Friday, December 31, 2010

Torn Between Two Places

Tomorrow we sign on the dotted line, to buy the perfect property for my man and me. We'll eventually have a house with three hundred sixty degree views of water: the lake to the front, the marsh to the rear. I'm not sure what could be more perfect.

We're nervous, but also so excited to have found something in the same island subdivision that we enjoyed pre-Katrina. It wasn't our plan to build a house; all I wanted was a plot on which to park an RV. Richard, on the other hand, wants a neighborhood. Our lives never work out quite as we have planned; I never intended to own our present home. Que sera sera; whatever will be will be.

The reality is that our RV needs an engine before it can be moved anywhere, and the coastal area has really clamped down on where one can park a mobile home. RV parks charge several hundred dollars a month, so it wasn't going to be an inexpensive ordeal. In for a penny; in for a pound. We'll be in for several tons.

Richard is absolutely enthralled with his work on the PT boat for the World War II Museum. The Higgins Society project manager has asked him to be an integral part of the organization of the refurbishing of this water craft. With the Higgins PT boat measuring seventy-eight feet long, he'll now have bragging rights to the biggest boat of anyone in either of our neighborhoods. And how many of our friends' boats boast over four thousand horses of power? I'm also pretty sure none of their boats ever took a torpedo hit.

While Richard is working for "the war effort," I guess I'll be figuring out where we'll live. The house in Coker Creek, when it thaws, may become a vacation rental. Meanwhile, I'll be looking for a temporary house here in Louisiana, as most apartments don't allow dogs the size of small horses to reside in them. Our Great Pyrenees is ninety-six pounds of fur and drool. We don't know if she'll survive a summer as an outside dog, so we may need to include an air-conditioned dog house in our home design.

You may think that living on the water will keep our puppy cool, but eight inch fur isn't conducive to taking a dip in the lake. The one time Gypsy Woman tried following our daughter's dog into our pond, she became so heavy that our daughter had to drag her to shore. Esther Williams she ain't.

I'm still hoping that some miracle will allow us to live part time in two places, with or without two homes. Maybe we'll become summer vacation renters in the beautiful mountains of Tennessee.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Boonies and the Beach

Looking on the lake for a piece of property
To build a winter home for my man and me.
He loves snow, and I love the sun;
The compromise of two homes, for now, has won.

But as we age, we can plainly see
That our energies aren't what they used to be.
Even our children have aches and pains;
It's for certain we won't be young again.

When we purchased our home, we really thought
That our children would use what we bought.
But reality didn't cooperate;
By the time we knew this, it was too late.

The work on acreage is extensive,
And hiring workers very expensive.
So we're left questioning what to do,
If we can't keep up one, how will we do two?

Do we want to become vacation landlords,
And have our beds slept in by unknown hordes?
We could have small paradises in both places,
In both of which we enjoy friendly faces.

A beach house here, a mountain home there,
We'd be on vacation anywhere.
Granny camp could be such fun,
Both in the snow and in the sun.

I'd like advice on which way to go
From realtors and landlords in the know.
And from friends and family
Who may help us more clearly see.

Before we take the plunge, we hope to get
Information on how to sublet,
And who will visit each of our homes,
As through the country our people roam.

Make your reservations today,
If in the mountains you want to play.
You just never know how or when
Reality may intrude again.

The drive is long, but rewards are great,
Although many still hesitate,
To take the forested mountain roads
To our peaceful Appalachian abode.

A tour bus would be just the thing,
But there isn't one, our guests to bring.
Do you think we should install a heliport
For easy mountain guest transport?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Crazy Christmas

We woke up alone on Christmas day,
No children or grands with which to play.
All of them were sharing their time
In their own respective family climes.

So much family we could have seen,
But this holiday season has trying been.
Unexpected death and relationship strife
Have caused some stress in our current life.

Now, many of you may be saddened,
But our hearts were truly gladdened;
We slept in without a thought
Of any things that we ought.

We had no ham we had to bake,
No enthusiasms we had to fake.
Our gift was time with each other;
We could cuddle alone under the covers.

A buffet breakfast and a movie show
Were quiet places we could go.
Even on Christmas there are people alone;
These places substitute for their homes.

We weren't without any baby joys;
We shared supper with our niece and her boys
Her husband is one of those who work
While we celebraters enjoy the perks.

So to his place of cooking employment
We took our holiday feasting enjoyment.
The boys were thrilled to see their dad,
And what pride in their family the parents had.

