Good Things

I am writing this blog in response to Damyanti Biswas’ call for adding a bit of light to what seems to be a rather dark world at this time in our history. The idea is to obliterate the hate and negativity we have all become so used to seeing and hearing and to move our gaze to those things which are positive. Damyanti’s site is Daily (W)rite.

I went looking for a story that would raise our hearts up to the sky, and I think I found a winner. Ernesto Rodriguez is walking across America to raise awareness for veterans who have returned from the war, only to commit suicide when they come home.

Rodriguez is making the trek from his hometown, Clarksville, Tennessee to Los Angeles, California, and is keeping a journal as he travels the 2,200 miles he has set out to finish. His hashtag #Forthe22 stands for the approximately 22 warriors who commit suicide every day in the US.

This journey has personal relevance for the 34-year-old since he shares that he attempted suicide on two occasions. WFAA8 Dallas reports:

“I was in a really bad way after my first tour in Afghanistan and my second,” he said in the interview. “I have a daughter, and she would have been without a father. And that’s what I think about when thoughts like that creep up.”

Rodriguez does not accept donations himself but asks that the people he meets and the folks who hear about his trek send their donations to veteran’s charities*. He also requests that people find a veteran with whom they can be friends.

*Some organizations aimed at helping veterans include:

Wounded Warrior Project

Disabled Veterans

Army Emergency Relief Fund

Air Force Aid Society

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

National Military Family Association

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Outside

Image result for garden cartoons

I have often said that gardening is much like going to church for me. The exhilaration and feeling of joy I have when I am outside is just euphoric. Here are the things I like:

  • the smell of dirt
  • having my four dogs with me
  • finding rocks to place artistically around my beds
  • watering (don’t know why)
  • planting
  • seeing what comes back up from last year
  • picking annuals to plant
  • adding perennials
  • cleaning beds
  • mowing the grass
  • weeding
  • pinching pants back (is this a Southern-only phrase?)
  • mulching
  • staking

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Well, you get the picture. But my favorite of all is redressing my ironing board scarecrow lady. I’m going to wait until my grandkids get here on Sunday to deck her out because I think they may want to help. Who knows, she might become a he this year. Pictures will follow upon completion of the scarecrow’s incarnation.

This year in our edible garden we are planting tomatoes (of course), beans, squash, okra (okrey in Southern), gourds (not edible, of course), and blueberries. Waiting for the kids for planting, as well.

Image result for garden cartoons

How about you? Do you have special feelings about being outside? Do you love planting? Are you going to have a garden this year?

Share Your World, March 27, 2017

Cee Neuner has a fabulous site, Cee’s Photography, on WordPress, and has several challenges that are fun – check her out!!!. The Share Your World (SYW) challenge is below.

Does your first or middle name have any significance (or were you named after another family member)?

Yes, my middle name is a variation of my father’s name “Earl,” or Earline. My full name is Grace Earline Burleson which my sisters shortened to my initials G.E.B. and, eventually, the acronym morphed into Gebby.

Music or silence while working?

I usually work in silence, but for some reason today I have music in the background. Hmmmm…

Mime Shows The Silence Please

If you had a special place for your three most special possessions (not including photos, electronics, people or animals), what would they be?

I really do not have any possessions that I would not be able to give to anyone else who wanted them, but I have a bunch of people and pets I adore, so I think I failed this question. 🙂

The Never List: What are things you know you never will do?  

  • parachute jump
  • walk a high wire
  • have a nude portrait painted of myself
  • get up close and personal with a poisonous snake
  • clean a septic tank (too graphic???)

Image result for high wire

 

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?  

I’m thankful my grandkids came for a visit, and this week, I’m happy because they are coming back. There were several adventures we did not have time for last week!

Image result for running creek

Happy Times

When my grandchildren come to visit, it is among the happiest times in my life. Having taught for many years, I knew that being around children was going to be something I would enjoy and indeed it was. I have taught all ages of students and surrounding myself with young people has made my life better in every way.

Kids Playing, Beach, Vacation, Child, Summer, Happy

Having grandchildren was something I looked forward to and once I had my three beautiful babes, my life was changed for the “even better.” Thankfully, I have been able to be with them often as they navigated their early years, and now, at 8, 10, and 12, being with them often is something I truly cherish.

As an educator, I am wary of the inordinate amount of time children are spending in front of a screen. And, yes, my grandkids are part of the crowd, but in the positive column, they also like to play, pretend, make, hike and create. This spring break visit, the activities included:

  • riding the four-wheeler
  • making fashion outfits out of scarves
  • having a fashion show
  • playing “store”
  • hiking to the creek
  • playing board games
  • playing in the tree house
  • making a fort
  • running
  • climbing
  • swimming
  • shopping at the Dollar Tree
  • making a bed tent

And, even though I am an AARP member, I had such a good time that I am counting the days until summer and what we call Camp Gigi (that’s me!).

