Friday, November 03, 2006

November 3, 2006. Autumn is definetly here. A season of change. The greens of summer have turned red and yellow and brown. My first season of this kind of change. Enviromental change. But what about Nov 3, 2005? Did I know that a season of change of a different kind was coming? That change was beginning to happen? That in the time the autumn turned to winter, when most of the country is cold, brown, and bare, that a year in my life would start that would be cold, bare and changing. Life changing. Major changes like the green leaf changes to red, then brown and then drops away.

Did I suspect that day a year ago that I would be here, watching the season change, watching the leaves turn and then drop away? No, change was coming, a cruel wind was blowing, but I was unaware. But also along with that cold wind blowing me towards 2006 changes would come, both good and bad. And all the changes would change me and those around me forever.

As I watch the days march towards winter, 2 months left in the year, I am unaware of what 2007 will bring. How will it change me? Change those I love? Will 2007 be a year that the changes are subtle unlike this year where the changes were big, bold, and screaming?

I need 2007 to be a sublte year. I enter my first real winter outside of Florida thinking back to how little I knew of what was to come and how things would be.

Nov 3, 2005, Carl was still alive. Irvin, Lucy and I still lived in North Port and I was still battling my health and my weight. One year and so many changes, so many friends lost, so much changing rapidly and dramatically. One year later, my health is better, I have lost 120 pounds and I have lost some friends. I have left the only home I have ever known to come to a place that changes every 3 months. Can I take that much change on a yearly basis? I've taken a lot more in the past year: Moving, leaving friends and family behind, laying to rest a dear person that meant a lot in our lives, losing other friends and family members, having major surgery and losing a good chunk of myself. 120 pounds worth.

What would I have done differently if I had known a year ago what was in store? Could I have done anything differently? Could I have changed any of the outcomes?

We all change, we all go through seasons in our lives. We move from summer to fall to winter and spring. We watch a cold dying season, followed by rebirth. A never ending cycle in nature repeated in plants and in humans. A cycle of life.

Did I know a year ago today that a family would experience death and birth all in the same year? New life forming as an old life slipped away?

Lives like seasons are constantly changing, we only know that spring follows winter, everything else we find out as life unfolds before us like the spring bud unfolds into a flower. Like spring following winter, the good comes and the bad recedes, but memories remain like autumn leaves pressed in the pages of a book.

Will this years autumn leaves reveal such a drastic year of change when revisted next year? Or will lives return to the ebb and flow that is more subtle like the tides and not nearly like the figurative hurricanes that blew through our lives in 2006?

2 years ago in this season, lives had changed drastically too because of literal hurricanes. Lives torn apart by storms and their aftermath.
Lives this year torn apart by even stronger storms that only blew in our hearts and minds.

Autumn, a vibrant, colorful season, but a season that we know will be followed by cold and harshness. But spring is a promise that will be kept. It will come, our lives will flower and we leave the past behind pressed between pages in a book.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Well I am slowly settling into my new home, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It is at once both as foreign to me as living on the moon and yet as comfortable and familiar as my favorite pair of shoes. I feel as if I have come home. Finally.

Which is strange considering that I am a native Floridian, proud to be a native and part of a line of people which settled parts of Florida. I have a lot of history in Florida, my family has a lot of history. Yet I chose, with my husband and daughter to pack up some of that history and memorabilia and head to the "deep south" as truly Florida does not resemble the South at all anymore unless you travel to the inland farming communites or the small towns in the Northern part of the state. My mother always told me I was a 5th generation Floridian. I assume on her side. My brother says our family was there in the late 1700's and owned much of what is downtown Miami now, having received it in a land grant from the Spanish. However long my ancestors treaded on black Florida sand through swamps and palmettos, down dirt roads and indian trading paths, I still firmly believe that the state was firmly entrenched in the deep south at one time. The accents, the food, the way of living a slow, lazy life under the spanish moss and live oaks are as Southern as any other Southern state that boasts the same.

