Monday, December 24, 2012

Choose the Gift

If you don't make time right now, when will you? If you don't choose today, when will you? If you don't open your heart this evening when the candles are gleaming and the choir is singing, when will you? Don't wait to open God's heavenly gift. Unwrap the treasure of the Father's most precious Christ-child right now, and tomorrow, and the next day. Unwrap the Gift {{fresh}} from Heaven. And choose to Gift yourself daily with Him for rest of your life. ♥

Friday, December 14, 2012

Breakfast in a Mug

A gift from me to ((you.))

Breakfast in a mug... easy & delicious. Two eggs, fresh chopped tomato and fresh spinach leaves. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Microwave for about 90 seconds. (Careful, mug might be h-o-t!)



The Helmet and a Brotherhood

The personal helmet's pads and lining were raggedly ripped away from the interior and returned to school with a sticker in hopes it might slip past and get checked-in unnoticed. But my son saw it as he walked through the supply cage with Coach looking at each helmet for identifying marks, hopeful that maybe, just maybe, his missing helmet might have been returned this week. Instead, he was surprised to finally understand that he was not part of something bigger, not part of something stronger, not part of something intangible. He was now fully finished hanging high lofty hopes that this team was something akin to iron sharpening iron. Instead he heard the sad sounding thud an unknown teammate made when he clunked hollowly and fell to the bottom of the barrel.

I’m grasping deep inside of myself to hold onto a vetige of my own good nature, my own motherly wisdom, and my own honor over this. How easy to lash out. How wondrous to throw intelligence out the window and fly fickle with fury. How dangerously delicious to loose the barrage of words and point angriest finger and wish worse on this thief without a face. Instead I’m digging deeply into the darkness, feeling for the slippery chink of a handhold on forgiveness and another place to grasp strongly for a clearheaded attitude other than the one which dangles a toe over the line. It lands just above the deep grudge against an unknown young man who took, then shredded, his teammate’s personal $300 piece of equipment. It was not carelessly paid for, not devilishly flaunted, not cruelly cared less about. Instead it was thought about for weeks, it was considered, researched, decided upon suddenly when son suffered a concussion. Now my heart delves into, "You're done with kindness it doesn't pay. Drop the sideline photography!" it shouts, “Lock up the photo site with a password just for friends. Walk away. Hang it up.” Brain states unequivocally, “Take care of son’s memories and worry not a thing for any other man's past athletic team experiences... Basic respect...basic integrity were all thrown in his face.” And I want so badly to claw it all back into their huddle so they can see it, feel it, hear it, taste it.

And the thing is, I don’t believe in anything like wishing ill will. I don’t believe in the idea that if a young man does wrong, life will pay him back down the road in locusts and frogs and torrents of horribleness. Though I may wish it and I may want it in all my red hot disappointment. But I believe in something more intensely opposite. That blessings will follow a man through his life if he strives to live it with honor and with dedication and with truthful heart in the likeness of his Maker. Mostly because he is himself preparing the very road that he himself will walk down one day. It begins at his very core and continues to resonate out till others around him know what he’s made of by the character he exudes. He is a worthy man- ever dedicated, ever relentless in his pursuit of conscience. And I believe in something bigger and even more courageous than simplistic: the ability to choose right over wrong. The ability to truly decipher the need to step up to something because it’s either a life changing moment or it’s wasted as another dank drop in the bucket, more of the same old sad stuff that gets a man nowhere down the rutted road.

Thank you for returning the helmet at all. Someday, come and see me. Or him, my son. And unload the burden. Until then, I’m left wondering: Where is your goodness? Where is your soul? We’re built in His image and yet you’re but a shadow of a man, flitting here and there, hiding in the darkness. You may pretend to be one who is solid and tough and tested on the outside, but you’re tired and shrunken and dried out on the inside. Teams don’t win championships with a brotherhood built out of dusty bone-dry sandbags. Teams win championships on solid rock granite brotherhoods. The kind of brotherhood you can hang your whole life onto and share for even longer.

