Meanwhile, my appetite is reduced, but my spouse is putting his cooking skills to good use as he is making something delicious every night after getting home from work...each dish is better than restaurant quality. That's a talent that I do not possess.
I'm a turkey sandwich kind of gal.
Also, I appreciate the kindness of having someone prepare my meals right now. He doesn't have to do it, but he does it out of kindness. I can tell you this much, when I'm in a foul mood, the last thing I want to do is be in the kitchen. It's a good thing the dogs don't have to rely on me to cook their food, I just have to turn the bag sideways and I'm DONE! The chickens need to eat? Scoop and sprinkle. DONE!
Even so, I don't get much appreciation for keeping the floors clean every day or for polishing the banister and furniture but that's not a very digestible contribution. Oh, the lemon smell is nice, but it can't compare to the aroma of lasagna wafting through the air. Only when I'm unable to do my chores a couple days in a row is it suddenly noticed as a regular chore that doesn't take care of itself. No doubt, a household requires multiple acts to keep it running smoothly. The two of us have great experience at being on auto-pilot to make things run smoothly, no matter what. I guess we're kind of like a fine-tuned machine. The problem is...I could use a little less mechanics and a bit more elbow grease.
Today, as I laid around feeling pathetic with a slight fever and aching joints, I began to think about the acreage --- the big decision of the moment is whether to build the cabin on the side of the land that already has the septic in place or to build it a few acres away where city water can be made available...because it's already piped to the corner of the land on that side of the acreage.
Pros and Cons of one side of the acreage compared to the other for the cabin:
1. Area of septic system already in place has soil that is much softer, as if the natural springs in the area run heavily through that zone. For about three years we had an RV in that area and we'd often have spongy feeling soil. Many a vehicle has sunk to its chassis in this area, including one of my brother's prized 4-wheel drives that had to be rescued by a Land Cruiser, that failed to do the job and sunk, meaning both vehicles had to be pulled out of the muck and rescued. It can get really bad on this side of the land, especially during the winter months. Of course, this side of the land has been less inhabitable and over time usage will solidly impact the soil to the point of it not being so soft, but we still think spring water too easily seeps to the top of this area, creating major problems with large equipment.
2. The other area of the acreage, the other side is where city water lines are close by, after our having them run 600 feet to the corner of our property. No small feat or cost. This area of acreage has land that is much firmer, has been made more solid by more frequent usage and has a higher clay content and the elevation is higher. It would probably be more stable for pier and beam construction. But, a new septic tank will need to be installed because the septic tank that was installed is on the other side of the land where the ground is too soft. Dang. However, the problem with installing a septic tank really isn't a problem with the skills of my family. In fact, my dad can rent heavy equipment (he's even licensed on most all large industrial equipment and is a certified trainer to license others) and my dad can do the work to install a septic rather quickly. And guess what his day job title happens to be? Plumber. I won't even say where he works as a plumber...let's just say some of the meanest segments of society live where he works. I won't even go into the part about how he would rather deal with the permanent residents than with the stiff suits in that place...to each his own. You'd have to know my father better to understand that capacity.
|That's my dad with my oldest niece, Phoebe.|
At 67 years of age, my dad tries to escape the do-it-yourself variety of work, but he's still willing and able to pull duty when it's really needed. He's been a mechanic, a master welder, and now, in his retirement years, in his 60's, he decided to earn his plumbing certification. Isn't that something?
He's from old school work ethic. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you're doing something.
There's my brother in the photo below...he's Mr. Systems Analyst Director. The Geek with tattoos. He's lovable. He's definitely partly my mother, geek and part my father, rough and tough.
Except, my father was truly tough. So tough he never felt the need to put one tat on his body. He always said he didn't need ink to speak for him. He could do it quite well with his fists. And he did.
Have I mentioned that my dad was a rough-neck? We live in refinery land outside of Houston, a man's-man kind of industry. It's softened throughout the years, but is still a rugged world today. After we came back from Europe to be closer to my dad as he worked and lived on an off-shore oil rig in the North Sea, we came back to America to live the life of being around hardened refinery workers. In fact, Urban Cowboys was partly filmed in the town I grew up in with scenes from refineries my dad and other family members worked at...it was pretty accurate.