However Mickey Mouse and a large influx of retirees and other transplants from the North (and remember, the entire US is North of Florida, so we can say Northerners and it pretty much covers most of the other 47 continetal states) have changed the face of Florida. The coast which was once a living Jimmy Buffett song is now high rise condos, expensive McMansions and cookie cutter housing devlopements and strip malls. Carl Hiassen, author and Miami resident recently said that 450 acres of green space disappear each day in Florida. 1000 people move there each and every day. It has become the third largest state in the nation and one with tremendous political influence and clout. Don't believe me, look up the presidential election in 2000. The race and winner was decided in Florida.

But South Carolina has become my new home and it is both comfortable and somewhat foreign. While I find that I have fond memories of growing up in the sunshine state, running outside to watch rockets go up from Cape Kennedy, and walking barefoot on the sandy beaches, margarita in hand, South Carolina has called to me in my heart. Coming to Greenville felt like I had come home. All the parts I remember of the South in Florida that have died out, are alive and well in Greenville. People you don't know smile and say hello and even stop to chat with you. The pace is slower, the people friendlier and Southern Hospitality has not died out here. Neither has the Southern Gentleman nor the Southern Belle. The accents are soft and slow and I don't feel like I "talk different" here. I was asked many times in Florida where I was from as "no one in Florida talks like that". No, not any more, not hardly. But they do here. We have been welcomed into our new home with open arms, beautiful surroundings, friendly people and a way of life that has all but disappeared in Florida.

But the soil is red clay here and track it in your house and you have orange carpet FOREVER. I'm not used to that, nor am I used to fireflies or "lightin' bugs" as they call them here. Not in the vast amounts that we see them as it gets dark at night. The dogs are fascinated by the lightin' bugs and don't know what to make of them. They have also discovered chipmunks and squirrels. We had squirrels in Florida, so I don't know what makes the SC ones so special, but they are definetly something the dogs find fun to chase. I am also not used to the crazy way they drive here and I thought dealing with 80 year olds in big Cadillacs was hard, its harder here to deal with these drivers that have no idea how to merge or yield. I find it hard to get used to the openess and friendliness of the people. Now to me that is a sad commentary on what Florida has become because I once lived in a town that everyone was like that. I still find myself amazed that a complete stranger can be so kind. Oh, I love, it but its taking me some time to get used too. And of course we have a totally different climate here. Right now fall is taking hold and the weather is getting cooler and the leaves are beginning to change. Soon the trees will match the orange clay. And another thing I have to get used to here is that someone wearing orange and blue isn't a Gator fan. They are a Clemson Tiger fan.

Football is huge here. It's almost more important than religion and that I have settled into quite well.
Our Sunday School class spends the first 10 minutes going over the college football scores from the day before, before we start our lesson. Now you've got to have a soft spot for a place that puts college football before God. Not to get me wrong. God is BIG here. We are living in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt. I have never seen so many churches and so many HUGE churches. Sunday mornings, the neighborhoods empty like its a hurricane evactuation.

But the similarities and the differences between my birth state and my new home state still combine to give me pride that I was born in the South. As they say: American by birth, Southern by the grace of God.

