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.