Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dancing With Death

Her husband is doing his final dance;
There's nothing more that we can do.
We've laughed, cried, worked and prayed;
In their places waiting grew.

Waiting for him to breathe his last,
Waiting for all their folks to leave,
Waiting for the empty to descend,
Waiting for her pain to proceed.

My every moment is a misery,
Because I fear that what awaits
Is a deep dark night of her soul
When she can no longer touch her mate.

When she feels her blood is pumping
With only half of her heart,
And she will perhaps come to feel
That she is literally torn apart.

When her skin will sometimes seem too big,
And other times stretched to breaking.
The only thing worse than the love that is lost
Is the regret if it never was taken.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sitting Still

My nephew's wife has informed me that this is Special Education Week. Seeing as I come from a long line of people with ADD, I have a bit to say on that subject. Now, I want you to know, that in my day, ADD was spelled differently: BAD, and only boys were allowed to be bad.

The problem for people with ADD is that they can't do or think any one thing at a time. Talking with them is a lesson in scatter-shot conversing. I've taken to having sticky notes with me as I converse with any fellow scatter-shot speaker. Just as I learned to do in board meetings with a facilitator, I jot down what my friend, Mountaintop Mary, calls "bunny trails" and agree to table those discussions for later.

I once tutored for a second-grade literacy program. The little boy I was teaching just couldn't sit still without completely shutting down. It was only after I found a rocking chair and obtained permission for him to rock and read that he began to get with the program. He became a star student.I only wish I had known this trick when my children were students.

It seems that we spend most of a child's developing life punishing them for moving around, and the rest of their lives wondering why they're so out of shape. The fidgeting of other people makes us nervous, so we seek to stop it at all costs. The more I have to make myself sit at the computer, which is the only way I'll ever reach my publishing and writing goals, the more I realize all the things we do to burn off our nervous energy. Some of those things are obvious, like running, sports, and dancing. Others are not so obvious, and can be performed right at one's desk.

Smoking, eating and drinking used to be allowed in adult workplaces, but not in this day of air quality control and sensitive desktop electronics. We were broken of the gum-chewing habit by our grade school teachers. A lot of people try to control what my daughter refers to as "buzzing" with various drugs, both legal and otherwise. Many prefer alcohol.

The home-employed are not limited in what methods they employ, but there are only so many one can do while sitting. Food makes a body fat, alcohol makes a brain fuzzy, and what I know about medicating what our psychologist friend called "the wooglies" in his son seems to only work for so long before the doses have to be increased. This leaves movement.

I'm almost sixty years old and female, and I still can't sit still. Many executive chairs come with rocking and rolling mechanisms, both ways to discretely fidget. I have one of these. I can freely rock, roll, drum my fingers, tap my feet, whistle, hum, go back and forth to email and Facebook, and take bathroom, snack, and beverage breaks. Yet we think that a bursting ball of energy like a six year old should be able to sit silently for hours on end. What's wrong with that picture?

Maybe some of our educational dollars should be spent on rocking chairs.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Party Your Way To Paradise

I really get on people’s nerves insisting on families facing death straight on, but I have a lot of experience with this issue. I never got over the fact that a family member that I dearly loved when I was nineteen was dying for six months and none of us ever got to tell her good-bye. We just kept pretending that she was going to get well again even though her brain was eaten up with cancer. Most of her family wouldn't even come to the hospital to see her because they just didn't know how to act. How horrible is that?

When we thought Richard was dying while he was in a ten-day coma, I got into all kinds of trouble with one of our physician friends by making jokes about him at his bedside. The way I figured it is that if we can hear while we're in a coma, we'd feel a lot less scared of our future if we heard our loved ones laughing than if they were all weeping over us.

After Richard woke up, we still knew he would die without a heart transplant, but he made me promise that I wouldn't get mushy (he called it maudlin) about it. Me maudlin? As controlled as I am emotionally? We spent the one-year plus waiting time getting his affairs in order.

