What I Didn’t Ask

She was sitting alone on the beach under her umbrella, this pleasant looking middle-aged woman, reading her book and looking up occasionally at the brilliant blue Gulf. I watched her surreptitiously from my own chair for many minutes, imagining the scenarios that might have led to her being there.

I wondered if she, like me, has a husband who travels frequently leaving her to her own devices during the week. Perhaps she was a recent divorcée trying to find herself in the timeless rise and fall of the waves before moving on with her new single life. Maybe she was an international jewel thief, hiding out on Florida’s Forgotten Coast until she could find a place to offload her ill-gotten booty. Oh, the possibilities were endless.

Then, she spoke to me, “Come, share my umbrella.”

The temperature was 95°. I could hardly refuse an offer like that, even if she was an international jewel thief, so I picked up my chair and settled in beside her, instantly relieved to be out of the direct rays of the sun. I thanked her and for the next hour we chatted like old friends.

She was closer to my age than I’d thought when watching her from several yards away, and attractive in a gamine sort of way. Her name was Tammy or Tammie, maybe Tammi. I didn’t ask for a spelling, and she and her husband were spending the week camping near St. George Island. Her sister and brother-in-law were planning to join them later that day.

Tammy/Tammie/Tammi lives near Thomasville, Georgia, where they farm. They grow pecans among other crops. Her husband of 40 years had contracted skin cancer from spending many long hours working in the sun, so he stays in the camper during the day and comes to join her once the sun starts to set. It’s their routine.

She’s one of four children, three girls and one boy, and their father died when they were all very young. Her mother was a strong woman who kept their family together and raised good kids. Her husband’s family is very big and boisterous and fun.

I told her about Studly and me, our kids, and grandkids, and our many moves from state to state in our 42 years of marriage. How we hoped we could retire and live out the rest of our lives in Tallahassee, but how hard it is to be so far away from the rest of our family. I told her about my deceased parents and how much I miss them. I told her about my brothers and their families, and about Studly’s own boisterous family.

Soon it cane time for me to leave. I thanked her again for the shade and also for the conversation. As I walked away it occurred to me that she hadn’t mentioned children, and I hadn’t asked if she and her husband had any. Surely the existence of children would have come into the conversation at some point. Still I wish I’d asked. That, and about the jewel thief theory. That could still be a possibility.

Peace, people.

Remembering My Dad

Today would have been my dad’s birthday. He’d have been 82, I think. I wrote this post about him the first year I blogged, way back when I still used two spaces after a period.

It’s hardly a perfect post. My paragraphs are too lengthy and the piece is not constructed all that well, but if you take the time to read it I hope you can tell just how much my Daddy was loved. I miss him every day.

https://nananoyz5forme.com/2014/08/16/not-just-any-man/

38 Reasons Why, Plus 4 More

July 30, 2018, marks the 42nd anniversary of the day Studly Doright and I were married. We said our “I do’s” in a small Baptist Church in Dumas, Texas, where we were surrounded by family and friends. Our exciting honeymoon was a long weekend spent in Amarillo, Texas, a whopping 45 miles from Dumas.

Most of those friends and family didn’t expect that we’d remain married a year, let alone 42 years, after all, we were just barely adults. Yet here we are, more than four decades into this experiment called marriage. We’ve had some outstanding moments of couplehood and some really rotten times, as well. We’ve managed to survive through a lot of hard work, love, and forgiveness.

Four years ago on this date I published a piece titled “38 Reasons Why” in tribute to Studly. I even followed it up with a piece the next year. But today I give you 42 reasons why I love this man, and how we’ve made this whole marriage thing work.

1. He thinks I’m smart.

2. His sense of humor. It’s corny and quick and keeps me on my toes.

3. He’s a great mechanic. That ability has been ridiculously valuable throughout our 38 years together. No matter how broke we were we’ve always had reliable transportation.

