Leibster Award- What the Hell?

Source: Leibster Award- What the Hell?

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Leibster Award- What the Hell?

What a way to get us writing!‏

It is an honor – no, privilege – well just plain awesome to be nominated for the Liebster Award!  What is the Liebster Award?  Glad you asked!  I have no idea.  But it is still an honor to be nominated for pretty much anything, and it sounds like fun, so here goes!

DA RULZ:

  1. Make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated me and include the Liebster Award sticker in the post.
  2. Nominate 5-10 other bloggers and notify them of this in one of their posts.
  3. All nominated bloggers are to have less than 200 followers.
  4. Answer the 11 questions posed by your nominator and create 11 different questions for your nominees to answer.  Or, you can repeat the same questions.
  5. Copy these rules into your post.

Thank you lynneggleton for nominating me for this prestigious award. She is a talented writer, great runner and someone I have found a connection with.

Here are the 11 questions she posed to me that I will do my best to answer:

1.  What is the best book you have ever read?
The Diary of Anne Frank.
As a child I was an avid reader. I read all the Little House on the Prairie books, Nancy Drew Mysteries, Hardy Boys, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, the usual classics and other obscure books such as “Quaint Old Stories”, which was a tiny book with lots of cool British tales. For the longest time, it had been my favorite until my parents convinced me to donate it to the school library, which I did, thinking I could read it there any time I wanted. Never did I take into consideration that I wouldn’t be there forever.
All that aside, it was the Diary of Anne Frank which impacted me the most.  I was probably about ten the first time I read it and probably by the age of 12, had re-read it as many times.  At the time I had no idea of what the Holocaust was, but my father perhaps thought it was time I did and thought I would enjoy it. I lost myself in her writing imagining how it had been.  But it wasn’t until I shared with my uncle, who was in the Navy, what I was reading that I got the full picture of what it was like. He brought me a book with graphic pictures of the concentration camps, the barracks, yards, the infirmary, the gas chambers and pits of emaciated dead bodies piled high with soldiers looking down at them.
Years later, I would visit these camps thereby solidifying the visual where she was and what she went through. It wasn’t just the story of what they experienced, but the matter of fact way with which she wrote about it. I related to the intimate details of how she wrote about her pubescent changes, her sexual awareness.  I didn’t have parents that would talk to me about such things, so it helped me to not feel so sinful knowing we shared those same feelings. For years I imagined myself being as brave yet as frightened as she was and I resisted her death, thinking any day now she would be found to be alive somewhere. Because their bodies had never been discovered and her time of death only speculated, deep down inside I had expectations she had to have survived and in that light I kept waiting for someone to tell me she’d been found. It never happened. I so wanted to talk to her.
2.  What is the one toy you wished you had as a child that you never got?
We didn’t get toys as children. I don’t recall ever wanting any particular toy although I always wanted a bike, which I don’t consider a toy. I remember having a top though and we kids collectively got a croquet set once. When I was about eight or so maybe older, I did get a little doll with cottony blond hair, but I wasn’t a doll kind of girl. I still liked her though. I think mostly because she was the only doll I ever got and girls were supposed to have dolls.
As for the bike, At 32, I was so proud to get my first bicycle which I paid for with my divorce settlement and rode to work.  (I worked at a school then and I could get a locker and shower, so it was great!)
3.  What is the one thing you wish you could do that you can’t do or never learned to do?
Play the piano and tap dance. When my grandma died, I had been gifted her piano but it was in Alabama and I was in California. My cousin Juanita ended up getting it. She learned to play beautifully and on my visits there I would accompany her playing with my voice.
I also always wanted to dance like Fred Astaire or Shirley Temple. Dancing made people happy.  I can sort of fake it, but I really never learned.  I remember hanging out at the community rec center in town and they offered classes, so asked my parents to go. We didn’t have a lot of money so they couldn’t pay for all of us, so they opted  for my sister Di to go instead of me. Sadly, I don’t think she even cared one way or another either. Maybe I had begged too much.
