It's something I do approximately 2 times per year. Well, ok... I guess it's technically a lot more times than that, but only for approximately 2 occasions. Once to put Christmas lights up and once to take them down. David did the ones "way up" in the eave of our porch (and some of the others in the putting-up process), but due to his angry feet/ankle issues, I do the lion's share of the ladder climbing these days.
And before I go any farther... yes, yesterday's date was January 16. Perhaps some of you are more punctual about removing your outdoor Christmas decor, but I don't mesh well with freezing or rain or gale force winds or any combination thereof, so ye olde twinkle lights... they stayed put way past Christmas and New Years and Epiphany (or whatever the Catholic holiday is some people want to leave their stuff up until). There's no rhyme or reason to my decoration removal other than, if it's the day after Christmas, I want the inside stuff gone and, if there's winter weather involved, I'm likely going to be inside and in my pajamas and under a blanket or four. I think I already covered that in a previous post, though.
Last year was the first time I attempted the ladder scaling. I'm not a fan of heights, you know. When I was just a little thing, I thought that my uncle's acrobatics in the rafters of the tobacco barn looked so neat and begged to go up with him. Anticipating my response, my grandparents hoisted me up to one of the lowest rafters where I promptly clutched onto my uncle's leg and refused to move until someone got me down. That's what I do with heights... I clutch things. So, as you might have concluded, my experience with the ladder last year wasn't pleasant.
I was shaky and awkward. My whole body was sore the next day from how tense I had been. My calves were especially upset since I insisted upon moving the ladder between practically every staple I needed to pull out thereby lessening any necessity to lean, so I went up and down a lot. I also made sure Scotty knew how to call 911, just in case.
"Now, you know, if Mama falls and is laying on the ground, you need to run in the house and get the phone and dial 9-1-1. Now before I go up, recite our address to me..."
I'm sure that will have no emotional repercussions at all.
Today's ladder experience wasn't so bad. The sun was shining, the wind wasn't blowing too much, I was already outside after running an errand. I was ready to get this thing done.
And so I did.
I just hauled the ladder out, found my pliers, and went right up that ladder. All told, the whole thing took about 30 minutes, I guess (with David's help on the scary eave, don't forget).
And while I was going up and down the ladder (not quite so many times, mind you... I'm getting braver about leaning), it occurred to me that things won't always be so easy.
It won't always be such a non-event to just decide to carry a fairly heavy ladder out of the garage and across the yard. Climbing up and down a ladder 20 or so times won't always be just a quick sidestep in my afternoon's plans.
What I'm talking about here is growing older. That dad blamed aging process, which I'm already beginning to see signs of, I'm sorry to say. Those little folds over my knee caps that didn't used to be there. The aches and pains after I sit in the floor that didn't used to happen. The face-distorting squint when I look at the television that prompts David to say, "You should really wear your glasses." Those little creases that linger around my mouth and eyes after I smile. And most curious of all, the fact that they've got kids working in all the stores now... I'm not kidding...literal children.
I know I'm not old and I don't feel old, but I know someday I will, if God grants me the years to get there. And I sincerely hope that I do get there.
I spoke with a lady who I know through church connections last night and we were discussing how God uses our life situations sometimes to change the ways in which we serve Him. She said something that resonated with me: "Sometimes God just wants us to be still."
Right now my life is go go go. It feels relentless and overwhelming sometimes and there are days when I just long for stillness. I think about the peacefulness of my parents' house and my in-laws' house and how they can settle into their chairs and watch TV or read and then get up and walk across their livingrooms without wanting to commit a crime because of the Lego that just became embedded in their foot.
And I wonder what God has in store for the time in my future when it's my turn to be still.
For those days when I have to call a grandson or granddaughter to come put up my Christmas lights and take them down. Or mow my yard. Or move a piece of furniture. Or get the conflabbed television to change channels!
For those days when climbing a ladder will be out of the question because climbing into and out of my bed will be a chore.
I don't dread those days the way I once did because the quiet realization washed over me recently... that we don't ever lose our strength.
Our strength just changes.
We don't ever stop being useful. Our usefulness just looks different.