4. He is handsome. Much better looking than I deserve.

5. He’s honest in his dealings with others. His golf buddies refer to him as the Boy Scout. He never cheats. Never.

6. He can admit when he’s wrong.

7. He isn’t afraid to show emotion.

8. He loves our kids fiercely.

9. The grand kids have compared him to a jungle gym. And he would do anything in his power to make them happy.

10. He is loyal, sometimes to a fault.

11. He treats his mother like a queen.

12. He is generous and big-hearted.

13. His laugh. Oh, wow, his laugh. Sitting through a funny movie with Studly is one of the best mood lifters in the world. I highly recommend it.

14. He is a really good kisser.

15. He is an incredible leader.

16. Have I mentioned how smart he is?

17. He will dance with me if he has had enough to drink.

18. He is a good driver.

19. He taught me to ride a motorcycle without wringing my neck.

20. He likes to hold hands.

21. He does everything in his power to make sure I’m happy.

22. Studly loves our cats as much as I do.

23. He is consistent. That might sound boring, but he’s the perfect counterpoint to my Inconsistency.

24. Punctuality is important to him.

25. He makes kick ass obstacle courses.

26. He is a decent amateur auctioneer for our family reunion fund raisers. What he lacks in speed he makes up for in witty repartee.

27. He is really good at mental math. I never need a calculator when he’s around.

28. My parents loved him.

29. He insisted that Daddy move in with us so we could care for him after Mom passed away. The two years we had with Dad before he died were some of the best of our lives.

30. He never lets me take myself too seriously.

31. He doesn’t worry.

32. He respects my opinion and listens to my points of view.

33. He sees me as an equal partner in our marriage.

34. He can cook much better than I can.

35. He can laugh at himself.

36. Studly has a stellar work ethic.

37. He knows how to enjoy life.

38. And, he loves me. He really, really loves me.

39. No matter how crazy his work becomes, he seldom brings it home.

40. He’s taken me places outside of his comfort zone because he knows how much I love to travel.

41. Studly supports my need for adventure even when he doesn’t want to join in.

42. He can still surprise me even after all these years together.

I made it! Truth is I could’ve gone on, but I probably lost most of my readers half way through. That’s ok. This one’s for my husband.

Peace, People.

The Grandkids are Coming! The Grandkids are Coming!

Studly Doright and I have been getting Doright Manor ready to withstand a visit from our Texas grandkids, Dominique and Jackson. The two, along with one of their friends, are flying in to Panama City Beach on Sunday evening to stay with us in Havana for a week. The guest rooms and baths are ready, the cupboards are full, and the refrigerator is stocked with Jackson’s favorite root beer.

Each year when the kids visit, Studly, who goes by “Poppa” around the grands, has motorcycles ready to work on and ride. I usually take the kids to a water park. However, Jackson broke his foot at the beginning of the summer and will still be in a cast. We might have to get a bit more creative with our activities this year.

Arts and crafts, anyone?

Regardless of what we do, we’ll have fun. I’ll post something if I have the energy!

Peace, people!

Lunch with my Cousin and a Night in LaGrange

Drive, drive, drive! That’s about all I did on Friday the 13th. I left my friend Nicky’s home in Kingsport, Tennessee, around 9:45 yesterday morning and drove to Knoxville to meet my cousin, Peggy, for lunch. Peggy is my second cousin. Her father and my grandfather were brothers. Both were handsome men married to attractive women.

Peggy and her two older sisters were the young women I looked up to as a child. All three were beautiful and well-mannered; whereas, I was a plain little girl with a tendency to rebel. Nevertheless, Peggy, who is three years my senior, was a sometimes playmate, and I have great memories of times we spent together in our younger days.

I’d lost track of Peggy for at least a couple of decades, maybe more, until a few months ago when she friended me on Facebook. After I’d accepted my friend Nicky’s invitation to visit Kingsport I began making plans to have lunch with Peggy in Knoxville on the way home.

Now I’m kicking myself because I forgot to get a picture of the two of us together. Damn. You’ll have to take my word for it, but Peggy is still beautiful and well-mannered. We did our best to catch up in the limited time we had to visit, but I need at least another week with her.

Once we parted ways I set my GPS to avoid major highways and the city of Atlanta on my trip home to Doright Manor. The resulting route took me on a scenic, yet curvy, roller coaster ride through Tennessee and into Georgia. I figured that once I’d gotten far enough south of the aforementioned Atlanta I’d reconfigure my settings to find the fastest route.