Another friend of ours was recently facing a good chance of imminent death. She chose to laugh about the fact that her husband would no longer have to worry about how she'd handle their financial affairs if he predeceased her. Neither her husband nor her children could see the humor in her situation, but I was blessed to be the one she chose to share in this little laugh.

When one of my people is hurting, I'll cook for them, clean for them, cry with them. But it seems that the people who will help them party their way to Paradise are few and far between. It's a tough job, but if somebody's gotta do it, I'm glad it can be me.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Dearly Departing

Our friend is dying. Of course, we’re all dying from the moment of our conception, but this friend has been handed a time frame in which he'll reach the end of his time on earth. We've been anticipating this day for over a year; actually, more like five years, since he had his first heart attack which left him in congestive heart failure.

After that, he had to have a kidney removed because of cancer. Once he recuperated from that, cancer was discovered in his liver. He had surgery to remove the tumor, but the cancer came back. We just got word that there's nothing more that medicine can do for him. He said a year ago that he's ready to go, but he's continued to be so vibrant that it's hard to believe his time is so close.

This friend became part of us by the back door. His wife is one of my best friends, like a sister to me and an aunt to my children. I was dead set against her marrying him and even threatened him with bodily harm (while dancing with him at their wedding) if he hurt my friend. Over twenty-five years, his love for my friend made her so happy that I couldn't help but learn to love him. Now, he's leaving us.

When we began this last year's journey through the killing cancer, I thanked him for proving me wrong about his marriage to one of my best buddies. I agreed to write a eulogy for him. I kept that promise, writing my thoughts on him as soon as we returned home from his house.

Yesterday, he, not she, called me with the fatal facts from his doctor. We laughed about what everyone would say about him after he's gone. I teased him that I was glad I hadn't sent his eulogy to him a year ago; that I wouldn't want him to hear any of the nice things I might say about him in case he lives longer than the doctors expect. I'd hate for him to have that to hold over my head.

Then, I got to thinking how nice it would be if we all knew what people would say about us after we're gone, so I sent it to him. There are some things that are worth the chances you take.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why I Don't Want a Boy Beautician

I strongly suggest that my women friends think twice before agreeing to their husband’s help in any beauty rituals.

I’ve always had unattractive hands; my fingernails peel and crack; my cuticles are quite shabby; and a high school friend likened my hands to the “man’s hands” on the Lava soap television advertisement. I wanted to look my most glamorous when marrying the man of my dreams, so I had a set of fake fingernails applied for our wedding.

After the wedding, one of the nails popped off. I mentioned to Richard that I needed to have my manicure repaired before we headed off on our honeymoon. He was mystified; “Why would you do that?” he asked.

“Well, my hands look worse with only a partial set of nails, so I either have to get the missing nail replaced, or I have them all removed.”

“Those nails make you look like you’re going to scratch someone’s eyes out. I like your hands the way they were.” And, to be truthful, one of the first compliments he had given me was, “I like your hands.” When this set me to guffawing, he continued, “They look like strong hands.” Who knew that a professional person would be looking for a strong woman instead of a glamorous trophy wife?

Richard offered to remove my nails, and I agreed. He asked me to stand by the sink while he got some supplies. Upon his return, he was carrying a bottle of paint stripper and some steel wool. It worked to get the nails off, and since my hands weren’t any thing of beauty before, I was satisfied with the results as soon as I saw that my skin was still intact.

I recently developed a staph infection in my armpit. Richard had recommended that I not shave until it cleared up. The first time I shaved after it cleared up, the infection returned. Richard’s theory was that my razor made small cuts in the skin into which the bacteria entered. Hairy pits on a woman, like strong hands, don’t offend him, so I stopped shaving again.

Today, he decided to assist me with shaving my underarms after a long break. This was precipitated by my request that he pick up a lady’s electric razor for me. “Oh, just try my electric razor,” he said. As I began the process, it felt like I was receiving electric shocks under my arms wherever I put the floating heads to my flesh. Upon hearing me scream, the ever-gallant Richard, offered to help. “You just have to do it more slowly,” he said. He knows I have two speeds: “overdrive” and “dead,” so I handed him the razor.

