If You Don't Laugh, You'll Cry - Laughing's Better!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What I Like About the South

This is definitely a generalization but so be it. Yes, I’ve traveled a little in Europe and in this country, but living in an area is different than just passing through.

In Atlanta, where I live, and in most of Georgia, we have the four seasons. Our December weather will have a few cold days as will January and February. We usually have at least a few snowflakes and sometimes a rather severe ice storm. At that point everything slows down, and most folks try to get home or stay home.

We have lovely springs and falls and very hot summers. People who grew up here have better sense than to work or play outside during the middle part of the day. It amuses me when some people complain bitterly about the heat as if I could do something about it! I always want to say just go home - this is the south, duh! I’ll bet people move to upstate NewYork and complain about the snow. In fact, I’ve heard some of them.

If you have any common sense at all, use it! Just last week, a cute young lady I know pretty well, came inside to tell me she thought she’d burned the backs of her legs [she hadn’t]. She had worn very short shorts to ride in my car with the leather seats and the leather does get quite hot when the car is left in a parking lot for awhile. Of course, plastic would have been worse. The AC in my car is quite good so only takes a minute to cool off. I suggested that if she was going around half nekid, she’d best put a towel or something in the car to save her dainty bottom.

People in the south usually have good manners, if they grew up here, that is. I was taught that for the most part, good manners are about kindness. My dad put the comfort of others before his own. This could be another book! However, just once in a while, people from other areas or countries mistake kindness for weakness and then the trouble begins! My husband had lovely manners and he dealt with people from other areas and countries. For some strange reason, people from England and South Africa assumed they could walk all over him. It was not going to happen and they were usually shocked at how extremely firm he could be.

I just love the way we talk! My daughter can do great imitations, she has done lots of acting. But her imitation of people who speak even more southern than we do is a riot. It is beautiful and it is most often the men who speak that way and I, sadly, don’t know how to write about it. When I was in high school, we got a new English teacher from “up north.” She decided that we were going to lose our accents and talk like her. Her accent sounded very harsh to us and her nasty attitude compounded it. Hang, we spit all over each other trying to do what she said, while making faces behind her back, of course. She made me read to the class some tripe she considered important, nearly every day. They could sleep behind their books but I had to keep saying the words.. Our school was one of the finest public schools in the area with most of our teachers having at least one but usually more, graduate degrees. As I recall, this pitiful excuse for a teacher only lasted one semester.

We care about --- and for--- others in need. When there is a death, the food arrives quickly. I used to take a Honey Baked Ham, bread, mustard etc. the moment I heard bad news about a friend or neighbor. My Tony would even call me from work so we could offer help quickly when there had been an accident or death. Of course, later, I would cook something homemade to carry. When there was prolonged sickness, it was the same except one tried to find out what was needed. People help in lots of ways. My son has cut the lawn of a widow in his neighborhood for years. What’s funny is that he doesn’t really like the woman. However, she keeps foster children and he appreciates her kindness to the kids.

Some years ago, our bank president’s wife told me about the place they’d lived previously. There’d been a death in a neighbor’s family and this nice Mississippi lady quickly fixed a meal and carried it to the people. They were embarrassed and horrified because they assumed she thought they couldn’t feed their guests. I believe they were from another country. I assured her that we’d welcome any meal she cared to bring us.

We live in a wonderfully diverse neighborhood and enjoy it. Our closest neighbors on each side are from other countries, even though most in our cul-de-sac are from fairly close around. We have been a little cautious about carrying gifts to our Asian neighbors, wanting to carry something that would be welcoming. We carried a basket of fresh fruits over there when they moved in.

Dee and I bought this house together, May 2005. It was such a good solution for all of us since I had lived alone for nine years and was tired of it. Plus, running that big five bedroom house and a lawn that had to be manicured plus a pool got to be a real chore. Dee had a lovely condo but wanted her child, our Alesia, to have a yard plus a grandmother there instead of the constant hassle of childcare. Since then, she adopted our precious Mike and the kids have a big backyard, plus Dee has her gardens.

Years ago, Tony and I moved into a new home, in Augusta, Ga. We already knew lots of the neighbors but there was an older couple two lots up from us, with no house in between. They didn’t speak, didn’t come to call, though we saw them in their back yard often. One evening, before dark, Tony fixed drinks for us and said ”Come on, let’s go to walk.” Well, he walked right up to their door, rang the bell, and told the man who answered, “We just came to apologize for not calling on you all sooner but we’ve been so busy moving in, that we are just now getting to it!” The man had the grace to bust out laughing and invited us in to meet his wife. Turned out they were lovely people, not southern, but became good friends.

