Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Week of the Unexpected

It's the beginning of the holiest week of the Christian faith. 

It's a King riding on a lowly donkey.

It's praising that turns to scoffing.

It's friends gathered to friends scattered.

It's quiet love looking into the red faces of hate.

It's grace offered to the ungracious.

It's betrayal by a chosen friend.

It's wishing to return once coveted money.

It's sleeping while sweat falls like drops of blood nearby.

It's unrest swirling around the Prince of Peace.       

It's freeing a murderer and murdering innocence.   

It's faithful devotion in good times and repeated denial when life is at stake.

It's heavenly power mocked by earthly power. 

It's silent restraint in the midst of loud humiliation.

It's the King of Kings wearing thorns instead of gold. 

It's everlasting authority being challenged by temporary thrones.

It's a mother's heart being broken and saved at the same time. 

It's the purest given for the putrid.

It's the Creator killed by His own creations.

It's asking for forgiveness instead of revenge. 

It's dying while possessing all the power to escape.

It's the innocent taking punishment for the guilty.

It's paying a debt you didn't incur. 

It's submission in a world of self-interest.

It's a sun that refuses to give off light.

It's immortal willingly becoming mortal. 

It's prophesy fulfilled and yet unrecognizable to those who claim to know.

It's a guarded, empty grave.

It's good news in a time of mourning. 

It's hope in days of trouble and glory in the face of death.

It's gain that comes from loss.

It's a free gift that cost so much.  

It's a denier being restored by the Denied.

It's despairing sorrow bringing everlasting joy.

It's living in a world without being of it.

It's sometimes being hated for loving Him. 

It's a call to take hope to the hopeless.

It's the story of salvation. 

It's a week that leaves us all with choices to make.





Thursday, March 26, 2015

A String of Pertinent Topics

Well, it's official.  Blair has informed me that she has purchased her Easter dress.  Everyone can now exhale.  I know this is something that's been weighing heavy upon all of your minds.

I start to look for Easter clothes for everyone else, once the color scheme has been set by Blair.  Being the fashion pinnacle of our family, we take our cues from her.  We're kind of like her prom date.  We wait for her to choose her dress and then try our best to coordinate.  Not that we're all matchy-matchy, but we do strive to not show up on Easter morning looking like the flag of Italy or a bowl of Peanut M&M's.        

So, this year's color.......(drum roll, please)........yellow.  This was phoned in from our fashion headquarters just this week. 

Never mind that my skin fades to the color of a marshmallow when I wear yellow.  It's not really on my fashion color wheel, so I'm going to look for a color that lives near yellow on the wheel....perhaps a next door neighbor of yellow. 

I've looked around and found a couple of things that might work.  I took them into the dressing room and you know how you do.  I wanted to take off as few clothes as possible, so I only removed the clothing from the waist up and then slipped the dress over my head.  To get a more accurate picture, I dropped my pants down around my ankles and stepped back to admire myself in the full length mirror.  Oh......what a lovely vision, I was!  A dress in a lovely sea foam shade of green, with ten tags sticking up into my neck, a bag of extra buttons hanging from my armpit, a security sensor, my hair going in many directions, black linen pants puddled around my ankles at the bottom of legs the color of an Easter lily.....all accentuated by flattering, blue fluorescent, commercial lighting.  "Oh, yes", I said to myself...."this is, indeed, the look I was going for to celebrate the resurrection".        

Carson had an allergy appointment out of town today , so we made a day of it.  And for any of our school officials, who may be reading.....when I say "we made a day of it", what I really meant to say was that his appointment lasted for 7 hours!  Anyway, anytime you make a day of something with a boy, it will always involve food and usually from a place that you don't have back where you live.  In today's case, it was Mellow Mushroom. 

After we committed gluttonous sins there, we went shopping for some new spring clothes for him......shoes, t-shirts, shorts.  He wanted a suit for Easter and so we found a khaki suit that fit nicely and, of course, a yellow tie in keeping with our assigned theme.  We had a good time together on our mother/son food fest/shopping boondoggle.

It's funny how different son time and daughter time can be.  After the second clothing store stop, Carson was like......"Ok, I have enough clothes now.  Let's don't go anywhere else".  Those words would never, I repeat, ever fall out of Blair's mouth.  She will shop as long as you're willing or until she loses consciousness, whichever comes first.

And then there's the difference in conversation topics with daughters and sons.  With daughters you might talk about boys, parties, friends, outfits, family, grades, dances, plans, problems, makeup, school, family, or the future.  Boys.....well, they're a little more basic.  Their repertoire is more like.....food, sports, sports equipment, Xbox, food.  And today, Carson broached another subject that I'd never talked about with Blair before.  The topic was.........smells we like.  Now, that's just something that doesn't come up much between women and it's a shame, really.  It's a fine topic, which stimulates a lot of discussion.  If we hadn't spent the day together, I might never have known that he likes the smell of burning matches, a fresh can of tennis balls, and gasoline.  I don't guess I should be worried about that combination.  I threw in freshly cut grass, hamburgers on a charcoal grill, new cars, and Christmas trees.  So, yeah....we, thoroughly, enjoyed that discussion. 

We got home and took Sugar walking because, well, she's taken on the shape of a bowling ball over the course of the winter.  She can tend to teeter on the edge of being antisocial, so I always like watching her interact with the other dogs in the neighborhood when we walk.  Today, I made some observations and would like to share just a few of the things that dogs do that I'm glad, we, humans, don't do......

*  I'm glad we don't relieve ourselves on our friends' shrubs to let them know we stopped by while they were gone.  A note saying, "Sorry I missed you" is so much classier.
            
*  I'm glad that men don't lie out in the grass, scratching and licking themselves.

*  I'm glad we don't run to the edge of our yards when our friends walk down the street and yell at them and show them our teeth.... only to have them turn around and yell back and show us their teeth.
   
