Tag: saging (Page 2 of 2)

Just Talk Amongst Yourselves


I know we’re supposed to live in the present, period. Not supposed to look back, not supposed to look ahead. Well, pfffft to that. I love anticipation, love to look forward to something. And I have a nostalgic streak in me about a mile wide. I love to remember when . . .

Today I got to thinking about telephones. Mother worked for the local board of education, Daddy designed and built golf courses and was quite active in politics. I am the oldest of three siblings, and yet despite all that community and civic involvement and popularity, we had one phone. That’s right: one single solitary phone. In the house, I’m telling you. One telephone to be shared by five people. It was a white wall-mounted phone with a curly cord long enough for me to take the receiver into the living room where I could talk in what amounted to the only privacy anybody could find in the confines of that house.

We didn’t have options for phone service – for the set monthly price, you got to make and receive local calls. Long distance calls had to be placed collect (as when letting my parents know that I, their college coed, had arrived safety back on campus, for example. Funny how they never – not once – accepted charges.) or it was charged to your monthly bill. We didn’t have caller id or call waiting or voicemail. Not even answering machines. If somebody called while one of us was on the phone, they just got a busy signal and had to call back.

Busy signals is what I was really thinking about today, if you want to know the truth. That dreaded beep-beep-beep sound that lets you know the person you desperately want or need to talk to is unavailable. And of course all phones were landlines – we didn’t have mobile phones or even phones that were wired into our cars. When we were out traveling and something happened – like, well for the sake of story, let’s say we ran off the road and into a ditch – somebody would happen by and help. In this particular instance – I mean story – somebody happened by on a tractor, pulled out my green Mustang, and promised faithfully to never, ever mention this to my parents.

My first car only had am radio – which was fine by me. I was just tickled to get a car, period. I think it cost $1260, this 1970 green metallic Mustang, but Daddy was friends with the car dealer, so I trust he got at least a bit of a discount.

But back to phones . . . as a sophomore in college, I attended what is now called North Georgia College and State University. Yup, it’s a mouthful. We had a bank of phones on the hall – 3 campus phones and 2 long distance phones on each floor. Folks would call into the central reception desk in the lobby, and whoever was on duty would direct the calls to the floor on which we resided then page us over the loud speaker and direct us to go take the call.

When I met my husband, I didn’t know his last name. (It’s a long story.) (I’ll tell you later.) It was definitely a case of smitten at first sight, but when folks asked his name, call I could say was “Andy” then talk fast so they would hopefully not think it odd that, well, you know. We met on a Saturday night, and apparently I made a good impression because he called me the following Tuesday to ask me to go to a hockey game with him. “Jeanne Hewell – long distance. Jeanne Hewell – long distance.” came the page, which I like to think I would’ve somehow magically heard even were I not sitting – I mean studying – in room 319 Lewis. Because he was calling long distance, the conversation went something like this:

Him: “This is Andy. You wanna’ go to the hockey game Thursday night?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Him: “Okay, good.”


Must have cost him the better part of a dime.

I did eventually learn his last name (when he introduced himself to my brother that same weekend), and I’d be happy to tell you the point of this post if only I knew what it is.

Brother Sun’s Playground




At a certain time of day
if the sun is shining and
you’re standing in
just the right place,
rainbows come out to play.

You or anybody else,
for that matter,
can stop the light and
vanish the rainbows,
if you’re not paying attention
to where you stand,
if you get in the way.

Seems a simple
yet significant
thing to know.



First You Decide, Then You Move


Weeds are pesky things. Maybe once upon a year you liked them, actually spent money acquiring them then spent time planting and tending them. But comes a day when you realize they are more invasive than pleasing, that they have spread and are now growing and blooming where you don’t want them to grow and bloom. They are taking up too much space on your path.

That’s when it’s time to pluck them out . . .

Borders had been installed at the very beginning, but the weeds had long ago ignored the boundaries, going over and under as they pleased, determinedly oblivious to my growing discontent, so yesterday was weed-pulling day. Many were not happy to leave. Their roots had spread deep and wide over time, taking strong hold to that part of my path. They were apparently quite comfortable and vehemently protested the change. Tools were required to assist in the removal of the most obstinate weeds, and quite often when the weed did finally let go, it came out with great clumps of dirt that went into my shoes, my shirt, my eyes, my hair. It was not a pretty sight.

It was tough, time-consuming work. Fingernails were blackened and broken. Before long, my back hurt and neck and legs ached so badly, I considered throwing in the towel and going to find something to do that was more fun and less arduous, just leaving them be. After all, I could still technically step around them.


Otto, my granddog, provided company and stood as witness – sometimes enjoying the sun,


sometimes standing right where I needed him not to stand,


sometimes doing a little digging himself. There was an important difference, though: Otto simply moved what he pulled up, burying it in a new spot in the yard.


