Monday, October 24, 2016

The Dream

Well, last night, I had a recurring dream.  This dream and I go way back.  It's one that I used to have when I was still working as a wedding floral designer.  It's a dream that always makes me wake up in a cold sweat. 

Here's how it goes......I'm working on the floral arrangements for a wedding.  I'm watching the time.  I'm making a mental checklist of all of the things I have left to do.  I'm working as quickly as I can.....which is never very fast in dreams.  The clock's minute hand is spinning around like the second hand as I work in a panic.  All of a sudden, I hear people behind me coming into the church..........and then the music starts playing.  Oh, my word!  I'm not done and guests are starting to arrive.  I've got so much to do!  So, I do what any respected florist would do in this situation.......I find the bride and ask for 15 more minutes.  It's amazing how flexible brides can be in dreams.  She consents.  I work at the front of the church as the piano and strings play "Clair de Lune" and the guests file in, checking their watches.  The floor is littered with flower stems.  I haven't put out the candles yet.  I still have one big floral arrangement left to do.  And the bride cracks open the door to tell me my 15 minutes is up. 

I wake up with my heart beating like a drum. 

I hate that dream.  Even though there are always variations in the specifics, the scenario is the same.  Every.  Single.  Time. 

The timing of this nightmare is very predictable.  It always surfaces when I'm feeling like a have a whole lot to do and maybe feeling a little squeezed in the face of it all.  Last night's showing was no exception.  It's time for the Christmas open houses again and, until November 13, my co-workers and I will be in the throws of preparing for and hosting three open houses and, while it's a lot of fun to work on it together as a team, it's also pretty darn tiring.  

That being said, I'm going to disappear until around the 14th.  You'll know where I'll be......the front of the church with the organ playing; trying to get the floral arrangements done while the guests are breathing down my neck and the bride is pointing at her to speak.

Hope the next 20 days or so are good for you!

I'll be back!   


Thursday, October 20, 2016

I'm So Proud of Her

Well, if we can all just hang on 18 more days, maybe our country can begin to decompress from this incredibly long and volatile election season.  It just seems like there's so much tension in the much division in our country.  I talked about this a week or so it can all start to affect you if you let it.  I understand that the American Psychological Association has found that half of us are suffering from a condition which they've named "Election Stress Disorder".  Gee, I can't imagine why, can you?    

Today, I decided to share an old post from 2014 because (a) I've been too busy to write much this week and (b) in hopes that, for a few minutes, maybe we could soothe our election-weary brains and remember that the more unified and constructive side of us does still exist.           

I'll admit it.....I'm pretty much a news junkie.  I think it's so important to stay informed but being apprised of all of the goings on can also have its downside, too.  Sometimes, it feels like I'm only hearing about the bad side of America and her people.  Story after story of hate, deceit, greed, and every form of disregard for human life imaginable.  Child neglect.  Illicit affairs.  Fraudulent lawsuits.  Injustice.  Murder.  Molestation.  Drugs.  Corrupt politicians.  Discrimination.  Theft.  Cruelty.  Mass shootings.          

I know all of that exists, but I want to tell you about the America that I see every day.  She's the one who rarely makes the headlines. 

That America has been filling up sandbags and boarding up windows ahead of a hurricane.  She's the family fostering a child who was abandoned and needed a home.  She's the large group of volunteers who gather to find a missing child.  She's the man who pays the bill for the car behind him in the drive through. She's the van, full of willing hands, that pulls into storm ravaged towns.  She's the prayer service that meets to lift up a sick friend to the Great Physician.  She's the stranger who chases the purse snatcher.  She's the neighbor mowing the widow's grass when she's not home.  She's the jar full of dollar bills on the counter at the gas station.  She's the car that stops to help change the old man's tire.  She's the little, white girl and the little, black girl who don't see color when they look into each other's face.

She's the one who turned in the money that she found. She's driving an elderly friend to the doctor.  She's the group of guys who volunteer to take the disabled vets hunting.  She's the doctor, nurse, and dentist spending their vacations in a hot, primitive tent helping patients halfway around the world.  She's the plane load of food and medical supplies flying over the oceans to desperate situations.  She's the group of children caroling outside the elderly couple's door.  She's the missionary, who left the comforts of home, burdened for people she's never met and who don't even speak her language.  She's the man who offers his seat on the subway. She's the fund set up at the bank for the family of the fallen police officer.  She's the one who pulls over for the hungry dog by the railroad tracks.  She's the guy who takes up time with the boy without a father.  She's the lady who gives one of her kidneys for a friend.