*  I'm glad it's not customary that we smell our neighbors every time we see them and then they smell us back and then we all go smell everyone's mailboxes together.  Frankly, I just don't have time for all that and it does have the potential to get awkward.
      
*  I'm glad I don't have to use my foot to scratch my ears or scoot across the grass to scratch my backside.  I don't think there's any way to elaborate on that. 

* I'm glad we, women, don't have to recoup from birthing 7 children in one day in the garage on a pillow and a couple of old beach towels.

*  I'm glad that we don't dig holes to bury our chocolate, but utilize the more advanced system of hiding it in our closet, in the boot box at the very back of the bottom shelf, stuffed way down inside the right boot....not the left.

*  I'm glad that my people don't throw things and expect me to run and pick them up.  Oh, wait...never mind.

*  I'm glad that I don't have to use my tail to express my emotions.

 *  I'm glad I can control my drool, most days.  
      

Well, I guess that's about all I have to say about that. 

And since we're not even trying to pretend, at this point, that this post holds any merit.....I have one more thing.  If you and Sweetos haven't been introduced, let me do the honor.  Buttery, cinnamon toast in a bag.  Get some.  You will proclaim me as your new best friend on Monday.     
Well, thank goodness, it's Friday since, alas, we seemed to have reached the bottom of our subject barrel for this week. 

Hope y'all have a restful (and cinnamon-y) weekend with your families! 

        










   

   

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Daddy and His Little Girl

Daddies love their little girls. 
His sons might even say he plays favorites.
He may go a little lighter on her, yeah.
But, she has pigtails and his brown eyes and the way she says "Daddy"....well, what do they expect?
He builds doll beds and tree houses and a desk for her homework. 
He oils her tricycle wheels and raises her seat as she grows.
There's not much he wouldn't do for her if she asks him just right.
She rides on his shoulders and puts her hands under his chin to hang on and rubs his rough whiskers.  
He teaches her to ride her pink bike and hangs a swing for her in the biggest tree.
She knows it's safe because he put it there. 
His big arms carry her when she's tired.  They scoop her up when she falls asleep.
His shoulders are broad and his frame is intimidating, but he's as gentle as a lamb when he holds her.
She doesn't remember a time when he was scared.
She can't recall seeing him cry. 
It's almost like nothing has ever been bigger than him. 
If he's around, she isn't afraid of anything.
And, of all the things that are under his care, he may, very well, be most protective of her.
He's given her a strong start.....as strong as any little girl could hope for. 
He's a rock in her life that she can always depend on. 
He's there whenever she needs him.
He's as sure as the rising sun.
He teaches her how to drive a stick shift, change a tire, shoot a gun, and start a lawn mower.
One day, she may need to know those things and he may not be around.
In her eyes, he's invincible. 
He's the strongest man she knows.  
He's the picture she sees in her mind when she thinks of strength.
He teaches her about Jesus and takes her to church.
He knows it's the most important thing he can do for his little girl.
He knows God will hold him accountable for how he leads her.  
She watches how he prays and sees that he's honest in all things.
She sees him reading his Bible and he takes every chance to teach her lessons from it.
She sees how hard he works.
How he rarely gets time for himself. 
Taking care of his family consumes most of his days and, sometimes, into the night.
She's proud when someone asks who her Daddy is. 
She holds her head up and says his name with confidence.
She always seems to get the same reaction and she likes that.
Even as a young girl, she notices the respect he receives.
She can tell he's good at what he does by the way people talk.   
She calls him for good advice and knows he'll always have her best interest in his answers.
He knows that she values his opinion and so he chooses his words carefully.
He could've probably had 3 or 4 sons for the same price as one of her.
He has no idea how expensive dresses can be.....until her proms and dances.
He doesn't seem to mind.
He can be intimidating to boys who come snooping around.
But, he's the gatekeeper and takes his job quite seriously. 
He was the first man in her life.
The first one to ever fall in love with her.
He wants to give his responsibility over to someone who will love her as much as he does. 
And when it's time to give her away, he knows he's taught her well and can trust her choices.
Being her caretaker isn't something he's excited to relinquish, but he steps aside and let's life take its course.
He'll still help her any way he can and will be happy to do so until the day he draws his last breath. 
And when his baby has a baby, he's the proudest man around. 
He's always had a soft spot for babies. 
They are cradled in his big, burly arms. 
He loves the way they smell after a bath and kisses the tops of their heads.
It's his favorite spot to steal some sugar. 
It reminds him of when she was little.
Even though she's grown, he still recalls the way she'd use the palms of her hands to brush the long hair out of her eyes after a nap. 
That's still what he sees when he looks at her. 
He's carried that image in his heart for all these years.
He is her earthly example of the love of God, her heavenly Father.
He's given her a beautiful illustration of His care.
With his nurturing, patience, and provision.
By his forgiveness, attention, and encouragement.
Through his protection, discipline, and instruction.  
He delights in her just like God does.
She never knew absence could be felt so deep down in the soul until the day he left her.
Some days, she just needs him, you know?
And sometimes, for no particular reason, she feels the warm, salty absence roll down her cheeks and fall off her chin.
She knows the tears are the price she pays for loving him.        
No matter how old she'd gotten on the outside, the little girl inside of her would never outgrow the longing for her Daddy.
Dedicated to a life well-lived from a grateful daughter.
It was a blessing to love him and to be loved by him.
James Douglas- January 1, 1938-March 25, 2009














 
  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I Know I Know You

My memory is pretty low functioning right now.  It's like.....well, scary low, some days. 

I went to the grocery store Friday and, while I was in there, I ran into a lady that I know.  Well, a lady that I'm supposed to know.  Her eyes met mine and her jaw dropped with the biggest smile you've ever seen and her arms reached out and grabbed me and we hugged and patted each other like proper Southern women.  We stood in front of the eggs and canned biscuits and talked, mostly, about how good it was to see each other.  All the while, I was smiling and thinking to myself, "Who in the world am I talking to?"  I longed for a clue in her words and listened carefully for any hints.  Her face was familiar, but that's as far as it went for me. 

