Mother Nature’s Obituary

What a beautiful day we had today here at the house!

While it started off a bit cold, it warmed up to be glorious and I may or may not have seen two boys (whom I might have been responsible for) running around outside in their bare feet. Sorry, Mess Cat.  (Now I get why Mama and Daddy let my baby brother do that in the winter–they always said he’d come in if his feet got cold.  And you know what? They were right.)

We had a yard full of children again today.  When I started a fire in the pit so Shaker, who was over playing today, could roast marshmallows for his snack, I was once again surrounded by children excited to roast and toast and eat them some marshmallows.

Except for one.

The youngest in the bunch was sitting next to the fire in a chair one of them had pulled up (we ran out of log space), playing on the iPad one of the others had brought with her.

From the moment I spied the thing, I eyed it suspiciously.  I wanted to shake it by the scruff of its neck and say, “Don’t you be messing up my nice day!”   First of all, I was nervous (thank you for showing up, Anxiety Girl) that something would happen to the expensive device while in our yard.  Second, from time to time, different ones were sitting and talking to it and touching it and playing one game or another and not taking in where they were…..what all was around them…..whom they were with.

I forbade mine from playing it.  Yeah, Cooter asked.  He even asked to come inside and get my device so he could “play” with them.

Just no.

Y’all.  Mother Nature is going to die, it’s already happening.  And there will be no one around who can write her obituary because No. One. Will. Notice.

Excuse me.  That was the sound of my heart breaking.

Already we are raising children who would rather watch a movie for the twelfth time than look out the window at scenery they may never have seen before.  We have folks sitting across from each other, never seeing anything other than the screen in front of them.  Young people who would be happy staying inside all day, playing games, listening to music, carrying on “relationships” via messages, texts, and emails–without ever setting a foot outside OR talking to an actual person.

At the same time the young one with the iPad was sitting in front of a fire I built all by my big girl self (okay it took me a while, but I’m getting there) surrounded by trees and birds and squirrels and bugs and all kinds of things to see–and her friends, I caught a glimpse of our Princess who had pulled a chair down to the corner of the yard.  She had in her lap a notepad.  I squinted in the sunlight to see what she was lifting up, and I realized she had a set of binoculars that had come in a kids’ meal.  She was making notes of what she saw in the woods behind us.  She was playing “Girl Scouts” with her friends and she decided today was Nature Day.

Ironic, isn’t it?

I blame us, the parents.  I’m not perfect.  While I am thrilled at what my girl was up to today, it’s not a given.  She and her brother ask to play on electronics quite frequently.  But it seems that the longer the time since they last played, the less frequently they ask.  It’s kind of like an addiction in a sense.  They have to work it out of their system, and then they seem a little better.  I’ve been known to call the devices in our house the “grumpy screens,” because folks sure can get grumpy when the battery gets low/it’s someone else’s turn/it’s not working fast enough/they are losing the game/I say no to purchasing add-ons, and so much more.  Definitely grumpy.

I remember what Daddy told me when I was thinking about signing up for Facebook: “Well as long as you make it work for you and you don’t work for it, you’ll be all right.”

Amen.

I’ve heard his words in my head today, and I think that truth applies to so many things, and today, especially electronics.

I’m afraid we are all doing more work for those devices than they are for us.

Speaking for my own family, of course.

And that is why I’m doing some serious soul-searching.  I don’t want the flowers and trees to fall to their knees and return to the earth which gives them life.  To ponder a life with no frogs hopping across the yard, no squirrels scampering along the back fence, NO BIRDS SINGING–FORTHELOVE.  I can’t even fathom it.

And I don’t want to.

I think it’s time we need to be showing Mother Nature a little more love.  Beg her not to give up, to hang in there.  We need to start paying more attention to her, getting to know her better.  Have a real relationship with her.

