When a Stick is So Much More Than a Stick

A few months back I wrote about Cooter wanting real estate.  “Real estate’s where it’s at, Mama.”

One of my dear friends, Renea Winchester, decided to send him just that.  She boxed up some special dirt and other treasures and sent them down the road to us.

Bless her.

He was so excited to have a package WITH HIS NAME ON IT and then to open it and find “land”–he was beside himself.

I’ve always said, if you want to win me over, love on my children.  If I didn’t already love Renea, that surely would have sealed the deal.  As it was, I teared up and gave thanks for such a special friend that modern technology and social media has allowed me to have.  We have only met face to face once, but I adore that sweet woman.

Cooter, happy to have his land, left me to go through the rest of the box.  And in it, I found a stick.  A stick with a really long root and a wet paper wrapped around it.  When I unwrapped the stick, there was even a little worm that had hitchhiked along.

I. Love. It.

As recommended I prepared to plant him (yeah, anthropomorphism strikes again–it’s a boy).  I found an old pot that had belonged to Mama.  I added some soil, gingerly placed my stick in the “ground” and then finished covering with more soil.  I watered, and I watched.  My friend wrote that she had been praying over that stick.  So I knew he was special.  Just standing there over him, having given him a new home, I had a sense that this stick was precious.

But I had no idea how much.

I started calling it my Hope Plant.  Every morning Cooter and I went out to my roost on the back porch and checked, hoping to see some sign of growth on the little guy.  I thought I saw tiny green buds coming up, but then it could have been my imagination.  Until one morning when this welcomed us.

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IMG_7528Have you ever seen such a lovely shade of green?

My friend assured me that my hope plant loves the sun.  So I made sure that either he was sitting in the sun in my roost or out on the deck bannister, enjoying all the sunshine.  Each day we became more excited about his growth.  I shared these pictures on Facebook and Instagram, and folks were guessing what kind of plant it was.  Renea commented and said it would soon make its identity apparent.

And still he grew.  He is the happiest of fellows to be around really.  That green.  From a stick.  A miracle.

Then last night, my friend Renea surprised me by writing the story of the Stick–“Sprouting Mr. Coleman’s Stick.”

Oh y’all.  It’s the story of my Stick and his people.  So to speak.

I went out and sat with my stick, which isn’t a stick so much anymore and I wept over the beauty of friendship and loving old people and old things and coffee can planters and older gentlemen who carry their writings everywhere they go.  And I gave thanks for all of those things and for a friend who paid attention and knew that a stick would be a most treasured gift.

To know and be known.

My heart is full.

Here is my stick, my precious gift from Renea, a hand-me-down from Mr. Coleman, resting and relaxing and doing all the hard work of growing out in the beautiful, much-loved sun today.

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Both the “stick” in the foreground and all in the background speak to community and friendships and tradition and love. Both were gifts to me, and both bring me immeasurable joy.

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Glowing in the sunlight in my Mama’s old pot sitting on a new bannister. My heart is full.

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Perfectly beautiful green leaves where once there was only a stick…..such a miracle and such handiwork by our Creator.

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The place where the first bud we saw grew. Amazing!

I love this Hope Plant so very much.  Because of who gave him, because of his story, and because I love baby plants and green was my Mama's favorite color.  She loved all the little things too.

I love this Hope Plant so very much. Because of who gave him, because of his story, and because I love baby plants and green was my Mama’s favorite color. She loved all the little things too.

Tonight I’m thankful for my friend Karen Spears Zacharias who “introduced” Renea and me one day on Facebook.  I’m thankful for Renea and her stories and her heart that is bigger than the whole outdoors–a place she loves to spend her time the most.  Please go read her story about the stick and where he came from here.  She is my kindred spirit, loving the old ways and the old things.  You can find more of her wonderful writing and stories of how it used to be here or ask for one of her books at your local independent bookstore.

Because I love Renea and I think everyone should read her books and in honor of Earth Day, I will be giving away a copy of her latest book, Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches here on the blog.  All you have to do is comment here with your favorite plant, and if you feel like it, share why it makes you smile.   Also be sure to like her Facebook page here.  She shares all kinds of stories and wisdom and pictures of baby goats.  I KNOW, RIGHT?  BABY GOATS, ’nuff said.  I will most likely have Cooter or our Princess randomly choose a winner Wednesday morning, since we’ll have a little time then.  So we’ll close the entries at 11:59 p.m. EST on Tuesday, April 28.

May you all find someone to share the gift of friendship with today and tomorrow and all the days after that.

Love you Renea, and love to all.

Me and my sisterfriend Renea at her book launch last fall. She's the adorable one with the heart of gold and the green thumb.

Me and my sisterfriend Renea at her book launch last fall. She’s the adorable one with the heart of gold and the green thumb.

