18 March 2015

Scholarships for Starkville Area Youth: Applications Due APRIL 15th

Starkville Area Arts Council does some pretty incredible stuff, I've discovered over the past couple years.  In addition to holding various events like The Magnolia Independent Film Festival, Everything Home & Garden Expo, Cotton District Arts Festival, Forks & Corks; the arts council also supports lots of other endeavors too.  One of those is to help make possible others' pursuits of artistic creativity though awarding scholarships in various amounts.

Summer Scholarships  ~~  These are specifically for Starkville and Oktibbeha County students age ten thru eighteen, who are not yet in college, and are enrolled in advanced art programs during the summer months.  This money can be used for lessons, tuition for various art camps, contest and competition fees, or workshops that further youths' artistic development.  That application can be found here.

College Arts Scholarships ~~  Area graduating seniors who are not yet attending but have been accepted into college, who will be majoring in visual arts, graphic art design, dance, theater, voice, music, applied art, or in another art related discipline, are welcome to apply for these scholarships.    These applications can be found here.

Both the summer scholarship and
 the college arts scholarship applications are due on April 15th.

Get on up...

A few days ago, I posted about some ways I've found over the years to pay it forward, to give back to my community.  One way that I've not yet discussed here is that over the years, I've worked with various non~profits.  Sometimes, on the receiving end of services or other benefits {when I was a kid, I was one of the many who received "free" or "reduced" lunch}.  Sometimes, on the giving end, as someone who could volunteer some here and there or be able to provide some items, clothes, etc that would be used.  Sometimes, I was an employee, so that I could coordinate services and get the right stuff to the right group.  And sometimes, I'd be the spokesperson for the nonprofit advocate group, speaking before another group of individuals, explaining what the needs are for that particular nonprofit.

The main reason I mention these things, here and before, is because some folks want to help, but don't know how.  Or they think they have nothing to offer.  But if you want to help out, you can.  Helping doesn't always mean writing a check, sometimes if that is what you can do and that is what is needed, then that is the most appreciated.  "Helping" doesn't always mean hard physical labor, though sometimes that is what is needed most.  Helping can come in many forms and often it does.

There are many nonprofits and other groups, so examine your own interests and see how you can use your talents to do something you would enjoy doing for a cause you feel passionate or at least care about.  Some people look at their tithe, their church work, etc as being their cause.  Some folks want to do something to help folks who are now in the same situation they had been in previously, because they can relate to that person.  Some want to help kids, some want to become involved in gardening, some are want to share their own talents and skills through teaching and giving lessons.  Some sew, some cook, some carve, some cure, some write, some organize others, ... the list goes on and on and on.

So if you think, "I'm bored"; give it some serious thought.  Think about what YOU want to be doing.  Then do it.  Do you want to sing?  Sing and learn more about music, the voice, pitch, tone, harmonies, etc.  Not sure what you want to do?  Then there are plenty of groups that can help you in the meantime, by asking you to volunteer for this activity, or that event, or whatever.

Get up off your duff, and DO something.  What are you good at?  Find a way to apply that to help someone else!

10 March 2015

Giving Back & Paying It Forward

Long time readers know that when I first moved to Mississippi some dozen years ago, life was a bit tumultuous and I was floundering lots.  Over the years, I began to replant my feet, regain some stability, and shape my life into a much calmer, peaceful place.  I had lots of help in doing so, mostly emotional and mental support; lots of encouragement and reassurances.

Because I believe that basic tenent expressed in oh so many ways is vital; I try to be sure to pay it forward, to help where and how I can, and to encourage others.  The principle to do unto others as you would have done unto you, to treat others the way you want to be treated, to know that what you send forth shall be returned to you, et al; can be found in most belief systems~~religious, spiritual, or otherwise.  No one single group can claim it exclusively; I think many strive to include this creed into their own canon, not just as policy, but also practice.

