Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

It was such a nice gesture, it made me cry. My family has a long-standing ritual for Christmas Eve where we burn candles and read the story of the birth of Jesus from the Bible. Back when we were young we also sang "Silent Night", but that has sort of fallen by the wayside. Never mind . . . it's still a good ritual.

I am working tonight in order to allow the younger employees to do their thing with their children. There's not much going on anyway, so it's not much of a sacrifice. I'm watching whatever bowl game is on TV at the moment. (Although a little earlier I was busier than a one-armed paper hanger. The girl who ran the switchboard today failed to switch the phones into night mode when she left, so no one could get through to us! I just thought we weren't busy. Then I had to catch up. Anyway . . .)

I had asked several of my family members to call or text me when they were about to burn their candles so that I could burn mine "with" them. Lil Sis obliged, and my candle is still burning. However, around 7:00 p.m. my son called and said they were about to burn candles, so I lit mine and was preparing to bid them all good night. Suddenly I realized he had me on speaker phone and was reading the Bible story. After that my grandchildren read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas", taking turns reading passages. It literally brought me to tears.

I don't have much Christmas spirit. I don't know why. I just don't. (Oh, I do know why but it's so illogical.) But tonight I am filled with happy memories and looking forward to the coming year.

It has to be better than this one.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lucinda Update

If I live to be 100 I will never understand cats. Lucius is perfectly happy to lie around in the blanket-lined plastic container I have placed on the deck for him, moving only to go under the deck and eat or to walk with Chico and me (only when it is dark, though). Lucinda hides from me, coming out only to eat. She hears me when I call to her and comes running from somewhere in the woods behind the house, meowing furiously as if I am going to forget she is there and hungry. I have placed a blanket-lined plastic container on the deck for her as well, but I have yet to see her in it. In fact, Lucius has taken over the one I put out for Lucinda even though the containers are side by side. Lucinda rubs against my leg as if to thank me for the food, and she will let me pet her. I could probably pick her up and carry her around if I wanted to, but she'd really rather be eating.

But she's there . . . somewhere. I don't know where she goes, but she comes back.

As soon as my landlord gets his computer back and hooks up the router again so that I have Internet access, I will post pictures of my sweet kitties and my Chico. Right now I am posting this at work. Oops!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

And She's Back!

Just as quickly as she departed, Lucinda has now reappeared after an eight-day absence. I don't know where she is living these days, but she drops by to eat and will let me pet her for awhile. Then she's gone again. As I stated before, she has never been quite the loving cat that Lucius is, but after all I HAVE fed her!

It is a comfort, though, that she is still among the living.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Going Home

When I moved to Ohio in early 2004 I insisted on taking my black cat Spook along with me. I failed to realize that he would not know the difference in our long driveway into the woods in Georgia and the narrow but well-traveled road mere feet from our house in Ohio. He lasted about a month before one of the locals who drove too fast on that little country road ended his life. I didn't have time to cry the day Spook died because it was the opening day of my sister-in-law's greenhouse. But the following morning while I was washing his food and water bowls and putting away all his things, it suddenly hit me that he was gone. I sobbed uncontrollably for quite some time and stared out the window at the spot next to the road where his life had ended.

About six months later The Man found a tiny black kitten while he was parking his tractor-trailer for the weekend. (I am convinced that the kitten was put there by someone who knew how upset I was over Spook's death, but no one ever owned up to it.) He brought the kitten home to me, which I suppose was the only tender thing I can ever remember from him. He did not like and did not believe in pets, so it was quite a sacrifice for him to bring me the kitten instead of snapping its neck and throwing it into the field. We wanted to name him Lucky since he was under the trailer by the time it was parked. But we thought it was a girl kitty, so we named her Lucy. The vet pointed out to me the difference (they weren't that big when we first looked at him!), and we decided to name him Lucius. When I moved back to Georgia it naturally followed that Lucius would come with me.

In August of 2007 I found Lucinda in an outbuilding on the property where I was house-sitting for my aunt. I waited to name her until I was sure she was a girl kitty. She is a calico, and I have since been told that all calico cats are females. (Reminder to self: Google that.) She was very tiny and very shy, and it took quite some time before she would come close to me. But as she grew she trusted me more and more, and at some point she came to live inside with Lucius and me. They got along very well, and I loved to watch them together.

