Monday, July 31, 2017

Love is the Sweetest Ingredient

Well, the ladies at John Samuel's church gave them a lovely shower yesterday.  Just lovely.  It was held in the fellowship hall of the small town Mississippi church.  The fellowship hall is the social hub of any southern Baptist church, you know.  It's where all things involving a punch bowl and butter mints take place.  It's always a glorious spot of celebration and confections.  Sunday was no exception. 

The flowers, the cakes, the punch, the hospitality......all were perfection.  It was a lovely afternoon spent in the company of the ladies who've helped teach, raise, and likely even rocked my soon to be son-in-law. 

Over the course of the afternoon, I was reminded that church ladies function like a well oiled machine when it comes to showers, receptions, banquets, and such.  They have it down to a science. You give a bunch of church ladies a couple of days and they could plan a couple of funeral meals, a church potluck, a retirement reception, an ice cream social, and a presidential inaugural dinner with time left to spare.  You see, every woman has her own talent or niche and each is known for that specialty....whether it be the gift of the punch ring, flower arranging, beautiful handwriting, or the ever so revered gift of Italian cream icing.  When all of these come together, it is a beautiful thing.  Whatever the gift, whether it be organization or hospitality or beautification or a strong back, church women seem to hold an embarrassment of riches in event planning. 

I was penned up in my bedroom today with the dog while new carpet was being put down in our family room.  I actually accomplished several tasks on my list that would only get done if I.....well, were locked up in a room and forced to do them and so today was that day.

One of the things I'd been putting off was going through Davis' mom's recipes.  She's in a personal care home with advanced Alzheimer's disease and I'd gotten her recipes to make recipe books for her granddaughters.  For a couple of hours, I thumbed through stacks of recipes.  Some handwritten by her.  Some she'd typed.  Some clipped from newspapers or magazines.  Some given to her by friends. 

Year after year, they accumulated.  The recipes she loved others with. Those recipes she made for us.  For her friends.  For the church socials.  For the sick and bereaved. 

Some of the cards were splattered with grease.  Some were so old that they were tattered and bent.  Some were passed along to her by friends....likely after she'd sampled their dish in a fellowship hall somewhere and then asked for the recipe.

Bottom line is that, here in the South, we love with our food and our hospitality.  It's the extra ingredient in the strawberry cake.  It's the warmth of making others feel at ease when they're in your presence.  It's making them feel at home when they're not.  It's the crystal platter and the doilies and the greenery around the punch bowl.  It's the poppy seed chicken on a table loaded with casseroles and pies of every kind for a grieving family.  It's the cake under the cut glass dome for Sunday night company. 

It's the little extras.  The things you didn't have to do but did them anyway. 

Because of love. 

It's the busy women who spend the afternoon showering a young couple with the things they'll need to keep that same kind of love going.

The kind they were shown on Sunday. 





Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Car Lag and Such

Well, I'm back.

Last week, I was in Atlanta for market.  Basically, if you'd go walking as fast as you could for 12 hours straight for four consecutive days through the largest mall ever making a continual string of quick, on the spot, financial decisions, then you'd get a good taste of what market is like.  I think I found some really good stuff for the stores and enjoyed being with my funny friend and market roomie, Jean, so I'd considered the trip a success.

So, I came home completely exhausted.  Buying for the stores is so much fun but I was so glad to get home away from the big city!  This country mouse doesn't have much patience with big city traffic.  But, after only one really restful day, Blair and I had to load up and head in the other direction to New Orleans to meet with the florist and salon to finalize some wedding details.  So, after getting back from another 8 hours in the car, I'm not real anxious to travel the interstate system for a while.  I never left the house today and finally took a shower and put on real clothes at 3:00 this afternoon so I'm on my way to recovering from my travels.

While I was in New Orleans, Carson had his senior portrait appointment at the school.  So, that is getting pretty real now. His senior year starts two weeks from Friday!  Wedding gifts and showers are starting.  My house is becoming a glorified storage unit and Blair is moving out next month.  Life is just coming at me fast right now.  I'm like....
And I don't know what it's like where you are but here, in the Hospitality State, it's just plain hot.  Let's just say there's nothing hospitable about this hellacious, humid heat.  I saw an article that listed the states according to how miserable their summers are.  Mississippi finally ranked #1 in something!  Most miserable summers in the United States.  Go, us!