The Night the Tree Fell

Tonight I sat and watched an old tree being felled.  It was dead, I was told, and could have damaged something or hurt someone, so I understand.  In my mind, I get it.  But my heart was breaking.

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Death and endings make me sad.

And I was thinking about this–

If we don’t plant more trees than we cut down,

if we don’t praise more than we criticize, listen more than we speak,

if we don’t hug more than we point fingers, create more than we destroy,

if we don’t stand up for what we believe to be right more than we stand back and watch things happen,

 

we have done our children, our world, and indeed ourselves a great disservice.

 

I have a sweet friend who rescues daffodils from construction sites.

Think about that for a second.

Some might say, Oh they’re just flowers.  You can always plant some more.

But not her.

And I think that’s such a precious story–her love for things that grow is akin to sacred to me.  She is a good steward of the land.  And people.  She sure knows how to love on folks too.  It’s her gift.

She’s a gift.

 

I guess that’s what I was thinking about while I sat in my roost watching the tree that wasn’t mine being prepped to fall to the ground with a mighty crack and thud.  The gift of life.  The tenderness of it.  How frail it is.

Tonight I’m thankful for those, like my friend, who care so much for all life that they go the extra mile to protect it.  For those who plant more than they destroy, for those who share kind words easily, I give thanks.  And I’m also thankful for some precious little baby trees my Uncle gave me.   When he gave them to me, I had no idea how much they would soothe my soul, knowing they would be in the ground as the mighty tree fell not far from their new home.  New life is always filled with hope, isn’t it?

And tonight I’m most thankful for that.

May we all find a way to leave the world a better place when we lay down our heads to sleep than it was when we awoke that morning.

Love and happy planting season to all.

 

 

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You can read more about my sweet friend and her adventures in loving living things here.  Y’all go say hello.  She’s good people.  

Dreams Come True, The Highway Don’t Care

Y’all know that Taylor Swift song–The Highway Don’t Care?  Oops.  Just found out it is really attributed to Tim McGraw.  But she sings in it and she’s Taylor after all (I live in a house dominated by females who LOVE TS, so my apologies, Mr. McGraw).

The song basically says that despite all that is going on in this person’s life, the highway don’t care.  Life goes on, sweetie, the highway don’t care.

So today has been the official launch date of dreams coming true.

*insert MAJOR happy dance here*

My oldest took a selfie with me on Sunday before she headed back to college.  “Next time we see each other, you’ll be a published author.”

She’s stretching it, but I’ll take it.

And smile really big.

The littles heard me talking about it, so I told them about the e-book and my story.  They were quite excited.  They love books, and we always talk about the authors and illustrators, so they can relate and, unless I am way off, I think they are just slightly impressed.  I can put together a full meal complete with dessert and I get nothing, but this–this, they get.

Cooter asked if I would be signing “my” book.  Funny how much they pay attention.  They’ve been to a book signing on more than one occasion and made friends with the authors–Karen Spears Zacharias, Ann Hite, and Renea Winchester–and all of those beautiful people became our friends.  So the bar is set very high about how this should go.  I explained to him that I wrote a story in a big book with lots of stories by amazing writers.  He looked at me and asked again, “Are you going to sign your book?”

So if you see my name in Sharpie on any electronic device around here, you’ll know why.

(He insisted, for goodness’ sake!  And have you seen that face?  Oh me.)

The thing is my life changed a little today.  A dream came true.  And I’m so tickled I can’t contain the joy.

But like going to school on your birthday and having midterms, life goes on.

First up Miss Sophie did not tend to *ahem* all of her business on our walk this morning.  So I felt the need to watch her like a hawk when we were back in the house.  She doesn’t have accidents often, but if she doesn’t go and I miss her signal (and she’s so subtle sometimes, that one), well somebody’s gonna have a mess to clean up.

Second our Princess accidentally poured almost an entire bowl of cereal WITH milk in her lap, all over her gown and robe and the table and the floor and the *sigh* fabric covered chair.  What do you know?  I was watching the dog like a hawk and STILL had a mess to clean up.

You know why?

Because the Highway don’t care.

We got through that, and I told the littles we needed to get lessons done before we could take on the task our Kindness Elves left for us. (We have Kindness Elves visiting us from England this year–when we wake up in the morning they have a suggestion for us about something we can do to scatter kindness.  This idea came from Imagination Tree.)  They suggested we make cookies, Maemae’s cookies, today to share–in honor of my story in the book (recipe included).

The littles were eager to get on to the cookie making portion of the day, so math happened.

I sit with Cooter to *ahem* encourage his little second grade self.  We are doing some review work right now.  He came to this word problem.

