Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Grey Blob

An apology. Yes, I owe an apology for both of my blogs. I haven't been as diligent as I should be in keeping up with these pages I love to write. Life gets in the way. Always I think of these pages as my ramblings with no one really paying any attention. Then I begin to doubt if I should be writing. Well, today is my wake-up call.

While slipping into the Sunday morning nest where I write my blogs and newspaper column, I found that I had comments that had not been moderated. Comments from readers that had not been acknowledged. I AM SORRY. Shame on me. You do read my ramblings. Sometimes I forget that maybe my words are your words as well. Sometimes I forget that I am a cog in a very large wheel, and I'd best be aware.

There is no novel in my words. I've come to accept that fact. I don't have pages of fiction in my head that need to find a voice. I'm not a non-fiction reader; therefore, I don't have it in me to write such books. So what am I? Hm. I often ask God to give me clarity. More often than not, I ask about my purpose on this little ball of earth. As a child, I was close to death. I bumped and rolled along in life the intervening years. I am a survivor thus I have purpose.

More recently as I age, I ask God that I learn more about this grey glob in my skull that contains an infinite amount of knowledge. Knowledge I can't even understand. I ask that in my remaining years, I might learn more of what it contains. Clarity of purpose. Exposure of gifts. An emptying of wealth that this grey matter holds. Contrary to what most people might do, I sometimes try to look into that grey mass persuading myself that if I look hard enough I might find something new. Don't try this at home. It doesn't work. Yet awareness comes to me at the most unusual times. Someone may ask advice and for some silly reason, the answer is in my head. I didn't come up with it. It just was there. We have a wonderful, mystical glob that possesses everything God intended for us just sitting there on top of our heads.

One thing I have learned is that this glob doesn't work well unless there is activity and stimulation. Opening to knew thoughts and ideas. Taking chances where our own doubt is our worst enemy. Time and time again, I have met people who do not know me but who have the same abstract beliefs that I do. I find that this grey mass shares a common thread with others. I often need to step away from who I believe I am in order to learn more about who I am supposed to be. It is a gift we are given at birth.

I have no idea where all of this came from today. Perhaps it is because of you, the readers, who take time to comment on the words that just pop out of my head. Perhaps it is another door that opened and God said, "Write. I am the words. You are my pen."

I believe in this grey mass on my head. This grey blob that refuses to stay dormant. The one that lets me know a few more things every day. My job is to listen and write. So to you who comment on my writings, I thank you. We are all of one thread that weaves in and out of this world and all of humanity. Thank you for being part of my tapestry.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Life's yardstick

Perhaps we don't measure our lives so much in years as we do in numbers, in events. We measure it in generations, in inventions, in medical advances, etc. I can count the years of since my birth, but there is so much more to measure in the measuring of our lives.

My sister June and I often talk about the past and the things I can remember, those she can't and vice versa. We look at the past in new ways understanding that we are a product of the part of the country we were raised in and by the history that took our family from back when to now. It is a lot to take in if one sits down to count it all up. It is impossible.

A few of my classmates and I took a tour of the new Franklin Monroe High School. What a lovely sight to behold. Recycling and environmental impact were at the forefront of design. Up-to-date classrooms with computers and rooms designed for the arts. A new gym with a floor so shiny that it seemed a shame to ever walk on it. I couldn't take that tour without going back to the numbers, the measurement of time. Three gyms had crossed my path from childhood to here. A school was torn down and another went up. We measure by the life we lead.

The funny thing about having older siblings is that their measurements of events seem to add to yours even if you don't remember those years. Homes went from basic homes of comfort with no frills to central heating, bathrooms, dishwashers, microwaves, all the things that measure advancement of time. Sometimes we measure in losses. Those are the difficult ones, yet they are the ones that teach us the most about life.

I write about the past; however, I don't live with the past. Counting the years in knowledge, constantly learning and changing, are probably the best of the measuring. Change has been that yardstick that tells me how tall in wisdom I have grown. We do not stand still.

Life is measure in years, in the events and changes over those years. I couldn't possibly count how old I am in life events. I think I'll stick with my sixty-eight years and counting.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

From Avalon to Dylan

Up at five in the morning. I wrapped my hair on big rollers then placed the cap of my portable hairdryer over them. Snuggling down on the sofa with a pillow tucked beneath my neck, I turned on the hairdryer and tried to get another hour of sleep. I might be a little tired that day, but my bouffant hairstyle was worth it. Thus was the life this once teenager in the mid 1960s.

There was quite a change between the years when my sisters grew up and those of my own.  A revolution was taking place. Teens questioned and followed new paths. Skirts were shorter. Hair was longer. Jeans were part of my wardrobe and wearing a guys button down shirt was a fad with shorts.

At the Alumni Banquet instead of a speaker, music from the honored class eras was performed. The music rocked and rolled just as we had in our teens. Our class perked up as we all felt the music once more. With a little encouragement, we probably would have all gotten up to dance. I looked at the young people who were the class of 2015. I wondered what they thought of these grandparents sitting at a table, 50 years graduated, and mouthing the words as they swayed in their seats. Who were these old people?!?!? Well, we were some of the first to do the Twist, the Mashed Potatoes, the Monster Mash, the Frug, the Hully Gully, the Watusi, the Pony. We were part of the dance explosion, dances that are still seen in movies today and alive again on the dance floor.

Times, they were a changin'. Fads were aplenty. Afro hair, banana seats on bikes, turtleneck shirts and mini skirts, Granny dresses, lava lamps and smiley faces. Tie die came into being along with love beads. It was a big step from the 50's to the 60s. And, we were the generation that saw it happen.