The helmet certainly met nothing to you. To me, to him, it signified what would have been. What chould have been. What should have been.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

ø¤º°°º¤ø,„º°¨¨°º¤ø °¨My Christmas wish for you..ø¤º°°º¤ø,„º°¨¨°º¤ø °¨¨°º

Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, a faint rainbow to follow the storm clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, fiery sunsets to warm your heart, friendly hugs when spirits sag, small beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you will Believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, and ♥ to complete your life. ,,„ø¤º°¨¨°º¤ø,„º°¨¨°º¤ø °¨¨°º¤ø...ø¤º°°º¤ø,„º°¨¨°º¤ø °¨¨°º¤ø:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Little Fa-la-la-la-la

Just decorated my bedroom in a little Fa-la-la-la-la. Pine swags hanging here, apple Christmas candles & white twinkling lights up there, a handful of ornaments in this, faux mink throw across that. Red bows tied around toss pillows just so. ...Who says the rest of the house has to enjoy all the Christmas joy?
Up too early this morning... was feeling mounting stress over all there is to do before this week is over, till dear hubby led me outside by the hand for a closer look at the moon, barefoot, pajama-clad, bedhead, and all.

{{Did you see the moon this morning?}}

Just the tiniest sliver of a slice was bright, but whole round moon was palest ice blue and glowingly visible. The awe changed my attitude. Now thankful a mopey mood, which definitely doesn't become me, was derailed.

With all the imperfections that may head my way this week, each day is STILL good, STILL beautiful, and STILL full of amazing possibilities.



Friday, December 7, 2012

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
~Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
Rough game last night and the night before... reposting one of my favorite basketball quotes because I BeLiEvE in these guys!

Pete Maravich once said, "I played six to 10 hours a day, every day, 90 days during the summer, and I'd do incredible things. I would dribble blindfolded in the house. I would take my basketball to bed with me, I'd lay there after my mother kissed and tucked me in, and I'd shoot the ball up in the air and say, 'Finger tip control, backspin, follow through."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Bucket

One of his favorites, my #42 just before a bucket...

And just after the bucket with QJ...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Acolyte

Daughter acolyted for the first time this morning in church. It's funny how you see something done a hundred times, but when it's your turn, you can't imagine how you can make it through without tripping and setting the church on fire. (A worry of hers, not mine.) She got up extra early this morning, found just the right ten-year-old outfit, and made sure we were all out the door 30 minutes early.... (Just in case.) Once there, she reviewed all the directions, asked all the questions, did a quick walk-through, then looked at me & said, "I got it, mom. You can go sit down. Don't forget to save me a seat!" (As if...?) Pastor made introductions, we shared the Peace, the music began and daughter caught my eye as she walked past me down the aisle. She bowed low. No tripping happened up the stairs. All candles were lit. No church was burned. She plunked herself down next to me a few minutes later, squeezed my hand, and breathlessly whispered, "That was fun!" In that little moment I noticed she's on this side of being a young lady, rather than that side of being a little kid. ♥

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Listening to military servicemen and women wishing their family stateside a Merry Christmas on the radio sometimes brings tears to my eyes.

Like the father reminding his kids to keep up with their spelling, math homework & school projects... he'd be home soon to sit at the kitchen table & help them... God Bless all our military personnel for EVERY sacrifice they make!!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Love this simple and free little project, though I know my kitchen counters {{don't}} need another little bit of clutter. Still, it is convenient in my busy house where I'm working on a little organization to make my life easier.

Daughter's number one {{favorite}} question, after plunking-bookbag-down-upon-arrival-home-from-school, is, "Hi Mom! What's for dinner tonight?"

Now you may think that a teensy bit odd, but possibly your mom never made Cheeseburger Meatloaf and mashed cauliflower and such for dinners.  To be sure, not every night is this exciting, but some are, and if you're 10, you like to know if you need a snack that's {{extra}} filling after school, and before dinner, or not. ;)

I downloaded then slipped this printable menu from theprojectgirl into a quickly recycled (and slightly nicked) frame which I discovered gathering dust, (with glass still intact), in my the attic. 

With slim dry erase markers I can create a week of menus; remind myself of what I need to pick up; and finally, record a week's worth of menus to use later when I'm thoughtfully pondering over a menu to feed my family sometime {{next}} month.



Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Grace to share aloud before the feast...
It is good to give thanks to the Lord. Psalm 92:1
The Pilgrim Fathers who landed in Plymouth in America in 1620 knew nothing of the bountiful prosperity that so many people enjoy today. During that first long winter, seven times as many graves were made for the dead as homes were built for the living.
Seed, imported from England, failed to grow, and a ship that was to bring food and relief, brought thirty-five more mouths to feed, but not an ounce more of provisions. They caught fish, hunted wild fowl, and venison. They had a little English meal and some Indian corn.
Yet their lives were marked by a spirit of constant thankfulness. On one occasion William Brewster, rising from a scanty Plymouth dinner of clams and water, gave thanks to God "for the abundance of the sea and the treasures hid in the sand."
According to today's standards, they had little; but they possessed a sense of great gratitude. Gratitude is one of the greatest Christian graces; ingratitude, one of the most vicious sins.
Today, we ask God to open our eyes to all the blessings He has bestowed on us, and to give us a fresh spirit of gratitude, not just at this season of the year, but always.
~Written by Billy Graham

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Random Edits

Here's another basketball photo I shot and edited from the Riverside game on Monday night. It captivated me with it's clarity and it's blur. Ask me to recreate it for another play at the next game, and I simply could not. Senior, Tucker Daniel is shown.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

After the Game

One of my favorite (and unexpected) photos came after last night's Home game.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing 1,000 Joys in 2013

Writing 1,000 Joys in 2012...

 #408 Four giddy 4th & 5th grade girls singing, "Gangnam Style," at the top of their lungs on the way home from a cold Monday night soccer practice.
#409 Lighting candles for everyday ordinary family dinners.
#410 Brushing & smoothing her beautiful brown hair into a ponytail, because "I like how you do it, mom." {{ouch, ouch!}}
#411 A messy bedroom means they have plenty.
#412 The ability to understand, fully feel, grow from, and then live with, the acceptance of that which I cannot possibly change.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2013

I woke with a prayer this morning... that there would be no ugly curses regardless of the outcome of our freedom to choose. That we would choose thankfulness over selfishness. That we would {{smile}} kindly at every American as we vote today and recognize that people the world over don't enjoy this freedom. Go vote today, but then, turn back and be thankful for every citizen's right to this freedom.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What To Line My Nest With...

Last night I was caught up in Pinterest, joyfully repinning an array of the most exquisite photos and ideas at the speed of light.  Gardening photos of pefectly pea-gravelled paths of lavender repinned on this board.  Deliciously decorated dracula cupcakes on that Holiday Nibbles & Sips board of mine.   Lit lanterns lining bookshelves? right over here on my Decorating 101 board.  I was immersed in thought, photo, and dreamlife.

I {heard} daughter's question, her repeated question, then her dramatic {{SIGH}} right next to me at my kitchen table. I know I hummed Hmmm? at least once, maybe twice as I scrolled along.  And then, instead of snapping laptop immediately shut, I {{sighed}} right back and I wondered hard: When is MY time? When is MY cup filled? When does MY work end?   I did shut laptop down to look at confusing "Area Model Example" on graph paper full of highlighted squares and stapled double-digit-decimal multiplication.  But I waited until after three more repins.  It made me feel like I was in control.  This morning I realized I was out of control last night. 

In a strange twist, this morning Ann Voscamp's blog answered a portion of my three questions kept in quiet thought last night.  Like an answer to a questioned prayer she typed what my ears and my heart needed to hear.

MY time is all the time. Enjoy. It. All. There's no Record/Replay button.  The moments that make me want to pull my hair out are the ones that weave understanding into my life.  The moments I want to wrap up in delicately stamped rice paper and tie off with bakery string for a moving memory also weave understanding into my life.  The understanding is, this is all there is. The good, the bad, the ugly.  All woven and wrapped up into my life.  Every day.  Every moment.  Till there are no more.

MY cup is filled when I understand I make a difference even in the tiniest moments of whomever's life I'm part of.  When I am inside every moment with them instead of drifting through time awaiting the next big moment.  When I feel strong-willed to do just what I want, but I give in to their need, it is more precious.  It's when my cup is full to over-flowing. It's full of meaningful memories not the ever draining selfish long forgotten moments.


MY work never ends. Those heartstrings are attached forever. Mothering is a full-time job.  I cannot hang the "Closed" sign up at 9 p.m. in a clean swept and neatly organized kitchen.  I don't get weekends or sick days off.  I am needed in a way that has to fill my cup even when it feels like it's being drained to driest bone.  In my home, the phrase, "I am mother, hear me roar," is more often, "I am mother, hear me snore."  Now they listen,  now they learn.  Then they'll leave one day.  And will my life's legacy leave with them?