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We’ve seen this kind before, with smaller numbers.  But it never fails to crack Cooter up, and I’m thrilled that he finds it funny.  Dear Saxon, you have my homeschooled boy thinking that public school is really wacky with some of the things you say are in the classroom store.  Today he giggled so hard over eggs and rolls being in the classroom store that I had a hard time bringing him back around.

And then there was the sock question.  Y’all know those things are the bane of my existence, right?

The question was: Five pairs of socks were moved from the washer to the dryer.  When the socks were dry, only eight socks came out.  What happened ?

So I’m not really sure where Saxon was going with this line of questioning.  I mean, I know the math–10-8=2.  2 socks were missing.  But oh the joy that boy brings me!  I looked at his answer, and he had written, “NOTHENG.”

Okay, spelling’s not his forte, but you know what?  He’s right.

And Saxon, you know why he’s right?

Because this is NO BIG DEAL in our house.  It happens all the time. What would be a shocker and need answering as to what happened is if ALL THE SOCKS that were put in the washer and dryer came out SAFE AND SOUND and MATCHED.

Notheng, indeed, my boy.

He cracks me up.

He’s also slower than Christmas despite being motivated.  Not because he doesn’t understand but because he has so much to talk about.  Important stuff.  Star Wars.  Minecraft.  Interesting dreams. Dogs.  Cats.  Mushrooms.  Anything but math.

But they got it all done.

And it was cookie making time.

I know I’m already up for the Worst Parent award, so I will go ahead and confess that mine have never really been a part of the cookie making for very long at the time.  Either they get bored waiting on pans of cookies to get done to be refilled, or they make me so crazy that I thank them for their time and move it along.

Sad sad sad.  I’m sorry, crew. I’m trying to do better.

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So today I got one pan done and then left them to it.  I rerolled the dough as needed, but I let them cut and have fun.  I really did.  I kept my mouth closed and let them enjoy.

It’s Mama’s recipe and in memory of her anyway, so it was appropriate.

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Oh but was it an adventure!

I learned something very interesting.  I apologize to my Bubba, because I guess we never made cookies together.  At least I don’t remember him doing what Cooter did today.

It was a simple task really.  I have my Mama’s little boy and girl cookie cutters.  I handed each child their gender cutter and let them go to town.

And I have never seen as such.

I walked over to get a pan to put in the oven and–
Y’all.

Legless gingerbread boys.  Headless ones.  Ones with half a body.

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The girls were quite lovely.

Hmmmm.

Cooter.

Seven year old boys and cookie cutting are an interesting combination.

I finally asked that they cut out whole people as I wanted to have some to share (that was the idea, right, Kindness Elves?).  I asked that there be no more body part cookies.

Which sent the boy into fits of giggles.

Oh me.

He even suggested we could share them like that–as puzzle cookies or something.  *sigh*

The Highway don’t care, y’all.

(And yeah, I did pretty much laugh a lot this afternoon.)

All in all a good day.  Despite running a few minutes late everywhere I went and losing an earring in the process (the hazards of wearing clip-ons I reckon).  But I was given grace and my friend helped me look for my earring (found it), so all in all–

the Highway might not care but my friends and family do.

It’s been a special day.  A busy one.  And one that I won’t soon forget.

But here’s the lesson I want my children to hear whenever they get around to reading this–

First, our washer eats socks.  Don’t use socks for math problems.  Ever.

Second, if the dog doesn’t go, watch the cereal bowls, not her.  They are committing hari-kari around here.

Third, it doesn’t matter how wonderful life is going for you, or what awesome things are happening, life is still life–filled with bumps and bruises and logs in the road.  It’s never going to be perfect.  But it’s what you do with that–that’s what makes it special and beautiful and awesome.  Even in the midst of spilled cereal and lost earrings and body part cookies–keep smiling. It’s never that serious. That’s what deserves the happy dance in life.

Fourth, even when everything seems to be falling apart and the Highway ain’t listening to you or your woes at all–there is always someone who will.  A friend.  A sister.  A brother.  An Aunt.  You are loved.  From both sides of the veil.

Don’t let anything or anyone steal your joy.

And that’s why I’m still doing my happy dance with the book pulled up on that e-reader with my name scrawled across it in permanent ink.

Ha.

Tonight I’m thankful for all of you.  Thanks for sharing the journey and for caring, even when bowls and puppies and earrings and the clock and the Highway don’t care.  You do, and that makes all the difference in this world.

Love to all.

 

(If you’ve missed the link for the free copy of the book, click here.  *insert shameless self promotion here* 🙂  Thanks to all who have already gotten it.  It’s free until December 4th.  After that, it will be $1.99 and all proceeds will go to a program for children’s literacy.)