When my aunt moved into her house and I moved to the basement apartment where I now live, it was not possible to take the cats with me and my aunt agreed to let them stay with her until I could find another home for them. After several months my aunt grew weary of the responsibility (which she took seriously) and asked me to come get them. Knowing I really couldn't keep them inside, and fearing that outside they would be at the mercy of some of the big dogs in our neighborhood, I debated and pondered and cried and cried. At one point I even pictured myself dropping them off in the middle of the night on a farm out in the country where they would be happy and catch mice and frolic and play all day. Of course it was only a fleeting thought which disappeared entirely when I saw them. Lucius came to me right away, but Lucinda seemed to be angry with me for leaving them in the first place. It took some time and patience, but I finally managed to get them both into my little pickup truck and head for home. I deliberately did not feed them until I got them to their new home.

It was raining and miserable that day. I found a place under my deck which was dry and decided to feed them there. Lucius came right away and ate voraciously, but Lucinda eyed me warily for awhile before timidly coming up to the food bowls. She ate a little and then went into the woods behind the house. I assumed she was going to check things out and explore the woods and the lakeside. That was five days ago, and it was the last time I saw her.

I have cried so much that I can't cry any more. I feel totally worthless, as if I have lost something rare and valuable. I have tried to tell myself she was just a cat, a stray that wandered into my life and never did seem to love me like Lucius does. But I keep seeing her sweet face the way it looked the last time I saw her.

Of course I have thought the worst. That's my nature. Think the worst and nothing can disappoint you. I have heard the dogs in the neighborhood barking and wondered if they saw her. I walk out on the deck and try to detect any sign of movement in the woods, but there is none. At times I think I can hear her meow, and I imagine she is in a tree or caught in some underbrush. I can't get to her, and I can't help her.

So I have decided instead to imagine that Lucinda has gone on a journey, trying to get back to the only home she has ever known. In my mind I see her slipping through the woods, crossing over the streets and following her cat senses leading her home. Maybe she stops along the way to eat whatever scraps have been discarded at a home or a restaurant. Maybe she rests under a shelter for a time before continuing her journey. This is the only way I can rest, thinking that she will succeed in making her way home again. I'm looking forward to the call from my aunt telling me Lucinda has shown up there.

Goodbye, Lucinda, and good luck. I will miss you.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sometimes You Just Need a Good Cry

While I was intending to check my bank balance, I ended up instead reading Lil Sis' post from last night. For some reason I decided to re-read all the ones she wrote with my name in them. Guess I have a wider streak of narcissism than I thought. (Good thing I have the dictionary on my iPhone. Had to make sure I spelled narcissism correctly.)

Anyway, I read the one she wrote on my birthday--which I am certain made me cry the first time--and I cried again. Coincidentally I had just been thinking about both of my sisters and how much they mean to me and how proud I am of all they have accomplished. Over the years I have lost touch with most of my "best" friends from my past, and my sisters have become my very best friends.

There are times when I feel that I just can't get out of bed, just can't make myself do anything at all, want to pull the covers over my head and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist . . . you get the picture. It's at those times that I think of my sisters and how they would respond. It would go something like: "Oh, I'm so sorry you feel that way. How can I help you? Now get your a** out of that bed and get on with your life."

Lil Sis and I went bicycle riding with our friend Rozmo yesterday, and it saved me from another day of sitting around like a bump on a pickle, worrying about things I can't do anything about right now. I came so close to calling (or texting, more likely) Lil Sis to tell her I just wasn't up to it. But once I got there and we actually started riding, I was so glad I hadn't bailed out. It was a glorious day, one which really makes you glad you're alive, and we had a most wonderful ride of 37 miles.

See, I know my sisters have both been in similar situations to the one in which I now find myself, and I know they persevered and overcame them. They probably still find themselves in difficult predicaments from time to time, and I know they fight through them. That's what we do: we fight--for each other and for ourselves.

And just as soon as I'm finished crying I'm going grocery shopping. I'll start figuring out the rest of my life when I get back!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oh, well . . .

