Posted in Caring for others, Children, Friendship, Introspection, Parents

Soul Sister (a.k.a. Cousin Gina) by Ginger Keller Gannaway

“Soul” Sister (a.k.a. Cousin Gina)

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Gina and I in Panama City, 1960

 

     We were walking along a Pensacola beach around 8 a.m., after coffee and before the rest of the folks got up. We aimed to walk to the distant pier and talked nonstop the whole way.  Like evenly-matched tennis players, we served and volleyed kid woes back and forth. “He sneaks out the house so often, we have to hide our car keys now.”  “Her grades have dropped ‘cause she skips all the time.” “His room reeks of pot.”  “I hear ya’!” 

     Somehow letting go of our tales of angst gives us a kind of inner release.  We offer the worry and fear up to the sun, the waves, the breeze, and we become free to laugh out loud. Gina and I totally “get” each other, and for two hours we feel better.  On the walk back to our beach-front rental, we even rush into the surf for a quick swim and more laughter as we jump and dive into the waves. Like a couple of kids!

     Gina is my first cousin and my “soul” sister.  Even though she lived an hour away from my hometown, we saw each other often growing-up.  We shared every Keller family reunion or big holiday party at Grandma’s house for sure.  Also, we had full weeks at a time during the summer when we visited each other’s homes or went to our Indian Village camp with Grandma and Stella.

     During the 1980’s we got married and raised our kids in different states.  We didn’t spend long visits together, yet later we grabbed summer getaways when we both became public school teachers. In 1998 and 2010 we even took trips to NYC to visit my sister Gayle and sightsee and reconnect.  Gina and I snap back together easily, no matter how long we have been apart.  We share our Cajun culture, our Keller connection, and our childhood memories, and our family tragedies. Gina is  a close cousin, a trusted friend, a wise woman, a spiritual guide, and my soul sister.  She has a wit like a whip, yet it’s made of purple yarn or silly string. Her sarcasm is swift, yet stingless.  And we share a deep, honest love of movies that began in 1968 when we were both enchanted by Funny Girl.  Walking from Grandma’s to the Saturday matinees at the Liberty and then returning to sneak cigarettes while Grandma napped were big teenage moments for me.  We also worked in the theater’s concession stand and played tennis, went swimming, and obsessed over cute boys to fill the lazy summer days with good times.

     Throughout the sad, sad times and the glory days, humor has helped hold us together.  Two years ago we shared a weekend in Galveston at her sister Dana’s beach house, and while attempting to take a selfie, Gina and I laughed so hard tears ran down our cheeks as we fought to keep the other bodily liquid from running down our legs!

     Now she and I even have similar living situations. My 89-year-old dad lives with me, and Gina lives with her 87-year-old mom (my dad’s sister). So Gina and I chat and commiserate and explain and laugh over phone calls.  We still “get” each other, and as we face family challenges, we share sorrows and successes and above all we laugh.  Gina is a devoted daughter, a mighty mother, and a strong Grandma GiGi.  Time with Gina is always honest and often hysterical. It can be gut-wrenching and still stay golden.  We connect easily, strongly, and soulfully.

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Gina, Gayle, me, Andrew, Yvette in Pensecola (2009)
Posted in Friendship

The Top Ten Types of Friends

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The Top Ten Types of Friends:  

Friends are the flowers in the garden of life.  Our true Master Gardener plants a variety of seeds and from those grow the people in our world.  Some folks are perennials; others are flowering or ornamental, while still others are sturdy trees and some are just plain weeds.

Most of us have a diverse group of friends.  Companions for different times in our lives and different situations.  You know, like the best friend at ‘work’, the favorite ‘cousin’ friend or the ‘cruise ship’ friend which is like the long ago ‘summer camp’ bestie.  Some of these people come and go and some are divine connections that stand the test of time.

In keeping with the Sittin Ugly Sistahs Top Ten Tuesday, here are the Top Ten Types of Friends!

