It’s not like I was with him for a long time but the lifestyle of living just above struggling I thought I had achieved…for good. Starting fresh in a new place, a version of me that I had hoped would last. Prior to him I did okay. Some years were better than others. I made ends meet, barely, but always had enough for whatever I needed. I just didn’t need that much. With Pete* it was the illusion of having just a little more, a $20 pedicure every payday did not seem too extravagant. A $20 pair of shoes, no questions asked. It wasn’t by any stretch unlimited, but it did take me just above par, just above survival. Pedicures and sunshine. I was happy.
I haven’t had a pedicure in 4 months. I gave those up when I moved to Virginia. I knew I’d have to have a new routine, a familiar routine, one that included the word lack. Lack of funds to be specific. Also lack of a reason to be ready for summer at all times. It was okay, I don’t have ugly feet, and honestly I didn’t want reminders of what I had walked away from. I’d settled back in to lack and shoes, not a new experience for me.
Mom treated me and my sister to pedicures for Christmas. I was anxious in anticipation of our appointment, nervous about allowing myself to relive those memories. I felt at home back in the massage chair, feet in the tub, slightly too cold, but my nail technician made up for it with an excellent foot rub and hot stone massage. I closed my eyes and held back tears, not very successfully, not before a few came streaming down my cheeks, quite a few. In the last two years, prior to moving to Virginia, I had gotten 50 or more pedicures. It was a way of life for me, a small indulgence, for date nights, for peace-of-mind time, a necessity of Florida living, a joke of my extravagance shared with Peter. So many emotions attached to those pedicures.
My sister couldn’t understand why I would get my toes painted when no one would see my nails here in the middle of winter. She doesn’t understand the ritual, the muscle memory of that experience, of a time and a person I used to be.
When we walked out of the salon I noticed an unusual siting of seagulls in the parking lot. With the sun on my face, I paused, closed my eyes and briefly allowed myself to remember finally florida.
I’ve been comparing this year to last year’s Christmas and well basically there is no comparison. Last year I was working full time, seems like a life time ago, shopping and decorating for a family of 8 – cooking, cleaning, exhausted and got lots and lots of stuff.
This year..this year…I’m not working. I went shopping one day with my friend Lori mostly tagging along while she shopped but did end up buying one thing each for my 2 boys and Rachel. One thing. I showed you the decorations which took about a minute and a half to put up earlier in the month. On Christmas day I cooked for me and my mom like I do every day and then I lived everyone’s dream. I did nothing. I sat in front of a fire and read a book – in my pj’s – alllll day. It could not have been more different. It helped to know how many people would love the kind of day I had. Just me and mom.
Here were my best presents of 2016:
1) as I was telling Zachary of something difficult I went through last week – he said “write it all down – this is going to make you a GREAT writer! – use these experiences as research” – I mean talk about reframing. Love that kid.
2) Alyna sent me a couple of texts – saying Merry Christmas and she misses me. I was so happy..love that girl.
3) my sister showed up today – well not just showed up – we were expecting her – but anyway, first thing out of her mouth? “You’ve lost weight”
I am trying to figure out a way to incorporate the passages below from a diary that I read recently into a blog post. The Goochland Historical Society puts out a publication/magazine – small booklet – I don’t know how often but anyway we bought volume 44 because it has letters from my great great grandparents to each other during the Civil War and also includes excerpts from The Diary of Elvira Bruce Seddon written at the end of the Civil War. I am captivated by Elvira’s diary…her blog..ha!..It is fascinating to me. The letters from my gg grandparents (great great) are okay – but her diary is haunting me. So here’s what I’m gonna do… I’m going to include these three passages from her diary and then I’m just going to blog and well you tell me if you see any connections…How’s that? (you don’t actually have to tell me…It’s just a figure of speech)
The eldest of nine children of the Honorable James Alexander Seddon, Secretary of War, CSA, and his wife Sarah Cabell Bruce. Elvira Seddon was born in Richmond, VA on September 21, 1846. When this diary was begun in March of 1865, she was a young lady of 19 living at Sabot Hill, her family’s country estate in Goochland County. Miss Seddon never married and died prematurely on June 24, 1882.
General Lee surrendered April 9, 1865.
Many persons in our vicinity are left entirely without servants. At Dr. Walker’s the children cook, and at Mr. Gray’s the young ladies perform the most menial offices. These evils will soon be corrected, however, for white labor will be procured and we will be more comfortable and prosperous than formerly. I should not object to giving up slavery, for it is undoubtedly an evil to our state, were it not forced upon us by the Yankees. Were it an act of free will, I should rejoice!
