Posted in Aging process, Boo, Changes, Husbands, Love, Making Whoopie, Marriage

Whoopie Pie

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I woke up this morning still feeling the effects of our night of romance.  Love and passion mixed with snap, crackle, and pop!  Jackie Collins would be disappointed.

 

Nothing is as easy as it used to be.  I’m really not that old but I catch myself grunting when I get up and sighing when I sit down.  I sound like my Grandma!  While everything works well in my body, except for the knees, I am still experiencing the need for some adjustments with …..you know…”time with my husband”!  Let’s just call it making ‘Whoopie Pie.’

 

During our last encounter, you might have thought we were building something or wrestling wild animals.  “Oh, watch it!  That hurts my knees!”  

“My shoulder just won’t move that way…”

“Could we stand up?  My back hurts.”

“Oh!  My neck!”

“Ouch!  I’ve got a cramp in my leg.”

 

Oh my!  While it sounds as if there might have been a trapeze involved, I assure you there was not.  We did have a good laugh over it (or was it a cry?) and then we thought about writing a book.  A sort of ‘how to’ book for the older crowd.  I know it would be a bestseller, in fact, I can just see us touring the nation or even on QVC selling our Whoopie Pie Package.  gluten-free-vegan-whoopie-pies-e1486862496859

 

We could have chapters with pictures (modest of course) demonstrating safer ways to ignite a spark…without injury.  Maybe chapters by ailment:

Hip Replacement Hijinks

Birds, Bees, and Knees

Arthritis Acrobatics  

Maybe even a chapter for incorporating props like a bolster pillow or aerodynamic swings.  Sort of a Kama Sutra for the geriatric go-getters.  Basically, how to make ‘Whoopie Pie’ without injury or loss of limb.

 

I can even envision a chapter on ‘spiffing’ up your gear, such as embellishing your knee brace with feathers or lace.  Even adding lavender or rose hips to your topical liniment so the medicinal aroma is masked.  The list is endless.

 

Stay tuned, lovebirds,  as the book is definitely in the planning stage.  For now, though, when it’s time to make ‘Whoopie Pie,’ we’re going to spend a few minutes stretching and warming up first.  Maybe that should be Chapter One.

 

Posted in Aging process, Changes, Friendship, I love you, Love, Marriage, Support

“Little Murders” by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Little Murders*  by Ginger Keller Gannaway

*A play by Jules Feiffer written in 1967

Marriage ain’t always easy.  Three kids and 35 years together have made Gary and me balance understanding and comfort with annoyance and anger. Once when I yelled at Gary for leaving his used dental pics on the coffee table, he answered, “Sorry. I guess these ‘Little Murders’ really chip away at us, huh?” Then I thought how I let small annoyances turn into large complaints.

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Love circa 1984

One Thanksgiving in an effort to stop me from obsessing about whether my husband would have enough leftover turkey gumbo when he returned from visiting his brother, Momma said to me, “Don’t you worry about Gary.  Gary always takes care of Gary.”   These days I sometimes extend that thought to“Gary only has eyes for Gary.”  He, however,  justifies his self-obsessiveness with, “I’m not a noticer.” ( Noticer –  1. The act of noting or observing; perception or attention:That detail escaped my notice. thefreedictionary.com)

So what if he ignores the whole world when he does his daily Sudoku or he can’t find ANYTHING in the fridge or he did not notice that he ate the last chocolate raspberry Haagen-Dazs bar from a box he “bought for me”?  He also gives my 90 year-old dad countless rides to and from doctor appointments, always has a buck for the down-and-out guy at the stoplight, and cleans a stack of dirty dishes with no complaints.

His tendency to stop up a toilet, watch CNN constantly, dirty 23 dishes for one meal, leave his bike in the back of the car, and grab his mandatory 9 hours of sleep a night could be viewed differently. 

  1. He’s developed expert bathroom plumbing skills.
  2. He stays well-informed on current events.
  3. He cooks with creativity and zeal.
  4. He stays fit and well-rested. 

My mom’s dear friend once told me she used to fuss at her husband for leaving the kitchen cabinets wide open (one of Gary’s favorite hobbies). Then years after he had passed away, she looked at me with watery eyes and said, “What I wouldn’t give to walk in the kitchen and see every single cabinet door open!”