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This right here–MAJOR happy dance.  Oh, and the author whose name I share a line with–she’s my Fairy Godmother.  HOW PRECIOUS IS THAT?  ❤

The Little Girl and Her Books–A Fairytale About Dreams Coming True

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved books. She loved them so much she practically gobbled up each one she held in her hands.  Her Mama took her to the library, and she still remembers signing for her first library card.  She would choose a half-dozen or more books and bring them home, laying them all out open to the blurb–which she had already read before selecting each one–and reread each summary.  Sitting there on the gold carpet in the open doorway to her bedroom, she’d make the difficult choice of which one to read first.

It was only natural that she work in a library, I suppose, which she did.  The same one where she got her first card–she worked there all through high school.  Books helped pay her way through college, I guess you could say.  The girl loved the smell of books and the feel of them and the way they lined up so neatly, alphabetized by author or organized according to the Dewey decimal system.  A world where everything made sense and words were magical, bringing stories and people and worlds to life.

The little girl, who wasn’t so little anymore, had always loved writing stories.  And she dreamed big.  She hoped that one day, maybe just maybe, crossing her fingers for luck and wishing on every star–that one day her name could be on the cover of a book.

As the years went by the girl was busy with life and stuff, and though she still loved books and read as much as time allowed, the girl wandered away from her pen and paper for a while–until one day when the sadness was overwhelming, she heard in her heart her Mama, whom she loved and missed so much, saying, “Write your stories.  Tell it all with your words.”

And being the girl who always (umm, well, no)–mostly tried to do what her Mama said, she sat down that very day to write the stories in her heart.  The ones that made her laugh, the ones from growing up, and the ones that made her cry.  All of them.  And with the encouragement and love of her dear friends and family, she kept on writing.

Then one day her Fairy Godmother came along sharing delicious fried bologna sandwiches and said, “There will be a book published, filled with Christmas stories.  You should think about writing something and send it along to see what will happen.”  And with a wink and nod and a promise to come back when it was spring planting time, she left, reminding the girl to be mindful of the deadline.  After the clock struck twelve, all chances would be lost.

So the girl went to see the Queen, who was gathering the stories, and she was welcomed in and encouraged.  The girl knew just what story to share.

On an afternoon filled with light, sitting in her Nest, looking out at the birds and the trees, the girl wrote her story.  As she typed the last words, her heart was full. Oh, the precious memories attached to one little 4 by 6 card!  Delicious ones too–her heart was light because her spirit was filled with the joy of sharing a sweet memory.

Before the clock struck twelve, the girl hit “attach” and “send,” and all was good. The kind Queen nodded and said yes!

And now, the girl awaits the clock striking midnight on December 1.  For on December 2, the book will be available for all to read. Stories, poems, and recipes from 31 different writers all together in a cozy read–“A Cup of Christmas.”   It is an e-book, easily sent to wish all a merry Christmas and happy holiday season.   And it’s the beginning of the girl’s dreams coming true!

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Y’all, the above fairy tale is a true story.  I am thrilled to be one of the 31 writers who contributed to “A Cup of Christmas,” conceived and put together by the lovely Barbara Barth–the Queen of making dreams come true.  I appreciate her allowing me to be a part of this great book.  I am also thankful to my Fairy Godmother, Renea Winchester, who is one of my favorite authors, and who also has a story in the book.  Talk about exceeding one’s wildest dreams–my Aub was so excited for me, she didn’t even bother to spellcheck her text message!  (oh wait, am I the only one who does that?)

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My text from my college girl after she found out that Renea Winchester has a story in the book too. Note the ALL CAPS–she’s yelling with excitement!   I feel loved. And yes, special.

 

 

So beginning December 2, please go to Amazon and download the book.  Tell your friends.  Send copies as gifts, and check–just like that–your Christmas card list is DONE.  (You’re welcome, but it was really Ms. Barth’s idea. You can visit her and thank her here.)

After a couple of days, the price will be $1.99.  Don’t despair though–all proceeds from the book will go to First Book.  From their website:

“First Book is determined to see that all children, regardless of their economic conditions, can achieve more in school and in life through access to an ongoing supply of new books.

With the help of our partners, donors and dedicated volunteers we have provided more than 120 million new books to schools and programs serving children in need. Yet millions of children are still waiting for our help.

Together we can make a difference in children’s lives. Together we can provide new books and critical resources that elevate the quality of education for children in low-income families.”

I just know my Mama is smiling right now, as children and books and children’s books were her most favorite things in the whole wide world.  Maybe THIS is why she told me to start writing my stories.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Thank you all for reading and sharing my stories.  It would mean a lot if you could make the time to read one more–the one in “A Cup of Christmas,” along with all the other wonderful stories and poems.  I can’t wait to read them all myself.

And now, before I go–

A hint about my story.

It includes all of these things–

 

Candles, cookie cutters, a special recipe, and a girl who shared light and love long, long ago.....

