Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day 3 in Atlanta

Today was my last full day in the Tyrone area. I've had fun catching up with my friend and her family. Her daughter was struggling with the kids this morning, so my friend went over there to watch the boys while her daughter caught up on some sleep. I stayed at her house and finished the blog I started last night, caught up on some reading, and tried on some clothes she had in bins to take to a consignment shop.

I have always loved her sense of style. When we were in high school, she introduced me to fashion designers. Before then, all I knew was Sears, K-Mart, JCPenney, and Joske's. I never paid attention to the names of the people who designed clothes. I liked her sense of style even in high school. We were the same size, and I loved sharing her clothes. Mine were either from the stores mentioned above or homemade.

She had 4 bins of clothes that she decided to take to a consignment shop, and I was welcome to try them on and take anything I wanted. Even though I had things to do like check my bank accounts, catch up on email, check in at Southwest Airlines to get my boarding pass, etc., I kept ending up in the room with the clothes. I finally finished my tasks so I could "shop." I was thrilled that most of the clothes fit. A few were large or too small, but most fit. Then I had to decide about how practical they were for Texas weather. I wanted them all, but I left some. Some were just so dang cute! When she returned, we ate a light lunch and headed out.

We tried to pick up where we left off yesterday by going to Senoia. The weather was beautiful today. Sunny, not humid (compared to 96% yesterday) and dry. She showed me the house her daughter & son-in-law used to lived in. We took a tour of Senoia, which is a nice little town. We parked in the square and started shopping. The items in the shops were unique and pretty expensive, so we basically just enjoyed reading the funny cards, smelled the candles, and did the tourist things. At 3:00 we went to Katie Lou's and had a drink, jalapeno poppers, and chicken wings. By the time we finished eating, most of the shops were closed. We were able to check out a couple more. Since it was Sunday, most closed at 4:00.

We toured some more of Senoia then headed to her daughter's house to print out my boarding pass. I got to meet her husband for the first time.

After stopping at the grocery store to get more salad fixin's, we went home to make dinner. I made another pizza, this time with just the cheeses and some turkey pepperoni; we roasted asparagus with olive oil spray, garlic pepper, and parmesan cheese; cut up some jicama, and made a large salad with dried cranberries, avocado, red onion - all kinds of goodies. Once the dust settled, we had a feast! It was so good.

Something we talked about at her daughter's this afternoon was the different festivals they have in this area. One of them is the Cotton Pickin' Fair in Gay, GA. They hold it twice a year - one the first full weekend of October and another the first full weekend of May (3 & 4). I plan to be back for that fair. I didn't get to do any of the Founder's Day Festival this year because of the rain and my short visit. But, if we plan this next one right, my friend will be able to take off work, and we'll be able to do more. This trip was originally planned for a family occasion that I wanted to attend in Florida. I decided since I was going to be this close to my friend that I HAD to visit her. I've wanted to for about 30 years. I figured it was about time, and I told her that even if it was for just an evening, I wanted to see her. I'm so glad we got to visit.

Day 2 in Atlanta

I think I brought the rain from San Antonio to Atlanta! We woke up to a cloudy, very humid day. By the time we were dressed and ready to go, it was raining. That didn't dampen our spirits - we just made sure we had our waterproof jackets with hoods and went on about our day.

Our first stop was my friend's daughter's house so I could meet her kids. They are both so cute! They look alike, but one has light skin, blond with blue eyes, and the other has an olive complexion with dark hair. The 4-week-old baby was asleep, and before we left the foyer, he was in my arms. The older one (3 years old) has been recovering from pneumonia. He was suffering from cabin fever and was glad for our attention. Our being there allowed their mom to run to the grocery store.

Do you remember what it was like to have two little ones? Mine are 2 years apart, and I found it was harder to take care of 2 than twice as hard as taking care of 1. There were the conflicts, touches of jealousy, both needing me at the same time. Yikes! Parents of young kids should be young; that way they can keep up with it all. I can babysit for a while, but not take on the responsibility day after day.

