Thursday, January 29, 2015

Always Late

It's a big problem that often makes me feel very small.

        "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!" 
The White Rabbit in Walt Disney’s 1951 animated film, “Alice In Wonderland,” had nothing on me. Some critics say he was normally punctual, and that’s why he was so upset, and that ultimately he arrived at his appointment on time to announce the king and queen. Unlike the rabbit, I’m rarely punctual, and probably would be late meeting the queen herself! Although I wouldn’t  have to worry about her taking off my head, as the rabbit did, I’m sure some of my friends have wanted to do that for her at times.
Whether it’s a doctor’s appointment, professional meeting, church or an interview, I rarely arrive on time. I don’t know why, except that I don’t like to be early and have to sit and wait. Never mind that I keep others waiting due to my being late. Country singer Lefty Frizzell had a hit with a song called, “Always Late,” referring to his girlfriend’s kisses. If I had a boyfriend, I’d probably be late with those too. 
I used to be as much as half an hour late, but I have whittled that down to five or ten minutes. In fact, it’s almost always five or ten minutes. Why, I don’t know, nor do I know why I can’t shave off another five or ten minutes.
I have always been like this. As a teen, I would keep friends waiting in front of department stores or movie theaters. I’d be late for dates, keeping the guy waiting while I took the curlers out of my hair. In college, I was often late with term papers and other assignments, and that habit cost me grade points several times. You’d think once would have taught me a lesson, especially when an English professor said I would have gotten that rare “A” on a freshman term paper had I not turned it in two days late. Even today, I’m sometimes late with a writing assignment. 
My husband used to say that I had no concept of time. I believe he was right. I’ve tried plotting my schedule, working backward from my appointment time. I’ll allow a certain amount of time to get there, which is almost always wrong, because no matter how many times I travel a route, I can’t recall exactly how long it takes. So I’ll plan to leave home at 9 a.m. That means I need to have my shower and start dressing at 8 or 8:15. So I need to eat breakfast at 7:30. It takes me several minutes to wake up, so I have to allow half an hour to drink my coffee. So, I’d need to get up round 7. Oops, almost forgot, I need to feed my horses, llamas, goat and barn cats, so let’s back that arise-and-shine time to 6:30.
Sounds like a good plan, right? Problem is, I can’t seem to stick to it. I’ll watch the morning news while drinking my coffee, then it’s 7:45. After my coffee, I have to have my morning date with the porcelain throne. I keep magazines in my throne room, so there goes another half hour. Then I rush out to feed my critters, rush back in to shower, and decide to check my email. Big mistake. Before I know it, I’ve spent an hour at the computer. And so it goes.
I have come to the conclusion that the primary culprits are procrastination, too much on my plate and the fact that I‘m easily distracted. But knowing the causes and effecting a cure are two different matters.
Enough about my tardiness. I’ve got to pick up my grandson in a couple of hours. I’m sure I won’t be late for that. All I have to do is finish this post, work out at the gym, come home and shower, dress and put on makeup, stop by Publix on the way....hmmm, I’m seeing a pattern here.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Riding More

        When I retired two years ago, I wanted to write more and ride more. I haven't done more of either. Life keeps getting in the way. I spend more time with my grands, which is a good thing, but it’s amazing how quickly I can fill the hours in a day just piddling.
This week has been the exception that I dreamed of when I retired.
It started with the beautiful weather we had over the weekend. I rode Mallory, my TWH mare, about an hour Sunday afternoon. On a Quarter horse, it takes that long to traverse my trails. On Mallory, I have to double back a bit to stretch it to an hour. That’s okay. It’s amazing how different a trail can look riding one direction versus the other.
I also rode Monday afternoon for at least half an hour, then another half hour Wednesday afternoon. Thursday I spent the day with a former barn mate at the Bessemer barn where she still boards. There are miles of trails there, and she knows them by heart. She has been riding them for 20 years, helps keep them trimmed, and helps cut new ones.
While it was a bit chilly, we still enjoyed the ride, just the four of us (I’m counting our horses) and Mother Nature. The sound of horses’ hooves pushing through dry leaves provided a backdrop for our constant chatter. I hadn’t ridden with Pam since spring, so we had some catching up to do. We spent half an hour snacking at the mouth of a small cave beside a brook that didn’t babble near as much as we did. Yet we still managed two and a half hours in the saddle.
I’m trying to get into shape for an equine vacation. A company called Equitours sponsors horseback riding trips all over the world. I’m torn between Ireland, where you can ride Connemara ponies from castle to castle and sleep in those castles each night, and sunny Costa Rica. However, when I read the “fine print” about the tours, I discovered that a rider must be able to post and to stay in the saddle for six hours a day. I can learn to post, but six hours a day in a saddle?  Geez Louise, I normally get fatigued and sore after two.
Thursday was the exception, however. I did fine, and could have ridden another hour or two. I wasn’t terribly sore last night, just comfortably tired and content. I like to think it’s because I’ve been working out at the gym for several months, and because I had ridden three times this week already.
Or did the two hours we spent at a local bar drinking margaritas, eating fried pickles and playing Gin Rummy have something to do with that?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Manicures and Karate Classes