I started going down the mental list of possibilities.  You know how you do.  "Let's see.....does she work somewhere....maybe the bank, insurance office, my favorite restaurant?"  Nothing.  "Well", I continued silently, "did we go to school together, our kids go to school together, or play on the same team?"  Still, nothing.  "Is she one of Davis' relatives, who we only see at reunions?  Were we in garden club together?" 

We finished our embracing and "catching up" and I left.......without a clue.    

You know the feeling.  Please, tell me you do.   

I went on with my shopping and tried to shake it off.  I only needed a few things and was in a hurry, so I hadn't made a list.  Now understand, lists are the only way I can function in society now, but, on this particular day, I was feeling sort of confident....maybe even a tad cocky, you might say.  I decided to go old school like I did back when my memory was a young thing. I needed Butterscotch chips, Cheese, Detergent, Apples, Eggs, and a Roast. 

Before implementation of the list system had become necessary, I'd just make up an acronym to help me remember the few things I needed.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and declared the word for the day would be B.R.A.C.E.D..  There was no way I could forget anything I needed with this plan.  It was bullet proof. 

Well.

I should've "B.R.A.C.E.D." myself to have to make another trip to the store is what I should've done. 

Eggs.....not a problem.  I grabbed those, while I chatted with the nice, anonymous lady.  D is for detergent.....got that.  Cheese.....there's my C.....grabbed that.  Oh, this was going so good.  It was like Wheel of Fortune, grocery store edition.  My memory was running like a well oiled machine and all my cylinders were firing.  I was filling in the blanks like a boss.  I'll take a B, Pat.....B for butterscotch chips.  Threw those in the cart.  Apples.....there was my other vowel.  Ok, I'm good to go.  Oh, wait.  I'm missing the R.  You can't spell B.R.A.C.E.D. without R.   

I wracked my brain.  R....R, R, R.  What did that R stand for?  I walked around hoping something would jump start my stalled memory.  Raisins?  Rice?  Rolls?  Reynold's Wrap?  Relish?  Ramen Noodles?  Rice Krispies?  You know.....I'd never noticed before, but there just aren't that many things in a grocery store that begin with R.  I gave up.   

I got pretty deep in the checkout line, hoping that whatever R stood for wasn't all that important, and that's when it finally came to me.....a Roast!  I backed out of the line, "Excuse me....sorry....I forgot something....coming through" and then headed to claim my R.  R is for roast.  After about 20 minutes, I had finally solved the puzzle and resolved to never come to the store without a list again.  Those days are gone.  That ship has sailed.                           

I made my way back to be checked out and, after paying my bill, I headed out the door.  Then, there came that panic that sweeps over you.  That feeling that comes when you get to the exit and can't remember where you parked.  You've got to make some decisions pretty fast once you get outside, too.  "Let's see....I think I'm over here.....or no......I think that's where I parked the last time I was here.  I must be over here." 

And you know how when you get down to the very end of a row without seeing your car, you have to make some hard choices.  You can either (A) cut over to the next aisle of cars and make like you intentionally walked all the way down to the end of the wrong row only to cut through because that's how you roll or (B) you can just stop without any fear of judgment, press your remote, listen for the beeps, all while craning your neck and looking as lost as a goose.  Many-a-time, the beep of the door locks has guided me in the way which I should go.

I was feeling pretty incompetent by the time I got in my car.  Like maybe I should call someone to drive me home.  I did take some comfort in the fact that the lady in front of me was lost, too.  Misery does love her some company in a big parking lot.     

Other memory failures include, but are not limited to....

1)  Trying to find my phone while I'm talking on it.
2)  Pouring myself a glass of tea after I just poured myself a glass of tea.
3)  Having to buy one of those geriatric pill organizers because of the inability to remember if I'd taken my medicine.
4)  Leaving clean clothes in the washer for a couple of days and having to wash them again.
5)  Burning cookies.
6)  The inability to come up with the right word for everyday objects.  "Pick up your.....your......oh, you know.....those blue things....right there.....that you wear on your feet".
7)  Failing to introduce people, because I can't remember one or more of their names. 
8)  Calling the roll when I need someone......"Blair.....Carson....Davis.......Sugar!"
9)  Looking for the glasses that are on top of my head.
10)  Asking someone a question that I just asked them or that they just answered. 
11) Shaving one leg or one armpit.
12)  Forgetting to rinse the conditioner out of my hair. 
13)  I can't remember what I was going to say #13 was.
14)  Using alternative salutations like "Hey, girl" or "Hello, my friend" when names refuse to come.      

I better stop before someone calls the people in the white uniforms to come take me for a ride.

Anyway, we'd be here all day if I told you everything, so let's leave some mystery in our relationship. 

I try to self-comfort......telling myself I'm almost 47 years old and have way too much to keep up with.  Yeah, that's it.  My mind is so full of different kinds of information having to do with work, husband, kids, friends, schedules, obligations, parents, meetings, special occasions, appointments, etc. that my brain just can't hold it all.

I guess, as a woman living in her 5th decade, who can't remember why she came in the kitchen, I'm becoming more and more amazed by the omniscience of God. 

How He can know what I'm doing and what I need, while tending to a woman just like me in Hong Kong and the billions of other people in between us.  How He knows the number of hairs each one has on her head and what each fingerprint looks like.  How He can hear prayers in English and Spanish and German and Japanese and French and understand each one perfectly.  How He sees all the animals and gives them food and takes note of the sparrow that falls to the ground.  How He knits a baby together, month by month, and never forgets to start his mother's labor.  How He keeps track of chromosomes and genes and traits and creates everyone with a purpose.  

