From what I can remember: 1-the smell of cinnamon

I’ve had several people tell me that I should write a book. Whenever someone tells me that, I find myself thankful and humble that anyone would even think that I was capable of such. Usually, these kinds of comments come from someone who has been reading my blogs, friends and relatives mostly. I must make a confession, I really don’t think I have the discipline to sit for hours on end, concentrating on the details necessary to compile a tome of four hundred pages or more. I suffer from OAADD (Old Age Attention Deficit Disorder). It may not be an officially diagnosed condition, but it’s real for me.

Instead of writing a book, I’ve decided to try my hand at remembering and blogging some events that occurred during my seventy years of living on this little blue rock. I’m not sure where this is going, what I will talk about, or how long it will last. I’ve made no attempts to speak with any of the old folks in my family, who were around at the time of any of these events. Most of the generation before me is gone, so I suppose I would be considered old folks now.  It’s just my memory and me, giving it our best. Given the fact that I have one of the worse memories on the planet, here goes:

It’s some time before I was old enough to attend elementary school, and I smell the distinct scent of cinnamon. This scent always paints an olfactory image whenever I think of this time.  I find myself back somewhere in my fraternal grandmother’s kitchen. The scent is strong as if I’m there right now whiffing every savory scent. I can’t remember anything else about Grandma Katherine’s kitchen except the smell of cinnamon. Was she a good cook? I have no idea. I also remember the old photos of people she had hanging on the walls; you know the kind that had those haunting eyes that followed you wherever you went in the room. There was also a grandfather clock that chimed on the hour. Her house was dark and from what I can remember everything was faded shades of brown, gray and burgundy. Wait, it’s coming back to me, there was a red-checkered tablecloth in the kitchen.

We lived on a gravel road about a quarter mile north of State Highway 64 in Cross County. The county seat was and still is Wynne, Arkansas. I don’t remember a lot about that time, except what my mother told me years after, during my early childhood. Grandma Katherine and her husband Ulysses, my grandpa, lived walking distance from us, across a field and just off the highway. I do remember walking that distance, which didn’t seem that far away. Of course, I was but a toddler then, so did I walk or was I carried? Grandpa Ulysses and Grandma Katherine were well into their seventies when I was born.

I’ve been told by many folks that you must talk to your older relatives about your family before they die. Being born into a family where oral history was the primary method of passing details down from one generation to the next, I realize the truth in that now, especially when the smell of cinnamon is the only thing I can remember about my fraternal grandparents. They must have had some powerful stories to tell. These folks were born within twenty years of the end of slavery.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Are we advancing backwards?

UNITED STATES – FEBRUARY 14: Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., stands on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in between television interviews on Feb. 14, 2015. Rep. Lewis was beaten by police on the bridge on “Bloody Sunday” 50 years ago on March 7, 1965, during an attempted march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“The More Things Change, The More They Remain theSame.” This phrase was coined by French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in 1848, or there abouts. The following is a story of an encounter my 22-year-old granddaughter had recently on a fishing trip. These are her words, with truly little editing. I read this and it pierced my soul. At seventy years of age, I have experienced a lot of mistreatment because of the color of my skin. I sometimes find myself momentarily cocooned in naivety, thinking, no hoping that my children and grandchildren will not have to experience certain things. Read this and see what your reaction is. I know that may seem like a strange request; however, I want you to let this simmer deep within the bowls of your being.

“Yesterday, I went fishing on Lake Wedington (I know, me fishing. Who knew?!) It was a fun time. My fishing line became the biggest tangled mess, but somehow, I still caught a small bass (again, who knew??) It was me, Daniel, and one of his friends. We’re out in the open, the road right next to us by the lake. Cars and motorcycles are flying by. A red truck came cruising around a curve, packed with guys who had their windows down. Everything was fine until one of them in the backseat saw me and yelled “f***in n****r” at me.

