Monday, December 7, 2009

The First Week

So far, I am doing great in this new adventure. If my "landlord" will PLEASE hurry up with his wi-fi boosters, I'll be a much happier camper. The cable TV works fine, but not on my HDTV? Would you believe that even with a 20+ year career in IT I am home electronics challenged? Right now I am depending on the built-in sets - and they aren't bad - just reminds me of being in a B&B in England!!

I can't seem to hook up the water input hose without a leak - so one of the park guys is supposed to try and fix that up for me today. As it is, I hook it up every couple of days and put some water in the fresh water tank. I am also learning how to be very conservative in LP Gas usage - after only 5 days my tank was down to half full. That's when I decided on electric space heaters. The prospect of unhooking and stowing everything in order to drive somewhere does not appeal to me right now!!

I visited the Sand Springs Methodist Church yesterday - their traditional service was very nice. I prefer the contemporary style of worship - so I'll try that service next week - although it is early at 8:30am!

It's cozy, but cute in my "home on wheels"!! Sophie is here sitting on my table/desk and making sure I don't leave her out of the picture!

This week - lots to do. I must finish cleaning out my closets at the house - which is officially SOLD! Closing is on December 30. There are still clothes to go to Goodwill. It's also DAR meeting week. I volunteered to be the newsletter editor and I've been very busy trying to get a draft together for review. I think I'm ready. I'm sure next time will be easier.

The Gators won't be the National Champs this year - that made for a sad Saturday - I am over it now and ready for the 'Horns to be the Champs this year. Tim Tebow is still the greatest - and the whole Gator team has had a great ride and should be very proud of their accomplishments. They had way too many expectations to carry on their shoulders this year. Everyone - give them a break - they are awesome.

I am sick of hearing about Tiger Woods - and I hope his wife did kick his butt. (No, I don't condone domestic violence - but I've always admired Lionel Richie's wife and her baseball bat - LOL).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Full-Time RV Livin' far

Of course, the night I moved in it began to rain and the temperatures began to drop!! Since there are no leaves on the trees right now, I have a nice view of the gravel and sand operation AND if you look real hard - there's that beautiful Arkansas River. The clouds are moving east now and guess what that will get even colder tonight. And, it is darn windy up here on top of the hill.

My little Gator with springy legs is dancing perpetually now - not really bad, but he never stops. He used to stop in my "sticks and bricks" lodging. Oh well. When I took a nap I think I dreamed I was on a cruise ship - and I've been on a cruise ship before and the slight rocking of Lucille is less than what you usually have on a cruise ship. And, I never thought the cruise ship rocking was very noticeable - except that one time coming into Roatan - when the deck chairs were blowing all over the pool deck - but that's another story - ha!!!

The girls (my two kitties) are settled in very quickly - just doing their thing and sleeping on my bed - like always.

My cable TV does not work - yet. I told the manager it really MUST be working by Saturday - there's a somewhat important football game I need to watch. The wi-fi signal is very weak - so sometimes I can get online and sometimes I can't. I am confident they will get all these little things straightened out soon. They are nice people.

I'll be cookin' chili tomorrow - which is one of my favorite cold weather meals.
If you are in the Sand Springs neighborhood - come on by.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Hangover

The good news: I mailed off some Christmas presents today!
The bad news: That's all I've really done other than watch football.

I hope all you Black Friday Warriors were able to bag your wares!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Looks like Thanksgiving is at my house. So what if we don't have any dining tables anymore? Family is important, and my daughter-in-law comes from the big Italian family tradition. I personally love that tradition. The more the merrier, right?

I made progress on my closet today. Since space is a premium in RV life, I am using one of my big old suitcases to store out-of-season clothes. I was able to get pretty much all my summer stuff in one suitcase - hooray.

Anytime a new or different surface of any kind lands in my room, my cat Sienna feels very obligated to sit on it, and groom herself on it, and cover it with red cat hair so it will be MORE special.