He never forgets gravity or photosynthesis or decomposition or condensation.  He keeps the sun at its safe distance and always remembers when to make it rise and when to bring it down again. He never forgets to change the seasons or the tides or the phases of the moon.  He remembers to make hearts beat and marrow to make blood cells and uses nerves to warn of trouble.  He keeps the planets spinning and the water cycling and the food chain intact.  He keeps charge over His angels, sending them to protect my child and a mother's child who's three continents away.  He keeps the oceans in their places and the stars burning at their assigned posts.  He moves the clouds around with His breath and doesn't forget who needs the rain.  He gives the flowers and trees the nod to do their budding when He decides it's time.

He knows that what I need is not what you need and never gets the two confused.  He keeps track of who to send where and prepares their way.  He brings people together and puts strengths and talents where they're needed.  He listens to bedtime prayers and turns hearts to Him when it's just the right time.  He inspires and leads and brings conviction according to His plan.  He remembers to give wisdom, understanding, and comfort to those who ask.  He memorizes each prayer list and even knows the ones that are kept quiet.                    

He doesn't forget to come when we ask.  Keeps all His appointments.  Remembers His promises.
Never late with His answers.  Calls each of us by name.  Doesn't forget where we are.  Supplies what we each need for each moment.  Always on time.  Lets nothing fall through the cracks.  Always according to plan.  Right on schedule.  Never hesitates, stumbles, forgets, bobbles, or makes a blunder.                   

I guess we're most astounded by different traits of God at different times in our lives.  Maybe when we're having to extend difficult measures of forgiveness, we're most in awe of His incredible forgiveness.  Maybe when we're giving up something that's dear to us is when we're most aware of His sacrificial love.  And, just maybe, to a perimenopausal, almost 47 year old woman, who can't remember her own kids' names, His omniscience might be the most amazing thing that she can think of in that moment of her life.

Some of my favorite Bible passages are in Job where God challenges him.  They are, to me, the most beautiful words that God speaks to assure us of His omniscience. 

Job 38
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
    Tell me, if you know so much.
Who determined its dimensions
    and stretched out the surveying line?
What supports its foundations,
    and who laid its cornerstone
as the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels shouted for joy?
“Who kept the sea inside its boundaries
    as it burst from the womb,
and as I clothed it with clouds
    and wrapped it in thick darkness?
10 For I locked it behind barred gates,
    limiting its shores.
11 I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come.
    Here your proud waves must stop!’
12 “Have you ever commanded the morning to appear
    and caused the dawn to rise in the east?
13 Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth,
    to bring an end to the night’s wickedness?
14 As the light approaches,
    the earth takes shape like clay pressed beneath a seal;
    it is robed in brilliant colors.
15 The light disturbs the wicked
    and stops the arm that is raised in violence.
16 “Have you explored the springs from which the seas come?
    Have you explored their depths?
17 Do you know where the gates of death are located?
    Have you seen the gates of utter gloom?
18 Do you realize the extent of the earth?
    Tell me about it if you know!
19 “Where does light come from,
    and where does darkness go?
20 Can you take each to its home?
    Do you know how to get there?
21 But of course you know all this!
For you were born before it was all created,
    and you are so very experienced!
22 “Have you visited the storehouses of the snow
    or seen the storehouses of hail?
23 (I have reserved them as weapons for the time of trouble,
    for the day of battle and war.)
24 Where is the path to the source of light?
    Where is the home of the east wind?
25 “Who created a channel for the torrents of rain?
    Who laid out the path for the lightning?
26 Who makes the rain fall on barren land,
    in a desert where no one lives?
27 Who sends rain to satisfy the parched ground
    and make the tender grass spring up?
28 “Does the rain have a father?
    Who gives birth to the dew?
29 Who is the mother of the ice?
    Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens?
30 For the water turns to ice as hard as rock,
    and the surface of the water freezes.
31 “Can you direct the movement of the stars—
    binding the cluster of the Pleiades
    or loosening the cords of Orion?
32 Can you direct the constellations through the seasons
    or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?
33 Do you know the laws of the universe?
    Can you use them to regulate the earth?
34 “Can you shout to the clouds
    and make it rain?
35 Can you make lightning appear
    and cause it to strike as you direct?
36 Who gives intuition to the heart
    and instinct to the mind?
37 Who is wise enough to count all the clouds?
    Who can tilt the water jars of heaven
38 when the parched ground is dry
    and the soil has hardened into clods?
39 “Can you stalk prey for a lioness
    and satisfy the young lions’ appetites
40 as they lie in their dens
    or crouch in the thicket?
41 Who provides food for the ravens
    when their young cry out to God
    and wander about in hunger?
 
I hope your week is full of reminders that God never forgets you! 
 
He's on top of things! 
 
Happy Monday!

 


 






   

     
        

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Day the Chicken Returned

Our local Chick-fil-A announced in January that it would be closed for the entire month of February for some remodeling. 

Wait.....What?  That's like closing the hospital.....the fire department.....the interstate system for a month.  You just can't do that.  We're talking about essential services here.

Sunday is one thing, but February?  Well, that's another.   

Public panic and pandemonium immediately ensued.  A dark, ominous cloud hung heavily over the city and despair could be seen in the hollow eyes of those longing for just one waffle fry to touch the tips of their craving tongues.  If they could just lick the pickle juice from one chicken flavored bun then maybe, just maybe, they could make it through another February day.  Their hands seemed to have a tremor about them and a hint of nervousness could be detected in their voices.  There was a palpable fretfulness in the air.  

Lunch hours found them all driving in circles, unsure of where to go.  The others with their garbled drive thru speakers left them frustrated.  They longed to hear the melodious sounds of "it's my pleasure" and grew tired of having incorrectly dressed burgers flung through their car windows without a word spoken.  You could hear them crying out from great distances for the boneless chicken.  It was a primal sound.  A sound of desperation. 

They thirsted for lemonade with bits of real lemon.  They craved chunks of peaches in their shakes.  The little biscuits.  The perfectly sized nuggets.  The seasoned, grilled chicken with bacon.  Ketchup packs that didn't require teeth.  The classy touch of the after dinner mints.   

