BEGIN AGAIN

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Look to the horizon

fireball

reflecting on the water

a chance to begin again

Grab your loved ones, drink in their fragrance

Wash yourself in the love

Look long into your partners eyes

What will they tell you?

Kiss the delicious cheeks, eyelids and brows of your babes

Smell the top of their head, hold them close     What will you tell them?

 

Make that call

Fulfill those promises

Begin anew

 

 

Dig deep in the earth

plant beauty

feel the earth squish between your toes,

the warmth of the sun on you

Roll the windows down,

Let the wind mess your hair

Turn the music up

SING LOUD

Dare to be less than perfect

Make your lists

number your dreams

Then speak them out

Allow yourself to be known (Do number #3 TODAY!)

Take a chance

Buy a bikini, a one shouldered dress?

Wear a big hat, wild necklace, dye your hair 

Design a tattoo, buy a paintbrush, book a guitar class

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Wear that bow tie now, write a ballad, ride a “tall bike”

Tell someone they’re beautiful

Tell yourself you’re beautiful and dare to believe it

Why wait ?

Look to the horizon

Fireball reflecting on the water

A chance, YOUR chance

Begin again

Hurry

Don't wait

BEGIN AGAIN

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*words & photo's k l pender Towandatude.com

HEARTBREAK SONGS

Heartbreak songs, Breakup songs…Did you have one? What was it ?

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I went to the movies yesterday with my gal-pal Diane (aka; "Little Lou”). Since it was a treat for her recent Birthday, she got to choose the flick. She said she wanted to see “The Fault in our Stars”. When we were in our early teens, we had seen LOVE STORY together, so we needed to see this generation’s LOVE STORY together. It was all that we expected. Diagnosis meets love, love meets tragedy, coupled with multitudes of Kleenex and nose blowing by middle aged ladies munching popcorn (and yes, Diane snuck in the M & M’s, because we can’t have popcorn without M&M’s). 

I heard a song during one of the previews yesterday that’s been popular for a while. I’m no teenager, but I’ll bet it’s this era’s top HEART BREAK SONG “Say Something I’M GIVING UP ON YOU”. If I was a teen, I’d wear a grove in that C.D. I love it.

I’m a sound track lover. Mr Wonderful and I will often sit all the way through the credits long after a movie ends to find out “who sang that song?” Yesterday’s movie was a soundtrack of sappy-ness. It took me back to LOVE STORY and the theme song. Remember that one? After we saw LOVE STORY in 1970, I cried every time I heard that sappy tune by Francis Lai. Re-live the memory here :   http://youtu.be/WTSc4hBdCd0 

 It got me thinking about “Break Up Songs”.

Do you have a BREAK UP SONG from your youth? You know, that one you played over and over? When I was a young teen it was “How can you mend a broken heart?” and on a particularly bad day, it was “I started a joke”. Oh boy that was a killer. Both songs were by the BeeGees who had the gift for this genre. 

Those tunes put an unexplainable ache in my chest. Their words evoked tears to fall, snot to run and my nose to resemble that of Rudolph the reindeer. AND THEN, the poetry writing would begin. Bad poetry that erupted from the depth’s of my broken heart. It was often accompanied by wild doodles, sometimes a charcoal drawing, smudged with blank faces. (Oh yes, I was a deep one !) My goal was to hopefully do what these musicians had done, get across that feeling. To give words and maybe a visual to the ache in my gut that I couldn’t explain to anyone, one that I was sure would eventually consume me. Fortunately, I lived to tell about it all, forty years later !

Those “Breakup songs” were therapeutic. It was as though someone felt what we were feeling and put it to music. Then we could get in our car, roll down the windows, crank up the volume and SING ! SING AT THE TOP OF OUR LUNGS!  “SAY SOMETHING I’M GIVING UP ON YOU”

TAKE A MINUTE here, and share with me your favorite BREAK UP SONG. Maybe a little name-drop too? Of the rascal who evoked the heartbreak way back then! Drop 'em off over on the Facebook page Towandatude.com Do it with TOWANDATUDE! This could be fun and therapeutic!

Can’t wait to read ’em!  AND REMEMBER "LOVE MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOUR SORRY PREPPY!"

 

Here’s mine: How can you mend a broken heart ? /Bee Gee’s…James C. 8th grade

Thank You / Led Zeppelin…Mr.Wonderful (long ago) 9th grade

P.S. A little redemption note about Mr W. After our first date when we were in our forties, he called me from his cell phone, turned up the volume on his car radio and guess what song was playing? That’s right girls, “THANK YOU” by Led Zeppelin. He remembered our old song ! Don’t give up hope, your Mr.Wonderful is out there !

A COUPLE OF RECENT TOP SAPPY SONGS: My fave’s anyway, ADD YOURS!

"Say Something I’m giving up on you" / A Great Big World http://youtu.be/BmErRm-vApI

The Scientist ("Lets Go Back to the Start") / Coldplay http://youtu.be/_fkOsmdSM0A

Happy Birthday Hannah

In a few days my first born daughter will turn thirty five. Happy Birthday Little Hannah.

What a journey we have had together. I knew you before I saw you. I longed to hear your voice. When you emerged I knew I had witnessed a miracle, something beyond comprehension. There you were in my arms, all pink and new. The thought of a rosebud filled my mind.