We went to Ruby Tuesday's in Newnan for lunch. I got the salad bar and fish tacos without the sour cream and the sauce they drizzle on it. Even without all the extras, they were pretty good. I loved the salad bar - it had edamame and all sorts of good stuff. I stayed away from the REALLY good stuff like the potato salad and other more fattening offerings. My friend ordered a California something flatbread. She shared a piece, and it was delicious! But, I'm sticking with the fresher foods.

After lunch, we went to Lowe's, and while we were there, it rained cats and dogs. We thought we'd have to spend the day there. It let up a bit, and when we got back in the car, I suggested we just head back to her house and have some wine.

You know, shortly after we settled in at her house and had a couple glasses of wine, the rain stopped. If we hadn't had the wine, we would have tried getting out again, but we enjoyed visiting. We made Ezekiel tortilla pizzas with sauce and mozzarella and parmesan cheese. I had made a large salad earlier in the day, and we had that with the pizza. I thought it was delicious. But I'm used to this food. I don't know what she thought. She liked the salad. She had an Italian dressing that was to die for from a nearby restaurant. Y-u-u-u-m! It was so good, it was probably very bad ;o).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Flight to Atlanta and first day of visit.

Originally, I planned to park my car in the long-term parking lot at the airport. As I thought about it, I started imagining dragging my luggage to check in. The more I thought about it, the less I wanted to do it myself. In one of my moments of genius, I decided to park my car in my daughter's driveway and call a taxi to take me from their house to the airport. The problem with when I was going to the airport was that it was at 12:55 on a work day, one of my daughter's busiest. They wouldn't mind picking me up when I returned, but they couldn't take me.

I could be at their house by 11:15, so I got online and reserved a taxi to pick me up then. I grabbed everything and headed to their house. Because I was early, I stayed in my car and tried to download a GPS app on my phone. Right at 11:15, I got a phone call from someone with a very thick accent asking me something. Although I couldn't understand him, I did recognize the word taxi. He was in the street verifying that I was there. I told him to come get my luggage out of my car. He probably thought I was nuts, and he started to leave. I said "Don't leave, I'm in the car in the driveway." He turned out to be really nice, and we talked about how SA has grown in the 14 years he's been here. I was surprised at how much the taxi cost. My daughter lives behind the airport, and it cost $28 and change. I can imagine how much it would have cost to take a taxi from my house, 20 miles away.

My flight reservations were through Southwest Airlines, but my flights are actually on AirTrans. Because I'm used to Southwest, I assumed 17A was my position in line to get on the plane. I was pretty excited because I would be one of the first to board. The boarding pass also showed Zone 6; I wondered what that was.

When I was in line for security, I reached for my phone, but I couldn't find it! I started freaking out. What would I do without my phone? I checked my pockets, all the pockets of my backpack, but it eluded me. I told the lady in front of me that I thought I lost my phone. She turned around and commiserated with me saying she would be glad to stay with me until I found it or so I could make a call if I couldn't. She was so nice. Once I got through security and I could put everything down to do a thorough check, I found it! Eureka! She came by to check on me. How nice!

I'm practicing stepping out of my comfort zone, so when I arrived at the gate, I picked the first empty seat I saw and made myself comfortable. I was with a group of kids in their early 20s chatting. Half the time I couldn't understand them because they talked so fast.

When they started boarding wheelchairs, then some other group, then business class, I was so confused. We weren't all lined up to board like all other Southwest flights. Apparently with AirTrans, they call Zones. By the time they called Zone 6, half the waiting area was empty. As I entered the plane, the flight attendant asked me to wait because there were lots of folks stowing luggage and clogging the aisle. I took the opportunity to ask her if I could sit anywhere. I'm still thinking the plane runs like Southwest. She was really nice and told me that I was assigned to Seat 17A, which was a window seat. Awesome! I wasn't going to have to be squeezed between people in the middle like all the other flights before. Usually when I boarded a Southwest flight, the only seats left were the middle. I found my window seat and got comfortable. A guy who looked like he might have been from India sat in the aisle seat, and I thought we were home free.