Candles, cookie cutters, a special recipe, and a girl who shared light and love long, long ago…..

 

Love and happy reading to all.

 

Updated:  The book is available now!  http://www.amazon.com/Cup-Christmas-Kimberly-Brock-ebook/dp/B00QB6F35E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417496246&sr=8-1&keywords=a+cup+of+christmas

Grief, the Grocery Store, and Grace

I went to the grocery store today.

I know.  Big mistake.  Two days before Thanksgiving.  I knew better.

It was crazy.  The thing I kept telling myself (and the other shoppers I kept running into) was, “Better today than tomorrow.”

Y’all, it was crazier than the grocery store when a half-inch of snow is predicted.

They were almost out of EGGS.

Seeing as the one request I’ve had is for my deviled eggs, this could have been devastating.

I was prepared today.  I took a list.  And not just the one where I jot down things in my brain that I’d prefer not to forget to get.  I wrote it out on a piece of blue paper that I tore off from one of the littles’ papers we were *ahem* letting go of.  One side a grocery list.  The other side a list of what I’m fixing to take to Mess Cat’s house for our Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s a little heavy on the dessert offerings.  But they’re my favorite to make, so…..yeah, pie is good.

I wish I could say I whisked in and out and was done fast as lightning.

Alas, no.

It was packed.  Very crowded.  Like a Saturday morning or the day before a “big” snow.   I picked the wrong day to pick out the very biggest cart…..so hard to maneuver.

But I got it done, with everything on my list checked off.  Except for mini-bagels.  My crew was impressed with pizza bagel bites and I thought–well I can make those on my own.  Only I was wrong when I thought that, because I couldn’t find mini-bagels, so I decided it wasn’t that serious and headed to the checkout.

The fellow directing grocery cart traffic (because that’s a very real thing) sent me to aisle 4.  Unfortunately the guy there had only started unloading his cart, and he had quite a bit to purchase.  Another clerk walking by told me I could move to aisle 5.  I’m sure that it wasn’t because she noticed me stretching my neck to see how long the wait in that one was or because she could tell I was trying to see if I could move and not be violating some grocery cart traffic law.  Positive it wasn’t any of those reasons…..

The clerk in Aisle 5 was efficient as was the young woman bagging up the groceries.  He smiled politely and worked through my pile of purchases quickly.  When he handed me my bag with my egg carton on the bottom and a loaf of bread on the top, I thought I might swoon.  Seriously, I am convinced that’s why the two are shaped so similarly, with just about the exact same lengths–they are both delicate and should be bagged accordingly.  When he did that, I knew he was a dedicated young man.  That and the button he wore declaring him associate of the month said it all.

As we bonded over bagged groceries, I noticed his name tag.  “Sincere.”

Wow.  I’ll be.

I love that name.  I looked at his face and how he was putting forth his best efforts, despite the fact that I was only one of the many, many folks who would cross his path this evening.  Sincere.  Yep.  It suited.

Channeling my Mama, I struck up a conversation beyond the groceries with him.  “Is that your real name?”

He smiled. “Yep.  It sure is.”

“Your Mama give you that name?”

He nodded.  “Yes ma’am, she sure did.”

The tears welled up for no apparent reason and every single possible one all at the same time.  “She must love you very much.”

He smiled again. Even bigger this time. “She does.”

Oh me.  A young man and his Mama.  For the love.

“Well you hang on to her and love her,” I said as I collected my receipt, said goodbye to the bagger, and began to push my cart away.

Huh?  Hang on to her and love her?

Grief can make us do some wacky things, can’t it?  Talk to strangers.  And tell them to hang on to their Mamas?

*sigh*

What I really wanted to do was weep and give him a hug and money to go buy his Mama a big beautiful bouquet and make him promise to spend a day just listening to her stories and what her dreams and wishes have been and how those have changed over the years and then take lots of pictures, silly and serious, of the two of them and anyone else who would join them.  Because there’s no such thing as too much time listening to stories or celebrating relationships or hugging folks you love or pictures.  In fact, there’s rarely enough of times like that.  It’s all too short.

But instead of sounding crazy, I chose to say, “Hang on to her and love her.”

Oh me.

When I got home, once again I was faced with all the pain and brokenness in our world.  And it made me sad.  Again.

Then I stumbled across these words of my sweet friend–my friend who knows about grief and missing Mamas firsthand–and like someone catching you before you fall and hurt yourself, her words caught me and were so full of grace, I felt as though she were telling me what I did today wasn’t goofy.  That it was okay.

Here is how easy it is to love a stranger: I walked to the post office during my lunch break and said hello and tried to engage everyone I met with a kind word or compliment. If I can do it, so can you.  ‪#‎babysteps‬ ‪#‎loveiseasy‬ —Renea Winchester

Tonight I’m thankful for the reminder that in the face of darkness, love.  Just love on some folks.  Even if it’s awkward and sounds like you’re two when you do it.  Love.  Be kind.

