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.


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.

80 – untweetable

westtexassnowBack home again after a four-day trip to the Dallas environs to see my sis and family… it was pretty wonderful, as these things go… even enjoyed the eight-ish hour drive there and back.  We broke down and got me a lightly used Chevy Cruze, which is a lot more comfortable for me to drive than the honking huge dually that got us here to the ranch with the travel trailer in tow.  We also figured out that simply by driving the Cruze instead of the big truck to town twice a week, we will save enough in diesel costs to make the payment on the car. Seriously. The car gets 38 mpg hwy, the truck only 10 or 12. Plus diesel’s more expensive.

It’s been one of those amazing cool, wet weekends–as you can see by the picture, Saturday night began with a hailstorm (otherwise known as West Texas snow), and we had to scramble to get my car under cover.  Since then, it’s just been cool and cloudy.  Fine for us, since we don’t have any great need to throw a barbecue for us and the dog, and everyone else is… well, elsewhere. These late spring wet days are wonderful, though I could have done without the ice dropping on my head.

Been doing a lot of thinking on whether it’s worth it to go back to work.  It’s an oddly powerful position to be in, not having to work.  I’m not sure I’ve ever worked because I necessarily wanted to–the possibility of NOT working has seldom been an option.  That said, there is retirement for both of us to think about.  And, honestly… Corey loves it in this job so much that, for the first time since I’ve met him, he seems to feel he could work here until retirement himself.  So I really need to stay here, and that adds some interesting choices, and eliminates a lot of other ones… Lots to think about.

69 – never been here before

I’m genuinely staggering through this trying to shed all the old baggage I’ve collected.  Not trying to be “Nanner-nanner, I don’t have to work and you do,” about all this. I think, for those of you of my age, this is how people feel when they retire. Except, of course, that retirement implies an income, which I do not have…

Well, I’m here to tell you, this is HARD. I’ve begun to realize that I don’t know how to not be stressed out! I know that sounds stupid–but as my mama used to say, you’d miss a rock in your shoe if you had it in there for thirty years. There are so many things that have just never been part of my way of thinking. For instance:

Haven’t been debt-free since I was 20 years old.  When I married the ex, he came with debt, and we never climbed out. Took 65% of it on when I left him, and Corey came loaded down with all the debt from his previous marriage.  We climbed out of ALL OF IT, together, dollar by dollar, and bought and sold two houses in the process. That debt-free status is the reason why I don’t have to look for a job… and that is also kind of weirding me out.

Never been in a space since I entered the Air Force at 19 years old where I wasn’t working, going to school, or looking for work.  And, not to put too fine a point on it, there were more than a few times when I was doing all three. The very few moments when I wasn’t working or looking for work in the last three decades were when I was in school, first for my bachelor’s, then for my master’s.  And even then, started a partnership the last year and a half of my bachelor’s degree work.

Never had this kind of freedom.  I’m beginning to realize that I’ve been a reactor all my adult life. I’ve accomplished A LOT, but most of it was to the end of making money one way or the other. I didn’t go back to school at the age of 34 because of passion for a specific area of study–although I found it while I was there.  I went to school because I knew that, without a degree, I was going to be, at best, an executive assistant all my working life. Never occurred to me to get out of the race entirely, but that wasn’t a serious option on the pay my ex-husband made in the US Air Force. We work so much and so hard that we don’t look up and ask ourselves why we’re doing it because what’s the point of asking–we have to do it anyway.

Haven’t been able to sleep in for more than a day or two at a time for DECADES.  To genuinely not have to be at someone (or something) else’s scheduling demands is one of the weirder experiences of recent years. Seriously–the only time I have to be on anything resembling a schedule is when I have to keep my eye on rising bread dough. I’m finally beginning to stop panicking when I’m wide awake at 2 a.m., as I am right now. I can go back to bed if I get sleepy, or I can just go make myself another cup of tea.

Never trusted this much. The man asleep in the next room over is the reason that I can do these things and think this stuff and take this time to think and plan. He works HARD–but loves his ever-changing job, and this ever-changing landscape. Such an amazing thing, that he is so happy every time I sleep in of a morning. In the previous five years together, I could count on one hand the mornings he’s woken up with me still there–I’ve been up at four or five a.m. every morning of our six years together.  I still am… but now, I go back to bed. And when his alarm goes off at 7 a.m., I’m there.

And, when my alarm goes off, whenever that may be, if it even goes off at all, it will be time to stop looking back, time to scrape the barnacles off and see what’s underneath. Hopefully not dry rot and foot fungus. Pretty sure that it’s not going to be unicorns off-gassing rainbows either, but one never knows… 😀

lazarus long - creativity


66 – happy husband, happy wife

Yesterday afternoon, I walked up to Corey’s shop with Daysie, and stuck around for the five o’clock Friday, drink a beer and BS about the work week conversation. Enjoyed a couple hours of that, and Daysie got introduced to Corey’s fellow managers.  She’s a sociable little critter, made a good impression. Well, except for the fact that she peed on Corey’s shop floor. Trying not to grin about that, but it was a little funny.

