Category: JoAnn – Current Year

Thankful Thanksgiving!


Another Thanksgiving Day is around the corner and it’s hard to believe we are already here in 2021. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. This time of year, with its beautiful fall foliage and crisp air, is by far my favorite season! Nothing feels better than wrapping up in my softest old sweater and turning on the heat for the first time.

With the lovely colors on the trees and ground, along with the smells of pumpkin, hay, and dried leaves in the air, it’s the perfect time of year to stop for a while and take an inventory of what we are thankful for in our lives. Yes, we should stop and count our blessings every day. But one holiday a year, towards the end of the year, is a perfect time to do some serious reflection. Usually, by this time, we have lived through many experiences in the past 10 1/2 months.

I think a lot of us just plow through life at a steady rate and choose to just “Keep on Trucking” as the old saying goes. Getting through another day, week, and month the best and quickest way we can. Sometimes it feels if we fall during the race, we will surely end up in the ditch. So, I think it’s fitting that during this season, along with nature slowing down to prepare for its Winter slumber, we too should slow down and not only rest, but take time to meditate on what the previous year has brought to our lives.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to only count the many blessings and to not miss the things we have lost. There is no way around that. Missing our loved ones that are no longer here to enjoy a big family get together is especially hard for all of us. One of the last photos I have of my mother is of her in the kitchen, with her hands full of chopped celery and onions, as she was preparing her famous dressing on a Thanksgiving Day. Every year I miss my mama like crazy. And yes, I miss her dressing too.

For me, it is impossible not to daydream about the wonderful, loving, family Thanksgivings of my past, the warmth felt in every home visited. The smells of food cooking, the scents of spice, and a warm fire. Seeing loved ones that we may have not seen for the entire year. Catching up on family gossip. Noticing how much the children have grown in the past year or meeting a brand-new family member for the first time.

There are so many things that make Thanksgiving special. To me, it is the best holiday to just enjoy family, friends, and being together. There is no pressure to exchange gifts, no pressure for money to be spent at all, just spending time together over some tasty food in a relaxed environment. It’s just perfect!

Wherever you are this year for Thanksgiving, my prayer is that you feel the love and peace that the holiday should bring. Even if you are alone, which I have been too, some years, stop and be thankful, and reflect on your most precious memories of your past. Remember those you miss with love and gratitude for having had them in your life. And if you just happen to get the chance to eat a piece of your favorite pie, do that too! 

Happy Thanksgiving from me to you…JoAnn

Squeaky Clean!

This is going to be a strange missive.  Or should I say a stinky one?  It will either make you laugh, or ponder your own personal habits.  
I have noticed over the years that many things seem to change with age.  Most are just natural occurrences that happen so gradually, we barely notice anything different.  Unfortunately, there may be some things that others might notice, even if we don’t.  Yes, I am talking about body odor.
When I was a young mother of three little girls, I had a strict daily routine for them that included a daily shower or bath every night.  No matter what was going on, a perfectly bathed child would be put to bed at night.  No exceptions.  I chose this nightly ritual because I believed a child slept better having washed off their day and climbed into their bed sparkling clean.  It was the routine my mother had started with me and I still had for myself.  I remember looking forward, all afternoon, to the time of evening that I would have my children tucked into their beds and smelling of No Tear baby shampoo.   It would then be my turn to unwind from the day and soak in a relaxing tub.  It was something that I really looked forward to!
I will be the first to tell you that now, at my age, I no longer look forward to bath time.  Gone is the desire to step into a tub and get wet.  The thought of getting wet all over is almost appalling to me at times.  And sometimes, I will put this now dreaded chore off for as long as I possibly can.  I am telling you all this personal information as I try to understand what is happening to me.  I am not being “lazy”.  And the chronic pain I deal with daily is not an excuse every time either. 
So what is it then?  I have come to the conclusion that it is simply another stage of aging.  Having watched my parents be “Seniors” for many years, I noticed both of them having the same feelings about bath time.  My dad seemed to not really care if he had one or not.  He usually did only to appease my mom.  My mother would only take a shower when it was absolutely necessary.  She had arthritis in every joint in her body, and I always knew it was a painful ordeal for her, not to mention a dangerous one.  
Having been a home health care worker, I also witnessed other seniors who had no interest at all in bath time.  It seems the older a person gets, the less of an interest they have in all types of personal hygiene, not just bathing.  
Now I do not want to offend anyone reading this!  That is the last thing I would ever want to do.  But this subject has been on my mind for some time and I just wanted to express how it makes me feel.  It has become a definite problem with me personally.  I have witnessed it being a problem with many others my own age as well.  It appears it is just a natural part of aging, but it saddens me.  I know when I do take the time to bathe, and am feeling squeaky clean, and moisturized from my head to my toes, I feel like a new person.  Then why on earth do I not want to feel that way daily?  I certainly don’t want to smell bad.  I don’t believe anyone does really.  Yet there does seem to be a real problem among many older individuals.  
Maybe it’s just my peaked interest in seniors that has me pondering this subject for so long.  My parents didn’t have me until they were in their 40s.  They were always “older” than the norm and I have always had an interest in geriatrics.  I’m sure that’s why I took my job as a home health worker so seriously.  I was truly interested in my clients and found myself studying them.  But even those experiences haven’t helped me with my own plight of dreading a bath!
I guess the answer is to just keep on living life like I always have, and that is to take one day at a time and do the very best that I can.  Hopefully I will smell good doing so, but in the event that I don’t, I apologize now.  
Here’s to a squeaky clean day!  

