Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me :)

Snapped this picture after I came home from finishing the front of the subdivision today. At least I am keeping my vacation tan but the wind that was blowing today destroyed my hair do! I thought I was holding up a birthday card but didn't have my glasses on and grabbed my passport.

I still look pretty  good for fifty two...and you should see my body! I weigh less than I did in high school and I was skinny in high school. In other words I look terrible and need to gain about ten pounds, but at least I am still here.

 I may be skinny but I am strong and have learned over the past two years I am also pretty tough.

Did I really look like this and why is my head so big? And look at those teeth! Thank goodness my Diddy never bowled or drank. He'd a stuck his thumb down my throat and jabbed his other two fingers through my eyes and took me with him the Triangle Lanes to bowl with.

I guess I'm getting somewhat better looking by  this point but not by much. I look kinda somber and all thinky. That phase apparently ended the next  day and  never visited me again.


Things obviously went from bad to worse by the looks of the above photo. Momma even gave up on giving me cute little bows. I think I may remember them wondering if there had been a baby swap.


Oh I'm a real beauty now and it seems  they also tried to enlist me in the Navy. Look at Cindy though. No wonder I still thought I may have a chance and Chris is totally hanging a bird with his right hand. Yep! That's my family!


I'm gonna skip high school and college because it doesn't get better and looking at these photos make me wonder why I never considered suicide as a teen. I just thought I would include a photo of me when I guess I was a member of The Partridge Family.

Somehow, someway I endured being the ugliest kid on earth. Crap...they should have started a foundation for my pitiful looking self!

But I was a happy kid. I was ugly but I was happy. I had the greatest two parents in the world. I had the worst brother and sister in  the world that turned out to be my two best friends once we all grew up...and it took ME a while.

I have ended up a frazzled but mostly happy crazy lady who loves to laugh and isn't afraid  to cry. I try to love every person and sometimes it's tough. But as "Ellen" (huge fan) says... "Haters are my motivators."

Over the past two years I have truly learned humility. Every person no matter how rich or poor needs to know how to be humbled and how to feel not only compassion but love in it's truest form... "Given Freely."

 So I ended up looking like the photo below. I've seen better but I've seen worse. At least I am still smiling.

The best part of my adult life started when I met Tim and starting shoving him down the path of life. He gave me three great kids. I love them each so much it physically hurts and each in totally different ways.

I got me some  youngins!!

You know what? I got me a good life!

I know I am not mainstream. I am avid about my beliefs and tolerant of idiots. I love my friends who disagree politely and feel sorry for peeps who don't seem to realize there is a reason they call it an opinion...there's more than one.

God is thunder booming overhead outside right now. Lightning and thunder.

"Thanks for the fireworks, Big Guy!"

Greatest birthday present ever? That's right I am off til Friday morning!

But really...was I an ugly kid or WHAT?

Another year  on this side of the dirt!!

Til next time...COTTON

Monday, July 30, 2012

Just Another Night

I cut grass for three hours today in balmy 97 degree weather. Didn't quite have time to finish all the weed eating but decided to quit early for a long cool shower before heading into work...a little bonus for my customers!

Got seated a party of seven, two on walkers and one with a cane. Their grown children were with them and a teen aged grandson with an AC/DC tee shirt on and a smart phone in his hand. He didn't take his eyes off the screen one time the entire dining experience. After it was all over, I almost agreed with his decision.

It took them five minutes to all shuffle back  to the room where their table was. Two minutes to to store the walkers and prop up the cane. Another five for the women to boss the men around and tell them where to sit and where not to. (one renegade at  the table tried to decide for his self where to sit but was quickly hen pecked to death)

The patriarch of the family had the chair at  the head of the table after he was clearly instructed to do just that.

He waved me over with one of those huge "Hey! Come over HERE!" arm signals and asked if we had Bud Light? He said he wanted a draft and I told him we only had bottled beer. He asked if we had Miller Lite then? I told him we did and he cranked his neck around to look up at me and said "I'll have a Miller Lite then, and I want one of them TALL drafts."

His wife almost screamed at him "She just TOLD YOU  they don't have draft beer!"

He said "Well I'll take the Fettuccine Alfredo." I didn't think his wife's voice could get any shriller but it went up a good ten decibels and she flat out hollered "WE'RE NOT ORDERING FOOD YET!!"

I patted the ole gent on  the shoulder to let him know it was okay. I'm a touchy feely kind of server. The customers I know very well almost always get a hug. I pat their arms, shake their hands and will even tuck in a tag on the back of a woman's dress or blouse for them. I'm a full service kind of server!

The daughter seated next to Pops said  to bring him a bottle of beer. I got him his beer and started to take their order.

 I got to  the third person, either a son or son in law and when I asked him what he would like to order and he said "I'd like a Bud draft" was the only time I saw the teen look up, or laugh.

They were really a nice family and enjoyed the meal.  I enjoyed peeking into their world for a hour. You could tell  they loved each other in their own eclectic (or maybe resigned) way.

They reminded me of a comedy bit my sister told me about.  A stand up was talking about the difference between elderly men and women in nursing homes. He said the women always dressed nicely and just seemed  to look mildly ticked off, like they had always thought they would have gone to  Europe but never did. The men always had a wild eyed crazy stare weaving their head about with  their mouth wide open seeming to look like they were expecting you  to tell them the answer to a big secret question "Where's the GOLD???"

I also got to wait on one of my Fave Former co workers from  The Western Sizzler. He put himself through college working for the evil giant and got out just in time. He has a great wife and great job now. That's what happens when you  are a great  guy! He came in with his mom and I had a great time chatting with them. "Great" tables are the best...I have so much fun I feel like I should tip them.

Massey is getting closer to home and her senior year in high school. She's in Missouri.

Zach starts his new job tomorrow with  a $1.50 raise right from  the jump.

Ziggy is down to peeing in the house once a day.

Haven't gotten a cut off notice from a utility company in almost a year.

YEP! I'd say  things are looking up.

Til next  time...COTTON

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Heading Home...

Massey left us a week ago Thursday while we were still on vacation in St. Augustine. She flew to Destin to hook up with two dear  friends of mine who have taken her across the country. They visited Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Dallas, drove through New Mexico and ended up in Colorado where they own a home. They left Colorado today and will take a different route home, introducing Massey to yet several more states.

It's been quiet around here without her but thanks to cell phones and social networking I have been in touch with her several times each day. It helps that when she is with my friends I know she is in good hands and need not worry...except that she may come home more spoiled than when she left!

It's also given me some time to spend with Zach. He has taken me out twice for lunch ( paid both  times) and helped me out around the house and yards.

The thing about kids helping out around the house is it's really more of "An attempt" to help out.

But if they at least make the attempt, it makes my job that much easier. So the kitchen isn't as clean as I would like...but it's a heckuva lot cleaner than when I left! (a job halfway done for me)

So the laundry is done...that means it is at least washed, dried and in baskets. Sometimes they even go crazy and FOLD it! (a job OVER halfway done)

I tell them to clean the bathroom and yes, 3/4's of the grime is gone . The mirrors still need to be cleaned but my kids must know they are pretty and have no need for a mirror. (another job 3/4's done)

It was different when I was little. But then again when I was little, Batman was on Ted Turner's brand new channel WTCH 17 (catch  phrase was "Watch  This Channel Go) and no one ever thought of taking a gun (there weren't assault rifles available then) and killing people who were watching it. You could watch Batman or Little Rascals, Blondie (not the singer...the show) and Wraslin' with Freddie Miller as the emcee.

When I was a kid you had to get up off the couch, walk over to the TV and manually change the channel, rearrange the rabbit ears and go to  the kitchen for more aluminum foil to wrap around  the top of the antennas.