Then a big guy in fatigues sat between us. He wasn't large, just tall and lanky. He took over the arm rest (I never get to keep the arm rest ;o( ) and half my space. He was all elbows. When he sat down, i detected the scent of a cough drop, and danged if it wasn't he. He sniffled a bit and coughed a couple of times, and he NEVER covered his mouth. As soon as I could, I grabbed by backpack, pulled out a tissue, and held it over my nose as much as I could the rest of the flight. At first I was thinking "Dang him! I don't want to get sick!" Then I realized that I don't get sick. Flight reservations are made days in advance, and he didn't know he was going to be sick. He brought a newspaper, and I swear, he read every square inch of that paper. He folded, refolded, folded, and refolded that paper the whole flight.

The flight was bumpy much of the way. The flight attendants were out and about only long enough to serve the pretzels and drinks, and then they were back in their seats buckled in.

Once we arrived at the Atlanta airport, I decided to walk to baggage claim. OMG! I knew the airport was large, but I didn't know it would be a 5K walk to Domestic Baggage Claim. After the first couple of miles, I was not about to give up. I was on a mission, and I walked the whole way. It took me at least 30 minutes. My friend probably thought I got lost on the tram or something. About 2/3 of the way, I asked an airport employee how many more miles it was to baggage claim. She said it wasn't too much farther. She lied!

Honestly, I think they need mile markers or signs saying "3/4 mile to Domestic Baggage Claim - Grab a Tram while you can!" I was determined to walk the whole way. I even tried to keep up a little swing in my step like it was a walk in the park. I tell you what, though, I was never so glad to see someone as I was my friend. I feel like I conquered something because I went the distance.

The last time I went to the Atlanta airport was in 2006, before my knee replacements, and I rode the tram. It never occurred to me to walk it, even if it would have been a short distance. But this time, I didn't even think about taking the tram (well, maybe once).

When we arrived at baggage claim, my bags were just coming around on the carousel, so it was perfect timing. I grabbed them and off we went.

At my friend's house, I unpacked and settled in and we visited a bit. It was like we'd just seen each other. We have been friends since January 1969, and we've experience a lot of life since them. I was stressed about the weather in San Antonio. I took a minute to call a friend in San Antonio to see if he could do a little flood prevention in my backyard. If someone would remove the bottom board of my fence, the water could flow between the houses like it was designed to do. He said he would take care of it. Now I could relax and start my vacation, and we were off to Big Daddy's!

I loved Big Daddy's. It was quiet, and for a Friday night, that was something unusual. There were lots of things going on in the area, so we had the place to ourselves practically. I promised my nutritionist that I would lose 2 pounds while on my travels, so I tried to be good. I ordered 1/2 dozen parmesan something oysters and a Greek salad with the dressing on the side. I thoroughly enjoyed the oysters and the salad. It was all so good that I wolfed it down, and I started helping myself to the shrimp in my friend's bucket. All in all, I was good, except for the 3 Fat Tires I drank. Dang that was good beer!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The beginning of another adventure

I feel like I'm heading off on an adventure - I'm going to Atlanta to visit a dear friend and then to Jacksonville to visit my "Mom." "Mom" is actually my ex mother-in-law. Although I've only seen her a few times since our divorce, I feel like she's family. I always say I got her and her daughter in the divorce.

Her daughter passed away in August at the age of 52. She fought cancer for the past 5 years and finally succumbed. She did not go out without a fight. So, once again, "Mom" is alone and picking up the pieces after losing a loved one to cancer. My ex father-in-law died of colon/liver cancer at about the same age. My daughter worry about her and hope we can talk her into moving here, where she has family who would love to have her around.

This is the first time I've traveled alone for pleasure. I flew to Chicago last year for training, but I was only there 3 days and didn't get much of a chance to explore.

I signed up for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program so I could earn as I go. I printed out my card and had it laminated in our print shop. I was so excited about it that my coworker double laminated it. It looks so official!

This is the beginning. This is my first opportunity to travel and blog about it. This is what I want to do while I'm retired. When I was in Chicago, I wrote about everything that happened, but it was so dry and boring that I never actually put it in the blog.

While I was working on the house, I practiced blogging, and the response was positive, so here goes.

My flight leaves tomorrow at 12:55, and I have yet to pull a suitcase down to pack. The clothes are picked out, coordinated, and hanging in a closet. My night clothes and undies are folded neatly, my shoes are picked out, and I've sorted through my make up. I have some gifts and food to pack, and I'm done.