When I finally learn that payment in the form of feeling like my cup is full comes in the schooling, carpooling, and even the occasional dueling with my children I'll be unfooling my heart to this chapter of my life.  The here.  The right now.  The "right-in-the-minute" moments when I'm at my best and I allow the ones around me to fill my cup.  Even when I'm at my worst and I breathe a silent prayer of sorrow and ask aloud for forgiveness. 
Learning daily to line this nest with my {{own}} plucked feathers.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink Soup"

Last night the foundation held firm but the roof swayed in the storm that struck my peaceful home. One child arrived home & began the tornado of an excruciating migraine, another a homework hail of helplessness, and the last one rained hard for a ride home from football at just the wrong moment.  Dinner approached, and my ailing teen would not be running up to the store for canned crushed tomatoes & a loaf of Italian bread. With my own newsletter edits lapping gently at my feet, I moved into "Automatic Mothermode." 

Dinner was not the favorite spaghetti I planned. Instead it was a quickly concocted soup. It turned out sippingly hot and filled my kitchen deliciously with the aroma of fall even though during its creation I was up and down the stairs heavy with worry. And dinner was created in spite of the fact that I was bent over the table answering questions or asking her to reread it to me "one more time..." while I rummaged in the pantry shelves or stared into the refrigerator.  And it happened regardless of a seven minute football pick-up which actually gave me a respite to breathe deeply and lift a quiet prayer for a lightning bolt of pain to be eased.

Through it all, I had the forethought, (or was it concern?), to scribble down ingredients in 'Mothermode Shorthand' as I chopped and tossed vegetables into the bubbling soup pot, {{almost}} without thought. A pinch of this and a little bit of that ended in second helpings for everyone, (though my quick concoctions might not always end so well), and I'm everso thankful for that preoccupied creativity in the midst of that sudden strong gale inside my home.

Early this morning I surveyed my wrecked kitchen and very appropriately named the savory soup, "Everything But The Kitchen Sink Soup," while elbow deep in soap suds clearing away the ravages of last night, encouraging some of the blue sky, calm waters, and gentle breeze to come rest again in my home.

 In a skillet, brown together:
1-1.5 lbs lean ground beef
1 large vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp Tony Chachere's seasoning salt
dash of pepper

In a soup pot stir and gently simmer:
6-8 cups water
15 oz can Campbell's Tomato soup
15 oz can pumpkin

Add the browned ground beef mixture, (if meat is lean, no need to drain), to the soup pot along with the following:
16 oz frozen Trader Joe's Mixed Corn/Peas/Carrots/Green beans
1-2 cups of elbow macaroni or rotini pasta
1/4 cup of chopped celery leaves
1/2 pkg sliced mushrooms
1 cup grape tomatoes

Simmer with lid on about 15-20 minutes.

Serves 6.  Top each bowl of soup off with a dollop of sour cream and grated cheddar. Serve with biscuits & honey butter.

PS:  The migraine pain peaked and eventually subsided.  The homework was explained, and done with a sigh of relief from both mother and daughter. My JV receiver was retrieved from high school and no home blew flat due to the pick up process.  And the weekly booster club email was later finished and sent on time.  All the while the gentle sound of David Nevue's piano played in my living room and kept me calm throughout. 

In the midst of the storm it's all about remembering. To breathe in. To breathe out. And occasionally knowing when it's time to knot the rope, hang on tight, make soup, and find a gift in each gale of our journey.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Let It Go Let It Go Let It Go

At a cold, windy, wet soccer tournament all day today. After the final game, the girls were off laughing & enjoying the last of their tournament time together, while the parents gathered away from them for a team meeting that turned somewhat critical. Although the girls lost, they were ok. But the parents were the exception. I held my tongue {{then}} over a stinging comment. {{Now}} all the witty "could've, would've, should'ves" are currently bombarding me, wasting my time. Letitgoletitgoletitgo.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Twenty One

*.. lovelovelovelovelove…*….*…lovelovelo.*
... ……..*….lovelovelovelovelovelo…*
Twenty-one years ago this evening I was the blushing bride...and he was my tall dark & handsome groom. I ♥ him even {{more}} twenty one years later... ♥ ♥ ♥

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Of Brackish Waters

Did you see my rambling post on paint yesterday? (Where I related the dark-brackish-water paint sample for my kitchen to my being a Scot? Specifically to my being a Scot whose last name actually means that I come from a region with dark waters. Douglas=Gaelic=Dubh-glas=dark waters.) See the sample on my wall? It's called Retreat. Our Douglas crest has the word "Forward" on it and I'm left with... Retreat? Last night I made a definitive decision. It's ok for a Douglas to go "Forward" with Retreat. I'm painting. ;)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25th Sunset

There's not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.
~quote by John Calvin, photo by me, green grass & purple sunset by God.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Grilled Onion Blossoms

A perfect companion for grilled steak. The sumptuous flavor will haunt you.