Back roads are fun, yet exhausting, and around 7:00 p.m. I decided to stop for the night in the town of LaGrange, Georgia. Now, I might’ve found the most perfect town in the world quite by accident. After checking into the brand new Courtyard by Marriott, I had a nice dinner in their bistro before setting out to explore the downtown area.

Directly across the street from my hotel was a park with a statue in the midst of a fountain.

Curious as to the identity of the statue, I crossed the street for a better look. I’d expected to see some Confederate war era general, but to my surprise and delight I discovered it to be a statue of General Lafayette.

According to GeorgiaInfo, an online Georgia almanac,

“Born at the Chateau de Chavaniac, Auvergne, France, on September 6, 1757, Gilbert Motier de Lafayette became at age 19 a major general on George Washington’s staff. He played a vital role in the defeat of General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781, ending the American Revolution.

Later in France Lafayette was commanding general of the National Guard. Leader in the movement that gave France a republican form of government, author of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and designer of the “Cocarde of Liberty” which he holds in his hand.

LaGrange, Georgia, was named for Lafayette’s home, the Chateau de LaGrange, on motion of Julius C. Alford, when this city was chartered on December 16, 1828…”

The statue and the surrounding park are a fitting centerpiece for this lovely town.

The First Baptist Church on the Square:

This is a museum of some kind. I’d have visited it if it had been open. Maybe on my next trip through the area I’ll have better timing.

Lots of interesting shops called to me, but again, I arrived too late:

I don’t think I’d ever seen a “Keep Off the Trees” sign before. It kind of made me want to climb them, rebel that I am.

I MUST visit this shop:

What a day, am I right? Lunch with a long lost cousin followed by a trip on scenic back roads, culminating in a stopover in LaGrange. I’m ready to be back home with Studly Doright and the cats, though.

Peace, people!

It Happened One Sticky Afternoon

A few days ago I read a hilarious post by a blogging friend. Here’s the link for her “I May Have Clothestraphobia” post:

https://ellenbest24.wordpress.com/2018/06/24/i-may-have-clothestraphobia/

Reading the blogs of others is one of my favorite things, not only because they make me cry, or laugh, or think, but because they often remind me of events in my own life that might be blog worthy. Ellen’s post above took me back to a bout of “clothestraphobia” of my own.

There was a time when I was very slender. Indeed, I was Twiggy before there was a Twiggy. Well, I wasn’t that cute, and I had no major modeling contracts, but otherwise, we could’ve been twins. Maybe not, but trust me, I was skinny.

I’m fairly sure this is Twiggy, but it could’ve been me.

Then I had two children two years apart, and I wasn’t so skinny anymore, but part of me still thought, and to this day still somehow believes, that I was/am skinny. I have a really bad case of backwards body dysmorphia that often affects my choices in clothing.

When our kids were in elementary school and junior high Studly Doright and I were heavily involved in their youth activities. We coached both in various sports, but mainly focused on coaching Little League softball and baseball. On some summer evenings we’d barely see each other as we’d run in from our respective jobs, and change clothes before running back out the door to take our daughter and/or son to practice or a game. On top of that, Studly coached an older girls’ softball team that our daughter wasn’t even old enough to play on. We were busy and having a blast.

“Now what does all that have to do with your clothestraphobia?” you might ask. I’ll tell you.

On one hot, sticky summer afternoon I hurried home to change clothes so I could be at our son’s baseball game. Studly had called me at work saying he’d be late, so I needed to be at the field within the next 30 minutes to get the lineups ready and corral the kids. He promised he’d be there before the umpire called “Play Ball!”

No problem. We lived in a small town and I had plenty of time to change, pick up the kids from the sitter, and get the ball rolling at the ball field. I hurried to the bedroom, discarding my button down top as I went. Halfway done, I now only had to take off the matching pull-on skirt. I loved this set. It was light blue with little flecks and the full skirt made me feel so feminine. So the waist might’ve been a little snug, (I still thought I was skinny, you know), but the skirt had deep pockets. I adore skirts with deep pockets.