We don't ever stop being needed. What we're needed for just evolves.
In some ways, I guess growing older is a lot like climbing a ladder in itself. You need that physical strength to climb, but once you near the top, it's best to just be still. And someday when I'm an old Granny, I hope I can sit near the top and help those who are still climbing to use the strengths they have to keep from toppling over. That may be a silly analogy, but it makes so much more sense to me today than it has in the past.
And I think I must have some of the strongest people in the world sitting above me on my ladder. I'm so thankful for that.
The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head. (Proverbs 20:29)
Note: In the interest of anyone's disturbing mental images, I don't sleep pantsless unless I'm wearing a gown, which I was/am. With pants, currently. You're welcome.
2. The main reason that getting out of bed was so devastating is that I shamelessly confiscated the heated throw which was a Christmas gift to my husband and took it to bed with me. It was set on the 3-red-bars setting, which is, I've found, the perfect setting when it's on top of a quilt and a flannel sheet (and no pants, but not in a creepy-I-sleep-with-no-pants-on kind of way, which we've already established). Furthermore, it turns out that the 4-red-bars setting is the perfect setting for when you're sitting at the desk wearing pants (and a gown) and need something warm to wrap around your shoulders. An activity, by the way, that I make fun of my husband for doing like it's my job. Not that he wears pants and a gown. I mean, he wears pants, obviously... nevermind. Moral of the story: The current cold snap has turned me into a thief and a hypocrite. I feel better with that off my chest.
3. I don't even know how to address what my skin is doing right now. I've had to use "special" soap and shampoo in the winter for the past couple years anyway and every time I think about that fact, I involuntarily roll my eyes because being a diva is something to which I never aspired. And now, apparently, those "special" products have decided to not work for me because oh. my. gosh. You know that scene in The Mummy where the gem stones come to life and turn into scarab beetles and go all up under that poor guy's skin? Yeah, basically anytime anything touches my back, that's what it feels like.
And, because my skin is so dry, my sebaceous glands are all like, "EMERGENCY! ACTIVATE!" so my face is an alternately greasy, shiny, pimple covered mess and typing-paper dry and Joan-Rivers-face tight. When I smile, I can feel my ears move. Also, having dry skin reveals wrinkles. The most pronounced of which happens to be right on top of a zit. True story.
4. Guess what my favorite thing to do is when it's cold. Sit around/nap/do nothing of any value whatsoever. Guess what my second favorite thing is. Eat with reckless abandon.
"Oh look! I just walked into the kitchen! Better grab a snack."
"Oh look! I just left the kitchen and am approaching the couch! Better go back to the kitchen and grab another snack."
"Oh look! I'm awake and doing nothing of any value whatsoever! Better grab another snack."
My jeans groan when they see me coming.
Ok... now a word in my own defense. I actually don't mind the winter. I don't really have a favorite season because I love things about every one. Every day of life is a blessing and I try to remember that and live that way. I just don't always handle cold weather all that well, which you've probably figured out already. Furthermore, I really believe that if there was an actual reason that I had to go out in the cold, I would handle it differently. If I had critters to tend to or some kind of actual outdoor work, I would deal with it. I mean, I did go out and feed the dog and get the ice out of her bowl and refill it OUTSIDE, I might add, which means I got water ON MY HANDS. That wasn't pleasant. But I didn't die or shrivel up or spend the rest of the day cursing the cold weather. I handled it. And came right back inside.
Believe it or not, I could go on, but I'm becoming disgusted with myself. And kind of hungry, now that I think of it.
Better go grab another snack!
Just a note here to say a big THANK YOU to all of you fine folks who do have to work outside in this bone-chilling weather. Farmers, members of the military, law enforcement and other safety personnel, linemen, HVAC folks, plumbers, probably cable people too, for heavens sake... I'm looking at YOU. For doing your jobs so that rest of us can be safe and comfortable and entertained (oh brother)... I appreciate your willingness and sacrifice. THANK YOU!
(Also, before you call animal services, rest assured that Gertie gets plenty of attention and has an insulated doghouse that is blocked from the wind and has lots of pillows and she's always very warm when she emerges I wouldn't allow it to be otherwise. Oh, and she also has a fur coat and was very wisely designed to survive outdoors. But that's another post altogether.)