I was a victim of child cyber abuse according to my kid's.

I remember when my sister won an ice cream maker from channel 17. I think it was when we were watching Dagwood and Blondie. My momma took us downtown to Atlanta to pick it up. It was a piece of junk, a toy but we were all so excited!

My momma used to shop at  A&P. They gave out slips when you paid, it was a card for "Let's Go To The Races." On Wednesday nights they would show some random horse race from  I don't know where...most probs three years prior in a small track in Jersey. If your horse won, Freddie Miller (once again) would give you some cash. I can't ever remember anyone winning.

 One thing I wish I could change  is time.

I wish my kids could have grown up in the times I did. When parent's whipped your butt for doing something wrong or making bad grades. When you only had four channels to choose  from...including the PBS channel. When you had one TV set in  the house (as big as a love seat) and one phone on the wall in the kitchen.

I wish they could be gone all day without me worrying. I wish  they could realize how incredibly lucky they are...and spoiled.

My kid's haven't been spoiled as much as many other kids ... but I only wish they could know and understand.  I grew up with nothing but an AM transistor radio and a pass to the public pool yet thought I was the luckiest girl on Earth.

We had the house every one wanted to be at. We had the parents every one loved. We had laughter and we had discipline.

I am sure both my parent's are shaking their heads and sighing...but would spoil them and make excuses.

My point is...if they were both still alive, my kids would be even MORE spoiled.

I'll deal with it...I have so far.

To be a child of the sixties and seventies is an incredible thing that should be relished.

The future worries me, but then again all moms worry.

Til next  time...COTTON

Friday, July 27, 2012

Let The Games Begin

Worked a day shift yesterday and got home around five. Zach picked me up from work and we made an unavoidable visit to Wally World. I hate going there but where else are you gonna go when you need milk, a filter for your A/C unit, a staple gun and flea and tick meds for your dogs?

Charlie ate a hole in the fence over a year ago between the gates so he could stick his big doofus head out to see "Wassup."

It was fine when we had Rosie, Ham and Chaz. They could look through but were all too big to get out. Precious Rosie died last year and we finally got another boxer...Ziggy.
The friend I got him from said she used to call him "The Alien." She said his eyes were set wide apart and had a huge knot on his head. (Not to mention he is a total goofball)

Little Ziggy can squeeze right through Charlie's "Peep hole." I tried to think how to cheaply contain Ziggy and decided on chicken wire. I borrowed my neighbor, Mr. Slow Lee's staple gun; Then had to walk back over because I couldn't find my wire cutters  I have had for fourteen years and borrowed a pair from him. I rolled out some chicken wire between the privacy fence gates where Charlie had gnawed through and Ziggy now walked through. I was sweating like Mel Gibson at  The Apollo and when I put in the final staple looked up to see Ziggy smiling at me from the other side of the fence wanting to be let back in.

Let me interject, Ziggy  can tear down some chicken wire when he needs to be all "Seeing Wassup" in  the front yard.

I have borrowed Mr. Slow Lee's staple gun about five times since we got Ziggy and decided to just buy one. Of course I bought the cheapest one they had. I didn't have my glasses on but thought I bought the right size staples. I got home and loaded it. I tried about ten times on the fence and got NOTHING but dents in  the wood. I put it against my forehead and pulled the trigger with  the same result. No staple, just a dent :)

Took the staple gun back to Wally World when I got off today along with the unused missiles. (staples)

Seems they sold me an eight dollar staple gun they didn't sell staples for. Mine were the wrong size.


I returned the gun and staples and bought a Stanley staple gun and a clip of Stanley ammo.

Came home and it was about 900 degrees outside. I peeled off my skirt and put on some shorts and stapled my heart out. That pup ain't going nowhere now!

I worked in  the yards for over seven hours day before yesterday when it was almost triple digits. Came home yesterday and raked up all the clippings and dumped them in the woods at the back of our property...not a short walk.

I worked today and came home to finally put the Kibosh on Ziggy's escape and felt like I was melting with every firing of the now working staple gun.

Went inside to lay down and  try to get the pounding to stop in my tiny chest. It started to pour rain and thunder outside and I let the Three Stooges in.  The lights blinked. The lightning hit... and "Then there went cyber space."

We were "Incommunicado."

Through no fault but my own, I was exhausted from days in the sun and days and nights at  work in almost as oppressive heat.

No cable, no phone, no Internet.

Sounded like a Siesta!

I called work and it was slow so I had ten more minutes of bliss on my back (with Ziggy on my head scared of the lightning)

I went back  to work. It was busier than I expected, with the storm and opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I wanted to DVR the ceremonies but since we were incommunicado I couldn't.

Came home with my knuckles scraping the ground and my face looking like I was using Crisco as make up.

Still no cable, internet or phone. "Rat Basts."

I called and complained. "Six hour outage?"

Not ten minutes later it came back on.
It's scary being without internet access!

I use it to check bank accounts, email, my blog and  keep in touch with my girl currently in Colorado.

The pups seems to be sequestered in the back yard, the internet is working again and I am going to bed to do it all again.

The ceremonies air again at  2:30 and I will DVR them. Cutting the front of the sub in the morning and headed back to work at 4:30.

Doesn't take long to get back in the groove...just wish I knew a quicker way out!

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Get Over Yourself...PLEASE

One of my best friends is gay...so sue me!

My cousin who I knew was gay before he probably did is gay. My sister's high school friend and then college room mate is gay and now an outspoken advocate for gay rights. Guess you can sue me twice.

I am not gay. I am married to a wonderful man who I have beat to death but for some reason still loves me.

I hear thunder outside as I write. Maybe it is God's way of saying "People are people... and you are all my children."

How can you hate someone for being their self? How can you hate someone for being the person they were born to be?

How can you think of yourself as a Christian if you hate others?

So the second amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. I think they were talking about a musket not an AK-47.

It's a crazy world and I agree with that. The politics are getting  even more ridiculous.

I just want to interject ... What if YOUR  child turned out to be gay?

Would you  love them or would you subject them to the already  suffocating narrow minded version  of what is right?

Right... By Webster's definition... "Conforming with or comfortable to justice, law or morality.

I stand by my gay friends. They don't judge me and I certainly don't judge them.

People are people. I hated to think about my parents having sex when I was a kid... and they were straight. I was twelve before I knew they really had sex and it grossed me out...still does.

If you live your life right...that is all that matters in the long run.

Til next time...COTTON

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hotter Than July

Leave it to me to wait until 1:30 PM to decide it's time to trim the bushes beside our front porch. I toted my trusty electric hedge trimmer out of the garage around to the front porch dragging the twenty foot drop cord behind me. After the fifty foot walk to my front porch I dropped the cord, lay the trimmer down on the steps and went straight in the front door. I was dripping with sweat...and "I'm a Leo , I love the sun!" This weather is brutal.

Fixed a huge cup of water and forced myself back out the front door.

My bushes are out of control by my porch. They aren't bushes anymore... they are short wide trees. For years I kept our yards immaculate. The past three years I've just been happy to have a roof over us and have worked so much that the only thing I do is keep the yards cut and trimmed.

I have decided what I need is a stinking chain saw. My tiny electric hedge trimmer is just a middle man at this point. I'm cutting out the middle man and going straight for cutting the bushes in half from the top and then sawing off the front half as well. I buzzed at  the bushes for thirty minutes with my hedger, felt two strokes  approach but dodged  them both. The sweat was dripping in my eyes so fast I couldn't see clearly and after making enough progress I could at least notice when I backed my car out for work and drove up the street, put the hedger down and sneaked back in the front door like Bill Murray sneaking away from the golf course in Caddy shack.