If we don’t, I’m afraid she and all of her kin will perish, with no one left who remembers what she was like, because no one took the time to look and see what she has to offer.  All too busy with eyes on screens and ears plugged with sounds that are all man-made.

Tonight I’m thankful for this wake up call.  I give thanks for a beautiful day with friends that reminded me who Mother Nature is, and what all she and Creation have to offer all of us.  I am better for the time I spent tanning my soul today.  My boys got along like a house on fire and weren’t ready to stop playing when it was time to go.  I am so happy that my Princess sees the beauty around her, and I hope to borrow her “glasses” one day and see what she sees.  My Mama once told a young mother watching her son play outside, “You brought him into this world, now let him show it to you.”

Amen.

In the meantime I will put down the phone, the laptop, the distractions, and take at least a few moments each day to sit with the Artist and Mother Nature and soak it all in, like art skillfully created and hung on the wall in a gallery.  Appreciate, compliment, and leave a richer, fuller, better person.

It’s a start.

Love to all.

 

Partying at the Pit

To tell this story, I need to share some background information.

First of all, last Monday the Fella took the day off from work to build me a fire pit.

A fire pit!

I’ve been thinking about one for quite  a while now, and I finally decided to drop that as my official hint as to what I wanted for my birthday.  (Subtle ones, you know, like sending him how-to-build-your-own-fire-pit youtube videos and website links and coming right out and telling Aub and the littles, “I want a fire pit for my birthday.” Very subtle, and yet it somehow worked.)

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He went and got the supplies from the getting place, and they even had a kit to make it a little easier.  When he got home he had all kinds of help in the form of the zoo crew.  They dug, plotted, placed, and poured.

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And we had us a fire pit.

Only we had no firewood or roasting sticks, so we decided to hold off until we got those things.

It’s been a fun week of imagining what it would be like.  Our Princess wants her big sister to bring home her guitar and for us all to sing songs around the fire.  She’s the idyllic one.

We made to another trip to the getting place to finish our list, and then–today was the big day.  The First Ever Wienie Roast at Buckingham Bottom.

I don’t know who was more excited, me or the littles.

Or their neighborfriends.

We had a yard full by 9:30 this morning and they were still playing strong when the Fella went out to start the fire an hour later.  Of course our Princess excitedly told them what we had going on.  About 11:15 she came to the porch door and called me over.  “Chloe has something to tell you.”

I walked over.  “Yes ma’am?”

This little eight year old peered in through the door and said, “Well since I haven’t had lunch yet, can we–well, I can’t speak for the rest of my friends, they might have had lunch, but could we roast hot dogs too?”

Oh me.

A simple Sunday was all I was after, y’all.  Lunch with the family, wrap up laundry necessities for the week, and then a nap.  Yep, that was all I was hoping for.

And yet–

As though lit up in lights, my “words” for the past couple of years came to mind–interruptible, intentional, open, with.  How could I turn away someone who was hungry?  Or at least fascinated by the idea of cooking hot dogs over a fire?  I once told someone who asked “what I was” that “well, I love Jesus and how he led his life”…..not trying to be cliche’, but I knew what Jesus would do.  And I was sorely ashamed.

I told Chloe I needed to wrap up what I was working on, and while I was thinking about it, what would her Mama think?

“Oh, I have a walkie-talkie, and I can just call and ask her.”

Brilliant.  Do that.

After making sure the Fella was okay with us adding to the guest list, I told our Princess to have all her friends run home and ask their parents.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to invite them or that we didn’t have enough food, I think it was that I didn’t want to be responsible for other people’s children around a fire, handling hot roasting sticks, or for feeding other folks’ children.  (Food allergies can really make you paranoid, for your child and for others.)

But once we committed to it, I felt at peace.

Which is what You were aiming for up there, huh?

I cut up apples (I cannot feed other people’s children just hot dogs, save that lack of nutritional balance for my own crew) and put everything we needed on a tray.  When I walked out they were so excited; they were all sitting by the fire on logs from our old tree, empty roasting sticks already in their hands.

