Little Bits of Green

This afternoon between piano recital and our time at Evening Prayer, I took Miss Sophie for her afternoon constitutional.  We went a little further than we normally do, as there were a lot of children playing near our house, and Miss Sophie is, well, easily distracted from the task at hand.

In the quiet as she sniffed all the things, I took the time to look around and appreciate the fact that I wasn’t freezing standing there.  The blue of the sky was classically beautiful, and the sun shone brightly.  But it was when I looked down that I saw something that surprised me.

Georgia or not, it’s still winter here.  We’ve had a few days that have me crocheting warmer colors on my temperature blanket, but lately we’ve been back into the “my toes are cold and want to go home” kind of weather.  There are hardly any trees other than evergreens with leaves on them, my bulbs aren’t growing yet, and the grass is brown–and dead.

But as I stood there looking and thinking while Miss Sophie did her dog thing, I noticed that the grass wasn’t all brown.

I saw bits–if ever so few and tiny–of green.

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Wow.

It really surprised me.  I stood there, chiding myself, Well, what did you think, Tara?  That the brown grass just one day, blade by blade, would turn green and spring would officially be here?

I suppose not, but I don’t think I’ve ever paid that much attention to the process.  It’s just been brown and dead and then one day, the grass is green, it’s warm, and my flip flops are back where they belong.

On my feet.

But today I realized something.  In the midst of that brown and dying grass, well below what the eye can detect, there is life.  The green is there.  Waiting.  Even when we don’t see it.  Waiting for the right situation, and the right season.

And then I heard my Mama: Ecclesiastes 3.  (her favorite)  To everything there is a season.

The new life is there.  And one day, when the time and season is right, it will choke out all of that death, and all around us there will be rebirth and life and growth.

One day…..

what has been in the works all along will be apparent and shine through the brown grass and darkness.

Wishing you all a glimpse of green grass today and everyday.

Love to all.

Waiting for Another Day

There’s all of these thoughts that run through my head when Life gets real like it has today.

“This too shall pass.”

“It’s not the end of the world.”

“Keep on keeping on.”

“Papa killed can’t.”  (They really told us that growing up.)

“If this is the worst that ever happens…..”

And the clincher, that Mama would say if she were here to answer my phone call, usually preceded by a sigh, “Well, at least they’re not shooting bullets at us.”

Today I’ve been talking back to my the voice in my head.

“How soon do I have to wait for this to pass? ‘Cause enough is enough.”

“It might not be the end, but I sure might be okay if it were, because this is hard.”

“I don’t have it in me to keep on anything.”

“Can’t.  Can’t.  Can’t.  Can’t.  I just can’t anymore.”

“It’s not.  The worst happened over the past two years, but this isn’t too great either.”

And finally, shaking my head, “No Mama, they’re not.  But sometimes these things hurt like bullets flying…..”

My head, my heart, my mind–it’s as discombulated as my Mama’s once neat house.  “Everything in its place” was her motto, but right now, you’d never know it.  Things being sorted, piles made, nothing where she left it.  I know it has to happen, I do.  It’s all part of the process of taking care of business.  It’s just that everything is lost, but mostly me.  I wander through what was once familiar, and I find nothing but chaos, mimicking the turmoil in my heart.

I promised I wouldn’t write about this every day, but today it has hit pretty hard.  The grief, the needing to talk to her, the need for her organization and my old home to be my safe place for sorting it all out.  The need for her wisdom.  The need for her.

Instead the time has come for me to sort things out myself.  I don’t even know what that looks like.  I do know that it’s what she would have wanted.  She would not have appreciated my dragging my heels or my moping about.  “Take a moment, do what you have to do, then let’s get this done.”  I can almost hear her whisper in my ear.

Today I found a little storage box with drawers that Daddy had kept on his worktable in the back bedroom.  Once my brother’s room, it had become a reflection of their interests, of who they were.  The drafting table with Mama’s art supplies, her sketches and drawings, rough drafts of stories, and stored underneath, copies of her favorite books for giving to those children she loved.  Under the other windows was Daddy’s table with his paper model airplanes–so intricate, the amount of patience they must have taken!  They hang in Cooter’s room now.  Daddy had notebooks with notes about interesting words and pages with drawings for his next woodcraft project.  In the drawers there were bits of wood, wood glue, and other materials he used in his projects.  I opened it today, and I saw Mama’s hand close it, and her voice saying, “We’ll just leave this for now.  We can just put it on this bookshelf for the time being.”  It was just yesterday that we moved things around, so we could put it on the shelf.  Just yesterday, I’m not kidding.  And now, today, we are having to make the decision without her.  What to do with it?  It’s funny that she let that one thing go.  She was so strong about going through other things and sending things like clothes to organizations that could use them.  She offered tools to the family.  We folded up the table to move it out of the room, but that little drawer, filled with this and that, she set aside for another day.