Mistake! He slowly ripped the skin off my under arms, but we didn’t realize what was happening until after it was over, and my pits were oozing something that looked strangely like blood. So much for safe shaving with an electric razor, and so much for Richard being my beautician.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Soul Soothing

The ever-moving, ever changing wildness of the water
Soothes my sorrowful soul in ways that nothing else can match.
I don’t need to be on it, I simply need to see and smell it
To keep me ever-mindful that nothing living remains the same.

The trees in the forest whisper and swish, also ever moving;
But not with the seething, soaring sounds of surf upon the shore.
I feel like I’m caught in a lullaby trying to quiet my quest for better,
Especially in the dead of winter when our wooded world turns to gray.

Winter weather on the water is not the same as summer storms,
That roll in, touch down, destroy much, and then they’re gone.
But the winter’s gray sky becomes one with the rippling water,
And the low light glints rainbows on the air around the land.

I love and desperately long for living on the water;
Happily taking my chances on being washed out to sea.
I’d be more comfortable braving the height of a hurricane
Than suffocating slowly in the bosom of Mother Earth.

People who have spent their childhoods on a rural route
Seem quite content with waiting for nature to run her course.
When one is mostly defined as a woman at war with the world,
It’s difficult, at sixty, to become a woman who waits.

Monday, August 16, 2010

See You Later, Alligator

“Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.”
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

It has been almost a year since I began this (almost daily) blog, hoping to find the same joy in online friends that I used to enjoy in friends in-the-flesh. I still miss all the opportunities to “press the flesh” with friends and family who share our past as well as our present.

There has been much sorrow as well as joy in our lives in the last year, but I have focused mostly on the positive. People have their own problems; they really can’t add those of others, especially those issues over which they have no control, to their burdens.

Summer offers so much activity and so many people to share with, that it’s easy to find the fun to share with readers. Now that the garden is, for the most part, gone, and the school sessions are starting, we’ll be facing much solitude -- good for finishing long-neglected projects, like publishing my own work, but bad for tales of fun and frolic. And my travel wings have been clipped for the foreseeable future.

This leaves me with nothing to share but my deepest philosophies and feeling, and I really don’t want to put those up on the internet. Richard has told me for years that if I thought Salmen Rushdie got himself into hot water, wait until I publish what I think about. He has also reminded me that if I get burned in my bed, he will burn alongside me. So, I’m signing off on my daily blog.

Thanks for the encouragement.
My email address is yawarren@gmail.com

Friday, August 13, 2010

Free Folk School

Mamie has told me several times that she’d like to have a community “victory garden.” Pastor Lynda told me that a new family moved to Coker Creek, so I invited them to come to the garden with me. I told her they could have whatever we picked. It wasn’t unselfish because we had enough squash and beans already put up, and I figured it was a good way to meet our new neighbors.

The whole family showed up; so I ended up with another, quite unexpected, Granny Camp experience. One of the children is autistic, and he was the best picker of all. Whatever we were picking, he’d zero in on like a laser light. They returned to their new home with several kinds of squash, tomatoes and beans. For good measure, I threw in some banana and black walnut muffins, made with the black walnuts lovingly harvested and cleaned by Richard. It was a joy sharing our garden with the new folks in town.

Donna and I are hoping to help start a community canning kitchen over at the Smoky Mountain Christian Camp and Adoption Ranch. There are always kids there, as the adoptive families live on the grounds of the camp. I told Mamie that if we can get it going, we’d sit her in a chair, and she could tell us what to do. It seems that seventy-five years of cooking and canning would qualify her to teach. She agreed that she would be good at that.

She did wonder what we would have to can this late in a relatively bad growing season. There are still grapes to harvest; the pears didn’t freeze this year; and apples will be ripe shortly. Jams, jellies, chutneys, ciders, and maybe even some wine will all be created in Coker Creek.