Remember I mentioned that the day was hot and sticky. We did live in the Texas panhandle, after all. And also recall that I said the skirt was of the pull-on variety. There was no zipper, just a fixed waistband with a tiny bit of elastic on each side.

I first attempted to step out of the skirt, but it refused to go over my hips. Hmmm. Hadn’t I stepped into it just that morning? Maybe not. I scootched it up in an attempt to pull the skirt over my chest, but it wasn’t having that either. Perhaps, I thought, I could lower it a bit and get one arm inside the waistband. By this time I was perspiring profusely as I watched my time slip away.

There was no way my arm was fitting inside the now constricting waistband, but I did manage to get one breast out so now the whole shebang was hanging lopsided, and I couldn’t get it to move up or down. Now I couldn’t even consider just wearing the damned skirt to the game. I did the only thing I could think of with time running out. I fetched the scissors and awkwardly cut myself out of the skirt.

I cried as I did so, but I sacrificed the skirt I loved to be at my child’s baseball game. Statues may never be erected in my honor, but I took one for the team that day. I’ll bet Twiggy never did that.

Peace, people.

How Saving My Brother Resulted in My Burps Smelling Like Peppermint

My brothers and I were free range children, left to our own devices in the town of Floydada, Texas, over the three long months of every summer. As the oldest, I was placed in an undeserved position of authority while both of our parents worked full time jobs. I’m still amazed that brothers K and B will still talk to me after the horrible and random punishments I inflicted on them.

In my more self-forgiving moments I imagine that my poor efforts at babysitting equipped them both with survival tools far beyond what two small town boys might’ve gained otherwise. I mean, we had no cougars or grizzly bears to challenge their respective skill sets back in the 60’s. I was the next best thing.

I did teach them how to escape the lava that unexpectedly bubbled up in the living room from time to time. By carefully leaping from couch to chair to chair and back again we could keep our feet from becoming molten stubs. It was imaginary lava, but still. And I taught them how to scavenge for loose change in between the couch cushions and inside dresser drawers so we could walk to the drugstore downtown and each have a “baby” Coke on a scorching hot afternoon, so I wasn’t all bad.

Over the years both brothers have forgiven me for my cruelties, or at least they don’t mention them every time we’re together anymore. Instead we have edifying conversations. Just a week ago brother K and I were discussing our respective irritable bowel syndrome issues. He recommended a product called “Heather’s Tummy Tamers” with the caveat that they’ll make my burps smell like peppermint.

I ordered a bottle and indeed, my belches, along with other expressions of gas and bodily emissions, now have the distinct odor of peppermint. But they work beautifully on alleviating gas and acid reflux. I’m so glad I never actually tossed him into the lava.

Peace, people.

Fasten Your Seatbelts

Lately it seems as though all I’ve done is travel with brief periods of rest at Doright Manor between trips. On Friday I flew on Southwest Airlines from Panama City Beach, FL, with a brief layover in Houston before reaching my final destination in Austin. I’m meeting up with two of Studly’s sisters and my niece for a girls’ weekend. It promises to be way more fun than I’m accustomed to. But first I had to survive my flight!

The first leg of the flight was routine. The pilot found a smooth route and we cruised without incident to Houston Hobby Airport. The flight, though, from Houston to Austin was a bit of a nail biter.

We hit turbulence upon takeoff and it was constant the entire flight. Thank goodness the ordeal only lasted 32 minutes. But the flight attendants were never instructed to take a seat and they served passengers as the plane bucked like an untamed bronco until the very last seconds. I was reading and in the back of my mind wondering when the attendants would announce that our tray tables and seatbelts needed to be secured and our seats in the upright and locked position.

The message to secure the cabin never came, though, and the plane landed jarringly, resulting in cups and cans from the back of the plane becoming airborne. I’ve flown thousands of miles and never experienced anything quite like this landing. The flight attendants were visibly shaken, but there was never a word from the cockpit. Weirdest landing I’ve ever encountered.

But I’m here! Our niece, CB picked me up at the airport and then we rendezvoused with her mom (Studly’s eldest sibling) and her aunt (Studly’s middle sister) at CB’s home in Buda, Texas outside of Austin.