It took me ten minutes to quit sweating. I love hot weather but this is borderline Heat insanity. I took a cool shower and got ready for work. Walked in the back door at work and the thermostat on the server's side of the kitchen read 97 degrees.

Jeez...this summer is making my hot flashes the only things that cool me down. By the time I leave work it looks like my face is covered in Crisco and I'm just waiting to be put in  the fryer.

Tomorrow I have to tackle my back yard...with three dogs pooping in it for a week while I was chilling on the beach, it looks like a wheat field. I'm gonna be smart and start at 8:30 AM. Zach and I are going to lunch together at noon and then I will finish up with Mr. Weed Eater (He's amazing)

Wednesday is reserved for the front of the subdivision, it's getting bushy too.  My brother in law is  coming over with a chain saw to  cut my bushes in half.

I know what you are already thinking...but Zach can just "Look" at  Poison Ivy or Oak and it would require a trip to the emergency room. My front bushes  are full of both and mainly the reason I want them cut drastically back.

Today DID wear me out but am headed to bed early. I've already made my list of "Things to do" for tomorrow and that actually helps. If you get half of the things done on the list...you are a productive person. If you DON'T make a list how do you keep track of progress?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reality It Must Be!

I dreaded going back to work today but it really wasn't that bad. I got lucky and an older gentleman with his family seemed  to really like me and left a 65% tip. "Welcome back!" I got off around 3:00 and didn't have to be back til 5:30 so I went home and jumped on Johnny boy. Obviously it rained here more than it did in Florida and my grass was ridiculously high. I cut my neighbor's first (since I had to borrow his gas can) and then cut mine. When I cut grass in a bathing suit top, daisy dukes and keep  the mower in fifth gear the whole time I don't sweat anymore than I do at work and it helped  enhance my tan!

I got through at 4:54. I sat out back with the pups under the patio umbrella to cool down and wiped what grass the dogs didn't lick off my legs with a towel and went inside to bathe off with a wet washcloth. Reapplied my melted makeup and deodorant and drove back to work with  the top down to blow the grass clippings out of my hair.

Heck, I only took three showers the whole week I was in Florida...unless you count swimming in  a chlorinated pool. (If you  do, I bathed twice every day)

I look at it this way...when I was kid I would take maybe two baths a week during the summer if I could get away with it  and only washed my hair once a week. We spent every day of the summer at  the public pool from ten in the morning til six at  night. My eyes would be as red as Cheech and Chong's from the chlorine but I felt clean every night!

 I took a long hot shower  this morning before going into work and besides it was 96 degrees in  the kitchen at work on OUR side of the line during lunch. Cutting grass was a definite "Cool Down."

Dinner was an easy shift too and I waited on another table that showed me some 45% love on their tab.

It's nice to be making money again. I already have Barb almost halfway paid back for the loan she floated me and still have money for groceries and even some to throw to the Verizon Giants.

The dogs have TOTALLY missed me. When Tim turned onto our street yesterday he said "Get  ready  to be attacked by  three dogs" and I was. The puppy was jumping around like he had lost his mind and the other two were almost just as happy to see me. I love dogs! They love so unconditionally and emphatically. They acted just as happy when I came in  the door from my lunch  shift today. "It's HER... It's HER again!"

Today at lunch I had one of the biggest chuckles I've had in a while. I was waiting on the sweetest elderly couple. He is a handsome Dapper Dan and she is still a beauty. They dress  to the nines and are so precious. They sat down at my table and I greeted them with "Well, if it isn't Barbie and Ken!"
The woman ordered Eggs Benedict and asked if she could order just one pancake? I told her she could order whatever she wanted. Then she acted all nervous and asked "What if I wanted a blueberry pancake?" I told her there would just be a small upcharge for the blueberries. She was thrilled. (Ole peeps are so easy  to make happy, that's one of the many reasons I love them. The other is that I will be one of them in just a few short years)

My coworker, Little Frenchy was standing next  to me at the computer when I was ringing in the order and had a brunch menu in her hand. I was trying to find out how much to charge for the blueberries and asked "Frenchy, what's the difference between regular pancakes and blueberry pancakes?"

She is the dearest sweetest woman I have ever met and hands down one of my favorite people.

She looked at me, and with great sincerity replied "Whens you order ze blueberry pancakes they  put ze blueberries insides of ze pancake."

That made me smile and I laughed about it for twenty minutes. She makes ME look like a fatty. She can't weigh 85 pounds soaking wet and is the hardest worker I have ever met and is loved by  all the servers.

Day one back to work wasn't so bad. I made some money at  lunch, came home and cut grass...went back to work and made some more money and had a few laughs. Life could be a heck of a lot worse!

Til next  time...COTTON

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quite a Wonderful Week

It's been a wonderful week. I didn't realize how very much I needed this until I first saw the ocean...it seemed to be calling my name. I've spent every single day on the beach. I am usually down there by ten and stay til after two. I come back, eat a bite and head back until at least four or five.  Sometimes I'll stop by the pool next to our condo when I feel like I need a bath but who needs a pool when you have the entire Atlantic at your feet?

I've been able to spend some time with my precious Maw in Law. I am a terrible daughter in law and don't call her nearly enough but she loves me all the same. She is seventy five years young and a HOOT! She is a talented artist and avid gardener. She has a six foot high privacy fence surrounding her back yard that she built by herself. Her back yard has two huge Koi ponds that she dug herself. She rides around St. Augustine collecting bricks, rocks and broken bits of concrete that she has lined her ponds and many walkways with. She has a vegetable garden, roses, flowers and plants every where and even built a large gazebo in her front yard. She is not a very good house keeper and is the first one to admit this but lives alone with her four dogs, three cats and thus far none of them have complained. Her house isn't a wreck... just in need of good powerful leaf blower instead of vacuuming. It's just not important to her. What's important to her is her art, her animals, her gardens and ponds.

She used to live in Sacramento and the first time I met her was when Tim and I spent our honeymoon in California. We flew into San Francisco and worked our way up the coast for a week. She and Tim went somewhere for the day and I stayed at the house. I decided to surprise her and while they were gone spent a good six hours cleaning her house. I did it all...living room, kitchen, bathrooms, windows and mirrors. I dusted and vacuumed. I mopped the kitchen floor and scrubbed the bathroom floor.The dogs all followed me around like they thought I was robbing the place.

Tim and Betty got back from their excursion and came in with groceries for dinner. Betty set out to cooking and we chatted with her and drank some wine. We ate, and I helped clean up after dinner. We sat outside for bit and talked, went inside and watched a little TV and then turned in for the night.

Betty never even noticed that I had cleaned her house!  (and I never mentioned it...except to Tim)

Tim and I still laugh about that. That's just Betty...and that's one of the many reasons I love her.

 She is getting older,  paid her dues... has her priorities and being a neat freak ain't one of  'em.

When we visit now,  she comes to the place where WE are staying. (I'm not cleaning again) She has come over most every night this week after we get home from the beach. I have shown her pics of all her kids and grand kids on Facebook, videos of Massey when she was on guard, funny things on youtube we thought she would (and did) like and just sat around talking.

She doesn't wear a lick of makeup, her fingernails are usually grimy from gardening , hauling rocks or building something. In other words..."She's MY kinda girl!"

She had cancer a few years back and had one breast removed. She makes no attempt to hide it and always looks lopsided in her baggy shirts. She is the most loving unpretentious humble person I have ever met. I am very lucky to have such a great Maw in Law...especially because I am most certain to be exactly like her in twenty three years. (If I'm lucky)

She has two sons that live down here in St. Augustine and they sometimes get on to her about the way she is. It doesn't phase her, it doesn't hurt her feelings and certainly hasn't changed her way of thinking or living.