Mamie’s son Junior used to go through town telling people when his pear trees started to drop their pears. We could get all the fruit we wanted, free for the picking. Now that Junior is gone, I figured I’d better make some provisions for pears before the fall harvest. I approached Junior’s wife, Greta, with the proposition that I’d be happy to clean up the pear mess on her lawn as an act of service to her. She really didn’t fall for my bull, but she said I could have the pears.

Merrisue overheard this exchange; her comments reminded me that Merrisue and Ron help Sam with pressing cider every fall. She agreed to let me help. Not only will I be able to make all the pear butter and chutney I want, I’ll also learn about pressing apple cider.

We may not have an official folk school here, but the Appalachian Mountain ways are alive and well in Coker Creek. Not only will the people teach you their crafts; they’ll also “let” you help them with the work. People pay good money to attend Foxfire and John C. Campbell Folk schools, and we have it all for the asking.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Am I Six or Sixty?

I’ve settled on being six,
When I thought it okay to chase boys.
It was the best age for everything;
I believed everyone would share their toys.

When I was six, I was pretty,
And I learned to tie my shoes,
And the alphabet was shaped like people
That did backbends and juggling moves.

I no longer believed my big brother
And sister knew everything
Because I had my own teacher now
To teach me what life would bring.

And then I got in trouble
For talking to Freddy, my beau
And for borrowing Rosary’s crayons
I was moved to the front of the row.

When my teacher told me that
I was bad for being sick,
I learned to hide my asthma;
I had taught myself that trick.

But I did learn the alphabet
And what every letter said;
I began to recognize
The words that were being read.

At recess it was easy
To have a lot of fun;
I was never afraid
To walk up to anyone

I would ask their names
And what they liked to do
If I didn’t know how to do a thing
I was an eager student, too.

The boys had fun games, like marbles
While the girls twisted their curls;
But the teachers didn’t like
Boys to play with girls.

Boys and girls were sinful,
If you put them together.
There were all kinds of other bad things.
Of the law, we learned the letter.

Now, here I am at almost sixty;
My second chance at childhood.
I caught my permanent beau,
And the fun we have is good.

Feeling innocent again,
I think my faith is fixed.
You can try to change my mind,
But I like being six.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Points to Ponder

Is “satisfactual” a word? I looked it up in a dictionary; it wasn’t there. But don’t you think it should be a perfectly proper word? It sounds great in the Disney song, “Zippety, Doo, Dah,” and it sounded so happy when Richard’s mechanic called to ask if the work that was done on my van was satisfactual. It really made me smile that they care enough to call and ask, and in such a personal, friendly, happy-to-serve-me manner.

And what about “consciencely?” I’ve been reading a book about introverts and extroverts. In it, the author talks about how introverts are more prone to think back over their thoughts and actions and live consciously than are extroverts. When I was growing up, as a Roman Catholic kid, we were taught that every night we should examine our consciences to remember if we had wronged anyone that day. This is what I call living consciencely.

When Rachel was a girl, I asked her to clean up a room. As most tasks did, this took her an extraordinary amount of time. When she finally resurfaced, I asked her what had taken her so long. She replied, “I was arranging the books on the bookcase “sizealogically.” I knew immediately what she meant, and the bookcase had never looked better.

Scott used to say the highest number in the universe was an “alakzillion.” It’s a nonsense word that makes sense to use for an unknown number; is “infinity” any better than? And alakazillion sounds so much more impressive. Nobody would have to say, “To alakazillion and beyond,” because they could quantify alakazillion with regular multipliers ?

Is there a central place where we can submit words for formal inclusion in the American vernacular? We could make a new reality show out of it, and have words voted into or out of the American dictionary. In order to have a vote on any given word, you must be able to use the term in a sentence that the majority of voters would agree made sense. It would be kind of like Balderdash, making up new words and defining what should be their meanings.

As anyone can plainly see, I contemplate deep issues when Richard is away. I have one load of laundry in the basket waiting for folding, one in the dryer waiting for the basket, and one in the washer waiting for the dryer. The dishwasher is still washing and the banana/black walnut muffins are still in the oven. I had a doctor once tell me that I should take up tennis instead of thinking. Maybe he was right. But who would do the laundry and baking while I was out beating up fuzzy yellow orbs with a racket? Besides, I was told by a tennis pro and a band director that I was a spastic. We all gotta do what we can do.

