"Keep scribbling! Something will happen." Frank McCourt

Monday, March 30, 2015

April is...

Just so you know, April is nearly here. What does that mean for me?

Spring showers,
Bring flowers of May,
And grass,
That needs mowing, to my dismay.

April also means for me (and several other bloggers) that I’m participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. If you’re wondering what the heck that is, go here.

Sooo because I'll be busy in April, here’s some Millie to tie you over until May.  In April, Millie will have lived with me for one long year. (Go back to her beginning here.) Although I feel like I’m holding my own in regards to her self made rules and stubborn streak, tomorrow is yet another day for her to wear me down. 

Because Millie thinks:
  • The sun peeks over the horizon each morning, just for her.
  • That when she performs her tantrums, on the floor, all of creation should pause while I find out what is wrong.
  • That anything dropped on the floor is hers and means a race must ensue for medicine, chocolate, or rat poison (not really, but it could happen, if I used rat poison). 

Millie is my challenge, but there’s another side to her. Millie is sweet. She loves loves loves Kiki, the nearly 18 year old, white, outdoor kitty. Here's a post about her, here

You see, Millie believes that Kiki is her friend, even though Kiki has never instigated friendship with M, nor even acts like it's in their future. In fact with one quick swoop, Kiki could wipe Millie's face off her head. For those of you who don’t know about Kiki, she comes in my breezeway to eat and sleeps in the garage when it pleases her.

She also sits at the glass doors and looks inside the family room.

That’s how Kiki and Millie met—well that’s where they saw each other. Millie not only loves Kiki, she knows Kiki’s name and gets super excited if I say it. 

Here's a sweet story about Millie's love for Kiki. 

The other morning, I was sitting in a chair writing when I hear something thumping behind me. Millie had taken one of her tennis balls over to the door where Kiki waited looking  through the glass door again. Millie flipped the ball in the air, twice, catching it in her mouth each time. Then she flips it over her head, it bounces on the floor and she runs to fetch it. After that, Millie picks up the ball and runs back to the door to lay it in front of Kiki. She was sharing her toy with her made-up friend.

Millie is sweet for sure. Yes, she probably needs an animal friend, but no. 

See you April 1st for my first A-Z post. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

And My 2015 A-Z Blogging Challenge Theme is...


First, lets revisit the past. Okay? You have no choice.

In 2012, my first experience with the A-Z Challenge, I wrote short fiction. Eventually, I rewrote it, sent to a professional editing service and then compiled it into a digital book titled Grim Tales From The Ruralhood. That was super fun, but lots of work.
In 2013, I wrote The Waiting Summer, memories of the summer before my senior year when I worked at waiting tables. These stories are still at The Ruralhood and (painfully) unedited, if you want to read them. Help yourself! That year was fun, too, remembering, sometimes fearing for my pencil thin teen self after the fact.   
In 2014, at The Rurahood, I wrote about some of my family treasures and shared photos. Sometimes the photos were the treasure.

This year's A-Z theme is, I think, possibly, maaaayyyybeeee, might be: The first and last lines of some of my favorite books and/or short stories.
I’m obsessed with first lines and last lines. Journaling Woman will be my blog of choice this year. If I think the last line will give away the ending, then I’ll say spoiler alert, but honestly, I haven’t found one last line (by itself) that told me how the book (really) ended.
That’s it, unless I change my mind.
There’s still time to join the fun of the A-Z April Challenge. Go here to sign up.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Reflection: Change

I doubt if I'm alone when I say, I don't like change. Most changes, that come my way, attack my comfort zone. It seems to take me a long time to adapt to something good like new furniture or a puppy.
Some people have learned better coping skills than others. This came to light the other day when one of my colleagues didn’t deal well with a request I’d made, but another said when I apologized for the inconvenience, “Sounds good.  I will get it done.  Some people just don't want to roll with changes no matter what.  I am adaptable.”
Their philosophy resonated peace with me. I want to be like that person, “roll with the changes”, be “adaptable”.  Recognizing that life is full of change will help squash change's change on us.
It is what it is!
  • There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
  • a time to be born and a time to die,  a time to plant and a time to uproot,
  • a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
  • a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
  • a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
  • a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
  • a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
  • a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
  • a time to love and a time to hate,  a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV

May God bless you and keep you,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Am I a Hillbilly or Not?