What this meant for me was that about ten years ago, I became more proficient in my use of yarn.  My creativity in the fiber arts grew and my interest drove me to seek other individuals and groups who would also benefit from the things I made.  I appreciate items that are functional and beautiful, so that's what I focused on doing.

Each January, I'd make a list of groups who served populations who could use the hats, scarves, bags, jackets, belts, and other accessories I make.  I'd look at the organizations to be sure that they were actually assisting the individuals and not just spending the bulk of their funds with administrative pursuits and such.  I kept the list local, starting in my town {Starkville}, then county {Oktibbeha}, then state {Mississippi}...before I could get to region {SouthEast}, I'd usually have a more lengthy list than I could hope to fill!

By February, I'd have contacted the organization to see what their needs are in particular and if they could use what I could make.  I'd know which group to focus on for the year and what items to crochet, knit, loom, etc.  Come the winter, ten months later, I'd deliver the goods.

It was a win win win situation; they'd feel good, I'd feel good, the organization would be appreciative.  Yea!!  We all worked together to achieve some goals!  Yea!!

As I became healthier, having better days, more often; I became more active in our local community.  I was careful to choose efforts that didn't depend on a deadline, because I felt too fragile and not steady enough to handle deadlines well.  I was very careful to not accept a position or activity that would rely sole on me and my efforts, because my health was too unpredictable and my energy levels were not very stable.  Sometimes, I would severely misjudge my abilities and my capabilities; and fall flat on my face.

For the most part though, I think I became a better judge of myself, of monitoring myself, over the years.  This meant that some days, some weeks, some months; I knew I'd have to take a backseat, or just not enter the car at all.  Those were quiet times, when I ventured forth into the community for grocery trips, doctors' visits, and Wellness Connection water workouts {spending time in the water was a great way for me to minimize my sensory input, similar to sensory deprivation but not quite}.

About five years ago, I married the most supportive, tolerant, accepting person~~the absolutely perfect fit for me.  With his encouragement, I did become a little more active in our community; joining the newly formed writers' group.  From that, then we became involved with the Writers' Village at the Cotton District Arts Festival.  Eventually, I became more involved with other aspects of Starkville Area Arts Council.  To me, these are ways that I can assist, giving back so that others can also be encouraged and move forward.

Sometimes, it seems like I should be doing more.  I feel like it's just not enough.  But then I look back and I realize how far I've come and that giving into the feeling of internal pressure helped to put me in a bad place to start.  It's a balancing act, one that I get right more than wrong most of the time.

The difference is that now I know that if and when I fall flat on my face, I can lie there for awhile, rest a bit, then let others help me get back on my feet, dust myself off, and move at my own pace.

08 March 2015

Libby, the Bichon Frise

We adopted a five year old Bichon Frise named "Libby" over a month ago.  She has a history of not really liking men all that much, they intimidate her and she is a lil on the skittish side anyway.  She was a breeder, at a puppy mill for several years, until her uterus pretty much crumbled and fell out.  Then the woman decided she wasn't useful and had to go.

That was last fall.  In November, a couple adopted her and took her home.  But then in January, they returned her to the foster home, because it wasn't a good fit.

In the beginning of February, I drove down to meet Libby at her foster home.  She wasn't really too thrilled, but was very submissive and complacent.  Our trip home was quiet and uneventful.

Libby came with a lot of stuff, a puffy doggy bed, a smaller doggy bed with fuzzy sides, a super soft blanket, toys, squeaky toys, tug toys, dishes, more toys, and so on.  I set a few things around the living space in various areas, so that she would have choices and also so that our strangeness had a few familiar things for her.  She seemed to prefer a lil chair that is next to my husband's.

Three Dog Night:  Jerry's angels
Libby, Sophie, & Chiquita
Within days, Libby and my husband had bonded.  She would whine when he went outside and she remained in.  She would curl up in his lap, with our other two lil ones and cozy down into just the right spot.  She would come running when he held the door open,  And when we went to bed, she would lay right up against his chest.