Well, I'm keeping this one short. So many boxes to sort and repack, so little time -ha!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Giving

Hi everyone,
Wow - we've been busy around here today. I decided to contact a lady I met
a few months ago who I know loves snowmen as much as I do. I tried to sell
a lot of my pretty big collection in my garage sale, but Christmas ornaments
don't do that well in the Summer - go figure!!

Well, I emailed her and she is coming by to pick up quite a bit of the stuff later.
I'm glad they are going to a good and loving home!! Jeffrey is taking the tree
ornaments - and I'm glad since his kids have sorta grown up with them.

Anyway, Jeffrey and I had a bit of work to clear a path to the containers of
Christmas stuff. In the process we found things we didn't even know we were
looking for. For example, back in July I picked up 2 prescriptions right
before a trip - and could never find them again. Found them today!

Anyway, in the tradition of it being "more blessed to give than receive", I
am enjoying "giving" my treasured snowmen to someone who will appreciate them
as I have. What was the name of the that movie - oh, yeah, pay it forward.
So, that's my thought for today - pay it forward.

Happy Thanksgiving and may you all be Happy giving Thanks!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why are Mondays Hard?

Honestly, I have no excuse to dread Monday anymore. I am retired! Monday is pretty much like Friday to me, except that the grocery store is usually less crowded. Can I let you in on a secret - I HATE grocery shopping. I don't know why, because I can remember a time when I didn't. Maybe it is because you can't go in for a loaf of bread and not drop $20? It is quite maddening.

Back in little Archer, Florida - population 500 (take that, Mayberry!) we had at one time 4 grocery stores. Each was unique in its personality and variety of merchandise. For example, there was the "Suwanee Store" which was a big ol' space that had a pleasant musty odor. They carried variety merchandise as well as food staples. I don't think they had fresh meat. If you didn't grow your own, you were better off going to "Stalvey's" for meat. There was a big and glorious meat counter where you could order 1 pound of ground round and see it ground before your very eyes. None of that mound of red stuff stuck on a styrofoam bottom and covered with plastic wrap. Or worse, the tube of stuff labeled ground hamburger and unseeable except with Superman eyes. My friends, there have been times when that tube was all we could afford, and we made do. Because, making do is what we all did.

This takes me to our "life lesson" for today - "making do". It has become very unfasionable in the past couple of decades to be a person who "makes do". Look on Amazon and see if you can find a book on that subject. Oh no, you will find many books on "achieving more", the late 20th century's pervasive mantra. "Swim with the Sharks", "Break The Glass Ceiling" get the message. The constant bombarding of these prods to our own sense of satisfaction or contentment have conspired to create a whole lot of unhappy people. This is my firm belief. So, my advice to each of you today is, learn to make do.

Lots of us are facing tough times these days, even if at a higher level than our ancestors may have faced in the Great Depression. We are slogging through what is euphemistically called a "recession". I knew that hairlines and gumlines recede - and those aren't good things. Now, our economy has receded and it seems as if Rogaine ain't gonna get this done. So, I am starting a campaign today for us to make do. This is not an economic stimulus plan, my friends. This is a mental health stimulus plan, and it is long overdue, at least in my case.

I look back at all the times I spent money on stuff I didn't need. Now I am having to get rid of most of it - with the hope that some of it will be of use to someone else (thanks Goodwill and Salvation Army for all you do). If you can't go cold turkey - at least think about taking a day, a week, or a month and make do. Look in the pantry and get creative about how to make a meal out of what you have. Add a scarf to that old blouse, you've got a new look. Well, I won't belabor this. But, I got to thinking about growing up in Archer, and how a lot of us had to "make do" to "get by". I know that we never missed a meal. We had clean clothes to wear, even if we did wear the same outfits over and over. We had plenty, an abundance of the things that really matter: neighbors we could call on, streets that we could walk down, even at age 6, alone and safe. These are priceless treasures and maybe they are more likely to be available to people who know how to "make do".