4 medium-large sweet onions

1 Tbsp. melted butter

1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Peel onions and cut almost through forming 8 wedges. Place onion on a square piece of heavy duty foil.
  • Combine butter, mustard, and Tabasco sauce. Drizzle mixture over onions. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bring up 2 opposite sides of foil and seal. Fold remaining ends to enclose each onion, leaving space for steam to build.
  • Arrange on medium-high grill, cover and grill 25 minutes or till onions are nearly tender. Make a 2-inch slit in top of each packet. Cover and grill 10 minutes more or till onions are lightly browned. Sprinkle with pepper. Serve in packet or remove. (Makes 4 servings)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Old Habits

Old habits die hard, and I'm left wondering if the death knell of those habits in life might keep time with my kitchen clock. The clock's steady ticking is a gentle heartbeat in my home. Discovered in a store's Going Out of Business Sale, now 20 years closed, the clock has been a constant in three kitchens I've called home. I've relished its accompaniment through nursings, naptimes, numerators and novels.  Usually I'm happy to hear it ticking the seconds gently away, but not this morning. This morning I need a lull, I need for time to stop. Instead of calming, it's tick, tick, ticking is chasing time away from me. 

Yesterday seemed an endless here, there, and everywhere.  It was an August afternoon of heart beating rapidly, head thumping constantly, heavy stress-in-the-chest feeling for a very last minute discovery.  We got everything done with just ticks of time leftover.  The printing out of Rules and Regulations. Tick...tick...tick.  Finding a notary named Allison located on the 3rd floor.  Tick...tick...tick.  The signatures.  Tick...tick...tick. Check written for a large sum.  Tick...tick...tick.  License and car registration carefully copied.  And that was just two hours of work done on the fly before the clock steadily ticked to announce carpool time.  And dinner time.  And homework time.  And tucking-in time.  Much later last night I shut lights off in the kitchen feeling relief, and there was the ticking of time suddenly swooshing gently by me in the dark.

Today this reliable ticking kept me company along with early sun slanting through summer morning windows. Curls of coffee steamed and evaporated in whisps while I planned this Tuesday in August.  Pondering the events of this day to be.  And slowly, caffeine and time made me aware that I would not be needed for one importantly starred entry written on my list.  It caught me by surprise to think that I hadn't thought it earlier.  Why had I almost missed it?  And then the words formed in my head, "Old habits die hard."  I'm a mother.  I'm a stander-in-lines.  I'm a signer-of-forms.  I'm a writer-of-checks.  I'm a listener-of-days.  But today is a teenager's Right of Passage. This first ever purchase of parking pass and off-campus lunch pass for high school.  I had written it down this morning in pencil and assumed, without even thinking, that I would drive him up and stand in line with him.  Much like I've done for the past 16 years of his lines to be waited in.

I erased and allowed pink rubber crumbs to remain where they lay.  And then that steady ticking stopped me, paused me hard.  Caused me to put the pencil down and stare up at the hour hand.  No, in two hours he could take the car and he could complete this Right of Passage without me.  I was welcome but no longer needed for his motherly Standing in Line duty which I've become adept at.  Yes, I could go with him... but this is a part of the letting go.  I know you're smiling.  You're smiling because this is no big thing you're thinking.  And you're perfectly right.  It is no big thing.  It's a small thing that coupled together with the numerous other small things for the rest of his life, allow me, no, teach me, how to gently let him go.

He did ask.  After breakfast and after checking through carefully clipped paperwork, he did ask if I was going, too.  My heart smiled at that thought, and yes, it raced faster than my ticking kitchen clock which was speeding time away from me.  "Say Yes!," and, "Go with him!" it cheered. No, I said out loud.  I smiled watching his face, "You take the car and go.  Everything's signed, all the paperwork is there.  Take the car and be careful on the s-curve."  He looked at me, tick...tick...tick, before he fingered car keys,  and clicked the door shut on his way out.  Tick...tick...tick.  I heard the garage door rumble up.  Tick...tick...tick.  I listened for the engine and the slow back out.  I glanced at a sliver of window as he carefully navigated the driveway all gleaming windshield easing out.  And then flash of trunk moving cautiously up the hill toward school.  And the gentle ticking continued to measure the time it takes for old habits to die hard.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I'm standing under fluorescent lighting in an aisle lined with cosmetics and I'm considering red.  Fired Up, Flame, Blaze and Shocked.  At home are tubes of Crimson Joy, Ultimate Wine, and Stay Currant.  My lipstain of choice has been a carefully considered shade of red since I colored my lips in one carefree day and understood the mood a shade of red could create on a woman's face.