We are on a road together traveling. Through phases and eras, dark tunnels and open highways of discovery, miles of life lived, eons of change endured. You have been with me and I with you, constant companions, even when we have lived apart.

I love you with all my heart my love. My bright, silly, brilliant, maternal, artistic girl. You have brought so much joy and wonder to my life. You encourage me every day.

Happy, Happy Birthday little rosebud, Han-girl. From your grateful mom.

Manischewitz in a Styrofoam Cup

I wrote this story about twelve years ago. I am posting it here today in honor of my childhood friends Marci and Diane. This is their Birthday weekend. This is My Birthday gift to you. With Love, from your forever silly childhood pal, K.

"WEST GATE GIRLS"    A drawing by my artist daughter Hannah several years ago, from all the stories she's heard about THE WEST GATE GIRLS., Diane in cheering uniform, Me in halter top, Marci, and our dear friends, Lynne of the beautiful flowing hair and our beloved friend Vicki, who we lost to colon cancer in 2009.    *LostTraderArt"on Facebook

"WEST GATE GIRLS"

A drawing by my artist daughter Hannah several years ago, from all the stories she's heard about THE WEST GATE GIRLS., Diane in cheering uniform, Me in halter top, Marci, and our dear friends, Lynne of the beautiful flowing hair and our beloved friend Vicki, who we lost to colon cancer in 2009.    *LostTraderArt"on Facebook

I was 14 when I took my first taxi ride. I wasn’t in a big city and the ride was not to any place glamorous. In fact, it was quite the opposite however, I never knew that part..

Diane walked the two blocks from her front door to Mildred’s corner store. “Mildred’s” was a little white cracker style building with wood floors and glass jars on the counter that held pickled sausages, pickled eggs and giant dill pickles. Penny candies and small brown bags were my temptation for spending my milk money there when I was in elementary school. There was a phone booth that stood in the white sugar sand parking area. Diane’s family didn’t have a telephone, so this was her link to Marci and I. 

It was grocery day at the Lynch household. Diane made the call to rally her cohorts. I answered from the black rotary dial phone that hung in my Mam-Maws tiny kitchen, accepting the invitation to accompany Diane on the bi-weekly food gathering extravaganza. I moved on the phone chain to call my bosom buddy since first grade, Marci. 

Marci was fair with blonde hair just past her shoulders. She was thin, with little freckles across the bridge of her nose. We were quite a contrast together. My brown hair streaked red by the sun, usually cut in a pixie, (there was that time Diane cut my hair, but that's another story..) Marci was quiet and easy going. We joined forces when we were seven. I was the leader in our duo, loud and silly, always coming up with schemes that landed us in a heap of trouble. Like the time I tried to revive our dead goldfish and he got stuck to the inside of Marci’s Moms freezer, but that’s another story...

We met Diane and we became a trio when we entered “Golfview Junior High School”. She was a northerner, but we didn’t hold that against her. She was new to the area and we decided she needed us, to teach her the ways of Southern girls. Diane was a beauty, with the darkest brown hair, it was nearly black, and beautiful brown eyes. She was a first born daughter like me. Don’t ask me why, but somehow this all worked out. Often, when it’s three girls in a friendship things don’t go well, but the deal was sealed and we were locked in for the majority of our teenage years.

Back to the Grocery Store trip!

 After conferring with Marci on the phone about what we should wear, our usual summer getup was decided upon. Levi’s cut off to the pockets and made into VERY short shorts, which were worn down on our hips as far as we could get them. A Halter Top made of Calico fabric, with Indian beads or leather strung through the neckline and fastened. We sported flip-flops or the latest leather sandals from India. Marci always carried her favorite rat-tail comb. My back pocket held our stash of Virginia Slims Menthols. I snuck out the back porch door before Mam-Maw saw me and tried to haul me back in for a make-over.

Off we went in the hot Florida sun for the trek down West Gate Avenue to Diane’s. We all walked together to the “Westward Shopping Center” the local Plaza that was our go-to for everything you needed. It was the home of “J.M.FIELDS cheapies” (as my Mother called it) sort of the Walmart of our day. Pantry Pride was the Grocery Store located in the Plaza. (or was it Food Fair then? ) We had this trip down to a routine. Diane had the list her Mother had provided and began the grocery shopping. Marci and I would go over to the drug store lunch counter and ask for a cup of ice. We would then join our friend back at the grocery store. A particular isle held the nectar of the gods, MANISCHEWITZ Blackberry Wine, which we would open and sneak a little bit into our cup of ice. Next stop the cookie isle, to purchase a box of LITTLE DEBBIE SWISS CAKE ROLLS (my mouth waters as I type). Perhaps Diane’s Mom would not notice if we swiped a couple ? After all, I was the professional gift un-wrapper-re-wrapper at Christmas time right? 

As we cruised the isles of the grocery store picking up the essentials for Diane’s family’s pantry, we snacked, drank and got a little buzz from the wine and the thrill of being intoxicated in a grocery store and not getting caught.

We would get all silly and I recall reaching over and untying the leather strap at the neck of Marci’s halter top. This sent her shrieking into the ladies room, cursing me under her breath and promising to kick my butt. This was a scary thing to me, even slightly drunk because I knew she could do it, and I had the bruises on my arm to prove it ! (She always seemed so much taller than me!) I would follow her into the bathroom which was through a door in the produce department and at the top of a flight of stairs. Sometimes I would shut the light off when she was in the stall. Or, stand on the toilet seat in the next stall, looking down on her over the top of the stall and scare her to death ! Then, we’d run like heck back to the safety of Diane and the shopping cart, resuming our domestic duties. Yes, we needed Diane.

