Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

It is Saturday and the annual rivalry of UF and FSU has been played.  FSU won.  No surprise there.  But UF did not lay down and get run over.  FSU did not score 8 touch downs.  Florida scored a touch down.  FSU won, but as a Gator, I can hold my head up proudly and give the famous year end mantra, "Wait 'til next year!"  Congratulations FSU

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving.  The first since Daddy died.  I really never thought of it.  I kept myself so busy and going the few days before Thanksgiving, the Day of and until this morning, I have been going.  I deal better by doing.  That is my comfort zone, the human doing instead of a human being.   Keep going, walk it off, just focus on what is in front of you.  Those are all things my parents would tell us.  My big brother Rob and his sweet wife, my sister (in law) JongAe and their daughter, Jessica.  For the past few Thanksgivings, Rob would meet me half way between here and Palmetto and we would do the trade off with Dad.  We would always meet at a Cracker Barrel and Dad would order chicken and dumplings, but not too much chicken, more dumplings......"the chicken is dry"  The waitress always looked at him like they had never heard anyone make such a request. 

Then Dad would spend a week or so here with me and we would go through the process of picking and ordering his Christmas presents.  Rob and JongAe would then drive up Wednesday night along with every other American travelling for the holiday and it would take 6 hours or more.  Everyone would be tired and frustrated by the time they got here.  It was not a great way to start the trip.  This year, there is no Dad.  He is missed, but at this age, it is nice to still have Thanksgiving dinner with your big brother and his family.  Rob would have liked to have Thanksgiving in the woods at the National Park, Lake Dor.  That is where we would have Thanksgiving every year as children.  There would be 5 families all together.  It was cold and the food was cooked on open fires, pits and Coleman stoves.  Everyone slept in tents, Five families, five tents.  A perfect childhood.

Very happy memories. 
Well mostly.
There is the pig incident when I pretty much quit eating meat
and of course there was the Thanksgiving where Vicki's parents were killed. 
We were older by that point, and actually the last Thanksgiving I remember going on with the family. 

Rob and family drove up on Thursday morning and it took them 4 hours.  When they got here they were relaxed and happy and they quickly unpacked into the 5th wheel.  They were so excited about getting to "camp".  This is as close as Jessica has gotten so far in her 9 years.  I had the turkey in the oven roasting away.  I had watched several Thanksgiving shows and had a plan of attack for the turkey, the dressing and the pumpkin pie.  JongAe brought acorn squash and broccoli casserole.  The potatoes were set in the pot waiting for the turkey to come out so that JongAe could mash them.  The pecan praline pumpkin pie and soufflĂ© looked beautiful.  JongAe watched the food in the oven and baked the rolls while I finished the gravy and Bug and Rob carved the bird.  Football was on the TV.

JongAe had used the broccoli they had grown, I used our sweet potatoes and made two kinds.  The oranges in the cranberry sauce was from my trees and as we melted like gravy as we ate bite after delicious bite.  Everything was wonderful.  You could tell the difference in the fresh grown veggies versus the canned or frozen ones we normally used.  We ate in the living room, on my mother's couch, it was her mother's couch at some point, it is now mine.  Rob, JongAe and Jessica all admire the couch over and over and commented on how different it looked.  I told them the story about the different layers of material I had found when I recovered it.  Rob laughed as we remembered Mother's choices.  The burlap covers were the most memorable.  We ate food that recipes my mother taught me were followed, or with full knowledge I tweaked them to our taste.  The five of us came together as one family.  We missed the parts of our family not there, but knew that they were family, and that everything was right.  Maybe our last, maybe next year Rob and family will get to go camping.  maybe

Jessica is 9.  She will be 10 in January.  She has a lot of energy.  She talks so fast I had to keep asking her to slow down and look at my face when she talked so I could try and keep up with her.  I told her I did not mean to criticize, I really did want to talk with her, but Aunt Kathleen moves very slow now a days and she would need to keep that in mine.  She was very sweet and tried.  I tried very hard to get the gist of her conversation, even if I didn't get most of the words.  Did I mention she has a lot of energy?  They got here around noon on Thanksgiving day and then left this morning.  In that time, we finished putting the stain on the rocking chair I have been refinishing for Jessica.  Then we drew pictures, worked with paper maichee making Christmas ornaments, another family tradition, we made embroidery thread tassels and then made someone of them into angels.  We made felt flowers and ornaments, Jessica wrote the sweetest Thank you notes to Bug, me, the Dogs and the entire family.  They had pictures as well as the thank yous.  Oh, and we cooked and ate and watched football.

And each morning we walked up to the exit for breakfast.  Friday we walked to the Huddle House, today we walked up to McD's.  It was so much fun as a family to get up in the morning, wrap up in scarves, hats and heavy winter coats and walk through this beautiful area with leaves changing and deer prints on the road.  We walked up and down the road and into civilization, then we would walk back home, into the quiet and the woods. 

I did too much, and today I have not answered the phone, I have not answered anyone, or wished happy Thanksgiving, and missed my cousin Lori's birthday.  I have lived my life in my way, doing too much.  Doing so much that I am worthless when I crash.  I just sit.

But tomorrow is Sunday and I can rest another day and watch football.  There is plenty of leftovers in the frig, a perfect Thanksgiving Sunday. 

I am thankful for
my sweet husband
my family
my beloved animals, Bob, Edna, Harley, Henry, Marina, Stella and Luna, John C Bennett, Buttercup, Dewdrop, Rose, Daisy, Magnolia, Camellia, Brugmansia, Hyacinth and Gladiola, the Bubba, and Big Bunny, may she rest in peace.

We found Big Brown Bunny in the pasture.  She was laying on her back, she looked like she had been grabbed by an owl or some other big bird.  The bird had dropped Bunny and she looked like she had watched the clouds and sky and was gone.  We were happy to know where she was, and will miss her dearly.

I am thankful for
my dear and precious family
for my cancer because it has helped me to savor every moment.  Looking over at my 9 year old niece and watch her animated face as she tells story after story about her girlfriends in her 9 year old language.  Eyes sparkling and the self assurance of a little girl as she acts like her peers.  She is growing up so fast.

I am thankful for
Christopher and his sweet sense of humor and view of the world. 
Nathaniel as he and Desmond strutted their stuff across the football field, seniors
already heading out into the world

I am thankful for our parents
and growing up with the love of holidays
and football
and what a wonderful world
and I am Thankful for being here at this very moment and feeling the cold air in the morning on my cheeks, and the sun on my back in the afternoon
to curl up at night on our dear comfy bed under our down
warm and snugly
sweet moments

happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rainy Tuesday

I lay this morning in a dark bedroom listening to the fall of the rain on the roof.  The room as dark as midnight, the low rapping and pinging of the rain as it danced down on Labrun.  It has been cold, it has been dry, it has warmed up and now it is raining.  Sweet, blessed rain.  I swear it would take a lot for me not to love rain.  I know it can be destructive and I have lived through hurricanes and have seen Mother Nature express herself in many violent ways.  But today as the weather people talk about a gale warning, I look out my windows and see gentle life giving rain, I find it hard to believe what is coming.

Yesterday we met our friend and realtor at Tupelo's to make sure that every thing is progressively according to plans on the house that Bug's parents are working on.  As we were getting ready to go, I realized that Bug was putting on much warmer clothes compared to what I was putting on.  I stopped and realized that I am now temperature dyslexic.  I can not get my head wrapped around cold.  This is not new, but it does appear that my brain is simply refusing to accept cold.  I did change into one of my cashmere sweaters, a lovely soft baby blue over an old pair of jeans, not over sized, but well worn and comfy.  I put on my grandfather's argyle socks.  Yes, I know that is weird that I still wear my grandfather's socks.  He died when I was around 10, and we were very close.  I do not remember any longer how I got them, but I love those poor old worn out socks.  But they make me happy.  Again, I started to walk out the door, only to realize that my blue jean jacket was not warm enough.  I traded it in on my gray wool winter coat.  A coat cut with the same style as a P coat.  My dear Rich helped me pick it out a few years ago.  Every time I put on this coat I think of that.   This time when I walked out to get in the car, I was dressed appropriately.  It was still cold, like 40s, but I was as warm as I could be.  Well, if I had put on the scarf that Mary had made for me during one of our radio plays.

