Saturday, November 13, 2010

Small Community Interest

This week I revisited my love/hate relationship with small community interest in others, which some may call nosiness.

It all began when I called my bank and told her the account numbers where I wanted to transfer money from and to (no I haven’t mastered that online yet). I finished and the gal said, “Who am I speaking to?” I told her my name and she said, “I knew it, I knew that was your voice.” I don’t know this person very well and can’t remember ever talking to her on the telephone, but she felt and then was convinced that my voice belonged to me.

(Love living where everybody knows my name.)

A few months ago, I ran into someone at the grocery store who asked me how I was because she had heard I had been ill. She had heard this from a place where I had purchase some of my medication. What about HIPPA?

(Hate everyone knowing my business.)

For years at the end of each summer, I would go into the local post office where various postal workers would ask me if I needed a change of address form.  I would say no and ask why. I would be told that he or she had heard I was moving to the large city nearby. Every summer. It became quite amusing to me.

(Hate fabricated information being told as truth, but love the humor of it.)

A few others:

I wonder often, what’s going on at my neighbors’ homes when multiple cars are parked in the yard or along the road. Is it a death? Is it a birthday? Is it a murder? Of course it’s none of my business, and yet, that’s not our way. It is our business. It’s our reality and you can’t change our minds.

(Love that I notice my neighbors and they--me, and that I’m not ignored.)

I wonder why my meticulous neighbor’s grass is nearly a foot tall. Is he sick? Is he travelling? Is he dead in his house and no one knows? None of my business? I think I’ll check.

(Love how we think we are taking care of each other.)

I wonder whose untagged cow lays dead in the ditch apparently a victim of a car crash. Who didn’t fix his/her fence? Who does not own up to the cow being out because he/she might be sued?

(Hate having to dodge farm machinery on the highways, and cows, and horses. Love having to dodge farm machinery on the highways, and cows and horses.)

Love and Hate. As my mom has told me, there is a fine line between love and hate, a relationship of similarity. We can love and hate something in the same breath.

Significance of Community

I must admit, I have been aggravated by the lack of privacy in my rural community, and yet, there is something satisfying about walking into local restaurants and stores and being identified that makes you feel like a rock star. During my own personal “hard times” my community has rallied around me. There are always friends who don’t make an appearance, but there is always the extended family--of friends called community.  It's my reality and I love it.

Photo source: Ruralhood

Saturday, November 6, 2010


I was fortunate to know both my grandmas, to live near them, and to drink in their existence and experience.  My maternal grandmother, Sadie Dugan, was a loving presence in my life until I was 26 years old. My paternal grandmother, Minnie Powell, lived until I was 41.  I was truly blessed by both women.

When I think of my maternal grandmother I think of kindness, her faith in God, and a constant profession of love for me. When  I think of my paternal grandmother I think of style, wizard of creating all things beautiful, and an elder for moral support.

I miss my grandmothers.

Today, I reminisce about my maternal grandmother Minnie M. Pitts-Powell from whom I get my creative genes, which comes in handy.

Here are some memorable quotes from her that have lingered in my mind:

"It won't matter in a hundred years."

"Englebert Humperdink can park his shoes under my bed anytime." (I nearly had a heart attack after hearing my grandmother's confession.)

"If they don't ask, we won't tell because it's none of their business." (She was a very private person.)

"That's nonsense." (This might have worked against me, since I am full of nonsense.)

My grandmother Minnie was three or four inches shorter than myself at probably 5'2" or 5"3". She had red curly hair and kept it red until her dementia no longer allowed her to remember how to take care of it.

She told me that she had always wanted to be a nurse, but her folks didn't think it was the proper thing for a young woman to do...see naked people.  She became a hairdresser instead.

My grandmother Minnie could take anything and make it beautiful. She could take second hand clothing and make me gorgeous dresses. They weren't typical dresses, but fancy dresses. She invented taking old or discarded furniture and making it new and useful again. She reupholstered furniture, knew how to use tools, and could have opened a restaurant...her cooking was that good.

Minnie Powell worked very hard. She helped her husband on their farm and then still had to cook, take care of the children, do laundry, and keep house the old fashion way. She was tough and really didn't like "nonsense".

She loved my grandfather very much and told me so regularly. She loved her four children. And she loved me, even though she didn't say it much, but was always available for anything I needed. She made my wedding dress, my bridesmaids' dresses, and a garter for my skinny little leg.

Grandma Minnie also came to my rescue once when I really thought I was in danger. My husband and I had just signed up for life insurance. Our son was almost a year old.  The insurance agent was definitely interested in me; I have radar for things like that. I thought he was creepy from the start. But, the hubby was there, we signed, and the man left. Even as he left, he invaded my sacred personal space. Sure I go overboard with personal space, but this man was caressing my arm when my husband wasn't looking.

My job at that time was a stay at home mom.  Around 9 a.m. the next morning, I received a telephone call from the insurance agent. He told me he had forgotten to have us sign some kind of authorization. I was only 22, but red flags were flying to get my attention. I told him, no problem my husband worked in the city and he would come over after he got off from work. The agent was insistent saying that he needed it to be signed immediately. I told him, I could get it signed for him at lunch then. I made the mistake of telling him we only had one working car at that moment.  I told him it made no sense for him to drive nearly 40 miles when my husband was in the same city. Then he told me he had to come my way anyway and would be there within the hour.

I was alarmed.

We all have instincts within, if we will listen and I knew something wasn't right about that man and his mission, and I had a toddler to think about as well. (Today, of course, I would tell him what he could do with the paper and where he might go with the paper, but I wasn't that bold yet.)

Immediately, I made a phone call to Grandma Minnie and told her what I was thinking and asked if she could she come over? Within fifteen minutes, she was at my house. When the insurance agent arrived and walked in, his eyes grew with surprise as when he saw I was not alone. As grandma put it, she could see right away he was shifty and wasn't expecting me to have company. I think she saved the day for me. When he left, he put his hand on my shoulder and told me with his face turned away from my grandmother,  how pretty I looked. (I was in men's overalls.)  My Irish temper finally took over and I shrugged his hand from my shoulder and opened the door for him to leave.

Grandma stayed a couple more hours. I'm sure she saved the day.

Her feisty and creative genes live in me and I appreciate it.

Significance of Family: Rural areas are often a fair distance from towns and cities. Many times, if the youth stay in the area, they have many generations at their disposal. Rural people rely on their family members not only for love, but for support in many areas.  Often, I've called my parents and my grandmothers for advice and direction.  I also had many aunts, uncles, and cousins growing up around me. They all enriched my life experience.

Stay tuned for memories of my Grandmother Sadie Dugan.