I’d like to give the world a hug . . . but the ChaRActers will do it instead.


I look around me right now and I see a lot of people hurting. Some are my fellow bloggers and RA fans; others are friends and acquaintances from my own community.  Sometimes it’s physical, sometimes it’s emotional, spiritual, mental or some combination thereof. Whatever the case may be, the pain is genuine. I am thinking of you all early this Monday morning.


My husband is battling a bad cold; he hardly rests well when he isn’t ill, but it’s even worse now when he needs a good night’s sleep the most. Knowing he has to drag himself into work and to a job he pretty much hates anyway doesn’t help. I want to take the cold away (without catching it), but all I can really do is try to do what I can to make him feel better without fussing too much. The man has a real stoic streak.

My younger friend, who was actually a student of mine before she transferred to another school, is battling major anxieties. She’s had quite a struggle in recent years, losing both her parents, then having her brother wrestle away the family business and proceed to run it into the ground before walking away. Now it’s shuttered and she is left to try to pick up the pieces.

Friend was so hungry one day she was rummaging through restaurant garbage cans to find something to eat. It took every dollar I had at the time to buy us a meal out together at a local bakery/deli, but it was worth it because (A) I knew she had a good hot meal and (B) she knew I really did care and she had someone to talk to who’d really listen, even if I certainly didn’t have all the answers.

Sometimes I feel wretchedly inadequate in helping my community. I was all too painfully aware of it over the holidays, that season of giving. I don’t have much money to spare to donate to worthy causes; I am not able-bodied enough to invest much sweat equity in projects. But I can listen. And isn’t that what people quite often want, someone who will simply be there for them?


Friend finally got a job after a lot of fruitless searching, but she was put on third shift and the idea of running a gas station alone in the dark of night this week terrifies her. She suffers from periodic panic attacks and can’t take her prescribed drugs and work without fear of drowsiness.

So we talked again tonight via FB private message. I still haven’t solved all her problems, but she thanked me for listening. I also promised to pray for her and try to check in on her at work if I was awake myself.

I don’t attend church regularly anymore, but I do still pray for the needs of others and for guidance for myself. I do believe it helps. I have felt people praying for me in recent weeks and it has benefited me.

Some of the gray weight of depression has shifted, with light beginning to shine through the cracks.  That is a true blessing.

I was asked to write a new column for the paper this week. A sliver of light. Several friends from miles away reached out to help me in a tangible way last week, and the light certainly grew brighter. Thank you all so very, very much.


I am looking into some online opportunities to write for pay. A little brighter still. I am about to undertake a self-paced photography course which should benefit me personally as well as professionally. The desire to write is again stirring within me. I want to be creative.  want to explore. I want to give back.


I have ordered a copy of my favorite children’s book to donate to my alma mater’s school library as part of the SpReAd the Love February Challenge (more on that later). I’ve encouraged all my book-loving friends on Facebook to do the same.  I encourage you to consider doing it, too!  We all know books are the gift that keeps on giving.

In my own small, flawed and very human way, I truly do want to make the world a better place. I wish I could give all of you a great big hug right now. I can’t, but I can share some images of Mr. A’s chaRActers doing just that. Be well, and for those of you facing more nasty winter weather as we are, stay warm and safe.






25 responses »

  1. Very happy to hear of the newspaper column. It has been a beast of winter from N to S. April is coming. Contact me on FB private, if you wish. I listen.

    • Thanks, Judith. That really lifted my spirits when Tracy contacted me about the column. I’d begun to think I’d done something wrong although I couldn’t figure out what it was! It really has been a rough winter. I mean, when there is a measurable amount of snow forecast in Alabama all the way down to the beaches–that’s very unusual. Supposedly we are supposed to have better weather next month. We will see . . . and thanks for being willing to listen. 😀

  2. Goes for me, too, Angie–please feel free to email me if you need a shoulder. I know I’ve said this before, but you are one of the best–and thanks for the wonderful pictures of our guy today. I think the brutal winter has us all down. It can be tough to haul yourself up by your bootstraps when they seem to just keep getting longer–and longer–and looooonnnnnggggger.

