Sunday, January 15, 2017

Week's Best

Okay, so it's not the most original thing -- doing a list of one's favorite things/moments/experiences from the previous week -- but since I'm not updating my other blog any longer I want to do something that will keep me on my toes. I have fear of commitment, though, so while I hope to do this on a weekly basis that might not happen. Anyway. 

Madwoman at work. 

Monday was Clean Off Your Desk Day. My Daddy often told the story of the man for whom he worked in his early years in the insurance business, a boss whose desk was always very messy. One afternoon before leaving work, however, Mr. W tidied everything up, went to the airport and got in his small private plane.... and crashed. Since that day, Daddy didn't put quite so much stock in keeping things tickety-boo, and I have elevated it to an art.


Wait, I'm where?

As I came over the rise on Perry Street on my commute to work a few days ago, I had the distinct impression I'd somehow taken a wrong turn and was looking at my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. Nope. Just a really bizarre, low hanging, cloud formation. Oh, and just for the sake of history.... the church spire you see there belongs to St. John's Episcopal Church, which was the church attended by Jefferson Davis.



Turning from the access road off onto Perry Street on my way to work is often interesting, as the lanes are poorly marked and there seems to be no consensus as to which car belongs in which lane. These two motorists could not amicably settle that dispute on morning this week. When I was growing up, we had this family tradition: any time we happened upon a stranded motorist or an accident, everyone in the car had to yell out, "Howdy Doody, Mr. Kitty!" Woe betide the last to say it, for any car trouble that might befall us would be blamed on the straggler. I still mutter it under my breath every single time I come upon circumstances that warrant it. (And no, none of my siblings nor I have any explanation for this phrase, or who started it, although we all expect it came from my Grandpappy Tom McCord.)



I'm gonna need to see this thing again to figure out what it is, exactly. I think it was actually a motorcycle with this two-wheeler front on it, but I was afraid the parking lot bar was going to come crashing down on my car if I didn't keep moving. Whatever it is, it's a good one.



Books Read:
I Will Send Rain - Rae Meadows (heartily recommended)
Bitter River (Bell Elkins #2) - Julia Keller (meh)

Movies Seen:
LaLa Land - must see

Best of TV: 
Longmire (streaming on Netflix)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Rearview Mirror:

What "they" say is so true: things often appear smaller when you are looking at them in the rear view mirror.  What's true on the highway is mostly true in life, it seems to me.

There were things, sad and unhappy and infuriating things, that consumed me for bits of time during 2016. Most of them are now at least, if not quite forgotten, no longer in charge of my energy or my emotions.

The year now gone was one of the busiest we've ever had in terms of experiencing the arts: 9 plays, 7 movies on the big screen, 6 musical concerts, 2 ballet performances, numerous trips to the museum, including one very special exhibit.

There were trips to the zoo, a trip to Huntsville and a day spent at the Space and Rocket Center. We loved attending Biscuits games as a family, TavernFest got attended, and I got to sit on the stage at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival as a panelist for Theatre in the Mind. I enjoyed meeting with and/or presenting programs to several literary groups, and have had a ball "doing lunch" more than I've ever done in my life with friends and sisters-in-law. I've watched my husband begin to love what he does for a living again, working back in the heart of town which makes it possible for us to enjoy a much more sane and full life than we've had in years. I said goodbye to a job that defined and delighted me for nearly three decades, and hello to a new career that excites me and inspires me.

Alabama won a(nother) National Championship, had an(other) undefeated season, won a(nother) SEC Championship Title, and yesterday a(nother) trip to a(nother) National Championship Game.

I read a little less than usual, but read some outstanding books, the best of which you should read, too. You'll find my whole list here.

And on Christmas Day my granddaughter and I sat down and played our first duet together, so there was that.

