Keeping an Eye on the Ball

I’ve spent the past few days hanging out with and checking on Miss K.  Her family went out of town and left her here at home, just a few houses down from mine.  I’ve gone over a few times a day to check on her, make sure she’s eating, and let her out to go to the bathroom.

Miss K is a canine friend of mine.

And she is a love.

I have yet to learn her story, but she only has one eye.  She is so well-behaved that she has the run of the house when her family is gone.  She is protective and has to be sure it’s me before I can get inside the house good.  And she is smart.  And fast.

This evening before her people were due home in a couple of hours, I went over to let her out once more and to say goodbye.  She has a tennis ball that she loves and she shyly brought it to me once a few months ago when I was hanging out with her. She’s so good at tossing it from her mouth just so, and it rolls right to me.  Amazing.  Miss Sophie has yet to acquire that skill.  Actually she has yet to figure out that she has to LET GO OF HER TOY for me to be able to throw it when she brings it to me, but that’s another story.

Miss K and I went in the backyard.  She was excited because it was a pretty day, she loves to chase the ball, and I think just maybe she’s starting to like me just a little bit.  This wasn’t the first time we’ve done this, but for some reason I paid more attention to her movements this time.  I watched her watching the ball in my hand.  I couldn’t fake her off for a minute.  She knew when I released the ball and when I didn’t.  With her one good eye, she could track it and chase after it at the same time and she never. missed. a. beat.  She didn’t run into a tree or lose the ball or anything other than keep her eye on the prize and get it.

Yes.  Amazing.

As I watched her, I thought about how whatever her story is hadn’t kept her from doing something great.  She has literally and figuratively kept her eye on the ball and done amazing things.

How often have I let my physical and even emotional wounds define me and keep me from trying to do something?

Far too often, y’all.  There have been times in my life when, if there was a doctor’s excuse to be had, I would’ve taken it.   Hurt shoulder, headaches, tired/wore-out-ness, grief, pain, heartache…..I’ve let any one of those things give me pause at one time or another.

And I’m not saying I shouldn’t have.

What I am saying is that once Miss K started healing after whatever caused her to lose that one eye, she didn’t sit back and let that always affect what she tried in this life.  Instead she wove that “loose end” into the blanket of her story, and she kept on going.  With only one eye at that point, but she kept going nonetheless.

And I think that’s pretty fabulous.

Tonight I’m thankful for a precious dog who reminded me not to leave all these loose ends dangling, ready to trip me up or slow me down.  She reminded me that it is important to stop and take in what is happening, but then it’s just as important, if not more so, to weave it in, keep my eye on the ball, and go for it.

And that’s quite something for a sweet little dog to have mastered in her short life.

I’m happy for her that her family is home now, but I’m going to miss that shy little powerhouse.

May we all have such courage to keep on going, to chase that ball, and never lose sight of what’s ahead.  No matter how hard the past has been.

Love to all.

This is not Miss K. She didn’t sign a release for me to use her photo. (I mentioned she was shy, right?) But isn’t this a lovely dog in a lovely park? By Frühstückbeistefanie (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

A Masterpiece in Gold

Today I had an appointment in Macon, and I found myself driving down one of the old streets there a little ways from the downtown area.  As I looked down the street towards my destination, the sight before me took my breath away.

Ginkgo trees in all their golden glory lined both sides of the street.


I remember the words my pastorfriend quoted from “The Color Purple” about how God must feel if we go by a field of purple flowers and don’t take notice.  If that is how our Creator feels about a purple field, I can’t imagine it’s any less important for us to notice that beautiful gold that fairly glows in the afternoon sun.

I’m in love.  As I drove on, I thought about my oldest asking me in the past week what I want for Christmas.

I think it might just be a ginkgo.  Or ten.

Well, that and a weeping willow or two.  I have my Bradford pear (that has yet to catch afire with the flaming red and golden leaves–seems late to me this year for some reason), and I have my heavenly smelling tea olives.  I even have a couple of magnolias.  So yes, I think a ginkgo would be just the perfect addition.