As I've aged, my interest in my makeup drawer has been much reduced.  As a teen, I wore layers of foundation and blush, mascara and eyeliner, powder and concealer as I was allowed to begin wearing them.  Later, I added artistically applied eye shadows in a palette of Bobbi Browns. I was masking a face I felt unsure of, one whose imperfections and flaws I was fully aware of.  As if more coverage meant perfection I could hide under.  As if more layers of delicate mineral powder meant safety.  After college, as confidence grew, and as coverage felt fake, I felt hidden.  That's when red did a slow dance around me and became a curiosity.  The rest of the powders, blushes, and glosses fell away as the years rolled by.  I could do without them.  But just reading about a perfect red lipstick in a magazine would have me clamoring to scribble it's name on a scrap of paper. These days it's not scraps of paper, but texts I send myself.  A shade that just looks inviting from the counter?  I purchase it. On a model in a magazine, I research it. I'm addicted to red.  But red has repercussions.

Today I put the shade back to reconsider for a moment.  Just a few days ago I was in Bunky's Carwash.  Our car had just been to ASP and back. That vehicle was full of joy, sweat and tears for a week, but now smelled more of sweat than joy.  While waiting for cars to be detailed, a trio of women from another local church struck up a conversation about their Appalachian Service Project trips and my husband joined in.  He shared about the roofing and decking in Tennessee he and our middle son had just returned from.  They talked about the work, about the lack of luxuries, about the hardships, about how it changed them each year.  They exchanged ASP work stories and struggles.  Then one woman turned to me and told me firmly that "I" could do it.  That, if she could do it, then I could certainly make it through.  I was stunned into silence.  I looked at her for just a moment, wondering why she believed I wouldn't or couldn't do hard work?

I know a thing or two about hard work.  I'm a gardener, a mom of boys, a barefoot girl, a rider of horses.  I get d-i-r-t-y and I don't mind it.  I get dusty, muddy, sweaty, tanned brown.  I'm regularly pierced by thorns and and have sweat rolling down my brow.  I'm handy with a shovel, a pruner, a wheelbarrow.  I stand on the topmost rung of the metal ladder to trim my arbor of Don Juan roses.  I'm a lawn mower.  I'm a electric driller of Halloween pumpkins. An electric hedge trimmer?  I can wield it.  Work boots and heavy gloves?  I own them. Mucking horse stalls?  Hand me a pitchfork. Snakes, lizards, slugs or mice?  No shriek you'll hear from me.  And yet, this woman who knows me not, is under the impression that perhaps I cannot do without easy life.  Cannot do hard work.  Might shrink from unavailable luxuries.

Is it my red lipstick?  I'm aware that my lips are stained a shade like a roaring fire engine with bells whistling.  That this morning I had smoothed on spf 90 instead of foundation and combed dark mascara through blonde lashes and applied Lady Bug across lips.  I'm wearing a man's plain white medium t-shirt and khaki shorts with rubber flip flops, silver hoops and a messy ponytail. There is no silky fluttering top or short skirt and heels, no glittering rings. I grow certain that red is what has led her to believe that hard work and a lack of luxuries might be too difficult for me.  Might be the reason I'd stay home from hard work.  That red lipstick might state a sign of luxury.  A sign of soft hands and cool heart.  You might tell me she meant nothing by her comment.  But a woman knows.  She knows when another thinks she might not be up for hard work and peanut butter sandwiches and the trickle down hose of a cold water shower.  Looking down at my plain neatly trimmed nails, I did what I did not wish to do.  I kept my mouth shut.  And I chewed on my red lip so that no word slipped out in my defense.