At the check out counter it was always fun to watch the face of the cashier as we pulled up that grocery cart packed to the gills and Diane whipped out the cash to pay for it. Marci and I would wait with the groceries while Diane went to the pay phone and called for a Cab. Shortly, a nice boxy bright “Yellow Cab” would arrive curbside and the driver would place all the brown paper bags of groceries on the floor of the back seat. We’d climb in with them for the quarter of a mile ride back to Diane’s house. Her Mother would greet us, inspecting the bags as we unpacked them, ticking off the list she’d given Diane. At this point we would generally eat our favorite sandwich, which was currently bacon on toast with Miracle Whip. Diane’s Dad Matt would breeze in for lunch and say, “Now what kind of trouble are you girls going to get into today?” Of course this would set my mind running in a million different directions…the possibilities were endless!

During the weekend of our 25th class reunion, Marci and I were out shopping and I saw a small replica of a yellow cab in a collectors box. I purchased it and gave it to Diane. “Thanks for my first cab ride” I told her. I will never forget our adventures, and now it’s on paper just incase I do.

NOW ON A MORE SERIOUS NOTE…

I never thought anything about my friends family not having a car or a phone. It seemed perfectly normal to me. She had a stay home Mom and a real Dad. Marci’s Dad wasn’t her “real” Dad, he was her step-dad. Her parents both worked full time, but she had a bigger house. My family on the other hand had no Dad, a working Mom and a stay home grandmother (or Mam-Maw). We had a beautifully manicured lawn, filled with crepe myrtle, hibiscus and rose bushes and the cutest little pink cracker style cottage you’ve ever seen. (HOW we all fit in there, I still can’t figure out !) 

What’s “normal” to one family isn’t normal to the next one, that is for sure. Knowing all of this and growing up the way we did, why is it that I still strove to make things “normal” for my kids? The thought occurs to me that I often have tried to make up for what I didn’t have in my childhood. In all I have to say, that I wouldn’t change much. The tiny little house on the white shell rock road in West Gate. Where my own Mother tried to make my life as “normal” as possible for her divorced children. That’s where the greatest girls in the world lived. Wether we were running through the woods behind Mama-Maws house or laying on Diane’s bed that she shared with her little sister, on hot summer afternoons, or playing “D.O.A.” much too loud on Marci’s Mom’s stereo when her folks were at work. We were WEST GATE GIRLS and somewhere inside us, we always will be. Here, in our “normal” lives.    

Diane, Marci and yours truly just a few years ago.

Diane, Marci and yours truly just a few years ago.


Florida Morning

EARLY light

PALM fronds flutter like fingers beckoning, “come and see…”

A SKY painted by the Masters brush

BIRDS dart and sail across the vast azure canvas singing morning songs


Fragrances of Pine and Plumeria whisper memories in the soft breeze

of a girlhood spent in Florida summers

and midlife lived in Hawaiian beauty


 LIFE washes over me              

Beauty drenches me

Creation sings out 

its song of morning

Evoking a heart full to overflowing 

with Thankfulness

for this Life

 

 


JUST BE

What if...

You would just "be"?

Be YOU

without concern of what others might think,

without fear of acceptance or rejection.

What if 

you didn't try and prove your self worth

and realized that just as you are, you are enough ?

Right here, right now,

JUST AS YOU ARE.

No more striving, no more trying, no more doing.

What if...

You would just BE ?

and allow yourself to be known for who you really are and 

JUST 

BE YOU.

Wonderful, glorious YOU.

JUST 

BE.

Each of us has a story...reflections from a garden party.

Last weekend was my annual garden party. It's a "ladies only" affair. We do crazy girl stuff, like eating decadent food that we shouldn't, have costume contests, listen to chick music from "back in the day" (1960's) and talk, and talk and talk..

This year, the party had a different kind of feel. Each year has it's own flavor, depending on the mix of folks, and the weather. Rain was the back drop this time and while you would think it would put a damper on things, it didn't. Instead it made for a smaller group with a more intimate feel and here's the deal, PEOPLE LISTENED. 

We each have a story, a history that makes us who we are. ..

We each have a story, a history that makes us who we are...

Once again, I sat in awe of the women around me, sharing their life stories. I was reminded of this thought that I have told my children for years, "Everyone has a story, and that story, their history, has shaped them and made them into who they have become."

We choose how we allow that to happen in our lives. We can be a victim or a victor. We can hang on to the negative or rise above it. OR, we can ignore those things that we've experienced and refuse to acknowledge that any of our past has affected us. But in the end, every one of us has a story.

What happened on this recent rainy, intimate, Saturday was one of those times that I sat in the middle of a group of women and marveled at their experiences and who they have become because of them. I'm blown away by their strength, their character, and overwhelmed at the privilege of sitting in their presence in that sacred moment. We have experienced loss, poverty, illness, abuse and moves to and from other countries. We've experienced marriage and divorce. We've changed careers, gone back to school, we've seen our kids through illness or other trauma's and we have lost our parents  "...AND STILL WE RISE !"  *(Maya Angelou) 

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I marvel that women still get up every morning and choose to put one foot in front of the other and keep going..and going..and going!