  1. Little Miss Smarty Pants:  This friend is fun, sweet, dependable and smart.  Almost too ‘smart’ if you know what I mean.  This person knows just enough about everything to expound on each topic and be an expert.  Just Ask Them!!!  “ A wise man never knows all, only fools know everything.”

        2. I Love You More:  This friend is sugar and spice and all things nice!  Typical                           responses from I Love You More:  “I love your outfit.”  “Oh, this?  Thanks, but                       LOOK at you!  You always look fabulous!”

“That was a great dinner.”  “Not as good as the one you cooked.”

       “That was fun!”  “That was super fantastic!”

       ” I love you.”  “I love you to the moon and back and then infinity!”

  1.  The Close Talker:  This person, unknowingly steps closer to you while talking.  They’re space invaders, and while their breath is perfectly minty fresh, it is still unsettling to be inches away from the person you are talking to.  Inch by inch….step by step….nose to nose!

 

  1.  I’m Too Busy!:  This buddy is a good guy.  Kind, smart and just an all-around nice person, but….they take themselves way too seriously.  I’m too busy is:  Always sighing.  Always tired.  Always stressed.  Always overwhelmed, overworked, or overwrought.  Occasionally the I’m Too Busy will forget that they are, and actually laugh and have fun.  They need us to help them lighten up.

 

      5,  The Reverse Barometer:  Simply put… if this amigo likes a certain movie,                              restaurant or artist, you probably won’t.  Their taste is opposite of yours…totally.  And,        that’s ok.  

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  1.  The Pollyanna:  Everything has a silver lining!  Each meal is delicious!  Nothing is ever ‘that bad’.  Turn that frown upside down!  Don’t worry..be happy!  “Every little thing gonna be alright…”  Let’s play the Glad game!

 

  1. I’ll Never Be Happy and I Don’t Want You To Be Either:  Nothing good ever happens to this person.  They sum up life by saying,  “Only three things are certain in life.  You live, die and pay taxes.”  This person may not do it on purpose, but if you are around them too much you may get a back ache; the sky may turn cloudy; or the air will be let out of your balloon.

 

  1. The Philosopher:  This confidant always knows a story or tale to tell about any situation.  They can expound on “what you should do” or quote someone famous who has been through what you are going through.  They reason, predict, ponder and think about life and living. They are on a higher plain, sometimes just a little above reality!

 

  1.  The Party: This happy person is always up for an adventure and wherever they go, there’s a party!  Being around this sidekick insures laughter, shenanigans, memorable moments and a great story to tell later.

 

  1.  The Complete Botanical Package:  Often our dearest and most cherished friends have one or more of the above listed traits.  We are drawn to our BFF’s because of the things we have in common and the amazing way our differences round us out.  If friends are the flowers in our gardens, then we must take the time to water, feed and cultivate these precious peeps.

      After all, weeds are flowers too once you get to know them.

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Posted in Friendship

10 Things I Love about Austin & 1o Things I Hate about Austin by Ginger Keller Gannaway

austin-1402097__34010 Things I Love about Austin and 10 Things I Hate about Austin by Ginger Keller Gannaway

1. Green Getaways   North and South Austin meet at Ladybird Lake as the sun gleams on mid-day joggers, dog-walkers, and strollers. Don’t Austinites ever work?? Parks & greenbelt areas stay crowded every day, all-day.
2. Live Music  Venues from the Erwin Center to the Saxon Pub showcase artists like the Roots and the Resentments for music magic any night of the week. Where do we park for all these shows?? spiderhouse
3. Food Possibilities Barbeque and Tex-Mex lead the pack as the fancy and the casual share the limelight for endless tasty options. How do we decide where to get a burger, taco, or bowl of noodles?
4. Shopping Options ThriftTown thrives as do the downtown boutiques and the main malls. Why do we also need the endless cookie-cutter strip malls that litter the highways?
5. Our People  Hippies and hipsters coexist to keep Austin weirdly wonderful). Do we need so many hippies and hipsters?docs sign
6. State Capitol   Political leaders and their constituents meet, march, and make decisions in our “Call to Action” city. How do we avoid I-35 and Mopac and stay part of the action?
7. Movies   Alamo Drafthouses and the Violet Crown rule for mixing film, food, and drinks while Westgate gives us roomy recliners for cinematic comfort. Why couldn’t Austin keep the Varsity and Dobie theaters open?
8. Festivals   SXSW celebrates technology, education, film, and music, plus we have endless ways to celebrate everything from hot sauce& kites to wiener dogs & Eeyore. How do we getaway from the countless crowds?
9. Education Choices   With Montessori daycares, public and private schools, and top colleges, Austin caters to readers, thinkers, writers, creators, and entertainers. Why do the educated masses have to move to Buda to afford rent?
10.Furry Friends   Austinites love their dogs and cats as much as their kids and grandkids. What do we do with all the poop?HEB