An appropriate lesson as we are about to enter the season that’s really all about that, isn’t it?  Sending Love and Light into the darkness?

I think so.

And that’ll do for two days before Thanksgiving.

Love to all.

 

 

My Day in Pictures…..and a Word or Two

I did a big thing today.

First of all, before I go any further, you need to know that the last time I left my house for anything more than running across town for our daytodailies or escorting our littles to their various activities or running to Macon for an appointment was this past June when we went to the Mouse House for several days.

Gone.  From Home.

Miss Sophie was in the best of hands, and all was well.

Until we got home.

And the smell of things gone sour hit me as soon as we came in.

We lost everything in the freezer and other refrigerator.  EVERYTHING.

I was devastated.

So then I pretty much figured, well, what else do you expect when you are gone from home?

But today.  Today I did a big thing.

I left home.

For an adventure.

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It started a couple of weeks ago when I started thinking about the book release for Renea Winchester that was scheduled for today up near Atlanta.  We have never met in person, but she has become very dear to me and has been a great encourager.  And when people are dear to you and something big is going on in their lives, well, if you can, you step it up and celebrate with them.  It’s just what our people do.

Turns out the Fella came in that night talking about going to a car show.  Up near Atlanta.  Interesting, I said, since I too would like to head out that same day.  Up in that same direction.  Long story short, the two things were a half hour apart which is practically next door in the Atlanta time/space continuum.  So we decided to go up together.  Up until yesterday I was still a little anxious.  What about Miss Sophie?  What if the power went out?  What if it rained?  What if?  What if?

I finally shushed all those voices and decided the joy of meeting my friend and celebrating with her outweighed all those what ifs.  Aub decided to stay home with Miss Sophie and study before heading back to school.  All the stars aligned, and we were off.  (like a herd of turtles, the Fella would say with pinpoint accuracy)

We dropped the Fella off at the British Car Show Fayre in Norcross and headed on our way.  We made the necessary “pit stop” along the road that ran between where he was and where I was heading.  (Did y’all know there are Targets with Starbucks in them?  I’ve never…..I mean, you knew that bathroom was going to clean.)  When we found our destination, a nice young man told us where to park.  This book release celebration was being held at Farmer Billy’s farm and home.  Folks were parked all along the yard and road.  It looked like a fabulous turnout.

Signing the friendship wall.

Signing the friendship wall.

When Cooter, our Princess, and I walked up, we saw the Friendship wall and each of us signed it.  What a neat idea.  (It made me wonder where I can hang a Sharpie for friends and family to sign their well wishes when they come to visit us.)  As we headed around we saw them–Miss Renea and Mr. Billy. They already had quite the crowd lined up to sign their books.  There was someone there selling wonderful smelling tamales, aprons made from feed sacks and old jeans and overalls, and beautifully carved wood figures and walking sticks.  It was my first book release party, but I’m thinking maybe they’re not all like this.  I loved it.

The trap that caught Cooter's eye sitting on top of the rain barrels

The trap that caught Cooter’s eye sitting on top of the rain barrels

In the midst of all of this what caught Cooter’s eye as we stood in line for the signing was a trap sitting up near the house.  “Look, he has one like we do.”

I laughed.  He was right.  (We’ve had some rascally raccoons coming up and eating the cats’ food.  They have now been safely and kindly rehomed.)  We wondered what kind of critters Mr. Billy has had to use his trap for.

The closer we got the more excited I was.

The closer we got the more excited I was.

We got closer in line and it was about to be our turn.  We were so excited.  We found out there was another author there whose book release was later on today.  He was moved to the front of the line so he could get to his own on time.

Renea Winchester and Raymond Atkins celebrating together on a day that was special for both of them.  I love the bond between writers.

Renea Winchester and Raymond Atkins celebrating together on a day that is special for both of them. I love the bond between writers.

How much do you love this?  Each author celebrating with the other even on his and her own special day.  When Miss Renea brought the author forward, apologizing for going out of order, I was starstruck yet again.  Mr. Raymond Atkins.  His very first book (“Front Porch Prophet”) just arrived on my doorstep three days ago.  Really?  I have never been so tickled to let someone ahead of me.  And to see the two authors together–really.  good.  stuff.

A moment worth waiting for (but I'm glad I didn't wait any longer!)

A moment worth waiting for (but I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer!)

Then it was us.  I introduced myself, so excited that we were finally meeting face to face, after months of messages and emails.  The moment did not disappoint.  What a beautiful soul she is, inside and out.   Our Princess leaned in to me and said, “She looks just like Princess Anna.” (from Frozen for anyone who hasn’t been on any kind of media for the past year)   When I told my writerfriend, she brushed it off, attempting to point out nonexistent wrinkles.  Please, she’s every bit as beautiful as Anna and then some.