What I did get to do is hang out watching and waiting for her classes to end. It was there I’d mimic what they were doing and it was there I was noticed by some older teens taking a modern dance class. They must have taken pity on me because they’d spend time to teach me a routine they were doing called the bullfighter dance. When they got their beautiful satin capes they would take turns letting me use theirs. With their capes and fake swords we would practice for their show to the music of  La Virgen de la Macarena. I can still remember the routine.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=595Dx74KNoY&index=2&list=PL7D593C4D89F61C32
 (I know, that’s two things) I can count, but they held equal importance.
4.  How fast can you run?
I don’t run anymore, but I once did a 10 minute mile or better?  Every morning and evening I’d run four laps sometimes more and I kept getting faster and faster. For awhile I ran with a more advanced runner who would challenge me to do better, but I never timed it.  In my fifties I won a cross country race for my age group. Later I would win a 5K in my age group as well.
5.  Who is the most interesting non-famous person you have ever met?
Despite my father having been abusive on so many levels, he was the most interesting person I ever met.  There wasn’t anything he hadn’t taught himself and learned.
At 84, he subscribed to Italian TV and radio and began absorbing the language. By 87 he had visited Italy twice and on one of those trips rented a flat for a couple of weeks to totally immerse himself in the language.
Dad never met a stranger. He once met a young man on the plane who, he said was very pretty, a playboy and rich. I later discover that his father or great grand father was the Gucci. They became Facebook friends. To this day, even after dad’s death, I get a periodic email from his friend. Very down to earth and still speaks of daddy fondly.
At age 86, he had difficulty walking, so I left him on a bench at the mall for a short while. When I came back I was astounded to see him surrounded by young people NOT small children, but teens, laughing and listening to him tell stories.  My favorite stories came from his youth, what it was like during the depression, the war and his travels hitch hiking cross country from Alabama to California. His first impression of and acceptance of Hispanics and other cultures was refreshing.
6.  What is the funniest thing you ever did as a child?
I was funny all the time. I was the class clown.
7.  Where would you go if there was an apocalypse?
I would want to be somewhere remote, like the farm in Alabama.
8.  What is your least favorite animal?
Is a spider an animal?  Well, it could be considered a critter. I saw a Twilight Zone episode about a spider that, when it got flushed down the toilet and sink, it kept coming back larger and larger until it ate the people. Creepy.
Actually, I can’t think of a repulsive animal, just insects like roaches and other creepy crawlies. Everything has a purpose, so how can you dislike any of them completely? Oh, I know!! A hyena, I don’t like hyena’s. They actually look devious, untrustworthy and vicious.
9.  What is the weirdest place you have ever been?
Did you mean, “where”?
In my head. There’s always been a million things jumbled around up there. Amazing stuff. Stuff, you wouldn’t believe, wouldn’t want to believe and wonderful things as well.
10.  Have you ever had a paranormal experience?  If so, tell us all about it!
No, I’ve never had a paranormal experience but, I’ve imagined one. I’m writing about it in a story, but it’s not copy-written yet, so can’t share.  (sorry)
11.  What is the one thing you feel most connected to?
God, but I don’t see him as a “thing”, so perhaps my faith in Him would be a better word choice.  Second to that, my family.
I now bequeath my 11 questions to the following:
badfish out of water
tandemtrekking
empress2inspire
jamesradcliffe
Sue Slaght
My 11 Questions:
1. Where is the most interesting place you’ve ever visited and why?
2. Who is the most interesting person you’ve ever met?
3. What is the most fun thing you’ve ever done?
4. What is the most exotic food you’ve ever consumed?
5. What is your greatest achievement?
6. Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?
7. Who was the most influential person you ever met?
8. Have you ever screwed up so badly you thought it nonredeemable,      if so were you able to salvage it and how?
9. Do you remember your first friend?
10. If you could change anything, what would it be?
11. What is your favorite piece of clothing and why?

Alabama, Chickens and the Apocalypse

Dad had a “boatshed” where he built three sailboats from lumber off the property. It was equipped with some of the most amazing tools and equipment. Besides all his electronic “stuff” he had the place filled with tools for building furniture and boats. (The big picture below is after we’d sold the big equipment, but you can see the size of the building.)dad's inventory 130dad's inventory 134IMG_0139

I would have liked to have kept more of his tools but when dad died I gave them to my nephew as I knew he’d make good use of them and because he had been very helpful caring for the place when dad could not. We would later sell the “farm” as well.  

