place where a kid broke her arm and ended up in a cast. Maybe it’s even the place someone first learned to drive, smoke pot, who knows. Countless scenes in countless stories have taken place there. All in the little park you pass each day without thinking.

Meaning, symbols, roadblocks are everywhere. We stumble over the hearts and sometimes heartaches of others without even knowing it.

Music is potent for memories with me. I grew up singing and listening to tunes all the time. Paul Simon, the Statler Brothers, and Dolly Parton on my parents’ 8-track tape deck in our conversion van. Show tunes and standards I belted out with our player piano in the basement. And then the love songs I would pine over each night, wishing in vain someone would dedicate something to me. It took decades for me to listen to the music of Chicago without bristling or quickly switching it off. Even today, there are songs I may never listen to again. Places I may never go. Overly sensitive? Perhaps. After all, it is just a place, a song, who cares?

Maybe I’m just too much. I willingly embrace being labeled sentimental. Someone watching closely may see the quick shadow roll across my face when that potent memory pops up. Most will miss it.

Just part of what makes me me.

For some people, cardinals are a special symbol. A reminder or even a visit from someone departed and dear. A symbol more purposeful than just happenstance…a place you used to go, a song you used to sing to. This is more of a sign. For me, it’s ladybugs. They always pop up at the most unlikely times. They bring me back to myself. A reassurance. A reminder.

Recently, someone new in my life called me ladybug as a nickname. And it stuck. Sometimes when she says it, it makes me smile, sometimes tear up, sometimes just makes me hold my breath an extra beat. She could never have known that ladybugs are so special for me. Just a sign that she has some role to play, a scene to share. A hand reaching out of the day-to-day doldrums to remind me of the bigger picture.

What it all means.

author moments

Playing In the Woods

I was in the woods with my dog just checking things out. Its was a dreary day after a lot of rain which led me to the wooded area by my home for a stroll. I opted for the less traveled path on this day. Not sure why, but I’m glad I did.

The pine straw covered ground seemed a little less muddy than the grass.  It seems to have had shelter from the rain due the trees above that created a natural canopy. The smell of rain was in the air and the dog was curious about the the surroundings which intrigued me and maybe sparked my curiosity.

Sniff, sniff. A slight tug on the leash to guide me to a structure. Hidden in the trees, I stumbled across this old shelter that appears to be a dog house or shelter for some type of critter. I wondered what time period this was from? What was the history behind such a creation? So many questions that I will never know the answer to. It was still cool to think about the history.

Just beyond this structure were a couple of dilapidated barns or outbuildings. Again I was curious on their history. Who lived there? When were they built? What were they used for? I took a couple of pictures and used different filters to see how they might have looked some time ago with old photo technology.

Just beyond the trees were some over grown weeds that gave these photos a little mysterious look. I enjoy taking pictures and writing about them. It’s a great opportunity to drift off from today and imagine what was before and how things have changed.

Barns in my suburban area are not so popular which means these are a piece of history. Maybe momentous to somebody. How long will they endure? Will a contractor tear them down? Will somebody want to reclaim the wood for a home project? So many questions.

My normal walk took a little turn. Some might not think a walk in the woods is exciting enough to write about but somedays you stumble across and object or a place that inspires you to share your moment. Your snapshot in time.

My moment today was all about the walk. The stroll in the woods. Listening to the bird chirp. Hearing the drips of rain drops sliding off the tree leaves. The crunching sound of pine straw crackling at your feet. Tree branches snapping back and forth as squirrels jump around which also makes the dog bark. 

Some days it’s about the climb. Some days it’s about the falls. Other days it could be about ignorance. You just never know what’s coming next on this blog. That’s the beauty of writing. It’s an artistic expression that we share with the world now and then. Variety is our spice of life. You get a sampling not an exclusive view. A tidbit of sorts. As our readership grows we know you hear our voices. This inspires us to spread our wings and write for depth.

Enjoy the week.

author moments

Big Bang Theories

At the beginning of a race, you might expect to hear a gunshot or even two.

At the shooting range, or on a hunting trip, out in a field in the country, sure. Gunshot makes sense.

But in a Mexican restaurant on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Salem, Virginia? Where we just happened to stop in the middle of a marathon whiplash road trip?