God and Football, grits and sweet tea. I have come home.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I am officially an Old Fart
I thought that at 44, I wasn't old. Heck, 40 is the new 30 right? I look younger (or so I get told quite a bit as I'm not one of these women that won't divulge my age.). And I thought that I act pretty cool, not immature, but not like my mom did at 44 and I thought I was pretty on top of today's music. My daughter has turned me onto some bands I really enjoy.But today was the EYE OPENER. We went to Walmart. She was buying a birthday present for a friend and we were in the CD aisle. (I don't do much CD shopping anymore, as I download stuff), but my gosh, I hadn't heard of HALF of the bands. Right there in the aisle I felt the wrinkles form, the gray hairs pop out, I'm pretty sure my clothes transformed into polyester stretch pants. I was STUNNED. STUNNED I tell you to find out that there is over half of the CD aisle full of bands and artists I have NEVER heard of:Panic at the Disco, Postal Service, Ok Go, Funeral for a Friend (thought that was an old Elton John song) and on it went. I asked my daughter and she says: Oh, yeah, they're good, I like that band, don't like that one, this is a good one. You wouldn't like them tho. I thought: Wait! I like The Killers, I like Green Day, I like Evanescence, but who are these others? And I felt like my mother must have felt when I was 15 and buying Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Sabbath: "where do they get these names???" I slunk over to the B's and bought a David Bowie CD and wanted to hide it as it was probably flashing neon to the store that here is someone who thinks she's cool, but she's NOT, she's FREAKING old and out of touch and all teenagers everywhere are making fun of her.
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I"d rather stick needles in my eyes than have to do another yard sale. It rained for 3 hours yesterday, so we couldn't do the set up we wanted for todays start of the sale. Got up at 4 this morning and drug it all out. We did pretty well, got rid of over half of it and still have tomorrow to go too. But we are so tired and its so much work but I keep trying to tell myself that it will be less work next week when we actually move to get rid of as much as we can.I couldn't save myself now if the house was on fire I'm so tired.And I'm tired of dealing with people that want something for nothing.We didn't price stuff too high because we want to get rid of it, but my gosh, if it says a quarter, don't freaking offer me a dime. MOst people have been pretty good and didn't dicker over prices as we did price stuff to sell, but there was one woman that was so awful that I wanted to go up in price in bargaining with her. We sold a bunk bed with a futon bottom and twin top. The futon makes into a double bed on the bottom. We did not sell the twin mattress as we needed that. But the bed was practically brand new, in great shape and I had the comforter, throw pillows, pillow shams, matching garbage can, lamp, rugs, curtains and mosquito netting (that I had glued flowers and ribbons too to match all the other stuff that was flowered in my daughters room. The lamp I paid $30 for new and it was on clearance from $75. We set up the bed, set up all the room decor on it and had priced both the bed AND all the room stuff at $50 for the ENTIRE set which I thought was CHEAP. She tried and tried and tried and tried to get us to give it all to her for $20 and kept saying it was because we didn't have the mattress. Well, sorry. I'm NOT selling ALL of that for $20. I'm not selling the bed itself for only $20. Then she wanted us to throw in some things that she had picked up that I had 25 cents on. I wanted to just say: LEAVE, we do NOT need your business.She finally bought the bed only for $35 which I don't know HOW my husband got that out of her. Now I have all the room decor to get rid of. But we sold the sofas, dining room set, patio set and a bunch of my husbands crap, I mean tools and stuff. Made almost $300 so far and still have a riding mower with trailer and a washing machine left as big items and a bunch of other little stuff.I thought my husband would dance a jig when the sofas went. He's hated them since I bought them and we've had them 8 years. I am not allowed to buy furniture anymore by myself. LOLWe got $40 for the dinette set that we got for free, so that was good. It was in very nice shape too.I have some plus size clothing that is in good shape, but I've lost a LOT of weight and in the past, that stuff sold well. But not any of it has sold this time. ANd I priced it at 50 cents a piece and still people want to give me a dime. Yes, its used clothing. But most of it is in excellant shape as I take care of my clothes and as I used to be a 3 and 4X size person, I don't think 50 cents is unreasonable for that size clothing. I didn't put out anything with holes or missing buttons or anything. Oh well, I'll give it away if it doesn't sell.And I have to do this tomorrow too. UGH! THIS. IS. THE. LAST. YARD. SALE. I. WILL. EVER. HAVE.!!!!!!!!!!!I mean it. I'd rather donate it all to charity if I have to than to go through this again. It's just a lot of work, its hot as hades here (94 this afternoon with 100% humidity as it has rained too) and I'm tired of most people. Have met a lot of nice ones, but the few others have made it not worth it.At least I think what we have left will fit in the uhaul next week.At this point all I care about having up there is a bed.
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"We don't all have to believe what our president believes to be a patriot" -- Neil Young