We had made lots of memories there. Grandpa’s huge old barn with all it’s treasures from the past, the old fishin’ hole where my kid’s learned to put a worm on a hook for fish so small it was hardly worth the bother but so much fun. My girls rode their first pony there. Then, there was the time, not but minutes after we’d arrived,  my two year old grand-daughter gave us the scare of our life when she wandered off. How one of the kids had sense enough to call 911, I don’t know but they did and how amazed we were that despite it’s remote location, the volunteer firemen were there in an instant (daddy said they were all cousins). When we didn’t know what else to do, I went out to the center of the pasture and methodically checked the tree line and finally spotted her little blue outfit just as she was about to disappear into the dense woods. Since she didn’t speak yet, it was what we feared most.

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Dad and his wife, Rita had built the place with their own hands.  It wasn’t a big place, but as dad said, “it was paid for” and even though it was only supposed to be temporary until they got around to building a proper home up the hill a ways, that never happened. When Rita was dying, she looked up at me sadly and said,
“I never got my home.  Your daddy built three boats, but I never got my home” My heart broke for her.IMG_0131

It was true. Daddy’s priorities were self serving, but it wasn’t a bad house.

When we visited we all fought to sleep on the porch anyway. It had a queen size bed reserved for guests.

As you can see the boat shed on the left is certainly bigger than their little one bedroom. The kitchen was a one butt kitchen, yet Rita canned their winter meals from their harvest in it and sometimes large batches she’d do in the boat-shed, hence the stove there. She made do.

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When she passed, he regretted not having given her her house. He had always taken her for granted and now he missed her and after awhile I sensed he was losing his own spirit in despondency, so when I mentioned this to Russ, we packed up our life in Colorado, away from my kids and grand-kids to go be with him. He was 82. 

When I had been there last I had mentioned to one of dad’s friends how I’d always wanted chickens. Well, unbeknownst to us, she purchased thirteen chicks, now waiting in a box  for me at dad’s place when we got there. And…because chicks grow at an incredible rate, we had to scramble to make them suitable housing. Right quick, in the heat! Ugh! Until then, I temporarily housed them under the house.

With dad’s help we built our own first chicken coop and it was pretty cool. We decorated with old license plates and it was quite a celebration of our toils.

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Believe it or not, the coop is on the left side of this picture, but just a few months after we’d left, it was overgrown with vines and bushes and no longer visible. Frequently in the south, whole houses, if not cared for, would get swallowed up by vegetation in short order, such was the case of our coop.

When we first moved there it was the year of Katrina. It was hot and humid and so unlike Colorado, which is dry, dry, dry. What a shock to our systems. Russ and I would go through 7 or 8 shirts in one day!

Russ and I had the most fun when we lived at dad’s “farm”. It was only two acres surrounded by my cousin’s property which was 360 acres. It was a beautiful piece of land with a stream running through it and a waterfall where I remember my mom saying she wanted a house built near. In those days, my grandparents still owned the land but soon after the divorce, dad left us and mom in California and moved back there, then got into a tiff with grandpa and grandpa made a deal with his brother and it was gone. The land we thought we’d inherit was gone. Dad was bitter about it. According to him there had been some questionable finagling on the part of my uncle in the transaction which created “bad blood” between dad’s uncle and him.

Fortunately, my cousins didn’t hold any animosity toward dad for being bitter but they knew and we got to use the land like it was ours as much as we wanted which wasn’t much. When dad got ill, my cousins would check on him when we couldn’t. Good people.


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So here we are, in the middle of nowhere (even my cousins didn’t live there, they just grazed cattle on it), we had to build a coop for the growing chicks. Dad, being a jerk made fun of Russ for not knowing how to do “guy” things, like building stuff. Fortunately, Russ was quick to tell him, (and dad could tell he was pissed) “Look Gil, I’ve never done anything like this before. Instead of making fun of me, show me what to do! ”

Inside, I was cheering Russ for kindly putting daddy in his place, but I certainly couldn’t gloat about it. No way.  Even though I was too old to get back handed, I could see him doing that and I could also see Russ and him getting into an irreversible tussle. Daddy was smart, but he was still a red neck.

Growing our own food was hard work but very rewarding.  There’s nothing like fresh laid eggs, fresh veggies, greens and home grown corn.