The evening being a sweet, mild one, we all sat on the porch after sunset. Looking out on this calm peaceful scene I could not realize that our fair land was desecrated by the tread of the miscreant foe. Nature kindly affords oblivion temporarily it is true, but still blessed. As we gaze on her beautiful works, our hearts are filled with gratefulness and good will, and we even forget, as I said, our enemies for the time.
The Yankees policy is conciliatory. We have experienced no annoyance from those at Manakin. They are kept, I hear, in the strictest discipline and give offence to none. What good sense the Yankees show in pursing this mild course! Many will be won by it. I expect such is the weakness of human nature that all principles are swallowed up in the sense of personal comfort. How can our people forget their injuries? How? I certainly cannot imagine.
Last weekend Mom and I met my friends Debbie and Janice (and Gwen and two new friends) at Debbie’s church for this phantasmagorical production called Finding Christmas. The production included a 30 piece live orchestra; I counted 207 cast members (in the program) – which includes 110 dancers – 47 children – 102 youths – 128 adults and 17 flying angels, although I think the most flying angels at one time were 6. I mean when those angels started coming out of the ceiling I said to my mom “you gotta see this..” which of course she can’t…because she’s blind…but she loved it just the same. Baby Jesus was real, well not the real Messiah…that I know of…but a real baby and they listed 5 babies they had on reserve. The singing and the dancing were of professional quality –Debbie’s daughter was one of the dancers. I asked Debbie if this was a professional company that comes in every year and she said no they are ALL members of the church. I mean really it was something.
We had bought our tickets separate from Debbie so we weren’t seated together. This auditorium I’m guessing holds about 500 people. Anyway, we weren’t seated with Debbie but had planned to go out for dinner afterwards. So anyway, there was a mixup with our seats and we had to be reassigned and our reassigned seats were in the pew right in front of Debbie and gang. I mean what are the chances? They all said “God works in mysterious ways” – Amen to that. I mean you’d think he’d work some other kinds of miracles but still it was so fun to be able to sit with them.
Afterwards I brought mom home and drove back out to meet them for dinner. A night out – I was too excited. They still had not been seated when I got back to the restaurant and it had been an hour since I left them at the play. We ate, talked, laughed, and thought about eating more. One of the stories from a new friend ..after I was hearing about all the airline travel she does.. I asked her what she does for work…she said she travels for fun…she’s retired…bitch…I don’t mean that of course…but then she shared a sad story about a forced retirement and some truly sad circumstances that led up to her new life of traveling around the world, on a whim, with her husband, whenever she wants. To which I thought (but didn’t say) “you mean you don’t work but you don’t have to live with your mom after losing all your possessions and now deep in debt after being taken by a low life, 2 bit, con artist?”
Mom says I need to work on forgiveness.
When I was little I used to have to say my prayers – well I shouldn’t say “have to” – I mean I just said them…God bless Mommy and Daddy, Kerry, Scott, Lynn and Kathy. I also always added whatever animal we had at the time. That is all I remember to the prayers, God bless… Now, I’m trying – God please help me to forgive…and then I have to think about who I need to forgive. I guess if I can’t think of someone’s name then I’ve already forgiven them right? God’s usually the first name I need to forgive, and really I think the only two on it are John (I know right?) and LL2BCA (see above). All three of them have been actors in a phase of my life causing something to occur that I did not ask for. God does that A LOT so I’m constantly in need of forgiving him. There’s Jimmy, the light of my life (in addition to the light of Zachary) that I thank “GOD” everyday for. John at one point thought I should thank him for Jimmy. It’s just there are some things that I feel I should have had a say in. Even though Jimmy is a blessing to us all I hang onto resentment towards his father- isn’t that crazy? It’s just nutz.
I am positive that this move here is going to have the same positive Jimmy-like outcome and I do thank God almost daily for the good I see here. I am going to look back at this time as being the best move I ever made or something like that, I’m sure of it. I really do love this area – I’m not unhappy with the weather – it’s not as cold as Pittsburgh – obviously not as warm as Florida – but it’s really not bad – the scenery is so beautiful – when I’m stressed I go cut wood, enjoy the sunshine and love the clean air. Soon I’ll be on horseback when the time is right –– I’m doing yoga (Sally will be so proud) at home!! With a CD!! (that takes alot of discipline) The tasks and errands are endless which keep me busy – and then there’s the whole helping mom thing – She seems very thankful that I’m here. I like that I’m being useful. I am not unhappy.