I decided that today wasn’t the day.  I closed the drawer, and I stopped for a moment to breathe.  It’s all gone by so quickly, this past year, and yet it hasn’t.  This year without being able to dial the same seven digits I’ve known almost all my life, and hearing her cheery “hello?” each time she answered.  Without asking her for her advice and then arguing with her that there was no way it could be better and then later finding out she’d been right all along.  Her hugs.  And telling me how much she loved me.  Yeah. All of that and her biscuits and pork roast gravy.  There’s a lot to miss in that little woman.

Mama was strong.  Right up to the end.  She didn’t give up, not once, through all the heartache and joys and ups and downs in her life.  I’m sure she wanted to, but she simply did not.  Tonight I’m going to take that thought to bed and mull and it over and see if I can garner some of that strength from across the thin veil that keeps us apart.  And hope that somehow one of the other things Mama would say at times will prove itself true.

“Go get some rest. Tomorrow is another day.”

 

 

 

Be Nice to Who Say What Now? I Don’t Think So.

This morning as I was taking our puppy, Sophie Ru, out for her morning constitutional, it hit me.  In the face.  An intricate spider web strung across our front door.  I was spitting and spewing and using my spare hand to quickly wipe away the web bits and to assess whether the creator of said web had made a quick jump onto my head during the demise of his work.  I am sure anyone watching would have been entertained.  I, on the other hand, was not.

I do not like spiders.

At.  All.

It goes way back.  I remember being terrified of them when I was small.  Unlike Sister.  Family lore has it that when one was crawling across the floor when she was just barely walking, she smacked it with her hand and was preparing to chow down before Mama quickly stopped her.  The joke was she did it to protect me because I was quite likely terrified.

We had plants on our little front porch at the house on Boy Scout Road.  Mama would take clippings and we would put them in Styrofoam cups for the PTG’s Halloween Carnival sale.  They were quite popular.  They were called airplane plants.  Or spider plants.  Ahem. For a reason I cannot recall, at one point there were some paint chips that had fallen into the pots of these plants.  As service for some infraction, I was sent out there to clean the paint out of these plants.

‘Cause it’s a good idea to send an arachnophobe to clean out plants that are called “spider plants.”  I was absolutely certain that the reason they were called that was because, in fact, spiders lived in every single one of them.  I was miserable.  But I did obey.  Finally.

Can you see that HUGE spider up there?  If not, rest assured he is MUCH MUCH larger than he appears.  Must be a problem with the camera on my phone.  Believe me, much, much bigger.

Can you see that HUGE spider up there? If not, rest assured he is MUCH MUCH larger than he appears. Must be a problem with the camera on my phone. And I could only get so close.  What if it was a jumping spider?  Believe me, much, much bigger.

So back to this morning.  Webbed in the face.  The spider started crawling, and I still had to go back through this door to get inside.  It was me or him.  He crawled up high onto the transom area.

Y’all.  Aragog?  That big huge spider from Harry Potter?  The one as big as an elephant? *whispers* He did not disappear in the forest.  He is not dead.  He is up there on that glass on my front porch.

It’s a lose/lose really.  I don’t want him up there, but I don’t want him to just disappear either.  I WANT to know where this thing is at all times.   He is up so high, I can’t get a shoe up there to whack him, and I’m figuring it would be my luck that the wasp spray I have won’t touch him. That it would only serve to make him madder. Yeah, that sounds about right.

I don’t know why I don’t like spiders.  For whatever reason they terrify me.  I’m constantly checking to see if I feel any possible bites when I see one out and about.  This whole disliking without a real explanation is almost enough to make me believe in previous lives.  If that’s the case, I know bad things, spiders, and me all hung out for quite a while way back before when.

Mama tried everything to try to help me get over what was an unhealthy, almost crippling fear of spiders.  She even got the book “Be Nice to Spiders.”  She read it to us.  A lot.  In it a little boy named Billy leaves his pet spider Helen at the zoo because they are moving to a no-pets apartment.  It’s all about how Helen helps the other animals at the zoo.  Mama wanted me to see all the good that spiders can do.  I appreciate Mama’s efforts, but I still don’t think I will find myself ever being nice to a spider.  If I ever run into Charlotte, she’d better spell quick, because my MO with spiders is kill first, assess the toxicity later.  If I can reach them, that is.

