Thursday, October 1, 2015

So Tired

            Have you ever been so weary and tired that you aren’t sleepy? That is me right now. All day long I have been helping my daughter get ready for her big day on Saturday. Her wedding day is almost here. We hung lights, background sheets, and other various and sundry decorations at the reception area. Tables will need tablecloths and table settings put in place tomorrow, as well as decorating the church.

            Late this evening, we pulled the pork roasts apart in preparation for food to be served at the reception. Tables were placed to be ready for an influx of guests: a layout of cookies, candies, and hors’doeuvres to keep them occupied until photos are taken. Once the bridal party arrives back at the reception hall, they will be treated to several offerings of food, salad, and desserts.

            There will be a small wedding cake, but a mélange of flavored cupcakes to tantalize all comers. Flavors will include caramel apple, pumpkin with cream cheese icing, apple chip, and others.

            The decorations are of burlap and lace. She wanted them to reflect her husband’s choices and yet her add an infusion of femininity. Sunflowers are her favorite and will feature proximately amid the colored leaves and flowers displayed in rustic containers. Mason jars and wooden buckets will grace the altar and the tables in the reception hall.

            Finally, the sandman is wandering around me, tossing sand in my eyes. I am winding down and need to get some rest before another full day of work and the rehearsal of the wedding at the church. All must be ready by that time, other than the cooking of the food for the reception. Alas, that is another day, but it will be handled, for the most part by others.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Nearer and Nearer

            As each day swiftly slips into another, slowly, the realization that I am growing older becomes more intense. Waking up with painful joints, occasionally grunting when I bend over, and I get frustrated when I can’t think of a word I want to use or wonder why I went into another room are all symptoms of the imperfect body that I now reside inside. My tonsils were removed when I was five years old, and I have worn eyeglasses since I was in second grade, so the inkling that parts of me didn’t function correctly was already with me. They were just never as pronounced or “in my face.”  Over the years, it has been more obvious.
            Surgeries for carpal tunnel and a pilonidal cyst were unwelcome reminders of frailties of my mortal flesh. Slowly, time has marked the the scorecard in its favor. Cuts, bruises, and broken bones have been bookmarks of my travels down the path of time. Gradually degenerative changes in the joints have left deformities and bone spurs accompanied by aches and pains.
            Fillings in my teeth and a partial plate are hidden in the annals of time, mark the passing of years. Testing and x-rays are the writing and photographs recording those changes in my life. So far, two colonoscopies have made internal journeys and a third is planned for six months. I was told after my last that it would be three years until my next, but with the pathology report, my gastroenterologist called and gave me the great news, six months instead. One of the sample biopsies must have been border line. It was just another indication of the aging process and the vulnerability of this degenerating tent of flesh.
            It is all part of the way we are created. From the fall of Adam and Eve, mankind has a set number of days. My life isn’t all doom and gloom. I look at my past and see my path festooned with blessings and the sunshine of love; children, and grandchildren. My future steps are directed by the sunshine of my children and their children. These footsteps fall in the natural cycle that God has created.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mixed Feelings

            Over the past several weeks, my daughter Anna has been moving some of her long accumulated and much hoarded hope chest to her new home. She is soon to be married and creating a home of her own. Just as she has filled my home with her bargains of pots and pans to other necessities for a good wife to change a house into a home, she has filled my heart to nearly bursting over the years. My other children still have loving places in my heart, but Anna has lived with me for a longer period of time. Occasionally, the friction of two differing opinions has frayed those cords of love, but it has never severed them.
            Yesterday, we began to move mountains. The Bible says, if you have the faith as a grain of a mustard seed, you can move mountains.  Well, that happened. Decorations, foodstuffs, and other supplies were taken to our church where the wedding and reception is to be held. Two trips of my car and her SUV has nearly emptied my house of stacked bins, stored boxes, silk flower arrangements, and bags of all sorts. I can walk in my living room without following a maze. The living room has been a workshop and storage area for months. I can now see the top of the dining room table, but it somehow makes the house seem empty. I had gotten used to the clutter.
            For the longest time, she was sure that she would be without a mate; an unloved spinster, until she met a wonderful young man who loves her fiercely. When she was in the UN-wedding bell blues, I was snooping through a local antique mall. I wasn’t looking for anything special, when I saw a tatted lace cap. It was crocheted and shaped almost like a ladies nightcap with tatted chains of off-white patterns across the top. For some reason, I was drawn to look at it. The tag said that it was a wedding cap from the early 1900’s. I bought it for Anna. It was if God directed me to it to help lift her from the funk feeling of being unmarried. I can’t say that the cap gave her the faith to continue, but the belief that she was still loved allowed her collect and build a mountain of things for her home.