As I sat at my appointment thinking about all those lovely trees whose leaves were dropping to make a golden carpet beneath, I remembered seeing just such a sight at my home away from home–Wesleyan College, where I made such wonderful memories and where my oldest calls home for now.  They also had them in Japan which we enjoyed seeing while we lived there.  The ginkgo is another tree whose story is interwoven with mine.

Our roots are bound together now.  And I love that.

What tree or plant shares in your story?  Which ones bring you joy just at the sight of them?

Loving this time of year when, quite frankly, so many of the trees are showing off before crawling into bed for the winter.

Love to all.

The gingko trees at Show Park in Japan–a place that helped ease my homesickness while we lived there. I didn’t get a picture today because I was taking it all in and didn’t think of it until too late. Japanexperterna (CCBYSA) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Butter, Sugar, and Wise Words from My Daddy

One of my friends posted on Facebook today about something that inevitably happens to many of us during the holidays.

She was preparing a dessert, and she realized she didn’t have one very important ingredient.  It happens.  More often than not around here, if you want to know the truth.  When I wrote her that I hoped all would work out, she shared that she had already looked up how to adapt the recipe on-line and was going to give it a shot.

That’s when I told her my Daddy’s mantra about cooking.

She replied that he was wise and must have been very good to have in the kitchen.

She was correct on both of those.

Not that my Daddy cooked much.  I don’t remember that happening much at all actually.  He could make a sandwich like nobody’s business and the way he slathered peanut butter on vanilla wafers, saltines, pound cake, whatever–well, he had it down to an art.

But cooking?  I do seem to remember a pan of burnt toast when Mama was at the hospital having my baby brother.  But then–maybe that was the excitement and distraction of the birth of his fourth child and not so much an indication of his skill set.

No, my Daddy was great to have in the kitchen because he knew just what to say.

Or not say.

After all, his mantra was based on my Mama’s self-doubts about her creative concoctions in the kitchen.  On more than one occasion when she’d start questioning what she had thrown together or how this or that would turn out, Daddy would say, “Look, you put enough butter and sugar in anything, it’s going to be good.”

This would make Mama laugh.  The grace in those words could work magic.

Never mind that they were TRUE.

I made the Poor Man’s Pecan Pie for today, which is very similar to the Mock Pecan Pie I made in June.  It’s the one with no nuts at all.  Or pretzels.  I saw a lot of Faux Pecan Pie pictures today–the ones made with pretzels instead of pecans, and they really looked delicious.  So yes, we’ll be trying that one soon too.

We took the pie over to Mess Cat’s for our family Thanksgiving dinner together.  When I finally cut into it, it was a bit soupy in the middle still.  Of course it was.  Because I FOLLOWED THE RECIPE.  Last time, I had to substitute for the Karo syrup I didn’t have, and it turned out beautifully.

Still the one who requested it was pleased.  “Mama, it is so good.  I like it better than the last one, ” Aub said.  (The last one which was perfection itself and not soupy at all?  Huh.  Okay then.)

That was when I thought of my Daddy.  And how much he would have loved this pie.  Because when you put enough butter and sugar in anything…..

Tonight I am thankful for hearing my Daddy’s words in my heart just when I needed them. I am grateful for the example he set in loving the cook and appreciating what was put on the plate.  He indeed had a grateful heart, and he let my Mama know it.  He and I shared an affinity for the sweet things, and I sure do miss bringing him sweet, buttery things that would make him smile.

Hoping you all had a day of sharing all the best stories and of merry memory-making with those you hold dear.

Love to all.




The Empty Chairs


It will be different this year.  Again.  The empty chairs, the ones not there, it all affects the spirit of the day.  The memories both lift us and bring us down.  Joy that they were, sadness that they are never to be again.