I used to believe all those Little Murders slowly smothered the love I had for Gary.  Now I see they make pin pricks in my heart that make our love tough and real so we have enough strength to deal with the many “slings and arrows” of this life.  Gary makes me smile at life’s idiosyncrasies and laugh at love’s challenges. 

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Love, 2016 (Tesuque, New Mexico)
Posted in Aging process, Changes, Gratitude, Retirement

Overscheduled

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Photographed by Nancy Malcolm

Overscheduled:  
I’ve overscheduled myself.   I am irritable and a skosh unreasonable and I didn’t even know it….until now.  This retirement gig is really working out for me except I’m busy from morning until night.  There are so many things I want to do and so little time, that I often set my alarm for 5:30 a.m.  Truthfully, I probably only have 20 more good years left (if I’m lucky) so I’ve literally been cramming my days with things I want to do.

 

There are lots of books I want to read and yet, I hear myself saying that I don’t have time to read them.  Now, that is insanity!!   Going for walks, going to the gym, photography, volunteering, crafting, writing, traveling, Grandchildren, lunch with friends, movies with friends, Words With Friends….Then there are still the household things to do like grocery shopping and laundry;  my days are going by too fast.

 

I’ve even said to my husband that I’m kinda “done” with cooking and cleaning.  It’s highly overrated and I seem to have lost my zing for new recipes and creative organizing. I know in my heart that I could do those things if I wanted to, but there you have it….I’d rather take my grandchildren to the park or snap pictures of butterflies.  I think Joan Rivers said it best, “I hate housework. You make the beds, you wash the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.”

 

I want to be outside some every day, and spend time with people I love every day, free from the computer or phone.  I want to write and be creative in some way, every day.  I want to exercise every day and do something for someone else every day.  And, I want to LAUGH every day.

 

I thought in retirement I would slow down, but I have amped up in a big way, making up for all those working years when I rarely asked myself, “What do you want to do today?”  Possibly, I could try scheduling a ‘day off’ every week, where I don’t have any plans or pressing engagements, but that seems a little extreme.  I feel so blessed to be retired and to be healthy and to be able to live my life as I truly want.  I want to do as much as I can for as long as I can.

 

It occurs to me that this “overscheduled” feeling is a hangover from the working days when often I felt overwhelmed and overworked. My context for overscheduled needs to be revamped. Being retired just means it is now time for a new adventure and that’s exactly what I’m doing.  I need to replace “overscheduled” with “jam-packed with opportunity!”

 

I hear that still, small voice say, “Remember, Lucky Girl, each day is an opportunity for growth, excitement, and fulfillment.  Spend each day wisely, in gratitude and you will not regret it.”  Amen.

 

Posted in Aging process, Cajuns, Caring for others, Changes, Children, Friendship, Grandchildren, Grandmother, I love you, Mothers, Outdoors, Parents

Mama Joe’s Mimosa Tree by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Mama Joe’s Mimosa Treemimosa tree

A momma’s love shines through her children, and Mama Joe’s eleven children wonderfully displayed their love for her.  Lizo Vidrine married when she was 15 and she and Joe Latour raised their 11 kids in Ville Platte, Louisiana.  As a kid, I remember going to Mama and PapaJoe’s every week, mostly on Sunday afternoons.  When Dad drove the family from Eunice to Ville Platte my siblings and I played a very lame car game called “Counting Horses” ( that’s a “whole ‘nother Oprah” as one of my good friends would say). We traveled a distance of 17 miles, but to 4 restless kids, it seemed like 77 at least! 

Back then we mostly kissed Mama & Papa hello and then headed to the backyard to mama's familychase Papa’s chickens and eat his scuppernong grapes until he came out yelling at us to leave his chickens alone.  Then we fidgeted inside for 8 or so minutes until Dad gave us each a dime to walk to Mr. Theophile’s tiny store on the corner where we each bought 10 penny candies that were placed in small paper bags.  To get to the store we had to pass Mama’s next door neighbor’s house that would later remind me of Boo Radley’s place.  My sisters and I usually ran when we passed neighbor Gazelle’s because she and her “not-quite-right” daughters lived there with at least 100 cats, and Gazelle yelled at us if she was sitting on the front porch with a gun beneath her chair.  (another Oprah-type tale).