            Not too far in the future, those feelings of being loved and wed will be fulfilled. I will gain a son and he will gain a loving wife. A new family will be created with the hope for a new generation and for more grandchildren.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Wal-mart Watch

Have you ever watched the way people walk? I was enticed into watching shoppers walking by my seat in Wal-mart as I waited for a prescription to be filled. I began to study them as they moved along. Most of the time, age had little to do with the gait of those who strolled past. Some shuffled, others stepped lively. Many of the older folk grabbed a shopping cart, leaned into it, and hustled inside to collect their groceries. Some of the elderly leaned on the carts for support and nudged the cart along. But those who turtled along were not confined to the older generation. Some of the young people barely oozed by, scarcely lifting their feet.

What caused me to observe the shoppers entering and exiting the store in the first place was the footsteps that I have only seen by young men in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas. It is difficult to describe, but I will try. It is a double bounce step; a sort of a hesitation mid-step of the stride as it lifts the foot off of the ground, then the action pushes it farther onto the ball of the foot. It is the pause in the mid-step that drew my attention to those male patrons of Wal-mart.
Then I began to take notice of the parade of shoes that continued to march by my vantage point. Many people in work boots lumbered along. A few young men even managed to do the local double-bounce step. A lot more shoppers entered wearing sneakers of all brands, designs, and colors. The shoes were laced up with bright colors of fluorescent orange, hot pink or electric green. It seemed as though black or white shoestrings are no longer enough.
Penny loafers, mostly in brown, have not gone out of style, nor have the lace up Oxford, dress shoes. Sandals for both sexes appeared, as well as flip-flops that adorned many feet, although some shoppers needed to cover those feet with thick socks and boots.
A new trend that I’ve noticed is wearing shower shoes with socks. I’ve seen people wear them in all sorts of weather.  Deluges of rain with streams of water or inches of snow on the ground haven’t discouraged the people from wearing them. I wonder if they wear them for comfort or if it is because of laziness. I am not sure that even if I asked I would get an honest answer. Flats, pumps, and stiletto heels were welcomed to shop with equal invitations. Only the unclad, bare feet are turned away.
Next, I must mention the people who use a cane. They were assisted by the third leg for balance. The people who needed the canes were the elderly or those with casts or splints. Some shoppers were wheeled inside riding a wheelchair with a basket across their lap. Someone strode behind them to assist their shopping. I do want to mention the patrons who ride along in the electric scooters. More and more people I see in them are overweight. Like the age old question, which came first, the chicken or the egg, I would ask the same question, which came first, the weight or the need to ride the self-propelled carts.  

Finally, I want to address polished toenails. As a child, I was raised to believe that women who painted the toenails were loose women. It was many years before I allowed my daughters to coat the nails of their feet with polish. Poking out in sandals or flip-flops, unclad painted toes marched in front of me in more colors than found in a package of M & M’s. Some of the nail polish wasn’t thick enough or didn’t go far enough to cover the claws beneath the paint. (See the comment on thick socks and boots.)
On my black metal perch, thoughts registered in my mind and began to write my imaginings on a Sub-way napkin.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What to Write About
            As I sit here at my desk, I need to pass something along to the readers of my blog, but the cogs in my brain don’t seem to be meshing and the engine seems to have stalled. The transmission won’t engage to move me forward, so I will do what I’ve been told when a blank page stares back at me without anything on it, start writing.
            Half written manuscripts surround my chair like offerings left at the altar. Unfinished thoughts, waiting to be made complete, shaped into completed stories for me to share. They are samplings of my creative spirit and soul, incomplete, but not forgotten. They are merely set aside until the ideas ripen and made ready to harvest.
            I just placed my usual morning postcard selection to share on Facebook. They are kept in a large shoe box at my side. Each card is a treasure of the past, a memory of someone in my life. The pictures and photographs on the front transports me to places that I may never visit or to places that no longer exist and I am glad to see them all.
            There are cards from loved ones that are no longer here on the Earth, but their words still echo on the mortal plane by the notes on the reverse of the cards. The wide variety of subjects presents a feast for the eyes and the writing on the back stirrings for the heart and mind. Birthday postcards, Christmas cards, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Valentines, but there were no Halloween cards. I find that telling of today’s society, where Halloween has become a much “revered” holiday and Thanksgiving has been relegated to a scarcely celebrated one. Being thankful isn’t a priority in America anymore. It is only considered a feast and football day, while Halloween and the dark side is promoted. Fascination with vampires, werewolves, and the occult is on the rise. Being grateful for the things that we have has become less important. It has transformed America into a country where its citizens demand their “rights” and do their best to shirk their responsibilities.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Reading and Sharing