It is strange that so much of my clothing is related to someone?  Growing up my Mother and Grandmother were constantly reminding me of the line of ownership for each piece of furniture, each plate, sugar bowl, silver teaspoon, and so on.  So things have always been as real to me as the family members long gone.  The only way I knew my great grand mother was from a diamond pinkie ring, another by her tea cart.  My grandmother and mother read me books that had belonged to them and other relatives when they were young.  These books were filled with stories of fairies and plants and animals that talked and walked around just like people.  I think my confusion that everything is the same only different started there.  To this day I still see everything as be equal when it comes to respecting "life".  I have always been happy and loved and overly optimistic because my whole life I have been surrounded by animals and trees and plants and rocks and people, many of which I thought of as elders or caretakers.  Who wouldn't grow up with out fear, if there is always someone watching over you.  Maybe might even account for someone being naive and viewed as immature.  I think that is quite accurate description of me.  That is no excuse for bad behavior.  No, I have forgiven myself for my bad behavior, but that does not mean that they are not a part of me anymore.

The rain continues to tap against the roof, an ever changing rhythm as the tree sway and the rain ebbs and flows.  We are sitting quietly with the kids nestled around our feet.  They are great foot warmers, but it does make for quite an obstacle course.  Not only are their 12 legs, four with really big feet at the end of them like a knight's mace, but they move with three bodies and three tails all moving together.  And that is just the dogs.  But for now I am happy to sit on the couch and slip my feet under soft furry snoring warm dogs.

We are watching weather and history programs as we discuss our plans of the day.  I baked cookies last night for the Moon preThanksgiving family gala.  Mr and Mrs Moon's 4 kids will be there, plus the 2 grand kids.  There will be people who have been important to these sweet people sometimes their entire lives who will be.  There will be family clusters like musicians or the stage company who have now become a part of this extended group of people coming together.  It is Thanksgiving, always the same and yet ever changing menu of love, friends, food and drink.  There will be oysters on the grill, and Ms Moon's amazing food in the kitchen.  The counters and tables will over flow with the bounty of a family coming together.  I have made two types of cookies.  One is pumpkin spice with cranberries, white chocolate, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and pecans.  The other is my zen cookie, all in one. It has oatmeal, flax seed, wheat germ, hemp germ (sorry, Omega 3, not a buzz), sunflower seed, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, pecans; white, milk, semi sweet and bitter chocolate chips; peanut butter chips, and it is a wonderful cookie.  Huge, dense and every bite of each cookie a totally different combination.  So the cookies are ready.  I always want to bring something savory also, but there is so much food, it is rude to hog too much space.  We will see.

Very much happy and at peace this morning. 
Time to get up and brave the world of people. 
 I think it might rain most of the day. 
The weather radio went off, but not near us, but
maybe one more cup of tea.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

From inside it looks glorious outside

What a glorious week it has been.  I am slowly getting myself back up and going.  As the cold is roaring toward us, Key West pops up more and more in our conversations.  Friday we took the boat out to Shield's but took out for a little trip until we left here there in their competent care.  The clouds cleared and made way for a little sun.  It was cool, but comfortable.  I heard our breathing slow and relax as we putted up the St. Marks, Bug casting along the edge as we crept along.  We turned around and then headed to the Riverside CafĂ© for lunch.  I had the grouper sandwich, one of my favorites there, and fat and satisfied, we hopped back in Ms K and headed out to the gulf. 

The sky was filled with dark, thick gray clouds.  Clouds dropping rain in Tallahassee and Jefferson County.  Here the sky was that cloudy gray where all you see is Gray.  As we came around to where the St. Marks meets the Wakulla we had second thoughts.  The wind had picked up and it was choppy.  With the threatening clouds behind us, we thought twice about what the gulf might be like.  We decided to just head out a little way, we would turn around if it was too much.    But as we cleared the mangroves and started weaving between markers the water calmed down to a gray slick.  We slowed down and sat in the stillness.  Birds were clustered on sandbars on marker tops.  Seagulls bobbed in the water, young loons, still mottled as the sky and water was, called out their plaintive cry.  It was hard to see where the line of the horizon was because everything was the same color, slick, smooth and lovely.  We sat out there just being a part of the still.  A world with no apparent time or dimension.  Just a space of quiet. 

We finally turned back towards the rivers and slipped gently out of this magical place and to head home.  We left the Ms K there at Shield's where she will be kept safe and dry and be all ready when we need her again.

A quiet evening at home and Saturday morning we woke and decided before the weather gets too cold, lets take the red Harley out for a ride.  We bundled up and headed north, first stopping at Wag The Dog before taking back roads up and around Georgia.  We stopped at a home builder in Thomasville and walked through the models.  We are trying to figure out what to do.  Our little trailer is falling down around our ears.  No that is not much of an exaggeration.  Bug has already had to replace 6 square feet of floor at the front door, and rebuild the walls around the door.  The back door is getting to the point where a decision will have to be made.  Put more money in an aging trailer, or do we look for other options.  Should we make the big move and find a place with a few more acres?  Do we replace the trailer we already have with another place?  What about all the plants I have around the trailer now?  They would all have to be dug up.  Or do we put a place somewhere else on the property?  So much to think about and decide. 

All I know is I want to build my garden while I can still enjoy it. 

Next week is Thanksgiving and my big brother and his family will be with us.  I need to get together and start planning and shopping.  And the Moon's pre Thanksgiving party is Tuesday this year, not Wednesday, so that cuts down on preparation time.  Obviously the Moon's do most of the work, but one of my favorite things about cover dish parties is it is an opportunity to make something special that you love, but would not need for just two of us.  Maybe apple pumpkin bread or maybe apple pumpkin pecan cookies.  Oooooh, time with the Moons.  I am so looking forward to the evening.

We are still planning on spending Christmas in NJ.  I am feeling a little nervous because we have done very little to get ready for that, and I am not a last minute person.  I like to plan and do ahead. 

Bug's parents will be here sometime near the end of the year, or the beginning of the new year.  They have a contract on the loveliest house uptown, just behind the Avera-Clark B&B.  They have not actually seen the house in person, but we have sent them photos and Barry, our Agent is great, and everything seems to be moving along slowly. 