Here’s the thing though – I just wish I would have chosen it. Ya know? That’s all I’m saying. I really don’t care about losing my things – I mean they’re gone – there’s not a lot I can do about it now – it’s just the way it was done. I would have liked it to be my choice – not forced to because, well because. But even the way that happened can be look at as a blessing…
After I left Florida that person I had moved there with and subsequently lived with for 2 years turned into a LL2BCA (low life, etc.) and well it is because of those hateful texts and emails and ultimatums from him that I never ever think about reconciliation, well lets not say I don’t “think” about it but when I do I remember those last exchanges and well that’s the end of that thought. That finality helps with this transition and feeling settled. I feel settled. I haven’t felt settled in a long time. So I don’t even know if forgiveness is appropriate because without that ending I would still be sad. Dare I thank him too?
Hmm, so maybe that just leaves God (for not giving me clearer signs, or an income) and John. HA! I forgive John, of course I do, okay fine…I guess I’ll thank him. It’s been 25 years. I will publicly thank him right here, right now. Thank you John for being a part of bringing Jimmy into our lives and for being an awesome father.
And thank you LL2BCA for helping me in your strange ways to move on.
And God I forgive you too. I know you’ve got something up your sleeve. You really do work in mysterious ways. I’ll wait for it.
God Bless Mommy and Daddy (in heaven), Kerry, Scott, Lynn and Kathy and all of our offspring. And please keep an eye on Blackie, Daffy, Spring, Rooster, Allie, Deek and Max in animal heaven. Oh and that big gray cat that we had for a short time, like a weekend, before he got hit by a car. Amen
I’m at Wegman’s – one of the places I plug in to get the internet. I feel like I need to take advantage of the internet connection and send a blog although…as you’ve heard me say a thousand other times …not alot to say. Actually I could probably get an actual number of times I’ve posted and I don’t really think it’s 1,000 times.
I am feeling productive today. I changed my car insurance info to Virginia. I’m going with my mom on Thursday to change my driver’s license info to Virginia. I am extremely reluctant to change my Florida license plate because it cost soooo much to change it “to” Florida; but mom and I decided that Virginia can be my “permanent” address and well when I get my Florida place….eventually…well this will still be my permanent address. So see? It’s all good. I’m good. It’s good. I’m happy.
I also called Hospice of Virginia and am going to be a volunteer there. I have to wait until January for their training but that will be here before you know it. I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things…that is if it doesn’t snow. If there is snow I’m not driving in it. Just sayin…until I get that SUV.
I applied for more jobs today – as I always do when I plug in – doesn’t mean anything but I still apply. I’m getting much more creative in the types of jobs I apply for. Recently, in the spiritual books I read, it says that God has big things in store for people like me that on the surface have seem to be forgotten. Dark days usually precede something big. I’m thinking something big is in store for me. Although you might see me some day (soon) on the corner in Pittsburgh with one of those signs around my neck declaring the end of the world. I mean it could go either way.
I also was laughing with my mom today about how I tend to grumble that my life sucks when really I am so cozy in that house – we are doing so well together – I cook – she’s happy – we have fires, read books, I love my cozy bedroom (although I really could use some of those $100 sheets from Costco, and maybe a feather mattress pad – you know one of those soft things) and those silverfish won’t last forever. We’ll figure it out. I have been outside with a tshirt on as recently as a week ago, I love my firewood detail and I believe I’m losing weight. I KNOW I’m losing weight. The sun shines here alot and I’m always busy doing something. The fact that I will end up in debtors prison is irrelevant mainly because so far there is no debtors prison…yet…and well anyday now I could hear from one of those agents. ANYDAY now. I’m not unhappy. It’s just taken me awhile to realize it.
But here is something, and this is really important, I need to stay off of any site that talks about my TV shows. I don’t think about TV anymore until I read about my shows like THIS IS US – and well I just don’t want to know what’s going on because this summer, when I’m back to floating (living in my head) I’m going to have to do alot of TV catching up. Floating and TV catch up. That’s what summer is all about. I have 6 months to figure out how to make that happen. Plenty of time.