Well, maybe I am naive (ok, definitely), but it wasn’t the first place my mind went when I heard the huge bang with a slight echo. It *was* unusually loud, and I shared glances with a few other guests, but my mind told me it was a huge tray being dropped, which I then told the rest of the table. We kept eating.

One of my daughter’s friends saw the police pull up out the front window a few minutes later. Several officers casually walked back to the restroom area, where a man was seated. They put on gloves.

Many of us started to murmur, to wonder. What was all this about? All the while, we keep eating. More baskets of chips and salsa arrived with the same fanfare as the police walked in. Nothing to see here, or so it seemed.

Next, the ambulance. And then, the firetruck, all with lights flashing.

Again, the EMTs casually rolled the stretcher in. They loaded the man on. His jeans were cut open and he held a towel over his thigh. They rolled him out to the ambulance. He had really shot himself! In the bathroom! In the leg! On accident!

!!!!!

The waiter brought our check. We paid, uncomfortable and astonished. I did an 18-point turn to get out of the parking lot, weaving through the emergency vehicles. We continued on our way.

For the next hour or two as we headed down the road, every once in a while I or one of the others in the car would blurt out a “What if…” comment. What if the gun had been pointing another direction? What if I had gone to the bathroom at that time? What if his injuries had been more serious? What if there had been an argument and he had shot someone else? What if there were more guns in the restaurant?

Even years later now, I am shocked reading this. And today, in early 2021, I spoke with someone who showed me a picture of an acquaintance who had shot himself in the leg just days ago. An experienced and knowledgeable gun owner, he was planning to shoot into the ground but instead he will live with a bullet in his bone.  It could have been much worse.

Be careful out there. You never know who’s packing.

author moments

Redneck Sweetheart

This is a funny little story with an even more interesting name: redneck sweetheart.

Let’s get started by laying the ground work. A new acquaintance asked if I’m from around this area? Should I take offense? Should I be flattered? So much to think about.

It got me thinking about the south. I’m originally from the north but spent more than half my life in the south. If majority rules I’m technically more southern based on time vested. Who would guess? I talk fast to most. I’m blunt and I don’t pussy foot around most topics like a nice southern lady. To put it lightly, I can talk about poop.

Keeping with this thought I have heard a million times over all the redneck jokes. All the dumb southern jokes. The list goes on and on. So today I thought I’d write about being a redneck sweetheart. I’d classify more as a redneck than a fine southern lady. 

My first redneck self portrait will be of my yard. What would this sweetheart’s yard look like if you were a neighbor of mine:

I think I have a big yard. Maybe even a pasture or two. I’d find some junk at the local swap meet or antique store to decorate my yard. I would of course call it yard art.

As part of my yard art, I’d go on Facebook marketplace to find me an old school outhouse. I’ve always fancied those cool pieces of history so I’d have to have one in my yard. I may even have a commode in it. Non-working of course. Wouldn’t want to seep the sewage into my yard.

I like bacon so maybe I’d have a pet pig. If I did I’d name him Hank. Hopefully the stink wouldn’t be too bad for my neighbors who have a nice view of my yard.  I use a lot of eggs since I eat healthy so you would definitely have some chickens running around. Maybe even a cock to add to the noise or ambiance. They might be a little noisy and stinky but I’m sure there are worse things to have in your yard.

I like old cars a lot and I’ve seen many people collect old trucks and use the beds for flowers or just yard junk. I guess you’d see a car or two in my yard. If I’m collecting cars I might put out an old tractor because they look cool too.

Whenever my friends get together for a day at the house we usually light fireworks or shoot guns. Things with lots of bangs, booms, pops and stuff. Might make the neighbor’s dog jump, but I can do what I want in my yard.

What redneck sweetheart doesn’t like to ride a dirt bike or four wheeler up down and around the yard? Well that’s me. So I guess if we were neighbors you would see me out and about living my best redneck life on my cool toys. I’m revving the engine in my mind now. The sounds just get me pumped up. The louder the better.

I have a little hill in part of my yard too. When it snows you will see me sledding but when it’s super hot you will me rigging up my own slip n’ slide. Redneck style of course. That means large sheets of plastic with dish soap loaded and ready to go. Lots of screams, laughs and maybe some curse words would be heard if you were my neighbor. If you were my neighbor you’d probably want to hang out but I only invite friends over so you might just have to be a spectator. Sucks for you.