And, a couple of days ago, I was in the grocery store where I saw a mother with her three boys.  One was riding in the buggy and the other two were following behind her.  They walked by me and I saw the mother grab one son's arm and tell him through her clenched teeth that if he didn't straighten up she was going to knock the snot out of him. I knew then that it was almost time for school to start.  Mamas are getting testy about now and southern mamas are even growing so cranky that they're ready to dislodge the mucus from their children.   

So, I just stopped in, not because I had anything worth saying, but just to tell you where I've been.  My writing may become more spotty until after the wedding but I appreciate you hanging in there with me.

Y'all get out there and enjoy the last drop of summer vacation.  Sandwich bags and number 2 pencils are coming for us!



Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Lines

Well, I painted our powder room.  I was already in paint mode from our bedroom project when I realized that bathroom hadn't been repainted yet.  While I had all the pans, rollers, and vast array of painting tools out, I decided to go ahead and get it done.  After all, the powder room is really small so I knew it wouldn't take very long. 

Of course, the first thing I did was take everything off the walls including the huge mirror hanging over the sink.  Behind the mirror, I found some pencil lines. They were the lines used to find the perfect placement for the big bolt holding the heavy mirror in place.  I recognized those lines right away.

I always called Daddy to hang heavy things that needed to be stable or hang pairs of things that needed to be precise and symmetrical.  Not that Davis couldn't handle the job but, well, in his occupation, Daddy dealt in precision and stability, every single day, so it was definitely known as his specialty.  Even if I needed a large prop for a wedding, I'd call him because I knew if he built it, there would be no way that it would fall over, take out the whole wedding party, and consequently land me in court. 

He was a steel detailer.  I don't know if you know what that is.  I always had a hard time explaining it when I was a kid whenever people would ask what my dad did for a living and still probably don't do it very accurately.  But, he drew the detailed plans and drawings used to guide the manufacturing and assembly of steel beams, braces, trusses, stairs, etc......those things used in the construction of buildings, bridges, etc....usually for commercial, municipal, or industrial projects.  For long hours each day, he stooped over a drawing board with numbers and decimals and equations swirling all around.  He dealt in fractions of an inch. So, needless to say, he was all about precision.  When you're drawing the steel plans for bridges and platforms and stuff, that's kind of important, I'd guess.

So, when a heavy mirror needed to be hung or if I needed a pair of pictures centered on a wall, he was obviously the one I'd always call and he'd never disappoint.  Always right on the money.  Perfection. 

We'd painted over all his little pencil lines through the years.  One room at a time.  But, when I took that mirror off the wall, there his pencil lead was.  A horizontal line intersecting a vertical line.  The mirror was perfectly centered over the sink.  At the precise height I'd wanted.  And its weight had hung securely through all these years. 

I have to admit that it was hard to paint over those lines of his.  I'm pretty sure they were the last ones left around here and, even though the lines are gone, we still have those nails and bolts in their perfect placements all over our house.

I couldn't help but think that, one day, all of our lines will be covered up.  Life will go on long after we're gone and most of our marks will eventually be removed by the natural course of things.  Time will erase a lot of the projects, efforts, and toil into which we poured our time and energy.  In 100 years, there will be little evidence that we were ever here besides maybe some old records and a tombstone.    

But, the really important thing.  That mark where we chose to place our nail......well, that will stay in place long after we're gone for generations after us to use as a guide.  A reference for them.  Whether good or bad. 

Daddy measured carefully and figured accurately and used different tools effectively to make his mark on my walls.  He used God's word regularly and prayer fervently and his example consistently to make his mark on my life. 

I may paint over his lines or forget his efforts, but the mark that it all led to is still is at work. 

On my walls and in my heart. 

What kind of reference point will our kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, or students be left with when we're gone?  Will our mark be off a bit or will it keep them centered in Jesus? 

The anchor bolt that will hold them securely all their days.

Have a happy and safe 4th! 

God bless America!