Note to self: Don’t use that door in the morning.

Outside the Box Kind of Mama

or…..I Wish I Were the Kind of Mama She Was

Y’all, confession time:

I need my sleep.

That’s why Mama told me I might need a nap.  Often.  If I don’t get enough sleep, I just can’t function properly.  “Properly” meaning up to and including not snapping at people or being downright rude.

I am reminded of this as I haven’t been getting enough sleep at night lately.  When one of the first thoughts you have when you wake up in the morning is whether or not you will be able to get a nap….you might have a sleeping problem.

It was the same when I was young.  I had an early bedtime.  I can remember it being as early as 8 p.m. and then 8:30 and finally 9 before it was up to me to set my bedtime.  As the oldest I was the first to have an advanced bedtime, and when I hit that 9 p.m. I thought I had arrived.

The problem with any and all of these bedtimes was that I couldn’t get up in the mornings.  At least the way Mama preferred.  Cheerfully.  That whole “Rise and shine and give God the glory glory” song?  Yeah, Mama could have written that.  That was her morning attitude–just all “isn’t this a wonderful day?” and “I can hardly wait to get started on all this awesomeness I have ahead of me.”

Ugh.

Don’t get me wrong.  I loved my Mama then and I still do today.  I miss that cheerfulness and sassiness that she would use to make me do right in any given situation.  (She loved me but she flat called me out on some stuff.)  But that early morning, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed…..let’s leave that to the squirrels, shall we?  I heard my oldest describe herself recently–she said that she wasn’t a night owl or a morning person…..more of a 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. kind of gal.  I’m thinking she comes by it honest.

When I was in second grade, I just couldn’t get up on my own very well.  Mama would try and try with all her cheery might, and I was still a grump.  Back then Mama sewed a lot of our clothes.  I remember the jeans with the contrasting denim pockets that I wore on the kaolin mines field trip and watched the blue get lighter as the day progressed.  And the bandana shirts.  I loved those.  She even made me a bathing suit.  It was a lovely 70’s shade of orangey-yellow.  But looking back I think the most precious thing she made that year was my nightgown.

I added the nightgown so lovingly made for me when Mess Cat and I were painting together on Saturday.  Happy memories.....

I added the nightgown so lovingly made for me when Mess Cat and I were painting together on Saturday. Happy memories…..

As I recall it was peach in color which could have been my favorite color at the time.  I’m not sure.  I loved it in the eighth grade when she made my graduation dress from the Oscar DeLaRenta pattern in a peach colored fabric with white ruffle trim.  It was my favorite again in college, when she made us curtains in a yellow gingham complete with tiebacks. I loved yellow too and somehow it coordinated with the yellow bedspreads and peach sheets…..my roommate and I were going for a pastel theme, okay?

The color and style of the sleeveless gown were not what made it so special.  What made it special was what Mama embroidered by hand on it.

A smiley face.

Mama was not only a problem solver, but she was a creative, outside of the box kind of thinker.  She was likely very frustrated with me for not cooperating and getting up.  At the time she had two little ones behind me to care for as well.  The last thing she needed was me, dragging and whining every morning.

So she gave me this gown.  I remember her pointing to the smiley face and saying, “I want you to look down and remember to be happy every morning.”  Later that would be her thing to say, “Happy Everyday!”

She was such a good Mama.

I’m so not her.

I wish I could remember to be a creative thinker and do things like this instead of losing my mind and my temper.

Her creativity came to the rescue more times than a few.  I remember when I broke my ankle and she came up with a great way for me to shower without getting my “boot” wet.  She covered it with a garbage bag and put me in the shower on her vinyl covered kitchen stool.  After each shower she would dry the stool off and put it away until the next day.

She could organize like nobody’s business and said that loading the dishwasher was like a different but fun version of the game Tetris.  Family lore has it that she fit a five foot swimming pool in a little bitty Falcon.  (She’d always say that when we said there wasn’t room for anything else in the dishwasher, “Sure there is.  I once fit a five foot swimming pool….” Or we’d say, “Ask Mama how to get all this organized, she once fit a…..”)

But most of all, loved ruled with her.

That’s why, instead of punishing me for not getting up like I should or chewing me up one side and down the other, she sat down and lovingly and cleverly made me a peach nightgown with a smiley face on it.