I am doing well.  My life is in a different place now.  One that recognizes when I do too much, or physically inconsiderate of my body.  If I carry too much weight, I hear about it through the night.  If I do normal things like a normal person, I need to sit and rest in between.  I am learning more about my kidneys and lymph nodes, lung and liver.  They all seem to call attention to themselves each day.  Weight does not make it to my face or arms.  Sleep comes in bursts at night interrupted by trips to the bathroom.  By 8pm I just give up and lay down to rest and read.  To try and lure sleep into my exhausted body.  I need to get outside for a little today to move plants into their winter homes.  It should be in the 30s sometime this week.
Thanksgiving is coming
There will be turkey and cranberries
sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes
pumpkin pie
veggie casseroles of all descriptions
and family
and football
and quiet
I am thankful everyday
as I lay my head down each night I count my blessing
as I open my eyes each morning and see the new coming day
I am grateful for another day
whatever comes
I am still grateful for the opportunity to have the very best day ever


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Another day

So many things to do, but I have been so exhausted, that I spend all day trying to do things. I have spent so much time sitting that my butt hurts. Yes, my butt is complaining about how sore it is from sitting all the time. And I have been. sitting in the truck to my brothers, sitting on the boat, at the food ball game, for the reunion, at each meal, around the camp fire, riding to the Keys, riding bikes around the keys, riding on the boat, riding all the way back to Weeki Wachee. Sitting here at the house as I rested, at the Opera House to see the fabulous production of Arsenic and Old Lace. I sat in the car yesterday as we drove to Tallahassee so Bug could meet his new dentist and then we went thrifting at the Goodwill. We found things yesterday that we could not live without. We went to Costco and picked up animal food, we bought large quantities of fruit, we ate at the tasting booths, we made it home with everything we needed and things we could not live with out. It was a lovely day, but exhausting. I am experiencing more pain then I had anticipated at this time, but I guess that is to be expected. I also have problems at night with restless leg. I do not say that I have restless leg syndrome, but, I will say that my legs are working and keep me awake all night, if I do not take some type of anti-anxiety drug. I do not want whatever they normally give to people who have restless leg syndrome, I do not have a "syndrome", I just experience anxiety attacks and wonky legs when I am trying to sleep. One little pill and I sleep better, no wonky legs and no anxiety attacks. In other situations I would be concerned about my drugs use, but they are prescribed, I use them at or below prescribed rate, so all things considering, I am fine with the situation. I will talk to Dr. May this visit about my drugs and what do we need to refine my pain meds, and maybe a little more information as to where I am at with this thing. I really have no idea. I know that I have entered a new place, but I am not sure what that means.

I sat with Jan, Rich, Mary and Carolyn at the play. Jan looks amazing. Okay, the WMDs are whipping her butt sometimes. That is what they do. They wimp out the fastest growing cells. That includes your bone marrow and it is exhausting sometimes. But other times she is fine. The fire in her eyes is different. It has the ghost of reality in them now. I am fine and I can handle this with no problem, is gone, but the conviction that she is still here, and that she still knows she can make it, is what I knew I would see. What I hoped I would see. She still has many more challenges in front of her, but she is doing what I consider a very healthy habit. She is looking for patterns, figuring out the cycle. Here is the problem, the cycle changes, but here is the good thing. She is looking for cycles. Life is changing so quickly, so unpredictable. Partially depend on the physical health of the patient, and the attitude of the patient. Jan is small. She does not have a lot to give up, but I think she can still do this. It is hard. No jokes, it is hard, but she can do this. I felt more comfortable then ever in my decision to leave all options open. I will see the doctor in a little over two weeks, and I am ready to sit down and get to the nitty gritty of what is going on. For me to realize what is happening, for her to have a better idea of what I am going through.

Today we decided to go to Bainebridge, Ga. We made it as far as downtown Monticello. We picked up a few things from Wag the Dog, and then went to the Pawn Shop where Bug got a great deal on 5 rod and reels. He really just wanted one of them, and was willing to buy 2, but the offer he gave Bug on all 5, was better then he thought he would have to pay for the one he really liked. Everybody seemed happy with the deal, but now the toy was full.  We stopped by the house and dropped off the fishing equipment and then headed to Thomasville.  We visited the Goodwill there and then had lunch at the Farmer's Marker.  Got to love the Farmer's Market.  Veggies, lots and lots of veggies.  Okay many of them are cooked with ham hocks and related flavoring, but not all.  Okay, I always get a stomach ache from eating the pork flavored food, but it is Southern cooking at it's best.  It is better then I remember it as a child.  Greens, Mustard and turnip, butter beans, black eye pies, mashed potatoes, red skin boiled potatoes, another dozen vegetable dishes and starch dishes.  Six to ten meat dishes including fried and baked chicken, not to mention chicken and dumplings.  Oh yeah, southern cooking.  I also eat too much and the pork seasoning for most of the veggies is a shock to my system. 

Stuffed like the upcoming turkeys for Thanksgiving we rolled into the toy and headed to Cairo and visited the goodwill and then on to Bainebridge and a stop at their Goodwill.  We drove around Bainebridge and the beautiful old homes and then headed home.  We took back roads until we could sneak on to I10 and  get home.  It was a relaxing day of beautiful roads and driving to somewhere for no reason at all.  Just being together.  Just enjoying the day.  Being with someone and just living for today, was wonderful.  Life doesn't have to be big.  There is nothing wrong with the sweet precious day of driving through North Florida and South Georgia with my hone.  Just us.  Driving on a gray, drizzly day that never got into 70.  But we were warm in our toy and enjoyed the quiet time to be away for a relaxing day. 

I have enjoyed the time to rest and try and re cooperate.  I have enjoyed days like today where we just enjoyed the day.  I am happy to just be alive and have a life.  Grapes for my chickens, milk bones for my three labs.  Chocolate, black and yellow.  A sweet man, cats and a place where I planted the flowers.  The flowers that are starting to bud up on the camellias, magnolias, and other flowers that bloom early spring.  I wish I had more energy to be more active gardening right now.  it is a wonderful time, but I am just a little tired. 

We will see what gets done.  I am happy.  My dear friends, I am very happy and enjoying my life.  We will spend Thanksgiving here with my big brother and his family.  For Christmas we are going to spend with the grand kids in New Jersey.  We really love our daughter, her Ken and all the grand kids.........enough to brave December in New Jersey.  Maybe there will be snow.  Bug is already looking at what things might need to be looked at before we leave on our trip on the toy.  I found a pair of boots that will be perfect for NJ.  And who knows, NJ is not that far from CT.  But I have no idea where Susan and Jim will be for Christmas, and I am not sure what plans have been for the family for Christmas. 

We are still planning on spending our anniversary in Hawaii, but we will know more in the next month or two when I see the doctor this next month and then get the results from the PT scan she wants for January.

I have had a wonderful week so far.  We hope to take the boat back to the marina this week sometime, and maybe, maybe is the weather holds to go out on the Harley.  It has been gray and cool and drizzly, so not a good bike day, but we will see what will come in the next few days.  I look forward to more time at home just cleaning the house and getting ready for Thanksgiving.  I love Thanksgiving, the holiday dedicated to eating and football.  Oh Yeah!!  And I love the cooking.  My sister JongAe will be here and that woman more then holds her own in any kitchen.

Nothing new or exciting.  I have been emailing a friend I haven't talked to in several years, Sally.  We worked together for many years with the Department of Agriculture.  She now works in KY for their Department.  I am retired.  She is just learning my story and having to deal with how she feels about my situation.  She is so sad at this point.  I did ask her not to us the term "fighting" in connection with me.  I am not fighting now, and have not up to this point fought this disease.  I have allowed the doctors to follow standard procedures for the disease diagnosed, and I am a part of a study on woman on this drug.  As far as I know there are not men on this drug.  As far as I have been able to find out, this particular cancer has only been diagnosed in woman, so far.  Time will tell.  But really, my week has been about taking it easy.  I have been kind to my body and my spirit.  We have gotten out, but nothing too demanding.  I am heading to bed now.  I am happy.  So happy.  I feel something.  Maybe it is the sweet release again of more of the physical life.  I don't know, but I feel at peace.  As far as I know I will be here for 5 more years, or maybe 6 months, who knows.  Who cares?  I don't.  All will be as the steps progress.  I have been so blessed my whole life.  I have had so many opportunities to visit the past, to have no regrets for a life that is past.  I was so happy to be in the moment in the Keys this trip.  To be with my Bug and to be in Key West.  On a bike, happy hour at Half Shell, sunset, life has slowed down.