Quite frankly, I think if a woman shoots six children out of her vagina, she should have a free pass for life!

I have made myself a promise to keep closer in touch with this dear sweet eclectic and yes.. crazy lady who I love dearly.

My baby girl left today. I was sad but excited for her adventure. Tomorrow is our last full day. I am thinking about setting the alarm for six and being in my beach chair in time for the sunrise and refuse to get up until the sun sets behind me.

A big thank you to every one that helped us get here. Friends and family who have vigilantly been by our side for the past few years. People who have supported us...sometimes quite literally and people who have simply encouraged me every painful step of the way.

Seems with help from you all and blessings from The Big Guy upstairs, we've turned that corner. We can breathe, we can answer the phone again, we could take this delightful trip.

"Love is all around no need to waste it.You're gonna make it after all."

Til next time...COTTON

PS...The last line I borrowed from the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song (just sayin)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Here She Goes... Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Tim and I have two more days left on the beach. Tim is driving Massey to Daytona early in the morning to catch a flight to Destin. She is driving to Colorado with her aunts "Dellen." (as she calls them) Dear friends of mine and just great peeps all around. I would trust Del with my life and often have...now I am entrusting Massey to them for the greatest road trip a sixteen year old could ever dream of.

She will get to spend a night in Baton Rouge, visit New Orleans, Dallas, Colorado (where they have a house) Cincinnati and many other places along the way. I am excited for her and still thinking about squeezing my tiny self into her carry on bag!

We have had a great time here, enjoyed having my Maw in Law over every night and visiting with Tim's two brothers that live here. My niece rode down with us to visit her Dad and it has been nice to spend time with her as well as my new sis in law. I have done nothing but relax, tan, eat and drink.
Water all day and Natty's at night!

Massey and I have been joined at the hip the past five days and it has been great. The lifeguard stand is directly in front of where we dump our junk on the beach every day and I'll have to agree with Massey...it's been pretty nice scenery. Buff tan young guys with waves as a back drop. Massey liked the "Beach Scene" and I will have to admit sometimes I was glad I had my sunglasses on so I could stare at them as well !

She leaves tomorrow on her big adventure and I know  I need to get used to this. Next year this time she will be leaving for college and unfortunately it won't be with Del and Ellen. It will be JUST her.

Thank The Lord I have twelve months to mentally prepare myself.

 TJ is in Los Angeles visiting a friend and by the pics on his FB page is having a ball. Zach is enjoying having the house to himself and has checked in more often than I thought he would.

How did my kids all grow up so quickly? I often wonder if I did a good job as a mother but when I sit back and see all of their accomplishments I would like to think that I contributed to their successes.

Yesterday was eye opening to Massey (as well as me) and think we both came away from seeing a stranger die to realize once again how precious the gift of life is.

Tomorrow my girl heads off into the wild blue yonder...and I will sit on the beach and ponder.

Mother, mother ocean, I've heard you call 
Wanted to sail upon your waters 
Since I was three feet tall 
You've seen it all, you've seen it all 

Watch the men who rode you 
Switch from sails to steam 
And in your belly you can hold the treasures 
Few have ever seen 
Most of them dream 
Most of them dream 

Yes, I am a pirate two hundred years too late 
Cannons don't thunder there's nothin' to plunder 
I'm an over forty victim of fate 
Arriving too late, arriving too late.

I love the ocean. I always have. Now I will have two days to sit on a beach for the first time in 22 years without any kids and ponder my life, all the whats whys and howcomes.

I am proud of myself and proud of my family. I am proud I have made it this far...sometimes I didn't think I would, but I did.

Once Massey makes her connecting flight and reaches Del and Ellen's arms I can relax...TOTALLY.

This means I will finally after many, many years and many ups and downs have 48 hours of ME TIME.

Tim comes and goes on the beach. Me, I go down at ten in the morning and can stay til four in the afternoon. I love to read, I love to people watch and believe it or not I like to simply do nothing but look at the ocean. Mother Nature is a mighty beast and fascinates me minute by minute, wave by wave.

Still haven't blogged about my Maw in Law but that will have to wait til my youngest makes it to Destin!

Til next time...COTTON 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Never a Normal Day...When You're Me

Capn' Tim cooked us another great breakfast this morning while Massey and I watched TV in the comfy bed upstairs with a pillow top mattress. We greased up, loaded up the car and headed to the beach. It was once again a beautiful sunny day. We stayed til after one and Tim decided to go back to the condo for lunch. Massey and I decided to stay for one more dip in the ocean. We waded out about thigh high (we're sissies in the ocean) and noticed a woman talking to the lifeguard. All the lifeguards went into alert mode immediately. The one in the chair had out his binoculars and the rescue truck drove down to the shoreline with another guard searching with binoculars as well. Once they spotted the woman yet another lifeguard grabbed a surfboard and ran toward the water. He was beyond the breakers in less than thirty seconds. He disappeared behind the swell line and we finally saw him throw up a hand and wave. The jet ski had already been unloaded by the fire rescue squad and sat at the shoreline. Once given the signal they launched the jet ski but it got stuck on a sand bar. At least six people ran out and helped push the jet ski off, with another lifeguard hanging onto the back.

The lifeguard on the surfboard had the woman up on his board and as soon as the jet ski got there they put a life vest on her and headed back to shore. When they hit the sandbar at least five lifeguards helped carry her back to shore. They transferred her to a rescue vehicle and drove her to a waiting ambulance on the road...doing CPR the entire time.

Massey and I walked back to the condo for lunch. After lunch we walked back down to the beach to load up and drive the car back. Sitting on the side of the road was a local news crew and we stopped to ask how the woman was? The young girl said she was critical and asked if we had witnessed it? After saying yes, she got out of the car with a microphone and asked for an interview. I looked at Massey and she looked at me.

It's not like I looked good, who does after four hours on the beach? We agreed  and it was just a thirty second interview.

When it first started I thought it was a child missing but seeing the woman calmly talking with the lifeguard led me to think otherwise. If MY child was missing they would have already had to restrain me. After watching you could see that she was simply an observant woman on the beach who thought someone was too far out and may possibly need help.

We learned from another news crew later when we walked back to the beach again that the elderly woman was in critical condition. She had gone out into the ocean with a friend but her friend came back to shore. Her friend lost track of time and didn't miss her until some woman went to the life guard stand worried about someone being so far out for so long. It was a ways down the beach from the lifeguard stand and it took several minutes for him to find her with his binoculars. I don't want you to think the guards are lax. Massey and I are on the beach every morning when they arrive. They drag their heavy stand from the top of the beach to the water front (no small feat) and we see them doing push ups on the sand, often swim laps in the Atlantic and are always aware. Once alerted,  I was very impressed with their professionalism and quick response.

I kept thinking about how easily that could have been Tim. We always go out together but Massey and I always come back in first and leave him out there while we bury our noses in our books back on the beach. Massey and I made a pact on the spot..."We all go out together and all come back together."

We came down here on a shoe string but at least we are all going back home. I hope this woman gets to go home too.

We learned a lesson today about what a mighty beast mother nature can be. We learned to NEVER ignore the warning flags (they are there for  reason) and once again learned that we are indeed very lucky people.

It's been an awesome trip. Massey and I have spent every waking moment together and laughed ourselves silly. We've spent little money but taken tons of pictures and made countless memories. My vacation could have ended up like the woman's on the beach today but by the Grace of God it hasn't.

Once again I am realizing how very very lucky I am.

Three more days of paradise...

