A Chip Off the Old Mug

As I was cleaning up the kitchen after supper tonight, I was thinking about my chipped mug.  It’s one of my favorites.  Cooter used it, it was in the sink, my cast iron skilled slipped, and there you go.

The story of How My Mug Got Chipped.

But it’s one of my favorites so I am going to make it work for me.  Then I started thinking about the one that belonged to my Great Aunt.  Nothing fancy just elegant like she was, and so I wanted to have it.  Unfortunately someone put it in the microwave and it didn’t like it very much, so there’s a crack in it.

At the time, I was devastated.  That was one of those times when I could hear my Mama’s voice. “It’s a thing.  Things are replaceable.  People aren’t.”

She’s right.  But the mug wasn’t going to be easy to replace either so I put it on a shelf near the table where we eat because I can’t let go.  Not yet.

I started wondering (I think a lot when I do the dishes…..or I phone a friend, both things help me pass the time without really thinking about how much time I spend cleaning up after meals) if there was something wrong with me that I can get so sentimental OVER A MUG.  After coming to the clear conclusion that of course there is nothing wrong with that (ahem), I wondered if there’s something I could DO with these mugs.  I mean, the law of averages pretty much states that I will have more chipped mugs in my possession as the years go by.

Might as well be prepared.

After the kitchen was done (okay, mostly) I sat down and decided to click on Pinterest just, you know, to check and see if anyone had given any thought to my predicament.

ALL THE BROKEN MUG PROJECTS, Y’ALL.

I AM NOT CRAZY.  I AM NOT ALONE.

So many ideas of things to do with chipped or broken or without a handle mugs.  It was a bit overwhelming, a little out there, and very encouraging that I’m not the only one who can’t let go.

Because honestly, our mug collection can tell some stories, people.  And some of them are worth telling again.

Tonight I’m giving a shout out to Pinterest.  It’s another happy place for me.  I have even grown to appreciate that when I arrive, they have a whole new set of ideas for me to look at, based on what I’ve pinned before–“Picked for You.”  Well, aren’t you thoughtful?  Thank you, Pinterest.

As for the rest of you mug hoarders, much love.  I get it.  You are in good company.  Let’s sit and enjoy our coffee or tea together and share a toast to the mugs and the stories behind them.  (But let’s don’t clink them together, no need to go crazy and risk any more cracks and chips, y’all.)

Love to all.

img_1327

My poor “Thistle Farms” mug right after it was chipped before I washed it with my tears. Just kidding. I used a washrag. It’s all clean now. And sitting waiting to get the verdict on what comes next.

 

You Know You’re Loved When…..

Yesterday the littles and I were heading over to my Aunt’s for some cousin time and to circle the wagons.  As we traveled the familiar path, our Princess announced from the backseat, hairbrush in hand: “I just want my hair to look nice, and I’m worried that it doesn’t.”

Yes.  We are those people.  We keep a hairbrush in the car.  (Maybe even two) It has made me a better Mama to be honest.  Instead of losing it as we are trying to head out the door and realizing I need to send someone (HER usually) back to brush their hair and wait THAT MUCH LONGER to pull out of the driveway, we just get in the car and she (or you know, whoever) can deal with it there.

I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that she had actually already brushed it and pulled it into a side ponytail style of sorts.  It looked brushed, and really, that’s all I’m aiming for.

I was actually impressed.  This is the child whom my great Aunt W once looked at and commented, “She sure is pretty.  She’d be even prettier if you’d brush her hair.”

What could I say?  I was busted.  She was right.  Our girl has never been a fan of having her hair brushed.

So you can understand why I was VERY confused that my child was suddenly so concerned about the condition of her hair.

She was brushing it and looking quite serious.  “Do you want to know why I’m so worried about my hair?”

Well, ummm, YEAH.  “Sure.  I’d love to know.”

“Well I want Aunt to know how glad I am to see her.  See, I heard that if you show up just thrown together and everything, it will seem like you aren’t glad to be there and you don’t care about that person.  And I don’t want Aunt to think I don’t care.  So I want my hair to look nice.”