She's the firefighter who ran up the same World Trade Center stairs that everyone was clamoring to get down.  She's a gym full of cots and warm food when the storm blows.  She can be found scooping green beans onto a lunch tray at the soup kitchen.  She's the disabled soldier who left his cover to save a comrade.  She's the volunteer who spends his Saturday working to build a home for a needy family.  She plays the piano for the patients at the nursing home.  She's the boy who holds the door open a few extra seconds for the lady coming in behind him.  She's the one cooking a meal for her neighbor with cancer.  She can be found digging through bricks and twisted lumber, with his bare hands, hoping to find survivors.  She's the truck loaded with Christmas shoeboxes traveling dusty, remote trails lined with poor children.  Her name is on the bone marrow donor registry.  She's the stranger who stays with the wreck victim until help arrives.  She's the soldier who stoically guards the body of the Unknown Soldier no matter the conditions. 

She's the mother who takes out the trash and throws a baseball while her husband is deployed.  She's the table full of casseroles and pies delivered to the family in grief.  She's the man who jumps in to save a little girl from drowning.  She's the boy who stands up to the bully for his friend.  She's the scout leader who spends a lot of his weekends on a cot instead of a golf course.  She's the fish fry that benefits the sick, little boy.  She's the box full of canned goods at the school's food drive.  She's the man who builds a ramp for his disabled neighbor.  She's the present under the tree of a child who wouldn't have gotten one otherwise.  She's the underpaid teacher who stays late to help a student.  She's the rescuer who won't give up the search for the child missing in a flood.  She's the five dollars handed out the car window to a homeless man.  She's donating sick leave to a single mother with a chronic disease.  She's the childcare worker who loves her class like they are her own.   

She's the PTA.  The little league coach.  The red kettle full of quarters and nickels.  The church with open doors on a cold night.  The blood donor.  The check written to Make a Wish.  The volunteer fireman.  The anonymous donation. The mentor.  The Eagle Scout.  The quilts made for patients on the cancer floor.  The bake sale.  The driver for Meals on Wheels.  The prayer list tucked in a Bible.  The Sunday School teacher.  The family who takes a card from the Angel Tree.  The volunteer at the children's hospital.  The poll worker.  The care package sent to a soldier.  The dad working three jobs.                                           

That is the America I know.  That is who she is to me.

And I'm so proud to call her home. 

Even still. 

Good may not frequent the news.  There's not much air time available for what is good and decent but, for our own mental health and for our spirit of unity, let's not forget that it's there.  Alive and well and living among us. 

Y'all have a relaxing weekend!    

Monday, October 17, 2016

You Wanna Go Out?

Over the weekend, Blair was in New Orleans visiting her boyfriend, John Samuel, who's in school there.  She always comes home telling us what all they've done.  The sightseeing.  The shopping.  The Saints games.  The eating.  The coffee and beignets.  The festivals.  The art.  Lots of fun stuff.  It made me think how a couple's dates tend to change through the years. 

Davis and I always go out on Friday nights.  Sometimes, we go out with other couples and, occasionally, we may let one of our offspring tag along if they're without plans and look at us like they're hungry but, more often than not, it's just the two of us.  It's our date night.  What constitutes a date has really changed over the course of the years, though, as I'm sure is the case with most couples. You find you just have to go with the flow of life.       

Dating couples-  Oh, ladies, this is the peak of the date experience.  It's at its finest right here.  It's funny how we start out on the peak of Mt. Wine and Dine and descend from there but, hey, that's just the way life happens.  When you're dating, he's trying to impress you and so there is no restaurant too expensive or concert too costly or destination too far for you.  No, ma'am.  If he's going to lure you into promising to love and cherish him through kidney stones, a c-pap machine, an enlarged prostate, and goodness knows what else -only to be relieved of your duties through death then he's going to have to put his best foot forward here.  There are a lot of things for a young woman to consider before making such a decision but a man knows that filet, James Taylor tickets, and a dozen roses in the passenger seat could help to clarify things for her.  Money is usually never mentioned in this phase.  If you want to hit the road, you hit the road.  If you want to go to a concert, you go.  If you want an appetizer, entrĂ©e, and dessert, you order it.  That's just how it usually is in the dating stage.  It's a fun place to be. 

Newlyweds-  Dating is still pretty good, here......maybe just a little different.  After the wedding, phrases like "budgeting" and "staying on budget" and "that's not in the budget" start to emerge, here and there.  At first, you're like...."What is this budget you speak of?"  I mean, because you've become so accustomed to the "whatever you want, dear" treatment.  Sure, it's most likely because, at this point, you've purchased your first home or the reality of being prepared for the future has hit but this new word, budget, starts creeping up in conversations.  Even so, with it just being the two of you, there's still plenty of wiggle room to date big.  Oh, the fancy trips and the fun weekends.  The ballgames.  The plane tickets.  The getaways with friends.  This is a special time.  Still having fun but with more adult-ish restraint.