So, what’s my point? It is that for those who do not have grandchildren, it’s time to find some kids who need some exercise in the neighborhood park with an older friend who thinks they are cool. Really! Being around children is like an elixir, and there are so many who need a leg up.

If you have grandchildren, lucky you, take them camping and leave their parents at home. Have them spend the weekend and take on an anything goes attitude. Give them your full attention. Listen to them. Learn from them. Get to know them better. You will be making important memories for yourself and, most importantly, for them.

Kids, Boys, Children, Playing, Making Faces, Happy

Five Things that Will Make Your She-Shed Remarkable

A She-Shed is the newest way to keep up with your husband. The “Man-Cave” is what it is, but a She-Shed is so much better because it includes these components:

  • a place to do crafting
  • a place to sew
  • a place to write
  • a place to get away from the “Madding Crowd”
  • comfort
  • beauty
  • seclusion
  • workspace
  • work tools

Well, you hear what I’m saying. If you want a space to enhance your DIY-ing, here’s a list of She-Shed necessities:

  1. Shelving – A friend of mine is building herself a She-Shed which is absolutely beautiful. She made sure to include a wall of natural wood shelves (which also happen to be floating shelves). Shelving can be beautiful aesthetically or not, but organized materials will always enhance your shed’s appearance while also giving you more room to work.

2. Those of us with a touch of OCD will probably want to use containers on the shelves to store small objects, tools, and other materials. We would also like for those containers to match in color and style. Labels, of course, make it easier to find what you have so neatly tucked away.

3. Before crafting got so popular, moms would be happy with a small space in the attic that would allow their sewing machines and themselves room to get the job done. Now that many are making part of their living by crafting and blogging, ladies feel they should at least have a room where things are organized and well-decorated. Most women who design a creative space use neutral cabinets and shelving so that their materials and supplies can add the color to the room.

4. I have a small space that connects to my bedroom that I call my “office.” I have drawers, shelves, a desk, and a comfy desk chair. But the one thing I have added to my small office that has made me the happiest is a work table. I just found an old door and placed it on two old sawhorses. I put it right in front of a window so that I could use the natural light for photographing the items I sell on Etsy. Perfect!

Rubbermaid HomeFree series closet system | by Rubbermaid Products

5. My constant go-to containers are baskets. First, I have a thing for baskets, but also they look great for organizing because they are such pretty vessels. I do not leave a flea market or a garage sale without picking up a basket of some sort. They inevitably come in handy.

 

I hope my friend will allow me to share the finished She-Shed when she completes her project. Be watching for that reveal!

 

 

 

A Great Man

Rev. Keith Tonkel died last week in Jackson, Mississippi. It was a very sad time for the hundreds, maybe thousands, who knew and loved him. His new appointment in the 60s to an inner-city church landed him at Wells Church, a place of worship that was one of the many “downtown” churches that experienced “white flight.” Keith and his wife Pat dove right in.

He was motivated to not only reach out to the people who were clinging to their lifelong place of worship, but Keith was also inspired to help the people in the neighborhood, including poor people, drug addicts, alcoholics, the homeless, and, yes, much to the surprise of many, African-Americans.

Keith joined dozens of Methodist ministers in the state in signing a document that made it clear that the color of a person’s skin, in the great words of Martin Luther King, does not herald “the content of their character.” That alone was enough for me. His church was a church with which to be reckoned

Wells in the 1920s (Picture copied from Wells Church website)

But, the overwhelming goodness of Wells United Methodist Church is not why I am writing this piece. What I want to share is what I learned from Keith Tonkel, and what I am pretty sure everyone else who knew him learned, as well:

  1. God is love!
  2. God wants us all happy, protected, fed, accepted, healed, surrounded by friends, and loving one another.
  3. Accept the unaccepted.
  4. Give others second, third, fourth, up to ninety-ninth, chances.
  5. Have fun.
  6. Love music and sing with vigor.
  7. Ask people for help because it will bless them.
  8. Hold hands.
  9. Love and support your family and your significant others.
  10. Eat together joyously.
  11. Call everyone you meet “Babe.”
  12. It really is all about love.
  13. We are all connected. God sees us all in the same way.
  14. Give what you can to those in need.
  15. Laugh! Laugh often.
  16. “Church” is not just about being there on Sunday.

Yep, he was a great man.