I credit this to my husband's extremely gentle and patient behaviour with Libby.  He voiced concern when we were considering adopting her, because of her history with avoiding men.  But Libby warmed up to him with no problems at all.  He made it possible for her to like him, on her own terms in her own time.

There are several lessons to learn here, some principles that can be applied to relationships in general.  Watching my husband and Libby learn to trust each other and patiently accept the other's quirks has really been good for me.  Libby's adapted to her new environment, as have we to her.  It's a learning process that will continue, but I think she's finally home.

So are we.

22 February 2015

The Seat of Grief

Just after Thanksgiving 2014, when it became more apparent that my mom might not be making a speedy recovery, when it became more apparent that she might actually not make any sort of recovery, when I realized she might actually die at some point in the very near future {which I was still considering a few months, not a few days}...I looked up "grief", because I had quite a bit of time to google things while I waited for the next allowable visitation within the Critical Care Unit.

I wasn't thinking, "great, how do I do this "grieving thing" properly?"; altho I do try to get things right in some ways and be prepared, which is why I've gotten to be so good with research and know an amazing amount of completely trivial stuffs.  I was thinking more about the fact that her life was changing and that even though she was not the sort of person who overly lamented much of anything; I did realize that one aspect that is often ignored in a changing situation is the grief you can hold for the loss of the dreams, assumptions, and goals that you once held for possible futures.

What I mean is that sort of vague feeling that people can have, when they realize that contrary to their childish beliefs that they could accomplish anything and be anyone, those options are not quite as broad in range as they had once thought.  Midlife crises are often about the grieving for dreams that will never be, even if you had not really wanted to be that astronaut who undergoes cryogenic suspension so that you can come to millions of light years away, you might grieve the letting go of that unrealistic dream you once had had.  So I knew that you can grieve for all sorts of things, including possible futures.

Or impossible futures.

So I looked up "grief" because I thought that mom's life is changing, and she will accept those changes, of course; but how can I help her to make the adjustments and accept the limitations even better.  That's what my thoughts were at that time.

Here's what happens when you google "grief", most of the articles and references focus on helping you through grieving the loss of someone you love.  Your spouse, a child, a parent.  That makes total sense, of course.

But not really what I thought I was looking for.  Apparently, I thought wrong.  Turns out, that was exactly what I was looking for.

The one big thing that stuck out to me, in the review of  "grief", was that lots of folks who are grief~stricken are very tense and they carry their grief, in a very physical way.  They develops aches and pains and often will seek medical assistance for discomfort that had not been present before.

"Wow," I thought, "good to know."

So I was not surprised at all, when I began to get achy over the past few months.  I didn't panic.  I didn't jump to the conclusion that I had flu.

One day tho, I realized, my ass hurts.  Not my entire ass, just the same place that had been problematic a few years ago.  A very deep pain in the right ass cheek.  And immediately, once I paid attention to it, the pain bloomed.

Several years ago, as I was getting out of my car at my mom's, deep in my right ass, a cramp seized so hard that it took my breath away and tears sprang to my eyes instantaneously.  I limped in severe pain and mom stood on her front deck, laughing her ass off at the rather humorous picture I presented, yelling at me, "walk it off, just walk it off".

I was laughing even as I cried in pain.

Turns out, I ended up in physical therapy, for a pain in the ass.  Most likely it was my piriformis, which is a muscle that is linked with sciatica.  Everyone knows that pain in the ass.

It is not an easy place to reach yourself.  And it is an awkward thing to ask of others, "would you rub my ass?  just get in there, really hard, and deep".  Misunderstandings arise and you can lose a few friends that way.

a few days ago, I finally had enough; so I contacted a massage therapist and made an appointment.  When describing the pain and location, after having explained that I was tense in general and that my mother had died in December and that I suspected that part of the reason that I was tense and achy was related to that; the massage therapist told me something that made complete sense to me.