I have no idea what happened to the gown.  Maybe it made its way down through my two sisters–most likely, but it doesn’t matter.  I can still see it the way it looked in the light from the kitchen in our little five-room house on Boy Scout Road.  The silky thread of the smiley face shimmering in the light.  With color.  With happiness.  With love.

I was so lucky to have her.  And to be loved by her.

Feeling Sanctimonious Around Here

So after waking up in the wee hours of the morning to hear the cats frolicking outside as they do, I fell back asleep.  I knew things were headed south with the condition of my nose and the passages therein.  I woke up enough to tell my oldest goodbye as she headed off to work.  Then I dozed.  And finally woke up to the stirrings and requests for breakfast of my littles.  I looked the clock.

9:30

Say what?

I could not believe my eyes, but yes, that was the correct time, even after rubbing them and putting on my glasses (after working to find them–that whole “I need my glasses to see where I put my glasses”–ahem).

I felt pretty awful.

At least a tad bad.

But the laundry was piling up and the sink was too, so I unloaded and loaded and washed and folded and then pretty much crashed around lunchtime.  The symptoms I had figured were allergies for others in my house?  Pretty much thinking I misdiagnosed, and this bad boy is a COLD.

How did that even happen?  I’ve been eating fresh vegetable soup all week.

Sigh.

Anyway, I did lay down to rest this afternoon, hoping to give the old immune system a boost.  It didn’t last long.  My mind was on my freezer.  And peaches.

My favorite variety of peaches are ready.  Now.  For a limited time.  I’ve been known to go down to the farm and get five boxes of peaches and put them up in the freezer over the next few days.  We canNOT be without peaches during the winter.  It made me laugh one day last winter when I served the canned peaches I got on sale (I know, *gasp*) and my little guy who is a peach fanatic, asked, with a sour look on his face, “WHAT are these?”  Yeah, I don’t do that anymore.  Lesson learned.  And I have to say that I am proud that he’s a little peach connoisseur, my little Georgia boy.

So it’s time to go and get my peaches and put them up.  But my freezer.  It’s not so good.  It has needed defrosting for oh, let’s say, about a YEAR.  The ice takes up more space than the food, and the food in there was starting to be frozen together.  This does not work so well.

So today, I felt awful, but I couldn’t rest knowing time is of the essence, so I got my act together, enlisted the help of my Zoo Crew, and we moved food into the small freezer and cooler and went to town trying to get it to defrost as quickly as possible.  So yeah, this happened today.

Feeling pretty good over this much needed job finally being done!

Feeling pretty good over this much needed job finally being done!

And then this.

Only thing left is to move the other things back from the little freezer tomorrow.  Whoo hoo!

Only thing left is to move the other things back from the little freezer tomorrow. Whoo hoo!

Despite feeling yucky, I got it done with the help of my crew.  The wet towels are already headed toward the dryer, and it all only took one phone call to my Aunt to check that I was following the proper procedure.  I’m calling it a win.

Mama had a saying when she got the dusting done (which she despised) or did something she’d been putting off for a while–she’d say she was feeling “sanctimonious.”  I think it got started when Mama called to tell my Great Aunt about her accomplishment one time,  my Aunt W replied, “Aren’t you feeling sanctimonious?”  The first thing I used to do after I mopped my floors or finished all the laundry AND put it away or finished putting up the five boxes of peaches I’d inflicted on my kitchen was to call Mama and tell her.  She was more than Mama, she was my best friend and I wanted to share.  And I knew the first thing she’d say would be just that: “Well aren’t you feeling sanctimonious?”  Yes ma’am.  For sure.

Tonight I was blessed to have my Aunt listen, answer my “technical” question about what I was doing, and say, when I suggested (ahem) I might be feeling sanctimonious, “Well I guess you should be.”  She and Mama shared that too.

Because there’s some things in life you should feel that way about…..like defrosting freezers when you just want to crawl back in bed (or just defrosting them at all–seriously), putting streusel in a pound cake (Imma need that recipe please ma’am), or dusting an entire house when it’s your least favorite task of all.  When we set our minds to something and get it done, isn’t it nice to have someone to share it with,  to pat us on the back, and to cheer us on?

Tonight I’m thankful for a clean freezer with food in it, and the anticipation of putting more in it (whoo hoo, Elberta peaches).  I am grateful for my children to pitch in, the many hands that make a task a little easier.  And I’m thankful for Mama who cheered me on, and for those, who like my Aunt, continue to do so.  Lifting each other up–that’s the good stuff in life.  Just like fresh Georgia peaches, there’s nothing else like it.