Slow as my pulse that sometimes slow down to a blood pressure of 96 over 54 with a pulse of 56.  I can definitely slow my self down and just relax, focus on my breath and just lay back on the couch that was my mother's and my grandmother's and be me.  Think about life the way I see life, generations, traditions, moments now then gone.  To just be there and remember and experience.  Life is wonderful right now.  My hard drive from my old computer is fried.  So everything I had on it, with out backing up, like several books, and my lullaby, is gone.  Okay, time to sit down and see what I can do to recreate them.  Time is clicking and I want to leave a few things here when I am gone.  Whenever that is.

A glass of wine, a quiet evening with my family
life is just perfect

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Home again

Sunday morning, it is gray and cool, November and I sit here doing my favorite Sunday morning ritual.  I just finished my bowl of oatmeal and I am sipping my decaffeinated Earl Grey with milk, Sunday morning with Charles Osgood is on TV.  We are nestled in our little home, our shower, our bed, our kitchen, our little family.  We  had a scare over Harley while we were in Key West, but all was resolved quickly and everyone is happy and together again. 
Key West

We had not even started packing and were rethinking leaving.  The wind blows constantly at this time of year.  I remember the winds in Key West when I lived here, but when you get downtown with all the tall buildings and trees it is a cool gentle island breeze.  Nothing like the wind blowing the palm frond and mangroves along the edge of the island.  And before we left this lovely garden of Eden, the Weather Chanel was warning of freeze here at home.  There was nothing we could do about the freeze, so........well, maybe we should just spend a few more days.......

But with all that Key West has, it is more than we want. 
More people
More colorful people of talent
but that only draws in more people
The weather was hot and humid and
We would hop on our bikes and take a little ride down town and the weather was perfect. 
The breeze, sunshine, blue skies and glorious water moderating the temperature of the isle of bones
It is not for everyone, the humidity was 84 - 98%
and in the winter when temps drop into the 50s and 60s and the wind blowing 10 -25 knots
it feels very cold

But to be so relaxed in our little trailer on Trumbo Point, a little separated from lots of people, was heaven in this paradise
And we loved it there

Sunset rides over to the Half Shell Raw Bar for happy hour.  We ate conch fritters and calamari every night.  Some nights we would have shrimp or oysters.  The mangrove snappers, parrot fish, Sargent Majors and giant tarpons eating the morsels we dropped over the rail.  Bug said the snappers were just taunting him.  The sun was warm on my back, but the breeze, the glorious breeze bringing all the smells of Key West at sunset would swirl around all the life in, on and around this island.  heaven

We relaxed and rode our bikes.  We would hit a mandatory spot or two.  We ate breakfast in our own kitchen, hit happy hour, and other then that, we didn't worry about it.  I bought two pairs of Kino sandals, one brown, one blue.  They are the earliest style I remember.  Simple, comfortable and inexpensive.  Perfect.

The last day of the races it was windy, again.  The race was held up for half an hour, which we finally heard on a radio because of marine life.  This could be dolphins, manatees or turtles.  Helicopters ride over the race course looking for marine life.  Between the week of the races, wind, manatees, dolphins and now turtles on the last day had disrupted the race.  First there was a herd of turtles that had to be escorted off the course.  They thought they were set, but turns out one turtle refused to leave and would simply dive to the bottom and then pop back up in the same exact spot.  The race would be called off or they would have to move one turn.  As difficult as moving the buoys would be this is a world champion race and they were going to run this last day of racing.  The last day was quite exciting, sort of.  There were four classes of boats running the last race of the last day.  The first to cross the start line were two turbine boats, the next class were the fastest boats without turbines, then the next fastest, closed cabin class, and the last to leave the start were the boats that are open so you can see two bright helmets bobbing and jerking as the boats shoot by us.  One of the turbine boats caught on fire and did not complete the race.  Bug has photos showing them using their helmets to pour salt water on the motor, no other choice.  For over all points in the title, all the other boat had to do was complete the course.  It did not.  Just all of a sudden it just stopped and sat there.  They had to have two boats pull it out of the way of the course.  Another one flipped over, no one was hurt, but it was very dramatic with divers leaping off the piers and out of helicopters.  They had to drag the boat in upside down and flip it over at the cranes that pull these monsters out of the water and deposit them on their trailers.  All the trailers, the tractors pulling them, the back up vehicles all painted to match the star of the show, the boats.  No, boats is not the correct word for these giant hybrids of boat, plane, rocket and motor.  All in all only 4 boats survived the day.  No one, including marine life were hurt in relation to the super boats world championship races.  They were exciting and the more we learned about the rules and how the game is played it became even more fun.  A great way to spend three days in Key West.

But now it was time to go home.  We missed home and our little family.  We managed to get the boat out fishing twice.  We didn't stay too long the second time because of the wind and chop.  The first trip he caught a 4 foot nurse shark.  We are much clearer on the size after going to the aquarium where they feed sharks that looked just like his, size and all.  I loved all the iguanas stretched out on the docks, sea walls and mangroves sunning themselves.  They were bright colored oranges, green and blue.  They were magical and appeared to be social hermits, tolerating their neighbors, but not really interacting other then as needed.

We made sure we got in all the required photos and places to go, but there were just too many people and we longed to be here where it is quiet. We took advantage to ride the bikes over most of the island.  We did not go up to the A1A side of the island, the wind was not fun to ride in.  I have not ridden my bike in a very long time.  It felt wonderful stretching my legs in the sun and getting to places on our own.  We felt like we belonged in this climate, this way of life, but we have so many places and things we love in our life.  It felt good to come and visit, but time to go home.

We packed quickly on Wednesday and got out much earlier then we had planned.  The bed was not comfortable and small, we longed for our own bed at home.  It made it through the Keys and into Homestead around noon, so we thought lets go a little further.  But as the roads filled with more and more cars, we just wanted to get far enough away to leave all the people behind.  We didn't stop for fuel until Ellenton, near my home town.  I was dressed in Key West clothes, light cotton wrap around skirt and a light weight sleeveless sweater, and the lightest of all possible sweaters.  Opening the doors of the truck the cold was shocking to the system that had adjusted just fine to Key West's warm climate.  We left the keys in the upper 70s and now it fell to upper 40s and low 50s. 

Have I ever mentioned that I am not found of cold weather.  Cold weather as in under 70 degrees.

We made it to Spat's and I could not go any further.  This is a first for me.  I packed the kitchen and cleaned up and packed things from the house, but he loaded the bikes and the back of the truck, hooked up and secured the Ms K, and then packed the inside of the truck.  He had driven the whole way and I know he tried as hard as he could to get me home, we were both unable.  We had not slept well on the bed at Trumbo point.  We had been very active during the day walking, riding the bikes, out on the boat, and in the sun on the pier for the races.  We also ate and drank differently than when we are home.  All in all our spirits were soothed and our physical bodies realized that we were tired.  Very, very tired.  We got to Spat's and with in an hour I was down for the count.  I was as tired as I have ever felt.  And I laid on the bed, and did not have the ability to walk to the bathroom, help get my bag or help to secure our belongings.  I did not even have the energy to get my meds and take them.  I hurt and my body just stopped moving.  I laid there with my mind aware of how tired I was, but as usual my mind was not repentant for wearing myself out.  The colors and light of Key West filled my mind.  Music and the sound of water slapping against boats quieted me.  And as I laid there remembering the happiness of being there, I had no regrets for the consequence of my action.

My darling husband took care of me and I slept that night, the sleep that I had been denied in the very small bed.  I was still too tired to move, so the guys went out to the hunting area and put out corn and sat in tree stands and do whatever people do when they go hunting.  They came back feeling successful with the time they had spent that day.  I was anxious to be home, but it was wonderful getting to spend time with this long time friend.  We made it home leaving early the next morning and since we have been here I have pretty much been resting.  I feel like a sloth, but I am paying more attention to what I feel.  I am bad about not noticing discomfort and instead clench my jaw and pretend that I am fine.  Resting has been good for many reasons.  And really what a wonderful life I have.  I got to go play in the Keys with my honey and now I am home and have the ability to rest and take it easy.

