Monday, July 31, 2006
25 For Sweet Janae
Today is my sweet daughter-in-law, Janae's 25th birthday. She's let me know she starts her day with reading my blog! Quite the compliment I think. In honor of her birthday, and the fact that she's a faithful reader, I thought I'd list 25 wonderful, fun, interesting things about her. By the time she's 50, closer to my age, I'll be 75 and if I judge from my mom's activity level, I might still be blogging then. So I can come back with 50 in 2031. For now - in no order whatsoever - 25 things I absolutely love about Janae:

#1 I only get to have one DIL, and she's so wonderful, that's fine with me.
#2 She is 5'11. I love that I don't feel like an Amazon woman around her. (I'm 5'10.)
#3 She has big, beautiful brown eyes.
#4 She loves, loves beauty products, and is the 'queen' in that regard. If you want to know about beauty, fashion, trends, give her a call. She knows.
#5 She sends me fun, trendy gifts, sometimes for birthdays, sometimes just because. The fact that I'm 51 and wouldn't know cool if it bit me, it's nice she does and keeps me appropriately accessorized. I appreciate we both agree I'm beyond a toe ring.
#6 She has just enough fears to make my son feel all big and strong and protective.
#7 She isn't the least bit afraid of snakes, rodents, frogs, lizards, etc. This completely baffles me, and her sister-in-laws, Sarah and Leslie - esp. in light of #6.
#8 She can drive like nobody's business and knows her way to anywhere in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. If you're in Dallas and lost, call her. She can get you there.
#9 She hates germs, more than the average girl. Watching her open a bathroom door with her elbows is amazing.
#10 In light of #9, she's amazingly not a neatnik. That's good. If I had to clean house for her to come visit, I'd dread it. I don't and I don't.
#11 She isn't a dog person, has never had a dog that I know of, but tells my son he can have a dog, someday. A small dog. A non-drooling dog. But a dog.
#12 She knows her Bible. She was well-school in Scripture from early on. And it shows.
#13 She loves hymns and U2 - I love the contradiction of that. If I were to start singing any old hymn and couldn't remember the 2nd verse, she likely could.
#14 She loves sushi and doesn't mind that I think its horrifying.
#15 She thinks her husband - my only son - is handsome as heck. Mothers love that.
#16 She has the most teachable spirit. When life is hard, she's willing and able to see the lessons God has for her.
#17 When I've intruded (ahem . . . only a couple of times...) she accepted it with grace. I'm still new at having a DIL and need grace; appreciate grace.
#18 She shares her brother and sisters and mom with our family. When we're together it truly is like a big, happy family. Any of them could come stay with us and we'd love it. They would too.
#19 She cries, easily. And often. I love that she has a very tender heart.
#20 She calls me Beverly. Only a few people do that; I never introduce myself that way, but for some reason a few people call me that. I like it in her. It sounds nice with a Texas drawl.
#21 She phones me now and then just to talk. Like a daughter would. I'm so thankful for that.
#22 She doesn't phone me to complain about my son. I'm thankful for that too.
#23 She is fiercely loyal to her own family. She's the big sister, don't ya' know!
#24 She loves and respects her grandfather and grandmother, and they know it.
#25 She does the name "Mrs. Gibson" proud.

I honestly thought this would take me a bit to think on and they rolled right out, within a very few minutes. She is a gift - to my son, to our family. Happy, Happy Birthday, Janae. Hope it's great the whole live long day.
Love you, Beverly

  posted at 12:01 AM

Friday, July 28, 2006
Camping in a Monsoon

Not that anyone will read this, all of you being busy with the Boo Tour of Homes, but just wanted to let you know we're headed out. In the Cub Sweetheart. In the pouring rain. We realized we could squeeze in a little camping trip before I head to Texas to help corral my favorite little people while Addison has her surgery.

So even though it truly is P.O.U.R.I.N.G. rain, (note photo with pools of it running down our driveway...) and is supposed to maybe keep pouring rain for the next 48 hours, we're going anyway. We've got leftover chili burros (recipe to follow someday - guarantee you'll love it),which I plan to zap in the microwave, we'll pop a DVD in the laptop, and veg. And yes, we call this camping. The smart kind.