Posted in Friendship

Crawfish Tales (repeat) by Ginger Keller Gannaway

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Stretch Keller with crawfish in Austin!

I have been living in Texas for over 30 years now, and besides my family and friends, what I miss most about Louisiana is the food, and the food I miss most is the crawfish!
One of my favorite childhood memories is our annual Good Friday crawfish boil / family reunion in Indian Village at my Grandma Keller’s camp on the Calcasieu River. Long tables were set up and mountains of crawfish were boiled for over a hundred mothers, fathers, kids, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. As Catholic Cajuns we were not allowed to eat meat the Friday before Easter, so even though that’s supposed to be some sort of sacrifice, I saw it as a wonderful time to get my fill of my favorite food that day! Just like Cajuns to turn their penance into a party!

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Mardi Gras crawfish with Crystal Fox and Julie Welch!

During the crawfish boil, no one sat to tackle peeling those spicy mud bugs as fast as they could. I remember as a kid squeezing my way in and standing between beer-drinking adults. The crawfish were poured steaming hot in the center of the newspaper-covered tables with boiled potatoes mixed in. I never bothered with the vegetables. Getting to the succulent tail meat was my mission, and I became fast at peeling them. I wasn’t as quick as cousin Jaimie who could simply suck the tails out whole, but I held my own. Also, besides the 10 oz. cans of Schiltz beer, we had little bowls of spiced-up vinegar set out. Dipping the delectable tails in vinegar is still the best way for me to savor the precious crawfish.

Nothing makes me feel at home, nothing makes my mouth water and my heart sing like eating hot boiled crawfish with a cold can of beer nearby and fellow crawfish-lovin’ folks crawfish-1at my elbows. And we eat and laugh and tell stories and share jokes and savor the spicy sweetness of fresh crawfish, and we wrap ourselves in the easy times with good friends and family who are connected by food and culture and the best crawfish tails/ tales around, cha!

 

Posted in Friendship, Introspection, Retirement

Top Ten Tuesday : Retirement

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Introduction:
Nancy and I have decided to add a bit of structure to our blog. On Tuesdays we will post a Top Ten List, accompanied by an essay that connects to that week’s Top 10.
And since Sittin’ Ugly Sistahs don’t always follow rules, I have adjusted today’s Top Ten List to include only 7 items. (Please let us know what you think about our attempt to get more organized).
DISCLAIMER: I retired from 35 years of teaching in public schools in 2014. I am truly grateful for the TIME I now have for myself and for my growing love of writing. However, retirement has also given TIME to my “lesser angels” who have been working out 5 hours a day to gain strength and power to develop:

My Seven Deadly Sins of Retirement

by Ginger Keller Gannaway

1.SLOTH – Even though I arise at 6 a.m.,robe I stay in my robe until 2 p.m., watch Netflix until 4 p.m., decide to clean out my hall closet next week (or maybe next month), and leave a sink full of dirty dishes for my spouse to wash later because I need to find out how Stranger Things ends.

thin-mints2. GLUTTONY – I start with a single Thin Mint cookie to accompany my morning coffee, two more for a mid-morning snack, 4 cookies for dessert after my lunch, a few more to help me fix supper, and I help my hubby finish off the whole box later that evening.