Once we got the coop built, we built this huge pen around it for them to scratch around in, but soon found that to be faulty. Although it may have kept coyotes out, there was more it didn’t.
We never killed our chickens, the local predators did their fair share of that. Between the hawks, coons, coyotes, possums and snakes, it was all I could do to keep them alive.
When we discovered hawks swooping in from above we got netting to cover the top. Unfortunately, I left one little area open around a tree thinking it wouldn’t be a problem. Well, I was wrong.
Have you ever been into a Lowe’s or Home Depot and seen birds frantically flying about and how it seems they can never  find their way out?  That’s because they don’t have sense enough to go down and out the door. Weeeelll, a hawk is not like that.  They are far more clever.  We saw one as it was exiting after having found it’s way through that little gap, snatch a chick and head straight back up the hole and fly out with no chance of us stopping it. Russ yelled to no avail and I quickly covered the hole.
One time Russ was at an auction when I heard a commotion in the coop, so I went running up there with a flashlight and a ‘possum had ripped my beautiful black Cochin’s tail right out of him trying to get him. I was so pissed I ran back to the house and got daddy’s rifle.  I didn’t know how to work it, but I wasn’t going to let that damn thing get my chickens! I’d shot bigger rifles before but didn’t know a thing about this little 22.  When I got back to the pen, the possum had moved further away so now it was on top of the fence on it’s way out. When I shined the light on it, it froze, it’s beady little pink eyes reflecting back at me.  As long as the light was on it, it didn’t move but when I fumbled with the rifle it moved again. Giving up, I called Russ and he said he was just finishing up.  I told him to hurry before the possum got away. He was outside of Birmingham about 45 minutes away. I stayed out there the whole time, mosquito’s gnawing on me while I kept that light on the possum.  When I looked down to make the call I lost him momentarily, so I waved the flashlight around a bit until I found the pink reflection again. The opossum had scooted up a tree, but I found him and this time I didn’t move.  Finally Russ made it back.  He took the rifle from me and because daddy had old ammo and probably hadn’t cleaned the rifle in like forever, it misfired, so Russ put in another shell. This one worked. Not being a sportsman he missed the first couple of times. When he (the possum) finally fell out of the tree, which was a “fer piece” away, we ran over to it.  Russ nudged it and said “he’s dead”. My comment? Practically shouting I said, “Shoot it again! Haven’t you heard of “playin’ possum?!” So my sweet husband did as he was told.
Link to a picture of what my beautiful black Cochin bantam looked like:  http://www.topshelfbantams.ca/images/2013_black_cochin_cockerel.jpg
BTW I am actually a pretty good shot, or at least I have a pretty good aim, but that’s just it, I have to really take my time to aim  and shoot to hit my mark. The problem is, even though I can shoot, I’m not real confident handling weapons and I don’t know how to clean, load and all that other stuff which is just as important.  I know how to put a clip in though. Hehe  You should see my daughter A, she’s a dang Annie Oakley!   Of course my Marine son knows how to handle lots of weaponry and my daughter T, not bad.  I don’t think my son “I” would want to touch one. LOL
Did I like living in the south?  Absolutely!  It’s a great place to live. Think about it.
In an apocalyptic situation, what a place to be. You could easily be self sustainable. Homes and land are affordable, you don’t have to worry about water rationing, Daddy’s place had it’s own well, so nothing got shipped or piped in. Of course, you’d want to install a hand pump, his was electric.  A gas tank if used sparingly, could last a few years. On even a small patch of land you can grow enough for several people and what you don’t grow yourself, those around are more than willing to share or trade. People in the south are extremely generous.
Of course, in an apocalypse, that could change.
I do follow the “Walking Dead” and now “Fear the Walking Dead”. (Smile).
What surprised me about myself was how content I was there, hardly ever seeing a soul and seldom going into town. I actually enjoyed the peace and tranquility of being so remote.  Surprisingly, too much.
 After awhile, I forced myself to get a job because I could see myself settling into hermit-dom forever.
Now, in California, I am just as isolated. It’s funny how you can get lost in a crowd.

Friends and Lovers

Can a man and a woman be just friends, have sex with no love? I say yes to both with a caveat.

Some say it’s impossible, can’t happen…safely and maybe that’s true. My personal feeling is that yes, I can have a friendship with no sexual connection and I’ve known others who have had sexual connections with “just friends” and no emotional tie beyond that… or were they lying to me?

A loaded subject.

