Strawberry Fields For Father

It was a weekend of firsts – well, A First. After living in the area nearly my entire life, I finally made my way to the Owego Strawberry Festival on Saturday. Was fortunate to get a parking space at the DMV Lot. The biggest reason I’ve never gone to this is I’ve never been with anyone who was in the least bit interested in going. Interested or not, Jim agreed to being dragged about crowded Downtown Owego. Trust me, he needs it to be socialized now and again. He’d be a hermit if I let him. In previous relationships I’ve always been the homebody-hermit half so it’s an adjustment for us both – a good one.

Anywho! The lure of strawberries and live tunes and whatever else they had there pulled us both away from our computers for a few hours and out into the sunshine amongst our fellow humanoids. Was a nice walk about, taking in the numerous tie-dye clothing vendors, jewelry hawkers, canned & baked goodies, arts & crafts to beat the band and oh.. yeah, strawberries. To be honest, had I not KNOWN it was a Strawberry Festival, I – erm – probably won’t have, well, known. I’m gonna guess there were a hundred or so vendors at this annual shindig. I think I saw five or six that were selling strawberry-related foods. Strawberry shortcake was there, of course. Strawberry Lemonade made a couple of appearances. The drink of choice at the two bars within the Festival Zone was – you guessed it, The Strawberry Daiquiri. Was hoping for a Strawberry Funnel Cake or maybe some Strawberry Ice Cream. Didn’t see any. The one place I saw that sold strawberries in the raw, as it were, was loading up their truck getting ready to leave as we walked by at about 4:00 on Saturday. I was hoping to see someone dressed as a giant strawberry making their rounds for silly pictures. Nope. *le sigh* There were a couple of good bands there, though and we enjoyed what we heard of them. Someplace you could get an air boat ride on the river but wasn’t able to really find out where it launched from.

We strolled outta there about five and ended up stopping in Candor at Iron Kettle Farm for strawberries. Was real quiet there – we’ll go back again and subject ourselves to their pumpkin madness in the fall.

Met my dad for breakfast on Sunday and after we’d solved all the world’s problems over coffee, we got onto the subject of local festivals. Owego has strawberries, Marathon has maple syrup, Newark Valley took the apple, heck even lil ol RIchford does a weekend dedicated to the potato. Binghamton has a Fairy Festival. In fact, I saw a few of their folks in Owego handing out fliers. It was REALLY hard to miss the 7 foot tall guy dressed in purple wearing matching purple fairy wings. No, he wasn’t a stilt-walker. Oh, and we can’t leave out the Scarecrow Contest held in Candor at their Fall Festival, laws no! M-O-O-N, that spells Scarecrow! Sadly, my own hometown is without a festival. Maybe Corn. They have a lot of corn out there.

A couple hours later, Dad and I parted company. I love spending time with my Dad. Always have. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more aware of how blessed I am when it comes to my parents. I truly could not have asked for better people to raise me. Oh, sure, they MAY have had a wild party now and then and they MAY have been such regulars at a local bar that I, at the age of around 12, could go and order a round of drinks for them without the bartender batting an eyelash, but they were always good people and always treated my brother and I fairly. They were encouraging and loving and much to my mother’s dismay – Dad and I were perhaps a bit goofier in public than she would have liked us to be. That was only on vacations, of course *cough* where Dad would apply the ‘We’re never going to see these people again” logic when Mom would strongly suggest he and I calm down. I tried to use this logic on my own kids but they didn’t quite buy into it as much as I did when young.

I’m gonna start working on getting Jim to go for it a bit more… one festival at a time.

 

 

He’s Not A French Model But…

I did meet him on the Internet.

Yup, it’s true. I’m head over heels, madly, truly, deeply in love with a man that, less than a year ago, I’d never met in person. Today, we live together. Maybe that doesn’t seem so dramatic in this day and age, but it’s the back story that’s cool.

We met in a little place called Second Life where anything and everything you can possibly imagine and quite a few things you can’t – or maybe didn’t want to – have been brought to the surface. It can be a very scary place. Everyone looks good in Second Life. We’re all young and slim and rich. We can be pirates in the 1700s one day, Native Americans in the 1800s the next then hop over and be modern day kick-ass bikers once we’re tired of being shot at by outlaws. Not to mention all the vampires and fae that seem to crop up everywhere. It’s crazy and I love it.

A Facebook friend introduced me to SL in the fall of 2010. For that first year I was a vampire on an estate called Legacies 1891. Sadly, Legos, as it is so affectionately known, closed down a while ago. I moved around a lot after that and eventually gave up the whole vampire thing in favor of the American Wild West in a place called Amiville. Had a lot of fun playing the boarding house owner but eventually that didn’t much hold my attention. I moved on to join the Native American population and that, dear friends, is where our Love Story begins.

