Listening to Hear

So speaking of listening, I wanted to tell you about a young man who has made a great impression on me and mine.

Yesterday in the midst of our out and abouts, the littles and I found ourselves next door to the GW Boutique on the other side of town.  Lest you think I was shirking my duty in hunting down bargains, the spot next door (where they had the GW BOOtique last September and October) is now the Last Chance GW.  Only open on Tuesday-Thursday and filled with racks of well-organized clothes, every piece of clothing is 99 cents on Tuesdays and the price goes down from there.

Awesome.

I mean name brand jeans for 99 cents?  Shirts, shorts for littles who are going to wear them out anyway?

That’s something I can get excited about.

After we perused the racks (not as long as I would have liked–the littles were saddened that it was only clothes), we popped in next door at the Boutique.  We poked around for a few minutes and I found a couple of things for next winter.  (Yes, I know, this one isn’t over yet, but I’m trying to think positively.)  I said no to things we already have too much of, and we headed to the checkout.

A young man who has waited on me there at least once before was at the register.  I don’t know his name–no name tag, and I regret not asking.  He is so friendly, and you can tell he really loves his job.  Because of that, I love my experience there.  He listens and he comments and he’s just one of those people who lifts your spirits with his general outlook on the world.

As we talked about my purchases, he commented on my necklace–the one I wear every day.  How much he liked it.  I thanked him and smiled.  I’m about 95% sure he told me he liked it last time I was there and we talked.  He’s a noticer.

He might notice things a little more than most because he has a hearing impairment.  Or maybe that’s not why.  Still he pays close attention.  I’ve noticed that I need to make sure he can see my mouth when I’m speaking, and we carry on great conversations.  It’s because he pays close attention to more than just necklaces and purchase items; he pays attention to people.  He looks at you when he is speaking, and that is so HUGE in this day and age of carrying on conversations with heads bowed over keyboards and phones.  And he doesn’t just listen to reply–he listens to hear.

I really enjoy being around his kind spirit.  Yesterday as we were talking, he pointed to the flowerpot at the end of the checkout counter.  “Yeah.  Someone hurt my plant.”

All I could see were little twig like bits sticking up no more than an inch and a half above the soil.

“It was growing so good, but someone just broke it off.” Our eyes met.  “I don’t know who or why.”

Oh my heart.  “I am so sorry that someone would do that to you–to your plant.  I’m sorry.”

A shadow seemed to lift, and he smiled.  “Oh it will be okay.  I always kill plants–can’t make them grow.  But that one…..anyway, I will make a trip over to Wal-Mart and I’ll try it again.”  He paused and then gestured toward the end of the counter behind him.  “That one down there is doing really well.  It was donated.  So now it’s the Goodwill plant.”

The Goodwill plant was lovely and a vibrant green.  “Wow.  That is awesome.”

“Yeah, when they first brought  it in, it wasn’t doing so good, but look at it.  They took it outside for a bit today too.  I think it liked it.”

I nodded.  “I’m sure it did.  Obviously Goodwill has been good for that plant.”

And it hit me as I was walking out, explaining to my girl why we had to make sure our friend could see our lips moving when we spoke to him, that a little (or a lot) of goodwill is pretty much good for all living things, isn’t it?

Tonight I’m thankful for the kind folks whose paths cross with mine and for how they lift my spirits.  I’m thankful for this young man who is kind and a noticer, for those are the folks who make each person they meet feel important and special.  And I’m thankful for his love of the things that grow, and the lesson he taught me in those few moments about listening, really listening.

May we all learn to listen to hear and to notice the little things.  And the big ones.  And all those in between.

Love to all.

If It’s Broke ‘Round Here We Fix It

pic of pot lidYesterday I was cooking rice to go with my chipotle lime chicken and peppers.  I love rice.  I especially love it with chili and soups.  This is the best pot to cook it in, so I was very sad when, about a year ago, I cracked the lid, and it was no longer usable.

I tried using a saucer to cover the top while the rice cooked.  It worked okay but getting that very hot saucer off the top was quite difficult and, at times, painful.  I just had to make do.  But I refused to go buy another pot and lid.