 

 

Bless Your Heart

I love the phrase “Bless Your Heart.” I should since I am from the heart of the South. In my stomping grounds, this saying has several meanings.

 

Oh, Bless Your Heart Sign with Laurels | 12.5"x12.5" Sign | Hand Lettered | Calligraphy | Wood Sign |  Farmhouse Style Sign
Etsy

When I was small, my mom would come running to rescue me from some danger, like a too close bumblebee, for example. As she scooped me up in her arms, she would say in the most endearing mother voice, “Bless your heart.” The utterance thereof made everything right in my world.

 

When I was a teen, my teenage group would bless the hearts of those who did not get invited to the prom, or didn’t get elected cheerleader, or hadn’t gotten their driver’s license yet. It was a half-hearted blessing, to be sure, still, we had heard our mothers say it all our lives so we just carried on the tradition.

Hands, Woman, Heart, Symbol, Female, Finger, Characters

Once I had my two boys, I realized what a convenient and focused refrain these words were. Whenever I watched my children be disappointed or sad, these three words were the only thing I could get out without letting them know my heart had jumped outside of me and was breaking right alongside theirs.

Nowadays, unfortunately, Bless Your Heart, more often than not, is used to cover up the fact that you are either:

  • bored to death
  • judging another person
  • establishing your supremacy
  • being out-and-out mean

Here’s how that goes:

“Miss Atwood, I notice your yard is growing up quite a bit. Bless your heart.”

“Sally, I heard you were not accepted into the Junior League. Bless your heart.”

“He’s as dumb as a stump. Bless his heart.”

I suggest that in this day and time, even you Northerners, Westerners, and Easterners, should start using Bless Your Heart as it was once meant to be used. Whenever you say it is sure it is authentic, such as:

“Oh, Mr. Trump, you’ve done it again. Bless your heart.”art because he got his spring cut today and he is very shy about it.

Remember, it won’t work unless you really, really mean it.

BTW – bless my Petie’s heart because he got his summer cut today, it’s very cold here, and he feels most self-conscious.

 

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Stood still like a statue in the sweater. Did not appreciate the further embarrassment.

 

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Swarm

When the weather begins to get warmer, Mississippi is one of the Southern states that is lucky enough to have blooming flowers. We are spoiled by blooming roses, daffodils, azaleas, and many other flowering plants, trees, and shrubs. We always say a little prayer for our friends in the north that many times are struggling through yet another snow at this point.

It’s an incredible blessing, but there are also a few things that occur that are not so bright and beautiful. First, come the carpenter bees, or Xylocopa micans, who begin to swarm. Though many of the old folks say carpenter bees don’t sting, I can tell you from personal experience that they do. Especially when they feel they are in danger, which is pretty much all the time. Homeowners try to kill them with swatters, pesticides, and environmentally safe substances.

 

Carpenter Bee, Bee, Xylocopa, Xylocopinae, Large Bee
Carpenter Bee Attacking a Porch Rail

 

That brings us to the reason these bees are called carpenter bees, which is because they make their nests by burrowing into hard plants or WOOD! Now that’s a bad thing for homeowners. We have a front porch, and the railing around the porch is wooden. When the carpenter bees visit, they bore holes into the wood. In fact, if one is sitting on the porch, you can distract yourself by watching the sawdust fall from the vertical 2″ X 4″s. So they do cause some structural damage.

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The Violet Carpenter Bee

But don’t let me turn you against carpenter bees because like their cousins the bumblebees, carpenter bees are dang good pollinators. In fact, some flowers only pollinate when the carpenter bees take over to “obligate pollinate.”

Insects, Bees, Wildflowers, Honeybee, Pollen, Wildlife
Bumblebee Pollinating

I know some of you entomologists out there are just waiting to finish this post so you can lecture me about safeguarding the insect population. I don’t want to kill these fabulous creatures! So share a better way to keep carpenter bees from “eating” my porch! 🙂

 

National Anthem Day

The Collection of Interests post for today reminded me that March 3 is the national day for thinking about our National Anthem and the topic made me happy. My father was assigned to the Coast Guard Station in Baltimore, Maryland back in the 50s, and, of course, across from the station was Norfolk, where Frances Scott Key watched the British attack on Fort McHenry.

“Born on August 1, 1779, in Frederick County, Maryland, Francis Scott Key became a lawyer who witnessed the British attack on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The fort withstood the day-long assault, inspiring Key to write a poem that would become the future U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”- Biography.com

As a young person, I remember going to the station to watch what were, to my young eyes, the most magnificent tours dé force of firework artistry in the world.