3. ENVY – Since I have too much free time to skim Facebook, I start to believe every one of my friends’ kids are more independent, better-adjusted, more successful, better-looking, funnier, healthier, and happier than my own. Plus, those same wonderful children both respect and adore their parents!facebook

4. Avarice- With my new-found time, I decide it’s a good idea to go shopping everyday. I alternate a day with Amazon Prime bargains with a day full of the deals at Home Goods, Academy, or Ross-Dress-For-Less. Then at the end of each month, I get to better know all the thrift stores in town.

cabinets5. WRATH – Sharing my abundance of home time with my spouse makes me realize how sloppy, lazy, insensitive, and self-centered he has suddenly become. I never noticed how my loved-one did not know how to close a single drawer or cabinet in our kitchen, so around 10:47 p.m. one night I opened and loudly closed each and every drawer and cabinet and accidentally pulled the spice door back too far before I slammed it properly and broke its hinge.

6. LUST – While watching all six seasons of Justified, I become justifiedobsessed with the way Timothy Olyphant as Marshall Raylan Givens cocks his handsome head and wears that well-worn cowboy hat and struts so confidently into a bar or a backwoods danger zone, yet he still has a gentle look in his brown eyes when he holds his baby girl. So I ask my hubby to keep all the lights off the next time we make love and I have country music playing softly in the background. I also suggest total silence during sex so I can replay scenes of Raylan outsmarting Boyd Crowder in my head.

7. PRIDE – I now feel pity for my friends who still have to work, and from my lofty throne of Retired Greatness, I judge those who struggle to make it through a few more years of work. Poor, sad, tired Daily Grinders! I even forget that folks who do the 9 to 5 gig may not want to see a late night live music show on a Wednesday or to check out the midnight feature on a Sunday. Although I sorta strut through my days of freedom and semi-gloat about finishing Anna Karenina in 4 days, I really only want more of my favorite friends to be free from work so that they can “come out and play” with me.top-tentop-tenthrone-retired

Posted in Friendship

Pica Pica: by Nancy Malcolm

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I’m a quiet person by nature. Quiet, somewhat shy and fairly reserved. I can make polite conversation, but I greatly enjoy an agreeable lull in tete-a-tete with a trusted friend or my spouse. However, on a recent trip to Colorado, I photographed a beautiful, yet extremely vocal bird outside of our condo. I presumed it to be exotic, probably a rare sighting. If only I were a birder…..
I decided to go for a walk downtown and wandered into a beautiful bookstore. I asked the owner about the bird I had seen..what was its name? What kind of bird was it? “Magpie”, he said. “Black-billed Magpie”. “Are you sure?”, I asked. “Yep. Magpie”.
Pica Pica is another name for the Magpie. They are members of the Raven and Jay family. They are social birds, vocal and keep up a regular stream of raucous or querulous calls. Querulous, meaning to complain in an annoyed way. They are loud. They scavenge for food and are not too proud to dine on road kill.  But, they are deeply loyal, and when one Magpie dies, a group of up to 40 will circle the sky and cry loudly. “Mea culpa..Mea culpa.”  The Magpies will mourn their fallen brother for quite awhile and then move on.
What a voice they seem to have. They are not afraid to speak their mind and really don’t care what the others think.  Pica Pica, I think I love you. You have a gregarious personality and you won’t back down when you need to say what’s on your heart. You go, Pica, say it loud and say it proud!
Okay, so here’s the other side of the Black-billed Magpie…The Black-billed Magpie frequently picks ticks from the backs of large mammals, such as deer and moose. The mammals are actually grateful for this service. The magpie eats the ticks or hides some for later use, as members of the Crow and Jay family often do with excess food. Most of the ticks, however, are cached alive and unharmed and may live to reproduce later.  Let’s break this down in layman’s terms. Picas are resourceful, not afraid of work, and compassionate toward others (letting unneeded ticks live).
There have been many times in my life when I wish I had spoken up, spoken my truth. There have been many times when I should have but didn’t or could have but wouldn’t. I’m not sure the exact cause of my silence, but in my later years, I’m not as content to stay quiet or not rock the boat. I think Pica Pica is my new muse.