The way my body flooded with heat. I paused, surely, he wasn’t yelling that to me, in progressive Fayetteville, AR. (Fayetteville is a college town, with a reputation as being one of best small towns in the United states to live.) Surely this wasn’t reality. But it was. I looked to Daniel and his friend, praying they didn’t hear it, because for some reason I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that my skin color attracts the most hateful negative attention.

But what I felt the most was anger. I understand that there are plenty of wayward souls in the world who are plain nasty, hateful, and evil. But what I continue to struggle with is understanding why, as a country, we still back Trump, who has been the role model for such ugliness. We have a president who refuses to acknowledge the oppression of America’s black citizens. A president that does not condemn the actions of the hateful. Instead, he uses physical force to silence us. And because of his ignorance, many more American citizens refuse to see that change is needed. Refuse to see how this one man has negatively influenced those all around us.

What I want to see in the leader of the free world is someone who stands up for humanity. I want to see someone who holds compassion for all citizens, who fights for everyone’s rights. And I will make sure that my vote counts this November 3.

America deserves better. We deserve better.”

I’m old and blessed (despite the ugliness in the world) …hope you will be too.

Taking it to the streets

Have you paid close attention to what’s really going on in the world today? Yeah, I know you’re probably like me, you read the headlines of your e-newspaper, scan an article and move on to the next one exercising the same manner of review. However, perusal of your paper will show that people are upset. And it seems as if they’re upset everywhere, around the world, about a plethora of things. They are protesting vehemently in the streets. Of course, all of us know about the demonstrations that have been taking place about the police killing of George Floyd.  That tragic incident is still sparking protests globally. The reality of a global pandemic that’s taking lives indiscriminately hasn’t placed a damper on the motivation for people to prepare their best placards, and to put their frustration on display for the world to see. Inequality and injustice seem to be at the heart of most of these protests.

According to the Telangana Today (https://telanganatoday.com) August 4, 2020 edition, 2019 was a record year for protests worldwide.  Protests are having noticeable effects on government operations in many capital cities around the world: Amsterdam, Dublin, Berlin, Toronto, Paris to name a few. Although the issues that people are protesting about may appear to be varied: police brutality, climate change, human rights, corruption of government officials, justice and equality are the threads stitching together the motivation to protest. One might ask, with over seven billion people on the planet, how can there be a common denominator to all this open frustration? I would suspect the speed with which news of occurrences are transported around the world is a large part of the answer. People can see a video of what appears to be wrongful police shooting on Main Street, U.S. just minutes after it happens in Berlin or Paris or London. People see this and it breeds emotions of familiarity. This is happening in my neck of the woods, too. Another world citizen has been mistreated by their government. I’m upset and I want to do something about it. It’s tantamount to it happening in the global-village square.

As I’ve watched people in the streets of Portland, Oregon protesting against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter, I often wonder about the words to the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States Flag. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Obviously, the protestors on U.S. streets don’t feel that liberty and justice are being served warm to all of our citizens. Today, August 5, 2020, marks sixty-nine days people have been taking their frustration to the streets of Portland.  Whether you agree with the reason they’re protesting or not, you have to give them credit for sticking to it.

The longer I live, the more I see the commonality in what motivates all of us, regardless of the space we occupy on the planet. The human model today, as ions ago, is driven by intangibles such as love, hate, greed, compassion, and a desire to ensure that all are treated with dignity and respect. I realize the latter may not be what drives all of us; however, I think the majority can lay claim to these laudable qualities. And it’s because we do, we oftentimes get sick and tired of being sick and tired and we take to the streets, hoping our voices aren’t like vapor evaporating in the wilderness.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

A Covid-19 Lament and Prayer

This, from one of my fellow bloggers, reminds me of how much we can miss our routines from the pre-coronavirus times. No matter how exciting or uneventful our lives might have been, the virus has disrupted it. The future seems even more unknown.