Later in the privacy of our detailed car, I asked husband what about me made that woman think hard or dirty work wouldn't be something I might choose?  He knows I'm a digger of holes.  A holder of snakes.  A wader of swamps in tall black rubber boots.  A woman with her own tool belt.  A hauler of Pennsylvania River Jacks.  A keeper of old tennies, for the just-in-case DIY project.  That man loves me.  He loves Tomato Red.  He also knows not to touch that question.  His answer is a knowing smile.  I asked if it was my blazing lipstick.  Of course, he smiled more out loud at that.  It began an old question that I've wondered for several years of my life and asked him about for just as many.  It's the Judging a Book by it's Cover question.  I know I've surprised new coworkers, new neighbors. new friends.  They usually suggest it later on....the "I never guessed you'd be like who you are."  Meaning, unpretentious?  Meaning easy-going?  Meaning relaxed, casual, down-to-earth?

Maybe deep down, I came to love red lipstick because it I found it gave me a twist.  That Don't Judge Me quality.  I'm still at the store considering.  I hesitantly put Summer Sunset in my cart. 
I gave red up for a few months to try on a more natural look.  Like, maybe a mom of teenage boys doesn't wear Cherry to grab some groceries.  Maybe a 44 year old doesn't mow a lawn or ride a bike in Revolution.  Maybe Italian Rose is just for movie dates and a glass of wine al fresco at Enrigo's.  But I missed red.  Someday when it's my turn for ASP, I may wear Revival or Are You Red-dy. Or I may go lip balm natural.  Either way, I hope I won't be judged by red.

Lookout World!

Lookout world... He's licensed & ready to roll! ♥

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Inspired by Awe

It's true. I'm inspired by the awe I feel when I capture an exquisite photo of the tiniest of winged or webbed life.  I'll make a breathless run for my Nikon, hoping against hope that this tiny creature will remain where I discovered it. And I return, angling my lens this way and that, always knowing that there is a better shot with just another twist or turn of the camera or my body. 

I reset my fstop for a larger aperture, perhaps f3.8 will give me the clear focus and the bokeh background I desire for the tiny six-legged creature I've discovered clinging to my window.  While I fiddle for perfection, my subject may alight for another flower, another twig, another leaf, another yard.  Even after I've discovered this minisculest of creatures, it's only after I see the photo I've caught, that I'm truly able to glimpse the extraordinary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (Photo by SDouglasBuser)

Lately I've stopped more often to wonder on the minutiae of these delicate translucent, winged, antennaed, or webbed creatures.  Perhaps after finishing Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is when I first began to see them everywhere, when I'm really open to seeing them.  Really seeing them.  And, to be sure, they are everywhere, in overabundance.  In the aforementioned book, I read that these too-many-leggedy creatures can eat up to 80 lbs of other-many-leggedy-creatures in a year.  I'm no entomologist and that fact does not excite me.  It leaves goosebumps if I think too hard on it.  Critters with too many legs send a shiver down my spine: Even walking through a gosssamer web will send me into a spinning dance. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (Photo by SDouglasBuser)

I'm only a little ashamed to admit I admire them enough to photograph them.  A little green tree frog's heaving belly or a skink's fiery blue tail as it clings to brick.  The peaceful anole who's managed to escape my prowling cat.  The praying mantis' swiveling head and beady eyes and prayerful legs.  The lady bug's dotted shell, the frightening agriope's well-pregnant abdomen on her zippered web. A privet hawk moth clinging to my finger after I saved it from the sidewalk.

So large or tiny in perspective, and usually such a brief, albeit exciting, or terrifying life.  I'm in awe over them.  Regardless of what you and I think, they are really living.  Really living.  There is no concern for outward appearances.  For how messy their home is.  Or isn't.  There is no comparison of self to bug or salamander or toad next door.  (Unless bug next door happens to look like such a tasty morsel?)  There is no lingering on love lost or love that might've been.  (Is there?)  There is no sadness over new chapters. Life just is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (Photo by SDouglasBuser)

Do they worry for tomorrow?  Is there unadulterated joy?  Exhausting tiredness?  Do some meals taste more exquisite than others?  Is there sorrow, hatred, or love?  Does time seem to tick away to quickly for them?  Are there moments of adoration or worshipful awe?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (Photo by SDouglasBuser)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (Photo by SDouglasBuser)

I don't collect insect or reptile photos.  I don't post them on social sites to surprise anyone.  I photograph them or share them because of the awe filled thoughts that form while I'm circling my tiniest subjects for their best shot, prayerful that they'll hang around... just for one more second till I clinch that photo.  There is also the interest they show towards me. It's a slow dance between the both of us. Wary of each other, yet a degree of fascination.  I find them as challenging or interesting or lovely as any subject. And perhaps they feel the same about me?  I'll never know. Still, I'm amazed by them.  And thankful I see them in this light.