We had a wonderful few minutes meeting Renea Winchester and Mr. Billy Albertson.  Moments I will treasure.  Moments I would not have had if I hadn’t stepped way outside my comfort zone and headed out this morning ready for adventure.

 

Cooter, ever the mischief maker, with the bunny ears--watching the goats.

Cooter, ever the mischief maker, with the bunny ears–watching the goats.

 

Now. That made it all worthwhile.  Every minute of it.

Now. That made it all worthwhile. Every minute of it.

We continued our visit around the farm, peeking from a distance at the baby goat who has been under the weather, standing next to cool tractors, looking at the chickens and the goats.

And before I left, I got to sniff Farmer Billy’s fig tree.  It’s okay, I asked him first.  Y’all.  That’s the smell of my childhood there.  The one in the yard at my Granny’s–the one she hung the pie tins in to keep the birds from eating them all.  Oh that heavenly smell.  (Okay, that’s it–somebody tell me the right time of year to plant a fig tree and where I can find the biggest one still able to be transferred.  This has got to happen.  Soon.)

On our way back to get the Fella, we stopped to get a bite as we were all feeling a little peckish.  We made another pit stop.  (I’m sorry, y’all, but these are of the utmost importance for the under 10 and over 40 crowd–which was pretty much all of us.)  We admired the cleverly made door handles

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and were thoroughly confused by the sign in the bathroom placed OVER the hand dryer.

Ahem.  Wait, what?

Ahem. Wait, what?

Thanks to Cooter, who hit the air dryer button, we used all options available for drying our hands.  After he hit it, I kept waiting for the bathroom police to jump out of hiding and give us the boot.  Didn’t happen, but I’m still troubled by that sign.  What do they want from me?

We headed back down the connecting road to pick up the Fella.  We had a wonderful surprise visit with his cousin and family.  Love these folks.  Wherever they are, it’s a party.  Just is.  They are so full of laughter and joy and good hearts, it can’t be anything else but all good.  The children even got to drive off on their own for a little bit.

There they go.

There they go.

Just kidding.  But at one point when a few raindrops came down, and they flipped the top up for a little protection, we could see their heads bobbing and the car rocking and they were moving to some kind of beat.  Only the radio wasn’t on.  Ah, to be young on a Saturday afternoon again!

All too soon we were on our way.  We are very fortunate that we have a DVD player in the Gomobile.  They don’t usually get to watch it, but for long trips, yes please.  This was the choice of the day.  Is it okay that I love that my children are every bit as much the nerds that I am?

One of their all-time favorite shows.....time to pull out Season 2, I think.

One of their all-time favorite shows…..time to pull out Season 2, I think.

Today was such a special day of surprises and spending time with people I love and call my own.  I am thankful that I found the get up and go to get up…..and well, go.  I am very thankful that the trip that the Fella wanted to make was just down the road from where I wanted to go.  And that my oldest was willing to hang out with Miss Sophie.  I appreciate the gift of her time and love so much.

As the Fella drove this morning, I read for a bit.  And this part struck me and stuck with me throughout the day. In the very first chapter of “Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches,” Renea Winchester writes, “After growing up surrounded by people who knew me, I struggled with the aloneness that comes from living outside your raising.”

Today.  Today I was not alone.  Even at the book release party where I didn’t really know anyone exactly, I felt at home.  The farm, the tractors, the garden, that fig tree, the smiles and welcoming faces…..that’s home.  Sitting with the Fella’s cousins (shoot, they’re my people too, right, and I aim to claim ’em), swapping stories, sharing my heart, and hearing this cousinfriend say, “Let me just take a moment,” in empathy for what had been shared–that. right. there.  That was home. Being with folks who are good and kind people, who were raised just like we were–there’s a comfort there that can’t be replicated no matter how hard one tries.

Being with good folks–and enjoying the day that’s been given to us.  Maybe that’s our calling.

I’m thankful it was mine–at least for today.  And so thankful that I answered it.

Love to all.

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If you are interested in books by either of these authors, you can click here or here to order Raymond Atkins’ latest novel, “Sweetwater Blues”  or–

here or here to order “Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches” by Renea Winchester.

Enjoy!

On Sacred Ground

Today I walked on sacred ground.

I do that more often than one might think, but I find sacred ground in some of the oddest places–once I stop and really consider where I am.

A writerfriend, whose first book I was introduced to by Karen Spears Zacharias, released her new book yesterday.  It’s been exciting watching her share the process on Facebook and on her blog.  (Social media does have its upsides, doesn’t it?)  And yesterday was the day.  I was out running errands with crew in tow yesterday afternoon, so we stopped at the big box bookstore, just in case.

