Monday, June 4, 2018

Let's Talk About Swimming and Shopping

I discovered a couple of things this week.  The first is that I am brave enough to batter down the barriers that make up my comfort zone.  One of my major comfort zone challenges is entering a public pool area . . . in a bathing suit.  Yeah.  Just. Don't Go. There.  That is until I moved to Caruthersville.  

Did you know that you have an indoor, covered pool heated to 85 degrees year round?  Well, I'm here to say that this pool experience has been awesome.  It took me a year to get there.  I am highly resistant to public pools.  A certain local retired Judge can attest to that.  He told me six months ago to hit the pool and that would fix my knee up fast.  Did I listen to him?  Huh, no.  But then, Mayor Sue started badgering me and she brooked no excuses.  So what if I didn't have a bathing suit. Buy one.  Check out QVC. 

Well, the Judge was right.  And, even though I didn't find a suit at QVC, I DID find one elsewhere.  Once that was accomplished, I dove in. Literally.  I have to admit, my knee is feeling better and would have no doubt recovered by now had I listened sooner to smarter minds than my own.  But I got there and I'm not looking back.  Despite my "take my time" nature, (just ask the Pirate), I was quick to realize the recreation center and its pool would be seeing a lot of me.

So what about timing?  For me, mornings are best.  8:30 - 9:30 is perfect.  I don't want to be in a group so an 8:30 arrival works.  Plus I have a swim buddy that likes that hour as well.  Quiet.  Few people.  All oldsters like me. No kids.  Don't get me wrong.  I like kids but not when I'm swimming.  Sadly, this summer lifeguards are in short supply so instead of free swim starting at noon, the pool closes and does not reopen until 4 p.m.  Sad for the kids and the moms who would like to take their kids to the pool.  Where did all the lifeguards go?  You're on the books.  It's a job.  Where are you?  Any high school kids that want to be lifeguards?

Well, so much for the praise and the rant.  Your pool is fabulous.  Just ask the people from Tennessee and Arkansas who come over to use it all the time as well. 


My second discovery of the week was so far inside my comfort zone that I'm almost giddy with joy.  One of my regular time out fun things I did back home was head out into the countryside to visit all the part-time hobby arts and crafts shops that occupied space at several of the orchards and dairy farms that surrounded us.  These charming shops, some seasonal, were filled with home goods, antiques, foods, and painting classes, enough to satisfy anyone who thinks boutique shopping is the only way to shop.  So when I saw this 

advertised on Facebook this past Friday, I HAD to go and see it for myself.  First problem.  The Pirate was out with the car and I had no idea when he would return.  Second problem.  The little shop closed at 2 p.m. and it was 1 p.m. when I saw the announcement on my feed.  And since the Pirate doesn't usually take his phone with him, I was stuck.  BUT, luck came my way.  He arrived home at 1:40 and I flew out the door.  I knew where Highway U was but that number looked awfully high.  But I went for it and I'm so glad I did.  

Pat Thrasher and Mitzi Leek have been friends for 30 years.  It seemed more than natural to join together and create a shop featuring old furniture that has been refurbished, sweet collectibles, jewelry, and miscellaneous treasures.    Their dream is starting small and out of town for now.  The big dream is to have a bricks and mortar shop in town offering up a relaxing haven for boutique shopping.  They also offer up yummy cookies and bake goods.  Simple, homemade, and tasty delights are always on the menu.

For now, they are open on Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Park in front and go around to the back.  You will probably see Sassy the Goat along the way but no worries; she's a sweety.  In fact, I heard that she is a bit of a goat personage around here.  In her younger and slimmer days (didn't we all have those, ladies?) she would ride in the truck and go everywhere with her Daddy.  

So, visit them.  Show Pat and Mitzi some love.  If they get enough traffic on Thursday-Friday sales, who knows?  We may have a sweet little downtown boutique to add to the scattered treasures that already exist down here.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

From My Archives

Many people have asked us why we moved to Caruthersville.  Most know the story of Don growing up here, our daughter moving to Tennessee with the grands, and our choice to move here to be closer to them.  What many people don't know is that we were here, serving on a domestic mission,  in the winter/spring of 2014, one of the worst winters ever.  