Parents of small children-  Ok, well, this is where dating starts to get dicey.  Here, we begin the descent from the summit.  I mean, dates during this period require the hiring of personnel to keep the children and so you've spent half your date money before you even leave the house.  And with diapers, formula, and newly formed college funds sucking money off the top, there's not as much to work with for dating.  This is the beginning of looser translations of the word, date.  I remember there were books written on creative dating, back in the day, or AKA how to get out of the house and away from the children for cheap.

I remember we'd hire a sitter or get the grandparents to come over and we'd go to dinner.  Dressing up wasn't appealing at this stage because you were just completely exhausted.  So, nowhere fancy.  Preferably somewhere you had a coupon.  We'd sit and talk about nothing but the children who, ironically, we needed a break from.....and sometimes, we'd be so curious about how they were doing that we'd call home and check.  After dinner, we'd be so excited as headed to the grocery store so we could buy a few things without offspring hanging from the cart and pacifiers flying through the air and hitting the dirty floor.  Was there anything better than just going to the store by yourselves?  This is the stage where the fun threshold is so incredibly low that you can cross it with little to no driving around in the minivan with the empty car seats, eating a Blizzard, ejecting the Barney CD, and cranking up Savage Garden.  It's the simple joys you begin to appreciate here.  Forget the roses.  Let's just go sit in a parking lot somewhere with a pizza and enjoy the quiet.    

Parents of teenagers and college kids-  Well, this one here is a mixed bag.  While your kids are old enough to tend to themselves, they are also costing more money than our national defense.'re literally hemorrhaging money at this point in your life.  Bleeding out.  There's car insurance for your fleet of vehicles, prom dresses, college tuition, cell phone plans for the masses, fraternity bills.....and did I mention they eat like Clydesdales?  Add to that all the hair color and hormone patches you're needing at this point.  Dang.  You realize you've given birth to parasites. 

So, while you do have the freedom to get out more, your money may be otherwise committed.  This is the stage in which you may decide to split the fajitas because "they just give you so much."  You sit and talk about, well, the bloodsuckers and whatever is going on with them at the time......ACT scores, their significant others, college tuition hikes.....and the impossibility of retirement. Afterwards, your date may suggest something like a run by the AutoZone so he can get some windshield washer fluid because your warning light is on.  Really, he's just trying to fill the night with some free entertainment and what more could a woman want than a half order of fajitas and a chance to peruse the assorted windshield fluids?  When you get done with that, you usually head back home early because, well, you get tired faster now and, not to mention, you're needing a bowl of cereal, at this point, because the fajitas just didn't cut it.

Empty nesters-  While I can't speak to this stage, I imagine there's a lot more freedom to go and do and travel.  This is the stage in which you stop cooking, RVs are purchased, and grandchildren are dropped off a whole lot.....or so I've been told.  I guess we'll find out what it's like in due time.   

In love, sometimes, it's lobster, roses, and Broadway.  Other times, Quarter Pounders, Home Depot, and Redbox.  Who we are and what we enjoy together changes through the years.  It's good to just have your own kind of fun along the way. 

Y'all have a good Tuesday!      



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Weak Knees and Smooth Stones

Well, I took a couple of days off for fall break.  Not that I actually get a fall break but Carson got a fall break and I guess I thought I needed one, too.  I had a few projects around the house that I'd been wanting to get done and I stayed home and did just that.  The main one was giving Davis' home office a facelift.  He's decided he is going to retire from his job of 33 years at the end of the year and take another full-time job that will have him working from home.  I'm happy to report that the makeover is complete.....fresh paint and all.

I think the project wasn't just about checking something off of my list but it was also helping me work off some nervous political energy.  Don't worry.....this post isn't about any particular candidate.  I wouldn't dare go there.  I don't know anyone who's ever won friends that way.  But, let's be honest- I don't care who you're voting for, no one can feel good about the state of our political system or election process. 

I've been walking around with a tight feeling in my shoulders, my teeth kind of clinched......and finding myself taking a lot of deep breaths.  I've described it to friends as feeling like I'm buckled into the backseat of a speeding car that's being driven erratically by crazy people and they're taking me to places where I don't want to go.  I can't get out.  I can't stop the car or slow it down.  I can't reach the steering wheel.  I can just see that we're on a dangerous road and, there, I sit.  Strapped in.  Unable to do one thing about where we're going or how fast we're traveling or if we're following any of the laws.  It's most unsettling when we feel helpless.....for some of us more than others.  When things seems to be out of our control, well, that's not one of our favorite feelings. 