Summertime Memories

As I sat in front of my air conditioner this past summer, trying to fend off yet another series of “Heat Advisory” sessions, I started daydreaming quite a bit about what my summers were like as a kid. 

Dealing with “feels like” temperatures over 100 degrees, I find myself asking, did we even feel heat as children? I do not remember summer ever being too hot for me to enjoy my day. Now, if it’s in the 90s or higher, my body feels as though it’s going to melt. Literally. I vaguely remember sweating as a kid.  

But I remember how good it felt to run through a spraying garden hose on a beautiful summer’s day. I remember well how good cold ice cream tasted on a summer’s night. The taste of a chilled Coke in the thick glass bottle was like no other drink in the world. Walking into a store that actually had air conditioning and thinking “WOW”! And to this day, the sound of a simple box fan will put me right to sleep. 

I remember well, sitting at the picnic table we had in our front yard, while Mama spread out newspapers so Daddy could slice up an ice-cold watermelon. We each had our own little saltshaker. It was such a treat!

I remember spending most of my summer days playing with my sister in either the cool dirt basement where Mama kept the many jars of home canned goodies, or in the thick woods that surrounded our home. Daddy would always have the woods cleared of weeds and especially poison oak or ivy, so our play time would be a joyous one. He even built us a playground one year beside his organic garden so he could keep an eye on us as he worked. Mama could also see us from her kitchen window as she washed dishes.

Probably my favorite summer memory would have to be when Daddy would take us to the public swimming pool. I can still remember the feel of the wet concrete under my bare feet as we walked through the front gate, and the sound that gate made closing. I knew instantly I was in for a day filled with pure joy and fun that only a child could understand. It didn’t matter that it was hot, or if I got sunburned. The smell of chlorine in the water, and the smell of Coppertone suntan lotion will forever be something I adore. In my mind, I can see Daddy sitting in his car, parked out front, waiting for us to come out when the pool was closing. I remember him asking if we had enjoyed our day and saying how he wished he could have spent the day in that cool water, too. This was the 1960s, when kids could be kids without fear of being abducted or harmed. What a blessing it was for every child at that swimming pool.

It wasn’t all fun and games during the Summer. There was work to be done as well. Helping Mama and Daddy in their sizeable gardens was of utmost importance. Daddy grew organically, and that meant he had to spend a lot of time in the garden. But he loved it and would reap a beautiful bounty. Mama home canned or froze all the vegetables and fruits she could, so it would stock us for the coming winter. Canning was a hot, messy, and exhausting job back then. Especially with no air conditioning in the house. We spent hours tending to the garden, picking the produce, and preparing it to either be canned or frozen. I look back now and realize how hard my parents worked. I wish now I would have strung more beans, shucked more corn, and shelled more peas. I didn’t look forward to the chore as a kid and can see now that I wasn’t much help. I feel bad for that because I sure enjoyed the fruits of Mama and Daddy’s labor!  