We made do with a square old school house, with wooden floors so clean you could see your face in them. We made do with a school library with less than 200 volumes. And, for all that we did not have, we had that much more in fun. Have you ever danced around a Maypole? Have you ever played hopscotch or jumped rope - even Double Dutch? My friend Lura helps me remember what a treasure box time we grew up in. And how we learned to love each other, unconditionally, because we always had each other.

I recently spent a few weeks back there. I attended the church where I had grown up - now it's been remodeled and added on to. But, there behind the choir loft, was the same simple and beautiful picture that my daddy's friend, Shorty Petricka had painted when the church was built. Yes, this church was built when I was a child, and I was there for laying of the cornerstone. I hear they opened it during the remodeling. I wonder what all we had put in there so many years ago. Surely some of what we put in there were our hopes and dreams. That painting is of a river, which stretches into the distance among some clouds and trees and becomes the widest right above the baptistry.

You see, I was baptized in that virtual River Jordan. And I was baptized in kindness, honesty and loyalty by the river of love and friendship which was running down the little streets of Archer when I was a little girl.

Go make do with something today. You'll be better for it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday, Sunday

I almost got my fill of college football yesterday. There were a lot of lop-sided games! Of course, any time U of F is winning - no matter how lop-sided - it is AWESOME! I think the top 4 or 5 teams in the BCS race will not be changed this week and it is beginning to look like the SEC Championship game could be the "true" national championship game. Go Gators!!!

Let's talk about the Gators. Like I've already mentioned, I've been a fan for most of my life. I think the first time we had season tickets I was probably in 7th grade? In the mid-60's we had a pretty hot quarterback named Steve Spurrier. Despite my ex's negativity that he wouldn't, I was confident that he WOULD win the Heisman Trophy - and he did. It was great. I just happened to be a student at the U of F by then.

Well, Steve went off to the pro's and played for a time at the San Francisco 49's. Coincidentally, his "off-season" home was across the street from my best friend, Linda MacRostie's family home. She became Steve and Jerri's primary baby-sitter and actually went with them off to San Francisco for the next season. After a while, Steve was coaching around various places. (My friend Linda stayed in the Bay Area). One happy day in late 1989, it was announced that Steve was coming back to Florida - as "the head ball coach". Things began looking up. Steve declared that playing in "The Swamp" would be something most teams would come to dread. How right he was.

By 1996 Steve led the Gators to their first national championship, with Danny Wuerffel at QB. Danny also won the Heisman that year - and we was the right choice. Not only was he a fantastic ball player, he was a fine young man. Oh, the pride of the Gator Nation.

It became a pretty regular thing for Florida to win out in the SEC. This was a new thing - to expect victory? Those of us who had been around for the 50's and 60's were nervous. Had we not learned to expect our beloved Gators to regularly snatch defeat from the jaws of Victory? Did we not have our perennial mantra - "wait until next year". Now, things were different. We weren't having to wait until next year -for things were happening THIS YEAR. It was a heady time, my friends. Very, very heady.

I had just moved to Tulsa and the Gators were keeping on keeping on - and one day my boss says - you aren't going to believe it, but Steve Spurrier is leaving Florida. WHAT??? What foul demon from Hell had perpretrated this on the Gator Faithful? Well, we had to go through a few ups and downs and then....and then....Urban Meyer was selected to be the General of the troops. Honestly, I hadn't heard that much about him at the time - who watched Utah? Of course, now I know how he trod through ever-increasing levels of coaching, and was well-schooled.

Of course, having great recruiting never hurt the outcome of any team. And, with Steve's charisma and the reputation of the Gators on the ascent, Florida had now become a top college for aspiring gridiron greats. Fast forward to 2006 - and there was a second National Championship. Ok, we can wait to get one every 10 years or so - that's not so bad. But, lo and behold, it happened AGAIN in 2008. (And, I'm not even going to start about the BACK-TO-BACK men's NCAA basketball championships in 2006 and 2007). Oh, the absolute JOY to be a Gator! NIRVANA was ours!