I was a wandering Indian maiden without a tribe. He was a Cherokee. As I was about to log off for the night, I got a notice that they were having a story hour in the Cherokee village. I almost didn’t go but the Fates had other ideas. By the end of the night, my little Indian girl was madly in love with the handsome brave who had sat across from her at the fire circle. In less than a month, on Feb. 17, 2012 they were married in a traditional Cherokee wedding ceremony.

Four months later, he would drive over 1600 miles from Central TX to Upstate NY to spend a week with me. Like that virtual first night, the sparks flew as we held each other for the first time. Swear to God, I thought he was going to snap me in half. Seven months after that, I would make my first trip to the Southwest since my family had moved away in the Summer of 1966. You see – one of the odd things that we have in common is, we were both White Sands Missile Range Kids. I was born there. He was there during his high school years. Had we lived there at the same time, we would have lived less than a mile apart.

I bought a one-way plane ticket to Austin, TX. Yes, one way. You see, at the end of my ten day visit, we packed up everything we could into the smallest U-Haul that we could and drove back, half way across the country, so we could be together. In less than a week, we’ll be celebrating the one year anniversary of our first face-to-face meeting!

So far, so good. Since January 18th, 2013 we have not spent more than half a day apart. We’re still head over heels, madly, truly, deeply in love and grow more so as time goes by. He’s not a French model (nor a crazy ax murdered) but then, neither am I, but we did meet on the Internet and I’d not change that for the world.

Honoring The Dead

I won’t be visiting any cemeteries today despite it being Memorial Day.  I understand it’s a the symbolic thing to do. I understand the comfort that can be gained by sitting at a graveside and talking to whomever is buried there. I know what it is to be there and sob and remember and miss someone so deeply you wonder how you’ve made it this far without them. I’ve nothing against those that chose to place the flowers and mementos. I’ve done it myself countless time and probably will do it again. I even think it’s an important thing to do as part of the whole mourning process.

What I don’t agree with is only doing this once a year or doing it out of some sort of family obligation and peer pressure. Doing it for those reasons, as far as I’m concerned, has no meaning. Furthermore, I have my doubts about all the Spirits getting together to show up at these cemeteries to check out the superficial trinkets so many chose to leave for them. “It’s a nice gesture,” you might say. “It shows I care about and remember that person.” Well, so does a pictures on a wall or keeping something special that same person gave you while alive. So does re-telling the stories those that have left prior have told you and adding the stories of your time with them. Share who that person was while they were living. Make your memories the memories of another.

Someone once told me that the only Spirit that ever dies is the one that is forgotten. I keep the Spirits of my ancestors and friends alive by honoring them in my heart, by putting them into my stories, by sharing and remembering.

So, no, you won’t see me at any cemeteries today placing flowers on graves. I’ll go another day with my camera. I’ll take my time and wander around, remembering the times I spent in such places with my grandmothers, my father, my friends and my children. Maybe someone else will be with me and in that case, I’ll share with them why I love these places so much. I’ll hope that in doing so my stories will be passed down and honored after I am dead and gone.

Head Space For Rent

Been wracking my brain all day about what to put into this weeks Blargh. As I was skimming through Facebook I saw a post by Danielle Colby (from American Pickers) and one of the bits of wisdom she had to offer struck me as noteworthy.

She wrote:  “Be careful who you decide to rent space in your head to, that’s prime real estate! Important beautiful things could be dwelling in that space where you are allowing darkness and hate to squat.”

In the past few years I have kicked out a few of my head space rentals as in people I thought were my friends, people I thought cared about me as much as I did them, people I deeply and truly trusted with a part of my Self. Finding out how little I meant to them after so many years has left a very deep and lasting scar on my soul. When I love, I don’t love half way. I don’t make half promises. I don’t lie about my feelings. Foolish, I suppose, for me to believe everyone else does the same thing for clearly they don’t.

Sadly, this has made me very gun shy about making new friends and getting involved in new relationships of any kind – be those romantic or platonic. I have accepted that in all the previous cases of relationships gone bad, I will never understand why these people did and do what they do. I am still working on letting that all go, still working on getting the ghosts of these things out of that rental space in my head and filling those rooms with new and positive people, experiences, ideas and dreams. There are moments when I have sudden and overwhelming feelings of insecurity about myself and my worth to others. When you have been used and abused (on both a mental and sexual level) it makes you look at everyone and everything in a way that someone who has not survived that situation will never understand.

Logically, I know I am worthy and lovable and a good person. I know I probably tolerate the inconsiderate behavior of others more than I should simply because I don’t want to be rejected. Feeling unwanted and unappreciated still take up way too big of an apartment in my head. The tiniest gestures of kindness and love go a long way with me, maybe they go too far. I don’t know. Maybe my wants and needs are too simple.