Til next time COTTON

Monday, July 16, 2012

Life's a Beach...For a Change

Just finished our second full day at the beach. I'm loving it. We wake up, Capn' Tim cooks us breakfast and Massey and I load up the car and head to the beach by ten. We could walk there in less than five minutes but between all the crap we take and the heat...I would have been dead halfway there the first trip down. The condo we rented provided us with a free parking sticker for the car (it costs $7 a day to park on the beach) so we pack up everything we need and in less than a minute are spreading out our blanket and plopping down in our chairs.

The condo is very nice. Very small but very nice. I can stand in the middle of the kitchen and cook, load the dishwasher, get things out of the fridge or pantry without moving one foot. If the entire family had come it would be a tight fit and most probably started quite a few family fights but with just Tim, Massey and me it's perfect. My niece comes to spend the night sometimes but Massey's room has twin beds. My Maw in law comes over at night when we come home from the beach to visit and Tim's two brothers have dropped by to visit but as they all have alternate schedules it has been just fine.

We were also provided free passes to the beach club ideally located right next to our condo. You'd have to hold a gun to my head to make me use the gym or pick up a tennis racket but the pool is very nice and quiet...lots of old farts. They even have a separate covered outdoor pool with a special chair on a hoist like contraption to lower you into the pool. This pool is always filled with old peeps slowly bobbing around in the water or simply staring off into space in their bathing caps and goggles.

The first day Tim came over to the pool to join me he sat on the chaise lounge next to me and asked me what the covered pool was about? I told him best as I could tell it was the pool where they filmed the movie Cocoon.

When we left I told Tim I felt like telling granny in the daisy covered bathing cap "Don't worry you'll feel like you're twenty by tomorrow." Tim actually laughed (he seldom laughs at my witty self) and quietly said to me "Her husband will be doing cannonballs in the deep end."

The weather has been perfect...hot but perfect. Since my Maw in law lives here and we have visited often enough that we have done all the tourist sights we are perfectly content. We have three pools in our condo (loaded with screaming kids) but since we are located right next door to the Cocoon Club  we swim there. We beach all day... eat dinner in our tiny kitchen and relax all night.

I didn't realize how very much I needed this trip until I woke up the first morning and didn't have to rush off to work. Putting sunscreen on has been the most strenuous thing I have done in three days.

To think I have four more days of this delights me to no end. Massey has thoroughly enjoyed herself and it's nice to see her completely happy. That makes me happy!

Tomorrow's blog will be about my Maw in law. You think I am a hoot? Wait until I tell you about her!

Til next time...Tanning Cotton

Friday, July 13, 2012

Stopping The Negative Thoughts...For At Least a Week

Of course it was slow at work tonight when I needed it to be slam banging. We are leaving in the morning for a week in St Augustine and I am desperately behind on my cash collecting for the trip.

I got lucky and was standing up front by  the host stand when some people that used to work with my brother came in and asked if I had a table?  They bumped me up quite a bit but I still  felt nervous.

I am a worrier...never used to be but have perfected my skills the past few years. I keep thinking "What if Massey gets really sick or we have car trouble?"

I get paid on Tuesday and since changing my exemptions have been getting a small paycheck.  I told the owner's wife if she could float me some emergency money I would sign over my check.

If you follow my blog or journey you know exactly what she said. "How long has it been since you have been on a real vacation?" I told her about four years.

She handed me two bills and said "Go relax and try not to think about all the money  you could be here making."

Zach worked a ten hour shift, got off around eight and had to come back to pick me up. We walked out the back door to my car and the owner's wife was getting into hers beside us. She got back out and handed me a box of Cornflakes and simply said "It was  the penny item at Publix this week,  thought you might want to eat breakfast too while you are there."

That was the turning moment. Even my bosses want me  to go and have a good time. Not only does she loan me money but worries about us as well.

 I came home and started packing up my kitchen. It's not like it was fully stocked but I took every staple I could. Cans of soup, took sugar and condiments. Packed up laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid, toilet paper and paper towels. Oops...forgot  the saran wrap. When  packing that up I decided on taking trash bags, paper napkins and a bottle of red wine Barb gave me a week ago.

Leaving Zach a detailed list of how to take care of three pups in this exhausting heat, when the trash needs to go out and a reminder to check the oil in my car. A year ago I wouldn't have left him home with a scooter but I am leaving him now with my precious Lil Beemer.

I have prayed about it and thought about it even more. He has grown into a responsible young man. He has done some really stupid things but manned up, served his time and deserves to be given another chance.

I was typing this blog when he came home  from meeting with friends and handed me fifty bucks, saying "Take this money in case you need it."

I don't want to jinx myself...but how much luckier can a woman/employee/mother feel?

I am destined  to take this trip and take it I will!!!

Next blog will be from  the beach!

Til then...COTTON

Thursday, July 12, 2012

One More Shift

So it seems we're going day after tomorrow. Tim is excited and I am  apprehensive...he hates that about me.

I'm more worried about leaving Zach and three pups behind, me not making money for an entire week while spending it and wondering if we'll have enough of it to get by? Tim got really irritated with me this morning and I can't blame him, but over the past few years I have learned my forte' is "Worrying" and have become quite proficient. I want to take everything I can from the house but Zach will still be here so suppose I will have to choose wisely.

 Should I leave him the aluminum foil and take the saran wrap or will he really need either? How many rolls of toilet paper and paper towels will we need ?

Then I stop and think...I'm leaving Zach here not Martha Stewart or Oprah. He's twenty and gets paid on Tuesday. I'm packing it all up!

I worked the day shift today and of course it was slow since I am desperate for money. I work tomorrow night...my last shift before leaving and have prayed for it to be balls to the wall busy. I have just decided to quit worrying about it and go!

We have been to St. Augustine several times since my mother in law lives there and have done all the tourist things, toured the Fort and drank from the fountain of youth (I need a rebate on  THAT one) even climbed the lighthouse.

This trip is to simply get away and we will simply do just that.

I'm taking my book, packing up everything I can to cut down on what we have to buy and driving away for a week, riding in the back seat and taking a seven hour nap to get things started out on the right foot.

I  thought this trip was all for Tim, God knows he deserves it...especially being married to me. Now I realize he is doing this for ALL of us and ALL of us need it.

Come what may, it will all work out.

God has gotten us through a lot worse...how bad can a week on the beach be? I have decided to throw caution to the wind and go with  the flow. I honestly cannot remember the last time I had a week off. I know it was with my family and my brother and sister in Destin but the year escapes me.

I am too hard on Tim but even harder on myself. It is time to let go and relax...and relax is exactly what I plan to do.

Going in for one more shift tomorrow night, making all the money I can and skimpily slinking out of  town. Making sure Massey takes her lap top and will keep you posted from what hopefully is a bit of paradise.

Til next  time...COTTON

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Three More Days

Looks like not only am I rounding the corner but almost there, in many ways.  Number one we kept our house,  not even Evander Holyfield managed to win that fight. I have a great job and Tim has a pretty good job. We are seriously close to being caught up to being current...another huge mile marker.

I almost burned myself out at work but after my meltdown on Father's Day, they made me cut back and I am grateful they did. I still loved my job but was killing MYSELF. We have a new server who is the younger old "Me." He works the ten and eleven shifts I used to work and I cut back to seven or eight. Last week was the slowest week in the restaurant year and the owner put it to me this way. "It's going to be a slow week. You can let me schedule you the same or take some shifts off  while it's not busy." He's a good man. He's a crazy man but a good one. It wasn't like it was the holiday season and I would be missing golden shifts so I agreed and worked five shifts. It was like a vacation. I cooked almost every night, got parts of the house dusted (baby steps) got some things around the house fixed and did lots of yard work.