Lest you think me shallow and a fool - I will say that other things were going on in the world in those years - some really bad things like war, famine, tsunamis. Tragic things happened. But, for a member of the Gator Nation, these years have been sweet. Finally, the "Boys from Ol' Florida" were getting the respect and attention we faithful few had always known was their due.

The 2009 Season - wow - to be ranked #1 from the get-go is like printing a picture of a deer on your back and slinking through the underbrush in hunting season. Everyone wants a shot at you, to take you DOWN. As is so typical of our "Boys", they have had some near miss-steps. Yet, here we are with ONE game left in regular play and we are STILL #1. This Saturday, we will meet an old foe, an always formidable adversary, the Hatfields to our McCoys!! Listen up, Gator Nation: WE MUST BE ON OUR GUARD. The Seminole is a wily and devious foe. He is a "dirty fighter" and even though his sun is NOT on the ascent at this time, to lay waste to the "Boys" would be all they need to have a winning season. We must be prepared. We must not fail. We must PRAY!!

Oh yes, I do believe God loves the Gators. Steve Spurrier said so, and I believe him. Is not Danny Wuerffel a preacher? Was Steve's own daddy not a man of God? Is not our own Timothy Tebow one who ministers to prisoners and the ill? Is this all a coincidence - I think not!

Of course, God loves other teams. He must love Notre Dame, who so faithfully study in the Jesuit tradition. What about the Wake Forest 'Demon Deacons'? Aren't deacons amongst the most faithful of any congretation of believers? Well - ok - I'll slightly pull the tongue out of my cheek - but I never fail to pray for the Gators to play their best, to have no injuries and to have a winning game plan.
(BTW, I also utter the following prayer prior to any airplane flight: Dear Lord, please bless this aircraft and every single mechanical, structural, electric, electronic, navigational and hydraulic part to perform exactly as it was designed to do. Give a clear mind and steady hand to the pilot, first officer and to air traffic control here (name current airport) and along the way to (name destination). Thank you for traveling mercies and all the blessings you have bestowed on me all my life. Amen).

So, dear friends, I guess I should SHUT UP for now. God bless you all - and God, Bless the Gators!! Amen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Monster is Out of the Box

I've always loved telling stories, and now I have my platform - look out, ya'll!!

Some of you already know how I went from a small-town girl with an A.A. in English, more than a decade as a secretary (P.C. version - Administrative Assistant) to an I.T. career. It was more than I ever expected or dreamed of. Talk about being in the right place at the right time?? How about a struggling single mom getting a temp job as a word process at an up and coming place called COMPAQ!! Well, one thing led to another and by the new millenium I had made a place for myself in both PC hardware support and repair, along with SQL database and call center technologies. Wow - it was a heady experience in the glory days since 1986! I got to have personal correspondence with the likes of Bill Gates, Peter Norton, Alan Ashton and a numerous other pioneers of the high-tech industry. At least two of three founders of Compaq knew me on sight -- and by name. I worked all the big PC Industry shows from coast to coast and met so many smart, and very nice, people.

But I digress (which by the way, I am thinking of having as my epitaph!!). I love technology, I use technology and I am somewhat addicted to technology. I want a scanner. It would help me in three of my current pursuits - this blog, my DAR chapter newsletter, and my genealogy research and family tree making. So, I'm looking at which type or model would best suit my needs and modest pocket book - ha!!

One of the most important criteria for me in choosing where I am going to be living in my motorhome was that it have WI-FI. I hope it will have nice people - but as long as I get a good WI-FI signal...well, you know...

So, here is my new home, Lucille! In this picture Lucille is parked at Balli Padre Park just outside Corpus Christi. Don't go there, you won't like it (hee, hee - I am kidding, just want there to always be a vacant space when I show up!)