Another point to ponder: Has anyone ever verified that Dale Carnegie had any real friends?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Profound to Profane

I don’t know if the minds of most people bounce around from the profound to the profane on a daily basis, but my mind certainly does. I was once called a philosopher by the dean of students at my son’s Catholic boarding school; mostly I’m called “not right” or “nuts.”

Is it nuts to announce that there are similarities to volunteering with the Ruritan supper set-up and being the den mother for a bunch of cub scouts? Cub scouts do good work in their communities while having a lot of fun, with help from their mothers. This sounds much like what the men of Ruritan do, but with the help of wives.

There are many men in Coker Creek who have no wives and have well outgrown listening to their mommies (assuming they ever listened to them). They’re a good-hearted bunch and are ready, willing, and able to take direction from whatever woman shows up first in the Ruritan kitchen. I don’t really know the drill, but I’m willing to wing-it if no other woman with a longer Ruritan history is in attendance; however, I tend to put things in the wrong place, and since we’re mostly people “of a certain age,” moving things from their usual spots can be rather disorienting.

The first time I was in charge of set-up, I had the hamburgers after the salads, and we had to move everything into the proper places before we could commence to serve supper. Just last night, someone helping me put the dish washing water on the dish rinsing side of the sink. It was a mess trying to keep people from pitching potato salad spoons onto my clean flatware. I don’t try to think outside of the box or color outside the lines; I just don’t always have good control of my crayon. I sure am glad when someone else shows up to take over.

I want to be clear on one point, I’m not helping set up the kitchen because I think this is women’s work; I’m doing it because Richard’s on the board and I need something to keep me busy, and out of trouble, while he’s in the meeting. I did spend over two decades catering functions in every manner of meeting and party place; so, I feel somewhat qualified.

Even rule-following Richard is beginning to expand the parameters of the boxes we live in; he made a cake out of beets. But, he did swear me to secrecy about what was in the cake until all the accolades were in.

Now, here’s a little ditty that rattled out of my brain:

The Zit in My Armpit

I have a zit in my armpit;
It hurts so bad I could cry.
The doctor said it’s MRSA,
And it could get worser
But it’s unlikely I will die.

He gave me a pill prescription,
And liquid soap, and some salve.
If used daily, without fail
From hair to my toenail,
It will cure whatever I have.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Quite Quiet

It was a quiet day up our way;
Richard was under the weather.
I tiptoed around and stayed off the phone,
Hoping his aches would get better.
He’s usually such a stoic that,
When he admits he’s sick,
I feel like I should take him
To the hospital, double quick.

I can be a bit hysterical
About sickness in those I care for.
I made him a cup of chicken soup;
He didn’t think that he should dare more.
Oh, what’s a mother to do
When her chicks are feeling bad?
It’s so hard to know how much to do
Without driving them awfully mad.

Once we’ve almost lost a chick
We’re prone to hovering over it.
If anyone or thing threatens harm,
We push them back a bit.
But if pushing isn’t what they need
How can we show we care?
With a good book and a computer,
We can simply be quietly there.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer Song

Is there anything better than a day with a person you watched grow up as that person parents their own children? I absolutely love seeing the love glowing between parents and their children and grandparents and their grandkids. This has been a charmed summer with many children to admire. We’ve been so fortunate in being honored with visits by nieces and their fantastic families, who traveled many miles to share their children with us. We’ve also had the pleasure of being included in the Granny Camps of others.

Mountaintop Mary brought her brood over for a cookout and allowed me the honor of introducing them to Ms. Mamie’s chickens and garden. Donna allowed me the same opportunity to share our garden with her daughter and three of her grandchildren. She and her husband Marshall later brought them to our First Friday supper where they sang the most beautiful blessing to begin our feast. They seem to have enjoyed their first adventure in Jello fishing, followed by Jack Darnell reading to them from his work.