We may not get to hike, build a fire, make smores or any of that campy kind of stuff, but there will be no phones ringing (cell doesnt get reception where we're headed), no bills to pay, no solicitors trying to sell me something I don't want, no grass to mow, laundry, vacuuming, yada yada yada. There will be the two of us, snuggled inside our little 20 feet of heaven, and we may not stick our noses out the entire time. Because while we do still love time together, we just found out last night one of my best friends in the whole wide world is dropping off, in the next hour, the FIRST SEASON OF 24 which we never got to see.

We're not even taking the bikes this time - books, movies, fattening food, each other. That's about it.

Doesn't take a lot to make me/us happy. I'll visit the rest of your homes when I get back to mine. xoxoxo

  posted at 10:23 AM

Bloggity Tour of Homes - Come on In!
Come on in! Our door is always open. You don't even have to take your shoes off. My husband doesn't. The dog doesn't either. So just come on in, or you're welcome to sit there in the rocker for a bit and enjoy the view. If you ring the bell, it's likely to play "Southern Rose of Texas". I think musical doorbells are so welcoming. Don installed one for me a few years back as a birthday gift.

This is the heart of our home. It's where we spend most of our time. Sitting here we can see straight out the front door or watch the birds at the feeders on the deck. It's gorgeous in winter to sit and watch the snow fall. We can easily grab some of those chairs at the counter and pull them up to the table. The more the merrier. If you eat at this table, you can't have a big aversion to consuming dog hair. We have quite a bit of that in our house. Golden retrievers are worth it, but they are hairy. We've had a lot of family memories, good and bad, right here at this table. I'll keep both.

I love to check out the fridge in someone's home; the outside, not the inside. It's where I head first when I'm visiting someone. Seeing family photos, jokes, etc. gives a glimpse of that family. If you zoom in on this you'll see some of our favorite people and animals. Who needs to check out a boring medicine cabinet (TMI!). I just want to see your kids, grandkids, etc. If you have an embarrassing appt. I promise not to notice. I have my own penciled in so don't zoom too much!

This is required equipment in our house. It has a timer and I lie in bed in the morning and wait to hear the four beeps that let me know it's all clear - I can head down. Starbucks, no creamer for me. That little square jar is Paula Deen seasoning. - It goes on everything so I just leave it out. I do have a good collection of Celestial Seasonings Tea if that's your preference. We aim to please around here. Lots of flavored creamers in the fridge door - my husband is NOT a coffee purist. The cutting board is a gift from my DIL, Janae, who is from Paris, Texas. Very cute I think.

This is the room we spend the other chunk of our time in. It's where reality TV happens, Saturday night Netflix and popcorn, football games, there's a big ole fireplace in the corner you can't see. The room used to be twice this big but just wasn't cozy so my sweet husband cut it down to size, and put in an office for me right behind it with sound-resistant walls for when he's watching something with the surround sound going. I'm not big on loud noises when I'm at my desk.If you look closely you'll see our four-legged child, Elway. He has the run of the house. A bit spoiled. (And did I mention hairy?)If you zoom you'll see that I didn't clean it for this photo. We always have dog toys out; he never learned to put them back (my sister's dog does this..) and there is ALWAYS a pile of papers to go through while we're watching TV at night, so I just left them there.

This is my blogging headequarters, aka my desk/bill paying center. You can't see the wall of quilting fabric and another with all my books. There's a TV with a built in VCR and DVD player that I actually know how to run across from my desk. I can pop in a (quiet) movie when I'm working at my desk. This is one of my favorite spots in the house. Since we don't really do anything in here it rarely gets messy or dirty. That's a blessing.

And finally, this is our little deck. It's not big, I wish it was screened in. However, it has the best view. This is where we check out all the wildlife that comes to visit. We can see our neighbor's son play with his new puppy, see kids running in the creek below. In the summer we can barely see the people across the creek, then fall comes and the shower of leaves is unbelievable. Wintertime - all the neighbors reappear and we see kids sledding down the hill behind us. We've watched deer take an all day nap on Christmas, laying there in the snow. When we chose this house the back yard was our son, Dan's favorite part. He was right - it's ours too. It's a little piece of heaven most of the time, and never needs vacuuming. Wish you could all join me here to get to know each other a little better and enjoy the view.