Well.

For the love.

I’m not sure where she acquired such information, and I do intend to ask her, only I keep forgetting in the busy-ness of our day to dailies, but I will.  I mean, it’s not a bad thing to do, putting yourself together because you care.  Still, I am curious as to where she might have come across information such as that…..the mind boggles.

Tonight I’m thankful for my Aunt, the one our Princess loves enough to brush her hair for. (And y’all know that’s some for real, no kidding love.) I’m thankful for Cousins and laughter and dancing in the rain.  For cups of coffee around a kitchen table and holding on to love and stories and the need to be together.  I wouldn’t trade anything for my time with my people, and that I can have that, I am eternally grateful.

May you all have someone so happy to be with you they’re willing to do just about anything to show it–even brushing their hair.

Love to all.

Brushes_(5351538413)

By Mr. Brian (Brushes) [CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Love Behind the Extra Leaves and Card Tables

I miss our big family get togethers from when I was little.

It doesn’t matter where. From my great Granddaddy’s to my Great Aunt’s to my Granny’s to Mama’s. I loved them all. The hustle and bustle of activity, tables or counters or stovetops groaning, laden with all kinds of good foods–and some that I wasn’t so fond of, but it didn’t matter.  In that setting, a no thank you helping was palatable.  Sweet foods were piled on the plates next to the casseroles.  Some casseroles were having an identity crisis and could have passed for both. (Pineapple cheese casserole, I’m looking at you.)  They had all the goodies of a church potluck, but these were even better–they were with our very own people.

I am still not quite sure how Granny fit all of us in her little house. But she did.  Some folks ate at the counter that ran between the kitchen and the living room.  Others ate at the card tables she set up for folks in front of the couch with chairs on the other side.  Still, how her four children, their spouses and all the grands fit in there, it boggles my mind. Never mind how she prepared enough food for all of us.  It was so good that you had to work not to eat too much, because tucked away in the back bedroom–first known as the “Cold Room” and then the “Pretty room” after its denim and red bandana curtain/bedding makeover–was all of the homemade candy Granny had been preparing.  Divinity, buckeyes, Marth Washingtons…..oh my land.  I just gained ten pounds sitting here drooling over the memory.  I’m pretty sure Granny’s love language must have been food.  If you left hungry, it was your own fault.

Gatherings with my Mama’s side of the family took place first at my Great Grandaddy’s house.  He had a big table, so we’d all gather round the table piled high with food.  What I remember the most from their house was breakfast before dawn (Granddaddy was a retired probate judge and farmer)–biscuits and red-eye gravy.  Excuse me, while I wipe away a tear.  Those things were melt in my mouth GOOD.  For dessert a four layer cake with lemon cheese icing was a given.

Oh me.

After Granddaddy passed, we’d gather at my Great Aunt’s house.  I think she’s on my mind especially today as it’s her birthday.  A few years back I planted a yellow rosebush on her birthday because they were her favorites.  I expect later on I’ll go cut one and bring it inside and smile at all the ways she shaped who I am.

I was beyond thrilled the year I was deemed old enough to go get the extra leaf for her table.  She and my Great Uncle had a lovely table, but what with it being just the two of them, they usually kept it as a small round table.  As we all arrived, there would be a conversation as to how many leaves we needed–one or two.  Then someone would go fetch the required number of leaves carefully from under my Great Aunt’s bed.

Oh my, what a precious moment.  The gently gliding it out from under the bed, wrapped in its sheet.  Then the careful unwrapping and folding the sheet and placing it aside for later.  I carried it upright with both hands through two doorways, calling out to my siblings with a voice that near trembled with the weight of my responsibility, “Move please.  Step out of the way.  Don’t bump me.”  I could NOT hit the walls or doorway with this treasured piece.  The process of dropping it in place and securing it always fascinated me.  After it was all together, it was time to set the table and watch my Great Uncle fry up the okra.  That and my Great Aunt adding almond slivers to the snap beans or a casserole or two were the finishing touches before we sat down to eat.