 

Posted in Friendship

That’s What Friends Do part II by Nancy Malcolm

 

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My mother and Auntie Sue

 

This I know to be absolutely true:  there are only a few people with whom you can shop.  Not just anyone will do when you need a pal for a day of shopping.  When you are looking for a special outfit, a pair of shoes or a new tchotchke for your home…you must be accompanied by a trusted friend, not merely an acquaintance who has not passed the test of time.

I have just the perfect shopping friend.  In fact, I have two shopping buddy groups.  Group A is really my best friend and I.  She has stamina, excellent taste and will tell me the truth when I ask.  She’s the friend that went with my daughter and me to pick out her wedding dress.  She’s the friend that convinced me to get the curtain that now look fabulous in my den.  She has the endurance to keep looking, the wisdom to check the price tag and she always says “Yes,” when I say, “Let’s try one more store!”

Group B consists of three Sistah-friends who are so much fun when we  shop, that we might pee our pants from laughing so hard.  We go antiquing, we shop in thrift stores, we help each other choose gifts for our spouses, but we know what is first and foremost of importance:  “Where are we going to eat and do they serve wine?”  In fact, we have been known to just skip the shopping and have an early lunch!

Shopping?  Don’t go it alone!

Posted in Friendship, Uncategorized, Web of deceit

Oh What a Tangled Web by Nancy Malcolm

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Have you ever seen a spider web and noticed all of its intricacies?  Fine, delicate strings of beauty and grace, criss-crossing into a unique design, all part of a divine plan to nurture one of God’s creatures.

If you have ever walked into a web, you felt its stickiness and probably squealed or jumped and tried to detach it as quickly as possible.

In personal life, as in nature, there are webs everywhere.  Sticky situations that can entangle even the most savvy.  Fellow human beings fishing for information, masquerading as friends.  Co-worker deviations aimed at tripping you up…..even the web of deceit that we ourselves weave.  “I’ll just eat one more.”  “He’ll never know” or “She deserved that!”  

Oh, sometimes it’s not that bad, you get by with a web or two that harms no one in the making.  But, other times the entanglement is real.  The interlacing of fact and fiction snarl us into deception.

There is an old African proverb that says, “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.”  What strength!  What durability!  What power!

Perhaps, it’s best to leave the web making to spiders.  They are the true webmasters of this world.  Beware, my friend, lest we fall into a web of danger or weave one for ourselves.  “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”Walter Scott.

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Posted in Friendship, Uncategorized

That’s What Friends Do: by Nancy Malcolm

 

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Forever….That’s how long a friendship lasts, even if it ends.  We always have that feeling, that knowing, the absolute truth about our friends that stays  in our hearts forever.  You can always retrieve it whenever you need it.

It is a place where we are safe.  A true friendship is non-perishable, its organic, its eternal.  Imagine that when you die, you can still take a part of your friend with you.  A friend loves forever.  I believe Heaven must be filled with BFF’s!  And God said, “This is good.”

A friend listens to you even when they have heard the story before.  A friend will even smile and ask questions, all the while, knowing the answer.

A friend will ask you how you are and really want to know the truth.  ‘Just fine’ or ‘Ok’ will rarely do, and especially concerning matters of the heart.

A friend will go with you to choose your second or even third wedding dress  because a  true friend is always your biggest cheerleader.

When  you just have to tell someone…when no one else will understand….when blue skies are grey and getting cloudier…when no one would believe it…you must tell your friend.

That’s what friends do.

Listen.  Talk.  Share.  Smile.  Hug.  Write.  Drive.  Pray.  Laugh.  Love.  Enjoy.  Like.  Give. Take.  Save.  Help.