Back in 2013, I was writing about preparing for that visit here.  After that experience and now actually living here for a year, I've discovered that some of what I wrote five years ago is still fresh for reading today.   So, I thought I would share one of those posts from five years ago.


Mission Post #16 - What Unites Us?

What unites us as human beings?  What is it that we all have in common that makes us one?  In answer to this question, at its most essential, what unites us is blood and bone.  We are all human.  We are men and women.  We may come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, but, we are all human.  We all experience joy, satisfaction, and the desire to do good.  We suffer pain and sorrow, know hunger, want, and thirst, and we all experience the impulse to commit acts for good or evil.  We are complicated creatures that act on more than instinct.  Sometimes this sense of unity comes home in a very real way and we find that we may be the sum of our individual parts but we are all also brothers and sisters beneath the skin.

This weekend Don and I took our next big step in preparing for our mission to southeastern Missouri this coming winter/spring 2014,  Saturday and Sunday we spoke at all of the English and Spanish Masses telling our community of Catholic brethren at St. Anthony's of our upcoming mission; we introduced them to the small community of Glenmary nuns, priests and brothers who serve Appalachia and the South and their mission to serve the poorest of the poor in areas where there is often no Catholic presence at all.

We spoke of Mother's House in Hayti, MO and Sr. Darlene's mission to serve the many impoverished single moms of the area.  We asked, not for money but, for donations of maternity clothes, baby clothes and baby food and baby toys.  In a community where children wear uniforms to public schools, we asked for navy and khaki pants and red, blue and white  polo shirts that would fit teens..

After seven Masses, I found myself reflecting on what unites us.  We of St. Anthony's are a community of people where some have great wealth, many are ordinary middle class, and more than a few are the working poor and not a few who are undocumented and living in the shadows.  We are Anglos, Latinos, and Filipinos.  But at the end of the Masses, at the end of our appeal, I felt so united with all of them.  The response was so overwhelming and positive.  People understand need no matter their "station" in life.  Giving is something we can all do.  There is always someone who has less than we ourselves have and giving fills the need to reach out and help another even if we have a hard time helping ourselves.

Monday, May 21, 2018

It's Been A Year

This Friday, May 25th, we will have been in Caruthersville for one full year.  The change for the Pirate has been amazing.  He is like a different man.  Oh, the basics are still there, first and foremost, his single-mindedness, but socially, he is a man I never knew in California.  And, in all the changes I've experienced in my own first year here, this change, his emergence into a more social person, has been the biggest one for me.  More so, of all the social changes that I've noted, the biggest one is that he laughs more. A lot more.

So now I march into my 2nd year here though limp might be a better word choice considering my knee injury from six months ago  A lot has happened.  First off, let's talk about coffee.  Daily Starbucks visits are no more. but the Roundhouse has a decent brew and I can spend an hour or two there reading, writing, and visiting.  I also discovered Sweet Tea quite by accident (choke).  Sorry folks, but I'm Team Unsweet  The closest my tea ever gets to tasting sweet is when I have an Arnold Palmer and somehow the lemonade/ice tea combo is okay as long as it's made with ice tea, unsweet.

The library makes me feel pretty special.  The ladies got to know me right away.  I'll go in now to pick up a book I've had on hold and I'm likely to find another one waiting for me with it.  Like a mysterious Facebook algorithm, they know what interests me and so far, they have been right.

I have a sense of loneliness here but not of being alone.  The loneliness comes from the loss of all that I knew and the occasional yearning for a visit back to my old home isn't uncommon.  But here I have found easygoing friendliness and welcome that has born the fruit of invitations to clubs, service organizations, and church groups.  