Bless ’em.

They were too sweet.  No one except mine had actually roasted hot dogs much if at all.  Chloe said she didn’t even like hot dogs until today.

Well there you go.

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There’s something magical about a fire, isn’t there?  The flavor it adds to food, yes.  But the camaraderie of sitting around it and talking and cooking over the flames, watching the smoke chase the “pretty ones,” and mouths watering in anticipation–it takes us back to our roots, doesn’t it?  Cooking outdoors, over a fire.  Yep. Magical.

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And I could see it in their eyes.  Everyone wanted to keep roasting, they each ate two hot dogs, with the exception of Chloe (but she did enjoy the one!)–only the second one was with no bun.  I know that they would have kept roasting many, many more if we hadn’t made the rule “You roast it, you eat it.”  I’ve felt the same way over many years of wienie roasts.  The roasting is the best part, but you can only eat so much.  The struggle is real.

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When we moved on to the marshmallows, I was faced with giving them a number, their limit of the max they could roast and eat.  We came up with four, and I honestly have no idea why.  It just seemed like a nice round, even number.  I didn’t want anyone to get too hyped up or go home sick from all that sugar.  So four was it.

And again Chloe was brave and tried one.  One.  She doesn’t like marshmallows, but she found out she does love roasted marshmallows.  Awesome.

Listening to them as they sat on the logs they’ve rolled around the yard for months now, realizing that I almost missed out on this fun and fellowship, I knew some church was going on around that fire–and not a word of sermon preached.

Of course there was some smack talk going on about who could cook the best hot dog ever, and I might have been the one to start it.  I finished it too.  After all had their fill, I sat down by the fire that was, by this time, dying out.  I found a sweet spot over white ashes and sat and sat and waited and waited.  Yeah, the roasting is definitely my favorite part.

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And after a long time of sitting and waiting, I had the perfect hot dog.  Maybe that’s what folks who love to fish feel.  All that sitting and waiting coming to fruition…..

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By this time the children were all running around the yard playing “Mother, May I?” and “Hide and Seek” with occasional breaks to build their “earth” in the sand/water box.  I called them over to see my perfect hot dog.  One wrinkled up her nose in distaste and said, “That’s burnt,” but her brother looked at me incredulously, “We could cook them that much?”  I nodded.  “Okay then, next time, I’m going to cook mine that long and I’m going to win.”

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In the end we decided by a show of hands that everyone had fun and everyone loved the food, so we all were wieners–I mean, winners.

Yeah, I like that.

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This afternoon I saw this quoted by Advent Conspiracy.  And my heart breathed a sigh and said, “Yes.”  And I knew what this is saying, because I lived it today.  I got to reclaim my own real life today. And oh, was it a glorious one!

Tonight I give thanks for a family tradition started by my Granny years ago and continued on by my Aunt and all of our family still.  There truly is nothing else like it.  I am grateful for my family and their gift of time and energy in making my dream a reality.  Most of all, I’m thankful for a little girl’s question that turned my day on its end, and for an unplanned journey that wound up being the best one after all.

Who can you be interruptible for and be with? What can you be open to and intentional about?  It just might make your day. Go reclaim your own real life.

Love to all.

Why I Don’t Say I’ll Never Forget and a couple of moments I hope I don’t

I used to say “I’ll always remember…..” or “I’ll never forget…..”

I don’t anymore.

Not since I watched as Alzheimer’s Disease tore away page after page of memories for someone I loved, slowly at first it seemed and then more quickly.  She covered well; I’m not sure how many could pinpoint what was going on exactly.  She was great at asking questions that you could ask over and over and it not seem very odd.  “Seen any good movies lately?”  “How’s the weather been back home?”  and so on.

And so I tuck away precious moments into my memory bank, and sometimes I wrote about them here, in the hopes that they will always be there for me.

But I know they may not.