Back to those I have kicked out – more or less – a couple of them might still have a bit of closet head space rented – in all cases it was a complete, out of the blue shock! Years and years of lies. Years and years of being told one thing while the opposite was true. Even gifts were all only given to benefit them, not because they cared in any way. The thought behind the gift was more along the lines of “What will I get in return’ instead of ‘I hope she really likes this because I care about her and want her to enjoy it’. They say that it’s the thought that counts when gift-giving. Guess I got a whole lot of nothing from these people. Of course, this all only leads to making my self-doubt seed deeper. Why didn’t I see any of this? Am I really that blind? You’d think that in the nearly 10 years I was with my last ‘beau’ that fact that he told me twice, MAYBE three times that I looked nice would have been some sort of clue!

It’s hard work keeping those ghost of the past out of my head. I’ve been writing a lot more which is a great help. I’ve been in what I still call a new relationship even though we’ve been together almost a year and a half now. So far he’s not shown any signs of being just one more ‘abuser’ in the long line that has preceded him. Do I look for those signs? I’d be a liar if I said no. Of course I do. I can’t help it. I’ve been programmed to not trust as easy as I used to. He is making it easier though day by day and night by night.

But, as Danielle so wisely reminded me today, if I continue to let darkness and hate, bitterness and doubt dwell in that prime real estate in my head, I am preventing important beautiful things from dwelling there instead. I have already witnessed how getting rid of the negative makes room for the positive. Each time I have taken an important step in letting go of some one or some thing that makes me sad or makes me just feel bad or uncomfortable, something new and wonderful has stepped in to take its place. That is what I need to continue to remind myself. Remember what good came of something instead of all the bad that came before it. But then, without the bad, I could never really appreciate all the good that I have now – like the man who so easily stepped into my heart the last time I refused to be taken advantage of.

Spring is in Full Bloom. Warm winds are blowing through the house, taking away the cobwebs and stagnation of rooms left closed for too long. The doors are left wide open to let the fresh air in, the scent of flowers and rain. That’s what I want. Even the closet doors need to be opened, everything hauled out, sorted and without a doubt, at least half of what’s in there can be gotten rid of. It’s time to perform a couple of exorcisms because those former friends have made it clear they don’t want any part of who I am so why the hell should I hold onto any part of them anymore? If anyone is unworthy it’s them, not me.

Squatters, be gone!

I Can Haz Sissy Bar?

Yep, I’m a sissy. I admit it. Or, maybe I’m just getting old. No. No. I’m a sissy.

This weekend was a bitter-sweet one. The sweetness came in that it was the first weekend of the motorcycle riding season here in Upstate NY that we’ve been able to enjoy since Jim moved in back in January. Saturday we rode out to Binghamton, NY to Southern Tier Harley Davidson for their Spring Open House. We nabbed two of the few remaining roast pork sammiches, oggled a few bikes, bumped into one of my co-workers and, much to JIm’s reluctance, ordered a pad for the sissy bar he took off the bike years ago. Our return ride included stopping at the Blue Dolphin for lunch. Sunday afternoon we headed out again. Stopping at Punk’s Place in Candor and The Pub in Waverly. Arriving home in one piece, Jim set to work starting some beef stew. Oh, my aching inner thighs!

Now, about that sissy bar. I’m not sure when my interest in motorcycles began. I remember my brother had a minibike when we were in middle school and I know my Uncle Jack had at least one bike he’d take me for rides on around the same period. It’s been more years than I care to admit. Uncle Jack didn’t have a sissy bar and as much as I loved riding with him, I always felt like I was hanging on for dear life when we rode. It was likely then that I decided that when/if I ever got a bike of my own, I’d do any passengers I might carry, the favor or not suffering as I had always done.

In 1986 when I bought my Honda Rebel I did just that. I had the bike for four years and only had a few passengers but they all were grateful for that bar. I’m sure it had nothing to do with my skills as a driver. LOL!

Fast forward to this weekend and the lack of said bar. I love to ride with my guy, don’t get me wrong, I really do, but without the bar there’s always that slight moment of terror when the red light turns green or that 40 mph speed zone ends or when someone finds it amusing to gun the engine then reaches back and pats me on the leg as if to say, “You still back there, baby?”  I couldn’t see it but I can bet ya he was smirking up there. My head fills with images of either 1) me flying off backwards and my head ending up looking like a smashed pumpkin the morning after Halloween Night or 2) me holding on so tight it yanks us BOTH off the bike. Neither is pretty and for some reason those images put quite the damper on the whole Fun Factor for me as a passenger. Not to mention those sore inner thigh muscles mentioned earlier and the sore arse I had because I kept sliding just far enough off back seat to make it well – unpleasant. I try not to be a selfish person, but in the case of the bar – it makes a HUGE difference to me. It will be a totally different and much more enjoyable ride for me once it’s there. Personally, I think he should think of it this way, if I can lean back a bit and relax, he can then in turn lean back a bit on me! It’s a win-win situation and if his biker friends pick on him about it, I’m more than happy to have the blame put on the Old Lady.