God was good to give us this house. When we bought it we were in town for two days to house shop. We looked at 20 houses per day, then narrowed down the list. It happened to be the very first one we looked at. It had no curb appeal, not a single flower in the yard, no shrubs. It needed a lot of TLC, but it looked like a great place to raise kids. It looked like it could be homey. Ten years later we think it is. Hope you do too. Homey is important to us. Thanks for visiting, hope you'll come back soon.


  posted at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Techie Tuesday - Grillboy

Barb and I have been trying, now and then, to do a little post on some of the less-technical things we new bloggers run into. The simple things that frustrate us. In one of Barb's posts this week someone asked how to save a copy of your template. She gave them a quick, simple answer. My answer is a bit different - I have a "test blog" which I'll explain in more detail in a few weeks. For now, I have something on a different level, "technically" speaking.

My son, Dan, phoned me last night. He said he was grilling. I told him I didn't know they had a grill. He said they'd seen one at Target for 75% off. Only problem was it was pink - Barbie pink. Hot pink. At their apartment they are not allowed to grill on the little patios. I guess with the Texas heat and lack of rain, you don't want to be burning down any buildings whipping up supper. If you want to grill, you have to sit on the lawn outside your little patio. He said he didn't think it was worth the extra money to get a black one. So they bought hot pink. His Dad is the griller in our family; he's the griller in his. So technically speaking, this is his pink grill.

Today I spoke with my daughter-in-law, Janae. She and I were talking about Dan grilling last night and I told her I thought it must have looked funny. If Janae had been the one grilling it would have been the perfect picture. She's one of the most girly girls I've ever met. I don't know how many shoes or purses she has, but it's a lot. Her makeup drawer is amazing. Dan, on the other hand, is 6'3", hairy, big old shoulders, that nice square, very male jaw, and size 14 feet to go with the rest of him. There's nothing sissy about that boy. (Except that he used to be an honorary brownie but that's a family secret so we won't go there). The idea of him, sitting on his lawn, with this little, hot pink grill - it just cracked me up. When Janae told me she had captured it on film and would forward it to me - to share with all my blogging friends - whooohoo, did she get brownie points or what (on top of the ones Dan earned way back when...oh yeah, those were badges...).

So here's a techie grilling - all 6'3" of him, Barbie pink grill and his laptop. Oblivious to how he may have looked to anyone passing by. What's not to love about it! By the way, 75% off was I believe $ case your man is wanting one. I hear they have a few left.

  posted at 10:00 AM

Saturday, July 22, 2006
Memories to Store Up For Later
Several weeks ago Don and I scheduled a trip to take our daughter, Leslie camping. It would have been our last trip with her alone. She is due to deliver her first baby around 9/1. Jeremy was about to take off on his annual Canada fishing trip and we'd planned a few days in the woods with her. A few days before we were to leave for this trip we got an email from a dear old friend, Tom. He let us know he and Carlotta were expecting houseguests.

Hubert and Tris,our other dear friends from way back, would be driving up from Florida for a short visit.

Let me go back a bit. Tris is my "Purple Shoe Money" friend. Her husband, Hubert was Don's boss way back when. Now they're simply our precious friends. We met Tom and Carlotta back in 1988 I think. Over the years, as husbands got transferred around the country, we lost touch with them. We'd see Hubert and Tris now and then, and stayed in touch through email here and there. When I started up my blog I sent a little email to a small group of friends. To my surprise Tris let me know she was out there reading.
About a month ago Tris sent us a sad email, letting us know Carlotta had just received a diagnosis of early onset alzheimers. Carlotta is in her early 50's. Soon after that Tom emailed to let me know he was a regular reader of my blog! He told me he was especially ecnouraged reading about Sarah's journey with Addison. When we heard our four friends would all be in the same place, plans had to be changed. Let me say here, Don and I are NOT social people. In 25 years of marriage we have never gone to stay at anyone's home overnight. At least not anyone we aren't related to.
One diagnosis can change things. It was enough to stretch us socially. Leslie and her husband Jeremy urged us to change our plans; go to Indianapolis; enjoy time with our friends now. So we packed our bags, left Leslie - our houseguest - home alone with the dogs.
When we pulled up to their house there was such anticipation. Walking in the front door, we truly felt like celebrities. I can't remember the last time someone was that happy to see us. I can't tell you how happy we were to see them. Tears, giggles, big hugs all around.
Let me tell you - we squeezed in a lot of living in those 48 or so hours. We laughed at shared memories. Passed photos around to catch up. Tom made us dinner.
The men enjoyed cigars on the patio late at night