And then to see our son we went;
With their new toys our time was spent.
They had finished their Christmas duties,
And were relaxing with all their holiday booty.

Snuggle time with a granddaughter
Before retiring to our hotel on the water.
Christmas is just beginning for us,
But we won't have to make a fuss.

I'm looking forward to days of shopping,
And also some theatre hopping
With our daughter and her girls
As we give Atlanta a celebration whirl.

Extending Christmas may become a habit,
No more scurrying about like rabbits,
From there to here and here to there,
All the joy in one day to share.

We did, though, miss our package caper:
Yards of ribbon and wrapping paper,
The goodies our kitchen elves had fixed,
And all those gifts specially picked.

What a surprise those things will be
Long after disposal of the Christmas tree.
What is time, after all,
But a trap into which working folk fall?

We're retired and we can decide
By what rules our clocks abide.
This goes for our calendars, too;
Any day may become Merry Christmas to you.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Conscious of Christmas

I'm happy I know the ways of Jesus;
He certainly gave good examples to us.
This is as it is meant to be,
As we strive for eternal life to see.

Our forefathers were given a path to follow
But we continue not to be perfect, and so
We were given a brother who would not sin
To allow all the Spirit's light to shine in.

The Spirit of wholeness and pure delight
Is what gives humans our special might.
We must choose our path; we each need example.
The ways of most of families are not ample.

For seeking perfection is a process;
The tribes of Abraham have done their best.
The line of David produced a man
To be an example of the Eternal Plan.

We are still left to find our way:
Jews, Muslims, and Christians today,
All come from the same blessed line.
Hopefully we'll reunite, in time.

The Holy Spirit is how we succeed
In finding the peace for which we plead.
It isn't a contest for who is right;
It's a question of whether we want the Light.

I don't call myself Muslim, nor Christian, nor Jew
Because I haven't become one with those who do.
But I seek a common message of hope and love
In all I encounter as through this world I trudge.

So let us each be our best selves,
Sharing grateful hearts and the love that dwells
In all who seek a heavenly plane
In which humanity will be freed from pain.

It begins with each of us searching our hearts
For a peaceful place in which to restart
Our earthly relationships on a higher plane:
In our own little worlds, Paradise to regain.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Remaking Marriage

Is it true that marriage can be reset?
Vows reaffirmed and responsibilities met.
Injuries inflicted, can these we forget?

How many know when they are wed
The many challenges that lie ahead?
Who stands for them when their joy seems dead?

Our families seem not to care
In our commitments to do their share
When there seems no more love energy there.

Our people need to be the well
From which we draw the Spirit's spell;
Only this our trembling weakness will dispel.

Marriages don't thrive on one to another;
They take more than being lovers.
They thrive on families of sisters and brothers.

Isn't this the community to which we are called:
To form a fortress of sheltering walls
To protect our young when they threaten to fall?

Prayer without action won't calm the storm
When a baby won't quiet in her mother's arms;
Our commitments must be in active forms.

That midnight call of a man in pain
Wondering if his mate will ever hold him,
Who of us will hear his refrain?

Let us stop simply celebrating
When two sanctify their mating;
Let's commit to the family they're creating.

The rewards are many for being a part
Of helping to fill a family's hearts;
We help give our broken world a new start.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Treasure Time Together

Instead of hurrying on Christmas day,
I'm taking my children out to play.
My son and his boy met me at the mall;
Negotiations took only one phone call.
I smiled as they sparred with one another;
My son's no longer a little brother.
He's a dad, and he had the last word
On the raiment of his baby bird.
They argued and then pleaded with me:
Their arguments to oversee.
But I knew that my son would pass the test
Of wanting what, for his son, what was best.

My daughter-in-law, bless her heart,
In my Christmas shopping became a part.
She agreed to accompany my granddaughter
For what could have become a slaughter.
We began with a leisurely lunch buffet
At a coast hotel where gamblers play.
Then a drive watching whitecaps on the water
To shopping with limits we had to barter.
We succeeded in our purchasing adventure;
Now it's onto our next holiday venture.
My son had already bought himself
The gift I bought him, that unpredictable elf.

My sweetie and I will wake on the day
In a room of our own on the Biloxi Bay.
We'll spend time with only each other
Before we welcome the babies to smother,
With kisses and hugs and well wishes,
Over a table filled with holiday dishes,
Prepared by their daddy, a working man,
Who for Christmas, a day off was not the plan.
Gifts will have been given and unwrapped
The children will have, hopefully, already napped.
What a way to ease into the ending
Of a season that has been rather mind-bending.