So, the next time you are with your lady friend, stop yourself, be present and listen. Just listen to  WHERE SHE CAME FROM. Listen to her telling you WHO SHE IS. ALLOW yourself to be engulfed by the beauty of that miraculous creature and HER STORY and the HISTORY OF TOWANDATUDE IN HER LIFE.

ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE ENGULFED BY THE  BEAUTY OF THAT MIRACULOUS WOMAN...    

ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE ENGULFED BY THE  BEAUTY OF THAT MIRACULOUS WOMAN...

 

I don't know if you are like me. I make little lists of things I want to improve in myself. These are some things I'm trying to be more diligent about and implement in my own world.  While I have not mastered this BY A LONG SHOT, I'm trying hard to be a better listener. Here's a formula for hearing some awesomeness and really knowing someone else.

1).Listen.

2).Be silent.

3).LET IT BE ALL ABOUT THEM.

4).Try not to think of what you are going to say next while someone else is speaking, really listen.

5). Don't try and "one-up". Just listen, drink in the words of another. Think of the person who is speaking, and what a privilege it is to be invited into this moment, to hear their story.

6).Don't start a 'sideline' conversation with your neighbor while someone else is speaking. (this one is a pet peeve friends have told me really urks them)

I Long to be a better listener and a better "know-her"!

I Long to be a better listener and a better "know-her"!


The Anniversary Of My Adventure in Blogging.

One year ago, we began our journey..WE CAN DO ANYTHING, WE ARE FILLED WITH TOWANDATUDE !

One year ago, we began our journey..WE CAN DO ANYTHING, WE ARE FILLED WITH TOWANDATUDE !

It has been a year since I began this Blog. I can honestly say that the journey has been one of a hundred different emotions both high and low. I've learned many things about myself and others as well.

In the beginning of this adventure my daughter gave me lots of info to read on the "DO's and DON'T's" of Blogging. I have tried to obey the rules..Don't talk about others. Don't be long winded, keep your posts short & sweet. Don't talk about drama in your life. The list goes on and on. It all depends though on what kind of Blog yours is, and what the message is you want to convey. I began with a word that has meant a lot to me forever. If you know me well, you have heard me yell "TOWANDA!!!!" a million times over the years. It's a reminder that we are strong gals and we can get behind each other, band together and do anything, overcome anything. 

I kept thinking, "It's really and attitude" and came up with my own word "TOWANDATUDE" and definition. This happens frequently in my world. (Someday I will have my own language if I keep going!) Off I went on this amazingly beautiful journey. I have become an avid reader of other Blogs. I have been fortunate to be part of some Blogging groups, where writers post and read each others work. I have become a "screen porch student" reading and studying about this topic. I don't claim for a second to know what the heck I'm doing or to be any good at it, but some of you have read and affirmed me on a consistent basis and for that I am so grateful ! 

Today I will break some rules. I will tell you that I have not been writing because of a list of things "not to do" from a Doctor I saw a little while back. "NO TYPING" was on that no-no list, along with everything else I love to do, or so it feels like ! You see for the last few years I've had some trouble with my arms and hands. I've had some cortisone shots that relieved the discomfort, I've taken mega doses of anti-inflammatory medications, I wear all kinds of gadgets on my elbows, wrists and fingers. It goes away for a while and then it returns. This time it hasn't gotten any better. I am not one to go to the Doctor. I will and do avoid them until I cannot bear it another minute. This time there's no offer of a shot but the order to see a specialist. "It's either blank or blank.." so, I stopped everything that was on his "no-no list" and things have not gotten better. Now I will proceed with plan B, to the specialist I will go, eventually. The whole thing has left me feeling very UN-Towandatude-like ! I have missed typing this Blog so much and it must be added back in to my "do" list, because I cannot live (happily) without it.

In my life this opportunity of expression has been a true joy, an awesome feeling of fulfillment. When we find that thing that allows us to express ourselves, there is a certain peace that comes. I understand so many things about my creative children and artistic friends that I didn't before. When I read the words of writers I feel their expression differently than before, imagining the journey they've endured.

"..it's all your own personal expression of the beauty of YOU."

"..it's all your own personal expression of the beauty of YOU."

Life is so full, so beautiful, beyond any expression that we can give, but people try in their limited, human way to show their gratefulness, to tell their story. We all tell the story of who we are and where we came from in different ways. Maybe it's your garden, your journal, your creativity in the kitchen, caring for your family members, a painting, a song, one is not greater than another it's all your own personal expression of the  beauty of you.

I am so very thankful for this past year, and I am thankful for those of you who have been readers of my journal, my "Blog". I hope you know me a little better and where I came from. I'll still be here on the screen porch watching the birds with my ancient killer Cockapoo CharlieBean. Right where I was when we started this journey together one year ago with my first post. Thank You from the bottom of my Towandatude filled heart.

Silence, Is It Possible?

SO many manuals..

SO many manuals..

