Sunday, April 27, 2014

What's Blooming Now...





Geranium, coral

Wandering Jew

Wandering Jew detail
Oleander, the buds look sinister for a reason

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

for Jacqueline II

This is very similar to the first car your mother drove, which actually belonged to your grandmother, Judy.  She could tell you the exact make and model, but I believe it was somewhere between a '76 and a '78.  Do you call her Grandma or Grandmother?  Your mother called her beloved grandmother "Grandmother."  

I met Grandmother three times to my recollection.  Joyce loved her dearly, spoke of her often.  Several things stand out in my memories, the first being that Grandmother advised Joyce to search the book of Psalms for comfort and advice whenever she had a problem.  If I can be so bold to add my two cents worth, I recommend the book of Proverbs as well.  

I hadn't known someone before who addressed their grandmother as "Grandmother."  Around here, grandmothers were Grandma, Grannie, Nana and Mimi.  Grandmother was a regal sounding name but she wore it well, without the stuffiness of a queen, with a beautiful, strong dignity.  

Your grandmother Judy, Joyce and I went to Charleston, S.C. in the blue Grand Prix, to visit Grandmother and a cousin of your grandmother Judy's.  I don't remember much about the house, but I was in awe of the guest bedroom.  I'd never slept in a king-sized bed before and I wasn't even aware someone else was sleeping in the bed with me.  

There was a television in there and Joyce and I found a Cheech and Chong movie.  We were dying laughing at it and then our host, the cousin, came in and told us we shouldn't be watching that and she turned it off.  Your mother and I were all "Yes ma'am" to her face, but when she walked out, we made faces at each other then laughed ourselves silly again.

That is something, too, that stands out about your mother, how much she, we, laughed.  

The next day, after the television caper gone wrong, your grandmother Judy allowed us to take the Grand Prix to the beach.  I.  Was.  Stunned.  Freedom!  We put on our bathing suits cut up to there, and we looked good in them.  Would I ever like to have a picture of that!  And somewhere in this crazy world exists several.  

There was a young man on the beach with a nice camera outfit, tripod, all that, and he asked if he could take our picture.  We looked at each other and telepathically agreed.  No, we weren't psychic, it was just a level of communication among close friends we shared.  Your mother ran cross country and I used to run almost daily, so maybe we felt safe.  Maybe we were stupid, but we didn't feel that way that day.  

He took a number of pictures of us standing together, then your mom decided it was time for us to walk on down the beach.  I don't recommend you pose for a stranger with a camera on the beach.  :-)  I'm certain you're too smart to do that, but we did, and thankfully we lived to tell about it.

I marvel that we were only a few years older than you at this time I am recollecting.  Our only objectives were to have fun and go to school.  We didn't have a lot of classes together because I was one grade ahead, but we shared a couple of elective classes, Band and French.  

In French class, we were in a giggly mood, and your mother and I conspired to ask Mrs. Sharron Gandy about the lyrics of a 1975 song called "Lady Marmalade."  Trying to suddenly effect a straight and serious face, your mother raised her hand and inquired what "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?" meant.  Our composure broke, the teacher looked at us--yes us, she knew I was a culprit, too--as if to say, "Really?"  Of course we knew what it meant, but it was shock value we were seeking and it was we who were shocked.  Barely missing a beat, she interpreted, "Do you want to go to bed with me?"  

God bless a teacher who let us learn interactively on our silly level.  On a sweet note, to illustrate your mother's thoughtful side, she asked Mrs. Gandy how to say happy birthday in French.  "Joyeux Anniversaire!"  Your mother had that put on a birthday cake for your grandmother Judy.

When it was discovered the cancer returned to your mother's body, her thoughtful side showed itself again.  Grandmother arranged for her to go to a premier cancer treatment center in Texas, M.D. Anderson.  The experts there said the doctors here had treated the cancer as they would have.  She would very rarely acknowledge aloud that she might die, but she once said to me if she did, she wanted her children to know she did everything she could to live. 

She certainly did.  If cancer could have been beaten by will and determination and prayer, your mother would be alive.  At her funeral, a pastor I love dearly, Lee Barnes, humbly said to the bereaved he had no idea why she died.  The obvious answer was cancer, but there are many times people survive it.  Why Joyce?  Why so young?  And with these little children?!

Still no answers.  

How dare life go on after such a tragic event!  But it does.  

I was tickled to see the picture of the Easter eggs you posted on Facebook.  Your mother would have loved Facebook--somewhere to gather all her friends in one place!  She would have colored eggs with you and carried on many other fun traditions and crafts because she celebrated life, all its occasions.  I believe the immense energy that was her life lived on beyond life as we know it, and specifically I believe she is in Paradise with Jesus.  

Is she aware of the little things you do like coloring Easter eggs?  I don't know for sure, but if she is, I know she is delighted!  I imagine people who knew her look for her in you, and there is a very observable resemblance, but I believe she would not want you to try to be her, but to just be yourself.  

It is a miracle of life going on, though, to see a bit of her in you.           

Saturday, April 19, 2014

for Jacqueline


I've been on a minor archaeological dig through many boxes and bins in what I call my craft/computer room.  This room was originally my baby boy's.  As soon as my sons moved away from home, I dove into their space and made it my own.  I was adamant inwardly that I wouldn't go into old living spaces of theirs and cry over Legos and other mementos.  

But let me tell you, I am a memento keeper!

Your mother and I double dated to a number of high school dances and I've often smiled, laughed even, that I remember more of us being together than with our dates.  It's just as well, because neither of us married anyone we dated in high school.  

That might be something to tuck into the back of your mind when you start high school later this year.  Though your heart may begin to desire an exclusive relationship with a special someone, odds are you won't spend the rest of your life with that person.  Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts, and I gather it means from things that are not good, but I want to encourage you to not give so much of your heart away in high school that you lose yourself.  

I did that, and your mother called me out on it.  I called her out on a few things as well, and I'll always cherish that about our friendship.  We could share strong opinions, and while it wasn't pleasant to hear, we knew we had each other's best heart.

Back to the dances...of course we didn't have smart phones back in the day, as a matter of fact if someone had told us in time people would take pictures with their telephones, we'd have laughed heartily and long at the absurdity of that.  We had our share of silliness, but even at a young age, your mother had a deeply serious side.  I'm overwhelmed right now at all the things I wish to tell you and I'm having a hard time staying on topic.  I'm still trying to get back to the dance.  

We had pictures taken at the dances on rolls of film that had to be developed, then printed, and the waiting, often a week or more, built up a wonderful anticipation.  A number of wallet-sized pictures would be printed on one page, they'd have to be cut apart, and the absolute best part was when a friend gave you one.  It was an honor.  There were only so many to go around, say a 8 or 10 to a page.  We'd write personal messages on the back to our closest friends.  

I'm showing you the message first, because it lasted much longer than your mother's date (or mine) that night.  He was a very good friend to your mother, into young adulthood.  His expression was foretelling, I'll hint, and I'm sure he'll get a good laugh over this.   

The discoloration is from a vinyl picture holder in an old wallet.  We kept pictures of our friends in those, not knowing time, in the form of PVCs, a chemical in the vinyl, would destroy them, but anyway, we took them out at school and shared them like you and your friends do pictures on your phones and via Facebook and Instagram.   
Everything changes, all the time.  Old pictures.  People.  Keep that in mind as well as you begin high school and the journey of the last four or so years of your life before you are considered an adult.  (The maturing process continues always.)  

Our names changed, but something didn't change.  Joyce wrote she'd always think of me as her closest friend.  I'll always think of her that way as well.  It's devastating to lose someone with whom you've had such a long relationship. From your perspective, I wonder how one grieves for what they didn't have. You obviously were shortchanged in the time department with your mother. Life isn't always fair, as you learned much younger than you should have, but I'll reign myself in from yet another bunny trail.

She hoped I received everything in life...I have received everything I needed and many things I didn't want.  Like you, I lost a parent as a child.  I know the gaping hole that leaves in one's heart, and I hope my sharing of the long friendship I had with your mother can give you back a little of what you lost.

You contacting me, your daddy telling you to because I was her "best friend"--talk about the blessing of receiving!  As you learn more about what your mother was like in the phase of life you are entering, I'm re-joyce-ing to get to know you!  Thank you for the picture you sent of you and your brother.  I'll cherish the picture and even more, I cherish the honor of you giving it to me. 



P.S.  Your mother used to call me Leigh-ason sometimes.  I never knew why, no one else called me that.   


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Battle by Battle, She Wins the War

Brief back story:

Mr. A and I were watching a YouTube video of two little girls dressed like princesses, tutus, tiaras, all that, who sang a song on the Ellen show.  The name of the song did not stick with me, but the manner in which they sang it did.  They were genuinely good, packing power and hitting notes beyond their years.

I said to my husband, "Every little girl should believe she is a princess."  He smiled a tender smile and said I was his princess.  I said I'd take the title queen.  At 50, school girl figure long gone, white hairs coming in and new droops, crinkling and wrinkling discovered daily, it was a long journey to get to be queen.

Call it hormones, call it reality, I batted back tears in my eyes for these little princesses.  I dread for them the encounters they will have, the tearing away of their titles.

The Battle commences.  

The first will be Jealousy--of their publicity, their fifteen little minutes of fame, sadly enough from an adult.  Pettiness will tag team with Jealousy to ensure they are knocked off tiny pedestals it thinks they don't deserve.  Condemnation will pile on--sinful costumes, sinful song, sinful show, not realizing Pride is pulling its strings, ever the puppeteer to the marionette.  