I was hoping to buy a camera before I left because I dropped my Canon SureShot last spring while cleaning out my garage, and now it goes through batteries like crazy. They only last about 30 minutes. The camera I want costs $170, and I'd rather spend the money on having fun!! Maybe I'll tell Santa what I want for Christmas, and in the meantime, I'll use my phone.

Well, my suitcases aren't going to pack themselves . . .

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Handling loss

Eight months ago today our world crashed and the unthinkable happened. We lost my grandson in an instant. I'm still having a hard time adjusting.

I've been thinking about loss and how people fill the void that is left when someone dies. Although I've lost people that I love very much, I wasn't actually living with anyone who died. I cannot imagine the pain that must be felt when suddenly someone is gone. The emptiness is probably almost too much to bear.

I still wish I could have conversations with my Mom, and she's been gone since 1985! My Dad lived in another town for 9 years, but I could always talk to him when I wanted. But not any more. I couldn't wait for him to move back to town so I could write down some of the stories he told us. But that didn't happen. This cannot in any way be compared to losing someone that you live with, see every day, hug and talk to every day.

It must be so hard.

After Mom died, Daddy invited one of his sisters over to go through Mom's clothes. I felt like it was a bit soon, but my aunt needed the clothes, and they were a painful reminder. I actually picked out 2 blouses that day that ended up being my favorite blouses. I am wearing one in a photo that I run across occasionally, and I still feel guilty about having it. About a year later, Daddy told my sister and I that we could split up my mom's jewelry. Neither of us wanted to do that. It was too soon. We weren't ready to say good-bye.

I know of so many people who have lost a spouse of many years - not just my Dad. My grandparents were married forever when my grandmother moved to a rest home. She was there a while when she died. My grandfather never got over losing her. He wouldn't eat. He died 3 years later of a broken heart.

When I was little, one of my Dad's aunts in Ballinger died, and we went there for the funeral. Two weeks later, we went back for her husband's funeral. He died of a broken heart. That was the first time I ever really thought about something like that. My mother-in-law just lost her 52-year-old daughter to cancer. She's having to pick up the pieces. It just doesn't seem right to lose a child. That's not the way things are supposed to be.

Everyone copes in their own way. For some, the silence is deafening; the emptiness is painful. Some people pour themselves into their work, some into a bottle. We all wonder how God could cause someone to die before their time. But who says it wasn't their time?

According to the Bible, God knows our future while we are in the womb. I guess, all we can do is follow the rules, take care of ourselves and each other, love with our whole heart, let your loved ones know how you feel, and be glad for every moment you have with them.

Right now, all I can think of are the times I could have been nicer and lost opportunities to enjoy another smile or conversation. I worshiped my Dad, and I adored my grandson, and I miss them terribly.

Would you please tell me how you cope with your loss?

My house is wonderful, and the cleaning is easy . . .

Now that the house has been emptied and thoughtfully reloaded, keeping it neat is sooooo much easier! And enjoyable.

I just went through and picked up things in each room that didn't belong and put them where they belonged, picking up things in that room, until the whole house was picked up. It took about 30 minutes. Before, I wouldn't have started because it was overwhelming.

Plus, I figured out the problem with the focus on my camera, and I took photos of the house, inside and out. I posted them and set everything up so I can share them. Now, the batteries keep dying. I think when I dropped it in January, I killed it. It's probably time to get a new one. I like this one because it has a viewfinder so I can hold it close to take a photo. I'm better at that than holding it out and taking a photo. They don't make them like this anymore I don't think. But I'll keep looking.

Putting the photos together was harder than I expected. Maybe it's because of what I do at work. I work on the web, publishing newsletters, websites, etc, and the makeover photos had to be just right. I found myself desperately looking for the external drive that has all of the really before photos so I could show how dramatically the house has changed. I think Betty has more photos of the during than I do. She and David thought about taking photos when I just kept busy. It didn't occur to me to start by taking photos of the before. As much time as I spent watching HGTV, you'd think I'd know to do that.

Oh well, the after is so dramatic and awesome! I LOVE my house. I can't wait to show it off.