Thursday, September 30, 2010

If it Doesn't Kill You, It Makes You the Hulk

The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
How do, Isabel, now I'll eat you!
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry,
Isabel didn't scream or scurry.
She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.

                  - Ogden Nash, "Adventures of Isabel" featured in Leave Your Sleep

Yesterday I was listening to this cd when I picked my son up from school.  I could tell he liked the zydeco sound too because it sort of wedged itself in our heads all evening.   Just before bed as I was helping him unload the dishwasher, still humming it, he said, "That song could be about you.  You aren't afraid of much."

(365 Day 265)
This surprised me. But after thinking about it, somewhere along the way, this has became mostly true.  Sweet boy, this is how he sees me now that he's eleven.  But if he could remember several years before, he'd know I had my share of anxiety. 
I explained it to both of my children when they were afraid at night: that God "is my light and my salvation.  Whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 27:1) 
That you can only cower, thinking of the possibilities, for so long before getting sick of it.  Then you find a sort of anger there toward these thoughts that are controlling you.  You won't shuffle quickly in the dark as if something is at your heels, you'll face it and stalk about the house saying, "Bring it." 

I think this happened to me.  Nobody knew, but once I feared loss, sickness, instability, losing everything, or just one thing.  I don't now because these fears were realized, all at once.  I was sick, lost everything but the family, and wondered "Why, God?"  That's when I got sort of angry.  Sort of wrathful.  But He was with me through this rotten time (Psalm 27:1), helping me to outgrow my fear and my worst self.   So really, after fears come true, what's left?   

I see some potential hard times ahead of me now. Should I waste time fleshing out new outcomes in my mind?  Can I change something out of my control?  Will a flurry of activity save me or my loved ones from hurt?  Possibly, but I'd rather hang onto this mellow feeling and just wait til it gets here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Last Stop, El Cosmico (Road Trip 2010)


I know the vacation photos seem endless, but I thought El Cosmico deserved a post all it's own.  It's another one of Marfa's treasures, parked in a pasture. 

When we pulled in it was raining and the kids were not too amused with what appeared to be another collection of haphazard trailers in a nondescript field, a scene all too common in the southwest.   They were tired and had no idea why we left our trailer parked up front to trek through a wet pasture in the rain.  

But as we walked down the path, they saw the campsites and trailers that were functional and so cool.  They eyed the airstream, then the yurts.  It wasn't until the owner opened the flap of the  Sioux- styled teepee that they understood.   How perfect a finish is that for a native history influenced trip?


From the entrance to our teepee, we saw a double rainbow that began at the renovated retro trailers and stretched all the way over to the colony of yurts.  So, they got over their grouchy selves and said many thank you's. 

There were skins on the floor encircling a fire pit in the center.  Had it not been raining, we could've opened the top wide and lit a fire.  

We lay there listening to the rain on the canvas, grateful for this time together.  We'd never had a family vacation like this before.  The kid in me was very satisfied.  

I did wake up early enough for one last sunrise photo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Droppin some 365s

(365 days 259- 264)

These are coming from the week (or two) of migraine.  But I don't think about that when  I look at them.  It's funny how a seemingly unremarkable image can float around your sub-conscious and haunt your thoughts.  You never know.  Noisy, out of focus, thrown together.  I like.

One of My Favorites

One of my favorite people turned 87 recently.   My grandmother and my friend.  There is no place I love to go more than her house.  I've spent so much time there over my life that it regularly figures into my dreams.  Even as a teenager, I would rather go there than to the mall.  

My children feel that timeless, peace when they walk through the door, too. 
Going to G & P's was a big deal for them.  They found endless amusements, digging through my grandmother's drawers and shelves.  Everything they touched had a story behind it.  And just like when I was a child, she spoiled them with a hospitable attention to detail, letting me rest a little when I was a new mother.   It's vacation at Grandmommy's.  