However, many years later, Papa Joe has died and Mama Joe is bedridden and somewhat senile.  Now her seven children who live closest to her have each claimed a day of the week to come take care of her (or pay for a sitter if they cannot come that week).   Usually my momma drives my two sisters and me to visit Mama Joe.  Now the house is quiet and after Gayle, Kelly and I kiss Mama Joe hello in her bed full of pillows, we move to the small living room to read or watch a little t.v.  Momma stays in Mama’s bedroom and time ticks slowly be with the soft sounds of Momma talking to Mama. Later, the sitter arrives and talks with Momma in Cajun French.  Sometimes my sisters and I go outside and pick these hard pears or sour plums from Mama’s trees. Papa Joe had been a gifted gardener, and years earlier he had grown vegetables and fruits galore in his extensive garden.  Gayle remembers when he pulled a carrot from the ground once and handed her the best carrot she has ever tasted!

Mama Joe’s yard also had this mimosa tree I really loved.  Its beautiful softness, the feathery green leaves, with the flowers that looked like pink dandelions remind me now of my grandmother’s soft, strong beauty. Mimosa trees produce fragile, sweet blossoms in the late spring that attract butterflies and birds and that also contrast with the tree’s tough nature.   According to some gardening websites, mimosas do well in droughts and heat, which explains their abundance along southern highways.  Also, they produce these elongated seedpods that drop and spread their “offspring” far and wide.  The Japanese call mimosas the “sleeping tree” because their leaves gently fold for the night.  Like the mimosa tree, Mama Joe had a strong, calm beauty that mixed the Cajun Vidrine in her with the Native American blood my momma always claimed she had. (“Your mama’s great-great grandmother was an Indian princess, for real!”)  Also, her eleven seedpods heeded the Catholic directive  to “go forth and multiply” well. Mama and Papa Joe had 48 grandchildren and over 60 great-grandchildren and I don’t know how many great-grandchildren since the Latours are still healthily multiplying. 

Overall, Mama Joe was a sweet, smiling & laughing Cajun who married at age 15 and raised a family of 11, who only spoke Cajun French until her son P.J. married Polly (an amazing woman from California),  and so she learned to speak English to welcome a new member of her family, who cooked rice and gravy like a top chef, who loved life and good times almost as much as she loved all of her many children and their children, and their children’s children, and so on.  All Mama Joe gave forth was love and joy which she taught my own mother, Geraldine, to do for her 4 children, who then did her best to teach me to do for my 3 boys.  Like the mimosa tree, may all mothers continue to spread strong, soft feathery blossoms of love for their own seedpods.

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PaPa and Mama Joe

Thank you to Uncle Jack (Mama’s baby) and Aunt Faye for helping me with some Mama Joe details!

Posted in Changes, Introspection, Work ethic

Beginnings and Endings

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Beginnings and Endings:

Where you begin is not always where you end.  I had a job on weekends and in the summer from the time I turned sixteen until I landed my first teaching gig.

One of my first high school jobs was at Meyers Family Fried Chicken in Amarillo, Texas.  I was the hostess with the mostess on weekends!  “How many?”  “High chair or booster?”  “Booth or table?”  “  Follow me please.”

Meyers Family Fried Chicken was, as you guessed, geared toward family.  It had a train track mounted at the top of the walls by the ceiling and a locomotive with a long train that ran continuously everyday, from open to close.  

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My time there was pretty non-descript, except when a customer would request a certain waitress or to sit by the window.  When that happened, it would cause tip inequality and sometimes overwork or not enough work for the waitresses.   This, in turn, would cause huffing and puffing and sideways glances at the Hostess.   Although the policy was to make the customer happy, I was less popular than usual when a demanding patron put us out of rotation.  I think Meyers and I parted ways after one year.

My most favorite job in high school was at Montgomery Ward in the Western Plaza.  I breezed through training with flying colors and high scores because I could run the register and count back change with speed and accuracy.  All this awarded me the prestigious title of “Floater,” meaning every time I clocked into work, I had to stop by HR to see what department needed help.

