2/25/2014

What Does Your Yard Say About You?

Neighbor with 100% best yard!

Years ago, there were types of neighborhoods. You had your classy type were everyone had perfectly manicured lawns. There was the type where everyone had starter homes and small children with bikes lined up outside.  Then there was the type where empty nesters lived like me. Today, it is as diverse as  ever.  Folks are so busy that you can just imagine a great deal about the inhabitants from the outside. 

Take our neighbors for example, if I might.  I think ours represents a good cross reference of many of yours:


Pool use to be behind house with blue siding

We have the one neighbor who had the kayak pool above ground up for years. It was  in the backyard when we moved here over eleven years ago, about 100 feet behind their house.   It stayed that way till about 3 years ago.  The only thing missing was people swimming in it. It had the white lattice work, a nice deck around and a pathway from the deck off the back of the house leading to it.  I am not sure what was in it or what its’ purpose was. It did lessen the amount of lawn that needed to be cut. When our dog, Charley got free, he was always anxious to pee around it.  It began to look sorta creepy when moss and vegetation grew around it over time and was quite a mystery why someone would leave a large unused pool up in a hot summer in TN.


We never bothered to ask the neighbors about this though. Our only communication with these folks was coincidentally through Scott Bolon. He was visiting from Northern Kentucky and taking our dog for our walk.  As he went up the curb with Charley, our dog apparently peed on one of the trees that lined the side of his long yard. Out of the blue, Scott heard a loud angry voice screaming, “Do not let that dog piss in my yard!”  He looked over his shoulder and it was the man from that house yelling out the door from his deck not very happy with a few expletives thrown in there.  We felt perhaps they were not the type of neighbors that would like us to ask them about their unused pool.


Tree Saying "Help Me"


Then we have the neighbor whose tree fell down a few months back during a storm. He
has made no attempt to pick it up.  He is waiting for the tree fairy to come by and pick it up.  I never knew such a fairy existed. It must be a southern thing. 







Next door to us for years our dearest neighbors have one of those fold down top trailers.  We are not sure they ever used it but Rob tells us he got a heck of a deal on it. I suppose it makes sense if one gets a deal to buy it while the picking is good. So, over the last ten years, we have seen it get opened up and aired out at least two or three times. I think it may have housed a few slumber parties for their youngest daughter even.  It has been moved two or three times to different locations in the yard, making its way from the driveway, to the back of the yard to where it resides now, closer to the front. I am assuming it is waiting for another person to drive by and see it and think it is a heck of a steal and buy it.





On the other side of us is a wonderful family. They are the home fixer-uppers that believe why pay someone else to do things when we can do it ourselves so much cheaper. Perhaps if you gaze at some of the pictures you can see why you would pay someone else.  


The patio we watched initially being constructed. It was hand laid and they picked the hottest day of the summer.  It began with skids all over the backyard piled 3 to 4 feet high with bricks.  The patio was going to be shaped in this wonderful custom geometric shape. It was going to take some time to construct, they told us, but they were in for the long-haul. By noon, the day they started, plans changed. I think, by then, it was decided to switch to a square patio with plant boxes made of the bricks on the side!  Plants were purchased, at some point and lined up in the backyard to put in those planter boxes for once the patio was complete. The construction site was open for ages. When complete, very little energy was left to plant.  Eventually they made it into the ground.  However, all energy was spent by then, so nothing was left to care for the greenery so the picture is self-explanatory. The plants around it became overgrown and now look like long forgotten friends left behind.  


One day a concrete truck came through the yard of our neighbors, a site we don't normally see. Apparently he was laying concrete in the backyard.  This, we quickly learned was for a basketball half court.  One would think one of the children was going into basketball.  Nope.  Apparently, oh well, nothing more to say here, incase it does happen in the future, it is here, in their yard.  Oh, it has been used occasionally. Normally though the hoop is laying where it is pictured here, on its side.  




Somewhere along the line a boat was purchased. They have a camper so we presume it was for this purpose.  Even though home owner rules disallow all of these items to be proudly on display, they are in their case, allowed to disobey these rules. Or think they can.  Their yard is reminding me more and more of Pawn Stars.   The boat, pretty as a picture, hangs underneath their bedroom, upside down. I doubt this will go to  the best bidder though so do not even attempt to stop and bid!  Go two houses down to the fold down camper (3 paragraphs above) if interested in purchases. Your chances will be better on that gem. 