Daddy always kept our large yard mowed neatly. Oh, to walk barefoot in that cool grass again would be Heavenly. Or to take a nature walk with Mama into the woods. We searched for berries and mushrooms. Mama would dig up a fern from the ones that grew wild on the side of the mountain. She would take it home and plant it in her favorite McCoy pot. Of course, with her green thumb, it grew big and lush. 

Like with all good things, Summer would indeed end. But before it did, Mama would take me and my sister shopping for school clothes. We always caught the yearly going back to school sale at J. C. Penney’s. If Mama didn’t have the money to purchase what we needed that day, she would put all or some items on layaway. We would try on so many dresses that Mama would pick out. In the 60s, dresses would be the normal attire for an elementary school aged girl. I would get so excited about the new dresses. Having outgrown all the ones from last year, I couldn’t wait to see what new style Penney’s had for the new year.

Mama would pick out tights, anklets, and knee socks to match each dress she purchased. If we were really lucky, we would go shopping for new school shoes on the same day. I remember always begging for a new purse to match my school wardrobe. Usually, Mama would say no. But I would come home from school a few weeks later and she would surprise me with a new purse or two. My guess is, she caught them on mark down later. I was a blessed little girl.  

By the time we went back to school, I think we were all ready for Summer to end and a new season to arrive. I loved school back then and couldn’t wait to ride the school bus again and to see my friends. Of course, by the next Spring, we would all be champing at the bit for another summer vacation. And we would do all our favorite things all over again. 

What wonderful memories we made. 

The Shutterbug

Where would we be without photographs? Today, as I was searching my phone for the perfect picture to add to the missive I was writing, I asked that question.  

As I scrolled through hundreds of saved images, many caught my eye and immediately brought back the memory of when they were taken. Photos of my grandchildren, pets, friends, and family. Photos of beautiful outdoor scenery that I saved because simply looking at them gave me such peace; the last photo I took of my mother as she prepared her famous dressing for Thanksgiving, and the one of my dad with all three of his granddaughters when they were small. One picture can speak a thousand words!  

When I was a teenager, I became very interested in photography. I bought my first camera and thus began my lifelong hobby of taking photographs. I must have taken thousands by the time my kids were all grown. I literally have boxes stuffed to capacity with photos, stored away like relics from the past. I was a true Shutterbug.

I always felt that photography was a true Art form. But since they included the camera in every cell phone, I have wondered if the art of photography was dead. I recently read an article from a professional photographer on his website, The Phoblographer, that begged to differ. It seems professionals are using the latest technology to only up their game to new heights. It thrilled me to read that. He wrote, “Anyone with a camera can take a picture, but not just anyone can create an image that makes people stop, think, and feel”. Spoken truth from a photographer’s heart. So, it appears the wonderful ART of photography is far from dead.

Ten years ago, I turned over my 1980s Canon to my youngest daughter, Chelsea, when she was 18 years old, and I never picked up a camera again. She too has what I call “the eye”. That would be an Artist’s eye that can see images through a camera lens that others cannot. It fills me with pride to see the pictures she posts on social media. I selfishly find joy because she has a talent that she just may have gotten from me. Maybe! And adding to my swollen heart, my granddaughter, Randi, seems to be cut from the same Shutterbug cloth. I am excited to see where each of them goes with their photography adventures.  

Maybe I too will pick up a new camera someday and give the latest technology a try. I will most likely need a few lessons from my daughter, but the photographer’s heart is still in me, and it makes me sad to see a beautiful sunset, or a smile on my grandson’s face, and not have my trusty camera beside me to take that precious shot. A cell phone is just not the same. Not to a true Shutterbug!