How great would it be, to turn all of Coker Creek into one huge Granny Camp? I tried to talk my daughter into starting a Granny Camp with us, figuring that we could utilize all the experience we had in the early years of her child rearing. She has two daughters who had been trained from birth to be counselors, so we had just the right ingredients.

But the price we pay for having super successful grandchildren is that they’re very busy pursuing their own futures. I do have to admit that Rebecca spending part of her summer helping to host exchange students from Korea will probably do more to promote world peace than cracking corn in Coker Creek would.

I was invited by Rachel to the big Atlanta suburb of Marietta to attend a live production of “Hairspray” with her and her daughters. I hardly knew how to act; it had been so long since I’d attended any cultural events in the any decent-sized city. I was seriously under-dressed in capris and flip flops while my three girls were gorgeous. How soon we forget how to dress for success.

I was unbelievably awed by the talent in Rachel’s town theatre on Marietta Square. I have been to Broadway, and the theatre called the Strand could compete any day. It was great laughing with my little ladies on my field trip from Granny Camp.

Then, it was on to our own version of the Grand Ole Opry at Charlie and Deborah’s place where we’re entertained for free by world-class musicians, and we have great food prepared by world-class cooks. Mountaintop Mary and Don brought their Granny Camp attendees, with little Emma all dolled up in a dress and petticoat with her hair in a beautiful French braid for performing the Irish lullaby “Tura Lura Lura.” Is there anything sweeter than the voices of young children raised in song, even if they are someone else’s grandchildren’s voices?

Friday, August 6, 2010

What’s a Wild Woman To Do?

Do you ever get the feeling that we were meant to be nomads? That maybe the Native Americans had the right idea about following food instead of farming? If floods were coming, they could just pick up their tents and head to higher ground. If one region had a drought, they could walk on over to where water was flowing. It may be that the best years of the lives of the Jews were spent collecting manna, milk and honey from heaven and not worrying about their next meal or fighting to defend their real estate.

Sometimes, it just seems easier not to get overly attached to any one place or person. A fellow blogger, “The Other Jack Darnell” writes about his and his wife’s lives as people without a permanent place. They do have an address, but that’s not where they live. They actually live in their RV and travel the country helping friends and learning life lessons from all with whom they come in contact.

Richard and I lived this way for the better part of our post-Katrina year. Imagine how much less complicated family affairs are when you can always be welcome guests. We’ve all heard the joke about parents who moved and didn’t leave a forwarding address. Sometimes, that sounds like a great idea; our kids figure it out for themselves if we’re not around to meddle. And empty nest syndrome has a hard time settling on one who is constantly creating new nests.

I wrote a journal back then, before I learned about blogging; I called it the Wandering Warrens. We split our time between visits to New Orleans, cooking and cleaning for fellow Katrina victims and traveling to see the sights of the good old USA. Every time we felt overwhelmed by the post-flood problems, or were in a lull in the rebuilding plans of our families and friends, we’d simply rev up the RV and head on down the road. We had a moving picture window on our own ever-changing world with new neighbors every other day.

Sometimes the only way to keep peace is to agree to disagree, and many issues, if left alone long enough, seem to solve themselves. Whenever the tension gets too high, when one lives on wheels, one can move on down the road until the dust settles. I miss the ability to let sleeping dogs lie that only the life of a nomad can continue; when conflict resolution was, “See you later, Alligator.”

Now, here we are in a small community with very large memories. Word of what we do spreads like wildfire, and the enemies of others are expected to be our enemies, too. The flip side is that the friends of others are automatically supposed to be welcome by all of one’s friends. There is no anonymity, so one always has to watch what one says and does, and anything out of the ordinary is construed as crazy. What’s a wild woman to do?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fabulous Flowers

The corn fit for human consumption
Is now in our freezers or cans.
Mountaintop Mary’s horses
Are happily munching the culls.

Our poor dog who was bred for
Romping on snow-covered mountains
Is recently looking as limp as
Our zucchini and yellow squash.