The longings were many and yet all unfulfilled. 

Yes, it was a happy month for the chickens.  They strutted around like they were invincible......getting all cocky with the humans.  They took cruises, beach vacations, and taunted the cows.  They let their worries fall by the wayside.  For the first time since hatching, they began planning for the future.  A future that didn't include a heat lamp and a foil bag.                         

February came and went, but still no sign of the boneless chicken anywhere.  The masses grew impatient and irritated.  Cars circled the parking lot like a flock of buzzards searching for a dead, bloated goat in the sunshine.  They were looking for a sign.......any sign of progress....any posted announcements......any promise of hope.  They were looking for an end to this madness.  

Construction workers looked over their shoulders and felt a tinge of uneasiness.  They found new comfort from their hard hats.  People were hungry.  Hungry for a #1, no pickle, with a Coke and there was just no telling what they'd do to get it.   

Alas........today, the darkness was lifted.  After 6 long weeks, the chickens returned to town from their vacations....in a bag and deboned.  Word spread quickly.  Cars lined up.....around and around and around the building, they wrapped.  People walked with an extra quickness and bounce in their step.  They whistled happy tunes.  The light had returned in their eyes.  Children, who hadn't eaten since January, were satisfied once more.  Peace and contentment fell across the land.  All was well again.    

The boneless chicken was back in town.

The power of poultry on a buttery bun.

Never underestimate it. 

Hope your Thursday is delicious. 

    

      

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Housesitter

Well, we got home late Sunday night from Atlanta.  It was a most successful trip and I can't wait to get into the new store with all the finds! 

Blair is my usual market companion, but it was her spring break and she had plans and they didn't include me.  She went to New Orleans, so Davis tagged along with me.  He worked from his computer at the hotel during the day, while I shopped and then we'd meet up for dinner each night.  It was good for him, because the only way for Davis to relax and rest is to get him out of town where he can't do much work.   

Each morning, we ate the $35 breakfast buffet together at the hotel and, even though it was included with our room, when one eats a $35 breakfast buffet, one feels as if one should eat $35 worth of breakfast.  So....I walked my legs off, but still managed to bring home a couple of extra pounds as a souvenir.   

I had to put down my fork and take a picture of our plates because it so beautifully illustrates the dichotomy that is Davis and me.   
    

Yes, on many occasions, waiters will instinctively place his grilled fish and spinach in front of me and serve him my filet and potatoes.

There's really little doubt as to who will meet our Lord first.    

Anyway, my sweet mother stayed at our house with Carson and our neurotic dog, Sugar, while we were gone.  Anytime she's over here for more than 30 minutes, she finds a way to make herself useful by cleaning something.  She's just like that.  The family can be here for her birthday party and she'll invariably slip off to the kitchen to start the clean up.  She has the most humble servant's heart and embodies the belief that "Cleanliness is next to Godliness".  I have to admit......that combination staying at your house for four days is not a bad thing.  Not a bad thing, indeed. 

I got a text from Carson Saturday saying that Grandma had dismantled the refrigerator.  "Yeah, she's cleaning the refrigerator and has taken out all the drawers, shelves..... everything."  Let me just assure you that he wasn't kidding either.  I think that our refrigerator was less clean the day that it was delivered here from Sears in its original box and plastic wrappings than it is right now this very minute.  It's the kind of cleaning that I, myself, would never dream of taking the time to do........unless maybe I was put under house arrest for 24 months and, even then, it would be iffy.

Anyway, she is one of the cleanest, most conscientious people I know.  Growing up, our house smelled like a Pine-Sol, Lysol, lemon Pledge cocktail.  Everything was so clean and always smelled so fresh. 

So, just a little background information to my story.....she's never been an animal person either......doesn't like to touch them or be licked by them or have them jump up on her.  It's not that she wishes them any harm, they're just not her thing.  So, you can imagine Sugar's excitement when we told her that her grandmother was coming to stay with her for a few days. 

And also pertinent to the story, there's Carson, who's not known for his strong stomach.  He's one of those.....if you vomit, he vomits kind of people.  I've already started to worry about him being in the delivery room with his future wife.  He'll be that husband on a gurney with a cold rag on his head, while his wife is mumbling under her breath about what a lot of help he is.  Yeah, I don't think he's going to make a doctor as we say here in the South. 

So, all that being said, my mother and Carson got up early Sunday morning to get ready for church.  She cooked him a batch of rich, buttery pancakes from scratch and goodness knows what else.  Causing people's eyes to roll back into their heads with her cooking is one of her many spiritual gifts.  Anyway, his stomach was so full and happy and he was headed back to his room to get dressed when they found it.  Sugar, who was nervous wreck in our absence, had pooped and peed in the dining room of all places.  She's getting old and likes a routine and I suppose she was revolting against the deviation from it by way of her excretory system. 

Ok, so picture this.  You've got a woman, who could be described as the poster child for germaphobia awareness, who doesn't like to touch animals and a weak stomached teenager who gags at the sight of any bodily fluid that doesn't belong to him.......all alone in a house with a dog puddle and a poop pile in the dining room floor.  What in the world are a germaphobe and a gagger to do?   

So, as the story was told to me, they devised a plan.  Carson, the gagger, was to be in charge of the removal of the excrement and his grandmother, the germaphobe, was head of disinfecting the area, another one of her spiritual gifts.  The gagger completed his part without incident.......that is, until he lost his rich, buttery, made from scratch pancakes in the laundry room floor.....leaving yet another area in need of disinfecting.   

Miraculously, they did make it to church.......even though the Devil was clearly at work here that morning. 

I'm not sure why, but when we got home at 10:45 Sunday night, my mother's car was turned around, parked halfway down the driveway, and pointed toward the road.......and Sugar, well, she seemed more than eager to walk her out. 