Today was just such a day, one that I’d like to always remember.  I have snapshots in my mind of sweet moments that I want to keep.

  • Our Princess and her friends have been having a great time with the sand and water table on the back deck.  I originally got it thinking that Cooter and his friends would enjoy it more.  But his two buddies moved, and the girls have taken it over.  They flood the water side, and they pour just enough into the sand to make it the consistency of a nice “scrub.”  They are playing spa, y’all.  There are two chairs on one side–one for the person being served and the second for the next in line.  The other side has one chair that is rarely sat in, as the person giving the spa treatment is very busy.  They spread mud–ahem, excuse me, scrub–all over their feet and then rinse them a few minutes later.  They don’t know that I’m aware, I was peeking out of my bedroom window at this hustle and bustle of activity.  It was so wonderful to see their imaginations blossoming in a way that I never would have thought of.  It amazes me, especially since over the past few weeks it’s been a Ninja School back there, and our Princess was the instructor.  I just love it.  Who needs a pool when you have a SPA in your backyard?  Never mind, please don’t ask my children that.  I know what they will answer.  (We do.)
  • Cooter rode off on his bicycle with his Daddy and Miss Sophie for her evening constitutional.  I stopped and watched as he rode up the street.  And it occurred to me–I never tire of watching him ride his bike.  He is so graceful and smooth as his little legs pump the pedals and his hair flies out behind him.  And he always smiles the biggest smiles.  He LOVES his bicycle. (Has it really already been seven months since he gave up the training wheels?)  I nodded as I thought to myself, I could sit and watch him and his joy and movement for hours on end and never lose interest.  And then I was thankful that I feel that way.  In the busy-ness of life, it is so easy to get distracted.  But not when my baby boy’s making the wheels go round and round.  That’s good stuff right there.
  • I have been doing some cleaning and organizing and culling around here.  (That’s right, I said culling.  I will pause for a moment so those of you who know me and my tendencies NOT to cull can catch your breath.)

 

 

  • As I mentioned, cleaning up.  Straightening up.  And so on.  I found a basket with a couple of devices and several cords all tangled up.  *sigh*  That’s about par for the course around here.  As I started to untangle by grabbing the larger “outlet plug” end first, I soon became frustrated with how hard it was to push that big end through the knots of cords to disentangle.  And then it occurred to me to try the other end first.  To take the tiny little end, the one that plugs into a device, and work it through the knots.  So much easier.  So much quicker.  And the gravity pull on the heavier end helped me figure out how to work through the knots.  Win!  As I disentangled cords in record time, it hit me that this is probably a lesson for life.  To work through situations that are such a mess, maybe it would be easier and make more sense if I start with the small bits first.  Don’t dive in and tackle the biggest part of the problem first.  Take it slow and easy and work through it.  And the answer will present itself a little quicker.  I don’t know, maybe a stretch, but it was worth pondering over anyway.

 

Tonight I’m thankful for a napless day–and it’s not often you’ll hear me say those words.  I had the energy and the drive and the patience to make some things happen around here, interspersed with moments I hope to treasure for a long, long time.  Thankful for all of that.  It was a day of one thing leading me to another room where I saw something else that needed doing, started on it until it led me to something else.  And yet, somehow, a few things got done.  And I’m very thankful for that.

May your day be filled with moments to treasure and easily untangled “cords.”  Love to all.

ISO: Patience and Discipline

I believe I might have mentioned that we are in the middle of this painting project?

First of all, the Autumn Moon color, as it turns out, is the perfect color.  PERFECT.  Despite my Fella’s initial reaction of “It’s just like the orange,” and our Princess insisting it looks like macaroni and cheese.  It isn’t and it doesn’t.  Not at all.  (They both have since embraced the warmth of the color, and we are all loving it.)  I’ve been told this new color makes the house look like an old country house, and that it looks like one of those old antebellum homes with the colorful walls and high ceilings.

Seriously?  You had me at “old.”