Our garden food looks awful,
But our flowers are fabulous.
Sunflowers’ bright yellow heads nod
As we crawl through the cukes.

The four o’clocks open themselves
Just in time for our foraging.
The bright faces of our flowers
Keep us from complete despair.

We moved to the mountains expecting
That there would always be cool breezes;
But, we are happy for air conditioning,
Even with living in the trees.

While we do debate the merits of trying
To outwit the whims of nature,
For sunflower bouquets alone
We may grow a garden again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lady of Leisure

Do computers get constipated?
Or is technology overrated?
Do they suffer from senility?
As they age, they get as slow as me.

While waiting for my computer to boot,
I could learn to play a flute,
Or write a poem about what I see
Sitting in our hemlock tree.

Oh, well, it gives me time to look
At birds, and bees, and trees, and brook
And listen to the breeze and thunder
In our private world of wonder.

A hummingbird stretches his neck,
And spreads his tail for scary effect.
Now he's ruler of this feeder;
I guess he must be a leader.

Butterflies perform a dance;
To my eye, it looks like romance.
But who can tell what the dance does mean?
They may be deciding who's king or queen.

Our dog is taking a long, lazy nap;
Our cat is in the rocking chair's lap.
They are clearly saving their energy
For whatever excitement may come to be.

My man is off doing manly things,
Addressing my vehicle's knocks and pings.
I'm doing my part enjoying the fruits
Of several air-conditioned indoor pursuits.

I need to finish making pickles,
But when I'm alone, I can be fickle.
My reading list calls to me
To use all the time that's free.

The task for today, other than my blog
Is picking corn, and I could brush the dog.
But the heat isn't much of a motivator;
I think I'll wait for a time that's later.

I have to bribe myself to do anything else
Than to write or to read all the books on my shelf.
The garden is shaded after six;
This is a good time for corn to be picked.

Until that time, I'll mimic our pets,
And conserve my energy for breaking a sweat
Harvesting the last of our first corn crop,
Then I'll crash on the sofa with a cold pop.

When my man returns I'll be relaxed.
When he asks about today's acts,
I'll greet him with a hero's welcome
My leisure, a reward for his work well-done.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fighting For Food

There are now at least two tiny gladiators challenging each other and the insects, so I decided to refill the hummingbird feeder. I had to beat down the bees to get at it. These birds and bees give a whole new meaning to the term "food fight." We also hung another feeder in the dogwood tree outside our kitchen window. I like their movement, but not their meanness. Hummingbirds must have some serious ADHD; maybe that's why I like them -- they remind me of so many people I know and love. I wonder if I added a little Ritalin to the sugar water, they'd be nicer to their fellow feasters.

Judy posted on her Facebook that she was getting buckets of grapes from her vines, so I figured I'd better check our "vineyard" (which means the vines growing wild on several areas of our property) before the birds and bears did. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we're going to have many grapes for our jam, and the ones we do have are a long way from ripe.

The walk around our property was still fruitful. I found a flowering vine that I'd never seen before, and it was growing on the foliage of a hazelnut plant that I didn't know was a hazelnut (aka, filbert). The irony is that Jack gave us a hazelnut plant from his yard two years ago, and I've been waiting for signs of flowering. The stem of it has been broken, apparently by the lawnmower, but not to worry; we'll still be picking filberts this fall.

When we lived in Louisiana, a hobby we enjoyed was catching crabs outside our back door; we now pick fruit and nuts from our land. Richard likes to collect and crack black walnuts, so I'm assuming that he'll equally enjoy harvesting hazelnuts. The black walnuts are divine in zucchini muffins; too bad all our zucchini plants have, literally, bitten the dust.

We went to the garden last night and found quite a mess. Mamie's chickens have decided that the cucumbers were planted for their eating pleasure, as were the cantaloupes. Our sunflowers have toppled over from the weight of their huge heads, and the cabbage bugs have finished making lace out of every cabbage leaf. The weeds are so thick that we can barely find the onions, and our carrots are splitting their sides because of drought followed by rain.