And yes, I've danced at Mickey Gilleys, the very dance floor where John Travolta strutted his stuff. At 14 years of age. I danced happily with a handsome cowboy until my mother suddenly appeared, caused a horrible scene, and literally dragged me off the dance floor. Oh, such good memories. It was the best trouble I ever got into!
|My brother "Bubba" and my dad, "R.D."|
As for the move to the acreage, my dad actually has land near my acreage and so does my brother. Looks like we all love The Piney Woods of Texas, especially the part that runs into the Big Thicket. It's in our blood. My brother's land is even more rural than my own. It's land he inherited from my folks, land we grew up on when we were kids. Sometimes, the creek would wash out the road and we couldn't access our property for a long time. And we often felt like we had to keep ducking our heads because our land abutted a hunting lease. Fabulous!
And who said we kids didn't grow up roughing it?
If you've lived near an official hunting lease, but not as part of the hunting teams, you understand "roughing it."
We had no running water or plumbing or any electricity. Our time in woods was spent in glorious freedom. Well, my brother and I loved it, but our little sister was never quite into roughing it that deeply. She's a nature-loving girl and will even be the best camper in the park, but don't put her in a wilderness setting with too many wild animals because she loves Bambi very much.
Me, if I get too scared, I'm shooting in the direction of Bambi. My sister, she's going to be rushing Bambi to the closest vet in town.
Anyway, the land with its two sides is so much like regular life. Which side do you pick? Each one has its pros and cons. This is the hardest part of the decision process for me. Each side is equally beautiful, but firmer ground is probably the winning side. Building a pier and beam house a few feet off the ground with a couple feet extra in the air probably wouldn't be a bad idea. Just in case. After all, we do have a creek nearby.
|My dad with my girls.|
Speaking of "roughing it," that's what I'm doing tonight as I am chewing my fingernails (not really) in worry about my daughters and their friends having a weekend jaunt which means P-A-R-T-Y since it's my oldest daughter's last weekend to be single. Next weekend, she'll be married and on her way to Europe for a great honeymoon.
We all know what that means --- it means all partying to life comes to an abrupt halt. Ha Ha, only kidding. Well, sort of kidding. Marriage does mean that you're building a life together and that means you're building more responsibility into your joint creation. It's a good kind of building...productive and meaningful.
As for things productive and meaningful, things are calming down over here on my own homefront. Therapy can do that for a person. The cost-couch has its benefits, don't knock it. The stress of the pending wedding has been intense. In my own home, the ugly threats of divorce that began as a manipulative tool and spread to both sides sputtering words of divorce and the willingness to fulfill the definition has come to an agreed upon truce, for the time being. I don't know what the future has in store, but I take it day by day. There's still a long way to go, but the past few months has made me into a much different person. My personal edges are edgier, but my wider boundaries are more blurred. Does that make sense?
At any rate, my dream for Heather is for her to have a Fairy Tale marriage, but I know that's a dream. So, my realistic hope for Heather is that she live a life full of meaning, not perfection. I hope she accepts herself, even when she is not perfect. Heck, she's so darn perfect in my eyes that she could be smeared in cow poo and still smell like a rose to me. She's my gal, my first-born. As for Fairy Tale marriages, I've learned that those don't exist and the more reality-based you can be when entering into marriage, the better off you both will feel when you let each other down. And I wonder, Why in the heck didn't our generation have "Fairy Tales" more like "Tangled?" If you've not seen it...see it. I don't care how old you are. It's the REALISTIC Fairy Tale that was long overdue.
Maybe women will one day quit filing for divorce twice as often as men...once they get rid of the "Once upon a time" mentality that prompted them to get married in the first place. Yep, I love "Tangled."
Love itself is tangled. Relationships are tangled. Life is tangled. It's hard to let someone down when you had wanted to do the opposite. It's also hard to be let down when you are the one with higher expectations. The most I can hope for my daughter is that she gets in a marriage that puts kindness as a priority because once the insults and threats begin, it's downhill from there and so very hard to climb back up to the top...one little slip can also undo a lot of progress. It's best to not let yourself fall.