Apparently, the seat of grief is in the complex layering of muscles in the pelvic and hip region.  Your center of gravity is there, and when you lose someone, your entire world is rocked.  So it makes sense that the seat of grief is found within your sit~upon.  It may seem less than polite to think that the loss of your loved one is directly related to that locale.  But I know that mom would be laughing her ass off about being a literal pain in mine.

20 February 2015

2014, the year of mom's demise

One thing that long~time readers will have noted is that I tell on myself.  I very rarely knowingly lie about myself because the truth is far stranger than fiction and I figure that if I keep it real, then there is no one that can honestly say that they didn't know what they were getting when I showed up to the proverbial party.  Usually early.  Sometimes hours early.  With a vegetable tray that no one else will eat, thus ensuring that my husband will have noshing bits for the next week.  There truly is a method to my madness, no matter how trivial it may seem to others.

So while I do realize that it has been almost a year since I last posted here, there were several reasons for that.  Some of which I may hit on, here or in future posts; it depends on relevancy and timing, I'd say.  Thanks for welcoming the return of a rather errant writer of sorts.

First off, I won't be able to recap this past year in a way that will capture everything...so just accept that.  I can hit on a few things, but I'll try to keep it fairly light, and not dwell, dwell, dwell...altho I will want to, I won't; I need to move on.  Having said that, understand that there will be times when I dwell, and that's ok.  I'll do that if it helps me to move thru this next part and get on with things.  Seems contradictory, but ya know how these things work.

The long and short of it was that 2014 brought lots of heartrending tears, most of which were not actually wept then, but are now.  Here is the thing:  my mother died on Friday December 5th 2014.  It was a long, exhausting year that didn't seem quite as long or nearly as exhausting at the time as it does now, looking back.

Second, grief is a weird thing.  It grows arms and legs and tentacles and teeth, both mad sharp incisors and dull painfully grinding molars; but mostly it becomes a parasite that takes over and dissolves all my social filters.  On a regular basis, it turns out, also noted by looking back ~~ cuz hindsight can be perfectly crystal.

When my mom died, I was relieved for her; we'd spent most of November in the hospital, after she'd been through one thing after another all year long.  Stents, meds, open~heart double coronary arterial bypass graft surgery, etc., nothing was working the way it was supposed to and nothing was slowing down the rate at which her heart was failing.  When she began to die in earnest, Mom was ready, it was time.  She died on her own terms, which is really the only way to go; isn't it?

So it isn't her death that I'm grieving.  It's her absence in my life now that sucks the very marrow of my presence into the horrible vacuum of grief.  Quite often, I do not realize how awfully devastated I am until after I've done something that reflects the complete and utter absence of my social filters.

In some cases, most actually, this is actually pretty funny.  If not at the time, later I realize there were some very humorous aspects and elements involved, which give the entire situation a rather unique pithy, yet witty, tone.  It's good that I can appreciate that, because there are those who most certainly cannot {ew}  nor do not.  Because they are simply not built that way.  But I am.  It's almost as tho I am rediscovering who I am exactly.  Some of which is not pretty, some of which is rather bitter, and some of which is downright wretched.

But that is all part of me, of who I am.  And ya know, I embrace that; if for no other reason than the fodder for the grist mill that in part makes up the totality of me.

25 February 2014

First there is a mill, then there is no mill, then there is. {Starkville, MS}

A few years back, I got lost in the Cotton District {what?!?  How is that even possible?  Trust me, there are lots of lil dead~ends, one way streets, and cul~de~sacs just waiting for the unsuspecting driver to get stuck in the never ending loop of right of ways and do not enters}.  As I topped the hill on Maxwell Street, I was faced with the looming, mammoth brick building facing me across Russell.  Yes, I knew that it was the EE Cooley Building for MSU, housing the physical plant facilities.  But when I first faced that central tower, full on, a lil eerie voice popped up, “ooooo, spooooky” with glee and I immediately had visions of possibilities, involving movie sets and novel locations and Stephen King and John Saul and children’s orphanages {or boarding schools, same difference} and old abandoned mental asylums.  Obviously, horror fiction is fun for me; if I actually did encounter any horrific oddities in real life, I’d probably piss my pants and do other unspeakably disgusting things like squeal like the lil girl I used to be and attempt to stuff all ten of my fingers into my mouth to stifle the screams that were sure to follow.