            This past Saturday, I was invited with several other writers to visit Ligonier Gardens to read selections from our work to the older generation that reside there and call it their home. It is a clean and beautiful building on the Loyalhanna Creek. The views out the windows were something that draw the eye outside. Mallard ducks waddle through the lawn, claiming the creek as their playground.

            Ten writers shared their short stories and poetry with about twenty residents. They were attentive and seemed appreciative of our offerings. Reading, as well as public speaking takes some getting used to, to do it properly. A few readers were nervous, but after a few deep breaths, they were able to give the audience a sliver of their talented writing.
            It was a pleasure to give back to these people that helped to build and direct our country. I don’t consider myself an entertainer, but I enjoy presenting my creations for others to hear or read. I put my works on display for others.
            One story that I shared, I wrote two years ago for a Christmas display at the Mt. Pleasant Library. It was titled The Voice of an Angel. The tale was loosely based on the last words that my mother spoke. The story tells of my father Carl, at Christmastime decorating the Christmas tree for my mom. She had Alzheimer’s disease and her life as we knew it, ground to a halt and she retreated into a shell of silence.
            What she said still puts a lump in my throat. Even though it didn’t happen at Christmas, it did happen and she said, “Where’s Carl? I love him so.”

            The second tale was a description of my grandparents Miner’s out house. The two seat perch was located behind their old farmhouse. It relived the dangers of splinters from the wooden back porch, the dangers of descending the ice and snow covered cement stairs, and the icy blasts of sitting on the holes during the frigid temperatures of winter’s grip. I described the frantic search through the catalogue “toilet paper” looking for any page other than the glossy ones. I saw nodding of heads in agreement and the occasional laughter at the appropriate times. This was the last reading for the day and felt well pleased that the audience was still awake and listening.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Music Touches

            Music touches the soul of people who listen.  It reaches places that even a physician cannot touch. The music can transport back in time and across many miles to a time and place that it was heard. It can make an impression that can last a lifetime. Sometimes it can free the spirit or bind thoughts in sadness, connecting the song to a time of great happiness or sorrow. That tune will never be heard without the connection being made between the music and the actual event.
            Sometimes when a song comes on the radio in the car, there is the impulse to turn the volume up as high as it will go, shaking the windows and doors and when you do, you sing along, pounding the steering wheel. People who drive beside look over with disbelief on their faces.
            There are times when a song plays and it would be a sacrilege to turn the volume up. Those tunes are so soothing or so tender that it wraps its arms around in comfort and love. It gives an oasis of peace and tranquility.
            Certain songs are replayed over and over because they stir something inside that draws forth an exquisite emotion, whether it is the joy relished from some past experience or the depths of a sadness that it has become almost an altar where our hearts go to worship; a place of extreme sentiment.
            Often it is the instruments that make the tune memorable. I once heard a piccolo and violin that touched me deeply. The bagpipes played “Amazing Grace” at the graveside of my wife Cindy’s funeral and hearing that stirs many memories. My kids don’t like to hear it because it transports them to a very difficult time in their lives. For me, it transports to a sad time, but it is another memory. Perhaps it marks an end any new memories, but it is still a memory of her.
            Not to leave this post on such a poignant point, I want to speak of the most versatile and marvelous instrument ever heard in making music. That is the human voice. Its range is almost incalculable. Its ability to touch another person is immeasurable. It impresses by taking the written word to a level that cannot be matched. The singing voice transforms mere words into something completely different. The music supports and converts the poem into a song and the music converts and supports human emotions.