When I think about the south, I think of Magnolias, Gardenias, Roses, Azaleas, and on and on. Spring smells very sweet around here. The weather can be hot, 101degrees in Augusta, today, early June no less. The air conditioning that was missing in most homes, when I was growing up here, is in most homes now.

Even with all the turmoil in the world today, most people native to this area are still willing to reach out a friendly, helping hand. We feel it is safe to allow our kids to walk home from school and the swimming pool and tennis courts. Atlanta is an extremely large city but there are many, many good neighborhoods, and good people.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Good Things About Being Old

Here are some of the GOOD things about getting old!

  1. No more spike heels.

  1. Get to ride around the stores [that have scooters].

  1. People are often more polite to you.

  1. You can just refuse to do what you don’t want to do. My kids will tell you I have a Ph.D. in that !

  1. The first human words I hear each morning are “Mom, your coffee is ready”. After all those years of being the first one up, cooking a complete breakfast for my husband and whatever help my kids needed, to have someone actually make my coffee is a dream come true! The older I get, the stronger I want my coffee! I only drink Starbucks “most robust” because I want my coffee to come to the bed and help me to the kitchen!

  1. After my Dad retired from Lockheed, my mother announced that she never intended to put her feet on the floor in the mornings until she smelled coffee perking and bacon broiling.  She stuck to that, and Daddy thought it was great! He became a good cook. When I visited, I most often got up with Dad and he was so proud of himself, showing me how he managed everything. He was a real engineer at heart and he had every action timed exactly. I am so grateful that Mother had at least a little while to be pampered because she deserved every bit of it!

  1. Almost no heavy lifting. I suppose some of the guys would disagree with that but they’d most likely be bragging!

  1. Women can wear bright red lipstick if they wish ------- or none at all. I love my red lipstick! And if you want to wear your hair in one of those huge beehives –or whatever- it is no one’s business!

  1. You can tell people exactly what you think of them --- and get away with it usually! I don’t – but I know some who do. I have been tempted to have a card printed explaining the difference between “your” and “you’re”. EXAMPLE: You’re [you are] such a sweet person that I don’t know where you found your [possessive] husband!

  1. Men can wear long, dark, dress socks with tennis shoes or sandals and plaid shirts with striped, baggy shorts. Frankly, that says to me, no wife at home to correct him. But someone close to me always says,”There goes a man from a state far north of here.” [ I’m trying to keep this kind of clean.]

  1. School is out! You never have to take another course to improve your mind. It’s about half numb, anyway! In fact, you should NOT take any courses. The closest I’ve come to whompin’ up on an old man was one I encountered in a computer class at the college. After the third class, he was still holding up the mouse, whining - “Now what is the rat for?” Now, we all know that his wife was forcing him to take the course because she wanted him OUT of the house!

  1. Only exercise if it suits you. I know several old people who go on and on about their exercise programs – makes me want to throw up! I guess they want to look marvelous in their caskets!

  1. You can make up your own statistics. I started this some years ago, trying to be funny. But then I realized folks were actually listening. Example: It has been proven that 87% of all headaches are caused by too tight underwear.

  1. Speaking of underwear, old people can wear – or not wear-- whatever pleases them. Some women feel more secure in “foundation garments” - all laced up liked trussed chickens – I am not one of them. I jiggle. I don’t care.

  1. Grandchildren are gifts from God. If you don’t have any, find some, borrow some. I know a very nice man who reads to children in a first grade class every Friday. It is good for the children, the teacher, but most fun for him. He does all the voices and the kids adore him.

  1. A dear friend of mine, in another state, spent part of two days a week, in the school building, helping kids with math. He felt that this made his retirement  more meaningful. Good for him!

  1. For the most part, we know lots more than young people. But the only way to make them listen is to charge them for it. So announce that for 25 bucks an hour, you’ll teach them how to do whatever you do best. Yes, you can even be a CONSULTANT. I have a friend who is a fine Bible scholar. She teaches small classes for the people in her retirement community. In a situation like that, it might be better to barter. She is a terrible cook, so a batch of homemade cookies might be a good trade. I know of another person who taught small knitting classes. Another friend told me her new hobby is keeping up with all her meds :0).