It was when I was at the GW Boutique several months ago that I remembered something that Mama did years and years ago.  She had a skillet that she liked to use that either didn’t have a lid or the lid, just like mine, was disabled.  She went to a flea market about ten minutes from the house one day, and she found a glass lid the perfect size!  I remember thinking how ingenious that was.  She was not going to let go of a perfectly good skillet just because it didn’t have a lid.  And that skillet and lid are great partners still to this day.

So as I walked down the dishes aisle of this particular GW Boutique, I decided to give it a try.  And there on the bottom shelf, in the midst of a stack of lids of all shapes and sizes, was this lid.  I didn’t know if it would work for sure, as I hadn’t measured my pot, but for 88 cents, I figured it was worth a shot.

And look at it go!  Perfect.

Mama and Daddy raised us to be good stewards of our belongings and our world.  We didn’t throw things out.  Mama kept a mending pile, and she mended jeans and shirts and all kinds of things.  Daddy changed the oil in the vehicles himself and fixed furniture pieces and cars and squeaky hinges.  I can remember them buying an old beat up desk for a bargain price, stripping it and refinishing it.  It still sits in the same spot in the house at Blackberry Flats.  There was no buying something new for the sake of buying something new.  If you could make the old something work, that’s what you did.  I once found a child’s rocking chair, old and faded at the GW Boutique.  Daddy took it apart piece by piece, stained it, and put it back together.  Beautiful.  One of my treasures.

I love the country song, “Dirt Road Anthem,” sung by Jason Aldean.  I can still remember the first time I heard it.  In it there is a line “If it’s broke ’round here we fix it.”  Truth.  That in, a nutshell, is how I was raised.  The preceding line is “We like cornbread and biscuits” which is also truth.  (And you just gotta respect someone who makes a rhyme of biscuits and fixed it, don’t you think?)

Tonight I am thankful for the frugality and good stewardship of my parents and their efforts to pass that along to us.  I am thankful that there are GW Boutiques pretty close to all of my beaten paths, and that I have three children who not only put up with going, but who ask to go and “pop some tags” on a regular basis.  We don’t buy for the sake of buying, but if we find a bargain, we have been known to get quite excited.  And finally, I am thankful for that glass lid–a link to the past and a sign that I might just be turning into my Mama.  I should be so lucky.

A Walk, A Wave, and Whimsy

While I had the sewing machine out yesterday, working on my little cowboy’s handkerchiefs, I decided to try a quick project I saw on Pinterest. The pinner said she had a long-sleeved shirt that was too snug, so she split it down the front and center and made it into a lightweight spring/summer jacket. It looked really cute, and as she advertised it as no-sew, I thought I’d give it a try.  After all, I’ve been cutting with scissors since first grade, right?

I had a moss green shirt that was roomy and fairly cute that I got when shopping with the crew and a couple of friends at Goodwill a couple of weeks ago.  I decided to give it a try. Yesterday I pulled it out and decided to add some non-matchy ribbon for a bit of whimsy. (I just love that word–thank you Mr. Bob Goff!) It was a quick job and I was pleased with the result. Just right for throwing on when the breeze picks up or our Georgia spring decides to go into hiding once again.

As it was last night…..after several days of being housebound with my sick littles, I decided to go for an after supper walk. As I stepped out on the porch, I realized my “new” jacket would be just the right thing.

My whimsical jacket

My whimsical jacket

Success!  A Pinterest project I had completed and could use.

The weather was gorgeous, the walk was calming, and my mind wandered.  I was really pleased with the jacket, the weight was just right.  “And I like the length of these sleeves,” I thought.  “This is just the right length for Mama.  And this color–she would have loved this color.”  It was then that it hit me, Mama would have loved this jacket, and I would have given it to her.  Oh if only I could…..

The last three years, Mama was not able to shop as she once was able to.  Between staying with Daddy and taking care of my great Aunt and our cousin, she was very busy, and she left Daddy by himself or with someone else only for the most necessary of things.  I tried to help out by getting groceries some and keeping my eye out for a shirt or a pair of pants or the like that she was in need of.  She made a comment last year that she hadn’t been shopping for more than just a few groceries in a couple of years.