These days such gatherings are few and far between.  I miss there being more people than I can count, but knowing every face I saw.  I miss the ritual of preparing for the people. It was sacred, a moment of reverence, of appreciating and honoring and creating a place for each one gathered there.  Each one mattered.  Each one had a spot at the table, the card table, or the counter.  And in our hearts.

Today I’m thankful for these memories.  For the hush in my heart when I remember sliding the leaf out from under the bed and feeling the beautiful wood.  For the taste of foods I haven’t eaten in years.  For the smiles and laughter and “scooching” over just a bit to fit in one more person. Because there was always room for just one more.  Most of all, I’m thankful for my Daddy’s sisters who have continued this tradition in their own way.  Who continue to set a place and gather us all close.  The words “thank you” just don’t seem enough.  But I do appreciate them so much.

May you all find yourselves in need of an extra leaf or a card table–surrounded by the people you love.

Love to all.

The Cacophony of the Week–Playing Catchup

Tonight’s catchup post is brought to you by a stomach bug/fever suffering young’un and a tired Mama.

First of all, this happened this week.

The green in our foyer.  I love this color.

The green in our foyer. I love this color.

This color, out of all of them, was the most stubborn.  It took three or four coats.  The first one looked like my littles had painted the wall.  It was such a thin paint.  I’m learning all about bases and the like.  Base C, and a color with as much yellow in it as this one–those take way more than just two coats.  But I LOVE it.  It just suits.  Us. The room.  This house.  It does.  And there’s a lesson in this.  The two colors I love the most, this green and the gold in the kitchen/living room–I had no samples for.  Not that I will give up trying samples out.  I like the ones I chose after trying way too many colors out, but these two I ran out of time and had to get the gallons needed THEN.  I took a huge leap of something and made the choice.  The gold without backup and the green with my Fella and Aub sharing their thoughts.

From the green of the foyer to the pink of the soon to be library.  Yeah, we go from Kermit to Miss Piggy.  That makes me smile.

From the green of the foyer to the pink of the soon to be library. Yeah, we go from Kermit to Miss Piggy. That makes me smile. (and it looks better than this picture shows)

And turns out I love what happens when I make a choice without obsessing over it.  Is there a lesson in this?  Perhaps.  But I’m a really slow learner.

 

Cooter took this picture of his empty cake saucer.  He loved his chocolate cake.  There wasn't a chance to take a picture of it before it was eaten.  He's just that fast.

Cooter took this picture of his empty cake saucer. He loved his chocolate cake. There wasn’t a chance to take a picture of it before it was eaten. He’s just that fast.

And this happened.  With a child with severe food allergies, we don’t go to a lot of restaurants.  And we especially do not do buffets.  The risk for cross-contamination is just too great.  The last buffet I remember us going to, looking back, I realize she had a mild reaction.  That was before the bad one that made me wake up and start carrying an epi-pen everywhere.

Wednesday was the day I met Mr. A. A. Law in person and finished handling some business for my Great Aunt and Mama.  For those who might be wondering, I behaved myself.  I apologized to the women whom I inadvertently took my frustrations out on via a bad attitude when I spoke on the phone with them last week.  I was prepared to have a conversation with Mr. Law if the opportunity presented itself.  It did not.  And I’m okay with that.  But I acted like I was raised to behave, and that’s all that concerns me.

His office was right across the street from Side Tracks, the buffet restaurant that my Great Aunt used to take us to.  Cooter, who made the trip with me–exactly because he figured we’d have to eat out and he really wanted to,  joined me there for a trip down memory lane.  He’s been there before, back when he ate baby food sitting in his car seat/carrier.  He doesn’t remember going at all.  When his little eyes got over the disappointment over so many vegetables (he’s a self-proclaimed fruitatarian, y’all) and he chose some rice, catfish, and a biscuit, he saw the desserts.  Cake and pie slices wrapped securely under plastic wrap.   He looked, with his eyes popping, “Whaaat is thaaaat?”  “Dessert, buddy.”  “Can I have some?”  Sure, I said.  And he was off.  He carefully perused and chose a slice of chocolate cake.  Bless him.  The joy in that little guy that day is a memory I hope to treasure for a long time.  He took pictures of the plates on the table and he was fascinated with my catfish bones.  If I may for just a minute indulge in a bit of pity pot sitting, food allergies stink.  I wish I could take our Princess too.  I wish we could go in a restaurant without mapping out a game plan first.  I wish I didn’t have to quiet my anxieties every time we have a meal prepared by someone else.  But we do.  And I will do it over and over to keep her safe.  And maybe my meal with my little guy was all the more special because we can’t do it all the time.