I don't know.  Maybe it's always been this low and dirty and the only difference is this age of social media and non-stop news is feeding us this constant flow of disturbing information.  We know about every deception, every smear, every scandal, every infidelity, every bit of fraud and betrayal and malice and injustice.  Day after day after day.  Story after story after story.  Spin after spin after spin. After a while, it starts to wear on a person, you know?  Maybe because I feel so small in the face of it.  Maybe because my one vote seems too insignificant to fight it.  Maybe because I'm afraid of all the darkness that surrounds it. 

I guess my anxiety isn't as much for myself as it is for my children and nieces and nephews.  Motherhood or "aunthood" or "grandmotherhood" or basically any kind of "hood" that causes us to dearly love someone who's traveling along behind us in this life......well, those various "hoods" kind of amplify our fear and apprehension of this questionable path we're currently traveling.  No one wants to feel uneasy about their kids' futures, their dreams, their security.  No one wants to anticipate that their kids will have a more arduous course to run or a steeper hill to climb.  No one wants that.  That's not the way it's supposed to be.     

I guess I feel about as inconsequential as little David must have looked when he was gathering his smooth stones from the stream and stuffing them into his bag preparing to fight 9' Goliath.  Such a big giant. Such little stones. Such an overwhelming task for such limited ammunition.

Goliaths are inevitable in life, I know.  Some of them are so daunting that we can't even see the top of their heads from where we stand.  We look up and they seem to stretch all the way to the sky.  We swallow real hard and our knees start to feel weak and shaky.  I guess that's where I am right now with all of this.  Very overwhelmed.  A little anxious.  So, so, so frustrated.  Considerably ineffectual. Pretty darn angry.  

But, I'm going to gather my little stones and I'm going to continue to pray for our nation and this whole process and I'm going to vote on election day.  Because I belong to God and He is still in control.  Even though it may seem that evil and deceit and depravity are at the helm, all authority still belongs to Him.  None of the candidates will be perfect or ideal....or, needless to say, make the best Sunday School teacher......but I will look at the issues and reach in my little bag and use the stone which I've been holding.  I will make it count.  I will take ownership of it.  Because leaving my stone in my bag isn't an option.  God never wants me to run scared from the fight.  He wants me to do my part and He will take it from there.    

Please pray for the hearts of the candidates and please vote, y'all.

Have a good one! 



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Happy Birthday, Dear Mama

Well, I'm back from my little trip.  Tuesday was my mother's 74th birthday and she wanted to go eat lunch with her two youngest grandchildren at their new school. It was all she wanted so I decided we would make a couple of days out of it.  Here's my pictorial summary....

Of course, we shopped and then ate with my brother, Lee, sis-in-law, Jenny, and the kids at Chuy's.  On the right, Mama is pictured with her favorite child.  She'd never admit to it but, well, Lee's the baby and you know how that whole baby thing goes. 
The, next day, we sat with Lily during her 10:55 lunch.  Um, hello, kindergarteners eat early.   
Then, we ate at 12:00 with Lelan who's in the 2nd grade.  Let's just say, it's been a long time since I've had the corn dog and chocolate milk combo.  Just as good as I remembered. 
Lelan taught us how to maneuver the elementary school cafeteria line and even picked up the tab by punching in his lunch number and signaling to the cashier that we were with him.  Had I known he was paying, I would've gotten 2 chocolate milks.  
It just happened to be the day that they were both on duty as the "table wipers" so we got to witness some grueling work. 
 After school, we went to watch Lily at her gymnastics class.  I'm happy to report that she does NOT take after her Aunt Joni in this area.
 After a full day, Lee and Jenny and Jenny's parents had dinner and a beautiful cake for her before we left for home.   
Homemade cards were presented......the very best kind of cards that there is. 
And it was just a sweet, sweet time all around. 

In all of our shopping, we happened upon a darling store called SugarBoo's and I found a quote that I just loved in there.....
Life has a way of tricking us.  Tomorrow convinces us that it will be the same as today.....that there's no cause for alarm.  Time fools us into believing that it doesn't have any surprises in store.  It lulls us to sleep with the hum of the familiar. 