So it was that we talked her into a trip to the “GW Boutique.”  She was like a kid in a candy store.  It took something she was never fond of–clothes shopping for herself–and paired it with a passion of hers–getting a bargain.  She came away with some things she really loved.  She was abundantly joyful.  When she was with us at Christmas, she was tickled with the gifts we had upcycled for her and for each other from GW.  “You’ve done so well,” she said, almost in awe.  That was high praise indeed.  A treasured memory.

I’ve been told that there will be moments that the grief hits like a tidal wave.  Well, having lived it more than once, yes, I know that is true.  But knowing that something can happen does not fully prepare you for the actual happening.  I think the first time this reality hit was when I had to go to Target to get something for one of the littles.  It was one of my first ventures out after she died.   As I walked in I found myself in that mode of shopping with that extra eye–the eye of looking for something Mama could use or wear.  And it hit me…..I would have to de-program myself.

The next tidal wave hit when I went for my yearly appointment.  Ahem.  Never any fun, and as you do, I had to update my information.  And there, midway down the page, the words that made my hand freeze and my mind lock up for a good two minutes: “Emergency Contact.”  My Mama has been my emergency contact for as long as I could fill out that line on a form myself.  In school, in college, in grad school, at work, every doctor I’ve ever been to…..even when we moved to Japan, for they had to have information about where we would evacuate to, should the need arise.  I no longer had an emergency contact.  The sense of loss and being lost was overwhelming.

There has been one other time when the grief snuck up on me.  Aub had had her senior pictures done, and we were figuring out what shots to order.  As I sat down to place the order on our photographer’s website, once again I froze.   My mind had automatically gone to the “family count” of folks who get pictures…..and Mama and Daddy were always first on the list.  Truth?  I shut down the computer and haven’t placed the order yet.  (My apologies to our photographer–we do love you!  It’s not you, it’s me…..)

I guess you could say I handled this wave of grief on my walk a little better?  At least my feet kept moving.  I finished my walk watching the sun set behind the trees.  I tugged the jacket close and wondered how many more times over the years this loss of Mama, of Daddy, of so many others–how many more times will I be caught off guard?

Tonight I am thankful for my Mama, who taught me how to be thrifty and to love walks in the evenings.  I am thankful for my family and friends who are with me, who laugh and listen to my stories and are patient through my “situational” (I hope) attention and focus disorder.  I am happy to have tackled a Pinterest project and come out with a completed, usable project.  Most of all, I am thankful for my Mama who was full of whimsy and encouraged us to live a life full of whimsy ourselves.  Yeah, I think she would have loved that mismatched ribbon…..it’s just for fun after all.

Prom Night

My girl.  Her Junior/Senior.  No, really, it’s her first and last prom.  It’s a long story but this is her junior and senior year, so this is it.  THE PROM.

She hemmed and hawed as we do about whether she would go or not.  In the end, she wrote her own check and bought her ticket.  Let me just tell you this is HUGE.  I am so proud of her.  She was intent on going and having a great time.  With friends.  I love that.  I didn’t have her courage or grace when I was her age.  The jury is still out on whether I have as much as she does now.

So we went shopping.  In the end she chose a beautiful dress that was just perfect.  From the GW Boutique.  I’m telling you, we love shopping there and can get the best bargains ever.  I was proud of her choosing to shop there and then so thrilled that she found THE DRESS.  (Aub, are you saying yes to the dress?  Why yes, yes I am.)

THE prom dress.....Take 1

THE prom dress…..Take 1

She then planned out her shoes, found them at a different location of the GW Boutique.  Yesterday she got some inexpensive stuff to do her nails and today she did them herself.  I am telling you, this girl can make a party out of nothing.  She just has that gift.

