Be the Kicker

Sunday morning Cooter came into our room, bouncing on the bed.  It being a day of rest, the Fella and I were trying to stretch it out as long as possible.  Cooter is a morning person, me–not as much.

He was excited about the upcoming Falcons game, and he and his partner in all things football talked about the games from the night before.  I may have zoned out a tad during this bit.  Eventually the conversation caught my attention again–when I heard the Fella say, “Yeah, I don’t know if I’d want to be the kicker.  You have to be on standby, ready to be called in at any time.”

The conversation lost my attention again at that point, as I thought about the kicker.  I used to imagine stress as like being the catcher in a baseball game–ready for a ball to come from any direction.  But a kicker, sitting on the sidelines, not knowing for sure when he will be called in…..and expected to help the team out in a big way when he is?  Bless.

Because that’s the thing about football–there’s never a time when you tell the kicker, “Eh, just whatever, man.  It won’t matter.”

Anything and everything that kicker does matters.

That night I was in my think tank (some folks call it a shower), and I started pondering on who the kickers are in my life.  Those folks who are there, on my team, ready to step in whenever, wherever I need them.

Like Mess Cat making the time to come out after dark to pick up our Princess because I was with our drama king, Cooter, at his dress rehearsal.  (Coming out after dark is a whole ‘nother level of showing up, y’all.)  Or my Aunt who picks up the phone and listens and shares laughter and wisdom and “poor baby’s.”  Or my Cousin who answers my SOS texts when I’ve sliced my finger open, cutting up the cabbage for supper.  Or Aub who hangs out with her siblings so I can go do what needs doing.  Or the Fella who takes time from work when things go awry.  Or my brother who listens so well or my neighborfriend who picks up oyster crackers for my sick one or steps up in so many other ways…..my friends…..family…..And so many more–all these wonderful kickers, who are there, waiting, willing to be called into “the game” (and chaos) of my life.  Present, interruptible, loving, wonderful people.

I think we are called to be kickers in this life.  Doing our own thing, sure, but never forgetting we are a part of a Team, sharing the same goal, same dreams.  Helping each other out whenever need be.

Kick on, my friends.

Love to all.

Running Out of Gas

This afternoon I got a call from my Fella.  It’s not unusual for him to call that time of day.  Sometimes he’ll call to see if we need him to pick up anything on his way home from work.  But today, that was not his reason.

The gas gauge is broken in his vehicle.  Well, broken is a strong term.  Occasionally it works, only you are hesitant to trust it, because what if it’s not?  So maybe malfunctioning is a better term.  His gas gauge is malfunctioning.

He called because he had “broken down” right after leaving his office.  Less than five minutes up the road.  He thought it might be that he was out of gas, but then again, he wasn’t sure.  He hoped that’s all it was.

Me too.

The funny thing is he’s always so conscientious about filling up regularly because he never knows exactly how much gas he has left.  “The one time I let down my OCD about filling up the tank…..”

We picked him up and did all that needed to happen to get gas back to his vehicle where it was stuck on the side of the road.  He poured in the gas and then tried to start it up.

Perfect.

Thankfully, that was the issue.  He closed his gas cap, and we were all on our way again.  Back to the day to dailies and taking care of business as usual.

Three things occurred to me as I was driving to my next adventure:

*We do this ourselves, don’t we?  We think we know how much “gas” we have left to get us through all we need to do, but sometimes we misjudge or we push the limit, and then we burn out.

*When we do run out of gas, patience and grace are the two things we need the most from those around us.  When those around us run out of gas, that’s the best thing we can give them–patience and grace.  (This observation is in *ahem* retrospect.  I might not have been the best giver of these things today, and I’m sorry for that.)

*It takes help from others to get us going again–we just need to ask.  Whether that comes in the form of a friend who sits and listens, someone who makes sure we rest and take care of ourselves, or someone who has our back and fends off the gas-guzzlers, we need the support and presence of others to get back up and running again.