Phone calls, Texting, Voicemail. The internet, Facebook, Blogs I follow. There's Email to answer, Television, Roku, Netflix, Books on C.D., the Daily Devotional Book I follow, Books on my "un-read" shelf, Magazines with articles worthy of my attention, others with shiny pictures of garden ideas I love to dream to. AND then there are MANUALS, the books that came with my new computer, and the simpler one I purchased to make it easier, the manual for the camera I use but have NEVER READ ABOUT, (wow, I wonder how much better my photographs could be if I read that?) Lately I've been feeling like it's all too much. I feel bombarded with so many voices. These things all bring pleasure to my life, but the excess is getting to me, because try as I may, I can NEVER get caught up. There's enough chores to do around a home & garden and the day to day of work and relationships that can keep you busy enough. But WHAT ABOUT ALL THIS OTHER STUFF ? 

I love the shiny stuff...

I love the shiny stuff...

How much of OUR TRUE SELF is masked by all the outside voices? I am so busy filling every minute with outside stimulation that I'm not sure sometimes if I can hear my authentic voice. Today is "TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE DAY", that fact got me back on a track I've been fascinated with for a long time, THE SILENT RETREAT. When I was living in Hawaii, a friend who was going through a divorce went to stay at a place that held SILENT RETREATS. You went for the weekend, were on your own, for the most part, with some journaling assignments. It was a time for reflection, meditation and prayer. I LOVE that idea! Doesn't that sound heavenly? This comes to my mind now and then, especially lately when I see all the reading material waiting for me. Could I have my own SILENT RETREAT at home? Is it possible? Am I strong enough to say NO to technology? 

What if, for just ONE DAY we stopped filling that void inside ourselves with "other voices"? Sometimes it takes a strong disposition to be alone with ones OWN thoughts. What might I find there ? What songs and stories are waiting to be written? What works of art are waiting to be made? What long ago hurt is still waiting to be soothed? Another onion-peel layer of old grievances, waiting to be shed. If we would only be quiet, be still long enough to listen, to LISTEN TO THE SILENCE, and hear our True Authentic Voice.

think I'm going to try it out. A day of no technology. (This Blog was written ahead BTW!) Since it's NO CELL PHONE DAY anyway. I'm one step on the path already. I wonder what I'll hear today? I Hope it's filled with a good dose of TOWANDATUDE ! Enjoy some silence this weekend and your own True Voice.

Thanks for reminding me Mom !

Thanks for reminding me Mom !


HOME

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I love this quote from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings "Cross Creek". Her home, where she wrote the books "The Yearling" and "Cross Creek" is now a state park and is not far from where my Mother now lives in Central Florida. I like to visit there when I am up that way. The cracker style house is still there, sitting up on cinder block stilts just like the home I was raised in.  There’s something about being there that evokes so many memories in me.

"..Step inside the rusty gate and close it behind. One is now inside the orange grove. Out of one world and in the mysterious heart of another..."

The smell of the little wooden house, the earth beneath it eking it’s way in through the floorboards. The woods surrounding it and the black moist earth that feels cool beneath my bare feet, the sound of the cicada in the pines trilling loudly, almost deafening in the silent dank of the Florida forest. The perfume of citrus trees and a delicious smell of the deepest green (ask a Florida native about this one.) When I visit Cross Creek I am transported back to childhood days in my homeland. I moved away as a young adult, wanting to see something different, new landscapes, other cultures. I left, I saw, and my heart never once stopped yearning for Florida, for HOME.

Yesterday, I heard a song I love that resonates with me about my homeland..it’s by Kings of Leon the chorus says;

 “It’s in the water, it’s in the story, it’s where you came from. The sons and daughters in all their glory, it’s gonna shape them, It’s where you came from, where you came from" 

I finagled funds every year to bring my children to my home state, to know their southern family, to experience the culture here. They played on the property at my Aunts home out in the country and swam in the lakes, inner tubed the Itchetucknee and spent days at the beach. I wanted this land to be part of them too.

SIX years ago this month, we began our attempts at purchasing this little house, back here in my home state. Initially, I was not a fan of this place. “It’s too far from my kids, there’s no cultural stuff there, it’s kinda ‘po-dunk’ “ are all of the protests I waged with Mr. Wonderful against moving here. But the price was SO incredibly right and I could have a yard to landscape and Mr. W. could have a garage to tinker in. Eventually we got it and the hard work began. I have had frustrations with the distance from the kids and the lack of events that I like to attend, but in all, over time this has become HOME. Together we have transformed what was someone’s cast off, a home left vacant for two years, sadly neglected and unloved, into our “Little Yellow House” with crazy Feng Shui, which we like to call "FUNKY SHWAAY" and too much landscaping (i got carried away!) A home away from home for others, a place for celebrations, a place we can grow old together. As usual, Mr.Wonderful has lived up to his original name of “Mr. Right”. Right again sir and well done!

I am back home in Florida. The land where my Grandmother and her siblings relocated to from South Georgia so very long ago. It was here that my Mother was born and raised, and where she gave birth to me and raised me in that little pink house that sat up on the cinder blocks, where the neighbors hunting dogs slept in the coolness, and my childhood friends and I built forts in the woods that Marjorie spoke of...I am HOME.

"After long years of spiritual homelessness, of nostalgia, here is that mystic loveliness of childhood again, HERE IS HOME."  Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Creek

 

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to our LITTLE YELLOW HOUSE..We now dub thee "FUNKY SHWAAY" 

 “..If you wanna go, I’m a gonna go, Come on take my hand, I’m goin' back down south now…” Kings of Leon, BACK DOWN SOUTH

About my friend Benny, with love and an apology by way of the "Dallas Buyers Club".