          A few weeks ago,  my manicurist left the Springville hair salon where she had worked for several years and started making house calls. Kathleen has about a dozen customers, and sees half in her home and half in theirs. That’s what she does each weekday morning. In the afternoons, she teaches karate.
Kathleen holds classes after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Margaret Elementary and Wednesdays and Fridays at Springville Elementary. She has a second-degree black belt and teaches Yoshukai-style, which is the Japanese version of this martial art. Her husband, 10-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter have black belts, too, and all continue to take lessons at IKF Karate on Center Point Parkway. I’ve watched her enthusiasm for karate grow over the past couple of years, and it’s one reason she stopped working at the hair salon.
I feel so decadent having my nails done in my own home. Sometimes I miss not being able to get my manis and pedis when I get my hair cut, but I really like the relaxed atmosphere of my own Great Room. We can enjoy cookies and all kinds of libations without having to provide enough for a salon full of customers.
During the Christmas holidays, for example, I mixed us a Candy Cane Cocktail. This yummy drink is made with vanilla vodka, peppermint schnapps, white chocolate liqueur  and heavy cream. I like to serve it in my crooked-stemmed margarita glasses with tiny candy canes as garnishes. Directions suggest the option of a drizzle of grenadine for color and/or a dusting of crushed candy canes for fun, but the former turns the pretty white drink red, while the latter just sinks to the bottom of the glass.
This week, I put on a pot of coffee and we enjoyed the Thumbprint Cookies I had made over the weekend. Not as exotic as the cocktails, but still fun.
During the 1980s, there was an all-night gay bar on Birmingham’s Southside called Mabel’s Beauty Salon and Chainsaw Repair. I told Kathleen that if she ever set up shop in a permanent building, she should call her establishment Kathleen’s Nail Salon & Karate Studio. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? On the other hand, it might attract folks looking for something besides polished nails or karate lessons. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy Birthday, Gabe & Jack

     Today is the 8th birthday of my first grandson. It’s the first time his birthday has fallen on a school day, and he was excited about that. What a happy day for him.
     It would have been the 75th birthday of my late husband, Jack, had he not chosen to leave us at the age of 58. I still don’t understand that. After all these years, I still shake my head and wonder, “Why?” I still miss him every day, but especially today.
     I know Jack is in a better place, but he left us in a state of shock, bewilderment and grief beyond compare. He left a big hole in our hearts and lives. He didn’t get to see his youngest daughter graduate from high school or college. He didn’t get to walk either daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. He’ll never know the joy of having grandchildren, but what’s worse, they’ll never know the fun of having their Grandpa toss them a ball or teach them to fish.
      I guess I should have put flowers on his grave today. But I didn’t. I rarely go to the cemetery,  because he’s not there and it just reminds me of my loss. I took Gabe there a few months ago (see photo), because he wanted to know where his Grandpa Jack was buried. His mom and aunt usually change the subject when I bring him up, but Gabe and I talk about Jack often. One day Gabe asked me, “Do you think Grandpa Jack would have liked me?” “Oh honey,” I replied. “He would have adored you.”
     I have a close relationship with my daughters and grandsons, I have many wonderful friends, but on days like today, I feel so alone. I ache to have Jack’s arms around me and to lay my ahead against his big, barrel chest. 
     Happy birthday, Jack. I wish you were here so we could celebrate. Yes, I know we’ll dance together some day when I get to heaven, but I’m not anxious to go. Loretta Lynn put it succinctly when she sang, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”
     I know I’ve rambled, but it’s hard to think coherently with tears streaming down my face. 
     Happy birthday, Gabe. I’ll feel better when I see you tomorrow. You have given me something to celebrate on an otherwise bloody awful day.