A Blog About Healing From PTSD

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I miss the life we had
before everything went mad
those ordinary days
lived in mundane ways

Familiar routines
smiling faces
handshakes and hugs
in welcoming places

How do you grieve
the loss of everything?
It was winter when it all began
springtime, now summer covers the land

With no end in sight
I pray with all my might:
“Lord, teach us what we need to see
and deliver us soon from covid-19!”

Copyright © 2020 by Linda Lee @LadyQuixote

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Tomorrow starts a new decade

If you’ve been a follower of my blogs or have read any of them, you probably know that I’m a person who lives with cancer. I won’t bore you with a lot of details here, because I’ve laid the specifics out before. Suffice it to say, I have what’s called Multiple Myeloma. Some really bad stuff that’s estimated to take the lives of 12,930 people in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society. The overall five-year survival rate is about 30%. I’m one of the blessed ones. I’m a twenty-plus-year survivor. My journey has been one of fear, tears, boisterous laughter, faith, love, thankfulness…whatever emotional and mental dynamic of which you could possibly imagine.

Tomorrow starts a new decade. What does that mean? I’ll tell you. I was diagnosed with this disease twenty years ago, March 12, 2,000. So, it’s been twenty years and four months for me that I’ve lived with this burden. I emphasize, live. I can recall when I received word of my diagnosis. As you can imagine, it hit me like a proverbial ton of bricks. And I must admit, I did go through some emotional trauma at the bottom of that dark pit that one can find themselves in at certain stages of life. If you’ve experienced receiving some heart-stopping news before, you know what I’m talking about. Not only does it seem as if your heart stops, but also the world around you.

If you’ve been doing the math, you probably are already asking yourself what in tarnation am I talking about; March 12, 2020 was twenty years since diagnosis; therefore, the new decade started four months ago.  That’s true, and I’m praying that I will live another twenty years with this disease, even better than that, I’m hopeful that a cure will be found soon. That’s not the new decade to which I’m referring. Tomorrow will be my seventieth birthday.

Looking back, I didn’t expect to be here pecking out some of my thoughts on a laptop, preparing to share them with my small number of followers. I’m grateful for each of you, and especially for the times you’ve given me feedback.  I’ve been able to see my three kids grow into adulthood, and I now have six grandkids and one great grandchild. I love them all, and I think that’s quite the God-given legacy to leave behind. Of course, I’m not ready to go just yet. They, along with my dedicated and loving wife, Chris, have provided much of what I consider the reason I’m still here. I know medical science has played a huge role, but one must have a reason to live. God gave them to me, and He has blessed me with the gift of being around to be a part of something that will stretch out for years to come. Thank God for seventy! We’re about six hours away from tomorrow, but I’m confident I’ll make it.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Your comfort is undeniable

I’ve been giving a considerable amount of thought about how I could pay the proper homage to you. You came into my life continually some fifty years or so ago. Before that time, you were an occasional visitor. I really didn’t need you as much then; however, the short forays I made into the comfort zones you provided gave me an enjoyable respite each time. There was a time, during my early childhood to young adult years when I barely gave thought to you. Others, more privileged, had the joy of your company at those times when your comfort was most needed. Of course, being raised in a poor family, who could barely survive hand to mouth, you were one of those dreams I would conjure whenever I indulged in fantasies of a better life.

I was raised during a time when the people in the community to which I belonged couldn’t appreciate you. As a matter of fact, many thought you were an unnatural additive to the formula of life. These folks could just as well live life without you. They weren’t brought up with you in their lives; therefore, acclimation to you never occurred. I can even remember my grandfather saying on more than one occasion that he could stand you but for a short while. He was always anxious to quickly rid himself of your presence whenever you would saunter into his life. I couldn’t quite understand his sentiment, but I never argued with him. Kids back then never argued with their elders. We were brought up that way. Being a grandparent now, I often wonder what it would be like to have grand kids, and kids for that matter, who demonstrated those kinds of respectful attitudes, regardless of how out of touch I might appear at times.

