Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Almost A Done Deal

Oh, I'll remember this night!

It started on a bitter sweet note.

At least Massey pulled my hair through that excruciating highlight cap and blonded me up before jumping in the car with her dad to go back to Georgia for a three day visit, sans me.

It didn't help when I learned sleet and snow was in the forecast for Atlanta tonight and tomorrow.

I was scheduled for work at four thirty but went to Wally World first and bought a can of collard greens, a can of black eyed peas and smoked pork chops for tomorrow. I can't remember a New Year's Day when I haven't had them and sure wasn't breaking tradition.

I need all the luck I can get.

We had 260 reservations on the books at work and thought I would never make it home until midnight or later.

I told my manager wasn't worried about partying, but our dogs were home alone and more worried about fireworks and how they would take them, especially our blind dog.

Once we got through most of the reservations he came up to me and said "Leave but go quietly."

How awesome was that?

The fireworks started booming five minutes after I got home and haven't stopped yet.

Aren't they intended for midnight?

Kudos for this dog!

I've been a basket case since moving to Orlando.

I lost my job and insurance, left my home of over twenty years and wound up in a tiny rental house with a tiny back yard with flamingos and seemingly pelicans and whatever else they are baiting my dogs from fifty feet away with a four foot fence between them.


That's sounds about right for me.

Here's what changed my mindset.

I'm the new old kid on the block at work. I struggled at first and sometimes still do, but have never been late or ever called out. I work from the time I clock in until the time I clock out.

That's one thing which has paid off.

I have a great job.

Does it pay like my old one?


But lucky for me doesn't have to. I make what I need and then some, but am in on the ground floor of something great.

My resolution for the New Year is to be grateful.

Am I where I want to be?

Not yet.

Can I get there?

Most certainly.

I know my daughter feels lost too.

But here's the thing.

Hello 2017.

It's been a tough few months but know how much is catapulting us to the next level.

We're here now. This is our home.

In six months will buying our forever home.

Haven't found it yet but when we do will be an awesome place to live and visit.

I'm 99% sure.

Roll with the punches and go with the flow.

Anything else is unproductive.

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Be Gone 2016

The year had a few high points for us but sure is ending on bitter ones. We've lost lives and legends, more than any other one year I can remember.

The recent election was one of the ugliest on both sides and find it hard to believe was conducted by grown adults.

After over fifty six years am living in a new state for the very first time. Not gonna's a lonely feeling lots of days.

My pups used to have this back yard to explore...and this pic only shows one half.

Here's the other half.

Now they pace around in this box.

We went from living in this.

To renting this. And the front yard is bigger than the back.

I went from making an almost six figure salary to maybe forty grand if I'm lucky. I lost all my benefits and insurance for myself and two of my kids.

These are tough nuts to swallow, especially when you're away from most everything and everybody you've known for well over half a century.

Let's sum up 2016 this way.

Okay,  now the flip side of my coin.

So lately feel like I've been handed some lemons. What's a girl to do?

My New Year's resolution is to shake it off and move on.

I try and constantly remind myself am so much luckier than billions.

Do I miss my house and friends of twenty years?


Will I survive this huge life change?

You can bet your last dollar on it.

Life changes are hard when you're fifty six and way over half way done.

The thing to remember is that at least you're still around to moan and groan about it.

Somedays I have to make myself get up and get going but at least I do.

It's okay to feel down every now and then.

If you're never depressed how would you know when you feel really great?

I strive to feel really great in 2017...

And will.

Til next time...COTTON

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Surprise Party

We were already having Christmas at my brother's house this year with all but four of our family joining us in Orlando.

About a month ago my husband mentioned that my brother, Chris was turning sixty this year. His birthday is December 27 so pretty much gets screwed every birthday and usually receives a held back Christmas present, usually wrapped in Santa Claus paper.

Chris has totally taken over the role of pseudo father after our own Diddy died in 2002. He's taken excellent care of his two needy sisters and even taken care of our sometimes needy kids. He let my husband stay with him (rent free) for almost a year when Tim got transferred to Orlando long before I joined. He even took my husband's brother in for a time when he needed it.