Sometimes the best way to get through it is to “act as if.”  Act as if it’s just another day.  Another day to be with each other.  To lower the expectations.  The demands of our time and energies.  To look at the substance over the form.

I am thankful for Leroy, who made the call to cut back on the preparation and dishes served this year.  I guess he could tell I didn’t have it in me.  Maybe he doesn’t either.  No matter.

So this year we won’t have the Norman Rockwell laden table with all of the kinfolk circled round, heads bowed, and everyone sharing a perfectly lovely sentiment about what each is most thankful for.  The rosy cheeked cherubs won’t clean their plates, clear their dishes, express extreme gratitude, and then head out to play in the absolutely perfect weather.  I mean, they might, but I’m certainly not expecting it.  Expectation management, as my Fella would say.

I was raised with my Mama reminding us quite often, “The Lord loves a cheerful giver.”  She also ended many a blessing with, “Lord, grant us a grateful heart.”  Living with my Mama, almost everyday was Thanksgiving day.  She wanted us to find something to be thankful for in the midst of each and every day.

Her and Paul.

We are called by Paul, in the Good Book, to give thanks in all things.  On the eve of tomorrow, I look around and I give thanks for the empty chairs–that they matter so much.  For all the years they weren’t empty.  For all the years I could depend on the ones I love to be sitting right there, no doubt about it.  I was loved.  I still am, and I give thanks for that too.  I give thanks for the empty chairs that are that way only this year.  Only tomorrow.  The ones that will be filled again soon, once folks return from where they are.

My Aunt and I agreed on this today, when she said, “Our time to celebrate is when we are all together.”  It doesn’t have to be a legal holiday, y’all.  Celebrate the ones you are with when you are with them.  Don’t wait for the calendar to tell you it’s time.

Remember that story about using the fancy china on a regular basis instead of saving it for a “special occasion?”  Because everyday is a special occasion of one sort or another.  I’m thinking maybe we need to serve turkey and dressing more often.  It has made me laugh how when I’ve opened up a can of cranberry sauce throughout the year, my people’s eyes light up, and they automatically think the supper is extra special.  (And yes, the stores carry the sauce year round.)

Let’s do that, y’all.  Let’s practice giving thanks everyday.  And keep a can of cranberry sauce in the refrigerator.  At all times.  Ready to go.  To remind folks that every day is Giving Thanks Day.

May you all fill the empty seats with precious memories and light.  Today.  And Everyday.

Love to all.

“Paul Gaugin’s Armchair” by Vincent Van Gogh [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

And the Winner Is…..

For whatever reason, this fall our whole family has watched “Dancing With the Stars” together. We recorded it and waited until Aub was home from college and could watch it together. Thank you, DWTS folks, for making the finale this week, when she was home and we could watch it LIVE–something we never do. #wedonotdocommercialswell It has been a joy for many reasons, among them the age of my children, where we all picked our favorites and enjoyed the competition, and the different personalities of the dancers and pros. But the biggest reason we have so loved this season is, I believe, this has been the kindest and most fun cast of celebrity dancers ever. They built relationships with each other that were such a joy to see. As Aub said tonight, “I want to be friends with them.”

So do I.

Since we spent time watching the finale tonight, as I muted the commercials (why can’t they make those family friendly as well?), I composed some haikus about the evening.  As for who won, it was US–my family and all who shared the journey with this fabulous group of people.

Wishing you all something joyful or a good song (might I recommend one from the Back Street Boys?) to get your feet tapping. And if you missed this season, check out some of the showstopping dances on YouTube.


whole season of dance
laughter, tears, and all the feels
mirrorball trophy

Paris train hero
danced his way into our hearts
and learned to love dance

Back Street Boy came back
with steps both strong and graceful
he can sing AND dance

beautiful daughter
of the Crocodile Hunter
her smile is pure joy

now it is over
only memories remain
thankful for YouTube

Love to all.