    • Thanks, Steph. I do appreciate it. *hugs* The winter just seems as if it’s gone on forever and now it looks as if we are finally getting our dose of snow tomorrow into Wed. morning. Poor Benny is so sore from the coughing and hiccupping I know he’s feeling miserable, although he is truly not a man to complain. I hope he’s getting some rest right now. I couldn’t sleep at all last night between the various aches and pains and muscle spasms. And yes, the bootstraps are getting ridiculously long at this point. 😉 Just trying to hang in there!!

      • I hope I am right, too. Our governor just went proactive and declared a state of emergency beginning in the morning and running into Thursday morning. Looks like the southern edge of the state (missing us but including my sister in Foley) could see a quarter inch of ice accumulation, which could down a lot of power lines. 😦

        • While I was living in TN some years back, we had a huge blizzard/ice storm and the mountain was paralyzed for days.  Of course, they only had one snowplow and it broke down the first day.

          • One of the worst blizzards I ever experienced was not in the Midwest, but in Tennessee–when I was seven and my grandmother passed away. We girls didn’t go to the graveside but went back to sit in the car because we had no snow boots, just Sunday patent leathers and lace-trimmed socks. I remember some truck tearing by us on the road we were traveling and then a few minutes later we saw the truck turned upside-down in the side of the road. :-/ It was a mess.

            • My brother and I are both tall–you can imagine how deep it was if we were both up to our hips in the drifts, and he was at least three inches taller than I am.  It was picture postcard beautiful–then of course, a huge tree fell and blocked my car into our driveway (couldn’t go anywhere anyhow) and there it stayed until one of my neighbors showed  up with his chain saw three days later–thank God.

              • I tell you, I love those neighbors with their chainsaws and generators and bottled water–between hurricanes and ice storms and blizzards and tornadoes we’ve been through the years, they are a sight for sore eyes indeed!

              • I worked in downtown Chattanooga at the time and it was still another three or four days before I could make it off the mountain to go back to work.  One of the worst storms I think I’ve ever been in.

              • People are joking about Snowmaggedon here and how some folks are probably overreacting, but I just posted on FB and said the ice they are saying we could get actually is no laughing matter. I had a friend and co-worker in Omaha killed in a head-on collision due to the oncoming car hitting black ice. Doesn’t matter what kind of tires you have or what type of drive your vehicle has. Ice is dangerous. Stay off the roads unless you have no choice. They are actually closing the roads tonight at midnight and then evaluating them around 5 a.m. Our schools are closed.

              • We had an ice storm in Alexandria when I was living in Virginia in the ’80’s–I was working the night shift and my boss refused to close the restaurant despite the face that conditions were getting worse and worse by the hour.  by the time we closed and I was able to go home, I hit a stretch of black ice right before my street, slid around the median and into the opposite curb; then had to climb up the hill to my house, which was almost perpendicular to where I was.  It was almost 3 AM and what was normally a five minute walk took me 45 minutes because it was so slippery I’d take a few steps forward and slide back a foot or two.  Another storm memory I’ll probably never forget.  Stay inside and keep warm–hope you don’t lose power

              • When we lived in Bellevue (right outside Omaha) we started out in an apartment complex that bordered Fontenelle Forest Nature Preserve–quite hilly. During winter storms, we couldn’t get up the hill to our building in our cars. We had to park at the bottom and walk up. The we moved to a house on a cul-de-sac, and it was also on a hill. Had to park at bottom and climb up. Ah, and scraping that thick ice off the windshield at night after work . . . and all the spills I took. Hoping we don’t lose power, too. Spend three days without it during a blizzard in SD. Winds were blowing 70 MPH and the lineman couldn’t see to work on restoring power ’til it calmed down. We heated a can of Chunky Soup over a little hibachi grill and that was absolutely delicious. It was HOT!!