After all these years, the question remains, am I a HILLBILLY or not?  

As a young adult, I became incensed when someone referred to my people, in the Ozarks, as hillbillies. The term hillbilly was not a term of endearment, but a pejorative statement, used to slur the existence of individuals who lived in rural areas and who maaaaybe spoke with a country inflection—of sorts. As in all name callin’, it’s usually done to make others feel good about themselves. It’s kind of like when I had to share a locker with a female student in high school, who believed the A’s on her report card were somehow better than the A’s I made on mine. (Yes it is!)
It made no sense to me.
So I’ve been wondering, of late, is hillbillyism just a stereotype, or is it something real and perhaps a state of mind?
I decided to check with my go-to source BuzzFeed, once again, for a quiz because they rarely let me down in advisement. In the fact, the last time I took one of their quizzes, the results revealed that the career I should be working at is in fact a Writer. Excited with that scientific conclusion, I had immediately shared the information, with my daughter, telling her it must be true because BuzzFeed said so AND its beer reviewed and everything. (Get it? Beer reviewed vs peer reviewed?) 

Sadly, there were no quizzes to help me clarify if I am a hillbilly or not. So I had to review this question on my own and without beer review. Here we go!
I concluded that I may be a hillbilly…
  • If I say, “Oh you’re the one with the house in the holler.” This means your house is in a valley-like place, but not as grand as a valley more like a dip in the land where mosquitoes hover. 
  • If I never call the little pinchy lobster like fish found in our rivers—crayfish. Instead,  I say,“That crawdad chased my bare toes.” True story.
  • If when I say I used an outhouse as a kid, I’m not talking about those things you might encounter in park areas OR the plastic Johnny-on-the-spot things, on a temporary basis. No. You have known a true outhouse experience if you have fought flies and wasps and used sticks as weapons against spiders, all while holding your breath, just to win a seat over an open black hole, in a board.
  • If on any given day in my community, to any person, I might say with 89.999% surety, “I think we’re cousins.” This is why I married a foreigner, from California.
Wikipedia.org claims that the term hillbilly came from “a 1900 New York Journal article, with the definition: "‘…a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammeled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him.’"

Now that seems a bit harsh, but you know what? Some of the definition does speak to me: independent, self-reliant and ready to punch your lights out, if need be. Recently, when I read that someone claimed to be a hillbilly from New Jersey because they grew up in the country (in that state), I raised an eyebrow and may have taken offense, at their statement. An eastern hillbilly? Really?
Seriously though, who am I to question who is a hillbilly and who is not? Perhaps it’s not about a place, but about a state of mind that defines me as a hillbilly. 

Therefore, I am.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Reflection: What's up, Jonah?

In my recent Bible study, I’m reading about Jonah. He interests me, simply, because I’ve never liked being told what to do, and I sort of “get him”. However, this "defiant condition” often gets in my way. The author, of the study, indicates in her writing that Jonah didn’t want to do what God wanted him to do because Jonah didn’t like the interruption, in his life. This is probably true to a certain extent, but to me that’s not the real story.
I think maybe Jonah ran away, instead of proclaiming God’s message, because he felt that the people of Nineveh were not worthy of another chance. His actions, as they say, spoke volumes on where his heart was in spreading the news about Glory of the Lord.  
God uses imperfect people to do what needs to be done. He won't give us jobs that we aren't capable of doing, but how we do those jobs is key.
The big question for me on this day is, does my life (my actions, speech and presence) reflect the glory of God or is he a well-kept secret?
A Psalm of David
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."  
Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV)