Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter Fun

Taking advantage of the snow...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's winter... Christmas is on it's way...

photo: Harvey Chute

Last Sunday it started to snow. The roads were covered and we weren't sure whether we could get to church or not. We could, but on Monday school started two hours late. Tuesday it was a regular day. Wednesday was another late arrival. By Thursday more snow had arrived and school was cancelled for Thursday and then again on Friday. So, winter break was supposed to start after Friday. We got two extra days.

The girls have taken advantage of the snow -- some days playing for HOURS at a time.

I look out the window and see a beautiful scene. We even had deer in the yard -- which makes for a great piece of artwork.

Fortunately, we've been able to stay toasty warm inside. However, we've ALL been inside for most of everyday. And, I find myself going a little bit crazy.

Lately, I hear people getting so excited about the snow and the Christmas season. I don't actually feel excited -- about either one. I don't know if Christmas for "the mommy" is just so busy that it's hard to enjoy it. Or, maybe I'm feeling a little bit sad that my parents aren't around to even call on Christmas day. Maybe I'm a little stir-crazy and there's been very little alone time. But the truth is, I just don't feel very Christmasy.

It's bothering me. I want to be cheerful and pleasant and "in the spirit."

I'll just keep plugging along and maybe it'll hit me if I keep trying.

Merry Christmas season to you all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Please excuse me...

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I've started another blog and have been busy posting there.

My sister, Laura, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. My focus lately has been to keep that blog updated so people can stay up-to-date with what's happening with her.

Please see that blog:

I'll be back!

Monday, November 3, 2008

My babies are growing up. I've known that for quite some time, but it's continuing to hit me in different ways, at different times.

This past Friday was Halloween. They dressed up like bags of jelly beans and went trick-or-treating. On Saturday, they went to a sleepover. Next Sunday, they're going to another sleepover. Next Tuesday they're going to Canada for the day -- without me. The next Friday they have another sleepover and who knows what else is coming?!

Slowly, without noticing it, almost totally unaware, we're beginning to spend a little less time with each other.

And then one day, they'll be heading off to college...

However, they're not gone yet... They're still my little, baby girls. They still kiss me good-bye when I drop them off at school. They still act excited to see me even when they're with their friends.

I suppose the lesson is to remember to cherish each day I have with my little bags of jelly beans.

The days are speeding past me.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recently, I spent some time in San Francisco with my sister, brother-in-law and niece. It was wonderful. We ate yummy food, saw good sites, watched my niece in a play, went on a hike (saw lots of elk up-close) and just enjoyed the city.

Before I left for my trip, I prepared what I call my "substitute lesson plans" for my husband, my daughters and my in-laws. Sometimes the preparation for a trip makes the trip a little less desirable, but in the end, it was all worth it.

My children and husband got to spend time with the grandparents and I got a fun little trip out of the deal.

I actually came back refreshed and somewhat energized.

I needed that.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sometimes you just hang on until the tide takes you away.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Love felt deeply

Autumn has come.
And, while each season is filled

with its own memories of Mama and Papa,
this one is hitting me hard.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It wasn't just the food...

I've been thinking about what I posted yesterday.

My mother did show great love through the foods she prepared. But for our family, meal times weren’t just utilitarian; they were experiences. Mama spent a lot of time making sure all of those experiences, from breakfast to supper, were enjoyable.

Our table wasn’t a host to packages and containers. Food was served in a dish or on a plate. Floral arrangements (her own) were always a part of the table when company came. And, whether there was company or not, the table needed to look good; which included tablecloth or placemats, napkins and all the silverware for everyone. If a drink with ice was served, there was a coaster. If a hot beverage was served, there was a saucer.

There wasn’t much that was casual about Mama’s table, but it wasn’t stifled.

There was all kinds of love served at that table.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Food = Love

I can’t think of a meal at Mama’s table without picturing both Mama and Papa being a part of it in some way. Every season provided different food memories. At this time of year, it would be mustard greens, collards greens, sweet potatoes, streak o’ lean, cornbread, and candied apples. Summertime provided its own goodies: fried chicken, field peas, fresh tomatoes, cantaloupe, homemade biscuits, and stewed corn. Papa participated in the feast with his own variations on a theme. Collard greens wouldn’t be complete unless he added hot pepper sauce. For Papa (and later for me), field peas needed a little bit of fresh hot pepper from the garden. Cantaloupe required lots of salt; cornbread needed lots of butter.

On the 4th of July, Papa and Mama worked together to make DELICIOUS homemade peach ice cream. Mama would sometimes make her famous Lemon B-B-Q chicken or barbeque ribs. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, we all had our favorite “Mama food.” For years it was sweet potato casserole for me. I remember Robert’s request for mincemeat pie or coconut cake. I’m sure Laura and Mary had their favorites, too. Meanwhile, Papa worked tirelessly to make his annual Christmas ambrosia. On New Year’s Day, there was the unwavering tradition of black-eyed peas, rice, stewed tomatoes and Papa’s coleslaw.

Food just naturally makes me think of Mama. When I’m cooking, I want to call her to either ask for a recipe or tell her how good or bad things turned out. Seems like most occasions in our family revolved around food. For our birthdays, we got to choose what we wanted for the meal. Later, when we moved away, Mama would make sure she prepared something we liked when we came home.

One thing that gave me comfort was the way Mama and Papa worked together. If he didn’t help her cook, he helped with setting the table or with clean-up -- especially at times when there was a crowd.

This Thanksgiving we will celebrate without either of our parents. There will be a definite hole: food-wise and in our hearts. I’m sure, though, that table talk will include memories of wonderful meals gone by and I imagine that Mama and Papa will be joining us from where they are.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This is an odd blog entry; please read it anyway.

Okay... This is not your typical blog entry; however I had to try it.

In a few weeks, I'm going to go to a writer's retreat on Hood Canal; it should be great.

In preparation for that retreat, one of the presenters has asked us to try various sentence patterns in our everyday writing. So today I'm going to write a blog using those patterns and variations; thus I will get practice. ;-)

Last night I went to Open House at S & H's school; I didn't make it around to every teacher.

The wind is blowing; the leaves are falling; fall is here.

I'm trying to figure out what to have for dinner; but I don't much want to cook.

The economy is awful; banks are closing; people are losing jobs; I'm looking forward to a new president.

Thank you for your indulgence; this activity has been fun.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Gift of Sitting Still

It's raining today. That's not something new around here, but there's something sort of peaceful about today's rain.

Maybe it's the glimmer of hope that a little bit of blue sky provides behind the rain.

Maybe it's the quiet of the house all to myself with the sound of rain in the background.

Maybe it’s because all of this quiet reminds me of my parents.

I'm southern to the core in many areas. One of those is the gift my parents gave to me of sitting still. I have fond memories of just BEING on the porch with my parents. Not doing anything -- just being.

I think it's tough to do that and not feel guilty when other people are rushing around from one activity to another.

However, I just made up my mind... As a tribute to my parents, I'm going to sit around sometimes and try not to feel guilty.

If I had a porch, it'd be even better.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hey! Play-dough!

Every Tuesday night for the past two years our family has met with three other families for Bible study or book discussion and fellowship. We had our first gathering of the year tonight…

For the children, I decided to have a night called “Pretend you’re in kindergarten again.”

Take a moment and try to remember the things you had in your kindergarten classroom… That’s what I tried to make my family room look like. Books, toys, art supplies – arranged like “centers” around the room. The first thing they saw when they came in the room was a sign that welcomed them to “Pretend you’re in Kindergarten Night.”

They smiled and walked downstairs.

Each of them immediately gravitated to the things they enjoyed as kindergarteners (and maybe, still do). Some played with Lego, some created things with play-dough, some colored (pretending to be as inexperienced as a 5-year-old -- just scribble, scrabble), some carried baby-dolls. Everybody got into the spirit of the night and even settled down after a while to watch "The Arthur Music Video"…

As a parent it was fun to watch, but it also gave me something to think about...

Seems like it’d be good for us all to pretend we’re in kindergarten again – every-once-in-a-while, anyway.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Pretty much every day I have some idea of how I would like my day to go... and then, I get side-tracked.

My goal this morning was to clean my house right after I got the girls to school so I could then run errands (like buy more detergent so I could wash more clothes). But, no... I stopped and checked my e-mail, messed around on the computer and generally wasted time.

In fact, I'm STILL not cleaning my house because I'm writing this blog!

I’ve been walking around the house pretending to accomplish something while trying to imagine what lesson there could be in my procrastination (other than "don't procrastinate.")...

I haven't come up with anything (other than "don't procrastinate.")

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Perhaps someday on your bookshelf....

I think writing is a lot like photography.
With photography, there are many photos taken before you get to the photo that captures the moment.
With writing, you have to write a lot of pretty awful things before you get to the piece that’s worth sharing.
Either way, you have to work through a whole bunch of garbage to get the reward.
So, while I’ve written quite a few things that probably deserve a horrible death, somewhere in there is a piece that is waiting to be refined.

All I have to do is, keep at it.
And, who knows?
Years from now my little story may find its way to your bookshelf.

Friday, September 5, 2008


I have to confess something… I haven’t really prayed in a very long time. Don’t misunderstand. I’ve said quickie prayers. I’ve cried out to God in moments of intense grief or pain. I’ve asked God for wisdom in moments of uncertainty. I’ve bowed my head at church and prayed along with the one who leads. I ask the blessing each night before we eat dinner. And, I try to remember to say "Thank you" for the daily miracles in my life. But the truth is, I haven’t sat down and really focused on having a conversation with God in quite some time.

I’ve never been really good at it anyway. I’m too easily distracted.

However, today as I was walking back from going to school with the girls, it hit me that now, more than ever, they are growing up. In this week of figuring out all the new schedules and guidelines and rules, it’s becoming clear to me that they are entering a new environment – and it’s not just middle school. It’s making me realize that I’m beginning to send them out into a world that is beyond my control.

There are busy roads to cross. There are lockers to manage. There’s bigger homework to tackle. There are bullies out there. There are hidden dangers all over the place.

And, so… it occurred to me that I’m going to need some help. Not just to protect my girls, but to calm my spirit.

If you’re a praying person, would you throw in a prayer for this new era in our lives?
It’s bigger than me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Some girls, a book and the author

Yesterday my girls and I hosted our monthly book group meeting for their friends. It's always a good time... Each month we read a book -- which is fun -- and then at our gathering we get to eat, talk about the book and make a bookmark (which is our craft of choice).

So far, we've read Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree. Our next book was Chasing Vermeer and our most recent book was Hattie Big Sky.

What made yesterday so special was that Kirby Larson, author of Hattie Big Sky, joined us for our book group!! She shared stories of how Hattie came to be, methods she used for gathering information about the time period, tricks for naming characters and other fun tid-bits for writers-to-be.... It was definitely a treat!

For those of you who haven't read it already, I suggest you find a copy of Hattie Big Sky and enjoy!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Remember way back on June 5th?

I submitted a manuscript for acceptance to a writer's retreat which takes place in November.
I was accepted!
Every time I submit something, I do it with the attitude that if I'm accepted, then it's a reason to keep at this writing thing. If I'm not, I'll slow down. So far, the word has been to "keep at it."
Here's where the retreat will be:
More later!!
Have a great weekend.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My drain is clogged

I woke up this morning to find a sink full of water in my downstairs bathroom. It was dirty water. It was disgusting. Couldn't find the Drano -- and I've heard that's not so great for the pipes or the environment -- so I did some internet research... Turns out baking soda, vinegar and boiling water are supposed to do the trick.
Guess what? I tried the baking soda & vinegar trick... It didn't work. So, I dismantled the pipes. Yuck! I tried to "snake" it out. No luck.
So you know what I did? I screwed the pipes back together, straightened up my mess and proceeded with my day. :-)
Now, while I know that my sink still needs de-clogging, I also know that sometimes you have to put the yucky stuff aside and get on with your life.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Just feels good...

Pretty much everyday I wake up wanting to call my mother and check in. And then I realize she's not going to be on the other end of the phone. That's about the time I start to deflate.

But everyday when I come down to my computer, I find staring at me, a photograph of my parents' house. The one where I grew up. I put it on my computer as my desktop photo. There's something very comforting about seeing the front porch and the front yard looking back at me. And, while it DOES NOT replace talking to my parents, it does give me a warm feeling inside.

Somewhere in all the wonderful memories and all the comforts of home is a story just waiting to get out. Not sure how it's going to develop and it may take me a LONG time, but someday I'll write a story that honors both of my parents and all the love they put into our growing up ... The house &/or the porch will definitely be a character in that story.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gettin' Ready to Ride

I decided recently to start riding my bike... Some of that decision came from the fact that I need to train for a ride next summer in Idaho. I'm pretty sure I could ride without a WHOLE lot of training -- it's 69 miles in 5 or 6 days -- but I also believe I could benefit from regular riding.

I'm trying to teach my girls that biking can be lots of fun. We've done a couple of trails around town. They enjoyed them -- but one more than the other. I bought them each a flashing light for the back of their bike and a pair of riding gloves to make the ride easier and safer. And, for me, I bought myself a rack, a pannier, riding shorts, gloves and lights so I can carry things and be comfortable and safe. I hope to save gas, build muscle and "save the earth."

It's easy to ride now when the sun is shining. It will probably be more challenging emotionally when the gray skies and rain come in October or November. My goal is to ride no matter what.

There's a lot to learn in the coming days. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Another good book

While we were on vacation -- camping on the coast of Oregon -- I read So B. It by Sarah Weeks. It's a young adult novel. I loved it. I loved the voice. I loved the characters. I loved the story. I think you'll love it, too.
Heidi lives with her mother, who is mentally disabled and Bernadette, a neighbor with her own disabilities. That's the only life Heidi has ever known and at the age of 13 her curiosity about her mother takes her on a long bus ride to New York state. The journey is so well-told and it takes hold of the reader. The reader is introduced to various characters along the way...all of whom the reader relates to on some level.
I've really enjoyed reading children's books lately. In fact, I may just concentrate on them.
I recommend that you read So B. It. I'd like to hear what you think.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

To write or not to write?

Been wondering if I really want to write as a "profession" or not. I think there's a part of me that will always need to write, but I'm not so sure I want to feel the pressure of having to write under a deadline. Of course, I'm not to that point anyway.

I've written before about submitting manuscripts to a publisher and for the writer's retreat. I do that with a little trepidation each time, but I figure that if my manuscript is accepted, then I'll keep moving in that direction. And, so far, I think I'm being "told" to keep moving in that direction. :-o

My problem is that I have an illness called perfectionism. If I don't think it'll be perfect or that I'll become an immediate writing success (as in books -- not magazine articles), then I encounter major hesitation. Perfectionism is a terrible disease. As Anne Lamott says, "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life."

I suppose I'll just keep at this blog thing -- It can't hurt. It may even help. And, it gives me permission to write all kinds of stuff while I get ready to write the "professional" stuff.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Picture Perfect

Yesterday after a lovely afternoon bike ride and a delicious gelato with the whole family (minus Celeste who is in school), we all settled on our deck to read. The sky was very blue. The sun was shining. The temperature was perfect. Even the cat sat with us as we all read our books or newspapers.
That kind of thing doesn't happen very often, but it was so nice to just be with the family without having to do anything.
Moments when everyone is completely content are rare, but that was one of those perfect days...and a very pleasant day it was!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ever wonder what your dog thinks?

Just for fun, read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It'll make you think.
It's a touching story about a man and his dog, but it goes way beyond a few walks in the park. The dog tells the story of Denny and his family and the dog is very insightful. A fun thing for me, personally, is that the setting is in Seattle. While I don't actually live there, I know a little bit about it and it's fun. I learned some things about Formula One racing, too... and how it applies to real life. Enzo, the dog, sees things that the humans in the story miss and it's interesting to be there with him while he's watching.
Another book that I recommend you read. :-)

This Grief Thing

This grief thing really gets to me. Sometimes I think I'm fine. Sometimes I just go through the days and feel like life is pretty much the way it always has been. And then, it hits me. It's very strange. It hits me in ways I wouldn't expect. I become forgetful or flustered or impatient or in great need of more sleep.

I'm not so sure people really understand that I can still be grieving months after my parents died. I think they sort of understand, but I also believe they expect me to return to "normal" fairly soon... when what I really want to do is crawl in a hole.

I'm thankful for all the years I had with my parents and I guess I'm also thankful that I loved them enough to be in lots of pain right now. That's a good thing.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Glass Castle

One of the most recent books I've read is The Glass Castle. It came highly recommended to me and I highly recommend it to other people. It's not an easy book to read. It's quite disturbing, but it's very well written and Jeannette Walls takes you right into her world -- which isn't always such a great place to be. However, she makes it clear to see how a child could find the good in numerous "not good" situations. And, as I read it, I kept hoping -- like I imagine she did as a child -- that this time things were going to be different.

In the end, the book had me shaking my head in disbelief... on a lot of levels. It also left me with a sense of hope.

Go get it if you haven't read it.

I mean it.

Life can be a little bit bumpy...

Seems like there's been a lot going on lately... Right after my girls got out of school, I went to Atlanta for a few days. Takin' care of a little bit of business. Then, I went with friends to the beach for some reconnecting time. Then, I came home and my sister and brother-in-law came for a visit. We did lots of fun things... boat ride, farmer's market, camping, dinner with friends.

I suppose one of the highlights (even though most people would give me a hard time about it) was our camping trip. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing and we got a GREAT campsite right on the Nooksack River. It was peaceful and the sound of the river was soothing.

I've discovered that I'm a planner. I love to plan and I'm pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. However, planning can get a bit overwhelming to me -- especially lately in the midst of my grief. So, while I was happy to spend time with family at a beautiful setting, I tended to be a bit grumpy with the preparations. Packing for camping isn't so much fun for me... but once I'm there I'm glad to be there.

I'm trying to remember that there is a lot of life to be enjoyed... even if the journey gets kind of bumpy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Writer's Block

WB showed up at my house today. He showed up first thing this morning. He left me alone while I was drinking my coffee, but as soon as I turned on the computer, he changed the screen from WORD to my e-mail account. I was unable to switch the screen for at least 20 minutes. Finally, after trying unsuccessfully for so long, the screen went back to WORD.
I thought WB had left the area and I was able to utilize WORD for about five minutes.
Unable to control it, the screen then switched to Epicurious.com and it appeared WB was planning tonight's dinner. The planning took quite some time while WB searched for the perfect dinner using cilantro.
In a moment of luck, I was able to switch back to WORD without interference from WB and successfully wrote a few words in the next ten minutes. WB whispered in my ear, though, that those words weren't any good and I should start over.
Just when I had erased those words, WB opened CNN.com to catch up on the latest news. He searched through the latest stories, the entertainment news, and landed in the travel section, where he lingered for about 15 minutes. I heard the printer printing and noticed various travel articles in the output tray.
At that point, I stepped away from the computer since it was lunch time. I don't know what WB did for the next 30 minutes, but I ate my lunch.
After lunch, WB had taken my chair and I couldn't even sit at the computer anymore. I asked him kindly to move, but there was no response. I asked again and still -- no response.
So I gave up and decided to go weed the garden.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I did it again.

I just sealed another manuscript in an envelope and tomorrow I'll send it in.
This time, it's for acceptance into a regional writer's retreat. If I get accepted, I'll get to go to a wonderful resort near Seattle in November and spend time with an accomplished writer/writing teacher and an editor -- not to mention other writers. It'll be a lot of work. The schedule is packed and, from previous experience with retreats and with critique groups, I know I'll be overwhelmed. I'm scared (as usual), but hopeful.

Books, books and more books

I have a confession to make... I love to buy books. That sounds innocent enough, but my problem is that I like to buy lots of books and then it takes me forever to get around to reading them. Sometimes I never read them. I still have books that I've had for YEARS that I haven't read yet. It's not that I don't want to read them. Sometimes I get started and I get interrupted by the temptation of another book. Sometimes life interrupts. Sometimes I just don't really like the book and I've given myself permission NOT to finish a book if I don't like it by 100 pages. The truth is, I usually only read when I'm in bed. And when I'm in bed, I get sleepy. So it takes me a while to read a whole book. It's a challenge to finish a book in a timely manner when one only reads a paragraph or two at a time. Seems wrong, doesn't it? Anyway, just as an exercise, I thought I'd make a list of all the books I've bought (or that I've been given) that I have not read yet. Please don't be offended if you find the title of a book you gave me and I haven't read it. Just 'cause it's on the list doesn't mean I'm NEVER going to read it. And, it doesn't mean I haven't started it. It just means I haven't read it yet.