while we girls stayed inside and had some girl talk.
We got to meet Tom and Carlotta's newest family member, a 4 month old miniature schnauzer named Katie. We managed a trip to Starbucks, Old Navy, the men visited Costco. Tris bought a pair of Crocs!

We met another couple, Don and Becky, for a fabulous italian dinner one night.

Tom's version of dessert was two pecan pies and I managed to eat three pieces in two days. (Pecan pie makes a great breakfast.) We put together a scrapbook of Carlotta's retirement party for her to remember everyone later down the road. There was something so comforting and precious about heading up the stairs at night and telling everyone goodnight. Felt a little like the Waltons - "night John Boy." Waking up in the morning, seeing everyone's bedheads and sharing coffee, felt like family.
Seeing Hubert and Tris enjoy their retirement, their golden years together, gives Don and I a great model of where we want to head next in our journey. Watching Carlotta handle this diagnosis with humor and grace still brings me to tears to think of it. Her gentle acceptance of it, and realization of what is precious now, held many life lessons for Don and I. Sitting up late at night talking with Tom gave us a new snapshot of bravery and graciousness.
To have these dear, dear friends tell us / show us how much it meant to spend time with them was something I won't forget for a long time. To realize we might have missed it makes me pause to think of what else is here, now, that I might not notice. What is priceless? What is too precious to pass up?
We likely gained a bit of weight over the trip. We spent a little money. We missed a camping trip with Leslie. We can walk off the weight. The next paycheck will make up for the unplanned trip. Next year we'll take Leslie, Jeremy and Landon camping. Driving home for those six hours, listening to oldies music,

I can't even begin to describe how rich we felt to be friends with these precious people. Thank you Hubert and Tris, Tom and Carlotta for a visit we will treasure for years to come. Let's do it again - soon.


  posted at 10:00 AM

Saturday, July 15, 2006
Bloggity Tour of Homes

Most house tours are held right before Christmas. Houses hung with bows, garlands, etc. All gussied up, since you're paying an admission fee to come in and see their stuff. I've been to a few that had those long plastic runners, starting right at the front door. Sort of makes you feel like you're only welcome because you're a paying guest.

But how about this! Boomama, who has recently been oh so curious what all our places look like, has planned a Bloggity Tour of Homes two weeks from today, Friday, July 28. Any good southern girl knows you don't just drop in on people. You call ahead. So she did just that. Let us all know we need to get busy, tidy up a bit here and there. Company's coming!

Run over to this post to get all the details. Some rooms don't need any attention, and since it's the middle of summer and all, you sure don't want to be cleaning anything that doesn't absolutely have to have it. Me - I have a chip or two on the front door that needs a little TLC. See you in two weeks - no plastic runners at our place. Just come on in. You're all welcome. I'm excited about dropping in on all of you too, since I called ahead and all.


  posted at 1:00 AM

Thursday, July 13, 2006
Thirteen Things I Take For Granted
It's easy to get confused. I start thinking some things in my life, that are blessings, or grace - are deserved, needed, etc. So today I'm reminding myself of 13 things that I tend to take for granted, and shouldn't.

#1 Salvation - Sometimes I take for granted that He picked me, paid my penalty.

#2 My health. Waking up in the morning, getting out of bed by myself, having eyesight, hearing, speech, memory. The only medication I take is an advil here and there. I take it for granted. I also take for granted that it will last forever with no effort on my part.

#3 Freedom. The freedom to worship, vote, work, move about my country, etc. etc. etc.

#4 That many men and women are, right this minute, protecting my freedom. I have never had to sacrifice a single family member to have this protection. Many have, and will.

#5 My husband's job; his ability to provide for us. One of my dear friends' husband was laid off two weeks ago with no notice. They are worrying over the mortgage, utility bills, etc.

