Kicking Justin Out

Yes, that’s right.

My feeling the least bit hospitable is over.

I’m done.

With him and all his junk.

He has to go.

Justin has created chaos in my home, and I’m sick of it.

Have you ever had someone in your life like that?

Not for very long, I’m thinking.  You probably got more sense.

Me?  It took me a while, playing nice, being accommodating.  Giving him more and more room to stretch out.  “Oh you need another drawer?  Okay let me see.”  “Hmmm.  All that stuff too.  Okay, well let me run by and see what I can find in the way of storage containers, okay?”

If you don’t already know it y’all, storage containers are of that “ol’ debil.”  Buying more stuff to keep your stuff?


And yet I’ve done it.  Justin talked me into it.  With his sweet words and promises that one day I’ll be glad I did let him and his stuff stick around.

Justin.  Forget it.  I’m tired of your lies.  It’s going to be hard, but I’m evicting you.  You have lived here long enough.

Y’all remember Justin, right?

Justin Case.

I have drawers and baskets and storage tubs with things belonging to him.

Keep this sock just in case you find the other one.  (Not going to happen.  EVER.  I think the dryer monster that never seemed to be at Mama’s came over to my house and started breeding with the one already here.  I can’t buy enough socks to clothe my people and feed the Sock Monster family.  I can’t keep up.)

Keep this broken piece of plastic thingy.  You might find whatever on earth it fell off of and maybe you might can possibly glue it back on and it might just work.  Maybe.  Probably not, but there’s always a chance, so…..

Keep this sweater belt to that sweater you gave away years ago even though you couldn’t find the belt.  Oh no, you’ll never get that sweater back nor will you find the person with it to give the belt too, but one day you might need this.  For someTHING.

See, how he talks fancy to me.  My head starts to spin and I nod and give him space for whatever he wants me to keep.  Justin Case.

But.  NO.  MORE.

There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint in a lovely warm new color to make you want to straighten up and fly right.  I’m taking my time putting things back in place.  I’m telling Justin he’s out of here and I’m not taking no more of his suggestions and sweet talk and messing with my mind.  (Yes, it’s a double negative, which might negate the meaning normally, but where I come from it only reiterates the NOT and NO–doubly positive–I’m done with this.)

The lovely warm "Autumn Moon" walls that have inspired me to get my act together.  Ignore the foolishness on the table.  Working through that.  It's Justin's.  He's taking it with him.

The lovely warm “Autumn Moon” walls that have inspired me to get my act together. Ignore the foolishness on the table. Working through that. It’s Justin’s. He’s taking it with him.

Oh my.  Easier said than done.  He teams up with his best girl–Mem Ree Layne.  When I tell him no, he winks at her and pats her on her shoulder, and then I have to deal with her.   Mem Ree is a powerful girl, especially where I’m concerned.  I could be a hoarder of things that bring back stories and tears and laughter.  I might just be.  And Mem Ree knows this and reminds me of those times just when I’m ready to drop a piece of paper or a list or a trinket in the trash or giveaway pile.  Justin tells her to tell me I’d better keep something just in case I start to forget.  Good gravy she’s good. They’re a really good team.  But not good for me.

What I’m trying to tell Mem (she lets me call her that when I’m on her good side) and myself is that it’s okay.  My memory of that person I love, of that time we were together, of the laughter, the tears, the joy–my memories are not tied into that someTHING in my hand.  Not at all.  I have them in my heart.  Which doesn’t tend to get as cluttered.  Not very often.  So I can keep things there for quite a while without too much of an adverse affect.

I have a little over a week, y’all.  Before the paintbrush is back at it, transforming another room.  I need to get things cleared and moved around so it can happen.  It’s time.  Seven years of marks and handprints and dents and smudges and pencil marks–it’s past time.  And after years and years of cohabitating, it’s time I make an honest and well-kept woman out of myself.

Justin,  Justin Case, it’s not me, it’s you.  You.  Got. To. Go.

And honestly, I think Mem will be much sweeter and kinder and supportive if he’s not around. So she can stay.  For now.

Wishing you all freedom from Justin and his foolishness.

Love to all.




The One About Chopped Up Plants and Brokenness and Hope

In her book and I shall have some peace there, Margaret Roach tells a story of self-awareness when she took a week off to garden at her then weekend home in upstate New York.  Her two friends from Seattle, fabulous gardeners–Charles and Glenn, were there to help her.  As she was working in one part of the yard, she looked over and saw Charles whacking away at her Hylemecon Japonicum, a plant she had nurtured and watched over for ten years, an unusual find at a Wildflower Society Sale in New England.  She was DEVASTATED, which probably showed in the volume of her voice and the things she said to Charles at the time.  She just could not imagine her plant not being right there where she’d planted it, growing back each spring after curling up and lying dormant underground each winter.  It looks dead each winter, but really it’s not.