I'm most guilty of not loving with urgency.  Maybe I place too much trust in the predictability of tomorrow.  I just want to count on it being a repeat of today.  That complacent state of mind that is content to believe that nothing will ever change.  That my little nephew and niece won't ever get too big or too cool to be seen with their aunt at school.  That my children won't ever move far away from home and that my nest won't ever be empty.  That my Mama won't ever grow old and leave me.  That Davis will be around as long as I am.  That next year will be just like this one.......and the year after that and the year after that.

But, I've been tricked by life before.  Sometimes, it pulls its stunts quickly and abruptly.  Sometimes, it's more of a slow and painful shift.  But, either way, it happens in the same way.  It follows the same format.  One day, life is fine, just the way we want it and, the next, it's all changed.  

As I watched Lelan and Lily get off the school bus.....spent the night sleeping between my mother and my daughter at the hotel......ate Greek food with Lee and Jenny......I thought how beautiful the love of family is.  It would be marvelous if we could preserve the present forever.  Even more marvelous to reach back in time and bottle it up before some painful losses were incurred....before some of those unwelcomed changes had taken place.  But, life doesn't work that way. 

So, we just live and love in the moment.  Reminding ourselves that nothing is set in stone.  That the clock is running.  That change is inevitable.  But that we have the gift of today.  A gift that's ours to spend as we choose.  And on whom we choose. 

May we choose wisely.

May we have no regrets. 

Y'all have a good one!          


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Little of This, Little of That

So, today's post is a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

1) The cooking supper thing that we talked about is coming along pretty well.  I've got my kitchen mojo back and, upon request, I thought I'd share a recipe that we just love at our house!  It's a good, hearty soup that you make in the crockpot and it's perfect for a fall night.  Now, I know there are some crockpot snobs out there, but I love an easy one pot dinner and this one is really good.  It's got your meat, your starch, and your veggie.  So, here goes.....        
Zuppa Toscana
(or as we'd likely call it in Mississippi- that sausage/potato soup like they have down at the Olive Garden) 

1 pound sausage
4-6 potatoes, cubed or thinly sliced (I slice mine)
1 chopped onion
2 TB garlic, minced
32 oz chicken broth
1/2 bunch kale, destemmed and torn into bite size pieces
1 c heavy whipping cream
2 TB flour
salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/4 c bacon, cooked and crumbled

Brown sausage and drain. 
Place sausage, broth, garlic, potatoes, and onion in slow cooker. 
Add just enough water to cover the vegetables and meat.
Cook on high for 4-5 hours until potatoes are soft. 
30 minutes before serving:
Mix whipping cream into flour until smooth.
Add cream and kale to crock pot and stir.
Cook on high 30-45 more minutes.
Add salt, pepper, cayenne to taste.
Top with bacon right before serving.

Blair brought us some good, crusty bread from New Orleans to have with it and it was so good, it made you want to slap your Mama!  Of course, we'd never do that but it was very good.  

2) Well, you asked for a picture of me in my wedding dress so, here, it is. 
You can't really tell in the first picture because of my flowers, but take a look at that stomach on the right side.  You could play Jenga on it.  Now, it might make a better skee ball ramp than Jenga table. Davis, well, he looks exactly the same but he didn't birth the children either, so it doesn't count.  And, yes, some of you asked if Blair tried it on and she did.  It fit her with even a little room to spare and the arms were a bit too long but it's just as well.  I don't think its 90's charms worked on her. 
3) October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  Maybe like some of you, my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage and so many of our family and friends have also experienced that same kind of loss.  A couple of months ago, one of my blog readers, Daphne Petrey, sent me a children's book that she'd written, I Have a Brother-My Brother Is in Heaven.  She and her husband experienced the loss of a son at only two days old.  She had older children at the time and she used her experience to write the book to help siblings cope with such a confusing and sad situation.  This sweet book is written from a child's perspective and I would definitely recommend it if a child in your life is dealing with this kind of loss in his or her family.  Daphne also has a blog, Carry Them Forever, if you'd like to go and check that out, as well.  She's a lovely lady!   
4) So, I'm going to be gone for a couple of days.  My Mama's birthday is Tuesday and we're going on a little overnighter along with Blair who will meet us when she gets done working.  We'll be in Birmingham and plan to do some shopping, eating, and, of course, see my brother and his family who live there.  I believe having lunch with my niece and nephew at their elementary school is on tap for Tuesday.  Oh, I hope it's grilled cheese and veggie soup day or rectangle pizza and corn on the cob day.  My love for those cafeteria faves go way back.  Anyway, I'm sure I'll have a lot to talk about when I get home.

Hope your week gets off on the right foot.......and I hope you can feel a little fall in the air!