#6 My marriage. It's strong. We're good. The best marriage still needs some maintenance, and sometimes I forget that and don't give it the attention it needs.

#7 Electricity. We lose power often here in the East, and when it goes out I am amazed at all the things that don't work.

#8 Forgiveness from those I love. When I blow it, again; when I hurt someone; when I disappoint someone - I assume they will forgive me. Again. Then when it's my turn, I forget those times others forgave me, again.

#9 Joy. It's only when life is so difficult, overwhelming, that I remember what the days feel like when it's not. When it's one of those days when I drive down the street, with the windows rolled down, and the music playing, singing along - I take those days for granted when they're there.

#10 Being able to be a Proverbs 31 woman, as far as "bringing my food from afar." I completely take for granted being able to go to Giant Eagle and buy anything I want. I forget those years when I lived in a town of 1750 people in North Dakota and the grocery store had 3 aisles. Now I tend to get annoyed that the store is so big and takes so long to go through.

#11 My parents, who are getting older. I don't call them often enough. Don't go see them often enough. Don't tell them I love them often enough. No amount is enough. I need to do it more.

#12 Our children, their spouses, our grandchildren. They are each a gift, undeserved. We love each other, get along well for a family. Holidays are not something we all dread. I forget that others don't have that situation, that it's a blessing.

#13 Scripture - I have truly 6 or more Bibles. We have friends in our church who go to countries where they have no Scripture, or get arrested if they are caught with it. I can quote verses here and there, but rarely get the book, chapter and verse here. I wonder if I thought I would have no access to it all of a sudden, would I spend more time in it?

Sadly, there are a number of other things I could add to this list. Even if it's for one day, I plan to be more aware of grace and mercy extended to me - in the big and little things of life. To not take them for granted.

  posted at 10:00 AM

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Bustin' Our Buttons

Everybody thinks their kid is the best. If they have several, then their several are the best. At whatever. The smartest, best-looking, best-behaved, whatever. The best. That seems only fair since we have to raise them.

Don and I are generally the quiet type when it comes to being cheerleaders for our kids. We've spent time in the stands and never raised our voice. Never stayed after to get after a referee. Didn't put notices in the newspaper everytime someone made honor roll or actually graduated. That was what was expected of them. They knew it. They all say "maam and sir." (It just sounds nice, don't you think?)

We've tried to tell our kids - "do your best, your best is always good enough." Some things have come easier to one than to another. Sarah and Leslie were born with a book in their hands, or just about. Dan - a basketball. Or football. Not a book. You don't want to see our girls attempt sports. You don't want to see Dan's grade in foreign languages. We tried to encourage them to set goals in some area, to be growing, improving. We made them go to church, during those times they preferred to stay in bed. Those were fun mornings at our house!

The only member of my family - my parents and my siblings that is, who graduated from college was my mother. Amazing since she got married right after 8th grade. My sister Barb, and I, have done the Rosie O'Donnell thing - "the cycle stops here." Our kids went to college. It was expected of them. Required of them. No discussion.

We're proud of all of them - heck, they're our kids. We think they're the best, because they're ours. We're not more proud of one than the other; we don't have favorites, in spite of the family arguement that ensues about that very fact every time we all get together. (For the record, all three of our kids have a t-shirt like this one. Dan just believes it a little more.)

Just for today, though, we want to brag a little. Yell from the stands. Show a little favoritism. Yesterday our son, Dan, got accepted into grad school. He'll be studying for an MBA starting this fall. We have no idea what grades he'll get. That doesn't really matter. Some of the courses sound darned scary to me. For right now, just this minute - we're bustin' our buttons at him for taking the step, for setting the goal. We're also thankful sweet Janae will be the one living with him through the process. Way to go, Dan!

  posted at 10:26 AM

Barbie Bandaids

When my children were small, they loved bandaids. Not the plain ole pink version; rather the jazzed up ones. Sarah and Leslie loved Barbie, My Little Pony, etc. Dan, on the other hand was more than willing to skin a knee to get a G.I.Joe applied. There were times their little legs would have a good half a dozen bandaids up and down them; each little scrape or knick needed a bandaid all it's own.