Devastated.  Lost.

But there’s a happy ending.  The next April, and each spring after, Ms. Roach’s yard was literally blanketed in this precious plant.  There is great joy and reminder in the sight of all that has come from the chopping up of her plant.

I thought about this a couple of days ago when I planted our new butterfly bushes.  I remember the first time I pulled up at Mama and Daddy’s house and saw the butterfly bushes I’d given Daddy–the ones that had been THRIVING–were cut back to almost nothingness.  Oh my word, who had lost their mind and WHY?  Daddy explained to me that this was so they would grow even stronger the next spring.  And he was right.  I grew up around peaches, and they were a big part of my life at one point.  It was so hard to watch the trees being pruned and to fear that the ones who wielded the pruning shears would not be careful enough.  But it was for the better growth of the trees.  The Lantana Daddy kept by the air conditioner unit outside is the same way.  Roses too.  Cut them back in winter, they’ll grow back in the spring.

I can sympathize with Ms. Roach.  Last fall we were cleaning up the flower beds and preparing to put out more pinestraw.  I had walked away for a moment to catch up with my sweet neighborfriend.  When I turned around I saw my husband using a shovel to dig up what he thought was a weed.  I couldn’t breathe.  Tears were ready to flow.  He was digging and chopping up my Hairy Wandering Jew that my gardening friend had not only given me but planted in the bed herself, showing me that it would grow better outside of the pot she had brought it over in.  (And that’s another lesson my friends–for another time.)

More Hairy Wandering Jew and purple behind it--all gifts from my gardening friend and waiting to be put in the ground to grow and thrive.

My Hairy Wandering Jew and the purple behind it–all gifts from my gardening friend and waiting to be put in the ground to grow and thrive.

Devastated doesn’t even begin to cut it.  Mad.  Upset.  Hurt.  Check, check, and check.  As I stood over the delicate tendrils of my little plant–all whacked to pieces and lying limply in the soil, I cried and reached down.  I didn’t have it in me to throw the pieces out.  I covered them in pinestraw and walked away.  Heartbroken.  I know, it’s just a plant, but it meant something to me because of the love and care of a friend that it represented.  And because it was something I was helping to live.  That was huge.

I had no idea that these plants have the amazing ability to come back, like roses and butterfly bushes and peaches.  And so much else in our world.  Maybe even–me?

Today I was out repotting some of my herbs and cacti, and I looked over at that flower bed and smiled.  Because instead of the one little cluster of Hairy Wandering Jew, there is a great spread of them.  Growing and thriving.  Determined.  Beautiful.

My little plant, before all broken apart, now growing and spreading and thriving.

My little plant, before all broken apart, now growing and spreading and thriving.

It is mind-blowing to me that what looks like death, like THE END, only serves to strengthen the growth when the dormant period is over.  The idea that brokenness can not only be mended but actually fosters more growth than before.  Mind.  Blown.  It defies logic.  C’mon, this is amazing stuff, right?

Last year I gave Mama a pink geranium for Mother’s Day.  She loved it.  Unfortunately between her HospitalStay last August and then the horrible one in January-February, we didn’t take very good care of it.  I’ll just say it–we let it die.  Our minds were on other things besides watering and pruning and the like.

At the beginning of spring, I was over at the house taking care of a few things, and I noticed a tiny bit of green in the abandoned pot sitting over by the edge of the back porch steps.  Surely not.  But I moved it to sit against Daddy’s building–it would get sun but not a lot, and maybe a little more rain than normal from what would run off the roof.  I was not going to be able to water it regularly.  Taking her from her home did not enter my mind, oddly enough.  And look at her go now!

Mama's geranium coming back full force after a winter of me thinking it was gone.

Mama’s geranium coming back full force after a winter of me thinking it was gone.

I may be oversimplifying things, but I find comfort in knowing that that which is broken, that which appears to be without life can actually be getting ready to grow better than ever before.  I know what brokenness feels like from the inside out.  Most of us do.  I know what dormancy is like.  I often have those days now.  Call me silly, but I look at these plants, these flowers, and knowing what they looked like just a few months ago, I find a bit of peace and some hope to cling to.  Maybe, just maybe, all the raw brokenness inside and all that which seems dead will, after a time of dormancy, be ready to grow again.  Ready to grow and spread all that was planted inside of me by my Mama and Daddy–seeds of loving unconditionally, seeking justice, fighting for what’s right, walking away from what’s not, and just being there for each other.

I found this quote today.  It speaks to what I’ve been thinking a lot lately.

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with Spring —-  George Santayana

I have always savored the anticipation of the next season coming along, while being fairly content in the current season.   The point is, without the quiet and death-like dormancy of Winter in our lives, there would be no Spring and all that beautiful growth.  And that fills me with hope.  And as I just wrote to a friend, “Always.  Always hold onto hope.  It’s free.  So why not?”