Okay, here goes (in no particular order):

Oral History - Lee Smith
Lamb in His Bosom - Caroline Miller
Cavedweller - Dorothy Allison
Belong to Me - Marisa de los Santos
The Bridges of Madison County - Robert James Waller
Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
Learning to Speak Alzheimer's - Joanne Koenig Coste
Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
When Your Hormones Go Haywire - Pamela Smith, R. D.
Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
Life of the Beloved - Henri Nouwen
A Remarkable Mother - Jimmy Carter
The Toughest Indian in the World - Sherman Alexie
50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth - John, Sophie, & Jessie Javna
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven - Fannie Flagg
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
Abraham - Bruce Feiler
Where We Stand - Edited by Anthony Dunbar
Listening is an Act of Love - Edited by Dave Isay
Turn My Mourning into Dancing - Henri Nouwen
Divining Women - Kaye Gibbons
A Soul Survivor - Philip Yancey
Writings from The New Yorker 1927-1976 - E. B. White
Heartbreak Town - Marsha Moyer
Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight - Alexandra Fuller
Party of the Century - Deborah Davis
The 36 Hour Day - Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins
Living the Good Life - Helen and Scott Nearing
The Heart of Chrisitanity - Marcus J. Borg
The Joyful Christian - C. S. Lewis
The Great Divorce - C. S. Lewis
A Grief Observed - C. S. Lewis
Long Time Leaving Dispatches from Up South - Roy Blount, Jr.
Reading Like a Writer - Francine Prose
A Separate Peace - John Knowles
Sacajawea - Anna Lee Waldo
The Last Girls - Lee Smith
Writer Mama - Christina Katz
The Art of Eating - M. F. K. Fisher
1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South - John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed
Searching for Home - M. Craig Barnes
Esther - Charles R. Swindoll
David - Charles R. Swindoll
Fit Over Forty - Sherri McMillan
The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2 Your Turn - Marlo Thomas and Friends
Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul
Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul 2
The Artist's Way - Julia Cameron
On Agate Hill - Lee Smith
You: Staying Young - Michael R. Roizen, M.D., Mehmet C. Oz, M. D.
8 Weeks to Optimum Health - Andrew Weil, M.D.

Which one of the above books should I read next?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sunshine, Flowers and Friends

This morning I noticed that in the woods behind our house there were THREE raccoons (not the usual "just one"). The cat was nervous and excitement mounted as we watched from inside. (I'm a "chicken" around raccoons, but I know they're not so nice. They only look cute.) They tolerated us as we stared and then made their way to the front of the house where they climbed our TALL trees and decided to go to sleep for the day. I think they're still asleep right now.
In the meantime, my friend came over and we planted lots of flowers in my window boxes and in various pots I had from previous years. I felt really proud that I didn't buy new dirt or pots. I just used what I had. And, for another planter, I even painted a wicker basket (with paint I already had) that had been severely weathered over the last year. It feels so good when you make do with what you have.

It's also good to know that when your heart aches, that a little sun, some flowers and a friend or two can make you feel a whole lot better.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sittin' on the porch

Ever wish you could sit on the front porch?
Pretend you're there...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Remembering Papa

On Thursday morning, May 15th, I received a phone call that changed my life... My father was in a coma and wasn't expected to make it through the weekend... I arrived on Friday night. With the familiar togetherness that my siblings and I shared in January, we sat and waited. We held his hand. I thanked him for waiting for me. And, then, in a remarkable moment, when all four of his children were in the room, he let go and moved from this world to be with Mama again.

Three days later, I spoke at his memorial service. Here's what I said:

My father was many things.
It's not easy to sum him up in a few words, but I'll try.

Papa was a man of deep and quiet faith.
Though he didn't talk about it much, his honesty, integrity and relationships with people made his faith obvious to those who knew him. He also loved good church music and when he heard something that moved him, a quiet "amen" could be heard, confirming that for him, God was in the music.