When Dan was little he had some type of seizures. The doctors never did really completely diagnose them. I just called them "the type that scared me to death." The kind that made me pray to give up a year of my life in return for this kid to start breathing again. Once when we were traveling across the country, Dan shut his thumb in the door of a convenience store. Only when I looked up from his thumb did I realize he'd also stuck the hanger that bags of candy go on through his cheek. When he screamed til he stopped breathing, I remember holding him as tightly as possible to my chest, consoling him over and over trying to calm him. Trying to get him to breathe again. Hearing my voice, he eventually calmed down and was okay.

There have been many kid disasters over the years. A toy flute stuck in an eye, stitches needed here and there. A broken thumb, sprained ankles, broken ankle, etc. All of these things could be fixed with some combination of colorful bandaids, good insurance, lots of sympathy, popsicles, tylenol, etc. Little did I know these would be the easy ones to deal with.

There were the hurts that weren't physical. Broken hearts, hurt feelings; games not won, tryouts not made. Friends who betrayed, goals not reached. Those have been hard. Some hurts were self-inflicted - brought on by poor choices, age-appropriate but poor. Some came by trusting someone too easily, or too much. As parents we listened, counseled, prayed.

When our middle daughter, Leslie, went to college I really struggled to let her go. She hadn't really gone through a tough stage as a teen. She usually made good choices, tried to please us. After a month or so of delving into what could be causing me so much anxiety, I realized I didn't trust God. I realized He and I had different agendas. Mine was to keep them safe, never let them be hurt. His was to let them grow up - into what He had planned for them to be. My plan was to go ahead of them and prevent them from making mistakes. His would allow them to make the mistakes and learn from them. I liked my plan a lot better. It was a turning point for me to at least realize, as a mother, I've tried to protect them from the moment I knew they existed. I still do. Even now I don't particularly want them to grow, stretch, be challenged. I don't want them to hurt. I do want them to "turn out", just with no drama involved. I don't need to be God - I just need Him to take advice from me....

For the last two months I've stood back and watched my daughter, Sarah, bear up to such hurts, challenges, heartaches. I've seen her be stronger than I raised her to be. I'm not only proud of the young woman she's grown into, I'm proud of the woman I see her growing into now; today. I also hurt to see her hurt. I ache to know how lonely this must all feel. To know she has to do it herself; I can't do it for her. My plan would not have equipped her to be where she is right now. Thank God, God went with His plan...

Now that she has a little girl of her own, I believe she can better understand my mother's heart. For the little girl she will always be to me. I wish I could just plaster her with Barbie bandaids and make it all better. I realize only one of us gets to be God. He is able to do much more than cover up a hurt with a bandage. He is able to heal. This mother's heart is holding strong, day-by-day as I watch Him carry out His plan for her. Sarah said, in one of her most recent posts - "he is not only able to care for my daughter's heart; He's able to care for mine." Ditto.

  posted at 10:00 AM

Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Born on the 4th of July

Seventy-three years ago today my mom was born. She gave us a brief retelling of the story of her arrival in one of her first posts. The title, "Seventy-Six Trombones" is appropriate for someone born on the 4th ofJuly, in hot southeast Texas. I always thought it would be cool to be born on a holiday; I doubt that day felt cool in any way, shape or form.

I've already written a post about my mother, Judith, known to some of you as Flight Song. If she weren't my mother, I'd still want to get to know her. I'd want to hear her stories. She has lived through more than most of us will ever experience in a lifetime, and she still has a gentle spirit and a sense of humor. She can't tell a joke to save her life, blows the punchline every time, but all five of her kids love her dearly. She is precious in every sense of the word.

She is little in stature. It's just that nobody has ever told her so. She's got a lot of fight left in her, just not usually against her fellow man. My mom and I have not lived closer than 750 miles apart for the last 25 years. We are very close though, where it counts. Our hearts. Two years ago, after a tragic loss in our family, I sat down and taught her how to email. We needed to be in touch more. I wrote out step-by-step instructions. I promised her it would feel like talking once she did it a few times. The first email I received from her I put on my fridge door, just like a proud mother might of a drawing done at pre-school. I couldn't believe she'd really done it.

