Category Archives: Uncategorized

Summer Days…

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One of my greatest joys of teaching was to read aloud to my students, and one of my favorite books to read aloud was Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White.  I must’ve read this book nearly thirty times in thirty-eight years, but my introduction to this story was hearing it read aloud myself.

I can still see the twenty-two year-old me in my first classroom, Spring, 1971, Spring Lake, North Carolina.  Most of my students’ daddies were serving in the Air Force or Army, many were Green Berets, in Vietnam. 

At the end of each day, fifth-graders all packed up and ready to leave, glaring overhead lights extinguished, I’d place the needle on the LP vinyl record from the school library, and we’d all be transported by the voice of Mr. E.B. White, his very own self.

My favorite chapter of this beloved book is called “Summer Days,” and this brings me to the point…I love summer days.

I love the early hours lightening up, and being able to sit outside in my jammies with my coffee and book as the day begins.  I love all the birdsongs.  I can’t get over all the different shades of green in the tree canopy.  I like the smell of fresh cut grass, the sturdy stems and vibrant colors of summer flowers.  I’m fascinated by the blue of the sky and the white of the clouds.

At Farmer’s Markets, I’m drawn to the activity, smells, colors of each booth, be it crafts or foods or living plants.  I could spend all day at a Farmer’s Market.

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I welcome the warmth of the sun on my old skin, and the rolling breeze that keeps my own personal “air conditioning” system at work.  And counterpoint to that, I appreciate the ground-softening rains that help my weed pulling go more smoothly.  Oh.  I love orange Popsicles.

Yes.  Summer days.  Living them today makes me remember a fine, fine children’s classic.  I gave my copy to one of my grandkids.  I think it’s time for me to replace and re-read.  Maybe I’ll do that outside, my book and glass of wine, on these upcoming summer evenings.  I’ll revisit my old friends, Wilbur and Charlotte, as the day cools and the light sticks around a little longer.

How to Celebrate a Birthday…

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Bora Bora is a beautiful place to celebrate a birthday.  I turned thirty on Bora Bora, and I was on my honeymoon.  ‘Nuff said about that one.  Another great place to birthday is the countryside of France in Normandy.  Oh, those hills and sheep pastures!  I was there on my sixtieth birthday.

I have to say, though, that my birthday this past Saturday, and the previous several birthdays have been the most gratifying of my life.  So, on thinking about how joyful and fulfilling a birthday can be, I have compiled some criteria.

First, be with people you love and who love you.  This year, I was with my folks and some of my sisters and brothers in southern Wisconsin.

Do something you love to do.  I went auctioning.  I love an auction.  I love the old stuff, the browsing, the hot dogs, and watching the people bid.  I love to bid, too, but I get nervous, and have a hard time following what’s happening.  Turned out, my sister and I bid against each other for the same item.  Everyone got a laugh out of that, and the auctioneer caught it, and forgave my higher bid.  (By the way, I got an awesome crocheted bedspread for $2.50 and a lovely clock for a dollar.)

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Learn something new.  We met the folks at the old one-room schoolhouse in Cooksville, Wisconsin for a talk by a well-known author who told old stories of growing up in a rural community.  Then we had a sack lunch picnic under a tent on the Village Commons.

Celebrate.  All of us who could gathered at the farm in the late afternoon.  We ate pizza and carrot cake, drank wine, and solved the problems of the world, or at least tried to.  It’s a shame none of us are in charge, I tell you.  Assembled, were parents, sisters, a brother, an aunt, nieces, great-nephew, and all the significant others doing what we do best…being together and laughing.  It doesn’t get any better.

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If you are an “embrace-the-birthday” kind of person, you probably already know the above formula.  If you are not, try it.  As a matter of fact, it’s a pretty great way to spend most days, birthday or not.

At the Scene of the Crime…

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Yes, I was there.  Along with my sister.  Eye witnesses.