This afternoon she visited our sweet neighbor friend and talented hair stylist, and she got her hair did.  It was beautiful.  So we had all the puzzle pieces together, time to put them in place.  She started getting dressed and came to me to help her zip up.  Oh y’all.  I just about cry when I think back on it. Just a few hours ago.  My girl.  Beautiful.  I tried to zip but I didn’t have my hands in the right place.  So yeah.  This happened today.

This zipper is broke.....and so was my heart.

This zipper is broke…..and so was my heart.

I just pulled wrong and too hard.  I tried y’all.  Really I did.  We got out the needle nose pliers and I opened up the zipper to slide the other side back in.  Oh what a mess.  My heart sank as each minute ticked by.  She was about to miss her prom.  Because I.  Messed.  Up.  If I had been my Granny or my Aunt or my cousin even, I would have ripped that zipper out, HAD the right one here to replace it, and stitched it back in, and she still would have been on time.  Ahem.  No.  I heard my girl say, “It’s okay.  I just won’t go.  It will be all right.”

Not.  On.  My. Watch.

I love this child.  I try not to spoil her.  But I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I’m going to let her miss her prom, after she made the decision to go and got her outfit together with such a good attitude and open heart.

I started barking orders.  Rare for me.  (Never mind, I can’t even type that with a straight face.)  So I said, “Get your dress shoes, take your boots just in case, throw on clothes, we’re going to a store, and this is GOING TO HAPPEN.”

And you know what?  It did.

We had a twenty minute ride to the closest store that might possibly maybe have a dress in stock.  She had called them, and we were hopeful.  In the meantime she was texting our other dear and treasured neighbor friend who was pulling dresses from her closet and texting pictures in case the shopping trip was for naught.  Have I mentioned I have great folks all around me?  Love my neighbors.  Yeah, these folks make that an easy commandment to follow.

We laughed as we made a game plan for our dash-in-try-on-buy-and-dash-out mission.  Failure was not an option.  Despite the rain, she kept her cool and her hair in place.  We walked in and saw a beautiful selection of dresses right away.  My eyes went to the chartreuse immediately (yeah, it’s kinda my thing) and Aub’s went to a cute black and white number with BLING. (And she can pull off some bling!)  She did indulge me and try on the chartreuse.  She thought she looked eight years old.  I thought she looked like Tinkerbell, and it was very cute.  But the black and white one…..her eyes lit up.  The price was right, and the pashmina wrap was on sale (needed–the rain had dropped the temp to 55 already!) and there was a cute pair of earrings to match.  And with that we were at checkout right on time.  We asked the cashier for a pair of scissors to snip the tags off.  (Remember my broken filter? Yeah, I told her about the zipper.)  “Oh when is your Prom?” she asked.   I checked the time.  “Ummm, now.”  Sweet young woman.  Headed to the same college as Aub next year–for nursing school.  She’ll make it.  I saw it in her eyes.

Aub changed in the car–avert your eyes people.  She kept it decent, and we were on our way.  She was only fashionably late, thank goodness.  And all was well.  I am so proud of her for turning her back on a bit of a rough start and setting off for an evening of fun with friends.  I love this girl.

My girl, turning her back on the past, and headed for the future.  You go girl!

My girl, turning her back on the past, and headed for the future. You go girl!

After seeing her off, I called my cousin.  I shared with him the evening’s events.  I told him how bad I had felt about not being able to fix the zipper.  “Eh, it’s good to know what you can and can’t do.”  And he is right.  I could have tried.  But many broken relationships and a month later, Aub might have had some semblance of a dress left.  When it comes to stitching and sewing up something that delicate when it’s that important with serious time constraints…..”ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Tonight I am thankful for a girl who dreams big, who is strong and wise and beautiful inside and out.  I am thankful that we were able to go to a store and get a backup dress.  I am thankful for our conversation and laughter and meeting a new person and hearing her story.  I am thankful for kind and gracious neighbors who are a part of the village helping me raise my children.  I am very thankful for great hair spray that withstands major humidity and many dress changes and tremendous stress.  Finally I’m thankful for the words of wisdom from my cousin–trying to make myself into something or someone I’m not…..yeah, FOR SURE ain’t nobody got time for that.

And just for fun, and with much appreciation, the original “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”