Life speeds up here during the summer.  Yes, it's HOT and life speeds up. Grandparents visiting or being visited by grands are a summer staple.  And, wow, do the women travel.  My Facebook feed is alive with travel adventures to please even the most deeply rooted armchair traveler.

The first time events came at me quickly and fast last summer.  I experienced thunder so loud, it actually made me scream.  Not squeal, but outright scream. I had no idea I could hit such high notes.  I was a passenger in a car rear-ended by a semi. I saw my first funnel cloud sailing peacefully across the sky, not the least bit interested in making a fuss for we human below.  

I HEARD an earthquake.  None of that San Andreas rolling swaying for me anymore. The New Madrid fault had decided to introduce itself to me with a clap and a bang. 

I toured a cotton gin AND climbed up into a cotton picker.  Can you say WOW? The picker ride was like an old E-Ticket ride at Disneyland.  I fell in love with your river and the barges and push tugs.  Flood watching became my daily winter activity.  Now if I could just get a ride ON a tug.  

I cried over lost baby birds, blown from their nests during foul weather.  I love my bunnies, birds, and squirrels that live in our yards.  And this week I discovered that we had finches, too.  Splash and dish rainfall adds to humidity.  Sideways rain adds drama to life.

JAX and Jammin' at Joy's, not to mention Radio 1370 AM and its old school music and radio shows have brought music to my personal front burner with regular dates noted on my Android calendar.

I tried my hand at canning. Once.  My kitchen is too small so, nope, I won't be canning again.  And what I didn't know about mice before I moved here, I sure know now.  And speaking of learning, I'm learning a second language.  It's called Southern.  

Voting and high school graduation are almighty community events unlike anything back home.  Back in California, stranger gathered in line, voted, and departed.  It was all very serious back there.  Here?  Neighbors met.  People laughed and chatted. Gossip about what was happening at the other Wards was the main theme.  

Graduating seniors, for that one moment, became everyone's children. Their dreams were on the cusp of starting to come true.  We can't predict how long they may have to wait for the dreams to unfold; I know the Pirate had to wait a lifetime for his to be fulfilled.

So, what are my hopes, dreams, and goals for this second year of my new life?  Two things immediately come to mind: (1) I WILL drive out of town, farther than Hayti, this year, and; (2) I will finally, FINALLY, get upstairs and finishthat room that has been patiently waiting for me.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Graduations, Big and Small, and that "Talk" with God

Fifteen years have passed since I attended what I imagined would be my last high school graduation. It was in 2003 that my youngest took her walk across the stage and into her future.  God had answered my prayers and I sat back and relaxed . . . for about a minute.

Before long, I was having another one of my "talks" with God.  I acknowledged that He had answered all of my prayers and I was beyond grateful but suddenly I saw a long path into the future and there was still a whole lot of mothering work I needed to do.  There was college, smoothing the bumps of young adulthood, marriages, and grandchildren looming into the future.  And just like that, I had a lot more praying to do and wisdom and reassurances to dispense.

And sure enough, the smoothing happened, the marriages arrived, and grands appeared. There was a lot to live for.  Of course, these events weren't simply a matter of ticking off a box.  Each was a gift and I was grateful to have these joys.  Life was perfect.  I had been given everything I had prayed for.  Then I found myself, most unexpectedly, at another high school graduation.

The instant lesson I learned is that high school graduation in a small town is a pretty big deal.  Amongst this graduating class of 88 students, everyone knew someone even if you weren't related.  How could you not?  Even WE knew a few of the students and we have only been here for a year.  

A few things stood out for me that made this small town graduation uniquely different, though.  For one thing, the entire town seemed to be involved.  There were fireworks at the end (thank you, Caruthersville Fire Department); the local police to keep order, there were graduation baccalaureates at many of the churches (something I had never heard of), graduating seniors walking the grade school hallways, and there was the tossing of the mortarboards.   When my kids graduated, there were nearly 900 students in each class, cap tossing wasn't allowed (though my now 38-year-old son confessed to me this Mother's Day weekend that he and his friends did, indeed toss their caps), and fireworks were absolutely forbidden. And walking an elementary school hallway???  Really, just think about that for a moment.  Our old town was large enough that a second high school was eventually built and the dreaded annual traffic nightmare was somewhat abated.  