We were eating Chinese for lunch.  I was facing the door.  I watched a customer come in.  Here is my description:  Pregnant woman.  Wearing a puckery red, sleeveless top, with a ruffled neckline, and red, white, and blue chevron patterned loose-fitting pants, and also flip-flops.  Her hair was pulled up into a fountain-type style.  She had no chin.  (I know.  It’s a family flaw, to notice physical imperfections.  Sorry.  I’m not proud of it.)

All of a sudden, the pregnant lady was running out the door with the counter girl yelling, and pursuing her, “She took the tip jar! She’s taking the tip jar!”  A chase ensued, and I leaped up, ran to the door, and belatedly and futilely yelled, with great drama and triteness, “Stop her!”  The pregnant lady was fast in those flip-flops.

At that point, the get away car…a white Mustang convertible with a black rag top roared past, and sped out of sight, with loud mufflers and no visible plates.  Very Hollywood-ish, and dramatic, I must say.

Several people were outside, tapping on their phones.  One came into the store, and asked if the perp had a weapon.  (That got my attention.) No weapon.  The po-po arrived. (I got that term from my Madea watching.)  After a confab with the sis on whether we should leave, she approached the counter to  tell the policeman that I had a detailed description.  I gave my testimony, minus the missing chin, and we were outta there.

Point being…hang on to your purse.  The ones who want to get it are accomplished and fast!  Keep your eyes peeled.  And I hope that whole 15 bucks stolen were put to good use. Maybe for that baby coming in the not too distant future.  That might be the real crime.

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Bulky Pick-up…

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You know all that stuff you need to get rid of?  The broken garden bench, the old storm door you replaced last winter, the child’s toy that was a garden ornament for a while, until it looked like what it was, a piece of trash with weeds growing through it?  My town helps everyone clean up and clear out all that stuff.

It is called Bulky Pick-up Week, and it is one of my favorite times of the year.  Of course, I like to get things gone like anyone else, but the reason it is my favorite is because of human nature.  Mine, and others’.

When I first moved here, I didn’t know about Bulky Pick-up, and wondered why all of a sudden, people were putting things on the street.  I found a charming wingback chair with a tattered slipcover just sitting by the curb.   My sister and I got out of her car, looked around like thieves in the night, and threw that baby in the back of her car.  I washed the slip cover, and I still have that cute chair in my bedroom.  That was my first bulky pick up adventure.  A few years later, one of my church lady friends and I were on our way to coffee after mass, when we passed a wicker love seat and chair in the typical place…by the side of the curb.  We hauled our booty into the back of her van, and it is in my tiny-tiny outbuilding, waiting for the day I can clean it up, repaint it, and place it in the remodeled “tiny-tiny” that is to become my craft studio.

This year, I watched the others look for and find their treasures.  The notice goes out to the citizens of Bulky Pick-up dates.  The weekend before, people start dragging their rejects to the curb.  Then the cruising begins.  In my little pocket neighborhood, we see many pick up trucks and vans pulling trailers circle our streets.  As they pass by, the truck beds and trailers begin to accumulate things like old bikes, garden hoses, storm doors, satellite dishes, old furniture and flower pots.

I didn’t find anything “good” for myself this year.  I was looking more to dispense with my stuff, rather than gather more.  And I was looking to see what others found desirable, as the pickers cruised by.  It’s kind of a badge of honor to have one’s own personal pile gone before the city actually picks up the stuff in front of a house.  (Not to brag, but my pile was depleted, totally.  And I say that in all due modesty. )

It heartens me to know that someone will find some good in what might end up in a landfill.  The whole process saves the planet, gives some people an income, gives me a chance to get rid of my junk, and gives me something about which to think.  Win-win.

Disclaimer:  This is not my stuff, but I did look at the bench.

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Mammograms…

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Hoo-boy.  If there ever was a more voluntarily physically uncomfortable situation, I don’t know what it would be.  But then, I am fortunate, and sheltered by standards of the rest of the world.  I do know that this is a lifesaving medical test that I would not ignore any year.

That being said, I do put it off.  Walking to the Y, (see my last post) I see this message in the sidewalk.  There are others of the same ilk, but this is the one which I snapped.  I was reminded that it is time!