I hope she will be in a marriage that remembers that each partner is highly responsible for their own actions because each action will definitely rub off on their partner, you better make sure it's a good rubbing and not a bad rub. I would hope that she will find that love is more than a word; it's a word that is useless unless you put action behind it to prove you mean it, never assuming the other person just "knows" you love them.
And most of all, in marriage, communication is THE key to success. Without effective communication, there is not a relationship, and this means no marriage, except on paper. Heck, even a baby can quickly learn to communicate...there's absolutely no excuse whatsoever for a grown adult to not have the ability to communicate, lovingly. Any intelligent person with an ounce of rationality will understand these basic concepts and make efforts toward beneficial communication to help create a decent marriage.
And if it doesn't work, let's all agree right now...it's HIS fault. Doesn't that seem reasonable?
So, nail biting urge aside, even though we all know I will never bite my nails because that would include germs, I am thinking of all the wild gals tonight who are hoping this one last singlehood weekend will be lasting enough to carry the bride-to-be into an eternity of being united with that one special person. However, when that one special person is faithful and loyal and loving, it won't actually feel like eternity, the singlehood will be a glad thing of the past.
Don't get me wrong, even in the best of marriages, there might be spurts when it feels like torture, then there will be phases of bliss, then back to being on the racks and being stretched to your limits...marriage is a state of alternating feelings that cannot be mistaken for something to be worthy of quick action, unless there is physical abuse, in that case, let him get in a good slug, then get out the shotgun honey...especially if you live in Texas!
I wonder, do all Texas mothers give their daughters this kind of advice? My advice from my grandmother was, "Just remember, there's this little word called 'divorce' and if he's bad to you, use the word."
I didn't listen to her.
Yes, I'm serious though, that was the advice I got from my grandmother. The reason I didn't listen? Well, it's because she didn't hesitate to use the word for herself, several times. She's the Elizabeth Taylor of my family. But, she's one happy woman.
My mother told me to always wait a year from the moment of feeling the need to respond or to put an action into action. Wait a year. Don't make any major decisions in a moment of pain, wait a year. Her premise is that things are always different in a year. We should never make any long-term decisions within one year of a life-changing event. Wow, she was right! I guess she saw her mother, the Elizabeth Taylor in our family, not heed this advice which led to two wedding and two divorces to the same man. Maybe "wait a year" advice is solid.
Funny thing is...I look back on some years and wish I would have gone into rapid response and taken my grandmother's advice. Other years, I was glad to have made the choice to keep going because it paid off.
I guess there should be some middle ground between the two women who gave me advice. Maybe I am living the middle ground.
There's no telling all the advice that's being given tonight for the start of the bachelorette party weekend extravaganza. I can only imagine. There's no telling how this generation handles such things! I decided to not attend my daughter's bachelorette party because I'm still dealing with traumatic memories of my mother and her best-friend attending mine...my mother's best-friend waving those dollar bills for the next muscle-bound goon to strut his stuff over and smack a romance novel kiss on her outreached lips as the rest of us watched in horror. Well, as I watched in horror. Looking back, my mother and her best-friend were only 36 years old! But, those kisses on the woman I saw as a mother-figure had indeed been painful to watch. Needless to say, I was a budding germ-freak back then and there was no way in hell any of those incredible hunks with their massive germs would get anywhere close to me! Shudder!
Truthfully, the mental images I had of my mother's best-friend were searing to my brain...especially as around 3:00 that morning, as we dropped her off at her house that was around the corner from my mom's house...knowing she was going inside that house as her three little boys slept; she'd head straight to her husband, as she promised us with slurred speech, so that she could be the one to waltz in drunk and after having a good-time of her own, for once. I wonder if he ever knew that he was getting a purposely sloppy goodnight kiss from his wife that included a bit of Tom, Dick, Harry, Steve, George, Tim, Ron and Kyle?
On that night, I felt inducted into the secret world of women and their revengeful side.
