Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Life In A Small Southern Town

I was driving along a busy country road one beautiful October afternoon and noticed a sign alongside a house coming up on my left.

The sign said “Fresh Pecans”. I was immediately reminded that my sister loves fresh pecans. She hates the polished, perfect looking pecans you buy in the grocery store at this time of the year. Something happens to the taste of the pecan while it’s being polished and perfected—something she says really ruins the pecan. Anyhow, I remembered that she loved pecans just from the tree and I pulled into the front yard of this home.

I got out of my car and started walking up to the table, expecting someone to come from around the corner of the house to take my order. I looked around. There was no one in sight and no cars in the driveway.

On a closer look at the table, I noticed something very unusual. There was the sign that said “Fresh Pecans” by the side of the table. The table had several prepackaged bags of pecans marked $5.00/2 lbs. Next to the prepackaged bags, was a bucket of loose pecans, some brown paper bags, a scale and a large black money box—rusted with a slit in the top. The can was not bolted to the table or locked around a tree or anything—it was just sitting there.

I stood looking at this sight for a few moments trying to figure out what it meant. After a few seconds, I realized: You were to either take the prepackaged pecans, or weigh your own—Either way you were to put your money (at the rate of 2 lbs. for $5.00) in the black money box. On your honor.

Coming from a big city like New York and then living in a smaller city outside of San Francisco for 30 years, I have seen the best and worst of human nature and though I am the eternal optomist, I have never seen such a representation of belief in the goodness of man as I did alongside that busy country road.

I looked in my wallet. All I had was one five dollar bill and a twenty but I wanted 2 bags for my sister and one for myself. I picked up one bag of pecans, put my $5.00 in the money box, got in my car and drove away.

Two days later, I came back with more money and bought two more bags. I sent 2 bags to my sister and made her day.

Only in small town USA!!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Did You Eat Your Oatmeal Today?

One thing I've noticed about retirement. I have a lot more time to think about things that I had no time for before. Thinking can morph into writing and I'm engaged for maybe an hour maybe more--Sometimes this is a good thing....sometimes not so good.
Today I'm thinking about how I'm constantly sucked into the ether that is the internet. I log onto my computer with the express intent of doing one thing---ONE THING!!! Then I get involved with the top stories on the Yahoo search page, or I get engulfed by the flood of what's going on in "Trending Now"--Or I just have to check facebook to see what my friends are doing/saying. Before I know it, an hour has passed.
This morning I got on the computer to check out my checkbook balance and, of course, got sidetracked with one of the Yahoo top stories: "Ten Best Foods For a Healthy Heart". I'm always interested in staying healthy so I took a look. Here they are:
1 - Oatmeal
2 - Salmon
3 - Avocado
4 - Olive Oil
5 - Nuts
6 - Berries
7 - Legumes
8 - Spinach
9 - Flaxseed
10 - Soy

Those of you who know me well know of my strong aversion to oatmeal or anything that looks like hot cereal. This hatred stems way back to the days when my mother used to make me eat hot cereal that had lumps in it. I would gag, but she made me eat it anyway because "it was good for me and a few lumps never hurt anyone". Well I'm here to tell you that eating lumpy cereal has hurt me for life!!! Even now when I can appreciate that she was a single mom with no help and had to make the cereal well before we woke up so that we could have a hot meal before she scurried off to 1 of her 2 jobs--even now, I can hardly look at hot cereal (this includes grits which is a staple here in the south) without activating that automatic gag relex.

Okay, so how I was able to cook and serve Cream of Wheat to my children (who, by the way, loved it--no lumps) is beyond me. Perhaps a mother can do whatever she needs to do to ensure the health of her children? I tease my daughter about her "dorky" diet but I'm secretly proud of her--she loves oatmeal, salmon, berries, nuts---the whole nine. And her mom? I do really well with most of the items on the list. I will admit to "eating stupid" sometimes--that's my family's way of saying that we're eating stuff we know we shouldn't. Somehow I think that if you use the 80/20 rule you'll be OK--eat right 80% of the time and the other 20% will take care of itself--or as my mother used to say "you can have anything in moderation". I guess that does not include stuff you're allergic to! So, I do pretty well but the #1 healthy item?--No way--I've got to subsitute Kashi cold cereal for that.

