On The Blackwater

Musing on retirement, writing, puppies, and whatever else strikes my fancy

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Spending my life in 20-year increments: DC, Calif, Maine, & now in the BlueRidge Mountains of VA, where my YoChon, Sadie Mae, has started to blog...

Monday, December 29, 2008

2009 Approaches~

As the daughter of alcoholics, whose first husband was an abusive alcoholic, New Year's Eve is not an occasion I enjoy. My ex's birthday was December 26th, so he always insisted we have a big open house since the tree was still up and the house (with 3 rambunctious kids) was clean and decorated as well. I shudder as I recall his changing, mid-party, from funny-guy-wearing-lampshade to an angry abuser, from Jekyll into Hyde.

Years after the divorce, I continued to dread the holidays that lent themselves to occasions to binge. Finally, now, after 28 years of a second marriage, to a man who has an occasional glass of wine or a cold beer in summer, I've begun to enjoy New Year's in my own way. Yes, it is a time to reflect, to resolve to make some personal changes...yeah, to lose the weight! To walk more, hoping to regain some physical strength.

So December became my time to have a long talk with my primary care physician and have her refer me to some specialists to get me on the right path. X-rays of my arthritic knees were taken, and I see a doctor tomorrow to determine if steroid injections or other non-surgical options are indicated.

Now that 2009 is just a few days away, I also intend to be kinder and more attentive to my spouse. I believe he may have come to the same conclusion; he was unable to sleep last night, and got up and CLEANED, emptied the dishwasher, tidied up the Christmas card 'mess'...you know, the address books, the stickers, the stamps, copies of our family Christmas letter, cards and boxes... so this morning, I actually could see the dining room table again!

Last evening, he wanted to take me out to Applebee's with gift cards we'd gotten, but I'm coming down with a cold, and showering and dressing up and driving over in a cold rain...not the best plan. So we went online, selected what we wanted, called Applebee's To Go line, and he drove over and picked up our meals in 20 minutes. Perfect!

Today, my cold is truly settling in, so he volunteered...honest! this was amazing...he volunteered to take the grocery list and go to WalMart and pick up what we needed. HUH? 'Who are you, fellow, and what have you done with my husband?'

Now, back to New Year's resolutions: We've had small dinner parties in previous years, and are invited this year to an open house by a really interesting couple. I suspect my cold will have reached stage 2, so we'll probably stay home. And have a glass of wine. And watch the ball drop on TV, if we manage to stay awake that long! Resolutions? To appreciate a spouse who steps up to the plate when necessary, who realizes my bad knee keeps me from some chores, who doesn't go from Jekyll to Hyde. Oh, he has occasions when he gets a bit temperamental and narcissistic...Ooops!

Happy New Year, all!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Day and MAMA MIA!

Santa brought me the double DVD, one with the movie, the other with all sorts of background information that I found fascinating. Such fun to watch. I still cannot get over Meryl Streep, all that dancing, leaping up in the air spreading her long legs out and touching her toes! Sheesh...and she's approaching 60. How did she do that?

In one scene, she was told she'd be climbing up to the top of the goat shed. "How high could that be?" she said to herself, envisioning maybe 10-12 feet. HA! She had to clamber up a metal ladder, then another, then an even higher one, with rocky ledge below her. At one point, she was to nearly lose her balance, going backward. They tied a clothesline-type rope to a metal loop at her waist, on her front, and assured her that two men would be holding the other end of the rope, so she needn't worry.

She looked a bit nervous..."two men? Just two men? Not some kind of block or piece of equipment?" She went on to do the bit, and everything was fine, but she said later that she did things on this movie that she'd never imagined anyone would ever ask her to do.

Interesting information about how the broadway show and subsequently the movie, was written. The director (who had never directed before) took Abba songs, read the lyrics, and THEN wrote a story around the music instead of doing this the other way 'round.

