Sunday, May 24, 2009

When Life Begins in the Country.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before but I grew up country. And for those of you who didn't read or pronounce that correctly it's "cawn-tree." I mean cows outnumbered the humans. The local post office was inside the farm implement store and the two towns I lived between were really just wasglorified cross roads. My entire county had 2 red lights and one of those only a flasher. Everyone called the town sherrif (who was actually in the next town) by his first name. Call it the Pennsylvania version of Mayberry.

In our town there was a genuine country store. You could find everything from sewing thread, needles and zippers to hunting guns, fishing licenses, and ammo. In the back corner where the hardware was there was a stand up nail bin where the nails were still weighed on a scale per 6 penny or ten penny weight. People who still butcher their own meat could take their hams and bacons to the store owner who would slice it to order.

My sister reminded me about a tradition that we grew up on. Every year at Christmas the store owner (or another member of our community when he got too old) would dress up as Santa and hand out oranges and the Lifesaver holiday books. Even at Halloween we would trick or treat at the store counter. For the longest time you could find the older men of our town sitting on the bench out front talking about the weather or politics or any other notion that crossed their mind.

And this was such a part of our town that it had been passed across generations. First through one family and then bought and passed through another. I could probably even recite you the store schedule if I was hard pressed.

When I took my hubby to PA for the first time, I made a point of taking him to The Store. He strolled and looked. He was fascinated. My mom even got him a cammo ball cap for Christmas that year. Long's Store on the front and "A Little bit of Everything" on the back.
Even more fascinating was the decor. A mounted deer head over the phone in the corner (not a pay phone by the way); a preserved fox sitting on the gun safe in the raised office; pictures of various members of the community on the walls and the famous Brownie Calendar hanging behind the counter. Yard sale signs graced the front window right beside fliers for the fireman's carnival and band concert and senior class play.

In the wee hours Sunday morning, someone struck the gas pumps in front of the store and caused a fire that engulfed our personal landmark. It is gone.

Of course when you see a piece of your history fading you ask how you can get it back. The first question I asked my mother when she called this morning was, "Do you think they will rebuild?" Of course it is all so fresh now that no one knows but there is the rest of the story.

Should our friend and neighbor decide to rebuild, I would be willing to predict that it will be a full community holiday. Every man in town will call in sick and grab a hammer, pliers, wire cutters and any other necessary tool. Every woman in town will head for the kitchen to bake, roast, fry, boil and brew.

And they will laugh.

They will sweat and work and cut and lay block. They will plumb and pull wire. They will tell stories of times and people gone by and they will laugh.

All day I have been consumed by the thought of a huge piece of my memory being stolen from me. Almost to the point of tears. But I look at the possibility that lies ahead if there is a rebuilding and I have hope.

Perhaps we have found the key to my optimism and persistence. A life begun in the country.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Have Decided to Quit Blogging.

I’ve gotten a few notes and comments from regular readers asking if I’m okay and telling me that they miss my blog updates. Thank you. That is very sweet of all of you.

And while I don’t OWE you an explanation for my absence because after all this is my place on the web and I will do with it what I want, I will offer one out of friendship. Simply put, I burnt out. I was pressing everyday to find something to write about and stressing about whether my stats were climbing and if I was "good enough" to be a part of bloggy land at all. I was worried about whether you were enjoying my writing and was I funny enough? Why wouldn’t my meme take off and why didn’t I take more pictures this week for Wordless Wednesday? Who in the forums was reading my stuff and why wouldn’t more people comment? Why couldn’t my most controversial stances spark any kind of debate?

I was dreaming in blog people. I would wake up thinking blog and I would eat blog for lunch and I would blog while I was brushing my teeth. Not on the blog but in my head. I would wake up in the middle of the night to make notes about a dream because maybe when I was fully awake I could turn it into a roll em in the aisles post.

For some people that is a great thing. For some people that would be a rocking life. For me it was torture. I want to write. Just write. I don’t want to install meta tags and learn CSS code and HTML code and link all the right keywords. I don’t really care if Google finds me or not. I don’t necessarily want to make millions off of my blog. It would be nice if it happened but only if I can still be happy while I do it.

I just want to write. And that is what this started out as. A place for me to write. Then I got sidetracked with stats and comment counts and posting two or three times a day and making sure that I was friends with the right people in bloggy land and making sure that I didn’t offend or comment on the wrong blog because that would draw drama.

So I am going to quit blogging. I am just going to write. Here. When I feel like it and about what I want. The family stuff will still be found at The Zoo and the brain junk and social commentary will still be at The Bowl. But don’t expect me to update everyday. I don’t have THAT much to say.

I am no longer judging my success by stats, followers and page rank. I am purely judging my success by comments and my own happiness. If I can inspire you enough to cause you to comment then I have been successful. My biggest reward is forcing Buck to come out of his reader to comment. And that is what I want it to be all about. Just writing and sharing my writing with people who want to read.

Those of you who know me from some forums, give my regards. It’s not that I don’t like you or want to hang out with you. I just can’t get sucked back into all "stuff" that is blogging.
So farewell to blogging - welcome back writing.

**Note: For those of you who follow both, you will see this post cross posted today because the same audience is not in both places. Thanks for your tolerance.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

There is a Chance that I am NOT a Good Person.