But, not to worry.  Carson and his grandmother enjoyed a chance to spend some quality time together.  Our dining room and laundry room have been sterilized and could now be used for surgical purposes if need be.  Our frig is all new-like and sparkly.  Bathrooms, never been so shiny and fresh.  Our clothes are all washed, ironed, and starched to the point that Carson probably had trouble sitting down at school today.  And Sugar is at ease, once again, now that everyone is home.  

And we were careful to bring sweet Grandma a nice bag of appreciation gifts for all her troubles.

So good to be back with y'all! 


 







Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Good Shoes and a Summer Cut

So, I'm leaving for market tomorrow.  I don't know if I've mentioned it or not, but the pharmacy/gift shop that I buy/display for is about to expand and open another location in May, so I'm headed out to order merchandise for that store.  It's really a fun job to fill a new shop. 

I've been shopping for comfy shoes, because.......well, market could be equated to walking the Tour de France......in 3 or 4 days.  I always leave home thinking I've found just the shoe that will do the trick and carry me the distance.....but, somewhere along hour 7 or 8, I've made the determination that my feet have to go.  By hour 9, I go into the nearest restroom and begin to contemplate if gnawing them off at the ankles or sawing them at the knees with the nail file in my purse would be the least painful method of removal.  So, yeah.....in all of my trips, I've not yet taken a shoe that has ever been invited back for the next trip.  I'll report back to you on this year's nominee and its performance.  I can report, though, that practice runs have proved promising.   

Last year, I wore a pedometer, just out of curiosity, to see how many steps a typical day at market required.  At the end of the day, it had registered around 1,200 steps.  Either it hit its max number and had started over or that was just its way of saying, "You know what?  Count it yourself....this is ridiculous".

And, sadly, the heat arrived here today.  One day in the mid 70's with 85% humidity and I'm over spring/summer already.  Check, please.  I was out running errands all day and that sick feeling of dread came over me as the looming heat breathed down my neck and pressed down on my shoulders.

I came home and decided it was time.  The thermostat was ceremonially switched from heat to cool. The flannel sheets are out of here because last night I almost combusted in the bed.  The heavy blankets are put away and the sweaters...........gone.  Any cool weather from this point on, we will brave it alone.       

Yep, I've turned the page. 

Facing my enemy head on. 

Bring it, summer. 

Let's get this over with.       

I have a haircut appointment tomorrow before I leave on my trip and, with the humid heat today, I'm inspired to go ahead and commence the summer grooming.  I considered taking my chances as a walk-in at Petco, but I'm not sure about that leash. 

I have this extremely thick hair.....like that of a woolly mammoth......in winter......and when it gets any length on it in the warm months, it feels like a barbell has been strapped to my head.  A hot, scalding barbell.  I prefer not to have hot, scalding barbells strapped to my head, so just as soon as spring blows it warm breath, the hair has got to go.  I was looking online for some possibilities and came across this virtual hairdresser site.  Let me know if you think any of theses are me.

A)  Reese Witherspoon.                                      B)  Joan Jett...but would
      Be very afraid, Reese.                              "I Hate Myself for Loving You"?
 




C) Dorothy Hamill                                               D)  Laura Bush.... 
Me if I cut off my ears and took up skating.       Who doesn't love Laura?    
                      
Davis got curious, so we did him. 
                                                                  
 
 
 
 
So, yeah.   
 
Tomorrow's haircut day.  Anything could happen.  
 
Sorry it's been kind of a quiet, sparse week around the blog.  Spring break has had me out of my routine.  
 
We'll get back at it next week! 
 
See y'all then!!   

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Day the White Noise Died

So, I think I've mentioned that Davis and I are white noise addicts when it comes time to go to bed.  Put us in a quiet room to sleep and there might as well be a dozen jackhammers in there with us.  The silence is deafening.  We won't sleep a wink. 

We've had the same noise machine that has provided our nightly "fix" for 14 years now and, well, the other night, I climbed into bed and, after a few minutes, I noticed that our smooth, lulling noise sounded more like an old Pinto trying to climb its way out of the Grand Canyon on a cold, winter morning.  There was a straining sound mixed with a hint of tiredness and a pinch of surrender.  It was losing its ability to put me to sleep and, clearly, it was time to find a new supplier to feed our addiction.

After a few clicks on Amazon, our shipment was on its way.

Imagine my excitement when it came Friday.  I couldn't wait to go to sleep....but, really, that's kind of a chronic longing I have.  As a matter of fact, I will challenge any one of you to a sleep off....anytime.  There aren't many things of which I can boast, but my aptitude for sleep, well, it is simply undeniable.  I'm one of the best there is.  Oh, listen to me.  I'm sorry.....I'm just bragging now.      
Anyway, that moment had come that I had dreaded since I clicked "Place Order" for our new machine.  It was time to lay our old, faithful friend of 14 years to rest.  There almost seemed to be a knot in my stomach.  After all, it had logged in almost 46,000 hours in its 5,110 nights on duty here.  Working the night shift at our bedside with such loyalty and tenacity called for a proper send-off with some long overdue honor and recognition.  
The only casket we could find was the shipping box of its replacement.  I know that was a little insulting, but what else were we to do?  It was such a good fit.  After a few words of gratitude and a tear or two, we said our goodbyes, sat it by the trash can, and came inside to try out our new sleeping drug.  In its two nights of service here so far, we couldn't be more pleased with its performance.  We're back to sleeping like babies on Benadryl.  I highly recommend.     

And this has become a common sight around my house.  Carson and Davis love to get in the floor at night and wrestle.  There is a lot of grunting, screaming, gasping for air, and turning various colors.     
I am intrigued with the things that men find to do to pass the time.  I mean, when was the last time you had the urge to say to one of your friends, "Katherine, would you like to get down in the floor and roll around while I try to swing my leg up over you and pin your head to the carpet until it turns the color of a plum?"

Some things are not meant for us, women, to understand, I suppose.