              • You never appreciate things like that until you lose your power for a few days.  That’s been my biggest fear here with these frigid temperatures, but so far, we’ve been lucky.

    • Thanks, Serv. You are right. I find myself sharing a lot of pics of pretty flowers and gardens on FB because I know *I* need to see that right now, and maybe others do, too.

  3. Winter, like age is not for wimps. Unfortunately, I am aged. Canadian, and a total wimp. If one more person here says “You’re Canadian – WE EMBRACE winter!” look for some note in your newspaper next day about a “motive -less” homicide – some smug person, buried, head-first in a snowdrift, with a broken neck. (Um, do I know how to break a neck? Not that fond of blood, though)

    More seriously, generally, in Canadian cities, we are so accomodated to the cold and snow, that salt trucks are out overnight. Which is not great for the environment, but keeps us moving, But more seriiously, southern parts do not, and cannot prepare for what has hit this year. We were posted to D.C. one year. It was one of those years that Washington was targeted for snow. Our Arlington street was snowed in. We waited for rescue. Then, the students on the end house (the street had been muttering – leasing to students! There goes the neighbourhood!) got out with shovels. The rest of street, including a couple of shame-faced Canadians, found shovels too.

    It is a very bad winter. In Canada, I assume April might be another six months away.Not really. But for those much further south, I wish I could remove it from you all, and you could get on with usual life.

    • Some of the people around here who have lived/are from elsewhere are sort of sneering over the whole thing and making fun of southerners freaking out over nothing (by the way, I am not freaking out, lol, I just like to be prepared). Certainly it’s possible the weather pattern will shift and largely miss us–but there’s also a good possibility it won’t. Ice can be hazardous on roads and especially on bridges, it weighs down tree limbs and they break and fall on things and people, it downs power lines—you know, things I don’t consider to be a big joke. I have lived in enough places and dealt with enough types of hazardous weather–rain, mud, snow, sleet, ice, high winds–that I know an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

      • I think if you live up north you don’t get the idea of a house that lacks central heating. If you live in the south, you don’t get why you’d have a house that was so unbelievably unventilatable …

        • Yes, exactly! Also here many people have electric heat pumps, which work fine *if* the temperatures don’t drop too low. But this winter has strained a lot of people’s HPs. And of course ours died several years ago so we’ve been making out with an oil-filled electric radiator and some space heaters and the good old electric blanket. If the electricity goes out, it is gonna get very cold chez Long, as our propane logs are also no longer hooked up to the old propane tank. As for road conditions, we don’t have the machinery and supplies on hand in the southern part of the state to do the sanding and salting. So they’ve already moved the machines from the northern half down south since we, not they, are expecting to get the winter weather. People don’t have the proper clothing, the driving experience and skills–so just stay at home and try to stay warm if you can is what I recommend to people who don’t HAVE to get out in it.

  4. Sometimes the best help we can give someone is to just listen to them. Mr. 70 is a talker but a great listener one of the reasons I fell for him.

    I hope things start looking brighter all around for you. Hugs and stay warm!

  5. I’ve been meaning to stop by, but what with my brother in the psych ward wit alcohol poisoning, my mom in the nursing home, the storms and intermittent power outages (I never know if I’m going to have internet), being on the verge of an MS episode with all the stress, I didn’t want another thing for you to worry about. Sending you positive energy! Hope all is well soonest.! xoxoxoxox

  6. Wishing you warmth, health, and safety. I know how bad it can get, and I’m concerned. I once drove through an ice storm from Grand Rapids to Lansing MI, creeping, barely able to see where the road was, passing many cars stuck in the drifts. I then had my first experience with tree limbs exploding; it sounded like automatic weapons fire! It’s perilous out there, and I just keep hoping you’ll get some relief soon.

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