Tonight I’m thankful for a vehicle that runs.  And for the Fella making his day interruptible, so I could do what I needed to do after the refueling.  I’m glad that an empty gas tank was the worst of our worries today.  That’s not something we can say everyday.

Wishing you all a full tank and the rest to refuel when it’s not.

Love to all.

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Photo By CZmarlin — Christopher Ziemnowicz [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The One About What Really Matters

All last weekend I could hear the joyful sounds of laughter and conversation as all the girls from our street and one who used to live here gathered on our front porch, making “potions” and “perfumes” and all kinds of things.  Using wood, old chimes from a wind chime, baskets, all kinds of leaves and holly berries, and very active imaginations, the girls went at it as though they had mortar and pestle.  Mashing and grinding and laughing and singing and concocting.  They were having all the fun.

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I stepped outside to say hello at one point, and the youngest girl on our street was holding a big ol’ basket in her arms.  Her smile though–that and her blue eyes would warm anyone’s heart.  She set it down and went back to work with the others.  I turned to go back inside when the basket’s contents caught my eye.

Oh.  No.

It was filled–FILLED–with buds.  Beautiful closed buds from my camellia.

Oh my heart.  I guess I made a sound, probably a distressed one, and that sweet girl looked up at me with her blue eyes.

“Where did y’all get those?” I asked, when I finally found my voice.

“Over there,” she said, pointing at–yes–my camellia.

“Oh.  Ummm.  Okay.” I paused.  Hold it together, hold it together.  “Well, could y’all not pick anymore of those please,” I said to all the girls.  “They won’t bloom if they’re not on the bush. I mean, it’s fine and all,” I hurriedly said, as eyes got bigger, “but just maybe not anymore?”

“Oh, don’t worry, Mama,” our Princess said.  “We left the ones at the top that we couldn’t reach.”

Oh.  Well.  In that case.

*sigh*

So my poor taller than I am camellia with just a few buds left at head height was on my mind and heart all that evening.  I could hear my Mama’s voice, gently reminding me over the years.  People are what count.  Not things.  And I’m certain she would add, not flowers.

Eh.  I would likely have lost a lot of them in a good freeze anyway.

Tuesday I had a busy day, and my Fella took the helm.  While I went from an appointment to a meeting, he hung out with the littles and had them helping him take care of some much needed yard work.  I had started trimming our Lora Pedlum in the front flowerbed two months ago while the Fella was gone for work, but I could only get so high using my pruning shears without a ladder.  And I refused to get on a ladder without an adult close by to call 911 when I fell.  (Because yeah, it was bound to happen.)  So it was in desperate need of trimming all around, especially on top, as were some other shrubs.  There was also an invader in the middle of my camellia bush.  Some tall singular strand of an interesting weed/plant that had reached at least three feet taller than the camellia around it.

Since he had all of this in front of him, my Fella had picked up a cordless hedge trimmer.  (More power, more power) As I left for my day to dailies, he was setting out, trimmer in hand.

When I dashed back home between obligations for just a few minutes, he pulled me to the side.

“You want the good news or the bad news?”  he asked.

I immediately jumped to the bad news.  Was it Miss Sophie, who had felt puny a few days before?  Was it one of the children?  I couldn’t even wrap my brain around what all the bad could be, but YES TELL ME ALL THE BAD THINGS NOW BEFORE I PASS OUT FROM HYPERVENTILATING.

“It’s your plant.  I cut it down.  By accident.  I’m sorry.  Our Princess said it was your favorite.  I’m really sorry.  I couldn’t see that’s what I was cutting down under there.”

My–favorite?

“The one with the buds on it.”

Ah.  Oh y’all.  Yeah.  That sounds about right.

I went to the front door and looked out.

Yep.  Camellia.  Gone.

And all I could do was laugh.

Right?

