Archive for December, 2009

Countdown to Christmas…I’m recycling just about everything…
December 22, 2009

I'm drowning in recycling...help!

OK, seriously….if recycling doesn’t come tomorrow(and I know they will, but still), I will be in big trouble. Take a look at this pile of boxes and paper and flotsam and jetsam, lurking untidyly(not sure that’s a word) in the corner of the family room. It’s enough to strike terror into the heart of anyone riding the recycling truck. And it is without doubt, evidence that I did most of my shopping online this year. I love the idea of strolling around charming shops looking for gifts, but this year I just didn’t have the time, and my fingers did the shopping.

Recycled pine cones...

And speaking of recycling….recycled pine cone alert! Remember the huge pine cones from the party? The ones I ordered off of EBay…(yes, you can find anything on Ebay).  I had so many of them, I tied a dozen or so onto pine roping…can I tell you they looked so beautiful in the snow….very rustic, very Southern Living.  Oh, and some of them also did double duty,  showing up as Christmas tree ornaments.

The tree wasn’t bought until this past Saturday morning…in the snow…but it’s up and decorated…finally. All of the ornaments on our tree have a history of some sort, and while I love the idea of a “designer tree”…where all of the decorations have a theme or match in some way, I could never change our tree from what it is. Which is to say, a hodgepodge really, of lovingly collected snowmen, dolls, animals, angels and whatever that we have collected or been given over the years.

Wise elf watches all...

The ones in the pictures have memories for me….great memories….the little elf holding his knees, and the little china angel date back to my childhood….and Mom gave them to me. I love finding a place in the tree for the elf to sit…he just watches all the holiday fun from his piney perch…and the tiny basket by the angel, no bigger than your thumb..was  given to my daughter from a wonderful young woman who took care of her in preschool named Miss Daisy.

Little old angel...

She made sweet little ornaments for all the kids, and at least this one survives, almost 20 years later.

On Christmas day we will be home …home here, not home Alabama. My sweet daughter, my son and the lovely Jennifer will also be here…I feel so lucky to have them all at Christmas though I know that won’t always be true. One must learn to share, after all.

But all my shopping is finished..done. I think. I’m hoping I don’t get a last minute attack of the “I don’t have enough” whimwhams. One of my sisters has already come down with this much dreaded and potentially expensive malady, and I hope to avoid her fate….last minute shopping. The gifts are wrapped, for the most part, mostly with recycled boxes I got last year and the year before when I had gifts wrapped at the store before they were sent(thank you Neiman Marcus)….and get this.

Gift tags with a little history behind them...

I even recycled some really beautiful bird gift tags I bought last year! I mean, the presents are given to the same people year after year….why throw away something that is perfectly useful and still lovely? And my sister Audrey had a great idea which I haven’t tried…she makes tags from the fronts of Christmas cards she has received….pretty on the front, blank on the back…think about it.

Ok, for those of you not finished with your “rat-killing“, as my Mother would call it…get out there and get it done. And then lets all take a collective sigh of relief and just….relax. For a little while?

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It’s Friday…a snow Friday!
December 18, 2009

Hi everyone…this has been the oddest week for me. The first few days back at work were a little difficult, I’m not gonna lie to you…and I have just felt all over the map emotionally this week. But yesterday, i think I turned a corner of some sort. I can still cry at a certain song or something someone says, but it’s better…definitely better. My sisters and I will call each other to check on the other to make sure she got home after a trip. This was always Mom’s job…she was an dutiful, unpaid, professional worrier….she was so good at it, I let here worry about things for me. Now we’ll have to check on each other.

Mom would be so excited about the snow tomorrow, though always distressed when I would have to go to work(which I may have to do sometime over the weekend)….She would say, “WHY do you have to go to work? It’s snowing!” And I would reply, “Mom, in most jobs you stay home when it’s bad outside. But in my business, the worse it is outside, the more you have to go to work.” She always hated that.

And in Alabama we never got much snow…but a couple of times in my childhood we got 6 or 8 inches…..what delight. As we had no snow boots(really, only people with more money than sense or those who went on ski vacations had them, and Mom would probably add ski vacations also indicated more money than sense)….my ever inventive Mother just tied plastic freezer bags(which also housed creamed corn and lima beans) over our shoes, with rubber bands to keep them tight at the ankle…though this was only marginally effective. We made quite the fashion statement I can tell you. When they wore out ..which happened after about 3 snowballs, we came in for new ones, and hot cocoa.