Excuse my diversion into the generational dynamics that don’t occur anymore. Let me get back to discussing this friend of mine, who has become an important companion in my life. Reverting to the second person manner of speaking, it’s obvious that you have had a rather interesting developmental history, with many milestones along the way. You started to share your blessings on more folks during the decade of the 1940’s. Once I realized that, I began to understand why my grandparents-accounting for them being poor-couldn’t appreciate you.

We’re going through a time now, when the Coronavirus is brutally capturing all news headlines. I can’t turn on CNN, MSNBC, NPR of any other news outlet, local or national, without hearing horrible statistics about the devastation being visited upon the world by Covid-19. But you, my friend, are there with me 24/7, making the absurd amount of time I’m having to spend at home all the more bearable. Without you, living in the southern part of the United States during this time of year would be tortuous. From the weather forecast for the next ten days, your contribution to my enjoying a comfortable life is most welcomed. I even find myself praying for your continued operational health. You make being cocooned in my humble abode a comfortable, cool, and welcomed experience. Without reservation, I pay unfettered homage to you, my faithful air conditioner.  I trust you to be with me in the miserable heat and humidity of Arkansas from now through the end of September. Of course, there have been times when you have been needed well into October.

I’m old and blessed (@ 95° Fahrenheit/35° Celsius) …hope you will be too.

New normal?

Chris and I went to a wedding this past Friday. This is the first ceremony of its kind I’ve attended since the Coronavirus took hold of things in March. I felt I had to attend this since it was the nuptials of our niece. I have multiple chronic health conditions; therefore, I’ve been hesitant about going to any kind of social gathering. This was our niece and I didn’t want to be a disappointment to anyone. It was made clear when the invitation was extended that there would be no more than twenty people at the ceremony, and that there would be abundant room for social distancing. With that assurance, how could I choose not to go. The ceremony was shown over some social media platform, so anyone who wanted to see it could.

When we arrived at the church parking lot, we immediately noticed that there weren’t very many cars. The church was a large building, indicating that the sanctuary must have been capable of accommodating several hundred individuals. As we approached the front entrance, we noticed decorations in the foyer in the colors we had been told would be the thematic colors of the event. It did seem somehow strange to see decorations, a guest sign-in book and no people. This was the first time I had been in a church in almost four months. Normally, whenever I enter my local congregation’s house of worship, there are people everywhere, greeting each other and slowly meandering into the sanctuary for the weekly service, the mid-week Bible study or whatever event taking place. A desolate sanctuary in a church…strange to say the least.

Instead of going directly into the sanctuary, we decided to checkout an area adjacent to the foyer. There, we found our niece’s brother, who had come into town from Atlanta. He was there to give our niece away. Her mother died almost three years ago from kidney disease, and her dad is a resident in a nursing facility, battling the effects of Alzheimer’s. It seemed somehow unfair that she wouldn’t have either of them present at a time when she was making a commitment that would change the course of the rest of her life.

I hadn’t seen my nephew in quite some time. There was a bit of time before the ceremony began, so we talked a bit. Our conversation consisted of the normal topics to facilitate catching up on things. Out of all that he said to me, the thing that resonated the most was him saying, “We’re all getting used to the new normal.” My immediate response to him was, “What’s new about it?” Psychologist normally say that it takes about ninety days to change a habit. I know we can have debate about whether the habit is new. I prefer to think that if it’s part of your normal way of doing things, it’s set in stone. Whether it’s new or not is immaterial. Chris and I have been attending virtual church, sitting in on virtual meetings, wearing masks when we go to the store, and practicing social distancing for almost four months now. This stuff has become habitual. We’ve been doing it for longer than ninety days. New normal or not?

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Mind your own business

These are some wise words to follow from a blogger. I had to share them.