“The ability to convey a story, or message, with an image cannot be taught, it comes from within, and that is why professional photography will never die.”  ~The Phoblographer 

Cuts Like a Knife


I have often been told many times that I’m a sensitive person. That my feelings are easily hurt. That I carry my heart on my sleeve, as my mother used to say. I cannot recall being any other way. As hard as I may try, I never seem to change. I have naturally toughened up because of all my experiences, but my sensitivity never goes away completely. And I’m not so sure I want it to. After all, don’t we need a certain amount of sensitivity in order to be sensitive to others? I’m sure there’s a fine line there.

When someone wrongs me, it can take me a long time to recover. If a loved one has wronged me, I will always choose forgiveness for peace of mind and soul. When a stranger does anything unsavory, it’s a whole other ball game. When I realize I’ve been taken advantage of, I’m likely to become enraged.  

Recently, I went to the little post office here in my small town. As a matter of convenience, I frequently choose to purchase a $1.25 money order from them to pay a bill. I needed a $300 money order on this particular day. I had $100 in cash, and I planned on paying the remaining $200 with my Paypal debit card. I gave the attendant my request, and she printed my money order. I swiped my card and entered my pin. Only once.

I quickly filled out the money order and promptly sealed it inside the addressed and stamped envelope. Then placed it in the mailbox. All was done, and I checked another errand off my to-do list.

I got home a few minutes later, and as I usually do, I checked my Paypal account to see my balance. To my surprise, I see they charged me an additional $200 from the post office. It wasn’t added to the one and only payment for which I had swiped my card and entered my pin; it was an entirely different transaction, all on its own! How could that have happened? I only swiped my card one time and entered my pin number one time! I was quickly becoming angry, but calmed myself down, grabbed my keys, and went immediately back to the post office.

I stayed calm, went inside, and the same young lady was still there. I showed her my phone and say “You charged me $200 twice! My account is now in over-draft!” With a strange look on her face, she mumbled something that I could not understand and rushed to the back of the post office. A few minutes later, an older man appeared. He told me that he can do nothing on his end to return my money, that he will have to call Nashville to figure it out. This made absolutely NO sense to me. So, I waited while he returned to his office.  

Finally, I’m fed up with waiting. I returned to my car and called Paypal to explain my plight. Just as my call was going through, the gentleman appeared at my window. Again, he tells me he cannot refund my money, that I need to get with Paypal and tell them to cancel the transaction. 

I returned home with that all too familiar feeling of my heart dropping into my stomach. I had just been duped. I couldn’t prove it, but my gut feeling is always correct. After everything that I have been through in my life, there’s no doubt in my mind that the young woman and the older man were both in on what had happened to me. That extra $200 transaction was no mistake. They knew exactly what they were doing, and my guess is they have done it before. Perhaps to a friendly older lady, who isn’t paying attention to their every move. I was furious at this point.

I called Paypal customer service, and a very kind young man answered my call. I told him the entire story and he validated my own thoughts. He too said the whole scenario sounded quite “fishy”. He felt I had been robbed. He immediately filed for an investigation.

I have had my Paypal account for about 10 years and I have to say they have never, not once, disappointed me. Any issue I have ever had, whether my fault or not, they have been there to help, not only in a professional manner, but a very kind manner as well. The young man working there on this day was so very caring about the way I was feeling and gave me solid advice on how to get through my ordeal. I was expecting it to take days for my account to be cleared, but they did it in less than 24 hours. I am sure I have that nice young man to thank for that.  

What happened to me that day at the post office hit me hard. The last thing in the world I needed was for someone to take advantage of me. I count pennies to make it through every month, and I thank God for every penny. I do not have extra money in my account for emergencies. When I felt robbed, it cut me like a knife! I cried, I was angry, and I prayed through it all.  

Why do things like what happened to me affect me so deeply? I know I am not alone in the way I feel. Surely there are other people out there that are just as sensitive. My daughter Chelsea once told me that I am too trusting for my own good. Perhaps I am, but to be non-trusting, and miss the chance of meeting a wonderful human being, would be such a tragedy.