New thoughts and ideas came to be in the 60s. For some it was difficult to change old ways. For others doors were opened that had always remained closed. Cultural walls were being torn down when the youth called for change. People were willing to fight for their rights even if it meant death. Our music reflected the questions teens had probably always thought about but were afraid to ask. Individuals began to think for themselves and to step beyond the comfort zone of their parents. The world changed. Some thought for the worse. Some determined to make it better for all people. In churches and in streets, men, women, black and white held hands and became one voice. It was a time of change.

Perhaps the music is what I remember most. We experienced it all. Rock, Folk, Pop, Soul. Music about love, war, outrage and peace. Our feelings were reflected in a new way. We felt it, we danced it and most of all we loved by it. Frankie Avalon to Bob Dylan. A generation that grew up quickly. No wonder our parents couldn't keep up.

I am still a girl of the 60's. Part of a change in this world. A change that needs to be continued. We are the past and are still a relevant future. No more rollers at five in the morning. Still dancing across the floor when no one is looking. Still singing those folk songs. Not seeing bellbottoms in my future and positively forget my backside fitting on a banana seat. But today is still the future for those open minded, loving adults from the 60s. I, for one, am proud to be one of them.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Don't rag on me

Nothing went to waste. Feed sacks were used over and over again. Twine became a replacement for rope or string or even holding up a pair of pants. A twig could help a fire along or hold a hot dog or even be a tent pole. An old pot could be a bucket or a flower pot. An old Cool Whip container became a poor woman's Tupperware or a bathtub toy. Clothes were handed down or shared. Nothing went to waste. Creativity was the norm on Neff Road.

I grabbed an old rag and wiped my granddaughter's nose. The poor thing had a terrible cold. Her little nose was red. When her mommy and other grandma came home, they grabbed the rag, looking vaguely repelled at the thought of a rag beneath the child's nose. I was a little confused. Didn't everyone use rags? We certainly did. When Dad finally wore out a t-shirt, Mom made it into rags. Wonderful rags that were soft beneath a child's dripping nose. A rag that could be wrapped around the Vicks-coated neck of a child.

Old clothing became part of my grandmother's quilts. Rags were the early hair curlers. I often had a rag held against a wound sometimes wrapped around a cube of ice. I dusted many a shelf with an old rag. Dipped them in a sudsy bucket of water when we did spring cleaning. And managed to wipe off an egg or two before they were taken to market. Dad had a rag tucked into his tackle box. Come to think of it, I believe that rags were a vital part of our everyday life. So don't rag on me.

I wonder if other people have a pile of rags stuck away on a shelf, or are rags a thing of the past or something that was used most by we farm folk? More and more, I use rags today to make my own little dent in my ecological imprint left on this earth. The old trusty rag doesn't need to be tossed. I don't need to buy it. I don't need to recycle the wrapping it comes in. Nope. This old standby has served me well over the years. It has dried my tears, comforted my runny nose, soothed my wounds and cleaned my house. What other product could be as practical and sustaining. Nope, don't rag on me. These are real treasures. Perhaps I should start a business selling old pieces of cloth!

When no one is looking, I whip out a piece of Daddy's old t-shirt and wipe his toddler's nose. I will pass on this legacy of good sense. I will teach my grandchildren what it is to be cognitive of their imprint on this world and how to be creative and practical. Rags. Memories of home, comfort and love.

Monday, May 4, 2015

For the love of Mom

In honor of my mom, I am wearing her raccoon hat while I write about the special moms of Neff Road. I picture Mom doing the Charleston in the kitchen. An apron dusted with flour. Peeled potatoes in the old tin pot ready to cook for a field full of hands (farm hands for those who are not farm savvy). A woman with an apron full of greens, beans or peas. A basket full of eggs. Some still warm from the hen's warm nest. A basket of yarn and crochet needles moving quickly. Ragtime piano and a voice that could be clearly heard whenever she sang. A woman who could confuse as well as inform. She was one of a kind this Ruth Johnson Loxley. And she was my remarkable mother.

Neff Road just like all country roads was filled with women who knew how to work hard. They grew up making soap, sewing sack cloth, toting chamber pots and learning from their mothers what was needed to support the menfolk in the family while keeping the house and children in order. It was not an easy childhood for these women. Their future homes would be modern with electricity, indoor plumbing, appliances and water running from a faucet in the house. They were allowed to be more creative. Some worked away from home. They were post war years when life was easier and new ways of living were at hand. These were the mothers of the 1950s.

As I have said in the past, I had many mothers on Neff Road. Some were in many ways closer to me than my own mom. Mom was always busy with so many other people. She was a caring person who watched over her community and tried to make it better. Margaret Stager was the mom who probably saw me in her house as much as I was in the white house back the lane. I loved going there to play with Brenda. Hollie and Margaret loved me and treated me like one of their own. Next door to us, well down the lane and to the right, lived Doris Lavy. A woman who over the years would find a special place in my heart. "You didn't know it, but I always watched over you," she told me. She was the one person who understood the loneliness of that little girl who seemed to roam the farm and road between the bridge and Brenda's house. There are no words deep enough to express the love I have for those two women. Going home to visit meant more than that drive back the lane to my parents. It meant that I would see those women and their families again.

We should all have such Mothers in our lives. They became my special moms, because I cared to continue to make those relationships stronger as time passed by. I gave them a love I couldn't understand as a child. I cherish them and their families, understanding what they added and continue to add to my life.

I no longer have any of those mothers, but I have them embedded in my heart. This is my Mother's Day thanks to them and the memories I hold dear. This is for you to remember and cherish what you have. For all of you birth mothers and those of you who are mothers of the heart, Happy Mother's Day and thank you. Mom, I sit here in your raccoon hat with a smile on my face. You taught me to appreciate others and to love with all my heart. This for you and the mothers of Neff Road. I love you and thank you.