I managed to land a coveted temporary position in the Electronics Department when a full-time/part-time person went on maternity leave.  The Electronics Dept. sold T.V.’s, record players, radios and records.  You know, LP’s and 45’s.  I was in heaven, mainly because cute boys would occasionally wander in looking at records and I could approach with a big smile and ask, “May I help you?”SCAN0006 (2)

 

My other department stents were not as glamorous nor as successful.  Once, while helping out in shoes, I sent customers home with two different shoes in the same box.  (not a matched pair)  And there was one fateful Saturday in the Candy Dept….I’m not sure why, but I never got the hang of scooping, measuring correctly, and bagging.  On Saturday’s it would be flush with harried parents, crying kids, and ‘hangry’ (hungry and angry) customers.  I never “floated” back after that one time.

My employment background boasts of teaching swimming lessons and lifeguarding at the YMCA;  one summer at Glorieta Baptist Church Camp, working in the Chuck Wagon, making donuts; and two summers in college, as a secretary at an insurance company.

Isn’t it fascinating to look back and see that where you began is not always where you end?  How was I to know at sixteen that the skills and customer interactions then would serve me well later as an educator?  How could I possibly have known that weekends and summers wouldn’t hold a candle to Monday through Friday for 36 years?

Certainly, where I began was not where I ended.  But, it shaped me and molded me and taught me about life and the virtues of an honest day’s work.  So, to that I must say:  “Thank you, Meyer’s Family Fried Chicken!”,  “Gracias! Montgomery Ward!”, and “Much obliged! Chuck Wagon!”

You taught me well!

Posted in Changes

My Journey from K-town to A-town Nancy Malcolm

austin-247_1280My Journey From K-town to A-town

Before 1998, I had never thought much about ATX, The Capital City!  My brother had graduated from The University (of Texas), but I never saw myself living there until…circumstances and a job opportunity came my way.  Quickly and magically I went from living in Killeen, Texas, home of Fort Hood Army Base to living in Austin, “The live music capital of the world!”

To say going from K-town to A-town was a stretch, is a tremendous understatement.  The only thing I knew about traffic involved the ‘backup’ when the train lumbered through downtown Killeen.  Why that train could add an extra 5 minutes to your commute.  In fact, I don’t think I had ever used the term ‘commute’ in reference to going to work or school.  That all changed the minute I moved to Austin.

The apartment locator service I used, failed to truly explain to me the terms:  Austin traffic, commute, rush hour and drive-times.  When they drove me to my workplace from the apartment, it was on a Saturday and traffic wasn’t that bad.  So…I signed the lease, luckily for only a six-month term, because come Monday, that commute might as well have been to Corpus Christi.

I’m pretty sure I cried every day for the first month, as I left my apartment by 6:30 a.m. to arrive at school by 7:30-7:45.  To add insult to injury, the commute coming home was even worse.  Slowly, I learned about merging, street closures, three different names for the same street and road rage!  Gratefully, I did find a home much closer to my school, although the six months of fear was over, the traffic was not.

There are, of course, other aspects of Austin that are more endearing and yet also confusing.  O.K. straight up.. I am a Texas girl who grew up in Amarillo, went to school in Waco and lived 23 years in Killeen.  I did not understand what Keep Austin Weird was all about.  Nor, did I ever recall seeing so many weird people in my whole life prior to living in Austin.

Men with long pink hair biking down the street in flesh colored g-strings; watching a million bats take flight from under the Congress bridge; Alamo Drafthouse; The Cathedral of Junk; Lady Bird Lake and of course, Hippie Hollow Park.  I must say, neither Amarillo nor Killeen had any swimming holes that were clothing optional. (that I am aware of)

I can’t believe I have now lived in Austin for 19 years.  I no longer cry on MoPac, at least not every day.  I love all of the unique and cultural experiences our city has to offer, and even though I am a Baylor Grad, I root for the Horns and appreciate The University for what it is.

Austin has the most inventive, creative, rockin’, educated and physically fit citizens in the United States.  Almost everyone bikes, hikes, runs or kayaks and everyone who has a dog, takes their dog everywhere.

I’m still in awe everytime I drive across the river and glance up to see the Capitol building and downtown silhouette against the sky.  It’s breathtaking and I can’t believe that little old me gets to live here.  I am such a lucky girl!

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