I certainly don’t want to imply we have no room to talk.  We, for our part, have a huge
Man-Eating Evergreen
evergreen out front that looks like a man eating Christmas tree. I have no idea what came over this plant but it once was a beautiful tree in a pot in our house for the holidays. We put the bulb in our front yard and it has never once looked the same again. It began to grow and took on this idiotic shape. We are waiting for some horticulture nut to come by one day and take to it so it looks more ‘normal’.  We do not want to be the subject of someone else’s blog!








It is not obvious this time of year but our front porch normally has on proud display pots holding fake flowers. I know what you are thinking, that is phony. Yep, but it works, they look beautiful and from the road, no one can tell.  They do not need watered, and can be reused.  I got the idea from a magazine and believe it or not, many friends have stolen my idea since. 




So maybe it goes without saying that the idiosyncrasies we all have inside our house, inside our lives are also expressed outside our homes. The next time you are driving through a neighborhood, perhaps your very home, take a look around.  Life can be quite humorous in a silly kind of way, in the mundane.



2/17/2014

A Lesson from Two Six Year Olds

2 wise old souls at 6 years old!





They say that our role as adults is to teach our children. 
I am constantly amazed at what they can teach us, about ourselves, if we stop and listen.


Some grandparents are called other names, nanny, pappy, Mamey, Granpop, etc… Our grandkids have stuck with just ordinary grandma and grandpa.  We are happy with that as it fits.  We are just ordinary folks with no real tradition of names or habits of doing things.  Sometimes we wish we did but then again, life is simpler this way.  

Little things from our grandkids mean so much to both of us. The thoughtfulness of even the smallest thing melts our hearts as it does to most any grandparent. Getting a Starbucks travel cup from my grand-daughter Ava, after she told her Mommy she must buy that for Grandma Ronni, was precious! She has already duly noted my obsession for Chai tea from SB.

The winter hat from Kaleb that Grandpa Jim proudly wears on display for all the neighbors to see when he walks Charley.  It not only keeps his head warm but his heart because it was from Kaleb. 

At this stage in our life, anything from any of them means so much. I have fought a battle with cancer, and won. There is no guarantee it won’t return. Several of my friends have fought or are fighting it again.  Some had diagnosis dates close to mine. My husband has lost his only son.  Again, having grandchildren is special, they will outlive us.  We do what we can when we can to let them know they are forever locked in our hearts. Their gifts of any kind, even a gentle kiss remind us that we too are loved back by kind innocent hearts.

I co-wrote a research paper in college on the “Use of Art in Therapy.”  I quickly discovered that since the beginnings of time, humans have used art as a form of expression.   Recently, both of my six year old grandchildren have drawn pictures of Grandpa Jim and I.  They wanted us to display their artwork. Rather than hoard it to ourselves, I thought I would share it on my blog page.  Also, I have included some of what their insights are of us that I have drawn from these pictures.  Pure speculation of course …


Ava A. Glasmeier's Drawing of Grandma & Grandpa


Ava:
  1. Apparently, in Ava’s eyes we have very colorful personalities. This could be biased by her ‘colorful lively ‘perception of the world.
  2. We have large feet and mine rarely stay on the ground. I think the implication here is that I have my head above the clouds. This may not be altogether wrong, at least some of the time.
  3. Grandpa Jim was born with antennas on top of his head.   I can only surmise this implies he is aware of everything going on at all times.  Thus, it is hard to keep a secret from him and also he is a good one to ask about what is around the corner.  I suppose we should nick name him the Family Radar in Ava’s eyes.
  4. There is a large M on this drawing, much like the Golden Arch at McDonalds, so apparently she equates us with that fast food chain.  This could be explained away easily by our desire to spoil her and get her happy meals there. I wouldn’t dare think it was because either of us reminded her of Ronald McDonald. 
  5. Grandma Ronni needs to be on the TV Show What Not to Wear or come to one of her princess tea parties to learn how to dress pretty.  She did put me in my favorite color purple and a dress but I am far from stylish.  I really think that my red leggings clash somewhat with my purple dress!
  6. This next observation is a self-serving one. Grandpa Jim does not help Grandma Ronni enough.  Well actually, I am just analyzing my grand-daughter’s picture.  Grandpa is minus his right-hand on her image. He is right-handed so how much help can he be to me or anyone without it?
  7. I noticed she has a zigzag line across the front of my face. This could be a worry line, a sign of a migraine or, God –forbid, she is already noticing my wrinkles!  (Please tell me no)
  8. There appears to be wings, red in color, coming off of Grandpa. For some reason, there are three wings!  She must feel he needs to be on a diet.  Two wings are not enough to lift him off of the ground.
  9. Our grass is orange as in dead on the bottom of her picture. She is right-on, we live in the south and she knew not to pick green!
  10. The overall comment about this picture is that Ava picked each of our favorite colors to use on us for clothing and put a huge smile on both of us as if we were thinking of her!  That is something we do all the time! 