I won’t wear plastic bags tomorrow, but a heavy-duty pair of snow boots I have from Eddie Bauer…don’t drag them out often but tomorrow looks like they will finally see what they were made for…cold and snow.

I wish for all of you a safe and warm weekend…enjoy the snow if you can…I know for some people it’s nothing but misery and hardship. For you, I hope it melts soon. Hope you get some hot chocolate this weekend!

Back in town….
December 15, 2009

Can I just say one more thank you to all of the kind replies from many of you…and thanks for the good thoughts sent my way as well. Several of you said my blog made you cry…well, some of your words made me cry too.

It was a long week that flashed by last week….any of you who have dealt with the death of your last parent, knows all the stuff that has to be wrapped up. The final downsizing of someone’s life….and there was still soooo much stuff that had to be donated/given away/taken home/put in my baby sister’s attic(sorry Jan)…finalizing of the estate, closing accounts, etc…..it’s just a mountain of details. We found we had to keep making lists of what had to be done… right now and what could wait for later. It’s then you know the value of siblings. Really, I cannot imagine going through all that without my sisters. And my sweet daughter came down to help….she was so good, hauling stuff, cleaning, shopping, taking my (mental) temperature. She’ll never know how much I appreciate it.

And I’ve made a resolution to be better about sending cards to people who have lost someone….they really do mean a lot.

I want to share a story from my Mom’s earlier days…one I shared at her service, that spoke to 1. her stubbornness and 2. her standards. She and my Dad married january, 1942….she followed him to couple of cities until he was deployed overseas.  In Abilene, Texas, she needed a job desperately, to be able to afford to stay there with him…but the town was awash in army wives, looking for work. So she picked the largest office building in Abilene, and starting on the bottom floor, went door to door, asking if people needed secretarial help(she was very good). Finally on the 4th floor, a bookkeeper said yes indeed, they were between secretaries, and while the boss was not in town, he would hire her, to see if it worked out.

Later that week, Mom’s new boss(name was J.D. something-I hate myself that I can’t remember his last name),an oilman who had been out in the fields, came in, walked right by Mom into his office, put his dirty boots up on the desk and said loudly, “Girl, get in here and bring your book!”  For those of you too young get the reference…he meant her stenographer’s book.

He proceeded to dictate a letter…but what a letter! It was basically a string of disorganized thoughts, bad grammar, no punctuation or paragraphs, and full of curse words. When he finished, he said, “You type it up just like that.”

Mother took the letter back to her desk and pondered her situation….on one hand she really needed this job, and there was every indication he would fire her if she didn’t do as he said. On the other hand, a letter like that went against everything she had ever been taught, and everything she believed in. So, she turned his random thoughts into a proper business letter, with proper punctuation and grammar, and no curses….typed it up and quietly laid it on his desk.

A few minutes later, he cam storming out of his office, past Mom straight into the bookkeeper’s office(who must have been trembling in his boots)….and exclaimed, “Finally…..you hired a girl who can type the way I talk!!” They got along fine after that.

She was a strong bird, my Mom….and if she ever did something that went against her principles, I never knew about it. I had a moment this morning of missing her intensely….on my way to work, I would call her most every morning. And this morning, when I got in the car….I had no one to call. And thus it goes, life changing after someone leaves it. Sadder, but the better for having had known them. I know all of you know of what I speak. Again, thank you.

Thanks to all of you….
December 8, 2009

It’s the beginning of a long day here in Alabama….my sister’s living room is strewn with stacks of pictures of my Momma’s life…we’re trying to pick some(or hundreds) for a little presentation. Yesterday we entered the rare and expensive world of picking out caskets.

But I wanted to thank all of you who read my blog yesterday, and the kind comments made me cry(again). My sisters were amazed. “But they don’t even know Mother!”, but they understand that you really can get to know people you’ve never met, in a way. It’s like reading  about a character in a book of whom you grow very fond, and you’re shocked or saddened when they die at the end.  And even more, death is something we all share. None of us will escape its sorrow. So when my Mother dies, you’ve already been there, or know you will be one day. So for all your kind thoughts and words…thank you from the bottom of my heart. As my daughter-in-law, the lovely Jennifer likes to say, I heart you.

Saying goodbye to Momma….
December 7, 2009

I got the phone call about 4 this morning that we all dread…that someone we love is gone. I knew as soon as I saw the number who it was…my baby sister calling to say,”She’s gone…Mom’s gone”…and as much as I thought I was ready for it, I’m not. I’m really not.