What I pulled up went into the compost bin to be recycled into something new and useful and nourishing. I suppose you could say that it will eventually go into another spot in the yard, too, but you get my drift.


Yeah, I’ve had days that were more fun, but by bedtime, the path was cleared, and I could once again see the stepping stones and imagine where they might lead me. You know what I mean?

Bushel Basket Burning


This is a photo of my beloved husband, Andy,
taken yesterday as he was buying me the bushel basket
that topped the list of
What I Want For My Big Milestone Birthday.
I have a plan, you see:
I will decorate this basket,
festoon it with ribbons
and words of wagging fingers,
most from long-forgotten,
unnamed voices,
words that nevertheless linger deep and long.
“Who do you think you are?”
“What gives you the right?”
“Well, you’re getting too big for your britches.”
I will write these words (and more) on the basket,
trim them with ribbons and glitter and sparkle,
then I will set fire to the basket,
while singing
“This Little Light of Mine”.
and dancing.
Oh good lord
how I will dance.

in the middle of unmuddling


I think of the letters shared by women who preceded me . . . “I put up 7 pints of bread-and-butter pickles today.” . . . “Jerry is down in his back again.” . . . “Katie sent me her upside-down pineapple cake recipe. It’s in the oven baking now, and it smells so good. I’ll let you know how it turns out.” . . . “My iris are blooming this year. I separated them last year, planted them not quite so deep.” Sometimes a copy of a new recipe was tucked inside the envelope along with the letter . . . sometimes an article snipped from the local paper . . . sometimes a picture of a grandchild.

I love these old letters. The handwriting is evocative and so is the dailiness of a (so-called) ordinary life. Women staying in touch. Sharing. Reporting in. Plucking jewels from their ordinary day.

Something Sarah said in her comment got me thinking about these letters . . . (she always opens a window for me, and i never know what the view will be but i always love it) . . . about how back in The Day we used blogs and the comments as exchanges of letters. We’d read a blog post and respond in the comment how it resonated with us, what it brought up in us, how it affected us. We’re share stories. Sometimes we’d take something from a comment and write a whole post around it, carrying on the conversation. We had the same 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, and we used some of that time to read each other’s blogs.

I miss that.

So that’s what I’m gonna’ do here in this blog. That’s what feels right in my bones. It’s like it touches some deep longing and beckons it out to be tended to. Susan says in her comment: “Share when the urge hits and if you don’t feel like it, don’t bother.” Advice that feels real good to these bones. And that’s why I’m posting twice today. Maybe even another post before bedtime (cause I’m getting of an age when at bedtime I can’t remember what happened in the morning, so why not make it easier on myself).

(But hey, one thing you’ll never read here: “I put up 7 pints of pickles today.” You can take that one to the bank.)

p.s. The photo is altar #103. I’m revving that up again. It’s 365 or bust.

p.s. 2: The altar is treasures I picked up on Daytona Beach a couple of weeks ago when we went down for the opening of the museum exhibit my first hymn of cloth is in. Yes, really. Me. My cloth. In a museum exhibit. SQUEEEEE!!!!!

one fine day



i’ve often wondered why some leaves hold on, refusing to let go of their branch, their tree. they clack in the wind, like teeth chattering or cleaning chalkboard erasers or ridding the bottom of shoes of debris from a long walk in the woods.

my birthday comes in 3 days. it’s a big birthday, and i’m making a list. noting things that won’t let go of me, things i’ve long vowed i’d do One Day. i add them to the list because One Day is here.

14,600 Days or 350,400 Hours or The Blink of an Eye – It’s All the Same to Me


Forty years ago today, I walked into a bar in Underground Atlanta with a girlfriend and walked out several hours later with the man who would, in a mere six months, become my husband. Our forty years of togetherness have been marked by much change. We’ve birthed two amazing people, and we’ve buried too many to count. We’ve laughed and cried . . . and eventually laughed again. We’ve pursued our own interests and always come back home to tell each other all about it. We’ve shared interests, cheered each other on in individual pursuits, and worked side-by-side on all sorts of things.

An engineer by training, he views, interprets, and goes through the world in a more linear way than this quirky Aquarian. He is patient, I lean towards impulsive. He is literal, I see and hear metaphors everywhere. He is formulaic, I live like like a pot of soup, pulling sparklies in from every whichaway. He is quite thorough, I want immediate results and have a tendency to get bored and move on. We are good for each other.

It’s not always been easy, but it’s always been the two of us together, and that sure helps. I am not the same woman I was forty years ago, and he is not the same man who mixed me that Tom Collins. But laughter, space in our togetherness, listening, and holding hands continue to define our way of loving each other.