Kaleb Bolon's Drawing of Grandpa Jim

Drawing by K. Bolon of Grandma Ronni


Kaleb drew a picture of us individually. I am not sure why, perhaps he thought it was important to show our individuality.  Just a guess, who knows?

Kaleb:

  1. Compared to living in Northern Kentucky, the sun is always shining in Nashville, Tennessee!
  2. Going hand in hand with that, the sun smiles down on us southerners!
  3. Grandpa Jim has his hands on his head.  He must be getting frustrated with Grandma Ronni, again or it is just a good resting place.
  4. Grandma Ronni has no clothes on. I guess it doesn’t matter what I wear around him, the furthest thing from his mind is fashion! Grandpa Jim is naked too.
  5. Grandpa has shading around his head which can imply, in these types of drawings, anxiety.  Now this is interesting to me because most folks would call Grandpa Jim laid back but I know he has some underlying anxiety. From this pic, I think his little six year old grandson knows it too!
  6. Grandma Ronni has eyes but no eyeballs.  Does that imply, at times, I can be clueless? Possibly my six year old grandson has been ‘clued’ in!
  7. Kaleb told me that the blue lines represent a train track. Grandpa is walking towards it. I am not sure if this is a good thing or not.  It is interesting he choose this because, as a small boy, his grandpa loved to play on train tracks. Kaleb never knew that and yet drew tracks on a picture of his grandpa.  Ironic or intuitive?
  8. I think our grandson thinks our house is small. He has it drawn coming up to about my waist. Either that or my personality is way bigger than our house.
  9. Folks we have the most well-manicured lawn in the world according to Kaleb! Look at that line and eat your heart out. Looks like a fairway on a golf course.
  10. Grandpa Jim is going to be bald in the future and my hair is going to go from short to very funky, possibly only growing on one side. But since Kaleb had a big smile on when he gave me the pictures, I know he would love us bald, toothless and feeble!

 I challenge you to do what these two six year olds do when they look at us. Don’t take yourselves too seriously. Life is too short not to laugh at the image in the mirror sometimes.  Walk away and carry that humor with you for the rest of the day.  Oh, what the heck, how about for the rest of your life?

2/05/2014

Step Back and Breathe


Ever notice how hard it is to pull back when someone you care about needs help and you want to help them?

Sometimes in life, those that are closest to us want to define what that aid is.  Their preference is to tell you what they want, not necessarily what they need. Big difference and often times, not a long-term solution but just a crutch for them, a temporary fix.  Through the trees in the forest, they may not even know what they need.  Even when we are in the midst of challenges we our our objectivity can slip away.  

Trying to give guidance to a loved one or dear friend when they are not receptive is frustrating.  It feels as if you are shouting above the ocean’s waves.  If your voice is heard, it may be met with anger, and  backfire.  They may see you an added stress especially if you are suggesting help they don't feel is what they need. 

As Christians, we are programmed to want to continue to reach out a hand of compassion to try to save a sinking ship, make someone’s life a little less painful.  We want to help others.  It is in our nature and it is what makes us human.  But we must define our limits. 


As a parent, I use to want to save my children growing pains by helping steer ‘their ship.’ I wanted to help them make decisions if it would save them major bumps in the road. I finally realized they didn't want my help with many of those. Actually, more often than not, they didn't need it either. Plus, some choices that aren't the best during the formidable years can be  learning lessons that stay with you for life.  They needed to experience that and gain the confidence in their own abilities to be a competent decision maker.  I was there for soften the fall. And just maybe there really is no gain without pain.

To some adult children, adulthood means no parental involvement in their lives at all.  Thus, they pull back from their parents at a time when the parents don’t want to be pulled back from.  No input needed, no output given. My friends and I have discussed this. Adulthood to them comes with a free pass to critique their parents’ parenting style and their parents as people.   All the efforts put forth in raising them are now put under scrutiny.  They fail to recognize the respect that is owed to elders, to parents but as life is truly short-lived, step away.  You can only live and control your life, not your kids, as it should be.