It also gave me time to bond with our new puppy, Ziggy. He is one hot mess! I've needed to have my carpets cleaned for quite some time but  think we have sprayed every spot of carpet we have with Resolve carpet cleaner and scrubbed it with a dirty bath towel out of the hamper.  He's learning and I'm remembering how hard it is to house train a puppy. If he wasn't so stinking cute  I'd kill him. (totally kidding)

He's just so happy all the time. People diagnosed with depression should be prescribed to have a twelve week old boxer puppy. He gets excited when you just walk in a room. He gets excited when you cough or sneeze.  He lopes everywhere he goes on his tiny long legs yet can just as easily fall asleep  in ten seconds and be snoring in fifteen. It cracks me up the way he seems so happy with his boxer smile and the way he moves his head around like Ray Charles when you are talking to him.  He's been a good addition.

The older two dogs were hard sells but both love the little goofball now. Ham and Ziggy  play out back at night endlessly when I am reading on  the back deck. Charlie loved him from  the get go but  after the fight he had with Ham,  has kinda shied away from letting Ziggy bite on his jowls. (the ones Ham ripped apart)

We got Zig from a co worker of mine. He's AKC registered. I wanted one of the pups right off the bat when they were born but knew I couldn't spend money on a new dog. I'm a huge dog lover but I am also a wife and mother. First things first.

Lucky for me, they sold several right off the bat for almost 4 bills a piece. Lucky for me also, they have a baby learning to crawl, the sire and dame still there and  four pups left. She knows how much I love boxers and finally said "Please come get one." I told her to pick out the one she didn't think would be her top seller and Massey would put the rest on Craig's List, complete with pics.

So she brought us Ziggy.

She knew I had two other males and chose the most laid back pup she thought would do well with my idiots. She done good. She said she had called him her little "Alien" because his eyes were wide apart and he has that huge knot on top of his head. She's right... but we love our little ET.

The kids have been really helping me out around the house as well and helped more than they will ever know. It's nice to come home and see the dishwasher unloaded and hear the dryer going. I came home last night and the bottom two floors of the house were vacuumed. Granted it's not Momma standards but I look at it this way, my job's halfway done.

Leaving in three days for vacation. Kinda scared...my job means clocking in and bringing home a pay check. I'm not clocking in for seven days and it has me worried. I've been saving money all week but only half way to my goal. I have two more shifts to bank big. I'm gonna rely on Karma and God to make it happen. I am taking every thing from the house I possibly can...condiments, saran wrap, napkins, toilet paper and all the food I can. Zach's staying here and I feel bad about not only leaving him but taking all his staples. He'll be fine (I hope) and gets paid on Tuesday.

I am bound and determined to make this trip and enjoy it.

Had a horrible start to my day. Last night I fell asleep on the sofa in the living room, waiting for the storms that never came...watching the weather channel.

I woke this morning bundled under a comforter,  on my back with my mouth wide open to  the sound of our phone ringing. Tim walked to the top of the stairs and said "It's for you." I turned on the TV and saw it was 10:56. I was supposed to be at work at 10:30.

I bolted into action, showered and got to work in under twenty five minutes. Thank the Lord they weren't busy and once again dodged a bullet. Had a great lunch shift and got home in time for a thirty minute siesta.

Two more shifts  to go  and I have an entire week to myself. Going to St. Augustine where my crazy mother in law and two brother in laws live  and really looking forward to it.

Packing up the peanut butter and crackers and every thing else I can take without leaving Zach totally destitute and giving myself a break from the past three years. We've invited my sister,  her hub and my brother to come down but they will most probs stay here and have a party because their needy sister is gone.

You know what? So many people have been so good to me the past three years...if you are near St. Augustine this next week, feel free to stop by. You can lay on the beach and eat crackers with us.

Til next time...turning in now so I don't oversleep again...COTTON

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Redunkalous" Weather

Took a picture of the sun setting  tonight. (NOT)

Don't get me wrong, I love hot weather but this is getting a bit ridiculous. I was at work last night around 5:30 and the thermostat on  the wall in  the kitchen read 95 degrees in the service aisle. (the coolest place in  the kitchen) That only meant that it was at LEAST 125 degrees behind the cook's line. All fours ovens blasting away at 400 degrees and the huge char grill going full blast. Add in  the twenty four eyes on the gas range top all lit and the deep fryers, it may have been 130 degrees. No wonder all chefs are bastards.

I honestly don't know how they do it. When the thermostat went up to 95 I told the owner "Hey, Len! It's only 94 degrees outside, prop open  the back door and cool the cook's off."

I just had my A/C unit serviced last week knowing this hot spell was coming. Our unit is tiny, sixteen years old and attempting to cool a three story house. I keep the thermostat (which is on the  bottom floor of the house) on 77. That means it is probably 80 up in  the living room and at least 82 on the third floor where every one but Massey sleeps. (Princess has the bedroom on the ground floor)

I have a huge ceiling fan in  the living room that keeps it so cool you almost need a light blanket to watch TV. On the third floor we have ceiling fans in all three bedrooms and it stays pleasantly cool if we keep the blinds shut.

With this latest heat wave my house only cools down to 80 on the ground floor during the afternoons. I'll take 80 over 95 any day of any week.

I cut the dust in my backyard yesterday. The weeds were the only thing growing but they bothered me so I gave it a trim. Around the outer edge of our privacy fence the dogs have worn a dirt path  but the dirt path is beginning to slowly creep inwards.

I love my "Lil' Beemer" and always, always ride with  the top down unless it is actually raining. If it just looks like rain...top down. If it is 94 degrees...top down. In my thinking,  that is why you own a car that is a convertible. The only  time I get hot is when stuck at an exceptionally long traffic light...but on  the upside have a killer tan and dress like Mary Anne on Gilligan's Island when I am tooling around in my "Lil' Beem."

The storms are all around us every night. The lightning flashes we see. The wind kicks up and we hear the thunder...end of story.

It's supposed to be getting cooler later  this week and I hope it does. My hot flashes have been the only thing cooling me down lately.

This heat is crazy. Add in I have three pups again that only two have a bladder bigger than the size of a pee. (Pun intended)

Still making huge strides here. We're going on a Va-Cay this Saturday. Still don't know how but I am determined  to enjoy it. Had a good night at work and have begun to stash away a little cash every day. If the tipping gods continue to smile on me I think we will be okay. Even if they don't, we have a paid for place in St. Augustine for a week and can survive on crackers and peanut butter...  and Tim and I neither one have to clock in for a week.

Seems like a plan to me...actually a really good plan.

If it's gonna be a million degrees every day anyway...I'd rather do it at the beach and not have to work.

Til next  time...Hotting COTTON

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Five More Days...

Five more days and we're off for a real vacation. The first one in over four years. Tim rented the condo...no wonder he bums gas money off me every day.

My ultra crazy mother in-law lives in St. Augustine and  the Clampetts are loading up some bologna, bread and water bottles and going. At least I know we will eat good ONE night. My Maw-in-law makes a mean Bouillabaisse.

I wasn't really down with whole "Va-Cay" but as the time approaches, maybe I am! It will be on a shoe string budget but still be a week in a place I don't have to clean...not that I have cleaned my own house really well lately. My dogs and grime even make the Jehovah's witnesses only ring the door bell once. I  think I saw one of them running back to his bicycle.

I took a slack schedule at work last week  because it was the slowest week in the restaurant world. The thing is, the less I work the less I want to work. Got lucky on a few shifts and made it through the week and caught up on two years worth of sleep.