  1. Now that we are old, we can follow our interests and best of all, investigate new ones. We do have time if we want it. If you are reading this, you have a computer so you already know how much fun it is to think of a topic, then pursue it on the internet. I’m thinking of becoming a private investigator. I considered becoming a Senior Sex Therapist but decided business might be too slow.

  1. We can have all the pets we want because studies have shown they are so good for us. Statistics show that 97% of old people are healthier and happier when there is a living breathing, affectionate pet in the house. I really think dogs are best.

  1. Most of us have plenty of ol’ fashioned common sense. The problem comes in knowing when to use it. I’m thinking mainly here of medical advice. The last time I checked, nutrition was not a course in medical school. Thinking back over all the foods we were warned against, I am appalled. Sometimes MD’s give advice about nutrition when they don’t know what in the SamHill they are talking about. Even when their advice is valid, they don’t always take the “whole person” into consideration, especially old people. This could be a book but I’ll just mention one: EGGS! About forty years ago, my mother was told she should have no more than three eggs per week. She very carefully did as she was told and felt terribly guilty if she weakened and ate an extra egg! Now, there was NO medical reason for this other than to prevent high cholesterol. Eggs are one of nature’s best foods! They are fairly cheap, easy to prepare, and nutritious. They do not cause high cholesterol.

  1. So now that we are old, we can use the common old fashioned horse sense that GOD gave a billy goat  and not let ourselves be pushed around!

Coco and Alesia, two of my favorite girls!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Twenty Reasons Why Getting Old Stinks

Well, Poop! What happened? I do believe I’ve got old. Must have been while I was doing my nails. Today, a woman said to me, “I’m not even 70 yet!” Well, uh, I’m not even 80 yet, so there!

These are the really Yucky Things about getting old:

1. You look old, no matter how you try not to. Friends with facelifts, boob, fanny etc. lifts, still look old. I don’t know of any hand lifts though they may come soon. And lifts are so obvious. Have you noticed Nancy Pelosi’s permanent possum caught in the headlights stare? Maybe she drank too much of her husband’s Dole Pineapple juice but hey, he owns the company. Buy yourself some heavy duty Depends, Nancy. And don’t have anymore lifts or your boobs are going to give you a double chin!

2. You sound old. Maybe not like Ma Kettle - but different from when you were 39.

3. Your language is different and if you try talking like high schoolers, it shows and you sound silly. I don’t know their language nor do I want to use it. For example, apparently, saying, “shut up” is kind of like our saying, “really, you don’t say!” Recently, I heard one girl talking to another one and about every ten seconds, she yelled, ”shut up!” I caught myself sailing into the room with my trusty flyswatter before I realized they were just happily chatting. No, my grands don’t know about fly swatter “therapy” but old habits are difficult for me to break.

4. Even on days when all your meds have kicked in, and nothing or very little, hurts, you just move about differently. Now, we both know that if you try to move rapidly, with energy, you are going to break your fool neck. You’ll miss the second step, the candy wrapper, or the wet spot on the tile. The last time I felt myself falling, I grabbed the back belt of the man in front of me in line at the check out, his wife was not amused. Thank heaven, he was fatter than me so I didn’t pull him down with me. Apparently, I jerked the back of his pants harder than I’d realized as he looked decidedly uncomfortable for a few seconds. Perhaps the fact that I then laughed like a ninny, was not helpful. I offered to pat him but he looked horrified [just kidding].

5. The older I get, the larger the stores grow. I’m fairly sure our Kroger takes up a city block. Since we shop there every week, I pretty much know where everything is supposed to be. Now, I have two problems with that store. I drive one of those scooters and I find it so annoying when oversized cardboard displays follow me around. What’s the point of having nice, wide aisles, when they are filled with silly displays or pallets of goods waiting to be shelved?! The drugstore section is by far the worst. However, I’ve cleaned out their tacky displays so often that they are not as clogged as they once were. So far, I have not been able to get the other scooter drivers to race up the wide center aisle with me. However, I do usually get a big grin from them when I challenge them to a race! One Saturday, an old codger pulled up behind me and yelled,” Either move that thing or park it!” I shouted right back at him,”You go jump in the lake!” The looks on my grands’ faces were priceless! Dee said, “Oh Lordy, I thought we were gonna have a senior smack down right there in the Kroger.”

6. The other nuisance is the high shelves that can only be reached by a giraffe. Unless a family member is with me, this results in my having to lie in wait for a tall person, most often male. I prefer young males because their wives don’t suspect me of flirting with their sweeties.