As he says, I’m the best he could do with the car he was driving at the time. And as I say, he’s the best I could do with the boobs I had at the time. Here’s to at least another forty, Andy.




i’ve never liked numbers all that much, but this one seems rather important


i’m hardly ever sick, so i have no established relationship with any physician. this morning i find myself in need of antibiotics, so i go to the doc-in-a-box at a nearby drugstore. the soft tissue of my ear is inflamed, you see, infected. it happens every three or four years, i tell her. i just need some antibiotics and i’ll be fine.

i do not tell her how i fretted as i dressed this morning, washing my hands an extra two times, downing a glass of a supposed immune system booster, packing my purse with tissues, one of which i use to protect my hand from the pen i must use when signing in because i do not know who held it before me, what germs linger looking for a warm host with a vacancy sign. i worry more these days. what if i get sick and don’t bounce back as quickly? what if i don’t bounce back at all? what if i come in to be treated for one thing and leave with something entirely unrelated that does me in?

she listens to me, believes me, says she likes a woman who knows her body. unused to eye contact from a physician let alone such a notion as listening to the patient, i am instantly smitten with her. the computer doesn’t allow for this particular diagnosis. it’s unusual. not standard. she calls to obtain an override, and when she tells the physician on the other end of the phone my age, she says the numbers in the same tone she answers every other question asked of her. there’s no drama when she says my age, no shriek, no hushed embarrassed tone.

my daughter calls while i’m luxuriating in an infrequent middle-of-the-afternoon-i’m-sick-so-i-can-if-i-want-to nap. will she call her brother to warn him? will she and her brother be worried? surely they must wish for it on occasion, but do they ever wonder what it will be like to live without having me around? do they think of me as old and fear “losing me”? i am not so noble a person or good a mother as to not hope that these scenarios play out occasionally. i want to be missed.

i make a point to keep my hands away from my face. after reading the various flu posts on facebook, i wash my hands.

i have a milestone birthday this year, you see. on the one hand i look forward to it as a crown i may now wear, an outward symbol of what – power? freedom? space? behavioral entitlement? on the other hand, i am embarrassed by it.

[ ::: ]

my word for 2013 is “homage”. i didn’t invite it – i never do – it just appeared, hopping up on my shoulder where it remains to this day. it’s an unusual word that initially causes me more worry; it’s a word i now bump into rather frequently. the stanford university band spelled it out at some halftime show, for example, and i heard it in first episode of season three of downtown abbey the other night. just the other day i overheard someone of some import use “homage” in the course of a conversation, and she pronounced the “h” (“HOM-ij”) settling that score for me. i wish i could remember who that was. am i already losing my memory? it’s a milestone birthday, but isn’t it a little premature to lose my memory? why can’t i remember? this will keep me awake tonight.

age has never mattered to me. a dear woman i cherish and knew because she was my great aunt on my daddy’s side of my tree taught me to never, ever, ever, ever, ever state my age. there’s no need, she said, it will just bring you pain because once they know your age, people will treat you accordingly. if they don’t know your age, they’ll treat you the way you behave in their presence.

am i treating my age like i’ve treated my weight? i look at wedding photos and cry for the young woman who bought an empire waist wedding dress to hide the body she thought grossly overweight at 98 pounds.

[ ::: ]

my color of the year is “deep ground”. i like that. find it comforting for reasons i’m unable to explain. that’s another thing: i don’t seem to be able to explain things, not that i ever have – not to certain levels of more literally-minded satisfaction – and now i’m wondering how important it really is that i should explain myself succinctly and articulately (or would that be articulately) anyway.

being a lifelong caregiver of many and various interests, i’ve long been able to tell you what other people will think about something, to see something and thing oh, so-and-so would love this – that sort of thing. but me, focus? historically, it’s been an impossible task. lately, though, i’m able to pare down, and it’s surprisingly (and alarmingly, at times) easy. mostly i funnel down by recognizing what i do not like, and if i say it aloud, i often forget to tack on the apologetic qualifier that implies “but it’s okay if you do.”

[ ::: ]

i’ve not worn a watch for decades, and yet i feel each tick and at least every-other tock. is that why it’s so easy to make decisions about – to sort how to spend my time, who to carry-on with, who and what to surround myself by?

having been a student then a teacher then a mother of students then a student again, my calendar has long started in september and ended in august. now i’ve decided that beginning in 2013, my birthday will be my new year’s day. decisions like that come easily to me, and they feel Good and Right. i continue to make my list of things i want to do in this new year, in this milestone year, feeling like a kid in the candy store. i should think of places to go, i tell myself, but when i consider travel, i shove it aside because it takes me away from the things i want to create. i have SO much i want to create.

[ ::: ]

i think i should probably dread this birthday, skirt around it, shoo it under the proverbial rug given that it’s an undeniable fact that i have more life behind me than in front of me. i am, you might say, quite in touch with my own mortality. death is frequently with me these days, mostly by way of a deep desire – a commitment, really, a resolve – to die well by living well.

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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