I thought today I’d let you meet my grandparents. So first of all…here’s my great grandmother
Malvina Knibb Wiley Mitchell
Malvina married Mr. Wiley when she was 20 years old, he was 68. I know, right? Prior to marrying my grandma Malvina, Mr. Wiley was married to…wait for it….Margaret Monaghan. What are the chances? (that’s my last name too!) Together they had 4 children. Okay then after Margaret dies, after 44 years of marriage, he marries my Great Grandma (9 months later) and has two more children, my Aunt Roberta and my grandad, Larry. Roberta and Larry would be about 45 years younger than their half siblings. Being that Mr. Wiley was 72 years old in 1898 (when my grandad was born) makes him the perfect age to have fought in the Civil War. Well actually makes him a little old for the Civil War. The only info we “think” we know about that is that he worked on the Merrimac (or the Monitor) ship during that war for the South. Well, we’re not even sure it was for the South. ANYWAY, we know very little about the history of the Wiley’s. But we know a heck of a lot about the Knibb’s. Malvina, my great grandmother, was a Knibb, one of 12 children. The Knibbs can trace their ancestry back to 1669 when Solomon Knibb received a land grant of 710 acres from Governor William Berkeley on the north side of the James River. Solomon listed inventory in 1679 of his estate which consisted of (in this order):
1 Indian Boy – 3000 lbs.
3 sheep – 233 lbs
1 yoke and chain – 70 lbs.
1 mare and foal – 700 lbs.
1 yoke of oxen – 900 lbs
1 pr of andirons – 40 lbs
1 silver bowl – 400 lbs.
1 silver soake cup and dram cup – 180 lbs.
1 pr green curtains & valence – 100 lbs.
2 prs. Canvas sheets, 6 napkins, 4 pillow cases, 1 towel, 2 tablecloths – 80 lbs.
1 Indian girl – 2000 lbs.
1 gun – 150 lbs.
1 silver tankard – 120 lbs.
As you can tell women have been fighting for equality for a long long time. (is that insensitive?) I wonder what they would think of all the stuff that I just parted with. My ancestors were mostly landowners, farmers and a few preachers. Our most current notable Knibb relation, that we know of, is Harwood Cochrane who founded Overnite Transportation in 1935. He just died last year at 103 years old. Knibbs are known to have long lives – it’s gotta be this fresh air.
Okay so here’s my Grandad. Here he is:
And this is my Grandma We called her Grandot.
Her name was Dorothy (get it? Dot? Dorothy?) So my Grandot grew up in Beardstown, Illinois. Her maiden name is Green . Her mother’s name is McKenzie and although I’d like to think they are from original McKenzie stock from Scotland I’m not sure of that. My great grandmother (the McKenzie) was born in the U.S. so more research has to be done. I’m gonna jump on Ancestry.com one of these days when I’m in the library.
So Grandot and Grandad met in Chicago in music school. She was a pianist and he was a singer. They both did stints in Vaudeville for a some years and my Grandot toured the country a few times as a piano accompanist for various singers and dancers, etc. My grandfather was in a singing group called the Buccaneers who sang with Burns and Allen on radio shows and they made an appearance in the movie Here Comes Cookie (with Gracie Allen) and other movie appearances.
My mom was born in New York City/Manhattan. They spent a couple years there and then ended up in Hollywood, California (show-biz and all). At some point my Grandad decided that California was no place to raise a child so back they came here to Virginia, his birth place, and my Granddot hated my mother ever since. Sort of kidding there. But imagine being stars, and then living here in the woods. There were times when they didn’t have electricity OR running water. Not what my Grandot thought she was signing up for but nevertheless she hung in there for 50 years of marriage as she continued to be the rockstar piano teacher and organ accompanist around the Richmond area – like a really impressive resume including playing with the Richmond symphony – for 52 years and of course ended up loving it here in Richmond.
My grandfather is the one that built this house that I live in, by hand, by himself. He cut down all the trees himself, hand hewed the logs, drag (or stole) rocks from various creeks for the fireplace, did it all. It is quite the accomplishment and quite a masterpiece. I mean seriously a masterpiece, which is why he named it Opus #1 – which is a musical term – for his first masterpiece.
On Friday night I went to a neighborhood church with my mom and her high school friend to sing Christmas Carols and then they had a little ceremony where they light the Christmas tree outside and sing Silent Night and then everyone has hot chocolate and donuts. We did not stay for that part as Micky (mom’s friend) had coconut cream pie at her house. OMG yum. But anyway, the church was right out of some little country novel. So stinkin cute.
In two weeks we are going to another church with Micky again and another friend. The pianist at this church took lessons from my Grandmother! Supposedly he’s nervous to meet us and hopes he doesn’t screw up.
I always went to the Baptist Church around the corner when we visited here as that’s where my Grandfather sang and allll those Knibb relatives were there. My Aunt Roberta played the organ there as my Grandmother was playing organ and also the choir director at other churches throughout the years in the Richmond area. And as I have recently found out my great great grandparents Knibb (Malvina’s parents) actually started the Salem Baptist Church in their home.