7. No earthly desire to remarry. Forty years was enough tho’ if he were still living, I’d still be married. I’d never have the patience to housebreak another one! I never intend to iron another dress shirt or pair a drawer full of socks! Yes, I know young husbands have mostly learned to take care of themselves but I wouldn’t be marrying one of those now, would I?

8. People mumble ! Yes, they really do! They should be given voice or elocution lessons! Also, they don’t look at you when they speak and if you ask them to repeat, they yell!

9. Flip flops and even some sandals are OUT! UGG! Gross !

10. Hair color is everywhere in the over 50’s group. I don’t color my hair because I consider my partly gray hair the way a soldier may be proud of a Combat Ribbon. I paid dearly for this gray and I’m gonna keep it! Once I was with a group of women in my age group when I noticed that every single head of hair except mine was the exact same shade - a kind of unnatural orange! Yeah, you know me. I just couldn’t let it go because it was distracting to me while presiding. I made a remark. I wish I’d had a camera to record the looks on their faces as they all looked at each other’s hair. At the following meeting, there were about twelve new dye jobs. Local beauty shops should have thanked me for telling those females that I assumed they were all sisters since they had the exact same color hair—rotten orange! Naw, I didn’t exactly say that.

11. Now after 70 years or so, you pretty much know everything about life but no one wants to hear it. It is kind of like that old joke about Australia, everyone knows it is there but nobody gives a damn!

12. I just plain have got where I like to cuss! Now, I don’t know why—maybe a reaction to my long ago Baptist upbringing. My parents certainly didn’t cuss and barely even used slang, maybe a “shoot” once in a while. I prefer the stronger version of that word. However, I strongly object to taking the LORD’S name in vain and hear it used so casually, I cringe.

13. Words have evolved since I was young. Who decided that the word “feces” is acceptable but “shit” is not? Don’t they mean exactly the same thing? I MEAN, WHO WANTS TO YELL,” FECES” WHEN THEY SLAM THE DOOR ON THEIR FINGER? And take the perfectly good word, “screw” --- or, oh well, perhaps not ………….

14. Nakedness---- female creatures now move around with most of their boobs hanging out. Don’t they realize that a tiny bit of cleavage might be sexy but the whole cow is surely not. Who was it who said when asked if he’d ever seen anything like a particular lady’s cleavage, “Not since I was weaned!”

15. To my way of thinking, stomachs are just there, that’s all. Why on earth would you want to see my stomach? … Checking for scars, perhaps? One of the few times I went with others to a “girly” show, the wife of the couple with us, sat there with her glasses on and loudly proclaimed to the group that each “girl” had definite stretch marks. She and I laughed so hard, we were not invited to go again, Thank Goodness! Now days, stomachs are everywhere, uncovered and shiny!

16. I assume that most homes no longer have full length mirrors. Surely, if boys could see how their t-hineys look when decorated with gross underpants, then jeans, they’d yank up their pants. When my kids were tiny and came to me with their pants hanging almost to their knees, I knew they’d had an “accident” and the sniff test proved it. Now, when I see a big ol’ boy with his pants dragging, I want to yell, “Get to the Men’s Room quick!”

17. People are not usually as rude to old folks as to others. There are always exceptions, of course. My mother used to ask if grumpy people “got up on the wrong side of the bed.” My solution is to explain to jerks that they quite obviously need a good strong laxative! I move away from them before they figure it out, especially if I say it in a very sweet voice.

18. Food- I do really miss some of the foods I have always enjoyed. I used to make the most delicious green salads, using my homemade dressings. Pretty much all raw vegetables are out and some raw fruits. But, come hell or high water [I’ve been pretty close to both] I’m going to eat some of the homegrown tomatoes Dee grows our garden, this summer.

19. I almost hesitate to write about this because it can be such a downer, however it is part of life, especially for old people. We expect, though it is sad, to lose the older members of our families. No, what is unnerving is losing our friends and siblings. I’ve lost several really close friends and family members in the last few years and I miss them. On the other hand, I do often think of the old woman, who when asked what is the best part of being old, replied, “No peer pressure.”

20. The real yucky, scary part of getting old is the fear of senility. Yes, I despise my various and colorful aches and pains, but the real fear of getting old, to me, is the loss of mental capacity. From what I can read and research, the importance of staying mentally active should be accepted and nurtured. Each of us is different in regard to talents and interests. As for me, reading, playing on the computer, and doing a little writing are pleasant. I used to worry a tad about “senior moments” but when my funny, precious, grands announce that they are having a “senior moment,” I realize that tiny mental lapses are just part of the human condition.