In the new year, my daughter and her precious girls
Are going to give this gifting method a whirl.
In an Atlanta suburb, we'll have to see,
How easily we can complete a shopping spree.
The pace may be a bit more hurried,
But I promised myself I won't get worried.
It's about time spent with those I love,
And not about the push and shove
Of getting the most activity;
It's about the parts of each other we see.
This may turn out to be the best Christmas ever,
With memories of time together to treasure.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Home for a Hummingbird

The wheels of The Spirit turn so slowly at times
That I feel like I've been left behind.
When I wait and pray with patience
I find that this desertion is all in my mind.

I've always been in a hurry to know
What, why, where, when and how.
If something is worth having,
I've always wanted it now.

While it's true that some things
Don't get better with waiting,
Some things have to mature
Before they're ripe for celebrating.

Relationships, like fine wine,
Have many nuanced flavors;
Each area must be allowed to bloom
Before the full measure can be savored.

I've spent my life like a hummingbird,
Collecting nectar from many flowers.
My desire to find a permanent home
Grows more intense by the hour.

While I know that nothing on earth
Is actually here to stay;
Until it's time for me to become soil,
I need a place for my children to play.

In watching the fruits of our labor and love
I feel a oneness with my Creator.
I'm fortunate that my mission in life
Seems to be chief celebrator.

Come one and all, I want to say,
Let us sing and dance with delight.
This is how I show gratitude
For each day's holy light.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Passion and Impermanence

I rode along the Gulf Coast just before sunset, taking photographs of the art that rises from death. What a special mind it is that can look at the remnants of destruction and see new life!

Marlin Miller must have a heart of pure light that, where we all saw our beloved old oaks as dying amputees, he saw opportunities for wildlife art. Talk about random acts of kindness! This effort seems anything but random, yet it arose out of a disaster, and is by its very nature transient. Even though most of the eagles, turtles, dolphins, fish, and other coastal creatures depicted in these rooted carvings survived the storm and will survive other weather-related changes, wood is destined to rot, especially in the punishing sun, sand, wind, and water on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. One can't help but admire the man who puts such passion into something that he knows cannot be permanent.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Days of Delight

We fill our days with lots of gladness,
Which may look to others like pure madness.
First a tour of a true southern home,
Which welcomes all who into it roam.
A fireside chat with a prolific author,
While his cats beg for treats in their saucer.
His wife beaming, as well she should;
They've created a life that's very good.

Two hours of lunch with best friends,
Lots of bridges we seek to mend.
Then off to shop in a little boutique
For that "little something" so unique.
My man comes home from a day of labor;
Volunteering is what he tends to favor.
Supper and chatting with our hosts,
Before we hand our dreams over to the Holy Ghost.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Good Sisterhood

Looking forward to today
When my oldest friends come to play
Move over Ya-Ya Sisterhood;
What we have is just as good.

We're all grannies now,
And getting up a bit in age.
Laughter is the best medicine
When one reaches this life stage.

Beside the beach, we'll ride along;
We may share in a bit of song.
Our celebration will be intense
To balance our many life's laments.

The sun will dance upon the waves
As we lift our voices in grateful praise
For the pure joy of life and love
Raining down on us from up above.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Forget the Familiar

Forget the familiar;
It will only produce pain.
Our challenge as adults
Is to begin again.
The milk we drank was poisoned
By our parents' strain.

Oh, how easy it would be
To be like dad or mom.
But we must address the wrongs paths
That our parents' lives have formed,
Before our children's children
Accept this as the norm.

We understand how they became
So very lost and confused,
But we still cannot forget
How their children were abused,
Or how it turned a child's faith
Into feelings of being used.

Am I my brother's keeper
Or my sister's saving grace?
What is expected of those
Who have looked Satan in his face?
Are we to fight, flee, or stand firmly
In our Savior's place?

How I long for the answers
To these and other quests.
Until I hear a clear voice,
I can only do my best
To hold those who are crying
And pray for our souls' rests.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

He's Such a Handy Man

It's so easy to fold myself into the lives of young families without a thought about how it affects my marriage. There always seems to be so much need when there are children to be minded and minds to be molded. With the particular parents about whom I'm speaking, I know how carefully they choose with whom they entrust their children. The parents ask for me to help safeguard their young, and I am honored beyond belief. This leads to me often saying, "Yes" without thinking, leaving Richard in the lurch wanting for a wife to share a grown-up life.