We never left from a visit without having had a tea party with my mother's old set of play dishes.   There was always never ending rolls of scotch tape, markers, pencils and paper for a creative little boy.  Her house was the perfect backdrop for all sorts of imaginary play.   She and my grandfather's closet was often raided for ill fitted clothing and slippers to costume the "orphaned waifs" that tramped all over the house.

The backyard swing was Pocahontas' canoe and the orange umbrella a sword.   they were never self-conscious in her presence.  Being with her is as natural as breathing.  If more than a week passes without a visit the kids say, "We need to go to Grandmommy and Papaw's.  We haven't been there in forever."

We just feel right there.  My troubles lose their gravity as the day is spent talking and laughing together.  

She knows how to make a home.  

or a spa.

or a hideout.

Happy Birthday Grandmommy!  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Headed Home to Texas (road trip, pt. 10)

This was the half of a trip where it really isn't wise to try a marathon drive through a couple of states.  But, since we missed our chance to see White Sands, NM on the trip out, it was now or never.  
With our usual preparedness and presence of mind, we lost track of times zones and flew into the park at sunset, throwing tent, water,  and flashlights into the pack, with our hair on fire.
Lesson #13 : Perfect the pitiful look.  It works on nice rangers who let you into primitive parks with only moments to run miles to your site and set up before dark.  But only after showing us pictures of possible detonators or explosives that could still be here from post-war missile testing.  Fun.

Look, wasn't it worth it?  It's like Lawrence of Arabia, or Tatooine there.   We were racing over the dunes, squinting at the tiny signposts here and there, to find our campsite.  Within a few minutes of setting up, we were in total blackout.  


This was the lunar landscape I'd hoped to find here, quiet, solitary, with no evidence of people.

  We left the top off of the tent so we could see every star in the uninterrupted black sky.  It was just my little family in our little tent, surrounded by dunes that absorbed the sound of our late night talking.  

Lesson #14:  The best conversations always happen at night.  Late nights after everyone was asleep I could snuggle up by my daughter and tell stories and listen to her thoughts about everything.   There are no distractions on a campground.  The breeze and stars seem to relax the soul and loosen the tongue.

(365 Day 164)

The next morning we got to play.  

Our truck rolled (literally) into a gas station on half-past empty the next morning, then we made our way back to Texas.  Marfa wasn't on the shortest route, but few of our stops were, and I've always wanted to go there.   On Hwy 90 going into town are the ruins of Jett Rink's Little Reata windmill and sign posts from the movie Giant.  

I'm not a big James dean fan, but I love roadside curiosities.  

Sadly, I missed Prada Marfa somehow.  What a hoot.  But, maybe next time.

Some gifted students in town designed the Marfa Lights Viewing Plaza, below.  This was the perfect follow up to Roswell.  We went around dusk, the prime viewing time, but didn't see any strange phenomenon, just a school teacher on a motorcycle trip.

Supper was at a gas station-turned-pizzeria called The Pizza Foundation.  Good stuff.  

             I was really liking the sit down and be served something other than camp food thing, at this point, so the next morning we went to Squeeze for the best breakfast ever.  I had 2 or 3 of the best cappuccinos.  

Our mission was to find the Baptist parsonage where my grandparents were married in the '43, before he shipped out to fight in Europe.   After receiving my grandfather's letter from the base, asking if she would marry him, my grandmother came with her parents and his, to Marfa.  They attended the Sunday morning service at The First Baptist Church and went next door to the preacher's house for the wedding ceremony.

This is the church, of course it's changed quite a bit.

And this was once the parsonge, but is now a bed and breakfast.  

After speaking to the current owner a bit, we looked for a yarn shop.  I never found wool for knitting, but did wander through Katherine Shaughnessy's shop, Wool and Hoop.     I could've disappeared for hours in this place, just looking at her crewelwork, the wool selection, her kits and shop-mate's art for sale.  Crewel embroidery, yeah I really need another hobby. But,  I did get a copy of her book for one of these days.   

Next up was the Chinati Foundation.  We didn't have time or a reservation for the tour, so we wandered around the grounds, which was what I really wanted to do anyway, and I clicked away with my contraption to my heart's content.   

I don't guess you can see the scowl on my son's face as he saunters through Judd's legendary art.

I have wanted to see these since I was about 20, it isn't something you can rush and appreciate.
(365 Day 165)

I am in love with the wood grain look of the concrete and ever changing views.

more on my Flickr

We left later than we should've that afternoon.   I missed the grass and empty space of West Texas almost immediately. 

 Another visit with my husband's grandmother and aunt, another long drive, and we were home.   

But, we're going back. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010


(365 Day 258)

My son ate sleepily at the breakfast table telling us his dream the other day with 20 second pauses between phrases:
"I had this dream... last night...I went to school... and we were going on a field trip... to Hollywood... but I forgot my shoes... so I had to wear my socks... and it was Halloween so... everyone wore costumes... and one kid... went as mayonnaise... and..." You get the picture.

Today as we were driving, my son stared straight ahead and quietly informed me that he hates Alvin and the Chipmunks. ?.

The first graders in our Sunday school class were going to receive Bibles in front of the church last Sunday. Before he went up to accept his from the preacher, one little boy flipped his eyelids inside out.
Wish I'd thought of that.

I get sick joy from messing with my husband I love.  Sometimes when he talks in his sleep I draw out the conversation I couldn't get from him that day.
It starts with him waking me up mumbling jibberish, like:

"Subwa shabizzuh..."

     me: "Really?"

"...Yeah, that was it..." more jibberish.

     "Why did you do that?"

"I ... I...don't know... He had the key...(snort)"

     "Why didn't you have the key?"

"I don't... don't know...(mutter, drool)"

    "You would think they'd at least let you have the key."

"Yeah, I don't know...think ...say..." furrowed brow.

     "Wasn't that funny?"

"Heh, heh,  yeah, heh..." he's laughing in his sleep now.

    "Let's talk about our relationship."

Wide awake with a start.

Oh, he loves it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Need Isaiah

It isn't often that you hear someone say, "I need Isaiah!"  As in the prophet, the book in the Old Testament.  As in "Woe to you..."

(365 Day 257)

Today I heard several people say it and I was one of them.  The new bsf study of Isaiah was cram packed this morning.   I was a little surprised so many turned up for Isaiah.

I guess I'm not the only one needing a good jolt of self reflection and truth.

I didn't have to wait long because chapter one gets right to the point with God listing all the detestable, horrible things the people had done to make themselves putrifying (yes, He says putrifying) in His sight.

Know what they were?

All the right things.

 They were doing everything they were supposed to do, except they were doing it with cold, proud, self reliant hearts.  And since they did "all the right things", they could get by with certain acceptable sins.  You know, the ones everyone in your circle does and excuses in each other.  Things like pride, gossip, broken promises, laziness, prejudice, greed, etc.   It was their contentment with the situation that kept them from turning to God for healing, and what made Isaiah the voice of doom.

So, I was to come home and ask my circle of friends what they think our acceptable sins are.

I really need Isaiah.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Evening Rituals

We go through phases:  brownies and Battlestar (before it was laughable,) or chips,salsa, and The Closer.   Sometimes we just finish our day, all of us, reading on my bed.  Late night is just more fun. 

(last asleep, 365 Day 254)

  Maybe it's the remainder of the teenage night owl in me, but I've gotta have a little time in the quiet of evening.  Even if I'm completely wrung out, I can't fall asleep without finishing the day this way.  The dogs sack out as the cat comes to life, talking to the moths as she stalks them.   There's a big fan going for white noise and only lamps are on.   We're homebodies, what can I say.  Tonight, I'm hoping to finish this book.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Just Plain Me

I was re-reading old posts the other day, since the main point of this blog was for me to keep track of me.   I never really thought anyone would read it but, maybe, my family.  Anyway, as I reread,  it occurred to me what a busy bee I seem, clicking my heels and saying, in a Mary Poppins-ish way, "Oh yippee, I do love a new project!  A spoonful of elbow grease makes the overachievement go down!" 