My dream house is an old farmhouse with screen doors you are constantly reminding folks not to slam.  Yeah.  The memories.  Good times.

But I digress.  I’ve been watching the progress.  I’m not doing the painting myself for a number of reasons, the top one being that a twenty-foot ladder is needed to get all of the walls done in one room.  I’m good.  I don’t keep my balance well enough on the ground, let alone up in the air like that.  My Mama’s sweet neighbor who looked after her and helped Daddy when needed for all those years has a gift. He paints.

This is a gift I am growing to respect more and more.

His knowledge about paint and painting is amazing.  What kind of paint to use, how best to clean a painted wall, which direction to paint, what tool to use when applying said paint, and how to prepare the area for painting.

That last bit?

That one’s a doozie.

I’m not kidding.  With each area he has painted, the prep work takes through to lunchtime.  The painting happens after lunch.  He washes the walls and baseboards, tapes off certain areas, removes switchplates and outlet covers (and keeps up with where he puts them…..how does that even happen?), and primes where needed.  He pulls out nails and picture hangers and covers up the holes.

He has patience y’all.  In surplus.

It is then, and only then, that he steps back, takes a moment to think through all of the steps again, and then he commences to painting.

The one time I remember painting a room in a house, it was a tiny, tiny bathroom.  It was tiled up to the sink level, so that made it easy.  Instead of doing all the steps above, including checking on what kind of paint to get, I bought me a quart of the brightest teal green, very possibly high gloss (I don’t know, it was shiny though) and commenced to painting.  There was no washing or taping off or anything like that.  It was me and Mess Cat getting it done.  And I didn’t worry about painting too close to the tile or ceiling because I had a P-L-A-N.  I had bought some of that contact paper type border.  I was going to cover up my edges with that.  And it would look like I’d painted it just like I should have.

Sigh.

Good-ness that was one bright room.  When the light hit that shiny paint it was almost blinding, from the reflection and from that green sending all kinds of brain circuits to spinning.  Needless to say, I had not researched that color as much as I did to finally choose Autumn Moon.

But I loved it anyway.  Most of the time.

In watching this skilled artisan with the sponge rollers and tiny brushes and blue painter’s tape, I am being reminded of the beauty of knowing how to do something properly.  How to make a plan and follow it.  How much of a difference preparing can make in an outcome.  That is huge.

Too often I think of a project, an idea, a plan, and I want to dive in and Make. It. Happen.

Sometimes that’s okay, but more times than not, it could go so much better if I had the patience and the discipline to take a few minutes and wash some walls and tape around the edges.  First.

When I was growing up I used to watch M*A*S*H with Mama and Daddy.  I can still remember crying watching the last episode ever–the very first time it aired.  Mama liked to quote Charles Emerson Winchester The Third many, many times over the years.

“I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, and then move on.”

As I watch our talented neighbor friend take it step by step, and then “step back” and make sure he’s done it correctly before moving to the next step, I think of Mama.  I know why she appreciated all the help he was to her.  She could appreciate someone who was a good soul and did a job well.

And if patience and discipline don’t get a job done well, I don’t know what will.

I think I might buy myself a roll of that blue painter’s tape and hang it where I can see it just to remind me.  Plan. Prepare.  And if that doesn’t work, I can always use it to hang this sign up:

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Love to all, with a healthy dose of patience and disclipine along for the ride…..

 

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.

Now We’re the Pineapple People

One of my favorite people in the world is turning four next month.  He is our neighbor and one of my little guy’s best friends.  He cracks me up.  He is full of energy and life and I just love him.

I have watched him grow from a newborn to a fellow who says, “Let’s play ‘Ready Set Go.'”  Then you say those three words and he revs his “engine” and takes off.  Bless him, I wish I had that energy.  Even just five minutes a day would be good.