I mean, last weekend I was trying to hold it together because most of the buds were gone.  I sure am glad I didn’t give the girls a hard time about that–would have been really silly, considering, huh?

I think that my Fella might have been a bit concerned that I was delirious, laughing and all.  After all, just over two years ago I lost it because he chopped up my fuzzy Wandering Jew plants in the flower bed thinking they were weeds.  I mean, LIFE WAS OVER AS I KNEW IT when those plants were chopped up.

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Only of course it wasn’t.

And they grew back healthier and in greater number than ever.

So yeah.  I’m in a much better place now, and really–I think maybe, in the words of my folks, I’m finally “getting it.”

People.  Their feelings.  They matter so much more.

My Fella seemed relieved that Hurricane Tara wasn’t about to hit land.  He took me out and showed me what he had done in the hopes of saving something.

Bless him, he had take two of the bigger branches from the bush and planted one on either side of the other shrubs in the hopes of them somehow taking root and growing and blooming and all the beautiful things.

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He’s been watering them everyday.

Bless him.

How could I not love someone with that much hope and faith?

Maybe it will happen.  Maybe those stalks will take root.  Or maybe they will become very important ingredients in the very busy and intense potions factory I host on my front porch.  Either way, all will be well.

I can always get another camellia.  I mean, I was hoping for a ginkgo for Christmas, but camellias are good too.

But precious little ones sharing their imaginations and picking buds and dreaming and folks who love me and go to such lengths to show it–I wouldn’t take a whole tea garden of camellias for that.  Or all the money in the world.

Wishing you all a sense of joy and laughter in the midst of the unexpected.

Love to all.

 

Christmas Lights and Marital Bliss

Today we finally got the lights on the tree.  We’ve had a time of trying to find time to actually go tree hunting, what with the Fella being gone, and Aub having finals and papers and all the things due this week, and all the things the littles do. And once we got the tree up, we had a time finding our lights we had stored away.  But today.   We got it done.

As I was wrapping the tree in light, listening to the best Christmas music, I found myself smiling.  Growing up, once I was old enough, it was my job to put the lights on the tree.  Every year. I suppose my parents weren’t as OCD about it as I am or maybe they didn’t enjoy being poked and scratched by those cedar trees.  Whatever the reason, it was my job, and I became pretty good at it, if I do say so myself as shouldn’t.

After the Fella and I married, he was the one who put the tree in the stand and got the lights on it, and I supervised the hanging of the ornaments with the littles.

It wasn’t easy, y’all.  I’d find myself going back and tucking a strand here or there, trying to rearrange it without anyone noticing, much like my Mama used to go behind us in loading the dishwasher.  Just a little thing here or there.  Nothing major.

Then came the year of the LED lights. I don’t know if y’all will recall this, but those things are the bane of my existence this time of year.  The blue-white ones hurt my eyes and the yellow-white ones just don’t look quite right to me.  Now if you like ’em, I’m happy for you, really I am, but for me, I just can’t.  Give me the old-fashioned yellow-white twinkle lights and let me load a tree up.  The year of the LED lights, I’d just about had enough.  I can’t recall, ahem, all what happened, but I do remember that the next year the Fella went out and bought me those twinkle lights I love, and I was the one to put them on the tree.  The LED lights we have are put on the bushes and trees outside, and all is well.

In just a couple of days, my Fella and I will celebrate thirteen years since we stood around the fountain at my alma mater and said our “I do’s.” While Christmas lights weren’t in the list, I’m pretty sure they could fall under our promise to love each other in good times and bad, in sickness (ahem) and health.  In fact, I’m fairly certain, that in 37 years, when we are celebrating our Golden Anniversary, when folks ask us, “So what’s the secret?  How’d you manage to make it this long?” my answer will be the same as it is now.

“Christmas lights. He buys the ones I like. I string ’em up.”

I mean, it’s brought us marital bliss this far.

May the lights in your life bring you all the joy today and everyday.