(365 Day 253)

This is funny, because I'm really not that way.  I really like to just lay in bed and stare off into space on Saturday mornings.  I hate having more obligations hanging over my shoulders than what being a good wife, mother, daughter requires.  I usually get an idea months before even talking about it.  I then procrastinate to finish until I've forgotten the original plan.  I was always starting new journals, never finishing.
But, I noticed in recent years that I wasn't expressing myself very much.  My personal goals were often swallowed up in the business of family life.  That's natural, but as the kids reached a point where they were naturally pulling away from mama a bit, and I had room for self reflection.  So, I started a journal that might be a little harder to abandon.  Posting this blog was like putting a list of goals on the refrigerator.  Seeing it in print, daily would encourage me to photograph almost daily and elaborate on brief wistful thoughts I would have about things I'd like to try.  Unlike a crummy wrinkled list next to the  handprints on my fridge, though,  it would entice me to follow through more than I once was. 

And it's worked for about a year and a half.  I've never journaled so faithfully (even if it is broad subjects appropriate for an audience of strangers...or nobody.)   True to my blog description, I am seeing evidence of personal growth and lessons learned.  Plus, nothing motivates like before and afters.  I can see the genesis of a project that's now complete and bearing fruit,  or that of an abomination that failed horribly.     

(365 Day 252)

Somedays it's more Pollyanna (my sister's friends call her that) than I am feeling, but that's my choice to not focus on something that's bringing me down.  That's for my prayers.  Possibly that's why this journal keeps chugging along, it's not too dark to review.  My kids read this.  My grandparents read this, for  crying out loud.   I have to cap my mouth constantly around the house (my parents called me Mouth sometimes when I was little.)   The time it takes for me to think a sentence and actually type it gives a little extra second to consider the value of what I'm saying.  

"...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:34

Though I keep things light, my feet really are planted on the freshly tilled  and composted ground (that's was a funny.)  Truly , I have no illusions about how "interesting" my little hobbies are to anyone outside of me.   This is just me, plain old me, trying to have fun being me, nothing brilliant.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Music Man

Just...please, don't call him that.
It took some urging, some casual, carefully placed comments over a period of time...actually, it took a bribe;  but my son is practicing piano and officially calling it such.  

(365 Day 251)

I knew he could do it- he could remember and hum any snippet of music from the time he was a toddler.  As children he and his sister were both into singing while they played, creating little mini musicals for their farm people or dinosaurs.   And like me, he hums under his breath or catches himself singing outloud constantly.  
Every once in a while I would play after he'd gone to bed only to find his door opening with a song request. 

The question was, would he do it.  It's easy for a boy who's been in school all day to view 30 minutes of structured practice as just another constraint being placed on their free time.   I get that.  So we quit martial arts and  made a flexible practice schedule around soccer.
Another problem might have been the idea that only girls play the piano.  When did that stereotype start anyway?  I can't think of an era where the great pianists weren't men.   After he agreed to try it, he was encouraged to discovered many of the boys in his school class play instruments.  Now he's moving through his books at a good pace.

I'm so excited!  Both of my children are finally getting to take music lessons.
In fact, for all the initial complaining I heard about it, he continues playing well past the stove timer's sounding.   Busted!  (Look at that face.) Could it be that mother is right?

Here it Comes

We had an unexpected storm that day.

(365 Day 250)

"My feet are planted in the waist-high reeds
In the shadows in the shape of trees
Through the kingdom's smoky leaves
You'd be laughing too if you could see
On the outskirts long and lean
Not baring gifts on a jet black steed

...Yonder come the blues"    - Jakob Dylan

I read the reviews:  The vocals, the Americana, and the bass that I feel beating in my chest ... I still love it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fungus Among Us

Sorry for the title, but I just felt so compelled.  I've been thinking about reviving an old tradition, sort of.  