So after an hour spent on a task that should have taken maybe 10 minutes, I'm blogging about how I feel about oatmeal...hmmmm

Have you eaten your oatmeal today?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Year--New Me

It's been a long time since I've written, I know. Not because I haven't had anything to say--I just have not taken the time to sit down and say it. Promising to be better this year.
I noticed that I have 2 different types of posts within one blog--some posts were about my mom's journey through life as she (and we) deal with her Alzheimer's; the other about what I'm doing with my life now that I'm retired. I've split the two different types of posts into two separate blogs now and I'm happy 'cause you all know how I love organization...So if you're interested in the posts about my mom, they are now in a blog entitled "I Miss My Mom" which can be found here: http://imissmymom-livingwithalzheimers.blogspot.com/ I will also post this info on facebook.
Happy New Year to you all!! I'm not making any official new year's resolutions--just continuing to grow, learn and stay healthy.
Piano lessons are coming along--What they say about stimulating your brain is really, really true--some days I feel like my brain is going to explode with the strain of trying to keep the left and right hands in sync.
I've gone the route of the ereader!!! I got the Amazon Kindle early in 2010, then decided I liked the Barnes & Noble nook when it came out later in the year--then I became enamoured of the nookcolor when it came out around Christmas time. So now, I'm reading my way through Barnes & Nobles electronically...The good news? I read 15 books in 2010 and I'm saving trees. The bad news? There is no bad news when it comes to reading!! My husband and I are taking Spanish classes. I've not studied Spanish since I was in high school but I remember some stuff--just another way to make my brain explode but it's fun being in a room with a group of seniors all trying to learn something new. I've found my way to Zumba classes. I've always loved dance and this is a way to kill two birds with one stone--dance and exercise (and watch that back). Stay tuned.
I'll be starting a new yoga teacher training class in March and plan to start teaching chair yoga to seniors--a good way to give back and keep me in shape, huh?
So, to say the least, I am holding true to the words on my license plate. I am truly "Onajerny".

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What Are You Grateful For?

We're coming into the season. You know. The season of being grateful, brotherly love and shop until you drop.
This is my favorite time of the year. Somehow I find a way to rise above the mass marketing shouting at me at every turn and then burrow below to find the joy I felt as a little girl.
I loved the family gathering at Thanksgiving--all of the special dishes my mother made so well, the kisses and hugs from my cousins, aunts and uncles, the Macy's parade. And all of this as a prelude to my favorite time of the year, Christmas. Well, more on Christmas in a blog to come. Today I am grateful.
I washed my windows yesterday and as I was doing that, I thought of my mother. She always washed her windows before Thanksgiving and put up fresh curtains. The house was cleaned from top to bottom--everything sparkled.
She can't do that anymore and I'm not even sure she remembers Thanksgiving is coming, but I am going home for Thanksgiving anyway. Even though today she is not the mother I remember, I am grateful for the mother that she was. She taught me all that I know about being a good person. She taught me all that I know about being a loving mother and wife. She taught me all that I know about being compasionate and helpful to others. And for that, I am grateful.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Got Any Interesting Mail Lately?

Have you ever received junk mail? OK, I'm being funny. Of course you've received junk mail. What I meant to ask is have you ever received funny, or weird junk mail?
The funniest junk mail I ever received was back in 1974 when I received an invitation to sign up for an American Express card. The American Express card was for my son, Lateef, who was then 2 years old! Crazy.
Well I really hate junk mail and even though I've opted out several times, the junk mail just keeps coming. The holiday season is beginning and the catalog onslaught has started. I even used www.catalogchoice.org to stop the catalogs, but they just keep coming.
Well, we'd been on vacation for a week and when we got home the amount of mail waiting was daunting, to say the least. I have no problem recycling, so I started the job--being ruthless in my zeal to get rid of the junk. Nope, I won't even peek into the Nordstrom's holiday catalog. J.Jill? No way. J. Crew? Bye bye.
So I'm working my way to the bottom of this huge stack of mail and one envelope catches my eye. It was addressed to me and appeared to be from NorthLake Memorial Gardens, but I read it NorthLake Memorial Gardeners. I thought, "I'll see what they have to offer. Maybe they have a good deal on gardening services." I opened the envelope and, sure enough, it was from NorthLake Memorial Gardens, which must be a local cemetary. They were selling burial plots and had a special. Buy one space, get the second space free. And, deal of the century? You could take advantage of their 12 month interest free payment plan. Didn't I want to give my family the gift of love by preplanning my final arrangements? I looked at the pamphlet that was included. You know what? There's just no way you can make a burial crypt look attractive.
Anyhow, I smiled and added this communication to the recycle pile, but as I continued to go through the mail, I wondered. Just how would they know that I am of that age where I would be thinking about things like this?
If I'd gotten that mailing 10 or 15 years ago, it would have hit the recycle pile, just like it did 2 days ago, but I wouldn't have thought about it again.
A couple of days have passed....Still thinking about it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Good For You

