122 – trying to tell me something…

There are times in this life when you feel like you’re doing the right thing. And yes, if you’re thinking, “Seriously?” even at the grand old speed limit of 55, I do wonder.

Last night, I got a message from a soldier, just out of Basic and on to his Army Initial thislittlepig-profile-pbTraining, about a column I wrote in the Fort Stockton Pioneer a couple  weeks back. His mama sent it to him. His message will be going in a frame on my wall.  It moves me to tears every single time I read it–and that’s not as easy as you might think! I work with words, I manipulate them every single day. But a few simple, heartfelt words on his part make me fall apart every time I read them.

And, last night, my oldest friend–someone I’ve known since I was in middle school–told me what she thought of This Little Pig, my first novel.  She grew up in the area where the book is set, knows the accents, the way the language is structured. Her comment on the book, and I quote: I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!!!GREAT AWESOME SPECTACULAR …. JOB!!!! The only reason I’m not naming her is because she also wrote a review on Amazon, and they will take them down if they think you solicited them, which I most emphatically did not.

That alone would have made my night, but then she went through her Facebook address book and proceeded to share my book image and link with every single one of the folks we went to school with, individually, and tell them how great it was. People like this come along so seldom, and if I could have gone to her house last night and hugged her, I would have.

Oh, to hell with Amazon.  Kathy Whitaker Figueredo, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You remind me that old friends, the ones who knew us first, remain the most valuable throughout our lives. Hopefully we can see each other at that 40th high school reunion if they hold one in 2017!

Holy crap, we’ve been out of high school for nearly 40 years. Okay, I refuse to let that bother me. Yet.

Last night reminded me that I write because it’s what I do and because it’s who I am, and it’s who I’ve always been.

Kathy knew that–and she’s known me since I was 14. She says she told me in English class I’d be writing a book someday.

Hey, Kathy! You were right.

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112 – all those naps I hated in kindergarten

I’m sitting here gently sipping on a cup of coffee as I write this–well, 3/4 cup of coffee and the rest almond milk, among other adulterations.  Since June of last year, this is maybe my fourth or fifth cup of coffee.  Didn’t stop for any hoity-toity reasons–the smell of coffee nauseated me during a particularly rotten cold, and I switched over to hot tea.  Never really went back to coffee.

However, since that point, I’ve also started napping. A lot.

For instance, the first three days of this week, I’ve slept between an hour and three hours nap1every afternoon. Corey laughs every time I say anything about feeling guilty, but I honestly do. You know that 1 or 2 p.m. slump, where you end up going to get a candy bar? I either stretch out on the couch or go crash in the bed. (Please note, I work from approximately 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. every morning, online, at my virtual job.)

After my nap, about 4 or 4:30, I take a shower, and I’m ready for dinner and my evening with my husband.nap2

In the last six or seven months, I’ve napped more than I ever have in my life. The first time I said something about it to Cor, he said something about me not being a spring chicken. Then he saw the look in my eye. Now he just chuckles every time I say something about it, but words like “hibernation” are pretty much uttered under his breath. Probably wise.nap4

So, I’m experimenting on myself to see if coffee will change the pattern.

Why? Guilt, I guess.

For the past decade, I’ve seldom slept more than six hours a night, and most nights closer to four hours. I was obscurely proud of that – probably that Puritan work ethic that celebrates work and struggle over comfort in every instance.  Hate being stereotypical. Still feel guilty, though.nap3

So, last night, I was trying to convince myself it was a good thing… giving myself the pep talk, you know.

  • “You’re just catching up from all those years of not getting enough sleep…”
  • “It’s not like you have anywhere to be or anything you have to get done–you’ve already completed your workday!”
  • “Every woman in the world would love to have the opportunity to take a nap in the afternoon…”

And, of course, from that last one, the imp that sits at the back of my mind popped up and said,

“I am woman, hear me snore!”

I give up.

Waiter, more coffee!

109 – love this old house

Moved from one house to another here on the ranch the week before Thanksgiving, and I’m not sure it’s possible to get much happier.

It’s a more spacious house than the converted bunkhouse we lived in before, and it’s a hugely more spacious yard for Daysie Dog, but that’s not why I love it.

As hard as we tried, we never really truly made the bunkhouse into ours. I honestly don’t know why.

Maybe it was easier in this place just because the kids got here the same week we moved in, and even helped us move the last bits and pieces and put the pictures up. Putting pictures up usually takes me months. This time they were up in the first week.

Honestly, I feel so at home that I almost feel guilty. We’ve spent a huge number of our spare hours for the last six months looking for what we hoped would be our “forever home,” the place where we will go when we retire, whenever that may be. Even took a week’s vacation to search this last summer. Got really close to putting an offer in on a place. Withdrew it. Too much work, too far away, too, too… whatever. It wasn’t right, so we didn’t do it.13-Living Room from Dining Room

Found another place in nearby Sanderson, and we were really intrigued. Well, “nearby” in Texas terms, about 45 minutes away. It had so many things we really wanted, but again, got spooked for a number of reasons and withdrew the offer.