Love to all.

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Hmmmm, now that I look at it, it might could use another strand around that spot on the bottom…..good thing the Fella got an extra.  

 

 

 

One Thousand

About a week ago, I happened to notice my blog post count.  It’s not something I’ve watched since around number 500 or so.  So imagine my surprise when I saw the number and then counted on my fingers to discover that I would hit Post 1000 tonight.

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This is post 1000.

I’m smiling at the timing of this.  This, if you will pardon me, momentous occasion.  I set out in April of 2013 to write.  Everyday.  I thought maybe six months would suit, proving to myself I could stick with something.  But something unexpected happened–it became a habit.  One I grew to depend on.  A companion every evening, with whom I would sit down and share my thoughts or stories or woes.  There were a few evenings I would have rather been left alone, but I pushed through and my soul was better for it.

This has been good for my soul.

So after the six month mark, I continued, and then one year and two and two and a half, and now…..1000.

I have loved sharing my stories because in doing so, many of you have shared yours with me.  Stories are the very fibers of our lives, and I thrive upon them.  I love to sit and hear folks’ stories, just as I enjoy sharing mine.  When we listen, we learn and one of the most important things we learn is that we are more alike than not. WE. ARE. ALL. CONNECTED.

And so it is that the timing of this is so perfect.  For the first time in 103 days, all of the ones I am most connected to are all under one roof.  The Fella, who has been away for work for all this time, is home. Home!  (The fact that I bought a special bag of sweet potato chips just for him might tell you how excited I am.)  My Aub is finishing up the semester and tucked away in her room HERE studying.  Home!  I don’t dare interrupt, but knowing my girl who is one of my dearest friends is right here warms my heart.  All of my people.  Home.

I have big things going on–good things and wonderful things and challenging things.  I have a project that I’m going to put some loving hands to.  I have a coffee shop that I and others who love it are working to save.  I have a family who would probably like to eat something other than yogurt and blueberries or chicken wraps or cheese quesadillas for supper.  (Not that those are leaving the menu entirely, just so y’all know.)  In this season of chaos and all the busy things–good things–I seek a time of Advent.  Of preparation. My soul craves it.

During this season of Advent and reconnecting and rebuilding and recreating and remembering, I’m going to change things up a little bit.  Some days will be writing and sharing stories, but some days it will be 1000 words.  As in a picture is worth a…..

I’m no photographer by any means, but there are moments and things during the day that touch my heart, and I look forward to sharing those with you.

Tonight I am thankful for all of you–my friends and family and others whom I’ve never formally met who take the time to read the stories, to hear the words, and to feel all the things along with me .  For those of you who share my words with others, thank you.  I give thanks for the stories you have shared with me which touch my heart and make me laugh or weep or think.  Thank you.

And tonight I’m thankful for the Fella being home safe.  Where he belongs.  Not just because I need someone to tell me Miss Sophie is okay or haul off the recycling or help us move the scarecrow and pumpkins so the nativity can be put up in the yard.  Because he is loved and as Cooter put it, “Daddy is one of my shining lights.”  I’m thankful this semester is almost over for Aub, who has worked and studied and performed and written and volunteered and made beautiful music.  She amazes and inspires me.  I look forward to cuddling in front of the fire with my littles and reading stories of Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien and making all the merry memories.  I am excited about my project, and I am hopeful for our coffeeshop.  Most of all, I’m looking forward to quieting my soul and listening.  Listening to hear the whispered stories of my past and the story of where I am meant to go, and dreaming of what may come.

Thank you all for sharing the journey.  I look forward to continuing onward with you however it may look, sharing the light and love and laughter.

Love to all.

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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.

 

When You Can, Do This

The Fella went on a trip to do the do that he does.  For three and a half weeks.  He was scheduled to come home today.

He did not come home as scheduled.

I’ve had this day circled in my mind, my heart, and with everything that has gone wrong around here–I’ve counted down the days.