Kids, no matter the age, circle back around to their parents.  It is sad  that it takes some adults a serious illness or death of their parents to do so.  Being a cancer survivor, I can't understand not finding the time to bond with parents, no matter what the relationship is or was.  Closure should not be just because someone is leaving this earth and entering into heaven.   I suppose we all are a little bit guilty of getting caught up in our life and letting our elders get what is left of our time.  I think God is disappointed that a relationship has come down to a l courtesy call. 

On the flip side, some elderly parents want total independence, regardless of their mental or physical health condition.  This is the worst scenario to face for many adult children.  It feels somewhat disrespectful to say to a parent that they are incapable of caring for themselves.  But, reality is just that, their mental capacity is deteriorated and their health requires more hands on care than can be provided.  

As you try to reason with them, it is as if time has turned back and you have became the parent and they are the child. Rationalization is not working.  You try explaining the need and all they hear is the perception you are casting them aside like an empty useless bread basket.   One resolution after another you come up with is unsatisfactory.   And so the cycle continues, in reverse this time.  

Friends can misconstrue help also feeling as if it is owed to them.   After years of friendship, everyone should lend an ear to hear their woes over and over again.  Listening is one thing, asking for advice is another. But when it is repetitive, over and over again, that is over the boundary line.   We all know the type.   You give them your honest opinion, or not and yet, they keep calling and bringing the topic up and rehashing it over and over again.   Nothing changes until finally your caller ID spares you because you screen their calls. Being a friend does not mean you have to waste your time. Suggest getting a counselor or an action plan. If none is taken, pull back until they do.  You need a life too.   Don't be a codependent.  It reminds me of a man who asked me if I had a lighter at the hospital curb that was hooked up to oxygen and I said “Are you kidding me?”

We should not  overextend ourselves to the point where we are fulfilling others unhealthy bad habits. Kids have a tendency to want as much money as they can and all that money can buy.  Too bad it doesn't fall from the sky.  Giving in is not helping them appreciate working hard and appreciating the value of earning money and a work ethic.  It is far more important, if you truly want to help someone, to teach them how to be self-empowered to have a solution for their  problem than handing them one.  Self sufficiency is a beautiful blessed gift that is priceless.   
If this is met with criticism and someone just wants an easy out, perhaps you are helping someone who is not ready to be helped.  

Years ago, I was in a class with a woman in a counseling psychology class.  We had to tape all of our sessions.   We met at her house as she had the recording equipment there.  Early on she confided that her husband had been cheating on her.  Within weeks, her husband was home during our weekly sessions.   It was becoming uncomfortable as I was concerned he would overhear her talking.  Slowly the conversations began to turn and she admitted that she was cheating on him to get even. She then asked me to help her. She made it clear, at this point, that her idea of help was for me to sleep with her husband so that it would relieve her guilt as she was falling for the man she was now having an affair with.   Apparently, her husband had ended his affair when she had found out.   This was by far the strangest counseling situation I had ever been in and if allowed by my professor, I would have ran out of it!  

Needless to say, her idea of help was far different from mine. I urged counseling over and over again. If not marriage counseling, I told her she needed individual counseling. Don't ever change who you are or what you believe in to help anyone in dire need.  You can always pray from afar.  Some people that are in need don't even see it that way. I am not sure if she did or did not. I didn't stay around long enough to find out. 

You can keep the window open got others to talk to you perhaps,  but not the door. No one needs to be a doormat and get taken advantage of or stop living for the sake of someone down and out.  We are not responsible for others decisions with their life.   As I told my children, each person is given the right to make their own choices, provided it is not infringing on someone else’s freedoms.   We don’t have to like other people's choices but it is their right.  We don’t have to support them either.  We can give aid also,  but if it is repeatedly met with ungratefulness and no sign of recovery or positive steps towards improvement  we too can make a choice to discontinue the help..


Patience is a true virtue.  Time does change things, people and situations.  Plant a seed, let it
go,  and hope it grows.  I have seen children that were not in great situations turn out wonderful in later years.   I have seen the reverse as well.   Life is funny that way.   Just as important as helping others is recognizing and acting on when you should take a step back and let someone just be, even if it means the outcome might not be good.  Besides, you are not the predictor of the future.  None of us are. Just look at a bunch of baby pictures…hard to believe they all grow up and become someone’s mommy….

Perhaps this video {Click Here to View It} helps drives the point home that we are all different yet in many ways the same. Life comes at you fast and perhaps taking a hand someone offers you in assistance is worth considering from time to time. If it is smacked back, oh well, move on....