I cooked more in one week than I have in over two years. The family was fat and happy and  I think we only used the microwave to warm up left overs...another first in two years.

Tim just walked in the door from work and said he could cover gas money. Guess the bologna's on me.

You know what? After the past few years...I'd drive down to  St. Augustine (if Tim pays for gas) and stay in a homeless shelter.

I won't have to clock in for a week. Give me a towel and a book and I will feel like I am in paradise.  Zach is staying home (county mandate) and I am  yet entrusting him to another one of my vehicles. I feel better about it this time but wish he were going with us.

My brother may be coming down for a day or two if he can summon the nerve or  time. We've invited my sis and her hubby too. It sleeps five but to us that means we can squeeze in at least ten, fourteen if they don't mind sleeping on the floor.

Going in  for a double shift on Monday. Dread it but if I can muscle through this week...it will be awesome. Seven days where I have nothing to do but boss around my husband and tell him once again what he does wrong...all the time.

God bless Tim Cotton.  At least he is married to a woman that will never kill him (knowingly) and would lay down her life for him.

Oops...after midnight now...FOUR MORE DAYS!

Getting pumped...COTTON

Saturday, July 7, 2012

All Chicks Back In The Nest

No my kid's aren't bald eagle chicks but I hope they each soar to great heights. TJ came down for a visit today. Charlie was really happy to see his "babydaddy."  Ham and Charlie got into a fight the other day in the back yard. Massey was out back with  them when Charlie decided out of the twenty chew toys I have in the yard, he wanted the one Ham was chewing on. That didn't go over well with Ham and as usual, he had Charlie pinned down when I ran out the back door hearing Massey screaming at  the top of her lungs. Dog  fights are horrible to witness...especially when a bulldog is involved. They can be getting their butt beat (which he was) but never give up. I finally pulled Ham off and he went running for the back door. Charlie's face was a mess. Ham had him pinned by  his snout and Charlie was bleeding like crazy. I whipped them both, put Ham inside , cleaned up Charlie's face and slathered it with neosporin.

They have been doing so well, especially with  the new pup. (who hid under the patio table during the entire debacle)  We haven't had a dog fight for well over a year.  It may have been the 100 degree heat or it may have just been another "Battle of the balls."

They both  knew they were in  trouble. Later that night I looked out back and Ham was licking Charlie's battle scars...Idiots!

Charlie has been sluggish ever since.  He hasn't been eating a lot but his nose has been wet and if I had MY butt  whipped by a 85 pound boxer/english bulldog mix think I would probably be a little squeamish too.

That all changed today when TJ came in the house. I think Charlie thought TJ  heard he was wounded and came by  to check up on him. I put the other two dogs out back and let TJ love on his boy for a while. Charlie perked right up!

TJ loves the new pup...who couldn't love our new tiny black horse? All  the dogs have behaved and it's been nice having TJ here.

TJ may be my step son but have never considered him one. People that have known me for years are often surprised if I happen to mention TJ's mom. When I met Tim,  TJ was just turning two and has been in my life since.  I've been a mom to him longer than I have to Massey and Zach...he'll always be my first born. (who left no stretch marks or sore booty)

For years it was TJ and Zach  that were close. Once Zach started to flounder he didn't like anyone. Massey and TJ are closer now and although I love them being close, I hate Zach and his big brother not being closer.

Today the tide just as suddenly changed. I went out to cut my neighbor Mr. "Slow" Lee's grass and came back inside. TJ and Zach were in  the living room together watching a movie and talking. It made my heart sing!

I am so close to my brother and sister now. When we were young...not so much. The older we got, the more parents we lost, the closer we became. I want this for my own three. Fight now if you want, have falling outs and falling aparts.

To my kids:

As you  grow older, grow closer. Remember that I love you all equally in different ways but with the same passion. Remember all  the cookies and brownies I made you, boo boos I kissed and papers I helped you  write in school. Remember when I checked you out of school for no reason and checked  you in late for the same non reason. Remember all  the times I bailed you out, literally  and figuratively. Remember that under ANY circumstance you can each three come to me and I will help. Know that you are loved more than anything in my heart mind and soul after The Big Guy upstairs and even though I don't deserve "Mother of the year" you kids rock my world!

You have kept me young  at heart and at  the same time made me an old woman but I wouldn't change having  the three of you for anything in this world. Yes I remember all the trips to the ER. I remember all the stitches. I remember your stay in Egleston hospital that terrified me. I remember the first  time you had a car wreck. I remember when you totalled MY car out.

I also remember when you  made me a polar bear out of clay...it still sits in my kitchen window. I remember when you made me a lady bug out of a rock, it sits by  the polar bear! I remember so many things that I could go on forever.

God forbid something happens to my mind and one day I become a discombobulated mess...know I will appreciate you taking care of me or finding some nice place for me to sit and try and remember.

But at  the age of fifty two, I have the most glorious and sometimes gloomy memories of all three of you. I still think there was a baby swap when you were all born but I am keeping you all.

You are all three unique. You are all three so different. You are all three mine and I could not love you more if someone held a gun to my head.

Growing older now and you three (as Massey  says) "Most  Probs" don't read my blog... but now it is written in cyber space...which I heard is the new "Written in stone."

You three are  the best part of me...and for that I sincerely "Thank You!"

Til next time...a contented COTTON

Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy Birthday Zachary !!

Today is Zachary's twentieth birthday. The above photo is one of my all  time favorites...my boy's always been a dreamer.

The photo below melts my heart every time I see it. Zach and Grandpa making each other smile!

Although none of my kids ever got to meet my Momma, at least they all got to know their Grampa.

They have all had the good fortune to know and love their Uncle Chris...just look how thrilled my brother looks spending some quiet time with Zachary!

This next photo moves on to Zach's next phase..."Cousin Itt." This was an early pic...he let his hair grow for two more years much  to my delight (not) but my pediatrician told me a wise saying around this time:  "Choose your battles wisely when raising teens. A hair cut isn't one of them."

He has cleaned up pretty well...literally , mentally and physically.

Zach has been  my easiest AND hardest child to raise. He was smarter than me by the time he was in second grade and ended up being my Genius child (that doesn't quite know how to use it.)

When he was about nine and we were doing pretty well financially and had terrific insurance;  I decided to switch him to a male pediatrician. I remember our first visit like it was last week. We were in  the little room waiting for the doctor and there was a really old map of the United States on  the wall. It was just sectioned into territories...not states. The doctor had just come into the room and was washing his hands when trying to make small talk to make Zach feel more comfortable,  I said  "Look at  this map...this small section is only marked "Indian Territory." Zach glanced over his shoulder at  the map and calmly said "That's where they shoved all the Indians."  Dr. Roberts first words to me were something along the lines of "He's pretty smart."

When Zach turned ten our Muslim neighbors moved in next door. Getting to know them was a wonderful experience and quickly put an end to my short but ignorant bias of Muslims after 911.  The father worked for the FAA. They were from Sudan originally. They had four kids and the oldest was eight...he obviously knew how to get a birka (spelled it wrong but you get the point) off quickly! He was out washing his car one day. Zach sat out there talking to him for about thirty minutes then came back inside  to play video games. I went out with  a bag of trash and Karim was still in his driveway and we chatted. He  remarked  "Zach is one of the smartest kids I ever met. He just told me more about the Air Bus than even I knew." I laughed and told Karim "He also knows how to build a nuclear bomb but refuses  to get a hair cut."

Zach can tell you more about history, economics, geography, religion and politics than anybody  I ever met. We think  there may have been a baby swap at the hospital but after twenty  years, we're keeping him.

He has always been a rebel. (Wonder where he got THAT?)

