Friday, August 3, 2012

Here--Five Minute Friday @thegypsymama

Here where the pine trees begin at the edge of the yard, I see green and I sigh. The birds tweet and the dog sniffs beside me. I am content in this place. The sky is blissfully blue above my head and I cannot see a cloud. I wonder.

Here is the place of my heart. It beats with the rythm of the three people who live here, the dogs (both former and current), the echos of the past that are around me. I feel it comfort me with a quiet that I long for when I am away.

Here I know that I am loved. I know that I am accepted. I know that whatever happens will be okay. Arms surround me in comfort for all that is past and yet the future is there, too. They speak my language.

Here are memories of a distant time with pieces of them sitting on shelves and in cupboards. I long for the realness of them. But they are glass and china and pretend. And yet, by seeing these glimpses of them, I know that they are Here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

My dad

I have a distinct memory of flying on his legs while he balanced me in the air, only to crash me down into the couch. I remember him tickling me as a little kid until I cried and yelled 'uncle.' I can still see him grilling on our charcoal (!), round, red grill in the backyard all summer long. He loves to read and I do, too. He taught me that a personal note signed onto the bottom of a business letter, makes a statement. I learned how to mow the lawn from him--with a pushmower. He does not have a mind for technical things and is numbers challenged. Oh, do we have that in common! He cried with me when I didn't get cheerleading captain. We have the same sense of humor, always a little wry and a lot witty. I am tall like he is and look like his side of the family. I can sing and he...can't. :-) He loves Christmas music all year round.

My dad.

And now the colon cancer that he was diagnosed with last summer...the one in which he had surgery to remove it from his colon...has moved to his liver. No full details yet, but he had a PET scan that confirmed that the lesions were cancer. There is an appointment next week that I will call in to from Orlando. The doctor has already mentioned surgery to remove the lesions from the liver as it will rebuild itself and you can live without part of it. It seems he may be a candidate for that type of surgery and we are praying that he is. After some research online, it seems that there is good success rate and a high rate of life longevity if the lesions are not too large and can be removed. His doctor seemed very much in attack mode on the phone with him and has a goal of getting him cancer free.

This is hard. I have hardly mentioned it to my friends, only a few colleagues at work that needed to know. So I post it here to sort of let it out gently. I don't want to be the person that everyone says, "Can you believe all that has happened in their family? Sad, sad." Who wants that label? I recalled a conversation today that I had with a friend years ago. One of my coworkers son's was dying from leukemia. I said to her, "It could be any one of us." Four months later, my husband's dad was diagnosed with cancer and died that many months later. So, suffering and pain, are you here to stay? I don't want to watch my dad go through this. We still need him here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Project Filled Weekend

I took a step in the right direction on the office makeover this weekend. Dan and I went to Lowe's and I grabbed several paint samples. We also had a great walk-thru on ordering blinds for our large window in that room. We took a book home to see how the samples look. I am leaning towards the natural wood type in a roman loop shade. These are not wood slats, some options look like sticks all pulled together. Earlier in the week, I had also checked out a book of samples from Costco, but their selection is quite slim.

Upon bringing the samples home and holding them all up on the wall, there are a few we like. One thing I had not really paid attention to before was that the black desk with cherry-like counter, also has reddish brown paint on the black sections. This makes it look weathered, but it can look really terrible with certain paint colors. In fact, it eliminated quite a few! So, my options are centered on warmer colors: pond, bungalow blue, cafe ole, corkboard and sprig. Don't you love color names? These colors are all from the Eddie Bauer collection at Lowe's and I do love me some Eddie Bauer.

A few of those colors are definitely on the bottom of the pile. I am not sure that I want to be wrapped in the corkboard color during the darkest months of the year. Also the sprig is extremely turquoise and as pretty as it is on a 2x2 square, I don't believe it will work for our four walls. This week, I will venture to good ole Home Depot to see what they have.

Today we ventured to Sandy Bottom Berries in Greenville to pick some blueberries and raspberries. After a few hours of hard work from Dan and I (and very little work from a certain 12 year old), I have now frozen 43 cups of blueberries and probably around 15 or 20 cups of raspberries. YUM. I plan to use them in the smoothies that I have most every day for breakfast and also will attempt to make some pies. Of course, blueberry buckle is on the horizon, as well as pancakes and blueberry pound cake.

It is so fun to pick blueberries. If you haven't tried it, I urge you to try. They are so pretty! Both of my buckets were filled up from two bushes plus one to top them off--that's how full they were. With a couple hours of work, you can get fresh berries from local farmers and that is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A little stab at fiction--what is happening here?