He loved his country.
Through the stories that he told of serving in England during World War II, we knew that he was proud to have been there. And he was thankful that because of that service he was able to get a college education -- the first person in his family to do that.

Papa worked hard for our family.
When I was a little girl, he changed our 2-bedroom house into a 4-bedroom. He'd come home every day after work and spend time working on the house.

He was creative.
When my babies were little, Harvey asked him for advice on building a playhouse for our girls. In a few weeks, we received a package containing Papa's handwritten architectural drawings and detailed instructions for building the playhouse.
There are other stories of Papa's creativity, including Tin Man costumes and African houses and groundhog tunnels that he helped with during our school days.

He was generous to those he knew and he was generous to strangers.
I still have in my head, a picture of the time a bedraggled man stopped by our house and asked for help. Papa didn't hesitate as he brought him to the porch, and he and Mama prepared a big bag of food for him.

He was gentle.
I recall his sweet face as he held each of his grandchildren when they were babies, and the gentle way he played with them as they got older.

Papa was firm.
As you can imagine, with four children there were times when we misbehaved. I knew I needed to change my behavior quickly when I heard his footsteps coming down the hall.

My father was kind.
Those of you who knew my father well, will know what I'm talking about when I say that his face lit up when he was happy to see you.

He loved us through our rebellious stages. He loved our spouses and our children.

Most of all, he loved and respected Mama, and he expected us to do the same.

The truth is, Papa was all of those things and more. I believe the reason that he and Mama were so good together -- was that she was all of those things, too.

I'm thankful for all the lessons they taught me, and I pray that I can pass on some of their goodness to my children.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

First manuscript submittal

Yesterday my children, husband and I kissed my first manuscript goodbye (and good luck) before I mailed it to an editor. I sent it with a little bit of excitement and a little bit of apprehension as I prepare for the response. Based on information I've received, chances are slim that it'll be accepted right away. People have told story after story of how many hundreds of rejection letters they received before their manuscript was finally accepted.
I'm hoping for a miracle. I'm not really very fond of rejection.
However, I did purchase a 3-ring binder so that I can save all of my manuscripts (from original to critique group comments, to submitted), rejection letters and future acceptance letters.
My next goal is to organize my workspace so that I continue to feel like a writer.
What a journey I'm on...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Remembering Mama part 2

I lost my mother on January 25th of this year. She was 84. I wasn't prepared. I'm not sure one is ever prepared to lose someone they love and when you have a wonderful mother, I think you're even less prepared.

One of the ways I try to honor my mother is continuing to talk about her. I remember things she did. I try to cook foods that she did -- even though mine don't turn out quite so good. A silly way I remember her is by wearing a white shirt once a month on the same date of the month as her birthday. It's not much, but it's a memorial. She loved our family in white shirts so we wear a white shirt and remember her.

She was a great mother. She was tender when she needed to be and tough when that was necessary, too. She required us to do our part, but didn't expect more than was reasonable. She worked hard to make our house run smoothly. She was creative. She was frugal. She had a great smile and a great laugh. She always made you feel like she was genuinely thrilled to see you. She welcomed our friends and made them feel love -- sometimes when they felt it nowhere else. She was warm and friendly to neighbors and I particularly admired how she reached out to the elderly.

I've been trying for months to figure out how I would write or talk about her to honor her memory. I believe I've come to realize that words don't do her justice. She was greater than the words I can write.

I miss her.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Remembering Mama

Happy Mother's Day, Mama!

You were the best mom!

I love you and miss you.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mom Jeans

It's almost Mother's Day.
And, in honor of mothers everywhere, I thought I'd give you a link to a very funny video.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Just wanna blog

Went to my writer's critique group today and, as usual, my head has to digest what I heard and learned from the other writers in the group. They had good comments, but in the end it comes down to what my heart is telling me to do. So, I'll digest and maybe re-work. One of the difficult things about trying to write well is having to listen to others who may be more subjective than I am. Even though I'm in love with one of my characters or an idea I have for a story, it really may not work for anyone other than me... So, if I'm trying to reach a wider audience than myself, I must consider seriously their suggestions.
As difficult as it is, I'm going to give it a night's sleep before I decide what other changes I'm going to make.
Wishing the world a blanket of peace and a good night's sleep.