I love entertaining especially in my big yard. Frying turkeys outside on Thanksgiving. Fireworks for the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and any other time I feel like it. Seafood boil a couple times a year for my crazy Cajun friends. Big family parties in yard. There could be jumpy things, kegs of beer, games and so much chaos at any time. Celebrating life is always a hoot.

As a redneck sweetheart, I have lots of stories to share. One perspective of life. Not good or bad, just one perspective. Now the question is would you judge me if you were my neighbor? Would you give this redneck sweetheart a chance or would you put up a wall? A do not disturb sign?

I really thought about it. If I didn’t like my neighbor would I put up a wall? Maybe. I guess if somebody bothered me enough I’d go through great lengths to make them miserable but just because I could doesn’t mean I should. That’s where this this redneck sweetheart comes into play. I play nice inside my fence. Well for the most part.

I had so much fun writing this redneck post that I think I will continue my redneck stories as a series. Watch for more silly stories to come. I may even ask cousin sally to write as she is a fine southern lady. Guess you’ll have to wait to see.

author moments

Just 31 Days

Here we are at year number three for this kid. Year number three of what you might ask? Why, it’s my January reflection list.

In January of 2019, I wrote this list up on the wall. My list of highlights and lowlights of the month. the first month of the year. A reflection point. A new tradition.

A year later in 2020, I hit repeat. I did again. Oh how life seemed so different back then. Just a year ago. Just one year ago. Life was so different. Who would have known a pandemic was on the horizon. A pandemic that would still be wreaking havoc a year later. Certainly not me. But here is the value of my list.

I have an opportunity to revisit where I was then vs where in am today. Am I still breathing? Yes. Am I still learning? Yes. Am I still celebrating life each day? Yes. Did I suffer loss in the past year? Yes I did. Am I able to share my stories with the world? Yes. Is there a value in the list? Yes.

My value is tremendous to me personally. I didn’t realize it at the time. I didn’t realize how important the calendar reminder I set in Outlook would be either. I just didn’t think my future self would need to revisit the past. I may now realize the past doesn’t define us. Especially if we stumble or make mistakes. However it does shape us. It may even toughen our skin at times. It gives us experience. Life experiences have value.

Below is my 2021 list in no particular order. It’s my honor to share this list with my readers and those who look back at this stamp in time. My virtual time capsule entry.

  1. I booked a plane ticket.
  2. I settled an estate.
  3. I put a house under contract to purchase.
  4. I put a house under contract for sale.
  5. I reviewed investment opportunities.
  6. I got a new certification for my professional life.
  7. I wrote blog posts.
  8. I applied for PPP for my small business. An acronym I never knew about a year ago!
  9. I got a cool new calendar with lots of F$&! words in it for 2021.
  10. I attended high tea with some sweet friends.
  11. I planted flowers on my farm.
  12. I invested in a glamping site.
  13. I watched my youngest make her first varsity sport in high school.
  14. I tried meal prep food from a new provider.
  15. I worked out a bunch training for a national competition.
  16. I coached some amazing people this month in life.
  17. I redecorated a cabin on a whim.
  18. I finished some renovation projects that were lingering.
  19. I learned to fly a drone.
  20. I was a big supporter/cheerleader for somebody who needed a big boost.
  21. I tried new foods.
  22. I tried to be purposeful in my time.
  23. I dealt with digital school days.
  24. I dealt with in person school days.
  25. I supported those in quarantine.
  26. I made valiant attempts to stay healthy and corona free.
  27. I got mad. Plenty of times.
  28. I felt exhausted after hard workouts.
  29. I started each day as a new day.
  30. I committed to writing this list.
  31. I got my nails done.

The list is by no means all-inclusive. It’s a snapshot. A glimpse. A memory list. I definitely did not know the value my January list would bring me in 2021 when I began this process in 2019. However, here I am excited to turn my life pages to see what 2022 will bring. 

No matter what failures or celebrations come my way, I will write about them. It’s my list of I did’s. There is nothing on the list about I didn’t because I always try. Remember I don’t live in the past dwelling on what didn’t go my way. I move on. 

New president is yesterday’s news. Corona is a headline of last year. 2020 is a piece of history. My hope is that you make a list. Maybe it’s a February list. Maybe it’s a top five list. Whatever you decide, commit to it. You will enjoy the process. I’m enjoying my process three years later.  

No tattoo and no weighted vest yet. Both are in the planning stages. More to follow on those stories in the future.