I did go to see Arsenic and Old Lace last night at the Monticello Opera House.  Carolyn, Mary, Rich, Jan and I all sat together on one row.  A row of Stage Company old timers.  It doesn't seem that long ago when we were the new comers to the company.  Judy, the Director, sat behind us.  It was wonderful.  I love that play.  I love the silliness, the cleverness, the story as it unravels through the night.

The cast was perfect.  Everyone blended very believably in their parts, and it was a beautiful community theater production.  Let me clear here, I find that one of the greatest compliments.  Our community over flows with talent, seriously, musicians, actors, artist, of all mediums, chefs, dancers, singers, seriously, this is an amazing community.  It seems like there is a never ending turn over of the actors and companies.  But that doesn't always mean that to fit the right person into a part might not be challenging and require the adaption of the script.  That is part of the magic of community theater.  We had two young ladies on the crew who have been part of cast and crew for many play on that gorgeous stage.  I heard wonderful things about what a wonderful job they did and captured the hearts of the rest of the cast and crews.  I am so very proud of these two young woman. 

It was closing night, and I was sitting in a row with my friends.  Friends that I have shared the stage with before. Friends that I love as much now as I did when we were more in each others lives.

The cast were happy and easy and natural.  It is a fun play, and the cast seemed to enjoy each other and the script and had become a family from a play.  One of my most favorite families of all those I hold in my heart.  When a cast clicks together and enjoys playing with each other and form that bond that sees us through each rehearsal and performance, opening night and closing night, contagious viruses and time constraints.  And yet as we sat there in the audience watching this performance it was fun, it was funny, it was well acted and was wonderful.  Simply, marvelously wonderful.  I loved all the characters, the timing felt smooth, the playing was real.  These people were enjoying every moment.  And so did we in the audience.  Job well done everybody!!!  I loved being there, I loved watching friends and new members alike dance across the boards I love so much. 
A perfect night with loved ones
doing something I love

My Sweetie happy at home with college football streaming across the TV
Immersed back into the community I love so very much.
Happy from our time gone
Happy from seeing my friends from my young life
Happy from being at a place that I was young once
Happy from spending time with my family

life moves on
I appreciate the time I have with my family
I appreciate the time I have here quietly at Labrun

Today was garden club.  I love going to garden club, and this is the November meeting where we string popcorn, share wine and food.  We talk and enjoy each other's company.  I love this meeting.

Carolyn called to give me a little boost to go.  I really appreciated it, but I pushed it too far already, and now I must rest.  It could be thought as my "punishment" for living my life as if I would live forever.  I don't think of  it as punishment, but as another opportunity to accomplish other tasks.  I have straightened up the house, baked beer bread, caught up on the wash, spent time with my chickens and dogs.  I have left my quiet to attend a play.  A play I wanted so much to see.  A play that more then filled my expectations on every level.  I enjoyed sitting in the dark and laughing with precious friends, and I was happy to get back home, close the gate and slip once again into a quiet place that I can relax and heal.

I have chosen this life and this approach to my life, be considerate of both, spirit and body.  Choices give you knew choices, choose your "consequences" from your actions.  They could be challenges, or wonderful.  Maybe more based on how grateful I am for being aware of the life I have had and the life I am living.  The future will unroll each day.  I am focusing on all the happiness I have shared in my life. 

We are home.

I have hugged and seen some very precious people, and there are others I miss and will see soon.

We are home, and the animals seem very happy to see us.

Life is about home again
about healing
and laughing
and coming home


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Key West

My worlds are crashing in my head in so many ways.  First returning to Palmetto and my family home, now my youngest brother and his families home.  My bedroom for 58 years, now my precious Christopher's bedroom. 
my sweet family.

Then the reunion and seeing my dear precious childhood friends, happy and successful in their lives.
So happy

Then the drive south.  I haven't been this way since moving to Monticello.  We stayed in Homestead one night and then the drive down US 1 heading to the end or the beginning of the highway that runs from here to Maine.  I have driven most of that highway in my life.  I have started in Key West driving north. I have been almost to the end in Maine.  I ate my first lobster roll in a little stand in Rhode Island on US 1.  I have been in the Green Parrot.  They brag they are the only bar in Key West on US1, I am not sure if that is correct, but if it makes them feel special, OK.  I am a Florida girl.  Born and raised here, the east coast.  US 1 was here before any other that I remember, and travelling south on that highway stretching across the water, the Gulf on one side, the Atlantic on the other.  Bug and I travelled it again, smiling and reminiscing each stories to the other. 

When I lived here 35 years ago I was a school teacher, a clown, a desk clerk at a resort and a social worker.  As a social worker I drove with a fellow social worker up to Marathon once a week.  Sometimes it took us an hour, sometimes we would sit on the bridges for hours, stuck in a parking lot of traffic with no where to go. 

Now as we drove south, memories washed over me like the green blue crystal clear water washes over the coral and fish.  The Loralei, Outdoor World, Bud and Mary's Marina, now famous because of the TV show, Islamaroda Fish Company, 7 mile grill, Green Turtle Inn, place after place that are a part of me.  We stopped and fed the tarpon at Robbie's marina.  I giggled like a little girl as the silver giants swept through the water grabbing our dead white bait we paid $3 to feed them.
Places gone
places still there.
life goes on.

We are staying at Trumbo Point.  When I lived here it was Navy housing.  Now it is part of the NWR where retired military people can come and rent a condo, a 2 bedroom mobile home or bring their own RV or tent.  It is a first for me.  I used to have a friend who worked at the same school as I did and lived here.   So I had been here, but had never had access to this part of the island. 
Pretty amazing.

We took the Ms K out on Thursday.  It has been crazy windy here, but we had a bit of a brake on Thursday and slipped out between storms.  We went completely around the island.  Most of it was a little choppy and windy, but very doable, but.....

as we took the turn around the southwestern side of the island, where the Atlantic and Gulf meet it was very choppy.  Okay, maybe choppy is an understatement, but the Ms K handled it just fine. 

Out of nowhere there was this loud roaring noise that filled the air around us, and whoosh at warp speed went one of the cigarette boats.  It is the Super boats races here this week.  These boats, even the small ones make Ms K look small and slow.  This boat was probably 50 yards away from us and I think it might have been travelling at Warp 3, I am not sure.  It was loud and over whelming, but thank goodness for us, not much wake.  In the 20 minutes it took us to get around that corner we were passed by 3 different massive warp speed boats.  The last, the Broadco couldn't have been 10 yards away from us.  He came out of nowhere, passed us between the shore and our Ms K.  We were trying to keep close to the rocks bordering the shore without running aground, and that crazy person must not have seen our 19 foot Carolina Skiff with a T-top.  Come on, we are not that small.  We were left deaf and stunned as the crazy person warped around us on the wrong side and disappeared in a rooster tail. 

We made a bee line out of the area of play.  Some may say they were practicing, no, they were playing.  Running fast, no rules, just flat out running over a hundred miles an hour.  We made it around and out of the area and continued our trip as we headed up the Gulf side of the island.  We saw wooden schooners under full sail, speed boats, dinghies, jet skies, kayaks,  centuries of water craft all blended together bobbing on the green water.  Fish swam below us, tarpons, mangrove snappers, parrot fish, pin fish and Sargent majors.  Rays dark and silent seemed to fly through the water, their entourage of fish scurrying along with them.  Man of war jelly fish bluish with the pink 4 leaf clover and the tentacles barely visible trailing around them.  Poisonous stingy pain bubbling past the boat. 