Mr.Wonderful and I ventured out on a frigid night last week, to see "Dallas Buyers Club". I had told my girlfriends that I wouldn't want to see that movie, because I have a long standing "movie star crush" on Matthew McConaughey. I had seen some previews and heard about all the weight he lost for the part, and well, I like the plumper version of my man Matt better ! Nothing else was of interest to us at the little cinema down the street, so off we went. I am glad that I went. It was outstanding, disturbing but awesome. It took me back to that era in our country. When the fear of AIDS was sweeping our land, friends were "coming out of the closet" and my world was forever changed by the death of a dear sweet friend. He has been on my mind since seeing the movie, and this morning while working, Debussy's "clair de lune" came on my WIFI radio. I was transported back to a sweet memory of my old friend.

Back in the days when Benny would spend the weekends with our family. (My little brother Rich and my close friend Belinda, with Ben he was about sixteen here).

Back in the days when Benny would spend the weekends with our family. (My little brother Rich and my close friend Belinda, with Ben he was about sixteen here).

I met Benny when he was just fifteen years old and I was seventeen. He was a friend of a friend. My family quickly adopted him and soon he was spending weekends with us, we loved him and he loved us. He was magical and as he grew into a young man, he never lost that magic. When I think of him now, I think of how "Peter Pan" like he was. We did lots of stuff together, crazy, spur of the moment rides on his mini bike right down Dixie Highway for a late night Burger King run, the two of us laughing so hard. Later when he got a car, we jumped in his car now and then for mystery rides, destination unknown, landing in the Keys one night and camping on a picnic table under the stars.

Me and Ben dancing on the deck of his Dad's boat 1975.   

Me and Ben dancing on the deck of his Dad's boat 1975.

 

When I married in the 70's he was in my wedding, later that year when my first pregnancy ended unexpectedly, he was comforting. I have always called that baby Benny, in my heart and mind. A year later I was in his wedding. Eleven Month's passed and Benny "came out" and changed his name to Bernie.

I need to back up here and tell you (if you don't already know) that I was raised in the church and later in my teens, in a Charismatic church, and so was Benny. We had that in common, along with a love of gardening, classical music, nature and shabby chic decor.

Bernie / Ben had made the most of his talent for gardening by becoming a professional onsite gardener for a couple who had a winter mansion in Palm Beach and one up north. (that's where  I saw a real Picasso, outside of a museum!) He did all the decorating for their parties and special events with his magic at both of their residences.

In my experience in Christianity up until that point, this new life of his seemed so surreal. I just didn't have the tools to make it all work in my head. My world was very black and white. My heart was sick from worry with the thought "if he dies, will he go to hell ?" My man-child friend, my magic maker of all things fun in this cold, sometimes hard world. 

Benny and I dancing at his wedding 1978. Not a good photo of us, but the only one I could find today.

Benny and I dancing at his wedding 1978. Not a good photo of us, but the only one I could find today.

He came to see me in the summer the year before he left us. He stayed in our house, he was still his sweet self, buying penny candy and silly toys for my girls. Some time later we found out that he had been diagnosed with full blown AIDS. This was at that time in the world that was the focus of the movie we saw the other night. The movie portrayed the feelings and attitudes at that time so well. I remember the fear. I remember the prejudice. I will never, ever forget because shamefully, I was part of it. We respond in crazy ways to the unknown. BAD CRAZY. Shameful crazy, hatefulness filled crazy. Last week I watched that played out on the screen and cried at the remembrance of it all. I wanted to slide down in the seat, because I saw myself there.

We got a call very late one night that Benny had passed away. The days that followed were a fog. Not knowing what to do with my grief and confusion. 

I went to my designated volunteer day at the church I belonged to at that time. I asked to talk to a  Pastor friend who had also known Benny for many years. He was very straight forward and to the point, "You are afraid Benny went to hell aren't you?" (Well, isn't that what I had been taught?) He quickly added, "I never once heard him deny Christ, or his belief in God. In fact, he continued his journey in Christianity. He continued to serve others, find a church that fit, and was caring and loving. Do you think that God met him at the door and said 'get out' ? No, No, I don't think so." I left comforted and reminded that no one really knows anyone's heart. None of us really knows what goes on inside the mind of another. The Bible instructs us that only God knows our heart. My Pastor was correct,  my friend did continue in his devotion to his faith, he loved God with all his heart.

That's Ben at the estate he worked at in Palm Beach.   

That's Ben at the estate he worked at in Palm Beach.

 

Years later and oh so many miles traveled in life, I know that I know, those words spoken to me that day would become my true north. I still hang on tightly to my belief in God. My belief that "GOD IS LOVE" as the Bible says, is the most simple doctrine of all. If I hold fast to that and let it be my example and guide, that is being true to my faith. How can I judge the heart of another?

I wish that I could tell him how sorry I am that I wasn't a better friend, that I am sorry for my lack of understanding, for judgments made way back when. I want to say that I didn't know how to love outside of my black and white lines and love him the way Christ loved. Maybe this post will let you know about how extraordinarily magical and goofy my friend Benny (Bernie) was, about how he loved his pet duck "Chuck" and the wonderland of gardens he created. I want you to know how I loved him. 

One evening,  long ago and far away, One winter night at a sleepover at Benny's..my heart was sad, the windows were open and the lace curtains billowed in the soft breeze, a candle was burning on the night stand. He put an old record album on the small stereo there in the corner. He said to me "you need this.." he turned up the volume and left the room, closing the door behind him. To this day, that's where you'll find me when Debussy's "Clair de Lune" is playing.