All of that stuff makes having had a raccoon in the attic, suffering yet another slow-to-heal injury from a fall, the death of our sweet cat Big Louie, having a dust-up with a major retailer, watching all the new cracks in the walls form because of the drought, and being on the losing end of a burglary to end the year with a bang, seem like so much background noise. And while for many reasons 2017 fills me with a sense of trepidation, I am yet to be stripped of optimism. There never has been a new year entered that held any assurances or guarantees or best-laid plans that wouldn't go awry, after all.

An acquaintance stopped me at the grocery yesterday afternoon to commiserate with me about the burglary, and what I said to her I'll say to you: Yes, the bad stuff stinks, but I can't do yesterday again. I can only do today, and today is good.

Moving ahead with your eyes on the rear view is a good way to make a wreck of what lies ahead.

Full speed ahead! Bring it on, 2017; I'm ready.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Jest 'fore Christmas.....

This has been an odd Christmas season for me, as it has been the first in nearly 30 years that I haven't worked in a retail environment. Enjoying the busy-ness and helping my customers find precisely the right books to give to people they loved became much of the way I celebrated the season. (Lest you think I'm blowing smoke, I am not: I really enjoyed visiting with my customers, hearing their plans for the holidays, sharing in their excitement as they made plans for travel or plans to welcome their family back home.) When you're on your feet, not to mention when you are on all day, no matter how much fun you're having you are still just worn out and depleted when you finally get home. As much as I wanted to go to lots of Christmas parties and events around town, I was just too wiped out to follow through.

But this year has just been so much fun!  My family and I lit the first candle of the Advent season at church. I rang with both handbell choirs at church for the Hanging of the Greens. My sister-in-law and I attended the Montgomery Civic Chorale's truly spectacular Christmas concert. Henry and I took our granddaughter to experience the Holiday Lights at the Montgomery Zoo (never mind that things didn't go quite as planned), and just a couple days later, we took her to see A Christmas Carol at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. And the season isn't over: we'll attend Candlelight Services tonight with our whole motley crew, followed by our annual visit to Waffle House for a cholesterol-be-damned meal to tide us over until Christmas morning. I cannot remember a time I felt so "filled" up by the Christmas spirit. 

A new component this year has been the fun I've had at work processing Donor-Advised gifts to so many very deserving nonprofits. I verify each nonprofit to make sure of its IRS status, and in that process learn so much about these organizations, many of which are unfamiliar to me.  I told a friend a few days ago that it's heartwarming to me that folks who have already received their tax benefit by establishing a fund with the Foundation make the effort to pass that money along in such a thoughtful way when there really is no requirement that they do so. I can tell you this for true: when you have your hands in this sort of giving every day, it inspires you to give more, too. We protect the privacy of all our Donors, so I can't tell you some of the most heartwarming holiday "miracles" that have happened because of their generosity, but suffice it to say that more than once because of them, prayers were answered.

It hasn't all been roses, of course. I had a bit of a dust-up with a large retail operation regarding fraudulent activity on my (now cancelled) account. Our beloved Old Master Cat, Big Louie, traveled across the Rainbow Bridge at nearly 20 years of age. And Henry, Thomas, and I are still trying to figure out what movie we'll see on Christmas Night (a new-ish tradition for the three of us), as the one we all wanted to see isn't playing anywhere in town.

But there have been far too many wonderful gifts of the season to focus on the things that might make me melancholic. I took Rosemary out yesterday for a bit, so she could get some of her Christmas shopping done, and her excitement at finding just the right things that SHE could give was a delight. Even sitting in holiday traffic wasn't horrible, for she and I had much of import to discuss. And best of all, a friend welcomed her first grandchild into the world at a time when her world needed a dose of newness.

The list of reasons to celebrate -- or at least to sit in contentment -- is so long. And I am so grateful.

I don't decorate our home anymore -- the last time was December 2011 -- but my heart is lit up with the light of my family's love, the generosity and kindnesses to which I have borne witness, and the assurance that we are held in the palm of the hand that grasped His mother's finger for the first time on That Night.

Merry Christmas, Y'all!