Two months ago she relocated across the mountain in Colorado, to live near my sister, Barb. In the process of moving, her computer has gone completely haywire, her email addresses disappeared; heck, it even took two weeks to get the TV hooked up. If it had been fall reality TV season, it would have killed Boomama! Mom is trying to get her computer woes straightened out. She'll soon return to this blogging world she bravely tiptoed into just a little while back. She has a style very different than Barb or I, or for anyone else for that matter. Reading her writings feels like curling up at the feet of a good storyteller; you know you should pay attention.

For now, feel free to send Happy Birthday greetings to her; mark her on your bloglines and watch to see when she returns. She's worth listening to, as long as she's not trying to tell you a joke.

Happy Birthday Mom. Wish I could be there for the party. I love you.

  posted at 10:00 AM

Monday, July 03, 2006
Pet Purging
Saying no has never been a strong point of mine. Whether it be volunteering for ministry, taking a meal, driving the carpool, raising someone else's kid, solving someone else's problem - I stink at saying no. When it's agreeing to adopting something with four legs, my record is even worse.

We grew up with a menagerie of critters. I doubt we paid for any of them. My brothers likely dragged some home; others were fed at our house for too many days in a row and stayed. We never visited the vet; heck, we kids rarely went to the doctor! Consequently some died of mysterious deaths. Looking back, I realize it was never terribly sad saying goodbye to any of our pets. They didn't stick around that long. They didn't last long enough for us to get attached to them. I remember one puppy in particular. His history ended under the wheels of the school bus, and we had a neighborhood "funeral" that felt more like a party. Only one pet ever, ever lived inside our house. Her name was Pauletta Sue June Boaz, a little grey poodle with bows in her hair. She slept inbetween my sister, Barb and I. She'd been given to Barb by some dying relative of an old boyfriend. I still can't believe my father agreed to anything with four legs living inside our four walls. Even Pauletta Sue was given away when our family moved across country. There was no goodbye, she just didn't make the trip I'd already left on.

We all carry baggage from our growing-up years; I will always have an unhealthy attachment to any falling down, paint-peeling, white clapboard house that just so happens to have a front porch. I'll always have a soft-spot for making homemade ice cream with a hand crank freezer. I'll also have an unnatural pull toward creatures. Especially dogs and cats. Somehow I convince myself if we don't adopt them nobody will. My husband would rather I go to the mall than the humane society. About 15 years ago, due to my aforementioned inability to say NO, we'd climbed to an all new high number of pets. T.W.E.L.V.E. If I remember right, there were two dogs, Lindy and Daisy; two cats, Bullseye and Mooch; three goldfish-no names needed; a guinea pig named Ben (who was really a girl named Jennifer), and four teddy bear hamsters, all named Timmy, after my husband's brother (which always cracked us up). It was also the summer we had our three kids, and we'd agreed to raise my brother's two year old, non-potty trained son.

At some point I reached saturation/overload level. I just could not stand one more creature depending on me to stay alive. I knew I couldn't get rid of anybody with two legs, so everybody else became open season. I just woke up and H.A.D. H.A.D. I.T.

My first act of the day was to give the fish the royal flush. It truly didn't occur to me that a chlorinated swim would be painful. I scooped them out and sent them on their way. Next, I convinced the kids selling their hamsters was a good way to make money. $5 is a lot of money to a kid. We sold them all. There were a few parents left out there who didn't know a $5 hamster needed $50 in habitrails, sawdust, etc. I still don't know how we convinced somebody to take a cat. I didn't require an I.Q. test, so off it went. A boy from the high school agreed to take Daisy, the bird dog. He actually hunted birds; all we were using her for was to bleach out the carpet, one spot at a time. It was the end of the day. All that was left was Ben, a.k.a. Jennifer the guinea pig. He/she lived in a 10 gallon glass aquarium. There was no drainage. Just soaked newspaper clippings. She'd grab her water bottle with her little mouth very early every morning and let it go, over and over, to let us know it was breakfast time. Time to deliver lettuce to her front curb. She'd whack the glass wall, then let out a screech. Ben had to go. I would have kept all the others just to send him to somebody else's house. Ben belonged to our son, Dan. Dan didn't really mind the screeches and smells coming from his room. Boys are good that way. He loved Ben. I finally convinced Dan he could sell Ben for $10. Dan had never had $10 in his life. The money lured him in. Alas, we couldn't find anyone with a mother clueless enough to pay for the pig.