Now I’m fully aware that the place we now live in, no matter how much I love it, will never be ours. It’s owned lock, stock and barrel by Corey’s employers. They supply housing for us in order to have him here, where they need him, day or night, weekend or weekday, not an hour away in town.

We do not own this house. We never will. This cannot be our “forever home.” (Talking to myself here, can you tell?)

So why does it make me feel so happy and so settled?

I honestly don’t know.

I do, however, have my suspicions.

I think part of it is that the bunkhouse was built to house the unrelated men who worked the ranch. This place, on the other hand, was built to be a home for a family.  There is history here, and it simply feels like a home and not a building.

I think another reason is because there was so much attention to detail in building this place. The beautiful stone tile floors you see in the picture above are throughout the house, except for the bedrooms, where there is carpet the same color as the caliche dust. Caliche dust is just part of the deal when you live on a ranch. It’s also open plan, very much like the house we someday had dreamed of building for ourselves.

It’s possible that another part of it is that I know, by the ranch owners moving us in here, how much they think of Corey and the work he does for them. It’s a big vote of confidence, this house–and well-deserved. He’s an amazing man, and he both thrives and excels in this work and home environment.

It may be that it’s because there’s a separate office, with a door, where I can walk away from my virtual job and keep it separate in ways that were just impossible in the bunkhouse.

It may be because there’s a dishwasher. Which does, indeed, make me just as happy as I thought it would.

It’s also vaguely possible that I just have an itch to move every so often, and this scratched the itch. Good Lord, I hope that’s not it.

Whatever the reason, I feel truly at home for the first time in a long, long time.

Let’s see… Corey’s 45 this year, if he works until 72, we could live here for, oh, 27 years.  I can see that.

I just went back and counted. I’ve moved 27 times since the year I entered kindergarten in Black Eagle, Montana. I was married for 27 years to my ex-husband before I bolted… Coincidence?

Well, yeah. But still… kinda cool!

96 – dreaming out loud

What my husband and I do best when we’re together on long drives, as we were this weekend, is dream out loud about what we want five years from now, ten, twenty years. It is one of the things I love most about this relationship, and something I’ve never had in my life before.

good thingsI’ve tried to remember whether the ex- and I thought about the future much. We made some serious missteps both personally and financially that might have been prevented with even one tenth of the discussion that Corey and I indulge in regularly.  Did we dream out loud? I don’t think so… but those 27 years have faded into blurs of gray, with a few high and low points that stick out in my memory.

One of them was one of us–and it could well have been me–saying, “We’re going to die in debt, so we might as well enjoy it while we can.” It was that attitude that put us into a house and credit card debt that we couldn’t afford. Added to my student loan balance, the overall combination was nearly a quarter million in debt when we filed for bankruptcy in 2004.

But this relationship changed that attitude entirely. The first of the big dreams that Corey and I reached for was to pay off all the debt that he and I brought to this marriage. The plan was to completely be out of debt, other than a mortgage, by 2015. We not only accomplished it, we did it a year ahead of time. Due to the enormous blessing of Corey’s work supplying the house where we live, we no longer have a mortgage. There is no “debt-free except…” We owe no one.

So I’m here to tell you, in a way that is neither sappy  nor Disney-esque… dreams can come true. But note the graphic. We worked our butts off for it, and we did not give up when it got tough, and it did more than once.

However, the determination to stay out of debt makes dreams about things like land and houses and RVs a little tougher to reach.  If you really want to not owe anyone, you must defer the expensive dreams long enough to be able to do them without going into debt. As a result, the ten hours of driving and dream-time this weekend ended with “It’s not the right time yet,” and a sigh. And that’s OK. It’s not easy, but it’s OK.

Do I worry about deferring things until it’s too late? Is time a factor? Sure–when you’re nine years older than your husband, and now that cashiers are starting to ask me for my AARP card, you genuinely do understand that time is a finite resource. But the question I always ask myself is whether, if I died tomorrow, I’d rather die debt-free.

And the answer is still yes.

It’s that important.

91 – awful busy for a grandma

The pictures you end up with in your head are funny, no? OK, here’s a test. When you hear the word “grandma,” what’s the picture in your head?

Yeah, mine too. Grandma was kind of an old bat, bluntly. My apologies to any of my cousins who read this, but the woman had only two children–both daughters–and my mother was clearly not her favorite.

All that aside, she was pretty much the classic grandma picture otherwise, white-haired, slightly stooped, almost blind, almost deaf, long retired by the time I have any memory of her. Sewed clothes for all her grandkids, although the colors and patterns she chose for the material kinda proved out the “almost blind” part of the equation.  The only ones I remember were a pair of plaid pants and a red naugahyde poncho for winter. Like Coca-Cola red, shiny and very plastic. Some memories never fade.