Now that I've watched all the inside stuff, I need to go back and watch the movie yet again. I'm saving one part for last: the part with the lyrics on the screen. This is indeed a party in a box!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Whether the weather...

What a day today! (Sunday) When we left for church, it was sunny and balmy. I didn't need a coat, just wearing a light long-sleeved 'shirt' over a silver turtleneck with black pants. Since Praise Choir practices early, I usually can get a nice close parking spot, and I did.

We practiced, then went to Adult Sunday School, then our service at 11, which continued until nearly 12:30 since we had so much music today. When we stepped out from the choir door, WHAM! we encountered strong frigid winds that immediately chilled us through. Such an abrupt turnaround caused everyone to bend over against the wind, clutching kids and purses, hats and caps.

When we got home, I got on the phone with my daughter Cathie, up at the very top of Maine. I'd heard they were about to get a major blizzard, and was assured to learn there was plenty of wood for the woodstove, and they'd spent the morning getting the family cars all set up. Up there, cars sprout plug-ins used to charge up a block heater, so you need several outlets for them. Sure enough, Cathie said she'd gotten up in the middle of the night to put more wood in the stove, and the temperature was -25.

Another location in the county had -40 as an actual temperature, not including wind-chill.

As we talked, Cathie said they were hunkering down as the approaching blizzard was forecast to leave 20-24 inches of snow on top of the 6-8 they got yesterday. I'm guessing the university she attends, and my grandaughter's high school, will be closed tomorrow. Which hardly ever happens; they're pretty used to snow and ice up there.

They will certainly have a white Christmas. Cathie said she already opened the presents we sent, found the double-DVD of MaMa Mia, watched it and sang right along. They plan to watch it again on Christmas Day, and at New Year's when grandson Jessie and his fiancee' Jessica drive up.

The DVD went on sale on the 16th of December...my hairdresser, Eric, said he planned to be at WalMart's front door just before midnight on the 15th so he could get his copy and copies for his friends since it is a limited release. I wasn't worried; Rocky Mount is such a small town that I figured I could get two copies on the 16th, and I did. It's like a party in a box!

I started with the weather, and now will add that we're lighting a fire in the fireplace. Time to snuggle down, even if we don't have any snow on the ground. Yet.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Taking the Time for Friends

In this rapidly moving world, full of technology that allows us to e-mail or text or leave messages on answering machines, we can often forget how important it can be to take the time to visit with our friends.

A recently-widowed friend had more than the usual difficulties to handle: left alone in a very large historical house full of antiques and valued possessions, she decided to gear down to a small rental space in Roanoke while simultaneously dealing with the sudden loss of her dear husband.

Phone numbers changed, addresses changed, e-mail addresses changed, and at first she retreated into the myriad responsibilities inherent in such a loss. Finally, she was convinced by a good friend that she needed to take a few deep breaths and let her friends comfort her. Four of us gathered around her, at a beautiful home in the country, where we hugged and talked, ate leisurely, sipped tea, and enjoyed an incredible light lunch followed by a cake decorated as a wrapped package.

Sun poured in the windows as we took the time to do what we needed to do, what our friend needed although she kept assuring us she was "fine." Too often, we find ourselves saying, "Now, call me if you need anything, remember that I'm here, don't forget about us now that you've relocated." Words, when actions are needed.

No, I don't always remember, but the friend who gathered us together did the right thing.

Written instructions for putting on a bra!

Well, I never thought this would happen, but it did. A friend who had surgery after an accident, creating painful scar tissue on her side, had not been able to find a bra that she could wear. While getting a massage, she was told about a woman who fits custom-designed bras in over 500 sizes, in your home. Contacting her, my friend (let's call her Paula) was told she could have a party in her home, inviting friends who might be interested in the product, and thereby earn points towards an orthopedic bra.

It's nearly Christmas and we are all rushing around trying to economize at the same time, yet Paula filled her house with friends who have spent years trying to find a comfortable bra. The husbands, of course, were not invited but they joked about attending, envisioning a roomful of well-endowed women half-dressed. Each woman who wanted a fitting went individually into a private bedroom with the woman representing the company, Beauty by Jeunique, for the custom fitting.