This week is our long awaited spring break and we're predicted to get up to 6" of rain by Friday.  I'm not sure what we're going to do for fun, but it will most likely involve a lot of waiting inside for our dove to return with an olive leaf.       
 

Hope the week gets off to a good start for y'all!

See ya soon! 

                
 
      

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Friends are Friends Forever

Well, this week has had me thinking about friendship. 

Tuesday, I got up earlier than usual and drove to Jackson to be at the hospital for my friend's surgery.  It was kind of serious in nature, so I really wanted to be there for Julie.  Let it be noted that my love for someone can most accurately be measured by how early I am willing to get up for them.......but I digress.  No, to best sum up our friendship, I'd say that if Julie and I are in a room together, chances are everyone else in there is wondering what in the world we're laughing about.        

She and I go way back.  All the way back to elementary school when several of us, girls, would sit in the balcony together during church and whisper and write notes back and forth, that is, until one of our mothers would spot us from the choir loft and shoot death rays through the sanctuary with her eyes.  That balcony was a long way from the choir loft, but not too far to pick up what their eyes were putting down.   

At that point, we'd all commence doing something more spiritual in nature like thumbing through our Children's Living Bibles to find the pictures......or writing Bible verses on the back of offering envelopes in elegant bubble letters....or filling in all the those blanks in the front of our Bibles like Presented To, Birthdays, and Special Occasions.  As long as it was Bible related, we were safe.     

It's funny how several of my closest friendships to this day started out in that church building.  Many of the relationships that took root there have stood the test of time.  They've been around as far back as my memory will take me.  We've pasted magazine pictures onto construction paper while sitting in little wooden chairs......we've helped each other with super tough decisions like who to take to the dance......we've had more sleepovers than we could ever count......we've worn less than ideal bridemaids dresses on each other's behalf......we've thrown graduation parties for each other's kids.....we've even grieved the loss of our fathers together.     

Yeah, little girls, who I drank red Kool-Aid with at Bible school, while putting butter ring cookies on each of our fingers, are still my friends today at almost age 47.  That's a long time.  It's been a while since I tried, so I'm not even sure a butter ring cookie would go around any of my fingers now except maybe the pinky, but it's obvious that friendships that formed back in white knee socks and black patent leather shoes are very enduring, indeed.

There are other friendships that start later in life and they're just as precious in their own way. Friendships from childhood sometimes come about from decisions made by our parents, but the friends we have later in life are often those that we seek out ourselves. They are some of the very first major decisions we make on our own......and some of the most important.  They can shape who we are and which way we're headed.

We've all got family and that's a wonderful thing, but friends.....well, they're for us to decide. There is a world full of potential candidates and it's all up to us to choose who we want to surround ourselves with.....who we want to travel along with us as we pass through life.  Our paths randomly cross with all sorts of people each day, but the roads to our friends....well, those are deliberate.     

I got word from one of those friends today that she's received a cancer diagnosis.....very treatable, but still not what I was expecting to hear this morning.  Having her permission, I'd like to tell you about Amanda.  She and I became friends during our teenage years.  We've soaked up a lot of sun together on beaches and piers....really anywhere our chairs and boom box with its eight D batteries could find a sunny spot.  We passed notes in class, even spoke our own little language, carpooled to school in our cars that were so memorable (not in a good way) that they were given proper names, and we may or may not have even stolen a traffic sign or two.           

She lives a few hours from here now and, while we try to visit when she comes home, we don't talk as much as we'd like.  But, when I heard from her today, it was like I was transported back to her pier, slathered in baby oil, with Cyndi Lauper and Tears for Fears blaring between our two chairs.  She was, is, and always will be my friend.  I guess if you ever deeply connect with a person, it's always there.  It never goes away.  No matter what.                           

I suppose it must be my age mixed with the events of the week that have me in a more sentimental frame of mind when it comes to my buddies.  Some of us are scattered and some are close by, but we all get busy in our own little lives....running the same trails everyday.  Our circling, repetitive days start to create deep ruts that we get comfortable in and before you know it, a lot of time has passed since you've spoken or visited.  I guess as I get older, I realize how much I need them and how much concentrated effort it takes to keep them in our crazy, busy world. 

It also got me thinking about the wacky way we do things nowadays.  Social media tricks us into believing it's all we need to have a friendship.  Texting tells us it's just as good as talking only quicker and easier and less restricting.  Our packed schedules make us believe that we'll have more time for them just as soon as......fill in the blank.  Pinterest convinces us to wait and have company when we have time to make our house look like this and our food and table look like that.  Our relatively young age assures us we have plenty of time.......things will settle down one day.  But, what I think is that technology has hijacked the art of friendship and warped our sense of responsibility towards our friends.       

I'm as guilty as anyone of descending the spiral staircase of more impersonal communication and getting stuck in the deep ruts of busyness.  So, I decided to pick up the phone and begin a conscious effort to start calling my friends more frequently.  I got started today.  There's no device or means of communication that can take the place of hearing your friend's voice.  "LOL" can never be as warm as listening to your friend laugh.  Likes and comments and favorites don't mean near as much as telling them yourself.  Let me just say that I had a most delightful afternoon hearing the beautiful music of my friends' voices on the other end of the line.

Friends are part of who we are.  Whether they've been around for 40 years or 6 months, whether you talk to them everyday or once a year, they're all gifts.  They are given by God, but they don't come without responsibility.  They require time and attention and effort and sacrifice.     

And they're worth every single drop that you put into them. 

Life is hard, y'all.....and it's passing quickly.  We need each other. 

So, do yourself a favor and call a friend or do lunch. 

And do me a favor and pray for my friends, Amanda and Julie. 

Thanks so much and y'all have a great weekend!     
 
             

                                 

Monday, March 2, 2015

You're Ready for Spring, You Say

Well, it's March.  This weekend, we'll move the clocks forward.  Days will be longer.  School will be out for spring break.  Baseball season will be in full swing.  Store shelves will be laden with Easter fineries and chocolate bunnies. Crickets will start to chirp again.  Trees will begin to leaf out and green will start to spread across the earth.     