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My insurance company requires me to have my appointment not a day earlier that one year ago, so I have to be precise in scheduling my visit, yet, I am reminded by several different means to make that darned appointment, and so I do.

Breast cancer is not a joke.  I know of two young women who are struggling through the chemotherapy before their double mastectomy.  I know of others who have been through that process, and are healing.  And I know of women that have healed, and then had to have the cancer show up a decade later.  You probably know these women, too.

It is not October, Breast Caner Month, but it is a reminder…make your appointment.  Have your Mammogram.  Be grateful for the science that created this test which can catch the disease and save lives.  It could be mine and it could be yours.  It’s not fun, but it’s important.

Walking to the Y…

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Y?  Because I like to.  I live a mile away from the YMCA.  I joined six years ago when I first came to Winston-Salem, because I had to have something to do while waiting.  I was waiting for travel documents to come for my brother and sister-in-law, so they could go to China to get their youngest little girl.  I was waiting to figure out my next steps after having left my husband of thirty-three years.  I was waiting for the marriage to be legally over, and waiting to see who I was and who I could become.

I love my Y.  I lift weights.  I ride a stationary bike.  I take Gentle Yoga classes several times a week, and I’ve met some great people.  I still find refuge in my Yoga class, though I don’t go as regularly as I did in the early days.  My life has gotten happily busier!  Nowadays, I walk.  I used to walk with a friend who lived around the corner, but she moved away, so now I just walk by myself.

I do some of my best blog writing when I walk.  Often, I will be inspired with a topic, and this past week was no exception.  This post is the result. 

Walking is scenic.  It is rhythmic, and it is meditative.  It takes one whole rosary to get to the front steps, and coming home, I usually work out a blog post in my head.  Often, I remember it, and write and post.  Many times, I don’t remember what I’d thought to write, only to have it pop up later.

It’s a gift to be able to live in such a beautiful and pedestrian-friendly place.  It’s a gift to exercise my body and my mind.  It’s a gift to be among friendly, kind, funny faces who greet me with welcoming  words when I’ve missed a few classes.  Walking to the Y is one of my gratitudes, often.  Walking to the Y has been a huge part of who I am and who I have become.  Who could ask for more?  Prayers and fitness, and working out in more ways than one.   It doesn’t get any better than this.  Look at the photo.  Get it?IMG_2651.JPG

Oprah and Me…

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Dear Oprah,

I saw you on The Talk the other day.  You, once again, moved me.  You talked about leaving a legacy, and how Maya taught you that you never know what that legacy is going to be.

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Let me back up.  You would have loved the Picture Day at my school, back in the 80’s, when I stepped up to have my photo snapped.  As I posed, one of my first grade boys called out, “Mrs. Horton, you look just like Oprah!”  I can’t tell you how I loved that spontaneous remark.  I’ve held you in my heart as a Sister ever since.

My connection with you became stronger, and much more spiritual later, when I heard you tell on your show, about how much you wanted a role in The Color Purple.  You told about how you just finally surrendered to God, that if it be His will, you would get the role.  By the way, you mentioned on The Talk the other day, how badly you wanted that role.  God meant for me to hear of your surrender, because not too many years later, I told God, “I’m out of ideas.  God, I’m giving his to You,” and He put into process the events which changed my life, and led me to His door, literally.

For years, I have tucked into my journal, a page called “Ten Things I Know For Sure.”  You know it.  You composed it.  I have read it over so many times, I have it memorized.  One of them is about gratitude.  I am practicing it everyday.

Here are some other connections:  I live in Winston-Salem, NC.  You know that’s Maya’s town.  I subscribed to your magazine.  Okay…those are stretches, but, “Hey!”  I love road trips.  I think Gayle is great, too.  Still stretching.

So, let’s get back to the legacy…Oprah, I am so happy you impressed the women of The Talk that they have a responsibility.  We all have a responsibility.  We all say things.  I can only pray that the Holy Spirit guides me, and has guided me to say something helpful, and not hurtful.  I just pray my legacy has empowered others in a small way, the way you have empowered me. 

And we will never really know, will we?

Love,

Your Sister/Doppleganger