There is so much to see--both in the United States and in the world. Sometimes I wonder if I have to see it all or if I could just watch episodes of National Geographic and live vicariously through others. I never really wanted to travel much--I'm more of a "nester", but I managed to marry a guy who loves to travel. So our lives have taken us many places.
First 3,000 miles away from our family as we moved with Ted's job from New York to California. While living there, we took a 2-year temporary assignment in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. We rented our home in California and moved cross country again for this 2 year period. After 2 years we moved back into our home in California.
While living in California we took a few trips but because traveling costs money, and we had precious little of it that didn't go to raising the kids, we didn't travel too often.
Now that we're retired, we've been making up for lost time and, believe it or not, I'm tired of traveling. I would so much rather stay at home and decorate, organize, read, do yoga, etc....
But, I force myself to go on some trips and Ted talks me into others. Don't get me wrong, I'm ok once I get there....It's just the thought of packing, schlepping all of my stuff to the airport, disrobing to go through security, and on and on....
Last week we were in Arizona visiting with friends that I hadn't seen in 30 years. We decided to go because, in addition to wanting to see our friends, we'd be close to the Grand Canyon and we'd never seen the Canyon.
How awe-inspiring to stand at the mouth of the biggest hole in the earth I'd ever seen. I felt so small--so inconsequential. The colors were beautiful, the rock formations (and I love rocks) were so interesting. All I could say was "ohhhhh". It was fun also spending time with friends that I'd worked with in 1974 when I first moved to California. We spent hours reminiscing over old times.
Next we're off to the Bahamas and in November we'll be going up to New York to spend Thanksgiving with family. We've already got 2 trips planned for next year--Makes me weary just to think about it.
So, the bottom line? I look at traveling as if it were the yucky tasting medicine my mom used to make me take. I'd hold my breath while she said "This is really good for you." And it really was.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Notice Anything?

This past weekend we drove to Atlanta to celebrate our grandaughter's 4th birthday. We had a blast, as we always do visiting our grandchildren.
I find now that I'm retired, I have more time to notice things and I do--Notice things that is.
I notice that North Carolina doesn't seem to have as many billboards as does South Carolina and Georgia and the signs we do have mostly advertise retail establishments and new areas to live. So I notice that but what I also notice is what's on the signs in South Carolina and Georgia.
I'm definitely living in the bible belt and I'm OK with that because I was raised by a southern mother and we spent all day every Sunday in church. In my middle years, I got away from organized religion but as I'm getting older, I find myself missing the church fellowship, so I'm feeling comfortable that there's a church on every corner and when the spirit moves me, I'll find one that fits.
Anyhow, back to the billboards (or outdoor advertising, as it's called). Interspersed between all of the signs touting food, gas, lodging, antique shops, rug stores and outlet malls, I saw loads of religious billboards: "Jesus Saves" (on bright white letters on a flaming red cross), "Meet you at my house, on Sunday--Signed God" and "I hate God--signed Satan". I also saw "In God we trust, United we stand" and an advertisement for the "Jesus I trust you" prayer line. My absolute favorite, though was "Don't make me come down there--signed God".
Smack in the middle of some of these religious billboards was this billboard: Cafe Risque - Topless/Topless. Notice that they had to print topless twice just in case you missed it the first time. So we have religion and sex....wow!!!
Then paying tribute to how insane you'd have to be to mess with fireworks, there are the signs for Crazy Steve and Wacky Jack's fireworks--aptly named.
As I was pondering those signs I thought of the sign at the end of my cousin's street in Long Island. We have many family gatherings there because she has a great big back yard. I'd never noticed this sign before but it had been there as long as my cousin's house had been there. One day we were driving into my cousin's driveway and my son said, "That's a fitting sign". The sign said "Dead End". It was at the end of the walkway and right behind the sign was a gate enclosing a cemetery. Wow! I'd never noticed that in all those years.
What do you notice?