Within our little corner of the world here, we have a street full of young’uns ranging from three to eight in this group that plays together.  Their birthdays fall throughout the year, so it seems like there is always a birthday coming up for one of the children.  As you might imagine, they have their fair share of–ahem–discussions as well.  My almost four-year old friend came up with what I believe may be the greatest indication of where you stand with him.  One of the children did something to frustrate him, and he told his Mama, “She’s off my birfday wist.”  It doesn’t get much more serious than that folks.  He is for real.

But grace abounds.  You can right a wrong and he’ll put you back on his list.  Which is good.  Seeing as how his birthday is next month, I’m trying to be careful and not take any chances.

The shovel in our ground up tree stump pile.....that pool is really coming along!

The shovel in our ground up tree stump pile…..that pool is really coming along!

Two nights ago we were out back in our ground up tree stump pile. (Yes, that’s what it is, doesn’t everyone have one?)  Our friend likes to dig in it with the shovel my Daddy got our Princess for digging years ago.  He was digging for all he was worth–I think he might be digging me a pool, and I’m really quite pleased.  He would toss the dirt behind him.  On one toss he threw dirt all over his brother’s shirt.  The next one he threw dirt all in the Princess’ hair.  All was well because they knew he didn’t mean to.  I really don’t think they forgave him because of his upcoming festivities, but then again, you never know.  As his sweet Mama was gathering her two to head home, I took the shovel and dug a little out, almost without thought.  Sure enough, my little bit of dirt flew onto my friend’s shoes.  Oh dear.  He was NOT happy.  At all.  Fearfully, I said, “Am I still on your birthday list?”  He frowned and folded his arms across his chest and shook his head.  I’ve got to tell you, I was just about devastated.  As they started heading home, I followed behind him and told him he could play again the next morning.  He laughed, and when I asked, I was BACK ON the birthday list.  Huge sigh of relief.

My friend and his precious brother, both my guy’s best friends, are moving.  Such is the life of the military family.  Saying goodbyes, packing up, moving.  My heart is breaking.  Our children have had their own Roxaboxen out here.  I have loved this family and been loved by them.  I will miss the way my little guy and their older son, both two when they moved in, prefer to ride the other’s Big Wheels.  Every single time.  I’ll miss their games of good guy bad guy, when the little brother, my friend, runs after them with his siren blaring.  The three boys love to aggravate our Princess and her friend, and five minutes later they are all sitting together in my front yard playing “Duck Duck Goose.”  They all call my three by our family nicknames, which is so precious to me.  Their Daddy is the one who replaced the tire on our Princess’ bike when our Daddy was serving overseas.  Another time he was the one who helped us figure out what to do with the lethargic little chipmunk who found his way into our garage.  (We returned him to the woods where he is scampering playfully to this day–disagree and you’re not on my birfday list anymore.)  Their Mama and I have had so many late afternoon visits standing in her front yard or mine, sitting on her back porch or my front one.  When I got the call from Mama to come say goodbye to my Daddy nineteen months ago, she knew because she saw me leave my house so early and she KNOWS me.  When Mama went in for her HospitalStay, my sweet neighbor friend cooked a huge meal (actually several in one) for all of us, even remembering my Aub’s and my sister’s special food allergies.   And when our washing machine went out and we had no way to wash our clothes for Mama’s funeral, she was the one who said, “Bring them over here.  I got this.”  And she did.  Washed, dried, and hung up ready to go.  Neighbors and dear friends like that don’t come around very often.  I will miss her sweet spirit that she shares so generously.

pic of pineapple statue

When our neighbors moved in four years ago, one of the first things we noticed was a pineapple on their mailbox.  Pineapples represent hospitality, and this is one family that embodies that a thousandfold.  A week ago, I came home and the pineapple was on our mailbox.  We are only keeping it until this sweet family returns to our neighborhood in a few years.  But it was at that moment that the tears started flowing and the loss became real for me.

Change and goodbyes, you are not on my birfday list.  And I don’t think you will be back on it anytime soon.