It’s all fun and games til someone loses an eye.  Or a mean spirit rises up, drives you mad, causing you to run into oncoming traffic, impaling yourself on a car’s hood ornament, and you die with an appalling death rictus that never shows up on CSI.  But in the meanwhile, it’s cool to imagine what these older buildings housed and oh, if only walls could talk.

Around that same time, my childhood friend {from Pennsylvania} and her family were planning to come spend a week with me in Mississippi.  I wondered what each of the children found interesting, so that I might be able to find something in this area for them as well.  The teenage girl was into spooky things, ghost stories, and hauntings.

Perfect!  My inner eerie clapped with relish, squirming and wriggling.  Amongst the other places to show her, like Waverly, cemeteries, certain roads, and such; we drove into the paved parking area in front of the EE Cooley Building.  It was hotter and more humid than the Okefenokee Swamp in August 1995 {different story}, so none of the five of us wanted to muster the energy to get out of the lil yaris and then squeeze back in {a notion that is akin to putting toothpaste back in the tube}.  So I took a picture of the name plate by the entrance, which listed all the members and their positions on that very first board of the John M Stone Cotton Mill.  Then the teenage daughter and I talked about how that building just begs for a good story or two.

Sure you could make one up, but a good story based on even the barest smidgeon of truth deserves to be researched some.  Get the facts straight and then venture off into fiction.  Or perhaps, a good juicy urban legend already exists in connection with the old brick building.

So over the years, I've done a lil digging here, and a tad searching there.  What I've often read is the same sorts of facts, rearranged from one article to another.  Sometimes there are more data included, like the actual measurements of the behemoth.  But for the most part, accounts agree with each other and reflect a fairly comprehensive history of the building, from its conception at the turn of the last century, to the present, over 110 years later.

to be cont'd

13 February 2014

oh so wrong...

Once again, gov'ment agents have astounded me with their smug ignorance.  A loooooooooong story somewhat shorter, mom had stopped at the Social Security Administration offices here in Starkville to see if she could get her mother's ss#, to include on a form which is requesting her mother's death certificate so that she can then send that to the insurance company.  There is so much laughably wrong with the entire story, like why the insurance company is just now wanting a death certificate for a woman who died 36 yrs ago.  But I'll just stick with one element of what occurred today.

The SS Gov'ment agent insisted that my mom was not spelling her mother's name correctly.  Why?  Well because he entered the name three different ways into the system and could not track the number down.  So mom suggested that it might be possible that her mother never had a social security number {after all, Grandma would now be 100 years old, had she lived}.  OH no, ma'am, that's not possible.  Why, it's the law that babies are sent home from the hospital with one.  Well, since the lady was born a full two decades before the Social Security Administration was founded, and since she was NOT born in the hospital, and since it's most certainly not the law to send babies home with one....but the Gov'ment Agent assured my mom that he knew that her mom had to have a number.  And he was also sure that if my mom contacted her mom's school that she graduated from, they would have the number on file in their records.  Mom, who knew that continuing the conversation was an exercise in futility, made one last attempt to reason with the pompous ass:  mom pointed out that her mom only finished eighth grade, that records were most likely not in existence anymore, especially since the school does not exist and has not for at least 75 yrs.  Well, if mom wanted to, she could request a number for her mother, all she needs is the death certificate.  WTF?!?

{sigh}  Ya can't make stupid shit up like this.