I guess that dream I had last night that I won the lottery didn't come true.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

An Act of Love

It has long been my desire to ride a century (100 miles) on my bicycle, but circumstances (or hilly terrain) have always been against me. So when Lil Sis and I signed up for this weekend's BikeFest in the southern (flat) part of our state, we decided this might be the best chance for me to achieve this goal. Lil Sis has ridden several centuries when I was living out of state, and I was so jealous! She knew how much it meant to me to have this new bragging right, so she made the supreme sacrifice and rode the tandem with me.

I'm not going to sit here and say it was a breeze. The weather was good, though it got a little hot later in the day, and the terrain was indeed quite flat. But 108 miles is 108 miles . . . on a bicycle. And make no mistake: it is NOT easier because there are two people pedaling. There are still two bodies on the bicycle!

What would have made the day more bearable would have been a win by our beloved Bulldogs. Knowing the game would be played while we were riding, Lil Sis attached stereo speakers specifically made for a bicycle, and we each had an MP3 player which doubled as an FM radio (just in case one ran out of steam!). We were able to hear each and every horrible moment of the game.

It is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, just being able to say I rode 108.09 miles ON A BICYCLE. But what makes it even more special is that I know Lil Sis did it just for me. She has her collection of century bandanas and wanted this one for me. Thank you, Lil Sis, and I love you.

Good night.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Got the Music in Me

Another thing I "always wanted to be" was a musician. I never got very serious about it (just taught myself a couple of songs on guitar), but it was always there in the back of my mind. Right now I have 1.9 days of music on my MP3 player (and on my phone--same music!), and I generally have ear buds in my ears almost every waking hour.

I was just thinking I might want to take up some sort of musical instrument--you know, something small and easy to handle. [Lil Sis has a hammered dulcimer (or is it hammer dulcimer, as I have seen it?), and I would love to hear her play it sometime.] Anyway, I was looking online for musical instruments and trying to decide which one I could defile the least. I had narrowed it down to either a ukulele or a mandolin when suddenly I realized I was listening to Tom Rush singing "Hobo Mandolin." I guess that's settled.

Wonder what a dulcimer and a mandolin sound like together.

Monday, August 31, 2009

You rode HOW FAR on a bicycle?

It comes in spells, this love of cycling. The spells don't usually last much longer than it takes for my butt to become uncomfortable. But I remember at some point the reason for riding a bicycle became simply that it is something I can do, albeit not all that well.

In 1995 when I was in the absolute best physical condition of my life, I was all too happy to hop on a bicycle and ride 50, 60, 75 miles (I've never managed the elusive 100, not for lack of trying). Now it is more like that old saying "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" or whatever that saying is.

Yesterday Lil Sis and I (along with the other two members of Team Chi-Chis) rode in the annual Wilson 100 bicycle ride. I'm never sure if riding the tandem with Lil Sis is really easier or if it just seems that way because I'm not constantly trying to catch up with her! We never intended to ride the longest ride of 104 miles, but I think Lil Sis was thinking more of the 50-mile version. At one of the rest stops (#2 maybe?) we were trying to make the decision about the distance to ride, and I pointed out that the next distance was "only 15 miles more" than the one we had intended to ride. I'm usually the one to argue the shorter distance!

So ride on we did. And ride. And ride. At about mile 46 the rains came. Oh heck, it's just a little rain. But not for long. It became a deluge with lightning and thunder, seemingly coming ever closer and closer. We came upon a small town which was mostly deserted and took shelter under the roof of the porch of what was once a business. Presently the other two Team Chi-Chis joined us (we had left them at the previous rest stop, thinking we were getting ahead of the rain!) and we rode the last 10 miles in rain. You know that kind of rain that is just hard enough to feel like needles hitting your arms and face? And I felt sorry for Lil Sis on the front of the tandem--at least she was breaking some of the needles from my face!

Of course, we eventually made it back to the starting point, weary and wet. There was a surprisingly delicious meal waiting for us when we returned. Then we made the almost-two-hour drive back home. I remember coming home, walking Chico, soaking in a warm bath, but not so much about getting into bed! I must have been asleep before the room was dark.