My favorite of the birds is the white phase Great Blue Heron.  The only place they are found in the world is here in the Keys.  We saw egrets and herons, ibis and osprey.  Trees and vegetation that I used to know every name, now still familiar, but the names not always on the tip of my tongue.

As Bug fished in a quiet little mangrove inlet a biplane flew over head accompanied by para sails, navy jets, Airlines, private planes of every size and shape, helicopters, blimps, prop planes pulling advertisement and then a roar from the sky and a large gray plane plodded above us and then large gray round parachutes dropped out of the back end into the sky.  Even with all the things I had seen in the sky from birds to every kind of man powered  instruments, my mind would just not wrap around these gray jelly fish giants floating down from the sky.  The water filled with these large gray bulbs, looking even more like giant jellyfish. 

That is Key West, old and new, past and present, rich and poor all mixed together.  Churches and bars nestled amongst the gardens.  Cuban coffee and Starbucks just down the street from each other.  The streets small with the conch houses pressed in close.  Electric cars, antique cars, modern cars, scooters and roaring motorcycles share the road mixed together.  Bicycles with one person, two people or with seats to carry a family and their dog share the road with the infamous chickens.  Bikes of every color and size some with tires as big as motorcycle tires vie for space with pedestrians.  Sober people, drunk people, crazy people, tourist peaking into this world from their very normal life elsewhere.  People born here, some generations reaching back as far as humans have walked on this key of bones, Cayo Hueso.  Others here for a vacation that never left.  Some people here only for the day from a fast cat out of Ft. Myers Beach.  Last night all of this humanity shared the streets with the massive speed boats.  Some of these boats were bigger then the streets and had to be carried on trailers for the parade where they were tipped up to fit through.   Humongous trucks painted to match the boat, pulling these giants followed by the obligatory vehicles with pretty girls, driver and crew.  Tiny smart cars, boats that were cars, a parade Key West Style.  They closed Duval street and parked the boats so that humanity could pass by taking photos and telling stories.

Key West
Mallory Square
Duvall Street
Southern Most Point
Captain Tony's

We have gone to 2 of the 3 days of racing, tomorrow will be the last race day.  We watched the races from Truman Naval Air Station from the bleachers put up on the dock there at the base.  Various naval and coast guard associations selling beer, water, mixed drinks and food.  The weather, sunny, in the 80s and breezy.  Each of the days of racing they ran the courses and dealt with the tides, the wind, motors roaring and some blowing up.  We saw one boat run over a metal green buoy and rip it down the middle.  They have helicopters flying above, some with photographers, some with Navy and Coast Guard guys ready to dive into the water to save lives.  They did not have to rescue anyone, so far, thank goodness.

We brought our bikes.  Not conch cycles with the high handlebars and baskets made from anything available filled with beads and stickers, coconuts and painted brightly.  Our bikes have taken us from the Gulf to the Atlantic.  We have been to the beginning of the rainbow, otherwise known as mile marker 0, US 1.  We have visited our favorite haunts and each of us introduced new places to the other. 

So many places still there, so many places gone.  We have visited Fort Taylor, the old fort crumbling and held up with beams and metal poles.  The 2 foot thick cement cracked in two in some places.  History of the military influence here on the island of bones.  Pepe's is still here, a restaurant opened in 1909 claiming to be the oldest continuous restaurant here in Key West.  Chickens wander the streets thicker then cats  The restaurants, art galleries and tourist shops are filled with homages to chickens.

I have bought 2 T-shirts with chickens on them.

Key West is the home of the Hemingway cat
gardens overflowing with flowers and foliage that makes
my heart soar like the tiny yellow finches that flit and chirp everywhere

People literally of every color imaginable cohabitate on this island, famed to be 2 miles by 4 miles.  The people here are as bright and colorful as the tropical foliage
some times of the year, literally rainbow colored skin
and not all of them live here
it is magical here

sweet warm sunshine
birds and fish
I feel my clock even more here
This year has been filled with past, present and future
all crashing into each other
in some of my most beloved places
places that hold pieces of me
places that hold people I love
places with stories and memories
and for me
so very

Key West

Key West was always a place I belong

The Stories go on

The most wonderful thing I learned at the reunion, is that our stories go on.  We asked each other about our lives, kids, work and adventures.  Tell me your stories.

We talked about friends no longer with us, or who we don't know where they are, or for those who simply were not there with us on this weekend.  Bill got up and talked about Harry Rife, who was not with us.  Billy (sorry, everyone called me Kathy and I kept calling you Billy) has written and PUBLISHED a couple of books of his stories of life.  That is so cool, especially for me, someone who has always dreamed of publishing a children's book.  Bill got up and talked, in his uniquely funny self, about a life changing moment with Harry Rife.  It was sweet and beautiful, and opened all of us there into feeling comfortable to tell stories never told before.  Whether our fellow classmates were there or not, did not matter, the stories were told as if everyone was with us. 

They were with us.

They were as alive and vibrant as if they had walked into the room with a big grin on their faces.  I will never really be gone.  No, I have managed to leave many stories. 
Many, many stories

Many embarrassing stories.  I was a cymbal player in the marching band.  We had like a dozen flute and twice as many clarinets.  Way too many for the size of our total band.  Deb played the tenor drum, I played cymbals.  I fell down the band stairs I think weekly.  My knees to this day still do not tan properly from scraping the skin off too many times.  I split my right eye open spinning these giant brass cymbals for the National Anthem.  It was for the Southeast game, and it was Thanksgiving weekend.  I don't remember where Mother and Daddy were, but we had no signature from them to go to the hospital, our regular doctor and backup doctor were out of town, so our neighbor, the Veterinarian to sew me up.  He did a fine job, but the jokes about rabie shots were pretty funny. 

I come from a family of story tellers.  I grew up in a class that gathered stories.  We have some very fine story tellers in our class, like Bill and Frank, and myself, if I can be so brave to put my name  in with them.  Stories are energy, and we could power the world with our stories, if we just knew how.  That is why I love the "Monsters, Inc." movies by Pixar.  Screams and laughter from stories, etc. power their make believe world.  Stories can energize an older person like my Dad.  He was the ultimate story teller.  Many of his friends said that you could name any word and he had a story.  String, rubber band, mustache, dog, cold, whatever, he had a story.  And he had a style to his stories that made them even funnier and more special.  My big brother Rob, is also a story teller in the style of my father.  As Dad got more and more lost he did not stop telling stories, he just needed help remembering some of them.  He and I would be some place and he would order his ice tea.  "On the rocks...." at the end he would look at me, I would say, "no salt on the rim" and he would repeat me.  "stir, don't shake", repeat and so on.  He would also do that with more of his jokes and longer stories, so the person held prisoner out of respect and kindness would hear things twice.  It really wasn't funny, but yet, it was funny in that he acted like this was perfectly normal, and there was always laughter and smiles.  My older brother started picking up more and more of my Dad's stories.  After all, he had been in fireman and EMT while Dad was, so had experienced many of Dad's stories first hand.  Rob was kind and would let Dad throw in comments, while he kept the story going, generally, in one direction. 

I think animals have stories also
I know that Bob knew Maggie, Harry and Lily, my first three labs, and he seems to have something about him that came from them
Edna knew Harry and she has a little
Harley will learn from Bob and Edna
They will make their own stories
Yes, I am aware they are dogs
but I still think they have memories
and stories

Here is a new story.  Well, maybe it is an old story with a new chapter.  Yes, that is better.  When I was in high school there was a guy in our class, Sean.  He was very nice and funny.  He, like Vicki and I often did things that the "normal" kids in our class would never have thought of doing.  He was tall and I don't even remember if he graduated with us or not.  I always thought he did.  But he wasn't at the reunion, so I am not sure.  I have lots of stories, funny ones from high school, and I assure you, that Sean is in some of them.  So how is any of that new?  I received a comment on my last blog from a Sean.  I hope it is him, you, oh, this world of ether can be confusing to me.  Anyway, I write this for myself, but Sean, if it is you, let me know.  I would love to talk to you.