I made  the mistake of telling him he was smart when he was young...he always hated hearing it and tried to prove me wrong as a teen. He struggled and got side tracked. He made some mistakes but paid for them like a man.

If  this kid put his mind to it, he could change  the world. If this kid put forth his God given talent he could go so  far it's ridiculous.

I remember when he had his Cousin Itt look and refused to cut his hair, a young girl at the pool one summer day said "You'd be cute if you had your hair cut."

The next  day he asked me to take him for a hair cut. I silently thanked The Lord and loaded him up in the car. I even stayed in the car and simply gave him money to get it cut. Thirty minutes later he walked out with liberty spikes that were about ten inches long. smh...

He kept it for a while, getting up at six AM to put the Elmer's glue in his spikes while his younger sister held the blow dryer.

That phase passed and somehow he passed his classes at school. My husband said to me one morning "If we can just get him out of high school the kid will be the next  Bill Gates."

He got out of high school with  a resounding silent ovation from the faculty but at least I got to see him walk across  that stage and handed a diploma. I am proud of all three of my kids. They all caused me heart ache along the way but have given me thousands upon thousands of smiles and priceless memories on the journey.

Today is Zachary Tyler Cotton's 20th birthday!

Zach is WAY too much like me. Sometimes I think that's a good thing and sometimes I think it's a bad thing.

He is currently slaving away in the kitchen of the restaurant where I work...not an easy place to be. (I work for "Cray- Crays" as Massey  calls them)

He has hung in there, been berated for mistakes and talked to at times horribly, which makes my heart hurt for him. It's tough working in a kitchen...especially when it is family owned and they actually GIVE a crap about  their restaurant.

I love him twenty four seven. He lets me in return rub his cute little shaved head every once in a while.

He has bumbled and fumbled but he is my boy and no matter what I will be there for him.

That's what Momma's do!

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Can This Be Real?

Webster's defines Life as "The physical, mental, and spiritual experiences that constitute existence."

Well my friends I have been  there done that and got the tee shirt.

I had a beyond excellent childhood,  had parents  that loved me and a sister and brother that detested me...what siblings EVER got along before they reach adulthood? Maybe the "Brady Bunch" but they got paid to act happy.
Now  that we are all grown (or as grown  as I'm getting) we are close...VERY close. I lost  my  Momma when I was seventeen...suddenly and unexpectedly. I lost my Diddy in much  the same fashion  when I was in my early forties. He went from a healthy seventy seven year old man to a dying man in ten days.

I look back on these facts and  finally see the lesson.

I was raised by  the best. I experienced nothing but happiness for seventeen years. Learned about death and somehow dealt with it, badly at  times but I made it through.

My twenties were a blur and pretty much a waste but I once again survived. (Barely)

My thirties were marvelous, I met Tim and started a family.
For ten years we made so much progress it seemed crazy! We went from  scraping together to working together to moving ahead together. We bought our first brand new house and weren't rich but were saving  money and had money. He moved up in his company and I started working for a restaurant that was close to home and made pretty good money for working thirty hours a week.

We didn't live big but we had  a great life. It all came crashing down when I least  expected it. (It always does)

Tim took a chance a a new job venture which turned out horribly and ended up with him being out of work for over a year. I had a good job so I just kicked into gear and started working sometimes thirty days in a row and somehow we survived.

Tim got a job from a dear friend of mine stocking shelves overnight at Wal Mart. He left there every morning and went to park cars at  an auto auction....but he did it with  a smile and a sparingly  packed lunch.

He went from us making over six figures to being paid minimum wage. He was just happy to be working. I will always love Tim for doing this...he swallowed his pride and kept his family afloat.

Then the bottom truly fell out. I went into work one day, most probably my  thirtieth  in a row and  they fired me on the spot.

I cried the entire way home and cried even more when I reached there.

I spent a week in the deepest pit of depression I ever experienced...then I picked myself up off the floor and went out and filed for food stamps, unemployment and put my younger two kids on Peach Care. I broke down in every office I went to. I cried  with every person I had to speak with...but I did it.

The next week I went to see friends that owned their own restaurant and begged them for a job. Not much begging was required and I was hired on the spot.

I threw myself into the work force again and picked up as many shifts as they would let me. Sometimes I worked every shift, sometines I worked all but one.

For the first year it was easy...the second not so much. As much as I would like to think I am Super Woman...I ain't.

What is crazy is I had so many friends that came to our rescue. We got  cash donations in the mail, groceries delivered to the house,  money orders to pay for Thanksgiving dinner, gift cards to grocery stores, people mailed Massey  donations to help with her band dues and even helped pay for her much  coveted Letterman jacket. It amazed me, it uplifted me and made me realize not to be ashamed  you need help but to be grateful that people love you.

Tim finally got a job...it sucked but he went in every day. Then he got another one, it sucked less but he still went. Now he has a job that sucks a bit less but is still beneath his qualified skills. "Baby Steps."

Right when I thought I was going to lose what little mind I had left...the tide turned. The cut off notice from the power  company hasn't been hung on my front door knob in over two months. I have managed to keep the cell phones on...which I once thought a luxury but with teens driving I insist on having.

I had  to take a step back. Can I continue working like a maniac or continue to live?

I chose life... "The physical, mental and spiritual experiences that constitute  existence."

Another definition of Life... "A source of vitality; an animating force."

That my friends, is ME!

I am animated to say the least and I have vitality.

I don't want to stretch so far as to say it has been a 180 degree turn...but we are getting close and I am one lucky person to have made it this far.

Going to bed. I cooked more this week than I have cooked in the past year. My family has eaten home cooked meals every  night this past week. We have leftovers in the fridge and I feel more rested than I have in a year.

That's right..."I'm doing a happy dance!"

Don't feel sorrry for me, that was not my intention with  this blog. Feel sorry  for the millions and millions and millions of others that would consider themselves lucky to be in my  shoes...even when we were at our worst.

I am a lucky woman...


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth!

I shouldn't have used this picture but if she is stupid enough to post it on google images I am smart enough to use it! It made me laugh...and laugh and laugh.

I am from the south. I went to a high school that was fully integrated. By the time I graduated it was fifty fifty at best. It was my first lesson in learning to accept others and their culture.

I learned a lot from my black friends. Some important lessons and some that weren't so much important yet very enlightening. I learned to to "pre RAP." I learned about the differences between their hair and mine. I learned that although we were all human...my life seemed to have a lot more humanity. They were made to swim in a separate pool on the other side of town, go to a separate gym on the other side of town to play ball and stayed on "Their side of  the tracks." No wonder they got pissed.

When a black person is cut...what color is the blood?

That is all I needed to know,  to learn they are no different from me but simply a different color on the outside. Inside we are all the same yet for some crazy reason treated differently...not only in the south but everywhere.

Once I left college and joined the working force as a waitress; I was introduced to a whole 'nother side of racial bias...Latinos.

Yes many of them come here illegally but if I was a mother in Mexico living in squalor with  small children who would fare no better, you bet your bippy I would try to get them to America. So what they use false social security numbers? At least their kids will get an education and not have to fear being gunned down in the streets of Mexico City. That means they are paying into a social security system they will never draw  from but have a better life. Sounds like a plan to me!

If the immigration system wasn't so screwed up, complex and expensive...don't you  think they would TRY to be legal? Instead  they opt for just giving their kid's a better life and hope they don't get caught.

You know what ? Good people and bad people are everywhere. That is a fact of life. Can we not discriminate and take into consideration circumstances, reasons and actions?

I would think after all we did to Native Americans and African Americans, we would have bigger hearts.

I still live in the greatest nation on earth, just wonder why so many are still haters?

Til next time...COTTON