And then there’s this.

"Sophie!"

“Sophie!”

"What?"  :)

“What?” 🙂

Miss Sophie sure worried us all after her fairly routine surgery.  She wouldn’t get up and walk around.  I called the vet.  Twice.  One time at 11:30 at night.  He is a kind, understanding person, and I’m thankful for that.  He knows I’m overprotective and a worrier, but when Miss Sophie wasn’t up and walking around three days after surgery, I knew something was wrong.  Turns out maybe she doesn’t like accessorizing.  When I took her cone off, she got up and started moving.  Slowly at first, but then she was back to her old self.  And that little face and wagging tail on the one who barks and pouts when I leave the room–I am thankful for her.

 

Lastly, I was reminded today of what little good it does for me to worry over things.  Things in the future.  Now, don’t think I’m going to stop.  I’m a work in progress and change for me will take as long as the rerouting of Highway 96 out my way will take.  LONG time.  Still.  Lesson learned.  Again.  I’ve been worrying for a week over how to fit things in and do what we were supposed to do today and tomorrow.  I just about had it all figured out, after much worry and figuring and planning, and then this morning at 4 a.m. I heard a little voice next to my bed.  “Mama, I feel like I have to throw up.”  Followed by proof.

And just like that.  Plans for today and tomorrow cancelled.  (Tomorrow’s cancellation was validated by a fever this evening.  Yeah, we’re staying put for a while.)

All that worry for naught.  I do that a lot.  Burn a lot of energy and wear myself out doing just that.  Worrying.

But with Anxiety Girl as my BFF, how could it be otherwise?

Wishing you all a day filled with surprises and good things as full as the dessert bar at Side Tracks.

Love to all.

 

Laundry duty

I didn’t have anything appropriate to wear to my Mama’s funeral.  I couldn’t wear the black dress I’d worn to my Great Aunt’s almost three years before.  Mama HATED the color black and with good reason, so just no.  I didn’t think the denim skirt she’d asked me to wear to Daddy’s would work either.  At some point I was at the GW Boutique in the midst of all the other planning and I found a dress.  A muted brown that would go with the boots she and Daddy got me.  I thankfully purchased it and moved on to what was next to be done.

I took it home and planned to wash it and get it ready to wear on Tuesday afternoon.

Only I’d forgotten that our washer was broken.  The new one hadn’t been delivered yet.  In all of the running around, I forgot.  And then the message came from my sweet Neighborfriend:

“Stop by when you get home.  I have your dress and Princess’ too.”

Bless her.  She’d not only washed but dried and pressed our dresses and hung them on hangers.  All we had to do is get dressed when the time came.  What a gift.

I’ve been thinking about that gift this week as the date gets closer.  As I remembered the relief that the gift of her doing my laundry brought me, my mind drifted to the gift I had of doing laundry for others.  Three different times.

In 2010, when my Great Aunt died, Mama wasn’t able to go to her house very often and take care of things because Daddy was fighting his battle with the Giant.  One time when I was down there checking on things for her, I was cleaning up and putting things away.  I found my Great Aunt’s dirty clothes bin under the sink in a cabinet.  And there were her dirty clothes.  From her last few days.  I found a garbage bag to put them in and I saved the tears for the drive home.

I waited a day or two to wash them.  For whatever reason, I needed the time to prepare myself.  It felt so sacred, like I was on holy ground.  It was such an intimate thing to have her clothes that she had chosen to wear each day, laying there in a heap, waiting on her to save up a load and wash them.  It was very precious to me to be the one to do this instead.