Back to technology. How great is it that I can be watching a football game on my TV and watching the Gators on my laptop. I only watch the Gators via ESPN360 when they aren't on national TV coverage - but I will tell you - it is a pretty good way to watch the game. Now, you are beginning to understand why WI-FI is not a nice to have - it is a MUST HAVE.

It's Half-Time and the Gators are winning. OU isn't doing as well against Texas Tech down in Lubbock.

Hope all your teams are winning today.

An Autumn Saturday

Good Morning USA!

Does everyone remember what some of my favorite things are? Football and autumn - that's right!! Anybody else wonder why football is SO popular (and, if I may say so, so awesome) in the South? Well, I think I can add some perspective to that age-old question.

First of all, if you grow up in the South, Fall (or the more snooty, Autumn) just has to be your favorite time of year. Oh, I know, people north of that imaginary and divisive Mason-Dixon line get all excited about Spring, and even I will admit that Spring is a very nice season. But Spring cannot hold her tender green head up against that most wonderous of all times, Fall. You see, up North people get all excited about Spring, because they have been trapped in indoor pursuits for several months because it was so dang cold outside. No golfing, no swimming, no lots of things. So, naturally, when the first buds pop out on trees, it is new life to those folks.

Let's consider fall in contrast. If you grew up in the South when I did, your more sedentary and "stay inside" times tended to be the heat of the summer. I remember after supper (that's dinner to you non-South readers), we'd go and sit on the front porch at my grandma's house. It served a couple of purposes. One, it gave the kitchen and house time to cool down from the heat of cooking. It gave us time to wind down after the typical big meal. And, it gave the community a chance to slow down before "retiring for the evening". Summer day scheduled often reflected the ebbs and flows of the temperatures. Get up early and get chores done - so one could do them before it "got so hot".

So, I've always thought Fall is to the South what Spring is to the North - a time of renewal, of getting active outside again, of shaking off the doldrums of the "indoor life" of summer. On that first September morning, when you get up and there is just a tiny bit of indication that the weather is going to be milder that day, it is like rebirth to me. And then one day, I'll just "smell it" - there'll be a subtle change in the air - a little drier and a little cooler - and I'll know the wait is over. Fall is here.

The BEST possible day in a week of Fall days is a Saturday. There are many reasons, but not the least of which are Football and hunting. I, myself, have never been much for hunting. First, I don't like having my shoulder look like a piece of raw meat following a late-afternoon sessions down by a watering hole for dove. Second, I don't even like to EAT dove!! In my family, hunting wasn't just for sport, though. It was to put food on the table - and in the Fall daddy was out stocking the freezer with dove, quail, and venison.

The weekend, for me, was for football. On Friday nights, in small towns across America, a small "civil war" is re-enacted as the young men on one small town fight the young men from a different small town for honor, courage and most importantly, braggin' rights. You heard me - it is a far happier soul who finds themselves attached by birth, attendance or general proximity to a team who can boast of more victories than losses any given "season". And, if all the stars align properly and the coach is going to be around much longer, the said young men may advance the cause of the entire community into a "play-off" berth, bringing even greater glory to the followers (aka fans) of their fight to the finish. And, then, for the fortunate and happy few - you may have a team you love playing at the next level on a crisp and gorgeous Saturday afternoon. I know that not everyone was a blessed as I to have been privileged to watch my faithful soldiers (the Florida Gators) enter the field of competition on a Fall afternoon. I was first given the privilege of attending these quests, these "Fields of Cloth" in the late 50's and early 60's. Thank you, Daddy!!!