Pettiness and Jealousy would be okay with it if it happened to them, but they are angry it didn't, so they'll be Insecurity's assassin and destroy them any way possible.  Condemnation won't give a moment's consideration to Innocence and Joy and would do or say anything to ensure others won't experience it either.  Meanwhile, Pride smiles smugly in self-righteousness.  

Lie will come along and tell them they are nothing, of no worth, have no inherent beauty, talent or intellect.  Condescension will minimize every good thing in their lives that appear to be natural, God-given gifts, highly insulted they dare exult in it because they did not work for, earn, or pay their dues for it.  

Condescension cannot see it has been taken over by Blindness.  So enamored of itself, Condescension doesn't see Resentment has dog-piled on with Blindness, while Pride whispers, 'How dare they outperform (me)?!'  Delusion opens Condescension's mouth and states its Superiority, thinking itself much more qualified.  

Deceit has been productive, not allowing Condescension to grasp it has fallen short while staring down.  In time, Insults, Comparisons, Intimidation and Violence will gang rape.

Thief and Counterfeit will flatter their way in, trying to ride on another's gifts and callings, and will be enraged when exposed.  They'll join forces with Gossip and Lie.  Denial will spread its broad cloak to conceal them, redirecting attention to Pride, seeking attention for the flesh on parade which is willing to invent something to be admired, anything to aid Jealousy.  

Then there is Miracle; it has been there all along, but recognized finally, after Abandonment.  When they have survived multiple battle fronts, the embattled princesses are coronated Queen.  

May God grant them the patience and faith to wait for and believe this will happen.

They'll be given a warrior's unveiled spirit at that time because sadly enough, the ones who don't realize their worth will continue the onslaught.  It is here they have finally learned, "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me," and realize others mislabeled the Sword on their shoulders, angels of Encouragement, whispering Truth, and calling them chips, tried to knock them off.  The trio was at times drowned out while singing, "I will stand!"  

Sometimes a princess has to stand alone on her journey to queen.  

Her brave victory speech will be hard-earned and brief:

"It is a small thing that I be judged by you."

She'll know, when she recognizes these enemies in others and defeats the pernicious ones assigned within, she has earned a title no one can steal.      


Thursday, April 3, 2014

My Happiness...a photo essay

So happy the geraniums are out of the greenhouse and onto my porch!
The black fur is Maggie's, a canine photobomb.

The philodendron wintered in the dining area, the other side of this window
where I am reflected, a rare shot of me.  Now the cat can't sit here and meow to
come inside as she does in the winter.  Mr. A made the table top to go on
this antique sewing machine base.  

Po' folks bird feeder and bird bath:  stumps topped with a plate from Big Lots and a plant saucer.

Another bird feeder made from repurposed objects, an inverted cracked pot topped with a plant saucer.
The real one is a gift from my older son and his wife, a very thoughtful gift!  I'd
wager it was my daughter-in-love's idea as she gives great gifts.  

The brown capped sparrows don't mind my feeder improvisation.

This is the spring/summer/fall spot, under a shade tree.  The table in the middle--a
friend of Mr. A's threw it in the trash and Mr. A brought it home.  After the friend passed
away, the table he deemed trash was even more of a treasure to us.

This plant stand came from Marietta, GA, a yard sale to be specific, $5.  The bottom
two Christmas cactus plants, schlumbergera for the snitty, were rooted from my
Grannie's mother plant, one that has been in the family since the 1940s, I'm the
third generation to love it.    

The view from my front door

Seed for the birdies, food for the kitty, not the dog, "too rich," says the vet,
and water for both plus the occasional lizard which drops by to sup.  This table
and its twin (on the back deck) came from an estate sale.    

Tea olive to the left, planted just outside front door as my mother recommended for
the heavenly scent.  If you like jasmine and magnolia, you'll like tea olive.

Tea olive bloom detail.  The blossoms put out a lot of scent for their size.

Yep, wash the pet dishes and the bird feeders with different brushes.  It's disgusting
what the doves do in the feeders!  Please don't diagnose me for this--I will not take
a pill for it.

My rose garden grows.  Even the ones which appear to have no leaves have leaves,
albeit very tiny ones at this point.

Wildflowers are the prettiest, so said my late father-in-law.  They always make me think
of him.

We have a little sweat equity in these magnolias--dug them up from the woods.  Also
dug up an old rusty pipe, a brick...

Spirea, or bride's wreath, call it what you will, I call it beautiful

Can't leave out Mr. A's windmill 

Home sweet home 

Crepe myrtles have leafed


Found this iron work all rusted in a thrift store, Mr. A
painted it black.  Yard shoes for work, yard shoes for
play, bare feet for blogging 

The view from my kitchen window.  One of the sweetest things I ever saw from here

was my older son and his now wife sitting on the swing, his arm around her shoulders.  

To bring a girl home and swing with her on your family's front porch swing, that's love.  
The plant to the left is another sweetly scented tea olive.  I like the geranium peeking through the railing.