I remember it was a quiet day around here.  Not sure why, or maybe it was just a quiet day in my heart and soul.  I put them on to wash, carefully putting each item into the machine and closing the lid.  A short time later, when the load was through, I took each item out, one by one, and placed it into the dryer.  I set the dryer to run and went back to other chores.  I went out to feed the cats in our side yard and experienced the most amazing thing.  My yard smelled like my Great Aunt.  It was beautiful.  I closed my eyes and felt the sunshine on my face. The gentle breeze that carried my Great Aunt’s essence upon it caressed my face and curled around my hands.  The dryer vent is on that side of the house, so the clothes were sharing their scent through the hole on the side of the house.  It was one of the most precious blessings.  For a few minutes, I was hugged by her.  One more time.

Last year during Mama’s HospitalStay, we moved her bag of clothes she’d worn to the hospital from the ER to her room to the next hospital and from one room to the next there.  Before she went down to surgery she asked me to take her clothes on back.  We didn’t want to leave all of that in her room.  I put them in the car and promptly forgot about them in all the events that ensued.  I don’t remember when exactly, but one day during that last week when she was in the STICU and I wasn’t allowed to visit as much, I found them and washed them.  Her outfit and coat and socks and all.  Again, holy ground.  I put them in a clean garbage bag to take back to her house.  We found the bag just a week ago in the bottom of her closet where I’d tucked them.  Clean and waiting.

A week after Mama left this earth, I sat next to our cousin in another hospital as she took her last breath.  Bless her, she’d had a rough go of it too.  The next couple of days after she passed, I had the sad task of cleaning out her room at the assisted living home where she lived.  After loading the last of the things from her room, her roommate’s sweet guardian and friend of our cousin and Mama, Miss D, called me into the bathroom.  “Sugar, I’m sorry to tell you this, but we’ve got a few things in here to take care of.”  We went through the drawers and cleared off the countertop.  She looked in a basket and clicked her tongue.  “Oh honey, I’m so sorry.  They shouldn’t have left this for you.  They should have washed these things before now.”  I shook my head and held back the tears.  More laundry.  I was thankful in a way.  I would rather be the one to do it than have the staff just throw it in with all the rest.  I found a bag, loaded the clothes and towels in, and brought them home.  Once again, I found an uncluttered afternoon and did her laundry.  As I folded the tops and pajamas and hung up her robe, I remembered and gave thanks for the one who had worn them just a few weeks before.

Tonight I’m thankful to be the one who was on laundry duty.  It was a gift to me–a time of tearful remembering and feeling close to them as I sorted and folded and stacked.  And I give thanks for my sweet Neighborfriend who made our journey a little easier with her gift of laundry and love.

That’s the key, isn’t it?  Loving through the everyday stuff.  Finding a blessing in it.  Acknowledging the holy and sacred in the piles and messes and brokenness of our day-to-day lives.  Remembering.  And giving thanks.  The gifts that can be found in the sorting and cleaning and putting away.  It doesn’t have to be glamorous to be beautiful.  It just has to be real.

‘Cause Mama Said

"Because I'm the mother, that's why!"  A brilliant cup from Tervis.

“Because I’m the mother, that’s why!” My clever cup from Tervis.

Before our lives changed four years ago, Mama had been making a weekly trip to see my Great Aunt for years.  Tuesday was her day.  My Great Aunt was a mother to her, and their visits were times that they both treasured.  Occasionally one or the other of us children would go along, and after Daddy retired in 2003 he went sometimes, but mostly it was the two of them, visiting and taking on little projects around the house and yard.  And then there were the lunches with the banana pudding as dessert.  Whoa be the person who made them too late to get some of the one pan that was made daily at the Sidetracks restaurant.

Tuesdays were so ingrained that when I went to work full-time and Mama and Daddy kept Aub after school, Daddy arranged his schedule so he could leave work early on Tuesday and pick her up from school.  Tuesday became their day too.