I've never really enjoyed babies or babysitting, except when Richard was around to enforce order. He's a wonder to behold when a baby is upset, no matter the age of the baby. His center of calm seems to infuse whoever he's with. One of my favorite moves is to put a toddler in his care while I fix supper. He'll build a fort around the child, keeping the child so mesmerized that they forget to fuss. There's always a pay-off at the end, like busting down the tower, or frozen confections for all.

Screaming babies put in his lap are generally cooing in a matter of minutes. One of our infant nephews, as a breast-fed baby was inconsolable every time his mother left him. He used to comfort himself by sucking on Richard's thumb as they watched television together.

We have a whole new crop of kids coming up, most of the male persuasion. I hope I can convince Richard that he really wants to hang out with the boys after hanging out with the "boys." After a day of boat building, I hope he's ready for doing more than sitting on the sofa with the young men in training to be daddies. I hope he's up for enticing them to help with the baby boys.

I miss the days of cooking with kids playing in my line of sight. We even had a wall taken out of one of our houses to enable this experience. If only I'd asked Richard to bring his hand-hewn "chick sticks," I'm sure I'd succeed in seducing Richard to recreate those moments. I think I may hear some brand new Lincoln Logs calling out to me...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Creating Crabs on Canvas

One of the high points of this adventure has been spending individual time with the various women in my life. These are women who are some of my most missed soul-sisters, both young and old. I'm so fortunate that one of these women is my daughter-in-law, Buffy, whose company I adore. She's so accomplished in all that she does, and I'm honored that she finds the time to share who she is with me.

One night last week, she took me along as she and several of her teaching colleagues were to attend a class on learning to paint a blue crab, one of the iconic symbols of Ocean Springs art. I, who have never been able to draw well enough to even get good grades in penmanship, knew this was a lesson in futility for me, but I gladly accepted Buffy's invitation, just for the pleasure of her company.

We walked into a basement studio on the banks of a lazy lake where a dozen women were uncorking their respective bottles of wine. The artist and her assistant were busily pouring paint into little cups that were placed on plastic plates to serve as our palettes. Each of us was handed a blank square gallery-wrapped canvas and asked to choose a spot with a canvas stand and a bucket of brushes. As we all took our places, the artist took the stage.

She began with a simple series of charcoal lines on a white canvas background. We then moved on to outlining with black paint. We were told to simply do what she did. My work wasn't looking promising, and the only comment I received from the circulating assistant was, "Those black lines are heavy." I was used to failing at art, so this didn't bother me. I kept reminding myself that the night was about time with Buffy, sort of like coloring was about time with my little sister and then my children and grandchildren. I decided to go with my natural wing-it flow. What did I have to lose?

Amazingly, as we followed the lead of the artist, each of our crabs-on-canvas began to develop its own shape and personality. The lesson began to feel like fun. As we layered and blended color-by-color, I began to become quite confident and felt rather creative. Each budding artist had something that could be readily identified as a crab, but nothing was wall-ready.

The artist told us to step back from our easels and carry the works-in-progress back to another table for application of "secret sauce." This was a series of squeeze bottles filled with various paint colors. The idea was that we could use the bottles to apply flourishes and details that make the paintings pop.

What fun it was to watch each of us create googly eyes and wild whiskers for our finishing touches! And what a difference the secret sauce made. Both Buffy and I were proud of our finished projects. Buffy's now hangs in her living room to greet all guests and can even be seen on her facebook page. Mine might eventually grace my beach house, wherever that may be.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More Beautiful Than the Beaches

The beaches are more beautiful than we have ever seen;
The sand is more plentiful, and oh so very clean.
The least terns have nesting mounds of beach grass
The parent birds dive bomb all who dare to pass.

Most old oaks survived intact during the storm;
Sculptures were carved out of trees that were harmed.
There are eagles and egrets where oaks used to be,
A rooted sculpture garden for all passersby to see.

There are few buildings now allowed on the beach;
Most are moving beyond the next storm's reach.
The old south may be gone, but the new will arise;
What is yet to emerge is sure to surprise.

I have cast my eye longingly on a lot on the bay;
Across the highway is the beach where the little ones play.
But oh, I miss the marsh and the light on the lake;
Our memories there, I've been unable to forsake.

Our neighbors have moved; starting over we'd do
With friends close by that have always been true.
Our beloved New Orleans would be only minutes away,
With the Higgins Boat project and other places to play.