One last story and then I shall leave the past for now.  When I was in 7th grade Frankie gave his watch to Jennifer to give to me to "go" with him.  I put it on and walked back to him, with Jennifer and he kissed me.  A sweet gentle, first young puppy love kiss.  I remember Jennifer's face being almost as close as Frank to me.  Frank and Jennifer did not remember the story the way I do.  Jennifer came up to me and asked me why I never told her about kissing Frank.  I told Jennifer and Vicki everything.
OK, there wasn't much to tell
but I would never have been able to experience something like this without telling the two of them
Once I told each of them my memory, they both started thinking about it, and well, maybe we all three now share the same memory, maybe for now
for as long as our memories last
we are getting older kids
and with my chemo brain, my memories are broken and pieced so much of the time
But isn't that part of stories?
They are passed on from one to another
like the game "telephone" (I apparently am in a "" mood, oh well) stories change and grow. 
Some teach lessons
some remind us of events now gone
Some stories are to entertain
maybe everything
do the trees hold and pass on stories
here in Key West I love to stand under the Australian Pines (yes, I know they are mahogany trees, not pines, and yes, I know they are invasive) but in the slightest breeze, they will whisper
swooshing, gossipy noises
and the rocks and the water and the air around us?
Do they take in the stories around them?
I feel the warmth of the sun on a hot day held inside the rock and radiating out
I see the water swirl and churn and grow ugly sometimes,
other times, peaceful, calm and gentle as a lullaby
I see the air grow thick with clouds and other times
so blue you can see forever
They all have energy
are they stories?
without stories, would there be life?
is life simply stories come alive?

All I know is that I am so blessed
my life runs thick and deep with stories
and I am proud to read Bill's stories in the book he traded to me
they are honest, and funny and hard and as true and alive as any memories or stories I have ever read
and I am proud to have had the opportunity to read Frank's stories
the only boy from school that held my hand and I wore his watch, even if it was only for a few days, and over a weekend.
I was young and immature, and Frank understood
Write your stories Frank
I am in Key West and again stories are filling my head with memories as well as new experiences with my honey.
but that is another story

Sunday, November 3, 2013

40 Years

Bug and I hooked the Carolina Skiff up to the truck and headed south Wednesday.  We took Moe, our second rooster to Spat in Weeki Wachi.  He has two hens,and 6 hens less then a month old and was in need of a rooster to help with predators and maybe to make baby chicks at some point.  John C Bennett is Moe's father and a very fine rooster.  He is kind to his hens and always makes sure that they have whatever goodies he finds before he partakes.  He treats his hens with respect and makes any intimate moments, quick and easy.  He is twice the size of the hens and has huge double spurs, so it is important that he is gentle in those "intimate" moments that roosters and hens share.  Moe on the other hand liked "it" more then any other chicken I have seen.  He is too aggressive and I discussed it with Spat and told him if Moe is a problem, he might be good stewed. 

We headed on to Palmetto and my 40th high school reunion.  We stayed with my big brother, Rob, his wife, JongAe and their 9 year old daughter, Jessica.  My youngest brother, Tom and his family (Pat, Nathaniel and Christopher) have moved into our family home and are making it their own.  Christopher has what was my bedroom and he has made it his own.  I can't tell you how many times I would open my bedroom door and my room would be completely different.  New paint, new posters, new window treatments, my stuff all moved and changed.  My Mother did this to surprise me and make me happy.  It always backfired because instead I always felt misplaced and lost.  I hope that I let my mother know that I appreciated what she tried to do for me, but to this day, I am not crazy about surprises.  Opening the door and seeing the room completely different, but the perfect room for Christopher, it was finally that happy, celebration of change my Mother had always hoped I would embrace.  Thanks Mother.

Bug and I managed to get out on the boat a couple of days.  It was windy and choppy, but we enjoyed our time together and out on the water and in the sun.  Thursday night for Samhein (Sabbach Samhein, everyone) or as most people call it, Halloween we went to Tom and Pat's and sat in the front yard with a fire in their fire pit and ate a picnic dinner and drank wine as the trick or treaters came by in their costumes to get candy.  Bug had bought a gorilla outfit and would jump out of the bushes and scare the kids, they loved it!  Then Nathaniel and Christopher came home from their party at the church and joined in on the fun.  Nathaniel was dressed as a scarecrow with burlap wrapped around his face.  He did not look scary, but he would sit in a chair with the cauldron of candy on his lap and when the kids reached in for their sweet treat, he would grab their hands and I think some of them may have literally wet their pants.  They loved it!!.  It was the best Halloween I can remember. 

Friday night was the Senior night at Palmetto High School (PHS), the Tigers playing the Braden River Pirates in a champion playoff High School Football game.  My youngest brother, Tom's oldest son, Nathaniel is a Senior this year, so is my other nephew, Desmond Brown.  They had a special ceremony before the game with the seniors escorted across the field with their family.  They were recognized for their high school achievements and cheered on by family and friends in the stadium.  It was a wonderful time, and my first glimpse of many of my classmates who had come to the game to celebrate our 40th anniversary of graduating, and from the time we had once walked across that same field in front of those same stands.  It was one of those moments where you feel the roots, the connections, the ties that hold together our community.  Over miles, over years, over lifetimes, we shared our childhoods, our young lives as we grew and prepared to take our place in the world.  Many of us had gone to school since kindergarten, others grew up in the same church, or the one across the street. I think there were about 140 in our class.  There are about 105 of us left, some of those MIA. 

Sixty of us gathered Saturday night, with our spouses or friends, or family.  We came together at the Bradenton Yacht Club.  The Bradenton Yacht Club is in Palmetto, not Bradenton.  But you can see Bradenton across the river, so maybe that is the reason for the name.  Bug and I walked into the room, I think we were late, but I mess up time all the time, so I was not worried.  Everyone was milling around, laughter and talk filled the air around me like oxygen and I was sucked back into the flock of my childhood friends.  I saw a few people I recognized immediately, but there were others, I was sure of.  So, with my typical timidity (hee hee) I started walking up to people and showed them my name tag, so they could see my Senior picture and said, "I was Kathy Miller."  This would then cause them to hold up their name tag and tell me their name.  We would ooh and aah and hug and tell each other how happy we were to see each other and how good they looked.  We were telling the truth.  I have to say I was so happy to see how wonderful everyone looked. 

They had one of those photo booths where it takes the 4 pictures on a strip of paper.  I have always wanted to do that with my sweet Bug, so here was our opportunity.  We started to go into the booth, not too many people had tried it out yet, but the guy in charge asked us if we wanted to put on some props.  Props?!?!  I love props.  We scurried around the corner, I picked out a bug hat and Bug picked out some Grocho glasses and a dragon hat.  We took 3 silly pictures, and then the last one, we did just sort of our normal.  When we stepped out, the guy told me that they would print out two copies, one for us, one for the memory book.  I went out and grabbed my Jennifer and drug her to the booth.  We choose pink cowboy hats and stepped behind the curtain.  Then another classmate was walking by so we drug him in, and then another classmate stuck her head under the curtain and we drug her in.  Then I went out and grabbed a few more friends and literally drug them into the booth.  Three of them were on the reunion committee.  We stood there smiling at the camera and looked like a "normal" photo.  I was like "really??"  This is not how I want to be remembered so we tried to be a little more goofy, then we did peace signs and then it got a little crazier and our photos were done.  I took them with out even looking, saying that I was dying first, so I got to get the photos first.  They didn't argue.  Jennifer laughed, the others just smiled and shook their heads.  I then started grabbing people at random in groups of four and shoving them in front of the prop table and then lining them up outside the booth.  It took off on its own after that and people started having so much fun crowding into the booth together and being the silly happy people we were in high school.  The booth guy made some comment to me about appreciating how things were going, and I said that the Reunion Committee did all the work and organized the reunion, it was my job to make sure we were silly and had fun.  That is sort of the part I have always played.  I am not the biggest or best organizer, but I do love to have fun and sharing it with my sweet precious loved ones. 