To be fair, my mother's best-friend was married and is still married to the biggest louse on the planet. After the years passed and my own knowledge of marriage increased, I felt less guilty about knowing all she did that night. I realized that her sharing the "LaBare" germs with her unfaithful husband had been in revenge for all that he had brought home to her through the year. Heck, that night was probably a great memory that gave her the fuel to keep going another 15 years. More power to her!
See? I am definitely traumatized. No, my mother did nothing inappropriate. Her and I sat there and laughed so hard together as our collective friends put those dollars to work for them. It was scandalous. It was always a shared moment with my mother that was weird, but hysterical. Thank God my mother didn't feel the need to join her friend in the kissing frenzy. But, I must say, she knew her best-friend was married to the hairiest, flea infested dog around town and my mom sure didn't mind funding her best-friend's little night out to relieve the powder keg she'd been keeping under wraps for too long. Mom kept those dollar bills handy throughout the night and the trauma went on for hours. But, I must say, it is the most humorous trauma I'll probably ever get to experience. Little Miss Hospital Administrator Gone Wild is a moment I'll always remember.
Oh yeah, bachelorette party of 2012...forgetting my traumatic images of the past, I hope that all the bridesmaids are together at their ritzy hotel and living it up with the bride-to-be, in a safe manner, without any mothers or best-friends of mothers to interfere with their own wild memories. Most of all, I hope there will be no spreading of germs. Seeing as Heather has her biology degree from Texas A&M, she takes after her mother. She's rather composed when it comes to the sharing of germs and is capable of turning them away politely. But, she'll dance! Just don't touch, keep your dancing germs to yourself!
Besides, me and bachorlette party memories do not mix well. Since my own bachelorette party at 18 years of age, I've remained rather innocent throughout my life-time, and I like it that way. My one time at LaBare was enough to last a life-time. Since then, I became wise and have passed up many bachelorette parties. Innocence suits me just fine. I'm all for less germs. Someone else can party with the germs while I sit in my granny chair reading a good book, a Lysol can nearby, and probably being happier as I'm snuggled and content. At least my idea of a fun night involves less slobber. Unless Howdy the Aussie is nearby and leaning his head on my knee while giving me that pathetic look that says, "Throw me the ball woman."
Then, the slobber increases with each new toss of the ball. But, I can deal with it.
Back on track, again...My husband and I will be driving to the Dallas area to be with our daughter, to help her prepare to get married, this coming week. My neighbors are ready to pull house duty. And there's a weirdness to this entire ordeal of seeing my daughter prepare to get married because it's been a bittersweet time in my own life, but one that has helped me find myself again. It's been worth it. The claws are retracted...both sides of the fence have come to a truce here at the house and it's been nice. The White Flag waving in the air is sometimes nice to see.
However, it is very clear that I am different and will never be the same person I had been a few months ago. I don't see things the same any longer. These days, I have more power and more knowledge and more legal advice to bolster my confidence, I have more than I had before. I have more inner strength. It can't be reversed. I like myself better than before.
I've learned that it is okay to raise a little hell sometimes because maybe that's what will make someone better appreciate the good times. Perhaps I've been too passive and too much into the role of having to accept hell-raising. The past few months, I've tried it on for size...I've dished it out more than I have our entire marriage and I can tell you that it probably doesn't feel as good to receive it as it does to dish it out. So, instead of me waiting for the next hell raising session to hit me like a brick, I've learned that perhaps it's time to do some of it on my own...on the days I leave my granny chair. I've figured out that I can put my passive side to the curb and give a little reminder that I'm full of fire...my dad hasn't spent years referring to me as a "firecracker" for nothing. Still, my nature is to be laid-back, calm and peaceful. That's why I have, over the past few months, discovered an appropriate outlet and reward for my many moments alone that gave me ample time to ponder my life, outlook and direction.
Part of my lessons has been that I am more determined than ever to get to a point to where I can continue to take regular road trips and vacations, by myself. This is important for me. My desire to go off alone for trips is not a punishment for someone's bad behavior...it's a REWARD for myself and for all that I have endured.