However, we just found out that Kelsey is pregnant with her second, the ultrasound is actually today. She’s excited, as is the dad, and that’s always nice to hear. When she told us the news, Tyler (first and so far favorite grandchild. :)) got on the phone and said, “Gamma!” and then went on to talk about something he did that day. So I know I am a grandma… and about to be a grandma again.

But as I sit here writing this, I’m waiting on the sun to come up so I can go run. Don’t want to trip over a skunk or something worse in the dark. Made it two running miles and one walking one on Tuesday night, hoping to do better this morning. Had to move it to first thing in the morning because a) I’m working for a company that’s headquartered in Nevada and no one is around until 9am Texas time, and b) it’s so much cooler first thing. Days are still getting up in the 90s and there will probably be a few more 100-degree days before summer breathes its last gasp here on the ranch…

mamaI am also still pretty much working two jobs–I’ll be training my replacement at the paper, so I promised I’d go over and be there Tuesday/Wednesday next week to show her the ropes for her first paper. So two more nights away from my husband, two hour drive each way.

None of these things fits in with the “grandma” picture, and it makes me wonder what Tyler and his little sister- or brother-to-be will remember about their grandma.  One thing I I learned from Mama (and from Grandma, bless her heart) is that every grandchild of mine WILL believe they’re my favorite. Even I have to lie to’em.

The picture is my mother–because that love is the one that I remember best. And her birthday (and last grandchild’s birthday) was August 17. And I know her grandchildren remember her that way, too, with all the love in the world. And that love is the kind of love I want my grandchildren to know–they already have it from their pretty incredible mom. I want them to have it from me, too.

The sun is up, and now I’m going to go run. Because grandmas do that now. And blog. And work. And love with all their hearts.

83 – allergies and adventures

The gentleman whose dulcet snores are brightening his little corner of the motel room where I am tippy-tapping on the keys turns 45 today, and tomorrow is the first day of summer. We are in a Days Inn in Paris, Texas, nearly to the Red River up in the northeast. In about five hours, a realtor will meet us here to whisk us off to see a couple of houses. She may be a teensy bit dismayed at our choices, as her commission on them will be, well miniscule at best… but she appears enthusiastic enough over email. Or at least I choose to believe so.

It is 4 a.m. going on 5, and I am sitting here sucking down my second cup of hot tea and trying to hack, sneeze and whine as quietly as possible.  Don’t know whether it’s a summer cold or allergies, and not sure which to hope for, honestly, but since the treatment is effectively the same, it’s kind of a moot point for me.  Not for everyone else, of course, but can’t help that. And OF COURSE it starts on the very first day of our first real time together in six months. Whatever it is, hope it’s over quick. The feeling is much like having your face nibbled off by ducks out for vengeance for that “ugly duckling” crack. So, here I sit, wrapped in the inside-out bedspread, and hoping no other denizen of the motel has sat on it with their nekkid butt of late–but at this point, it feels like it would just be more exercise for my battered immune system anyway. Cooties! Squirrel!

Anyway… we drove up to my sister’s in Princeton yesterday, dropped off a few things, then up here. Drove through a couple small towns on the way, and they all have places for sale that look appealing.  Trying NOT to fall in love just yet – we have a lot of ground to cover, and starting with this morning’s appointments, I’ll be taking pictures… If my beloved children read this, you might want to take note, chickens, as mommy and daddy are about to spend your fairly laughable inheritance, hopefully to enhance their declining years. 😀 Back to bed.

71 – writing on the couch

Getting myself all sorted out in this early morning…the first cup of tea is clearing the fog a bit.  Will be glad when the allergy season’s done.

An old friend’s email a few days back said, “This has certainly turned out to be a fortuitous combination of circumstances for you. You wouldn’t be doing a lot of this introspection or these other things had you not been so isolated.” By “these other things,” she means the playing I’ve been doing with baking everything from bread to saltine crackers (seriously–easiest thing ever).  She’s absolutely right. Easily available distractions like libraries, garage sales, etc., would have given me a way to shirk looking inside my own head.  I’m just as lazy as the next guy in those terms.

bloggingdemotivatorAnd the baking–once you’ve conquered a recipe and gotten into a routine, you go onto automatic pilot and start thinking. Well, I do. And part of what I’m thinking is that I have been a big whiny baby for weeks now  The mini-piphany that started all this was allergy-induced, and since then it’s just been one thing after another.

One other little shocker for me was that I found out that I’m not only not alone in my age- and circumstance-induced angst about what’s next, I may be part of a majority. Everyone’s got different reasons, but the baby boomers are either nearing retirement or over that particular edge already… and we are apparently ALL trying to decide what’s next.

A thought just occurred to me, as well.  I believe I expressed an ambition to Corey to be retired from the workplace by 55.

I turned 54 two weeks ago.

Huh.