I can hardly wait to get to work this evening and tell my co-workers (all young men) how this old woman rode 66.54 miles on a bicycle! Maybe that's why I do it after all: bragging rights!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Wanted to be a Dancer

Guess I haven't mentioned that yet. I'm sure I danced around when I was young and got into all sorts of trouble, as I'm equally sure it was something that would never have been allowed inside the house. So I danced outside? I don't know.

But I do know it was a dream of mine until I got to the age that I decided it was too late. That was probably about the time it occurred to me that we had been poor when I was younger. Not the poorest people in the county, and we always had enough to eat and clean clothes to wear, but we could not have afforded my dance career even if Mother had had the time and the inclination to help me pursue it. I might have been a ballerina or a tap dancer, even a ballroom dancer. But there were five children and we lived "out in the country."

So now while I'm walking my sweet Chihuahua puppy Chico I take along my MP3 player or my phone on which I have stored something like 700 songs. I don't even care that the neighbors might see me dancing up and down the street, following wherever Chico decides to go.
(More about the neighborhood later and this will be funny!)

Maybe this winter (when there is no bicycle riding and the weather is not conducive to any kind of outdoor activities), I will enroll in some sort of exercise/dance class . . . or just make my own right here in the living room.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I Am Just Getting Too Old!

In Dalton, GA with Lil Sis for a bike ride, and it was brutal . . . at least for me. I started out in decent shape in spite of the fact that I had had only three hours of sleep last night and did not eat a proper breakfast this morning. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Never mind that I am at least 30 pounds overweight and too old to go out and jump on a bike and ride up hills in 94-degree weather. Lil Sis looked very strong and stayed ahead of me most of the day . . . but not TOO far! Thanks, Little Sis!

Time to get ready for some much-needed rest. One more day to ride on this trip. The plan is to ride the shortest route tomorrrow . . . which is 47 miles. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 7, 2009

I Can't Compete!

Okay, so now both of my sisters are blogging every night. I just can't keep up! I have time to read them and make comments, but I just can't seem to find the time to compose my own blog every single night.

I'll try, though.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bragging With Bragger

Here we are on BRAG again! Lil Sis and I rode our single bikes Sunday because it was in the mountains. We rode up Unicoi Gap (about 9.5 miles of constant climbing), then white-knuckled it down the other side (7 miles of terror and trying to maintain control of the brakes). I was so proud of the fact that I did not have to walk any part of Unicoi Gap, but later in the day it was a different story. I was completely spent by that time, never mind the fact that I did not train for this ride.

We both took Monday off due to the fact that Lil Sis was still in post-planning at school. Then today I left home on my bike, rode about 10 miles and joined the ride just before the last rest stop of the day! So my 21.2 miles was just fine with me. Tomorrow we will be back on the tandem.

Last year we gave up camping and have never looked back! It is just so nice to come in after a day of riding in the heat and have an air-conditioned room with a soft bed, a television and wireless Internet!

It's getting late, and it's going to be hot tomorrow! Good night.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

And I'm back . . . sort of

Today I rode 12 miles on my bicycle. Well, it was approximately 12 miles . . . I forgot to reset my bicycle computer when I left home. Since I have been riding tandem with Lil Sis for a couple of years now (can it be?), I no longer have the skills or the sense I had when riding single! I even started off wobbling and never did get my cleats clipped into the pedals! Fortunately I have campus pedals and can use the flat side even with cleated shoes.

I'm not sure what prompted me to actually ride today. I've been telling myself for some time now that I should get on that darn bike instead of sleeping longer, eating more, etc., then whining about the ever-increasing size of my backside. I don't like to ride by myself, but I live literally in the sticks surrounded by people even older than I and Lil Sis was working. It was a beautiful ride. I had intended to ride about seven miles (not sure why I chose that number), but I started riding and decided to take roads I have never traveled, even in the car. There was a moment of panic when I thought I had turned onto a road that basically went nowhere, but it worked out okay. It added more to the ride than I had intended, but it was a really good ride. I might do it again tomorrow if it isn't raining when I wake up.

(Oh, I know why I decided to ride today . . . I didn't have to be at work until 6:00 p.m. instead of the normal 4:00 p.m. due to the fact that a co-worker is taking a night off.)

So we'll see how this all works out!