Let me put it very clearly and to the point...the point that another person will probably not be able to understand...So often through life, I've gone through the worst of times, by myself. Often, I've been left to confront hard things on my own while another was off fulfilling recreational desires. Therefore, going on great trips and doing exciting things by myself is a way for me to allow myself the permission to experience the BEST life has to offer. The power has tipped back into my hand. I've learned that I too can do things on my own terms and if someone doesn't like it, well, that's really too bad because it's what I need to do for me.
As the sentence always goes, "I know you probably can't understand...I have to do this for me..." and such, but oh I do understand., very much so. Probably, YOU don't understand what I need to do and about how I must start getting away on a regular basis. But, let's see if that understanding is two-way or not. Learning to do hard stuff on my own has been a challenge, learning to do fun stuff on my own will be entirely different. Frankly, I'm very excited.
So, not only was I left alone to handle some of the hardest moments imaginable, moments that tested my ability to meet highly stressful challenges without support. Those times alone have added layers to my character, I'm harder to reach and I will now choose to be alone, at times I decide upon. so that I may experience some of the best that life has to offer. I can guarantee you that I will savor those moments, alone, or perhaps with a friend. In my eyes, I've got a lot of time in on the clock that was spent waiting around and doing dirty work by myself while another played and practiced avoidance. Sometimes, the mechanics is what we are left with and the rest has to be found elsewhere. Regardless, I have earned the right to go out and explore a bit of the world without giving an explanation or a copy of my itinerary. I've learned that the only person who is concerned about getting me out of this house and into the world for some great moments, is me. And that's exactly what I am doing, experiencing more of life first-hand, and on my own terms.
So much has changed for me...on paper, in my heart, in my mind and in my soul. It's a sense of power and of ownership that is indescribable. I might have a day when I don't feel like driving far, but I can still drive myself to a cruise port. I can drag along my suitcase on wheels and go places I've only dreamed of seeing, even if it's only one hour away or 1,000 miles away. I can drive myself to the airport or train depot. I can go places and thrive in the experience. That is the big change that has been created within me from all this time I've spent by myself. I've learned to like it. There's power in sharing, but there's also power in being alone and being able to do it well. I'll like it even better when I'm on the road and headed to a new destination I've never seen as the music blares and the wind blows through my hair.
Presently, all I can do is take it day by day while planning my next trip and my next lovely time at being alone, yet not lonely.
And today, even though my body hurts...it's been a good day. I'm so happy for the kids and hoping they will be safe in their celebrations.
As for my daughter, she is about to leap head-first in an agreement called, "marriage." I know all about that agreement. I know the good side of it and the bad side. After 26 years of it, I have to know a little about it to get this far. And I say, "It ain't easy baby." Some days will be easier than others.
But, I hope my daughters will struggle to keep up with the one important part of life that cannot be given to them...their own sense of self, their personal independence, and the willingness to fight and to stand up for yourself as much as you fight for the ones you love.
And when you go through those phases where you don't feel very loving, there is still a commitment to remember. It's too easy to forget that part, but it's the entire reason for taking vows, to make a commitment and to share what life brings, together and sometimes for what it brings when you are electing to be apart. For those newly wed, I recommend strongly that you remember to share in the good and the bad. Don't quit sharing because the alternative might become your partner's pleasing alternative.
I once told my father, during a heart-to-heart, as he was experiencing a messy mid-life crisis, "You better think carefully about leaving mom because you probably don't want her to find out how truly happy she can be without you."
He got it. Think about it because some people don't think about it until it's too late. I'm one of those people who have discovered the happy side of being alone. I almost want to give thanks for the lesson because it's strengthened me. However, through better or through worse...I'm here to say, you can still be yourself and see the beauty in life, even if in the midst of the worst. Hopefully, with my Fairy Tale eyes in place, for them, it will mostly be for the better! In the end, it will be what you make of it.
I hope the girls are savoring this last weekend before Heather says, "I do." May their memories be beautiful and last a lifetime! At least they are not having to see Rosemary wave dollar bills toward her puckered mouth this weekend. Thank you Lord!