That was the Sweet part.. now the Bitter.

As mentioned, this was our first weekend ride together in Upstate NY. Sadly, it may be our last. He’s starting a new job that will include working weekends which means all the awesome stuff that goes on will likely be missed. We can really do with the income and it’s not like there won’t be week nights we can’t go out – still…just sorta a bummer in that regard. I’m happy and sad at the same time and I’m sure he’s feeling a bit of the same. We’ll make the best of it because that’s how we both roll. It’s just another life change and being as we took pretty close to the biggest step possible as a couple last January when he moved up here from Texas, I’m sure we’ll manage this.

So, I can haz a sissy bar as soon as the order comes in and one or the other of us can get out to pick it up and he gets it put on. And even if the rides together may be more rare, they will be made all the more sweeter when they do happen cuz I’ll be able to straddle my guy from behind a little less tightly and my thighs, though they could benefit from the workout, will be a little less sore.

The last time I had inner thighs this sore… well, never mind that.

The Death of the Love Letter

“I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart!” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Lewis Carol did it for Gertrude. Beethoven did it for his ‘Immortal Beloved’. Bonaparte did it for Josephine. It’s been said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. If that’s so then maybe the way to a woman’s is through a love letter. Call me old fashioned.

I’ve been writing letters for as long as I’ve been able to write. My grandmother’s got me started. Though we lived less than twenty miles apart, we wrote to each other all the time. It was the highlight of my week to get a letter from Nana Jean. When my Gramma Daniels spent more time in Florida than next door, she too would write to me on an almost weekly basis. Even my best friend since the fourth grade and I exchanged letters, and still do!  I think I had my first pen-pal around that same time.  Her name was Yaffa and she lived in Israel. Our letter writing only lasted a year or so but I still have the few that she sent me. There was a pen-pal in Virginia, too as well as in Georgia. By high school, I was writing to six people (all male) in the U.K and one in Germany. It was always a thrill going to the mail box and finding that air mail envelope waiting for me. It never got old. One of those Brits would go on to become my first fiancee.

Then along came email. It was the beginning of the end for the hand-written love letter.  As it became easier, faster and cheaper to send things via email, with the exception of holiday cards, there were no more air mail envelopes in my mail box. There was still hope though!  I could get a reply within hours of having sent something out. Oh, how I loved it back then! It still lacked the personal touch of seeing the way someone would write my name or sign theirs. I pine nostalgic.

Technology stepped it up a notch and gave us Instant messaging and online chat rooms and cell phones and texts. Faster ways to communicate indeed but along with that speed there has also been a huge decline in the quality of the content of those messages. The thought, the eloquence, the emotion that went into the letter writing of my youth has been completely sucked away.

And now with all the talk about doing away with teaching cursive writing to children, I am utterly horrified! My father has the most beautiful handwriting I have ever seen. It’s as much a part of who he is as what he looks like and the way he speaks. It’s a pity we are so willing to give up something as personal as our handwriting just to save a little bit of time. What’s the big hurry anyway? Is there some sort of race going on I am not aware of?  In the end, we are all going to end up in the same place, the grave, and quite frankly I am in no rush whatsoever to get there. Maybe if we all slowed down a bit and took some time to look around at what we’ve been doing, things would be better. When you rush too quickly into any situation the chances of screwing it up on the way through increase. We’ve all gone mad trying to get too much done in too little time and for what?

When it comes to love it’s also a good time to slow down and consider. That’s what writing love letters can do for a couple. It gives each person time to sit back and think, to open up in ways that maybe they can’t face-to-face. I know I am horrible at face-to-face communication. By writing I am able to stop, breath deep, think it through and write it down slowly and carefully. It not only helps the one I am writing to to better understand me, but it helps me to better understand myself, my own wants, goals and dreams.  Maybe if couples were required to write each other love letters once a month there were be less misunderstandings. It would open an avenue of communication that seems to have been lost lately. I’ve even heard that writing love letters to yourself can be very therapeutic. Why wouldn’t doing it for the one you love have the same effect?

It has been said that when Love is not madness, it has not Love. Let’s write each other love letters again and spread the madness.

My dearest,
When two souls, which have sought each other for, however long in the throng, have finally found each other …a union, fiery and pure as they themselves are… begins on earth and continues forever in heaven.

This union is love, true love, … a religion, which deifies the loved one, whose life comes from devotion and passion, and for which the greatest sacrifices are the sweetest delights.

This is the love which you inspire in me… Your soul is made to love with the purity and passion of angels; but perhaps it can only love another angel, in which case I must tremble with apprehension.

Yours forever,
Victor

(Victor Hugo to Adele Foucher, 1821)