If there's one thing I can say about my brother which no sane person could  possibly deny is:

Chris Leach is a stand up guy.

Tim said we should throw Chris a surprise party while the family was still here from Georgia.

Massey (my free secretary) set up a private event, blocking only Chris from seeing on Facebook and included every person we could think of.

We planned the surprise attack, for the day before his birthday.

Tim told Chris he wanted to take him out to play golf as part of his Christmas present the day after Christmas and included my nehew and brother in law.

Of course being needy sisters we are,  went the cheap route and bought hot dogs, buns and chips. Cindy made some side dishes and I did as well. We'd asked others to just bring a side dish or some beer or wine.

Massey and I went over a couple of hours before and we all decorated his house, complete with streamers, balloons and strung lights around his back porch and back of the house.

We hung a Happy Birthday banner on his front gate to see when he pulled in the drive from golfing and greeted him saying we'd all decided to give him a small family party while we were all still there.

The first car pulled in ten minutes later. A work friend of Chris' along with his wife and daughters. They simply acted like they had just dropped by to say hello.

Chris, always the ultimate host took them all out for a ride in his boat on the lake.

When they got back, three other friends had suddenly decided to drop by to visit.

Then another friend of his happened to show up but by that time, Chris knew.

A few more friends showed up, then the bomb dropped when this crazy guy walked in the door after driving seven hours just to attend.

More friends arrived and is best described as "One liquored up event."

Massey and I Ubered back to our house a little before eleven. Tim stayed and slept in a chair. And yes there is a picture of that floating around the Internet as well.

The Birthday Boy seemed to have a good time too.

I can only think of two people who deserve this kind of party. One is my brother and one is my sister.

If not for them, would've never made it this far in my life.
And that's a fact.

I can only think of one person luckier.


Sounds like a soap opera, but's our true story.  Our momma collapsed and died in under thirty seconds from a brain aneurysm  while out school shopping with Cindy and me in 1977. Diddy died from West Nile virus in less than ten days in 2002.

We went from this...

to this.

Then somehow ended up like this.

A tangled web of love.

Love is all you need.

I've had more than my fair share.

They love me because I'm their sister.

I laugh because there's nothing they can do about it.

Til next time and a next year...COTTON

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The First One

For the past twenty years this was our home for every single Christmas. This year was our first living not only in a different house but a different state.

We've become used to spending every other Chritmas in Orlando at my brother's lake house, making the seven hour drive down. This year it was a ten minute drive.

It felt strange the entire Christmas season this year. Eighty sunny dgrees every single day while "The weather outside is frightful" was playing on the radio.

Unfortunately as well, am having to start over again at a new job with a forty percent cut in pay. It's inching upward but still  hard to get used to. My savings are gone and miss being able to sock money away like I did when working at the airport. I make enough to pay my bills but am back to that paycheck to paycheck status.

Tim's doing incredibly well with his new job and happy for him, yet almost envious.

I had it all back in Atlanta.

He has it all here.

It's the total Catch 22.

It is what it is, and cope I must.

Holidays are going to be the hardest, with one half of my life still living in Georgia and the other half lving here in Orlando.

It's hard once kids start growing up and begin lives of their own. They have in laws who want them there too. They have responsibilities,  jobs and even kids of their own.

Life is about adapting, and not my forte'.

Guess I'll have to work on that in 2017.

I have to say my sister outdid herself this year with my brother's Christmas present. He has everything in the world and then some (he never had kids) but how awesome is this?

We ate and drank our weight and enjoyed every minute together.

And at the end of Christmas Day, God painted this picture for us.

The Leach sisters were together again, joined by my daughter,  my daughter in law and my two G babes.

Girls rock.

It was great to see Tim and TJ enjoying Christmas together as well.

We missed the three left back in Georgia.

My other nephew, his wife and Casey's wife, Ellie.

I guess the saying is true. When you can't be with the ones you love, love the ones you're with.

I think more than anything, missed having my Lost Boy here.

  Times change, situations change.

At least I got to spend last Christmas with him.

Zach's back in Atlanta, growing up and coming into his own.

I couldn't be prouder of him but sure breaks my heart.