So many of "my" children would be in the next state,
When I got lonesome for them, I'd not have to wait.
In less than an hour, I could get a dose of The Spirit
Sharing with someone who wants to hear it.

Poor Richard would get a much-needed break
As I partied with my first husband's namesake.
I could visit grandchildren for an afternoon,
With promises to see them again really soon.

My nieces could call on us to babysit
Whenever their schedules were too tight a fit.
Grown friends are fine, but what I live for
Is the light of love shining through young family's doors.

Friday, December 10, 2010

White Christmases to Come

Most of the time my children were growing up, I was divorced from, and sharing custody of them with, their father. We took turns having them for holidays, so I taught them that Jesus wasn't actually born on December; therefore, we could choose any random day on which to celebrate Christmas together. Once, we ended up with Christmas, complete with a decorated tree and Christmas carols, in mid-March. This year, I'm putting our Christmas spirit to the test, once again.

My mother never even decorated our Christmas tree before Christmas Eve. She said that this was to commemorate the trees bursting into bloom when Jesus was born.
Tomorrow marks two weeks before Christmas. As usual, all of our gifts have long been bought and awaiting packaging into approximately fifty separate family surprise boxes. Jams have been made, but pecans have neither been bought nor roasted. Coconut macaroons aren't baked, and bourbon balls are still in the bottles and boxes of individual ingredients. And not one decoration has been hung by the chimney or anywhere else at our place.

Richard is alone at our home in the holler, and I have just been released from my duties as assistant to my sister, the executor of my mother's estate. I really don't have the energy to hurry home, bake, and box all those gifts for Richard to wrap and mail prior to the big day. For this, the package delivery people's families should be thankful. My children and their children have alternate holiday plans made because of the uncertainty about my availability, so I'm afraid that our version of Santa's sleigh will stay grounded this year.

Richard and I have never spent a Christmas together as a couple without outside obligations. This year, I think we can both stand a bit of comfort, joy, and blessed peace while we take a rest from family. We plan to check into a Gulf Coast Casino hotel and put a little jingle in the nickle slot machines, attend a few first-class Christmas shows, and eat rosy red crab legs dripping with butter from the bountiful buffets.

We'll spend lots of time driving around the Gulf Coast area from New Orleans to Ocean Springs looking for the perfect winter home. This way, we can guarantee that our next Christmas will be white, whether because of snow in Coker Creek, white caps on the waves of Lake Pontchartrain, or white sand on the Biloxi beaches. I'm dreaming of many wonderfully White Christmases to come; maybe a belated one in February or March. Would it be too tacky to celebrate Christmas during Mardi Gras?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A World of Wonder

Cuddling with cute kids,
Conversing with collegiates,
Spumoni shared with my niece.
Coffee in my son's kitchen,
Painting with his partner:
A world of wonder for me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What a Way to Spend a Glorious Day!

Oh what a way to spend a glorious day!
It began with soul sister sharing
Of Christmas projects and words of wonder.
I followed this with a drive along
The endless edge of the earth.

Sun glistening on white sand,
And dancing on the ripples,
Gently teasing my cares out,
To be carried far away.

A vist to my son's home
To gather hugs and kisses
Then onto my "adopted" daughter
And her beautiful baby boys.

Children's books and silly songs,
Watching their mother soothe their souls,
As she watched over their final thoughts
Before thay drifted off to sleep.

The quiet moments of sharing
Our hearts and souls with each other,
The time for reaping adult rewards
For embracing another day.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Grinning In Gratitude

Feeling joy drives some folks mad:
Those who think their suffering
Saves them from being bad.
Don't they know that The Creator
Made us to be glad?

Some people think that being nasty
To all those around them
Makes them mature or classy.
When I'm around them,
I feel quite trashy.

Joy is our show of gratitude;
All it requires is change
In our overall attitude.
It's a way of looking at life,
Not a function of mood.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pain Without Gain

My sisters and brothers are parts of my soul
Those born of my mother's flesh and
Those, too, who have chosen me.
There is no love without giving some of me,
A part never again to be fully my own.
There is no touch without the fusion
Of a part of you with a part of me.

I must build a shield before I go out,
Something to protect myself from pain.
I have slowly given away all of me;
And been infused with the poison of many.
I have depleted the wells of my loves;
They say to turn my face to heaven.
I fear that my plight on this earth is that:

I'll never be whole again.