I wish I could talk with her one more time…ask her about so many things. My Mother was the keeper of the family memory trove. If my sisters or I could not remember something, all we have to do was ask Momma….she usually remembered and knew the answer. She had gone downhill this year….I was down to see her about a month ago(most of you can imagine how glad I am we went), and she was just…. evaporating. Tinier than ever..down to just over 100 pounds…she was just folding in on herself. But still sharp as a tack….not much got by Mom…not much at all. …in fact she was reading the newspaper ,last night in the hospital(she couldn’t get to bed until she read the news). She still worried about all of us, and wanted the best for us. Something so touching on our last visit….my sister told me she so wanted to host a dinner for us( my sweet daughter went along on this trip too…she hadn’t seen her Mamaw in some time)…so she had the food manager at her assisted living facility fix us a special dinner. What was on the menu would not be good enough…it had to be special. And she was so worried about that meal, and I hated that she worried about it. But don’t I do the same when my son and daughter-in-law come in for a visit?  I so want it to be special. All their favorite foods have to be there… it has to be perfect. I am my Mother’s daughter.

My son just called….he said, “You know Mom, Mamaw was a really cool lady…to think that someone who really couldn’t get around except in  wheelchair, and had so many physical problems, a little old white lady in Alabama, would get out and vote….for Barack Obama…is really something.” And she really was something.

I didn’t talk to her yesterday…didn’t tell her I had gotten the Christmas china out, and used it for company lunch yesterday. I hope she knows. I hope she knows how much I love her and how very much we will all miss her indomitable spirit.  I’m headed down to Birmingham today to help my sisters get the funeral together and then, the task of dismantling what was left of her belongings. Much of it was gone already, as her world got smaller and smaller, but still. Many tears ahead and much laughter too…as I’ve often thought, the only good thing about a funeral is the family reunion that comes with it. She’d love that…and love to be there. And she will be in a way. Godspeed Mary Grace. Godspeed. And tell Daddy hi for me.

Wow…it’s the weekend already??
December 4, 2009

A Lollapalooza of a week.....

Seriously, it’s hard to believe it is Friday…because the week has been very very very very busy. First, the verdict finally came down for Mayor Sheila Dixon…we were on live for 3 hours or so after that happened. How did I feel about it? Kinda sad I suppose….I don’t know the Mayor personally…but I think most residents of the city feel she’s done a pretty good job….and she’s the first African-American woman to fill the job. It’s  just sad. But there it is.

Tiger and his drop dead gorgeous wife....

And then there’s Tiger Woods…..oh, Tiger. I think as soon as we heard about the car accident…first response…”Oh that’s terrible, hope he’s not hurt.” Then you hear he was leaving the house at 2:30 am…uh-oh…a little sumthin’ sumthin’ going on there. And then, his wife “rescued”  him with a golf club…Hmmmm, say again? I think we all knew from the get go that this was not good for El Tigre. And as more women come into the picture….well, well. Not that it’s some huge surprise…I hear on the tour it’s certainly not. But ..here’s the thing….take almost any ridiculously rich, famous man….add on that he’s also ridiculously good-looking AND  travels a lot AND a professional athlete…. “Paging Mrs. Woods…..you have a problem!” I’m sure there are some pro athletes who are faithful to their mates, but from what I hear…it’s the exception rather than the rule. As someone in the newsroom said, “Marry a rich pro athlete, and you’ll earn every dime.” I’ll let the person who said it remain anonymous.

And then the lighting of the Washington Monument last night(hope you got to see it either in person or on tv)….there was a huge crowd there…it’s always crowded but it was packed last night, because of the nice weather. I never get enough of the Baltimore City College choir…those kids are sooooooo good….I could have listened to them the whole time….and the fireworks were killer this year. If you’ve never made it down to this event…try to come next year. And if you missed it on tv….you can catch it again this weekend…the Dec. 5th at 8pm and the 6th at 7 pm….on WBAL 11-2(it depends on your cable provider how it’s listed).  Enjoy…and have a great weekend. This one came fast.

Kelly Ripa in my blouse!!

Oh, and last perhaps least….I think Kelly Ripa snuck into my closet and borrowed my blouse….and my pants too! I wore the exact same outfit to a party for my son and daughter-in-law…..who wore it best? You know who’s the winner on that one…Ripa all the way, baby, all the way.