We try to get to the garden every other evening, but sometimes other pastimes take precedence; it's hard to get motivated to work in ninety-degree, damp heat. Thank goodness there are grocery stores because we'd be hard pressed to feed a family with our laissez faire attitudes about getting up and going to the garden.

For today, there are cucumbers to cut for pickles and beans to string for First Friday. We'll go to the garden and weed-whack; maybe we'll find more food under these wild, wanton weeds.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Arts and Crafts of Coker Creek

I'm an artist wanna be, which means that I'd love to be able to produce beautiful measures of music, dances that delight, and paintings that inspire, but these talents weren't given to me. I so admire passion channeled into action, especially into artistic endeavors, that I absolutely love to be around creative people and watch them while they work.

I've dreamed, since we lived in New Orleans, of living in an artists' colony where I could, perhaps, keep myself busy writing or cooking while basking in the creative spirit all around me. Artistic inspiration is in the Coker Creek air; many people who move here are artists in bloom. I think we're now getting close to actualizing an artists' colony.

Stephanie, the gal who recently bought Coker Creek Gallery, is planning to create an incubator-style environment in conjunction with her retail space. Her vision includes having those whose art she represents work out in the open where they can be observed. What a wonderful addition to our other Appalachian attractions this would be!

I was privileged to meet a group of ladies last week-end who are putting their artistry into action making quilts for critically ill children. Once a month, the ladies with Quilts For Kids haul their sewing machines, scissors, and ironing boards over to the Ruritan building and create a sewing bee. The kaleidoscopes of patterns and colors in the quilts were a delight to behold; I'm sure many a child finds a reason to smile when presented with the gifts of love from these ladies.

So much of the creative process seems to require silence and solitude, and I'm a lot loud because I channel my passions into prose, poetry and prattle. On the bayou, there was nothing we wouldn't discuss with lots of laughter and as many tears. I sometimes need a good wet-my-pants belly laugh, a righteous rant, or a soul-splitting cry, and good church ladies don't seem to be comfortable with this brand of unedited emotion.

What's a woman raised with a bunch of boys to do? This is the Bible Belt, and I know that one of the quilters is a pastor. I do have the problem of being a bit too outspoken and baudy for small town tastes. It's so hard to find women of wicked wit;I don't fit in for long with "ladies who lunch," or ladies of any kind. I simply can't act like a lady for more than a few minutes without exploding. My loose lips can sink relationships; and in a small town, like in a family, it's easy to become a pariah.

The quilting queens looked like a lively bunch, and they did have snacks setting near some sewing machines. Somebody's got to feed the troops, and the Ruritan building has a full kitchen; so, maybe I could cook for these crafters. That ought to keep me quiet enough that they'll let me watch them while they work.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Mess of Emotions

What a messy affair emotions are. Yesterday, I almost wept over the taste of a perfectly ripe peach; the awe its perfection inspired took away my breath. Living in such close, quiet quarters with my man and my memories keeps me ever-extreme in my emotions.

I’ve never considered myself a greedy person, but I really am greedy for my people. I can’t get enough of the essence of them in my mind; even when my emotions are stretched to the breaking point, I want more time, more connection, more making memories. Every child I ever held, in some small way, became a part of me. Every friend or family member I ever hugged has a hold on my heart. Heaven for me would be to have all my people right next to me simultaneously. For now, I have to settle for enjoying them from afar.

I love being able to live vicariously with my grandchildren, family, and friends through Facebook and email. I’ve been able to enjoy my oldest grandchild’s summer activities through the pictures her friends have posted on Facebook. With families these days being so busy, if we didn’t have electronic ways to keep up, we may not be able to recognize our own grandkids by the time we do get to see them in person.

Our grandson’s joy at being able to witness and even participate in rescuing sea turtle babies also came through on Facebook. His dad has promised to post pictures of the monumentally memorable event. I almost feel like I’m there when I’m made privy to the pictures, and Nick’s passionate prose. It does sometimes make my heart hurt with the longing to hear their voices, see their faces, and smell their special smells, but that’s the price we pay for allowing ourselves to love.