Sure enough, they shook their heads and did their standard, “But we can order it for you” dance.

Umm, no thank you.

When it comes to books I want, I got skills.  I got this.

I had an appointment in Macon this afternoon that would put me within fifteen minutes of Mercer University Press, the company that published my friend’s new book.  On a whim (and hearing my Mama in my head–“What’s the worst that can happen?  They say no?  Well you’re no worse off then, are you?”) I called up to Macon, and a very sweet person told me that sure, she had four copies not spoken for and she’d be happy to set one aside for me.

And that’s how we get things done around here.  If you don’t ask, you just don’t know.  They might even say yes.

After my appointment, I followed the directions given to me over the phone and stored in my head.  I only had to turn around once.  Turns out I was right around the corner from my Great Great Aunt’s old house on Coleman Hill. I just love old historic neighborhoods, y’all.  I was in my element.  I walked up on the front porch of this old home with a humble sign informing me that I was indeed at “Mercer University Press.”

As I’d been told, I rang the bell.  It was an old-fashioned twist kind.  I was enchanted.  And also, I want one.  (As if the whole “old-fashioned” bit hadn’t already told you that.)  Another nice woman came to the door and let me in.

Oh y’all.

I caught a glimpse of stacks of books in the adjoining room.  I didn’t want to gape and stare but in the few moments I was there, it gave me the impression of a very old and dignified old gent, sitting in his leather chair with dark wood everywhere and beautiful carpets at his feet.  I don’t know if that’s what was actually there, but that was the impression I left with.  I’d been in the presence of greatness.  I mean these people choose other people’s words to immortalize in print.  I am amazed and enamored with it all, and I stood in. that. place.  That place that makes writers’ dreams come true.

It was a sacred moment in a sacred space.

As I handed over the exact amount I had scraped together when sitting in the gomobile in the parking lot (if you believe in “signs” surely that would have to be one, right–I didn’t know what they would charge), the person who had welcomed me in handed me the book that had been set aside for me on the chair by the door.  Oh y’all.  The feel of a new book.  The anticipation.  The excitement.  And to know about the excitement that the person who wrote it is going through–priceless.

I think I remembered to say thank you–I was that distracted–and I took my leave.  I walked back down the steps and turned.  What a neat little adventure I’d had, all because I took Mama’s advice and asked.  I wanted to mark the adventure somehow, so I did what most of us do in such a case.

Pulled out my phone and took a picture.  And then came home to write about it.

My thumb showing off my new book written by someone I've grown to love, posing in front of Mercer University Press in Macon.

My thumb, showing off my new book written by someone I’ve grown to love, posing in front of Mercer University Press in Macon.

And now you know why it’s a must read.  That title alone, right?  The really good things in life.  I cannot wait to sit down and curl up with it.

Tonight I’m thankful for Karen, whose book “Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? ‘Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma TV” rocked my world and introduced me to ideas and challenged my beliefs and priorities six ways to Sunday.  She is a great writer, and I love her dearly.  I’m also thankful for the people she has introduced me to, one of whom is Renea Winchester, the reason for my adventure today.

I don’t know if I would have gone on such a trek if it hadn’t mattered to me that my friend had released her new book, an effort of love and much hard work. She has shared her journey and done a great job of making all who followed feel a part of it.  That is why, after I have read her stories and shared it with my Aunt, this new gem will go on this shelf in my library–

My library shelf with books written by my writerfriends--talented women who work hard to share their gifts with all of us--all of them now Mercer University Press authors.

My library shelf with books written by my writerfriends–talented women who work hard to share their gifts with all of us–all of them currently Mercer University Press authors. (I was going to retake, but my thumb is enjoying its moments of fame, so…..)

As I was toting my book back out to my gomobile, ready to head out on the next errand, I crossed paths with students–probably from the law school there at Mercer.  I stopped for a moment.  As dear as Wesleyan College is to me, Mercer also holds a place in my heart.  That is where I did my postgraduate studies.  And my own Wesleyanne is considering doing her postgraduate work there too.  I imagined her walking amongst this group of young people, and it warmed my heart.  If it is right for her, may it be so.

I took one more look back at the old home that houses Mercer University Press.  Sacred ground.  And maybe more sacred because one day, good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, maybe one day I will find my way back there.  Only maybe, just maybe, I will have my own stack of papers in hand.  And a dream in my heart.

If it is right, may it be so.

Here’s hoping you can find yourself walking on sacred ground and the place of your dreams too.

Love to all.

 

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If any of you want to have your own copy of this wonderful book, go here and order directly from the old house on Orange Street in Macon.  You don’t have to ring the doorbell or anything.  They make it really easy for you.  Y’all take care.