Don’t Go It Alone

I remember a sermon my sweet friend who introduced me and my Fella shared.  Actually it’s an image that she shared that has stuck with me all these years. I believe in looking back that she read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 from the Good Book.


The picture she painted with her story, of the dark and traveling together and the stumbling, but someone always stopping to help another up.

Powerful.  So powerful.

We are not meant to travel alone, y’all.  To do this life with no one else around.  I am not saying we are not meant to live alone, but I do think we are not meant to LIVE alone.  Sharing a house and sharing a journey are two different things.

My life has been changed for the better because of the folks who are around me and the ones who listen and love and care about my story and I theirs–in fact, so much so that our stories become intricately interwoven.

Through messages and late night phone calls and texts about silly things and all the important ones too.  The being interruptible and sitting with me in the hard places and the holding me in the light and hoping for good to come.  The sitting quietly and laughing loudly.  The road trips and waiting rooms and bowls of soup and handmade aprons and letters in the mail and cards left on the front porch.  The shared tears and the reverberating laughter.  The hands to hold and the hugs to envelop every little bit of what is going on.  The “I’m on your side” and the “well, have you looked at it this way…..” The “let’s go do” and the “let’s just be.”

All of it.  Every single bit of others in your life and mine…..they save us.  They make us better.  They keep us from falling in a pit of despair and believing the lie that no one cares about us or that it is all about us and no one has ever had it this.  BAD.

They walk alongside, and they pick us up when we fall.

And the coolest thing about this journey is that as we share it with those who circle the wagons close and stay there beside us is that one day we will have the chance to do that very same thing for someone else.

It’s a beautiful ebb and flow of life.  Today I needed picking up.  Tomorrow it might be you.  Or you.  Or maybe even me again.

We all stumble.  Most of us fall.  But it’s the knowing there’s a hand that will be there to help us back up…..that’s the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

Our posse.

Find yourself a good one.  Find the folks who are walking carefully and maybe even a little slowly, hanging back.  Leave be those who are darting around and ahead of everyone else.  The best way to find a friend, the old saying goes, is to be a friend.

Go and be.  Reach out your hand.  And you’ll be amazed at who comes to stand beside you.

Love and best wishes to all.

Answering the Hard Question

This evening I sat with two young people and a retired friend as we listened to an amazing woman share about the hard work–the good work–she is doing to help women and men who are in the human trafficking industry.  It was a very eye opening and hard discussion.  It is heart breaking, and despite what we might have previously thought, it is very much happening right here in our community.  Not just Atlanta, or even Macon. Right here.

All the brokenness.

As we listened, the young man who sat next to the speaker looked at her with his eyes wide.  He asked, fumbling at first to find the right words, in a quiet voice, “Is there, I mean, is anyone–I mean surely–is anyone doing anything to stop this from happening at all?  How can we stop it?  What are people doing to make this better?”

Bless him.

He is not even a legal adult yet.  He is hearing about heartbreak and brokenness and darkness that has been going on since before he was born, and it was as though for the first time, he felt the weight of what is before him–and all of his generation–that needs to be fixed and made better.

Bless him.  Bless all of them.

They are looking at those of us who are of my generation, most likely, wondering why we let it get this bad.  Why the human trafficking industry is the fastest growing one, right behind drug trafficking.  They are asking us, “What have you done to make this better?”

Many will say they didn’t know. They weren’t aware. That they didn’t realize it was happening here in our country, our community.  Many see it as a foreign issue, happening only in countries far, far away.

As I heard the stories tonight, any misconceptions like that were shattered and blown away.

I can never say again I didn’t know.  And now that I know, I have a duty to answer this young man’s question–

What am I doing to stop this?

I have a lot of thinking to do about what I heard tonight.  And about the look on that sweet soul’s face, his puzzled pain over what he was hearing.  It’s wrong, and if we stand by and do nothing, it will continue to grow.  That one thing is certain.

Will you join me in thinking on this, and working on the answer to “What are people doing to make this better?”

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Love, much love, to all.