Despite all those things, getting old is better than the alternative!

This was made a few years ago, when Dee was in the process of adopting Michael.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mother

Tomorrow is June 3rd, the birthday of my mother, who was an extraordinary person.

Wilma Butler Hasty was a tiny, round dynamo. I’m not sure of the year she was born, but I believe it to be 1898 or 1899. She was the middle daughter of my grandparents’ seven daughters. There were four sons also and at least one baby who died.

Her father, and they called him “Father,” was a banker, land owner and lots else. At one time he was part owner of a marble works and owned all the drug stores in Marietta, and several car dealerships, too.  He was a shrewd businessman who thought of the future. His idea was to be able to set up his sons in business.

Grandaddy Butler also valued education. He turned one room in his home into a schoolroom and hired a governess who was quite strict. They called her ”Miss Janie,” and she was the unfortunate subject of much mischief. He sent his daughters to college before it was considered important for girls to have higher education.  

Mother and my Aunt Jennie and Aunt Miriam all went to Bessie Tift Women’s College, in Forsyth, Ga. My mother entered as a sophomore because she exempted her freshman year by passing all their exams. She was a good writer and a poet. Her talents also included music, and she possessed a lovely singing voice and was a skilled pianist. However, she majored in Home Economics and Nutrition.

There was nothing Mother couldn’t cook - from the simple dishes, beautifully prepared , to the delicate pastries. Her big, three layer cakes were to die for. She had a great partner with my dad because he also was interested in nutrition and together they tried all sorts of interesting recipes. I remember their making cottage cheese and really yummy hand turned freezer ice cream.

None of the above really captures the person that was Wilma Elizabeth Butler Hasty, though. When asked how tall she was, she’d grin and say, oh, about 5’2”-- but I never believed it. She was maybe 5 feet, standing tall. [My dad was over 6’3”]. She had dark brown hair with reddish highlights. Her eyes were kind of green. She always had a beautiful complexion. She washed her face twice a day with mild soap and rinsed it three times. She powdered her face, used a little rouge, and red lipstick, and that was all she did for years. Her skin was so lovely she didn’t need a lot of makeup.

When Mother got older, she did use a little foundation make up, I think. For years, she only used a little Coty”s L’Origan  perfume. About the time I married, she changed to Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew. I used to wear it sometimes too but after she died, my son asked me not to wear it anymore and I didn’t. He said it reminded him so of her, that it just made him miss her too much.

Mother always said she just loved people and especially, children. She liked to play games and was very good at it. Competition was fine and she played to win. She was a good bridge player but she played games with the children too. My kids remember the Chinese Checkers, and long Monoply games she played with them. I remember Rook, Rummy, Canasta etc.

Even though she was very tender hearted, Mother was very quick witted and had a rapid fire temper. Thankfully, she got over the bad temper equally quickly. I imagine growing up with so many older siblings had taught her to be tough, when needed.

She was very well organized but also quite flexible. My dad often liked to do things on the spur of the minute, such as taking a long ride or going on a trip. She was always ready to go. She used to laugh and say she could get herself and three children ready with thirty minutes notice. If needed clothes were dirty, she carried them anyway and had them cleaned or washed them when she arrived. As long as I remember, she kept a list of essential items pinned in her suitcase so she never forgot what was needed.

She had her own, little 4-10 shotgun and was a very accurate shooter. My dad was a firm believer in women being able to defend themselves. A tiny woman plus a loaded shotgun was not to be trifled with, he always said. [I grew up with a .44 pistol on my bedside table but it was too heavy for Mother’s small hands.]

Because my dad played professional baseball for years, and minor league baseball for many years, Mother knew easily as much about baseball as any umpire, possibly more. She kept a lot of notes and records on other teams, and devised her own score cards and particular notes about batters on other teams. With my dad being a pitcher, they always checked batting habits of opposing teams.

My mother was a nurturing  person who enjoyed taking care of people and she did it quite well. She worked hard and she worked long and fast. I could never even begin to keep up with her! One year, she organized and supervised the soup kitchen of the school in our community so that kids would have at least one good meal a day. This was just at the end of the Depression. Of course, there was no pay involved.

I’ve just realized it would take a book and more talent than I have, to begin to cover everything about Mother.

I hope tomorrow she is sitting on her cloud, near those she loves, enjoying her birthday.