It's just a chance but you need to weigh in.
Our neighbors have been trying to sell their house for over a year now. They finally got an offer and it was all looking like a done deal. They even spent the weekend packing up their stuff and arranging for a POD to store things in until they found their new house. Yeah, it sold faster than they thought this time.
I was not thrilled about them moving. They are awesome friends and neighbors (so it's obviously not the one I was whining about the other day). And they were getting ready to start a family so I was all excited about helping her out. To find out they were moving was a real bummer but I was holding out hope that the new neighbors would be just as awesome.

I was supposed to go help her pack this morning so that they could load the POD but the POD was no where to be seen. Turns out she cancelled it.

The lending for the buyers fell apart last night. This is where I turn into not such a good person. When Neighborette told me what happened I smiled. I was actually a little gleeful. That's just wrong of me! They want to move. And the new couple sound like they are really nice and sweet. The buyers are getting married in June so now the bride is stressing about losing a house that they fell in love with and planning a wedding! I feel really bad that I was gleeful about the situation.

I just love my neighbors!! I know. I'll love the new neighbors too. But you have to understand it takes a lot for me to open up to strangers. This is a big deal for me!

Just the same I had better start hoping for the best for these buyers because I wouldn't want my friends to be unhappy, right? But she said moving away from us was the hardest part of moving! So maybe she doesn't really want to move either? And they haven't found a new house yet.

I don't know how much longer I can handle this! Maybe I should move!!

It's not like the new folks will be living next to this.
At least not ALL the time!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just when I thought Stupidity had taken a Vacation.

It rears its ugly head and blows me a raspberry.

I would never claim to have "seen it all" but I am one step closer. I have seen the ultimate in moron and it is ugly. Someone here in my great state, not even that far away from where I live has actually created a listing on e-Bay for...wait for it...ready?

An Air Guitar.

That's right. The imaginary guitar that people pretend to play when they are truly jamming to the great hits of the 80's. No offense 80's fans - I know you two are reading this!

Now the good news is that they are offering free shipping so the guitar can be yours for a simple bid. Unfortunately you can't return it if it arrives dinged or damaged. I kid you not. They actually completed all the stips and even posted a disclaimer announcing that it was a joke.

But it gets better. Keep going to page 3. There is a SECOND air guitar listed. And this one comes with a demo video. For $19.99 shipping you can have it shipped directly to your home. This bid was even linked to a charitable organization claiming that all the proceeds from the sale of this empty box go straight to...wait for's another good one!

A project supporting black bears. Because there is nothing I like more than a hike in the north GA mountains to hear a black bear jam out on his air guitar.

Someday I will find a way to get paid to walk around V8-ing stupid people.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dear Ms. Manners (that would be you faithful readers)

I need some help addressing a strange and uncomfortable situation.
Our neighbors have sold their house and are moving in two weeks. As a way to say farewell, I planned and hosted a cookout this past Saturday. We of course invited the neighbors from the other side as well since we are all friends. On several occasions throughout the week I let everyone know that dinner was going to be served between 7:30 and 8. The topic came up as close to grilling time as the night before when one neighbor issued a mac and cheese challenge to the other.
All day Friday I worked to prepare food. All day Saturday I finished food and cleaned my house. Beloved was forced to stay an hour and a half late at his office but still made it home by 7:45. There was still a chance to eat on time. Until...
My phone rang and the second neighbor informed me that he was just leaving the grocery store where he was picking up the ingredients for his girlfriend's mac and cheese contribution. In other words, she had had the whole day and was just beginning her preparations at the time we had said we were going to eat. Neighbor then told me that it was his fault because he had been at work all day. That was corrected when the guests of honor told me that he had been at their house to watch the Kentucky Derby not two hours before when Guest of Honor had been making her contribution.
Beloved disappeared and had I not seen him pass the kitchen window, I would have had no idea where he was. At 8:30 I called the neighbor and asked to speak to my husband. I was then told that he was helping her cook and he would be back with everyone in "a few minutes." When he came back, the cook was conspicuously absent as was the bread for the spinach dip they agreed to bring and the mac and cheese.
At 9:30 we finally sat down to eat. I tried to make pleasant conversation with her and completely avoided any mention of the tardiness. I was ready to let bygones be bygones. The table was barely cleared from dessert when she vanished with our neighbor.
As a gesture of faith and forgiveness, I extended a second invitation yesterday for dinner. No requirements; no time constraints. "I won't commit because I would hate to screw things up a second time and be late." Her sarcasm was thick and abrasive.
And this is not the first time this has happened. Three weeks ago a Sunday brunch was planned at my house without my knowledge for 12:30. Beloved was making the steak and eggs; they were bringing the pancakes. I got home from church at 11 and scrambled to clean up and get ready for company only to have Beloved vanish at 12:45 and come back reporting that the pancake batter hadn't even been mixed up much less cooked.
I would excuse her behavior as youth but she is the same age as me. I would let the "he was working excuse slide" but she has a car and was home all day (except for that period when she was watching The Derby). I would even forgive the rejection of last night's dinner as being simply uncomfortable. The problem lies in the fact that this is my husband's good friend and to have strain between the two of us creates an uncomfortable situation for them.
So I ask you, should I speak to her and let her know that all is well? And if I speak to her and try to put it away, do I address the constant tardiness? How do I address this with either of them?
I am more and more convinced that common manners and social graces are dead. I don't expect anyone to play by ALL of Emily Posts rules any more. But to arrive two hours late to dinner which was delayed on their behalf and not even extend an apology, takes the manner decomposition to a whole new level.
Am I too old fashioned? Do I expect too much of people? Am I a fountain pen in a iMac world?

Well, I didn't go this far - but that's not to say I didn't think about it.