The backed up kitchen sink.

The brand new washing machine flooding water on the laundry room floor.

The vacuum cleaner belt broken.

The dryer running hot, and therefore, not at all.

Each thing, I’d say–we can do this.  For 21 more days, fifteen, ten, six, two, and then yesterday morning I woke up thinking, “One more day.”

I almost cried.

We’ve had some good times while he’s been gone.  Cooter tried out and made the swim team.  The littles wrapped up their summer gymnastics fun.  Aub got an A in her summer class, and worked out continuing her summer job she loves so much as a Fall internship.  We’ve visited with friends and family and eaten breakfast for supper and lots of yogurt and pizza.  We’ve gone and gotten peaches, and I’ve put nearly all of them up in the freezer.  The littles have played at their cousin’s, and Aub and I’ve had a couple of “Big Girl” days.  All in all, we’ve not only survived, but we’ve lived.

However, this day, today, that I had circled in my mind, was the day I was going to pass the reins over to another adult and sit down and take a long needed deep breath.  (Oh and someone else would be taking out the garbage. Yay.)

Yesterday afternoon, after the crew and I had been out running errands, doing our day to dailies, I was tidying up in the house a little.  The littles and Aub were scattered around the rooms, doing different things, when the phone rang.  Our Princess answered, calling out that it was Daddy, and then she talked for a minute or two.  After that she handed the phone to Cooter.  I was back and forth between the room they were in and the kitchen.  When I walked back in, Cooter was off the phone.

“Did you hang up?”  He can get easily distracted, so it would have been like him to be so distracted his Daddy would say he’d just call back later.

“No,” Cooter said.  “He said he had to go.”

Huh.  Well, that was weird.  He didn’t want to talk to me?!  I was working up my indignation, when Anxiety Girl whispered that maybe the plane had broken down and he was trying to come up with a way to tell me he wouldn’t be home on time.

I walked back into the kitchen and heard Aub coming in from the garage.  I wondered why she’d gone out there.  I also wondered why she was closing the door so carefully instead of tossing it shut like she and I usually do.  I was about to call her out for doing that, saying that it made me think the Fella had come home early, when I realized I saw her feet in the recliner.

And I saw my Fella standing in the doorway.

With the biggest grin on his face.

We don’t have to go into detail about my expression (goofy), but the only words I could get out were, “What are you doing here?”

And then chaos and laughter and “gotcha’s” ensued.

Seems that the original return home date was only for the first few days of him being gone.  It was then backed up to Friday and had been for about three weeks.

And he kept the secret this whole time.  Every time I’d say “so, Saturday the 2nd, right?” calculating how much more I could handle without losing my cool or how I could do laundry considering and so on–he would reply, “Yep, if the plane takes off on time.”

Ha.

That man had the biggest grin on his face the whole afternoon and evening.  Pretty pleased with himself he was.  At one point I looked over, glad he was home–he had already fixed the dryer, thank goodness–and I asked, “What were you even thinking?”

And he said, “Well, I figured you were due for a good surprise.”

Yessir.  I think I pretty much was.  We all were.  And that he struggled to keep his secret for that long (and believe me, as much as I asked him about it–and even three days ago said “just go get on a plane and come home early”–it had to have been a struggle) makes it pretty awesome.

Tonight I’m thankful that all that fell apart while he was gone, including emotions and worries and vacuum cleaners, have all pretty much been repaired.  Now we are all catching up on sleep and preparing to say goodbye to summer together.

Which is really when we are at our best.  When we’re together–all five of us.  Oops, six–sorry, Miss Sophie. I’m pretty sure she thought something really bad had happened to him the way she refused to let me out of her sight.

If you ever get a chance to give someone a good surprise, big or small, do it.  Please.  There are far too few of those in this lifetime.

Wishing you all something that makes you smile so much you just about can’t stop.

Love to all.