So far I’ve had terrific Mexican food at Garcia’s, a family owned restaurant in Buda, played a fun strategy game called Ticket to Ride, at which I thoroughly sucked, enjoyed some good red wine, and laughed so hard I cried. CB’s family joined us for the fun and games last night adding to the hilarity.

I never could remember which color my train was!

{In Ticket to Ride (above) I never could remember which color our train was! I thought we were blue, but midway through my sister-in-law informed me we were red. Needless to say, we didn’t win.}

We’re staying in a lovely “vacation rental by owner” place, with plenty of room to spread out, and today (Saturday) we’re going on a tour of weird homes in Austin. I have no idea what we’ll see, but it should be a hoot. Austin is famous for its weirdness.

On Sunday we’re seeing a production of The Book of Mormon, and I’ll fly home on Monday. Unless, that is, I get a look at my pilot and recognize him from the flight on Friday. I might be looking for the nearest Greyhound bus station if that’s the case.

Peace, people.

On the Road

On Saturday I began the drive home to Tallahassee after spending a little over a week with my daughter and her family in Port Byron, IL. What a week!

I arrived on Saturday afternoon, unpacked and took a deep breath, because every day to come had some planned adventure:

Sunday afternoon we attended 15-year-old grandson, Garrett’s performance in a play at Riverdale High School where he played two parts with gusto. I was so proud of him.

On Monday I had lunch with the youngest grandchild, Harper D, who is a sassy kindergarten student at Riverdale Elementary School, and I remembered why I never aspired to teach five year olds. They’re cute, but exhausting.

Tuesday was wine night with my daughter and some of her friends. Yay!

On Wednesday evening I got to watch our middle granddaughter, McKayla (13), at her gymnastics class. She is pretty fierce in her pursuit of perfection. What a dynamo!

Thursday evening involved a concert for pre-K and kindergarten students at the elementary school. I talked McKayla into accompanying Harper and me, and we had a rambunctious evening. Harper volunteered me to play the role of a hopping bunny during one of the songs. I’m 61. My hop was a bit on the floppy side.

On Friday I took Garrett and Harper to see Black Panther, after which Harper (5) summed the film up with “Basically, there were two kings who wanted different things, but only one could win. Right?”

I couldn’t argue with her logic.

Then on Saturday morning I got to watch McKayla perform in a music competition, first playing flute in the band and later singing in her school’s choir. She was so lovely and poised. That’s our raven-haired McKayla, below, in the white top and black skirt.

Saturday evening our daughter, her husband, his parents, and I participated in a trivia contest for a local charity. We didn’t win; although, we held our own for most of the evening. It was way too much fun, and I might’ve had too much Guinness. Oops!

Then early on Sunday I started home. As I write this I’m in a hotel room just south of Nashville, Tennessee. The weather channel is promising thunderstorms for my drive home. I’d appreciate good vibes sent my way for the remainder of my trip. Hopefully I’ll be safely home at Doright Manor early tomorrow evening. I need to rest!

Peace, people!

“This Is Us” Virgin No More

For two years now I’ve listened to the buzz surrounding the television show, This is Us. Apparently everyone in the world, except for Studly and me, is hooked on this drama about a family’s highs and lows, triumphs and heartaches, accomplishments and failures. All I really knew about the show was that it made viewers cry. Every episode provoked tears, it seemed. Why in the world would anyone watch something so depressing?

As my regular readers might know, I’m visiting my daughter and her family in Illinois this week, and last night they forced me to watch This is Us. Handcuffs and leg chains might’ve been involved. As it happened, Wednesday night’s episode was the season finale. About midway through, I felt one tear, then another leak out from the corners of each eye.

“Could someone dab my cheek dry?” I sniffed.

“If you promise not to bolt, we’ll take the restraints off,” my daughter said.

I nodded and continued to cry as she freed my hands, then I folded myself into a modified fetal position. The tears felt good. Cleansing, if you will. And there was laughter, too, so the show never became maudlin.

I might not become a regular This is Us viewer, after all there isn’t a single zombie in the mix, but now I get why people like it. The acting gets an A+ and the characters felt real. Maybe I could suggest the inclusion of an occasional zombie. It could happen.

Peace, people.