Tim and Massey are driving back to Atlanta over New Year's and taking Zach all his Christmas presents.

I'm working so have to stay here. That may be a good thing. I'd feel like snatching and shoving him into the trunk of the car.

I never thought letting them grow up would be harder than raising them.

Guess I was wrong.

Damn those wings.

Another Catch 22.

I thought I was through, but I'm not.

I want them to grow up but sure miss being their everything.

Reality check.

Having kids is the greatest challenge of all. You want them to leave but hate it when finally do.

Can they make it without you?

Will they make it without you?

The older I get, the more I love my kids.

That's a good thing (I think) and what makes me an okay parent.

It's been a crazy, upside down six months.

But this is what I've learned.

At the age of fifty six, seems like I still have a lot to learn.

Til next time...COTTON

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Real Christmas This Year

I remember Christmas when my kids were little, real little. In our first house we had three Christmas trees one year. One on each floor of the house. The one in the living room was over fifteen feet tall. My brother had to come over after it fell one night when Tim was working. He ended up tethering it to the railing of the upstairs dining room with a rope, after pulling little TJ up and down with the rope several times.

We moved to Newnan when Massey was almost three. I bought the biggest tallest tree I could find every year. We had a high ceiling in the new living room.

Every year, Tim came outside to help drag it in the house for me, after shaking his head at how big a tree I'd bought (again).

Then after finally wrangling it into the house, got in an argument every single year about which was its good side and why was it leaning that way when he could just unscrew it from the stand, let me turn it while he lifted the hundred pound tree and then screw it  back in so it would be straighter?

Is that really too much to ask?

Obviously so.

I'll never forget the year Zach said "It wouldn't be Christmas without the annual tree fight."

He was so right.

 Tim was still living in Lubbock last year when I brought home this bad boy. Zach and two Lost Boys helped us wrangle it in but sure was a beauty.

It was a great Christmas last year. Turned out to be the last in our home of over twenty years, but one of the best we ever had.

I was banging out bucks at work like I had a job printing money with nobody looking. Tim was living a thousand miles away but moving up quickly with his own new job.

We were coming out of a ten year struggle which almost killed not only us but our marriage.

But it didn't.

This selfie was taken at the airport the day Tim left for almost two years in Lubbock away from everyone he loved to take care of them.

Would I want to go through those past ten years again?


Could I?

Most certainly.

You do what you have to do.

We had some mighty slim Christmas' for some mighty slim years and then some. But Christmas still happened, albeit on a shoe string.

I'll never forget the Christmas, while still working at LongHorn and broke as bad jokes. We couldn't even afford to pay the utilities much less buy a tree. I was at work when one of the kids called me and said "A bald headed man just brought us a Christmas tree to our front door!"

It was one of the cooks I worked with.

Come to think of it, maybe that was the best Christmas ever.

Here's my thinking.

The Grinch was right.

I don't have a lot of money to spend on Christmas this year but have more Love than ever before and is the greatest gift of all to give, especially this time of year.

 I've lived from one end of the spectrum to the other and consider myself a well traveled person.

Tim and Massey went and shopped together the the other day while I was working. Have no idea what they bought but feel confident since Massey was there.

I'm going old school this Christmas.

My biggest single purchase this Christmas season will be groceries for my dinner for a few friends I've made since moving here.

My one Italian forte' is that I cook a mean lasagna. Baking one for my new friends (excited to even have some) and having them over to eat, relax, drink and be Merry.

Baking another and freezing it to take to my brother's house on Christmas Day.

Food is the best present a hungry body could ever want or have.

Just ask Ethiopia or Allepo.

Look into your own heart this Christmas and think of ones who desperately need to be loved, and include them.

Love begins with the simplest gesture but speaks volumes when sincerely given.

As defined by Webster's...

Love is:

"A deep, tender feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from a kinship or a sense of oneness."

We are one, like it or not.

You may be pro this or anti that, but in the long run doesn't matter.

What matters is that we need to love and embrace each other.

Never judge unless you want to be judged. (and's rarely a pretty picture)

Here we are...

Enjoy your Season and I'll enjoy mine.