I have someone I consider a very dear friend whether he knows it or not. We were lovers once but are no more.   Outside of photographs, neither of us has seen one another in over 47 years and I don’t know that I’d recognize him on the street if I saw him but I really like hearing from him and reading about his exploits and I think he enjoys following mine and that’s perfectly fine.

I remember having male friendships when I was young that were strictly platonic and I had the finest time with them but most were gay.  No sex. No expectations of sex. I also had one relationship that ended in friendship after a rambunctious love affair that lasted a few weeks. It was hot. Probably one of the hottest affairs I ever had and I really liked the guy.  We parted mutually as friends. No hard feelings, no angst, no anything but a warm parting. We eventually lost track of one another.

Recently, I spoke with a young lady who had the great idea to give her spouse permission to have an affair. No, I take that back, she only gave him permission to have sex with someone else.  She set the ground rules with both parties, or so she thought, that there would be no emotional involvement between them, just sex. When more developed, she was angry that they hadn’t “followed the rules”. It wasn’t working and she just couldn’t understand why. They had fallen in love. She’s still in the equation but unhappily.  In her minds eye, it was supposed to work. (I guess if you play with a loaded gun, be sure you know how to use it or it could backfire.)

I explained to her not everyone is hard wired for sex without love. How awful is that? What makes sex grand is love.

It reminded  me of the story of a little girl I once knew who decided she would be a Jehovah’s Witness and her friends would be the people they call on when they knock on doors.  This little girl would stash each child in a closet with a scripted dialogue she gave them to repeat as she would proceed door to door “calling” on them. In the meantime they waited in this dark closet for her to get to them.

If they deviated from their given dialogue, she would tsk tsk, shove them back in the closet and have them do it over  again until they got it right.  Their dialogue would vary from slamming a door in her face, yelling at her, to being interested in “the message” she had to deliver. She was 5 years old and it was humorous then watching this child bully the neighbor kids, some of which were older than her, into doing what she wanted.

But this is not humorous and she is no longer five. The dialogue and wills of others cannot be dictated to.  I’m afraid this young lady, like the little girl will discover that love finds a way. I know she thought if he is given permission to stray then perhaps she could have a fling of her own without guilt or without giving up what she has or thinks she has. She wanted the proverbial cake and the right of eating it too.

It reminded me of when my marriage was going south how it was the guy at the desk next to me that was my sounding board for all the things that weren’t working in my marriage. My husband was paranoid, didn’t allow me to do things, he was afraid of everything and used God’s word as a weapon to neutralize everything I believed in or wanted.

It was this co-worker and friend, who I didn’t love initially who became my sanctuary and who I ran to in my sadness and took refuge in.  From that innocent beginning love grew and eventually became my partner, life mate and fortunately still friends as well. Oh yes, we don’t agree all the time, but that’s okay, we accept that and agree to disagree which means compromising sometimes. We don’t have to be right all the time and we have the freedom to relish in that at times.

As for the young lady, you might say, “what the hell was she thinking?” Sometimes, in my opinion, in an effort toward “free thinking”, we lose our souls, our sense of fair play, and most of all love. Is it okay to have multiple partners? I don’t think so. But I sampled a few to find the one that was the right fit for me and I’m done.  Maybe that’s what all this is about.

The young lady in question was 17 when she married an older man. She was suppressed and molded into developing a mindset that didn’t fit her, only she didn’t know it.  Unconsciously she’s been rebelling for some time and he has been trying to redirect her and get her back on the track he believes she needs to be on even though deep down he’s probably hoping she’ll totally derail.

The dilemma:  What now?

Her fear like mine was and is “What am I going to do? How do I support myself? What about the kids? Will his ship come in once I’m gone. Wouldn’t that be my luck! Then he’ll say, it was my fault that he never succeeded.”  All the same negative self talk I had as well. It’s a safe bet that he’ll do better if they are not together.  Why? Because perhaps his lack of success is that he’s as miserable as she has been.  Who can flourish in a negative environment?

To stay or not to stay?

She’s going to college right now and is a bit shy of her degree. Yes, it would be hard to support herself and continue with school. She may have to learn to budget and plan and…what about the kids?

Yes, there’s a lot to weigh in at, but …with a little bit of faith it’ll work out. I’m praying for her. In time, I hope she’ll figure it out.