It was a wonderful night.  It was full of thankfulness, humility, joy, humor and honesty.  Things like drugs and who dated or whatever when we were young was common place in our years at high school, but not all of us partook in everything, or even in most things, but now we have 40 years of life experience and our outlooks have changed, and we can actually be honest and talk about it now.  One of us, Bill Manning has written two books.  He signed and gave me one.  It is stories from his 35 years of fire fighting and EMT work.  He is still as funny and wonderful as he always was.  We have a lot of people with their PhDs in our group, especially woman who now are principals and the people involved in educating the future generations.  I am so very proud of each one of them.

It was the first time I say Darlene since we graduated.  Darlene and Jackie were the two of the first black children sent to our white school.  We were in 6th grade, and I remember Darlene and Jackie because they were in our class.  I didn't know the other kids as well in other classes.  But Darlene and Jackie were precious and fit right into our group like they had been with us since kindergarten.  A couple of things had happened with Darlene and I and I had never ever talked to her about them.  Mostly because I didn't know what had happened with the first one when I was in school with her, and the other involved dating and I wasn't able to talk to her at that time.  So I managed to get her aside to talk to her at the reunion.  When we were in 6th grade Darlene, Lisa and I were all playing at a football game at the high school.  My Mother walked up and in a very strict and strange voice she ordered Darlene to return to the stands to her parents and to sit with them and stay there, not to leave her parents again during the game.  Darlene ran away to her parents, then she looked at Lisa and I and told us to immediately go to the stands and sit with Lisa's parents and not to leave the stands again, and she would come to get me when she was done with working in the concession stand for the band.  I was devastated, humiliated and so confused.  My Mother had never been prejudice.  We were not misbehaving, we had just left the concession stand and heading back to the stands.  I didn't understand.  My Mother would say no more, I didn't bring it up again.  Well, until after college and then one day when we were out to lunch it somehow came up.  I asked her, and she told me she remembered it quite clearly and had wondered if I would ever ask her about this situation.  It seems that after we had left the stand some men had come over and told my mother that Lisa and I had no business playing with Darlene and they would kill her and teach us a lesson.  My Mother did not argue with them.  She simply told them she would take care of it.  She was terrified.  The nation was struggling with so many issues and she only thought about the safety of "her" three girls.  As far as I know she never spoke to anyone about this, including my father.  I think she was worried that if she said something that my Dad would have gone to talk to the men (animals, might be a better word for them).  It was not that Mother was not embarrassed by the situation, she was, but her only concern was for us.  I think she was worried if they were approached they might have retaliated against another black child, and she did not want to take a chance.  As far as I know they never hurt anyone, but I have walked around with that in my heart for so long.  Finally Darlene knows.  I told her that my Mother loved her and was worried for her.  Darlene looked at me and said that she knew that my Mother loved her, but I could still see the moment of fear in her eyes when she remembered back to being a child.  I don't think she remembers the exact moment.  I only do because of the "secret" Mother and I shared.  I never played with Darlene at any other game.  I never remember seeing her at another game until we were all in high school. 

The other time I needed to talk to Darlene about was when she had dated a guy in high school.  He had gotten me caught in the middle and I wanted to tell her my side of the story.  She did remember him, and we both laughed at the fact that we were so young and ignorant then.  A few shared moments of teenage angst shared with someone I went to school with from 6th grade until graduation.  A beautiful woman with a voice of an angel.  Jackie also had an amazing voice, and was cute as a bug and skinny as I was.  I loved those women like I love all the other people from my class, and this weekend we opened our hearts and souls.  We made confessions, we reminded each other of good times and bad.  We shared secrets that had laid hidden in our hearts for decades, but in the light of time, these secrets finally told brought us all closer together.

This morning Bug and I were heading to the class brunch at the Yacht Club.  We had not planned on going, but I had had so much fun Saturday with these dear precious people, and we would have to eat breakfast somewhere, so might as well go to the reunion.  We loaded up in the truck to head over and the truck would not start.  The batteries?  The starter?  Please let it be the batteries, pull them out, put new ones in, good to go.  Nope, it was the starter.  We borrowed Rob's truck, got Christopher and headed to the brunch.  There was only about 25 of those from the previous night showed up, but it was wonderful to spend that last few moments together.  I left and hugged everyone, they hugged me back like they might never see me again, which is very possible for some of them.  One, Joe, he grew up a block away from us and when I left he hugged all the air out of me.  I had lots of long, hard hugs.  Hugs meant to say, "I love you" hugs meant to say , "Goodbye"  I may not see some of them ever again.  I wished them all a very happy life.  I said I had had a happy life.  They hugged me to live.  They hugged me because we are all part of the same.  We were that weird and special class.  The last of the hippies, the last of the wild crazy ones.  We were the last whisper of a time that was passing, and we celebrated who we were and were a strong and mighty force.  We still are, and we looked good.  And we still loved each other as much , if not more then ever.  It was all good.

Tonight we had one more night together as a family.  We met over at Tom and Pat's.  The neighbors, Ron and Nancy and their two kids came over and we had a picnic in the front yard with the fire pit.  We sat around the fire and marshmallows were roasted and stories told, laughter and the murmur of our voices joining with the smoke from the fire and lifted up into the clear autumn night.  The stars above in the ink dark sky twinkled maybe a little brighter by the love and laughter of friends and family gathered together.  No reason, just to be together. 

Tomorrow Bug and I will hook the boat back up to the boat with it's new started that Bug took today to replace, bless his talented little heart, and we will continue our journey south to the Keys.  We will stay in Homestead tomorrow night and then onto Key West in the morning.  We will pick up our precious friend Marty at Boca Ciega Air port.  He will be flying in from NC.  The sweet and precious Shelia will not be able to join us for our little vacation in paradise. 

I am tired, and the discomfort in my shoulders, and my chest, front and back is increasing.  I have had several moments where I struggled for air.  Not a life and death struggle, just like running 5 miles with a bear chasing you struggle to catch your breath.  If I sit down and breath through the discomfort, or try to relax and slow my breathing, I am just fine.  But all the laughing and talking, seeing dear precious friends and remembering those gone, bear hugs and doing too much, and I am really feeling it this evening. 

It is fall back to real time, and we are all once again confounded and fuddled by this time change.  Please stop it, and just let us live with the time the way it is.  I know that "they" have reasons for why they torture almost an entire nation with clock changing, but really, stop it.  We have had enough already.

I got to spend time with My Christopher and get a pedicure with my sister, Patricia.  I got to have a very open heart discussion with so many, and my dear precious Bird and I remembered our friend Debbie who recently died.  Bird had not heard, so we talked about what I knew.  It was good.  We talked about my time, and it was wonderful.  I am happy, I am tired, but my heart is full of joy.  I am heading south tomorrow with my honey.

I am still so amazed at how blessed I am in this life.  All the important things in life, family, friends, love and joy overflow in my life.
I know it
Yes, I know how very
lucky my life has always been
thank you
thank you for everything that I have been given in my life.