(365 Day 249)

I know that my ancestors, both rich and poor,  knew where to find wild mushrooms and which ones were edible.   This hunt is what put gourmet mushrooms on the table and could be either a social or quiet pastime, like a Sunday drive.    

I love the idea of wandering through the woods with my family, hunting ingredients for our evening meal, but that's mostly reserved for "Foodie Vacations",  and I live in suburbia, plus I don't want to die.

So a mushroom kit is my answer.  It's on the list (almost sounds like a threat) along with this book.  I figure with marginal success in the garden and a sad end to our bees, fungus is something this family can grow!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Backyard Folklore

I found these over the weekend in our backyard and hurried to take pictures before my husband cranked up the mower.  My dad told me how mushrooms will grow in rings, if you leave them to.   I have, and he's right.   

The Dutch thought it was where the devil set his milk churn.  
English tradition says it is because elves or fairies have been dancing there the evening before, hence the name fairy ring.  Anyone who disturbs this sacred circle, even if just to collect the dew from the grass,  risks being cursed or charmed, depending on the fairies' mood.
The only safe way to approach one was thought to be running around it in the direction of the sun nine times, where an outsider could hear and maybe even see some of the revelry without being entranced..  But just don't make it ten.  

If one did step inside, they are said to become invisible and disoriented, unable to find their way out.  Weeks or years may pass while time is standing still on the outside world. They may be bewitched by harp music that cannot be heard outside of the circle and,  possibly, forced to dance to the point of madness.   If one did, by chance, pull free from the ring, they suffered for it. 

Let's see:  disorientation, feeling invisible, running in circles, miserable dancing...yeah, that pretty much sounds like my home.

But since my husband was planning to mow, I took some pictures of them and made a mental note to tell my kids about it:

"If you don't behave I'll throw you into the pixie ring!"
"But Mom, I don't want to turn to dust..."  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ye Olde School

Yes, I graduated from it.  I don't know if it's nostalgia or laziness (my husband thinks I'm resistant to change) but it can't be too extreme or I wouldn't be typing this- I'd be writing on my slate. 

( 365 Day 247)

 I'd just rather cut and paste with actual scissors and glue sometimes or hold a musty book I can feel the pages of rather than use a kindle.   I prefer cd's to satellite, albums to cd's, and a good conversation over a text.  

Diatribe over, I just needed to unload a 365 here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Old Friends

This is an old friend of mine.
No, not the gnome; the fern, silly.  
It's a fluffly ruffle fern, I think.  It's been with me through 10 years of moves, hurricanes, and freezes.  It came from a much divided plant passed between family members since my great grandmother's funeral (25 years ago) when I was a girl.  

(365 Day 245)

It's the oldest in a collection of succulents, ivy, hibiscus, mother-in-laws- tongue, or fern that have either been passed to me by my grandmother or that I've nurtured along and passed to her in the last 17 years.  Sometimes they bounce back and forth, like my Ivy from the house on North Street, of which one of us always has an extra pot or two to share after a hard freeze.

They're part of the family now.  Many have been fed, watered, coaxed to grow, and treated for disease longer than my children have been alive.  You can't tend something that long and not feel like a mother tucking the kids in when covering them with a sheet on a frosty night.   Like children, they've responded differently to each environment we've moved to.  Some have dwarfed and some have flowered after a decade of nothing.

This is why I feel sick when it's time to repot and they must be thinned.

We joke that I can hear the discarded plant bits screaming from the trash heap, but I don't really think it's funny.  That's why I try to push them off on friends or hastily stick them in some patch of dirt in the yard and leave it to God to decide if they live or die.

Sounds a little intense as I reread.  Oh well, at least I wasn't talking about the gnome.