During the church service this past Friday night the pastor said something about all the religions believing in something and then he reluctantly added the Catholics too. I laughed out loud. Turns out he was serious. Like there are no Catholics in this county. I asked Micky where the Catholic Church is and she said there isn’t one – in the whole county!! I mean isn’t that something?
Here’s my point, other than wanting to ramble on about stuff, I am now living in a place where I can trace my ancestors back at least 350 years. I live on property that has been in the Knibb family for generations. Micky’s house, where I had coconut cream pie, has been there for at least 100 years. Her husband, now deceased, grew up there. He would be around 100 years old. I mean these homesteads are old. People live here forever.
In Florida NOBODY was from there – okay very few are actual natives – and so one of the questions everyone always asked for small talk was “where are you from?” – nobody asks that question here because #1 – nobody cares – and #2 probably everyone thinks you’re from here somehow. I feel quite out of place with my Florida license plate and Steeler border. It doesn’t have the same sense of pride as it did when I was so proud to live in Florida, finally. Now I just want to blend in – not stand out. Although that whole no Catholic Church, I think I’m going to have to ask a few more questions about that bias. And of course I will always be a Steeler fan no matter what.
I know I often say I’m a southern sympathizer and I realize that people might think that has something to do with slavery and of course I don’t sympathize with that. What I do sympathize with is that so many families lost so much during that war and these people died in our backyards. There are monuments and gravestones everywhere. My ancestors fought in that war, and died. When I was a kid people were still finding bullets in their yards from the Civil War. It’s sad. Slavery is sad. It was a sad era no matter how you look at it. In the north there were no Civil War battlefields were there? Other than Gettysburg which everyone says is haunted. Imagine the woods down here….spooky for sure. I just sympathize with the sadness and the destruction of that era.
The Knibbs – that’s only one side of my family. One small side. But that’s where I’m living now in Knibb country. My other people (my dad) are from Pittsburgh. I mean that’s a whole other and quite different story….
So Ja Nelly asked about a like button and boom – I’ve added it. I had a like button on the finallyflorida site but NObody used it. I never got one like. I thought maybe it wasn’t installed correctly but I think I tried it once myself and it worked. Anyway, today I added a like button (at the bottom of the post) and you can also add different emotions like on Facebook. I feel so computer savvy. Please like away!!
The other thing I decided I have to do is change my Gravatar picture. And why is it called a Gravatar? I think that’s the name of the company that manages avatars. Avatar is the actual picture (see? learning something all the time) In computing, an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user’s alter ego or character – From Wikipedia – please send them $3.
It saddens me to take off the beach picture with my Steeler shirt and I wish I could keep that Avatar on the finallyflorida site…which might be a project for another day – but today I’ve added the following selfie as my new pic:
However, if you want to vote on it ( 🙂 you know how I like playing with these buttons) – Here are some other choices. I am going with the unplugged look (they are all unplugged) – and while I still have just a little color left before I turn pasty white like the rest of the northerners.
Now we need to talk about the layout. So when I add these new posts I get this nice computer view – on the left hand side is the menu with a background picture and then at the top of the page about the text is my “feature image”.. Like this:
But I have become aware that if you view this page on a mobile or an IPAD or similar tablet that it looks quite different.
Well I’m just not sure if I love the “mobile” look. I’m not going to have you vote on it or anything. One interaction is enough for the day. But I just want you to know that I am aware of this discrepancy and perhaps one day I shall play with that visual. That is actually called a “theme”. Aren’t you excited about all this? I feel like I’m sharing knowledge.
So for these reasons I ventured out of the house today and came to the library to work on my blog. Here is the rest of my list for the day:
Look up hunting rules in Goochland County
Call Progressive Insurance to change address
Call Jean (while I have a signal) – done
change info on healthcare.gov site – eh maybe next time
Look up another agent to send out my book
Stop at Goochland Historical Society for gifts for mom to give
Go to the dump (the garbage site) to drop off garbage
pay credit card
do Mercedes survey
Look up info on Jimmy’s neck injury
Get a yoga video from library – maybe a movie
Go to Food Lion for cheese and Epsom Salts
Stop at the Dollar Store for twinkle lights
Look up a place to meet Lori for lunch tomorrow (I know.. FRIEND day!!)
I know you’re all jealous and you wish too that you could have my life. And I will tell you that I pretty much am happy with this life of mine. I am digging this nature and the weather. I am not freezing…yet. I know I want to be out of here by May – you know in my perfect world I want to be back floating by the summer but now I’m loving this. I really am.
Gotta get to my list and hopefully home before dark.
PS – Today’s feature image is the view from the back of the library. I could actually sit out there and blog (plugs available for computers) but not today. Isn’t it beautiful?