the unburdening

as the shadows grow long
I drag my bag now filled once again
down through the pasture
beside the still waters
and up to the tree
whose roots stretch out far and wide
above and below
the ground that sustains it

I slowly empty my load
carefully fingering every
worry, woe, and wondering
before placing each one in the hollow between
the two biggest roots
where nothingness is all that can be seen

upon emptying it,
turning and
facing the darkness,
I carefully lay the bag
over my shoulder
and head back to the house on the hill
where the only light for miles around
blinks in the void,
back by the waters and the pasture
that by morning will be covered in frost

the sigh I breathe, relieved to let it all go,
to leave it there for You to carry to who knows where
and dispose of in whatever way you are able,
lets out a puff of air that is barely
visible in the night–
I grow colder
as the light grows brighter

unencumbered for the moment
I climb beneath the afghan
made my hands not known to me,
gifted hands that moved in tune
to the songs of praise and thanksgiving
she hummed along to,
I too hum until the sleep quickly comes
and I dream only of light and hope and geese
that fly to parts far and near

they too are unburdened and light

until the dawn comes and I begin to fill my bag
again

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Richard Dorrell [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Countdown is ON

Around here we have some countdowns going on.  Several actually.  It didn’t occur to me today which one might be foremost in my mind, in my subconscious even, until I saw this on the road while Miss Sophie and I were taking our morning constitutional earlier today.

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The first thing that came to my mind was, “Huh.  That looks like a TIE fighter.”  And right after I typed that just now I had to look up to see if I even had the right thing or not–I am right about which one, but of course it really does NOT look like a TIE fighter in actuality, but still, you can see where my mind was going.

STAR WARS, y’all.

December 18.

Unlike the other countdowns going on in our home, this one we’ve had on the horizon for over a year.  Ever since the movie was announced and “December 2015” was a far away nebulous thing.

Not anymore.  We are closing in on SW Day.  It’s real.  And we are so close to it that we can all but taste the popcorn.

One week before Christmas.  Another of our many countdowns going on right now.

The anticipation is so palpable, it’s a real thing.  Anticipating all of the good things to come.  One, two, three, four.  All right there together in a row.

Having good things to look forward to is the best, isn’t it?  With all the hard things and the sad things and the downright dark things in our days and weeks and months…..hanging on to the good that is coming…..that is what keeps us going.

Hoping you all have something fun and wonderful to have a countdown for in your neck of the woods.

Love to all.

 

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.

Husum-Schlosspark-Playing-Dog
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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, 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.

Beautiful.

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.

Showa_Kinen_Koen_golden_gingko
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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, 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.

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The Empty Chairs

Thanksgiving.

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.

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“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.

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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.