But four years ago, when Daddy’s undecipherable symptoms hit full force unexpectedly, he was admitted to the hospital.  A week later he was moved to Emory where he stayed for over a month.  During that time, Mama was by his side the whole time.  The Tuesday visits were over for a while.  One of the first things Mama did was worry about my great Aunt.  She was in good health, but as often happens as the years go by, she was on many medications.  Each week before Mama left, she went to the kitchen counter, pulled down the many bottles of medication and vitamins and set them up in the 14-section medicine caddies.  Mama kept two completely set up in addition to the one for the current week–just in case she had to miss a week going down.

My great Aunt was a very bright woman, and since the death of her husband sixteen years before, very independent.  She and Mama had their own ways worked out.  So when I walked in that first week, scared and heartbroken over my Daddy, but determined to take this worry off of Mama’s list, I was a bit anxious.  Just as I had suspected, my great Aunt was having none of that–she did NOT want me to set up her medicine.  As she hadn’t done it in quite a while, I knew she was bluffing as she waved her hand at me, sitting in “her” chair, saying “Pshaw, I can do it.  Don’t you worry about it.  Come sit down and visit.”

Hmmmm.  Face my great Aunt or my Mama?  Who was I more willing to upset?

I sat for a few minutes and plotted and thought as we chatted about the weather and how Daddy was doing and so on.  Aub looked over at me and we exchanged a look.  I could tell she was interested to see how this was going to play out.  I was too.  Only I was the one who was risking making my aunt mad by going against her wishes.  Finally Mama’s words–my “out” my whole life–came back to me.

“Look if you don’t want to do something, if you know you shouldn’t, whatever, just blame it on me.  Say I won’t let you do it.”

Bing-o!

I got up from the couch and squatted next to my aunt’s chair.

“Ummm, we’re gonna have to leave in a few minutes and get on back home, but before I go, I’m just going to get your meds set up for next week, okay?”

“No, I already told you, you don’t have to worry about that.  I can do it later.  You just sit here and visit until you have to leave.” She waved that hand again.

I was ready this time.

I looked down and sighed.  I stared at my fingernails that were probably a disappointment to this beautiful and elegant lady in front of me.  I sighed again. “But see, Mama asked me to do it.  And she’s going to ask me later if I did.  And when I tell her no, she’s gonna beat me but good.  Please let me do it so she won’t beat me.”

A chuckle burst out unexpectedly.  She took a deep breath, and laughed even harder.  I had her.

“Well my gracious goodness, I certainly don’t want that on my conscience.  I guess you’d better do it then.  But I wish you wouldn’t worry about it.”

“No ma’am,” I said.  “I’m not worried about it, but I am worried about that beatin’.”

She laughed again and took the “tea cup” from our Princess and “sipped” on her tea.  “You go on ahead then. Do what you need to do.”

And our pattern was set.  From then on, each week, she would tell me not to worry, I’d tell her I was more worried about my Mama and her wrath and that promised beating.  And she would acquiesce.  Done.

I am thankful for Mama’s willingness to take the fall, to be the bad guy for me all my life.  If I was invited to do something that I really didn’t want to, that was my excuse.  If someone gave me a hard time about not doing one thing or another, I’d just shrug and sigh, so “burdened” by my overprotective parents–“My Mama won’t let me.”  If someone wondered why I was calling home or why I always did something a certain way, “Mama makes me.”  I appreciate that so much.  I still do it today.  If I ma’am someone and they wave it away, I always reply, “No ma’am, I’m sorry.  If I didn’t say ma’am to you my Mama (or my Granny) would come back and whoop me.”  (And really, physical discipline was not as common around our house as one might think from listening to me carry on.  But yeah, suffice to say, I don’t use my manners and act like I am somebody, one of them’s coming back to raise some kind of ruckus!)

I have told my children, especially my oldest, the same thing.  “Blame it on me.  You need an out, you got one.”  Yes, I want them to be strong and stand on their own and for what they know is right, but sometimes it helps to play the “Mama said” card for reinforcement.  After all, it works.  It convinced my great Aunt to change her mind–and that was no easy feat. ” ‘Cause Mama said”…..that’s the universal language for “this is how it’s gonna be.”