I want to paint the picture for your imagination here of a big game day at Florida Field in, oh, 1962. Florida Field is positioned so that the end-zones are North and South. In those days, the south end-zone was pretty much open bleachers - those were the "cheap seats". The East Stands were for the students - after all, they deserve to cheer for their warriors as part of their education, right? The West Stands were for the alumni and Gator boosters who could afford the favor afforded them by making regular donations to the "cause" of the land of the Gators! My daddy's boss was a booster, and so he would get the tickets through his connections. We sat on about the 35 yard line and about half-way up. You can tell a lot, in a Southern football stadium, about a person's rank in the community about where their football seats are located. Back then, we loved our Gators, but in a more civilized and formal way. Ladies would arrive wearing their Sunday best clothes. If they were especially lucky, they would be sporting a corsage made from a giant chysanthemum blossom and festooned with the team colors in ribbons and bows. It was especially important to have such a corsage on Homecoming day. Gentlemen wore suits, or at least a nice pair of pants and shirt. The ladies would climb to their seats in great peril of a nasty fall due to the footwear required - HEELS!! Somewhere into the second quarter, someone in a seat around you would have consumed all the beverage in their hip flask or their cane with a special compartment and would become obnoxious. This was considered in very poor taste, bless their hearts!

Well, on a good day, your warriors would emerge victorious and that warm, happy feeling would follow you on the long walk to your car and even on the drive back home. You'd see other happy fans, waving their pennants and saying "this could be our year!". More about that later. It was a Roman Circus day, Southern style.

Gradually, as other parts of custom and etiquette relaxed, so did the dress code for the Big Saturday Game. Some clever entrepreneurs were ready to provide trendy and colorful garb for the happy fans to wear. It was more practical, really, because wearing a fancy dress or suit to a football stadium on a September saturday is just asking to have it stained with perspiration or baptized in bourbon. I like the new t-shirs, shorts, crazy flip-flops, cool color-coordinated sundresses, etc. that can be seen on any given Saturday at a Southern football game. Orange and Blue - so beautiful.

The Modern Gator Fan - TailGATORING before the Troy State Game with my cousins L-R, Larry, Janice, Cecil and the small one is Nolan.

Over the years, the Gators scratched and fought in the SEC (Southeastern Conference for you non-football addicts). Most years were decent - the scales balanced toward more wins than losses, but never quite enough to be the SEC Champs. All that would change when I former Gator Warrior returned home to lead his troops to victory. I'll tell you more about that next time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Where to Start??

OK, well I promised myself and a few former colleagues I would start a blog when I retired. Apparently they consider me quite the "ranconteur" and swore they would miss hearing "my stories" after I retired. Well, they used to tease me a bit about always having a illustration for every situation. I say, when you have been around six decades you see a lot!!

Anyway, I am right in mid-stream of one of the biggest transitions of my life. I'm moving out of a 2000 sq. ft. home into a 400 sq. ft. motorhome. My intention for retirement was to live a more "simple life" - and I do not mean Paris Hilton style. One accumulates an awful lot of STUFF over 6 decades. Believe it or not, yesterday I found all my report cards from 12 years of school AND my daddy's high school diploma. Since both my parents left us way too soon (in their mid-50's) I have been the designated "keeper of family archives".

About the report cards - if you have them go back and read them, you might find you have created a somewhat rose-colored view of your academic achievements! I should have made more A's - I was happy to get by with not much effort, which translated to mostly B's with a few A's and C's sprinkled around. The biggest chuckle I got was reading the teacher's six-weeks comments from my 3rd grade year. You see, my 8 year old grandson (3rd grade) Michael, gets almost daily "strikes" in class for talking when he isn't supposed to. It must be genetic - because Mrs. Virginia Williams, my 3rd grade teacher, notes to my parents that I am a good student but I have a hard time not talking in class. Well, OK, now we all know where he gets it from!!

Speaking of Mrs. Williams, she recently passed away. She and my daddy were classmates and in the way of small towns, her daughters, Lura and Dara, and I were classmates and grew up together. I'm going to tell you all quite a bit about growing up in a small town as this blog progesses. Maybe that is where I got ALL the life-lessons I needed. I do know that my children and grandchildren have not grown up with the sense of community and belonging that I did - and that I still have for my small-town "family".