There was one hope left - Jeremy. Jeremy's Dad was out of a job. They didn't have $10, but he had one of those moms who has an even bigger problem saying no than I do. Perfect. I told Dan I would buy Ben from him, then give Ben to Jeremy as a gift. To cheer him up. I still vividly remember stopping by the ATM machine on the way out of town; standing there with Dan withdrawing the $10 bill. Handing it over to him. Trying not to feel completely evil.

At the end of the day we had T.W.O. pets. One cat, one dog. Like most normal Americans. Sad ending to the story; Ben didn't live very long. apparently Jeremy's mother cut back on Ben's water supply so he'd stop that infernal racket with the water bottle. Dan grew up, realized $10 is not a fortune. To this day if I mention Ben, he lets me know he hasn't completely forgiven me for waving a $10 bill under his little nose. He's still convinced we literally sold Ben into a certain death. That's how it went down - the day our family refers to as "Pet Purging Day."

I recently changed my profile photo. The main reason was, as Sarah, my daughter pointed out, the photo had Sydney in it. Sydney, who I sold when she was six months old because she was driving me crazy. Sarah pointed out there was probably something wrong with posting a photo of me and the dog I deserted. Point well taken. Thus, new profile photo. Note - I DO have a cat and a dog, take good care of them, and have no plan of removing them from our household. I only mention this to make up for the fact that after I sold Sydney I put Sadie, the other cat, to sleep, or as we like to say - "sent her to heaven to be Jesus' pet." My reason was a good one, but I'll spare you TMI. Sometimes I just have to, as I told Sarah, "kill the cat." Alas, sometimes the sins of the parent are visited on the children; I'll let my daughter, Sarah, tell you the rest of the story.

  posted at 12:16 PM

Saturday, July 01, 2006
We Almost Missed It
Yesterday we were all headed out to dinner, my husband, me, our daughter, Leslie and her husband, Jeremy. The THREE dogs were on the deck, where they'd been banished to. Austrie, the shepherd mix, was intently watching the woods behind our house. When Austrie comes to visit it's always fun to watch her watch. We have quite a collection of creatures who visit us. She is still looking for the chipmunks she saw in our woodpile last summer. Yesterday afternoon I'd seen a female deer walking through the woods behind us. I wondered if she might have left babies for a bit of a break. Even mother deer need a breather now and then.

Our son-in-law, Jeremy is an enigma. He has such a love for nature, the outdoors. He'll also shoot just about anything that makes the mistake of standing still too long. I can't see anything within inches of my face to save my life, but can see about a block away very clearly. So Jeremy and I compete to see who spots the wildlife first. In our backyard woods or on the road. Austrie stood there long enough we knew something was up; Jeremy went to the glass door and looked. Sure enough, there they were. A doe with her TWO spotted fawns. They were nursing as she stood there patiently waiting. We keep binoculars in a drawer in the kitchen for moments like this, or for when we happen to have a pileated woodpecker or hawk visiting. Or my favorite groundhog I've named George. Or a flock of turkeys during mating season.

Standing there watching this moment, it felt like a quiet gift from God. The woods behind our house gets so thick with leaves this time of year we can barely see our neighbors. They reappear when fall arrives. The leaves almost hid them. As the two babies nursed, their mother gently groomed them. Guess you could call that multi-tasking: bathtime and supper at the same time.

With Sarah having a newborn, and spending much of her waking moments feeding little Addison, and Leslie about to embark on motherhood, it felt amazing to stand there and take it in. The mother looked at us intently as we quietly crept out onto the deck. She tolerated our presence as long as we didn't venture down the stairs to the yard. I know later this summer we will see these two little ones playing chase up and down our creek. Mom will be somewhere nearby, watching.

Moments like this make the mortgage worth it. They make the old windows and high utility bills seem trivial. Jeremy didn't say a word about how big these babies would be when hunting season arrives. He's about to become a father for the first time. He knew - some things are sacred. Watching a mother caring for her newborn twins is one of them.

  posted at 11:25 AM

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    About Me

    Girl Raised in the South

    I have a deep, abiding love for full octane coffee, sewing, knitting, quilting, reading, cooking, gardening, God and my family - not in that order.

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