Rangewriter

The pandemic upturned our world. Initially people around the globe experienced cascading states of panic as the virus fingered outward from its birthplace in Wuhan, China. We looked on with grim awe as the numbers of critically ill and dead grew in China, then in Italy, and then exploded like an ingloriously potent firework around the planet. Little was known about how the virus spreads and precisely how it attacks the human body. Quarantines and lock-downs were the first lines of defense against a mysterious enemy that silently stalked its prey.

Scientists, spurred by horrific death tolls, worked round the clock for six months trying to get a bead on this disease. Initially, the greatest tool they had was containment. Quarantines and lockdowns slowed the progression. Infection statistics seemed to decrease in direct proportion to the plunging worldwide economy.

Some countries fared better than others. The reasons for this disparity…

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Where there’s a will, a way is bound to follow

Dictionaries usually give two or more common definitions of milestone: 1) a stone set up beside a road to mark the distance in miles to a place, and 2) an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development. Since mid-March, the latter has suffered from what we normally do to acknowledge noteworthy accomplishments in the lives of others. Spring is the time that we celebrate graduations from high school, college, graduate programs, medical school and more. The young, old and those at various ages in between are excited to achieve educational milestones in their lives. They’ve work hard, made sacrifices that effect their lives and others, to mark a point in their development that calls for celebration. 

I was one of those odd kids growing up. My mom struggled to buy the senior ring when I was nearing the point of high school graduation. I wore the cap and gown, and I unenthusiastically participated in the hallowed ceremony of marching and receiving my diploma. But I never really had a sense that I needed the pomp and circumstance. My family enjoyed the whole thing. Later, when I went off to college, I told myself that I wouldn’t do the graduation ceremony thing, and I didn’t. It’s been so long ago that I graduated from college that, if memory serves me right, I think my degree was mailed to me. Yeah, I know, you might be saying that I denied my loved ones the opportunity to see the first in our family to attend college get his degree in a glorious graduation ceremony. We introverts do things that others can’t always understand.

As I think about my attitude regarding participating in pomp and circumstance, I must remember others don’t think the same as I. This year’s graduation season has been visited by the dark visitor sir named the Coronavirus. This creature from Friday the 13th, or some other dark and shadowy dimension, has  crept unto the stage of normality just in time to disrupt so many transitional events of life: graduation ceremonies of folks who have worked hard to move onto another stage in life; the joy of playing and watching many springtime sporting event; time in parks and numerous other green spaces to enjoy the annual budding of spring colors, etc.

When given a challenge, people have this ability, this creative nature to find a way. Back in May, I was working in my front yard, and suddenly I heard the honking of horns and loud music coming down my street. I looked up and there for all eyes in the neighborhood to see was a parade of vehicles passing my house and turning into the cul-de-sac in across the way. This parade was headed toward the house of one of our neighbors to celebrate the college graduation of their daughter. The moment contained all the pomp and circumstance you would expect to see in a college campus auditorium, except the fine regalia and modestly inspiring speeches. Some of the passengers even got out of their cars and proceeded to dance in celebration of the event. One of the local television stations had assigned a photojournalist to capture the event, which was later broadcasted. The whole thing was a moment to remember, and I’m sure our young neighbor will never forget.

Humans love celebrations. Since the start of 2020, we’ve been amazingly creative in finding ways to mark milestones with appropriate celebratory actions, despite the Coronavirus.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Sunday song

Here’s something from Brenda Looper, assistant editor of the Arkansas Gazette, who blogs under the handle Serenity is a fuzzy belly. I thought you’d like it.

Serenity is a fuzzy belly

We’ve all been a bit down, some of us because we’re so frustrated … with people who think only of themselves … with those who refuse to understand that quarantine/isolation procedures are designed to get us out of pandemics more quickly or that wearing or not wearing a mask isn’t a political statement …

Still, we see kindness out there in good samaritans, essential workers, and everyone who tries their best to keep us sane with stories, jokes, and music, and those who are there just to lend an ear to a friend. This is for them.

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