I know I'm in the minority here.  No, I take that back.....perhaps, I stand all alone here, but I'm not scared.  This changing of seasons does not stir any level of excitement within me.  There....I said it. 

Sure, I'll admit that those early spring days are enticing.  Those mid-60's, low 70's days with their tweeting birds and budding flowers and gentle breezes.  They're just bait.  Don't fall for it.  They're kind of like the sketchy man handing out candy from his blue van with no windows....the one that our mothers warned us about.  Sure, the candy looks good, but the long, bony fingers of the southern heat will have you in a sizzling grip as soon as you get close to it. 

My disdain for the hot weather is nothing new.  Even as a child, I dreaded the heat.  My head would pound as I'd pedal through the neighborhood.  I could feel my pulse in my eyeballs.  Riding on the white, vinyl seats of our Ford was just slightly more comfortable than sitting on a bed of hot coals.  There wasn't enough Kool-aid on the block to quench the thirst of that Mississippi heat.....even the water from the hose was hot.  There was nowhere to escape it.  If you went inside, you'd be asked to vacuum, so you stuck it out in on your scalding banana seat in your cut off blue jeans and red Keds, all moist with sweat.               

I know that most of you feel quite the opposite.  I've seen your derogatory posts about winter.  Your death threats against Elsa.  Your attempts to have her arrested have not gone unnoticed.  I've seen the phrase "Over it" written across more winter scenes than I can count.  I've heard your laughing as Madea cocks her gun and dares us to say "Snow" one more time.  You're so tired of dreary, cold days.  You're ready to move past sweaters and boots and snow.  I can understand that.     

Yeah, I see your endless postings of beach chairs, flip flops, drinks with umbrellas, and blue water.  I see the countdowns to your beach vacations.  I see the cute swimsuits you share.  You can't wait.  I know.  I know.  I know. 

I can see how you could be seduced by the mild warmth of spring, but let's review our glossary of warm weather terms that, perhaps, you have forgotten in all of your romanticizing of summer:

1) MOSQUITOS- large, birdlike, blood-sucking insects, known to grow as big as seagulls in the South, whose life's work it is to torment each person who enters their domain, the outdoors, and suck blood from multiple injection sites, leaving behind large, itching bumps the size of shooter marbles that will cause the victim to scratch all the way down to their skeletal systems.  Also known as the state bird in some southern states. 
  
2)WASPS- a stinging insect who offers nothing good to the world.  Nothing. They are flying servants of Satan. See also FLIES, FLEAS, AND FIREANTS.    

3) SNAKES- the most feared of all animals which wake from their winter slumber and dare you to step on them and, even if you don't, they'll claim you did.  Be careful in believing the lie that snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them.  Of all the animals, the Devil chose to appear as the snake. The prosecution rests. 
  
4) SUNBURN- a costly mistake that causes its victim to experience the paradox of a throbbing burning and relentless chills all at once and when finally healed, causes skin to fall away from the body in most unattractive patterns as a molting snake.  See also HEAT RASH, SUN POSONING, SUNSPOTS, AND RAZOR BUMPS. 

5) HUMIDITY- a condition of moisture in the air causing it to feel 100 times heavier and more oppressive than usual thus making it difficult for adequate respiration to occur.
 
6) SWEAT- moisture released from the body in extreme heat, rolling down faces, backs, necks, hair, bends of elbows, backs of knees, and anywhere else it darn well pleases.  It is also noted as the most overused and exaggerated bodily function in movies set in the South.  See also DEHYDRATION.   

7) POLLEN- the yellow poison of suffering causing its victims a wide array of symptoms such as itching, sneezing, watering eyes, sore throat, and longing for the sweet release of death.

8) POISON OAK- a flesh eating plant which spreads its rot by oozing and irresistible itching. 

9) GRASS MOWING- a chore required every six days from the very first hint of spring until Halloween in the South.  Failure to complete the task on time can cause whispering in the neighborhood.   

10) HEAT INDEX- how hot the air actually feels, which is calculated by taking the current temp, multiplying it by 3, and adding 20 additional degrees if in the South.  

11) SCORCHING PARKING LOTS-  also known as desensitization training grounds for those who wish to seek employment in Death Valley or Hell. 
     
12) WHITE LEGS DILEMA-  what to do with all the exposed whiteness to reduce its offensiveness, short of appearing orange or acquiring skin cancer. 

13) LONG DAYS- the seemingly incessant daylight, which causes its victims to ask, "Is it still today?" at approximately 7:00 pm each evening. 

14) UNRELENTING SUN- that blazing ball of fire located just under 2 miles from Earth during the summer months and recedes each day at a pace slower than cold molasses.

15) TORNADOES- also known as a Tuesday in the South.
 
16) TICKS- those large, gray, bulging, blood-filled creatures, which hang on southern dogs like moss on an old oak tree.

17) BORED CHILDREN-  that inexplicable irony when children, who hate school, get their long awaited break from it and can find nothing to do.    

18) SHAVING- an optional winter activity, which becomes non-negotiable in the hotter months, necessitated by shorter, less concealing clothing.

19) SAND- an abrasive, natural material which, in the summer months, creeps into places where abrasive, natural materials ought not to be. 

So, yeah, spring is coming.  Y'all enjoy its doting courtship.  Bringing you flowers.  Taking you on beautiful afternoon strolls.  Fanning you gently with its palm branches.  Feeding you its juicy fruits.  Whispering its promises in your ear. 

Just don't get too used to it.  It'll start taking you for granted before you know it.  Turning off its cool charms.  Making you hot under the collar.  Burning you with its indifference.  Ignoring your pleas. Making you a hot mess.

You'll be begging for Elsa before long.  Just wait and see.        

But don't say I didn't warn you.