And so, experiencing this annual rite of passage here without a child or grandchild of my own to be seen got me to thinking and I had another one of my "talks" with God.  This time I asked that He keep me around long enough and in good enough health that I could enjoy at least three more high school graduations.  After all, I had three grands, the youngest of who is just 8 months old.  I really, really need at least 18 more years. Considering that I'm what is call an "old" grandma, this is no small thing.  And, while I'm at it, Lord, it would be nice to be a great-grandmother.  I'm sure God must be thinking by now that I'm a broken record.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Haiku My Heart

Busyness afloat
Air smoothered in talc-like dust
Blue billed ducks feasting

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I Joined a Book Club

I joined the book club, at the Caruthersville Library, last month and as a fully fledged bookworm, this should have been something that wasn't new to me.  But, like so much of my Bootheel experience during this first year, I had never joined a book club before now and I had to wonder why.

I love books.  I talk books with friends over coffee.  I collect books and have several editions of my two favorites - Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden.  You learn from books. Travel with books. The world is opened wide by books.  WIDE opened.  So why have there been no book clubs in my past? 

Have you ever met an extrovert who is always on the watch inside?  Well, that would be me.  I like people but I've also been easily disappointed by them.  Of course, that was way back, when having expectations of people just naturally led most often to disappointment and it is our experiences that form us.  But, just because we are let down doesn't mean we have to continue being let down.  Entering into any activity with few expectations actually leads to better outcomes, at least for me.  Suddenly, people seemed more reliable.

Whatever the reason for the disappointment, the lesson was to go my own way and I pretty much chose to do that all of my adult life.  My circle of friends was small and loyal and I was happy with that.  Then I move here.

I know you've heard it before, but living here is very different for me.  The Pirate fit right in.  He knew the ground rules.  After a year of living here, I've learned that my California sensibilities don't necessarily fit.  So, over the course of this year, I've met a lot of people, fit myself into my own special writing and visiting place, rubbed shoulders (quite literally sometimes) at city council meetings, enjoyed library events, and getting to know my church community. And most importantly, I had the river and the never-ending barge life to comfort and soothe me through my homesick times.  I finally felt ready to test the waters, so to speak, and take the pulse of joining a club and what I found was so satisfying.  

The group is small.  There are no right or wrong answers; no opinions or "takes" on a point of plot or character that outshine what other members have to say.  Perhaps all book clubs are like this but by the time I retired from work, joining a social group was completely not my thing.  People disappointed.  The lesson of a year of living in C'ville changed all that - the lesson of having no expectations. 

When I arrived at my first meeting, I had not read the book; the decision to go was fairly last minute.  No problem (First Plus).  I met some interesting people (Second Plus). The discussion was lively and freewheeling (Third Plus).

After my second visit, I felt my own creative powers being pushed.  There are more than a few writers in C'ville and I started thinking that having a writers' workshop one day at the library might be a way to push to the next level in my own writing.  Even though I've written on and off my whole life, I've never shared it beyond blogging.  Then I moved here.

I recently gave my daughter some advise as she started out on a new endeavor of her own.  I told her to take small steps.  Don't jump in deep and expect to swim.  Find your success in a small way.  Find your comfort zone.  Funny how words for the young can be equally valuable for the not so young.  

Sharing my writing here has been a door I was willing to walk through to take my own steps a bit farther away from my own comfort zone.  And, believe me, it was scary.  Joining a book club, sharing my thoughts and opinions about another writer's writing has been a similar experience.  I've haven't had too much to say yet but I have found that I may be able to comfortably do the social group thing after all since the welcome I've received, like jumping into a heated pool, has been warm and reassuring.  

Gone Fishing