We had a great time, joking and chatting and eating lots of snack foods. When the first woman walked out of the room wearing the bra (under a sweatshirt that said: Grandmom) we were stunned. Her posture was different, her waist was pulled in, her shoulders were up...and, well, she looked terrific. There was a rush to sign up at that point.

Yes, the bras were pricey, but absolutely worth the cost. Most of us bought one, but plan to buy another in January, when Jeunique will be holding a sale. They also sell other undergarments, and jewelry items as well. Here's the URL for Linda Woods, the distributor in this area: customfit4u56@yahoo.com.

OK, sorry for the commercial, but I absolutely wanted to share this information.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Delightful Kids' Play

I was really too tired to attend last night's children's play at our church. With Praise Choir rehearsal at 9:15, then choir at 10:30, then service at 11 followed by our monthly Celebration Sunday...way too much cake and ham biscuits...I really didn't feel like going back again at 7 for the musical play. But Hubby was all fired up about seeing the kids, and every year, we enjoy it so much, that we went. Of course, a promise of dinner out afterwards DID tip the scale a bit.

It was cold, so we bundled up and drove into town. I'm so glad we went. The play was a musical adaptation of the Joseph and Mary, baby Jesus, three wise men event we are all so familiar with, although this version had many humorous lines the author had inserted. The 'stage' was the church altar.

Most of the players were about 5 years old, maybe 6. One little guy, a darling blonde with big blue eyes, playing one of the shepherds, was something else again...more about that later! There were even 4 tiny dancing girls, big grins on their faces, giggles galore, no gyrations...after all, this was the church altar. One of the ongoing themes was a bouncy number where everyone on stage would simply bend his or her knees to the rhythm of the music as they sang. Well, the little guy (maybe 4?) just couldn't get the rhythm right. He tried. Oh, didn't he try!

He watched the others and tried to match their bounces, but he'd be up when they were down. Pretty soon, he decided to stay stooped down, hoping no one would notice. We were in hysterics in the audience. He was just so determined.

Finally, 'Mary' nearly dropped the doll Baby Jesus as she tried to rescue the little fellow, reaching a hand out to him. Looking at the program, I saw that this was actually her little brother, and she was being big sister, never mind being Mary.

When the play ended, we all gave them a standing ovation, and many gathered to praise the little shepherd; we could tell he was struggling so to find the right movements. His Mom and Dad hugged him and kissed his little cheeks.

I'm so happy that I didn't miss this production. These events cannot be acted out in schools any more, but fortunately our churches can bring such a blessing to us. And hopefully the little shepherd will eventually find his sense of rhythm. Or not.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pink Pedicure!

Years ago, my daughter-in-law took me to a spa for a pedicure, as a girl's day out treat. It was unbelieveably wonderful. We soaked our feet in the warm bubbling water while the chair back mechanism massaged our tired muscles. Then our feet, ankles and legs were lathered and gently massaged as well.

I was hooked. Now I go in about once a month so ingrown toenails cannot cause any pain, and I come out just floating on air. They even 'sand' the bottoms of your feet for you. If you are trying to come up with a gift for someone, the cost is minimal in most cases. I chose a shop beside Kroger in Rocky Mount since they are immaculate. They sanitize constantly, and take the units apart every evening to be sure they are sterile. How much? $25 for two hours of being pampered.

This time of year, when we feel harried and hurried, when we're on our feet entirely too much, this can be as much a medical necessity as it is a gift. And I'm worth it!

Yes, I am economizing along with everyone else, but today I skedaddled in for a pedicure. There are other places I can cut.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

PC was in the shop~

Sorry I've been MIA, but I had to take the computer in to the shop so they could shake some bugs out of it. I couldn't even access my e-mail. Got 'er back today, so I've been trying to catch up.