I love seeing Corey happy–and I think part of his happiness is that he does not get met with a litany of MY stressful day the minute he walks in from work. Until last October, Cor had never known me when I was not in a stressful job. He was in stressful work situations as well–and I hope I helped him in those conversations as much as he helped me with mine. He struggled with the same things I struggle with (and everyone else most likely). Not worth naming them–the commonalities are obvious, and the specifics aren’t relevant.

At one level, his work stressors haven’t changed.  What HAS changed is how he deals with the same situations he and I have always dealt with. A situation that would have had him coming home with fists clenched five years ago now earns a shrug and a smile, and the conversation moves on. The stories are the same–it’s just the ending is different.

tuggingI do tend to poke at things to figure out the why, and I don’t think you can overestimate the impact of our being debt-free–we are both eminently employable people, and not afraid to take on any job.  The combination of that with not owing anyone means that any job that either of us is doing now is our choice. It helps you approach everything quite differently when the playing field is level.

Another major factor is that he’s working out of doors most of the time–something that made him enormously happy in his job in Coos Bay, as well. He often worked on the tugboats, throwing lines for the big chip ships as they came in and out of the bay, and the days he was tugging were the days he came home smiling every time.

Whatever the reasons, I’ll spare you the lengthy list, This is a happy place, and the next few years are going to be an adventure of no small proportions. Onward and upward!

56 – waiting… writing… wibble-wobble

The wibble-wobble referred to in the title is how my knees feel as I wait for my daughter to call to let us know she’s on her way from Dallas/Fort Worth to our little corner of West Texas.  I know I’m just projecting my fear from my car accident six weeks ago onto her ability to drive here, and added to that fear is the fact that I KNOW she’s jet-lagged, I remember the exhaustion and odd sleep hours for a week or so. I’m also projecting my fear of her totaling her car only a month before I had my wreck, when she reached for a water bottle on the floor and rolled it.

On the plane on the way home to us, my beautiful daughter and amazing grandson...
On the plane on the way home to us, our beautiful daughter and amazing grandson…

I also have to remember that, at 23, okay almost 23, she’s got more energy than I’ve had in exactly 30 years. No, I wasn’t 30 when I had her–I was 48, actually. And almost 49 by the time we got our son back.

There is also the fact that, with Tyler in the car, she is a careful and conscientious driver.

It’s such an amazing thing, and I continually marvel, that the two I call my children have only been in my life for five years.  And still, I call them that because they are my children.  They call me Mom.  So, by a unanimous vote (my husband included), I’m a mom. All those years I fooled myself into believing I didn’t have a maternal bone in my body–and here I am a grandma.  And happy about it.  Who knew?

I’m afraid to get in the shower or go outside and walk for fear she’ll call at that exact moment (and she will, she has impeccable timing for missing us when we’re at home.)  Unfortunately, my cell phone doesn’t work out here on the ranch, either.  All things considered, I may just run into town and hope she calls my cell while I’m there.  Off to the shower, and carrying the phone handset in there with me.  Well, not WITH me, I’ll leave it outside the shower.

My son told me once that he knew it was my job to worry, and that I did a very good job of it.  Out of the mouths of babes.  Hitting the shower now.  Keep a good thought for safe travel for my kid and her kid. Because I worry.

PS: They got here about 9:30 last night, safe and sound, and are off now to town, which is much more exciting than the ranch. At least it is for Kels–Tyler got to sit in big trucks, tractors, four-wheelers, a bulldozer, so for a little boy, it’s the best theme park EVER.  The two are off to town, and I’m off to take a nap. Don’t judge me.

51 – finally forgiven

I seldom ACTUALLY laugh out loud when I comment on a text or a video, or an image with the shorthand LOL.  It would be closer to a small snort with a nose exhalation.  “Hmh” kind of thing.  My husband who also makes that sound, and knows that sound, will often say “what?” Our personal shorthand for “Go ahead and show it to me, I know you have something funny up on your laptop screen.”  So kind of a “snort out loud,” or SOL, if you like, which attains hitherto unknown depths of its own irony. 😀

It appears, though, that I have finally forgiven myself my recent assisted exit from the high tech biz world… because this video honestly made me LOL.  More than once.  This is a capsule version of so many of the conference calls I lived through–and because I worked remotely, I was on as many as eight of these every single day, for days on end.  If you’ve ever wondered what a conference call is like, this is what it’s like. You’re welcome.

With warmest regards from an escapee,
Moving on,