Sunday Morning's Morning Pages

GOOD MORNING Mr.MAJESTIC !   

GOOD MORNING Mr.MAJESTIC !

 

new blooms after a stay at the spa.

new blooms after a stay at the spa.

Sunday Morning's Morning Pages..MEANWHILE BACK AT THE RANCH..I am back from our winter jaunt to Tennessee. Life goes on without you at the Little Yellow House. Flowers fried from frost bit the dust, Orchids hanging in my kitchen to escape the freeze we had before I left bloomed. They thought they were having a spa vacation ! A snake (adult sized Corn Snake) moved in to the garage, where my laundry room is. Sorry, no picture! My arms were full, and he/she was gently moved as I stepped on it's tail, slithering under Mr.Wonderful's work bench, to be revisited later, I'm sure.

Welcome to your newest home FIRE ANTS FROM HELL !   

Welcome to your newest home FIRE ANTS FROM HELL !

 

The on going battle with the FIRE ANTS FROM HELL progressed. I wasn't here to dump my coffee grounds around the collards every morning, so they have now taken up residence there. Coffee Grounds are a natural deterrent.  (OUCH! I hate it when they get in my shoes!) The green Anole's that live on the back,back porch are still having their winter sleep in the little shed. BUT, Mr.Brown the Majestic who rules the lower regions of the back,back porch was sleeping under a cushion and quickly escaped a death due to large human rear yesterday, when I went out there to read. 

Little webs everywhere ! 

Little webs everywhere ! 

AND THESE THINGS APPEARED..What appear to be tiny little Spider webs all over the yard. Not the hanging type (those are here too). No, these are ON the grass..here's a picture. I sincerely HOPE this is not a sign of things to come. I am less afraid of a snake in the laundry room than spiders around here ! Can you say "ARACHNOPHOPIA"? (extreme or irrational fear of SPIDERS) I can ! I've had it all my life. Please, please don't let this be a sign of a bumper crop this year ! We often have brown wolf spiders in the pool, where they belong, to be sucked down the drain THANK YOU.

Yes, yes, I know it's broken, but I hung it in the little shed anyway, "cause Mom's love to see their kids artwork, broken or other ! Check Out "LOST TRADER ART" on Facebook.

Yes, yes, I know it's broken, but I hung it in the little shed anyway, "cause Mom's love to see their kids artwork, broken or other ! Check Out "LOST TRADER ART" on Facebook.

I am considering a move to the little shed for a writing spot. It shouldn't be too hard to do. I've used it for everything else from bike storage to party central. I am going to have house guests this winter. Friends wanting to escape their winter confinements. Why not share this beauty ? In the meantime, it will help to have a designated spot for silent typing. Any ideas you have would be welcome !

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I hope you have a Happy Sunday filled with your own TOWANDATUDE, Many Blessings !

Welcome Winter Guests ! ( The back Back Porch)

Welcome Winter Guests ! (The back Back Porch)

The Silence of SNOW

The beauty of silence.

The beauty of silence.

I took a  trip in the middle of this weeks snow fiasco that caught everyone in the south off guard. I know a lot of folks experienced some pretty traumatic things this week, from giving birth on the side of the highway, to car accidents and house fires. My prayers are with them. I was safe and sound and only ventured out a few times on the snow covered byways. It's always been a thrill for me to drive in the snow. It's been nice to get a small taste of it again.

For me, this past week has been one of silence mostly. I had forgotten about the silence that comes with snowfall. The stillness right in the middle of the world going on around you. As the flakes fall and the leaves left on the trees are silenced from rustling. The ground gets covered with a blanket of white that silences footsteps. Birds stand out now against the white backdrop. My mind goes back to the snow days and blizzards of my children's youth. When I was in my glory of making popcorn for the neighbor kids and movies played on our VCR. When they went back to school, again, there was that silence. 

Silence is a good thing. I am not so quick to try and fill the void of sound as when I was younger. It's okay to be alone with me, no interruptions from TV or social media. It's good to be still and listen...And watch the snowflakes fall.

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I Hope YOU Have a Happy Sunny Sunday.

Happy Sunday out there ! We awoke this morning to temperatures well below normal for this part of the country. It was a whopping thirty two degrees at seven thirty when I dragged myself out of bed, thankful for Mr.Wonderful's decision to install carpet in the master bedroom when we renovated this house ! Now it's already a sunny sixty four out back, the beauty of south Florida living. I get just a taste of cold so that I keep loving the thrill of it when it happens here. 

Male Painted Bunting on our bird bath a few years ago.

Male Painted Bunting on our bird bath a few years ago.

The female Painted Bunting, hiding from me in our bamboo near the feeder. The females in the past have been more green than this gal is.      

The female Painted Bunting, hiding from me in our bamboo near the feeder. The females in the past have been more green than this gal is.

 

 

Our annual winter yard guests, the Painted Buntings are back. I am always so overwhelmed at their stunning beauty. Their colors are so vibrant and breathtaking. What a treat they are to watch in the morning. I have made myself a sort of blind for observing them on the feeder. I know I looked pretty funny out there sitting in my lawn chair, hidden in the bushes, wearing my giant robe and flannel penguin jammies, coffee cup in one hand, camera in the other  The P.B.'s are so shy, the slightest little noise sends them fleeing.