                                                                                                                                                                                         (Photo by SDouglasBuser)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (Photo by SDouglasBuser)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (Photo by SDouglasBuser)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Photo by SDouglasBuser)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (Photo by SDouglasBuser)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

8th Grade's Last Day

It's the very last morning of May and of 8th grade for my Smaller Tall One.  It's crisply cool outside. The sun is brilliant with not a wispy cloud in sight.  Incredibly, it will be over 90 degrees by 3:20, the time his last ever middle school bus driver, Miss Sandy, will drop him off on her Route 13 run.  By then he will be finished with Ms. Panagi's, Ms. Crafton's, Ms. Hyde's, Mr. Brooslin's, Mr. West's, Ms. Watkins' classes.  Finished with middle school pods forever, with lining up quietly and no talking in the hallways.  Finished with Wildcat sports, with middle school dances in the gym, with flag duty, speaking the morning announcements.  Finished with nine years of tracking in and out: nine weeks in, three (or four) weeks off all year long.  Finished.  Forever.

I am over the moon for him, even though that small knot I swallow over is growing in the back of my throat, telling me there is sadness lurking somewhere just around the corner for me.  It's that Finished word and that Forever word.  Those words slinking up on me.  Today, forever means never again. Finished means it can't be redone, relived, rewound, there can be no regrets.  I have no regrets and I know he has none either.  I know he finished it all as he wanted, the first time.  So there is no turning back, no wistful thinking on his part.  But I'm not ready for this chapter ending, this Forever. I am wistful with this Finished word, with this Finished feeling. I am ready to turn back the pages of this book.  Just for now.

Then I'm pulling myself back into the moment.  I am fully here to experience these last 8th grade moments.  There is laughter and silly banter as I try coaxing him into wearing an over-the-top preppy outfit for these last few hours of middle school.  He is on the edge of considering but chooses not to.  He is making his last 8th grade lunch with roast beef and swiss cheese, he is finishing his last 8th grade worksheet, ("I forgot about it last night, Mom!"), he is tossing 8th grade photocopied sheets once tucked carefully into plastic sleeves away, he is packing up his last middle school backpack. He is slipping socked feet into athletic shoes and he is smiling as he walks out the door to meet Dan and Carson and Jake for the last middle school morning walk up Grantwood Drive for his last day of middle school. And there's that Forever word again, still waiting for me.

I am sipping my coffee and watching with a smile as they disappear out of sight behind full oak trees and Carolina blue sky.  That's when the lump in my throat overcomes my smile.  I feel tears welling up and I blink them away.  I am so proud!  Why do the tears come?  He has held all together these past three years.  There have been no Detentions, no Time Outs, no ISS notes. No failing grades, no phone calls home about trouble or angry fights.  There have been no high-jinx gone awry. 

Instead there have been genuine compliments and Junior Honor Society, Wildcat football and track.  There are close friends with comparable values, and it is all his doing. It is all his personality, his honesty, his strengths (and weaknesses), his daily choices to follow truth, that have brought him this far in middle school.

Oh, he is not perfect.  He is not more amazing than other young men his age.  But he is mine and I am proud.  Yes, his bedroom is a tangle of towels and wrinkled clothing (Clean? Dirty?) and books and shoes and Nike socks.  His desk is hard to find under piles of this and that important teenage stuff.  His nest of duvet and sheets and pillows are a crowning knot in the middle of his bed.  He can be a couch potato with that remote in hand.  He can be snarly with sister and older brother and Mom and Dad.  I would never suggest that this day means more than any other 8th grader's last day of middle school.

Today, he will become a young man in my mind's eye.  He was yesterday, and the day before, too, but this Last Day mark, this Ending Of, this Closing Chapter, this whispers Change to me.  So the tears fall gently.  I feel them spilling over and allow them to roll down.  It will not last, this feeling.  Tomorrow there will be joy at the End of Year ceremony.  So I allow the sad to wash over me for this moment.  To feel it fully, to embrace the welling up, to experience the throat knotting into a lump of sorrow for this day's Finished and Forever.

I am proud and the love that rolls down my face in the form of tears will not last.  It will be soon replaced, with smiles and eagerness, for what-is-yet-to-come, and yearning for what he will accomplish in the next four years.  So my heart whispers goodbye to this 8th grade year and my brain reminds me it is the Best Ever ending for this chapter. Finished Forever with his Best.  With his best Ever!  And that brings me a smile.