He stood up hesitantly, yet knowing instantly that she had been wanting to do so, too. The swing music had made him tap his feet and smile broadly. But dancing now at 80? He didn't know if he remembered the steps. He didn't know if she would remember them either. The concert had progressed along, and he was overcome with emotion at times. He had caught the expression on her face, though--that dreamy look he could see in his dreams that only came when she heard music. A look that he didn't really understand, yet he knew it came when she was blissfully happy. That was always enough to make him feel the same.

That first song had taken him back to the minute he laid eyes on her. It was at The Cotton Club in Harlem. He had gone to the club that evening decked out in his uniform and like all young officers of the day, was ready to meet a girl. She had gone out for the evening with a group of lady friends as a birthday celebration. Those first notes had exploded and jived. The room was electric. As he glanced in wonder around the room, he caught the expression on her face. A dreamy, blissfully happy look that made her the most beautiful woman in the room. And at that moment, the room began to dance.

Amidst the smoke and the arms pumping and the crowd hopping and the drum beating, he lost her. But then, there she was. She smiled at him as he moved in front of her and they grabbed hands. She was alive with the dance and looked him straight in the eyes. They spun and kicked and clapped and whirled. There was no one else in the room, but the two of them. He silently thanked his mom for the dance lessons, grateful that he wasn't making a fool of himself.

That moment was etched in his mind in detail all these years later. He could remember the smells and the sounds. He saw the boys laughing and glancing his way. He felt the music pulsate as he sat in his chair and it was as if Cab Calloway himself had risen from the dead to play for them. And then he remembered her--the dress she wore, her hair pinned up, her long legs. And here she was...married to him now.

She stood up next to him as the last song began playing. He turned to her and asked, "May I have this dance?" She answered as she had done that night, "Yes, darling, you may. Forever."

*Written after Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert as I reflected on the evening. The couples in their 80s taking in the music of their teenage years now re-mixed for a new generation. Former soldiers and debutantes, now wrinkled and white-haired. During the very last song, a couple of this age, jumped up and started doing the jive. Everyone around them turned to watch. They looked each other straight in the eye and clapped and kicked. You knew it had been years since they had done this dance, but the look on her face as she smiled up at him was breathtaking. You knew it would be a night they wouldn't forget.

I don't think I will soon forget them and their love.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sweet boy

I could hear you hop and slide down the stairs before I saw you. It was 11:00 pm and you had been in bed awhile, supposedly sleeping. You slipped into the room where I was working on work, the laptop in my lap and Tyson at my side. "Hi, mom. Whatcha doing?" you spoke as you quietly settled onto the floor in front of the dog with your old comforter wrapped tightly around you, your bare feet sticking out of the bottom.

After a few minutes of questioning, I realized you weren't sleepy and weren't ready to head back upstairs yet. I let you chit chat while I shut down the computer, listening to you analyze Tyson's feet, give him some sweet talk and wonder about the bumps under his skin. The conversation wasn't much back and forth, you only needed to be talking out loud it seemed to avoid the restlessness that had driven you out of bed. As I shut down the computer, I listened to your voice--deeper today than yesterday. I noticed your legs and how short the camouflage pj bottoms were getting on your legs. I saw your face--your blue eyes not hidden behind your glasses at this late hour and the almost shy way you looked at me while you talked.

You smelled the banana bread that I had made earlier that was cooling in the kitchen and you asked for a piece. We went to cut a slice and you jumped up on the stool, your face and shoulders framed by the light overhead. The rest of the room was dark and we smiled at each other over the lovely warmth of the bread.

As I said goodnight to you later by your bed, I laughed at how you had wrapped yourself in the comforter like a burrito all tight and warm. It didn't seem like that many days ago when you were a preemie baby, wrapped tight in a much smaller baby blanket burrito with your blue eyes peeking out at me over the edge. Now you have an alarm clock by your bed and don't sleep with stuffed animals. You still let me hug and kiss you, but I wonder how long it will be before that becomes uncool. So last night, I hugged you a few seconds longer.

Thinking on it later, I realized that I was watching a boy become a man. That your simple joy in being with me will change as you grow older. That the specialness of a mom and her boy sitting together is something to grab onto with both hands.

My heart is full thinking of us.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Making my list and checking it twice

...And here I am now smack dab in the middle of summer. Many that read this blog in the past are probably long gone by now. But that is okay. If you still have me in your feeder and have not given up on me, you must be a true friend. Or stupidly curious about my life. Or you are married to me and have not deleted it from your phone.