 

 

This Sunday, I'll be on the screen porch trying to master the challenges of my new Mac Book. I bought a "for dummies" book. Because it seems I fit into that category at ALL things technical in this era of life. I hope you enjoy your Sunday wherever you are and that it is a sunny TOWANDATUDE filled one for you. 

Happy New Year Reader Friend.

The little shed at Christmastime...

The little shed at Christmastime...

One of my "eighty something" friends, Miss Chris, whose story I shared with you about her days as a teenage girl in the Civil Air Patrol in the 1940's. She was my houseguest for a week in December.

One of my "eighty something" friends, Miss Chris, whose story I shared with you about her days as a teenage girl in the Civil Air Patrol in the 1940's. She was my houseguest for a week in December.

I've been missing something since the eleventh day of December, the date of my last post. That was the day I began missing out on sitting down and writing something every day. The holidays and houseguests were full and wonderful, but something was missing. The thing I can liken it to, is my years of living in a northern climate where I could not garden all winter long. I continually felt as though an important part of myself was hibernating somewhere. That's the way the past month has been for me. There's been a yearning, like a little alarm going off in the back of my mind, "come back, sit down !".  There's a music alarm that repeats early each morning with the time I should be sitting down to write. I have become so acutely aware of how important discipline is to any creative process, but now it seems more important as I grow older.

About eight years ago I set up a Blog that was just for my children. I called it "Mom's life lessons learned". That, as most of my writing endeavors have been over my adult life, was never completed. I started, stopped and quit. This TOWANDATUDE Blog adventure that I began last April has been just that, an adventure. It's been a learning experience. I've shared some memories and emotions, and I've come to know some amazing women of all ages, from young adventurous ladies just beginning their journey to eighty plus year old women, who have shared their stories with me. I have been in awe of all of you, and inspired. I have also revisited some lessons I thought I had learned long ago, but as with most lessons in life, we experience them again and again like an onion peel in a new and different way. 

I've gotten to spend time with young women just beginning their life adventure !

I've gotten to spend time with young women just beginning their life adventure !

I learned a lesson long ago when I was involved in the  creative arts arena in my Pennsylvania and Hawaii life.When people allow you to view their artistic expression, whatever medium that may be, it's a bearing of their soul, a view inside their delicate self. They take a risk of how you will receive them.We must be so careful with our words and how we respond to these expressions. We have the power to build up and to tear down with our words. When I taught classes back in those days, I saw this so clearly that it frightened me of the delicate balance that my words held. I held the power to encourage or dash to smithereens their precious expression. I was overwhelmed with the privilege of viewing what seemed to be a sacred thing.

Fortunately for me, I had some incredible mentors in that season of my life, who taught by their extraordinary examples of leadership. My friend Lynne P. lead me through countless training and my (then) Pastor, Marcia S. gave me an apprenticeship in her Worship & Fine Arts office. Those women delivered me into the waiting arms of Rick & Judy Sorum in Hawaii, who extended so much trust to me with their students. It was in the arms of these individuals that I saw how delicate we humans are with our efforts to express ourselves. I left that life seventeen years ago, when my world took a U turn and I came back to Florida. Now with this blog I set out on a new creative endeavor. I won't lie to you, I've shed some tears a few times, that things haven't gone exactly as I'd hoped. But that's just my expectations presumed upon others, which at this point in the picture of life, I should know better about ! I've always wanted to possess that attitude of "who cares what they think?" but truth be told, none of us really mean that all the way through. I'm getting better though, and here's why...

A little coffee,  and writing my "Morning Pages" It's a new year and I'll start again..

A little coffee,  and writing my "Morning Pages" It's a new year and I'll start again..

I LOVE THIS. I love this little blog! I love getting up early in the morning and writing my "Morning Pages" and sometimes seeing it come together in a story form for the Blog. I have a love-hate relationship with trying to learn how to navigate this website to send out these posts. I love sharing my pictures and my "Mom's Life Lessons Learned" under this TOWANDATUDE site with you. I love sharing my thoughts about what things feel like at this era of empty nests and hot flashes, it's good to know there are others out there sharing similar emotions. I love the challenge of "Writing Prompts" from writing groups I frequent online. I've missed it over the last month! Some friends from my past have joined with me and supported this adventure. It's been so lovely to have them back in my life, even though they are so far away, and I've made some new friends too, along the way.

Author Steven Pressfield asked readers in his book "THE WAR OF ART", if you knew that when you woke up in the morning you would be the last person on earth, what would be the one thing you would still get up and do, knowing that no one else would see it ? (forgive me for paraphrasing terribly S.P.) I knew instantly that I would still get up and write and garden, I answered without hesitation. That tells me that even if no one else goes with me, I'm still going forward, because this brings life to me. What about you ? What would be that thing you would do even if no one ever witnessed it ? It's a great question to ask ourselves isn't it ?

So, for this NEW YEAR, I will not subject myself to life without some form of artistic expression. I hope to continue to grow and evolve, expanding my ability and knowledge of this craft.  My wish for you is that you will find a path that leads to your creative adventure. I wish too that you would share it with me, so that I can follow your journey. Many, many, blessings reader friend and Happy New Year !    

Happy Happy New Year Reader Friend ! 

Happy Happy New Year Reader Friend !