Happy New Years, friends!
a unicorn for your viewing pleasure
I usually stay away from new-years-ish resolving simply because I know myself. For one thing, I know that any resolution I would normally make would be something I know I should do and not necessarily anything I would want to do. And if I'm trying to do something that I don't really want to do, I'm going to get tired of it and spend a few days absolutely making myself do whatever it is. Which means I'm going to hate some portion of every day of my life for a few days until I just stop doing it altogether. Which means I'm going to be disappointed with myself and spend some amount of time hating myself and wallowing in self-loathing.
New Years is such a dangerous time for people like me. I love the idea of having a plan. I'm just not always so great at executing the plan. I love a good to-do list. I'm just a little too tormented by the un-checked things.
So, all of these peeks into a few of my psychoses brings me to the point of this first-in-a-long-time blog post.
I made a resolution. Against all my better judgment. And I may hate myself in the morning, but I'm gonna blog about it tonight.
I wish I could let you blog-reading people have a peek into our photo folder. I've always been a picture taker. I used to take a lot of pictures of my feet. I think I have a folder dedicated to feet pictures. I took selfies before they were called selfies. I was taking pictures of my breakfast when nary a tag had been hashed. Ok, that last one isn't true, but I do have a lot of pictures in my picture folder and that was the original point.
My favorite photo subjects nowadays, obviously, are the kids. And I could basically make a flipbook of Scotty growing from birth to 1 year. And then Marlie was born. And I had a newborn and a not-yet 2 year old. I might have continued to take so many pictures if I could have grown a go-go-gadget camera arm or something, but alas, I had no spontaneous limb generation and so the pictures slowed down. The first few months of Marlie's life, there was a decent number of pictures, but for the past 2 or 3 years, the pictures have been pitifully few. The same goes for memory keeping in general. I don't scrapbook. I don't journal often... and when I do it's usually whiny stuff that I probably won't want to remember anyway.
So, I've resolved to be a better memory keeper. Which sounds dumb. Aren't you glad to be a part of it?
I'm trying to take more pictures of our family because I want tangible memories for the time that's quickly approaching when memories will be all I'll have. I want to be able to torture myself with pictures and videos of my kids after they're grown. And I want them to be able to show their kids pictures of themselves and of the things we did when they were little.
I'm trying to allow myself to be photographed more (and trying to convince David to do the same) and learning to laugh at my chins and pores and my yes-I'm-approaching-30-and-it's-still-there acne because I know that someday my children will want pictures of me from when they were little even if I do look like a character from Gunsmoke in most pictures.
And... scary! I'm going to try to start blogging again. I need a place to keep a record of our lives. I don't want to forget these days. They're too precious and too fleeting to not be able to revisit. And I enjoy writing. So, my writing is mainly for me and for our family, but I didn't want to just type into a blank Word document and squirrel away pages and pages where I'd probably just turn all angsty teenager and slip into some puddle of despair and quit writing when it became too pathetic to stand anymore. Writing in a public forum will force me to make it entertaining (I hope). I have no hopes of becoming known, no expectations of a book deal. These are things I wanted at one time. That ship sailed and I'm perfectly happy to blog for fun.
And I'd love for my friends and family or whoever, no matter how few, to come along for the ride if you're so inclined.
So, dear readers (yes, you... and you... cricket... cricket...), I'm sharing this blog post and plan to share future blog posts via links on Facebook and Instagram. I'm still skittish about the Twitter. Maybe someday. There is an app for iPhone (maybe Android?) called Bloglovin you can use to follow if you wish. I promise I will not be obnoxious and clog your feed with endless stuff. I don't even want to try to predict the frequency of my writing habits or the possible subject matter. That will all be quite varied, I imagine. So, if ever you get tired of hearing from me, block or unfriend me. My feelings will remain intact, I promise. Otherwise, look for somewhat more frequent blogging in the future.
Unless I don't follow through. Which is possible. And in which case you can look for me in the aforementioned puddle of despair.