But the thing about “The Star-Spangled Banner” is that it is difficult to sing. It is also, at times, for some singers, experienced or not, hard to remember the rather arcane words. On many occasions this has occurred:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8mUYRZuYPbplV8WClhjfyQ

https://youtu.be/bZLc7wkuRU0

But here’s the version I like best by Kaitlyn Maher, who happened to be four-years-old when she sang the National Anthem. What do you think? Go ahead and click below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhD9kKb3hSM

Happy Star-Spangled Banner Day everybody!

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Cinderfella

This post is part of the challenge from Anne J., of https://ithinkisayido.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/city-of-magic/ and Theresa, of https://tjbarkerseattle.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/cinderella-a-classic-folk-tale-retold/, to write a new version of the Cinderella story. I write it in honor of my son, who is transgender, Adrien Lawyer Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico.

 

Image result for drawing of young prince

When Cinderfella was young and his mom and dad were alive, his parents understood that Cindy, who they thought was their little girl, was actually a boy. It was difficult to understand. They had absolutely no idea how to handle the situation.

Needless to say, when Cinderfella lost his mother, and his father decided to remarry, the new stepmother, Lady Tremaine, was not prepared for these rather outrageous circumstances. She had two daughters who, much like their mother, were not the empathetic sort. Life became complicated and Cinderfella became extremely withdrawn and isolated.

As if things were not already difficult enough, it was only two years later that Cinderfella’s father passed away. Cinderfella was terrified.  If his own parents had problems with his gender identity, he knew that his stepmother and her daughters, Drizella and Anastasia, were not going to treat him kindly. And, as it turned out, things became even more terrible than he had imagined.

His “Steps”, as he called them, didn’t simply reject him, they forced him into servitude. He was a butler to them, only he was not paid. Imagine Cinderfella having to do all the chores and remain beside the fireplace in the basement when he was not performing his back-breaking cleaning, washing, ironing, and other repugnant jobs.

“We thought you were a girl. Why in the world do you wear boys’ clothing?” snorted Anastasia. “Drizella and I are embarassed when our friends come over. We feel uneasy when you come into our bedrooms to do your dusting.”

Cinderfella’s eyes would fill with tears when the Steps talked to him that way but he would never let them see him cry.

One summer day, Drizella came downstairs to taunt Cinderfella and waved an elaborate, bejeweled invitation in front of his eyes.

“We are going to the Princess’ Ball, so we’ll need to have our ball dresses clean and pressed before the date arrives.”

Cinderfella thought he had gone through the roughest part of his life already, but it seemed that heartache would be his natural state now.

But that night when he fell asleep, a beautiful fairy came into his deams. (He coudn’t tell if it was a girl fairy or a boy.) The fairy told him that he was going to the ball, as well. The fairy said:

“Get one of your father’s tuxedoes and be ready for the ball because after the two monster girls and their mother leave, I will have everything you need to make a spectacular entrance at the Princess’ palace!”

When the day arrived, the girls and Lady Tremaine got ready for the ball and had Cinderfella running around drawing their baths, polishing their shoes, and bringing them snacks. When they left, Cinderfella was so tired, he drifted off to sleep by the fireplace.

The fairy came again to his dream state and said:

“Your stallion awaits you, my boy!  Your patent leather boots and your silk handkerchief will be beside your horse. Just be home by midnight so you won’t get caught by the monster girls.”

Cinderfella woke up, put on his tux, and ran outside. His horse was black and had a lovely sheen to his hide. He put his stunning silk scarf in his pocket, put on his mirror-shined boots, and took off.

Image result for black stallion

When he arrived, everyone was trying to get closer to the Princess. She was not only bewilderingly beautiful, but her kindness made her glow like a hundred stars. Cinder stood there waiting for his turn to meet her, when to his amazement, she stepped away from the introduction area and walked straight toward him.

When she reached his side, she took his hand and said:

“What is your name?”

He answered, “Cinderfella.”

She replied. “Somehow I feel as though we have already met.”

They danced the night away until the midnight bell rang from a nearby church, when Cinder asked to be excused and rode home on the wind. When he arrived, the horse disappeared, and his exquisite scarf was missing.

The Princess found the scarf and had her footmen search far and wide for Cinderfella. The next week, when they visited the home of Lady Tremaine, they asked the ladies if they recognized the scarf. They all said they did not.

At that exact moment, Cinderfella came running through the room thinking that the cake he was baking could be burning. The footmen stopped him and asked if he knew to whom the scarf belonged. He told them it was his.

The rest is history (or fairytale) but when the Princess and Cinderfella reunited, they could hardly wait to be married. Before asking the Princess for her hand, Cinderfella said:

“There is something I need to share with you…”