Six months goes by in a flash, doesn't it? I have been in a fog from months of stressful overload on several projects at work. Even short trips seemed to wear me out. My personal life had been in a funk since January. And then, as the sun melts the snow, I woke up on Sunday with plans. There are projects to be completed. Life should be lived and not slodged through. You know that line in the old song--I can see clearly now the rain is gone? I really understand those words this week.

Last summer, one of my friends made a list of the projects that she wanted to complete in a month and then proceeded to work through them on the blog. I laughed at her organized spirit, because it seemed a dream that she could do it. But she did. And I was envious of the way she tackled it all with seemingly little effort. Okay, I know it took effort, but she was so dedicated to The List and made it a fun time for herself. How about I do the same thing?


1. Photos: As I have stated before, my right brain does not have the energy to deal with digital photos. And so my lazy self has accumulated three-four years of photos that only exist on a separate hard drive. It frightens me since our computer has taken to fits of virus chomping fever lately. So I have begun a Process. Over the last few weeks, I have been naming files as they should have been named in the first place. That's done. Yay me. Now I am doing light photoshop work on the files and deleting stupid photos that need not take up hard drive space. I have actually made progress on about half of the files. Once completed, I will burn photos onto discs as if it is what all the cool kids are doing. Sounds like so much fun. And my final step is to upload to Costco so that they exist in another environment besides my home.

It sort of feels obsessive but I have heard too many horror stories. I love photography too much to lose the work that I have done and the memories preserved. It is fun to discover all sorts of photos that I have loved and not printed. I am marking things to print and to enlarge for the next project...

2. The Office. Yes, it is a funny show, but I am talking about my home office. Last year, in Dan's "maybe I can work at home" arrangement with his temporary position, we purchased a great new desk/credenza set for this room. Isn't credenza a great word? We also have an old plaid couch that Tyson uses as his personal lounge chair and an antique mahogany bookshelf with claw legs. The curtains are an ugly brown purchased when we bought our house over 8 years ago when I thought brown curtains were great. The light fixture is also ugly. What was I thinking when I chose it?

Goals include:
*buy new fabric blinds for the windows w/room darkening lining (room is hottest room in the house because of afternoon sun)
*move out the loveseat--Tyson has another couch he can use
*hire someone to refinish an antique recliner that was Dan's grandma's chair, including re-doing seat cushions, to replace the loveseat
*buy a floor lamp and footstool to go next to recliner
*choose my own photos to enlarge/frame/hang
*buy new overhead light fixture
*paint room

Rather than overdo the project list, I think I should keep it at this. Nothing like opening the door to failure before I begin if I add more! This will be fun. I love the sense of accomplishment of checking things off. I will update on the progress as I go along.

Glad to be back.

Monday, January 11, 2010

There's a theme here and I don't like it

Loss. Truly not my choice as 'word of the year' for 2009, but it is how the year began and how it ended. On December 22, my mom passed away after a 2.5 year battle with stage IV breast cancer. She is not suffering anymore and for that I am glad. I am, of course, still feeling my way through the effects of this loss on my life. And I am positive that I will still be working my way through it years from now.

We found out over the weekend that Jeff, a colleague from Baker Academic passed away as the result of a car accident last week. So eerily similar in time frame (January) and accident (head injury) to my friend Ann's accident 12 months ago. And with the same results. Death.

There are many times when I get angry over all these events and other losses I have had over the years. And even losses that my friends have had. Many, many over the past few years--it seems unnatural.

And yes, we feel release when someone is relieved of their suffering, as in these three particular cases. No one wants to live a life hooked up to machines and not able to communicate, to love, to laugh. But still, a young dad? Why did that eighteen year old kid have to cross the center of that icy road on that particular day at that particular time? Why a grandma that barely got to see her last grandchild grow to be a year old? Why did a doctor keep quiet for five years and not schedule a mammogram for this woman when she was of the age to get one every year? How can someone hide what they know is killing them because they are afraid of a diagnosis? Why did an icy road and fender bender cause the chain reaction that led to a truck hitting a mom as she stood outside of her car? Her kids are both autistic, and IS THAT FAIR?

I don't have any answers.
I cannot answer these questions this side of heaven.
I cannot answer them on a good day. Or with any verses from the Bible. Or any special word from God. Or with any miraculous sign written on a wall.

And it makes me mad.

Really mad. And overwhelmingly sad.

But I can do one thing.
I can find hope in the power of Christ's resurrection.
I can find peace in knowing that my friend Ann is in heaven.
My mom is in heaven.
My father-in-law is in heaven.
Jeff is in heaven.
They are whole and healed. Every single one of them.

And for today, it will have to be enough. Because it's all I've got.