Monday, February 28, 2011

Social Sunday and Soup

We're in deep mourning for a friend lost on Friday,
But our grief was made lighter in a "Social Sunday" way,
When a couple of our young families came to visit and play.

Harold and Gabe were delighted with their new found cousins;
Not only the preteen Corinne, but her dad Tom became fast friends,
While their dad James was in the kitchen, mixing magical food blends.

Our nieces compared notes on teaching methods and books;
Nik is currently teaching school, and for wisdom, Mel looks.
A little bit of introduction is all their conversations took.

The meal that we enjoyed was fit for queen and king:
Salad, jambalaya, ribs, and fried chicken wings;
The kind of joy I had hoped that "Social Sunday" would bring.

Is there anything more sacred than a family joyfully breaking bread,
Celebrating the lives that their beautiful families have ahead?
This is the sort of fellowship for which I believe we all are bred.

Richard was under the weather, but still he enjoyed the group,
Even though frequent naps took him often out of the loop.
A visit from friends and family can be more soothing than chicken soup.

The Caring Community of Coker Creek

What a wonderful way Coker Creek has
Of pulling together during any crisis.
There isn't one detail that these good people miss.

From the volunteer first responders,
To the preachers who are always on call,
To the neighbors who take care of the daily needs, one and all.

If there are hungry mouths, they feed them;
If there's a mess, the cleaning's done.
This little mountain town always pulls together as one.

How fortunate the family or the widow much aggrieved.
The call in the community brings all to the door;
When handling losses like house fires and deaths, who could ask for more?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Young Wins Antique Car Award With Grandpa's Car

Reprint of a story run in the Monroe County Advocate and Democrat February 27, 2011

Young Wins Antique Car Award With Grandpa's Car

Not being able to see over the steering wheel or reach the
gas pedal didn't stop him from traveling the world in
Grandpa's 1934 Plymouth. Brrruumm-brruumm.

Truth be told, the car had seen the last of its real-world
adventures when the engine died and Grandpa parked it
in the garage with all the other items that he may fix-up
or need someday. In 1965, when Grandpa died, Charlie's
grandma promised she'd save the car for Charlie.
Grandma moved the car to a covered lean-to.

In 1978, Charlie went to claim this piece of Grandpa that
he had always cherished. Snow and rain had fallen,
eroding the roof of the lean-to and funneling onto
Grandpa's car. Bit by bit the rain and snow had eaten
through the Plymouth's roof. Charlie's beloved touring
machine was rusted all the way through the floorboards.

Saddened, but determined to restore this beloved part of
his grandpa, Charlie lovingly loaded Grandpa's car onto a
trailer and hauled it from Rhode Island to his home in

Nine years passed before Charlie had time to photograph
and dismantle his childhood touring machine. He moved
several times; wherever he moved, the chassis and bags
and boxes of car parts moved with him.

Retiring to Coker Creek, Charlie spent untold hours
researching, installing, tweaking, and polishing. He
became an Antique Automobile Club of America judge to
better understand what was required to become a
champion. He and his wife Deborah traveled thousands of
miles participating in AACA classic car shows and swap

Working his way up the rankings in the Antique
Automobile Club of America, in 2006, Grandpa's car
earned First Place Junior ranking. Last year brought Senior
rank. Each show was followed by more research, spit,
polish, and sweat to bring Grandpa's car to as-new

On Friday, March 14, in Melbourne, Fla., Charlie Young
and his '34 Plymouth took the gold in the Olympics of
classic car restoration, Grand National status. Charlie
says, "My only regret is that I didn't find out about
Grandpa giving me the car before it was in such bad
shape - and that Grandpa didn't leave me about
$100,000 with the car."

The Pain of Losing a Partner

Who is there to hold our hands and let us wail in pain?
Who is there to pick us up until we can walk again?
Who will manage our friends in their attempts to take over?
Who will tell the world at large to take our grief a little slower?

We cannot all get over it when we have lost our mates,
In a true partnership, where there are so many states
Of our live's necessities, in which we shared the load.
How can we function alone when we, on two axles, rode?

If only we had wailing walls where we could place requests
For one to take the place of our mates in decisions about what is best,
For the future which we must continue to face without half of ourselves,
For a replacement for the arms that, by once, we were so tenderly held.

I was blessed by reprieves when I thought my loves would die;
I have often thanked My Maker, no matter the reason why.
I do know how desperately we hunger for human touch
When faced with losing a part of ourselves that we have loved so much.

How is it that we can continue to go on with our own lives
Without the earthly unity for which each of us strives?
When we've had it and lost it, how can we not long
For an end to our earthly brokenness. How can this be wrong?

Even those who believe that God waits for their return,
For the physical presence of their loved ones still burn.
Shouldn't there be a way for us to embrace Eternity
Without having to feel the pain of losing a part of me?

Re-Creating Responsibility

The hardest thing a woman could do was let her children fly alone;
Being absolutely sure that they'd never again return home.
Watching these children parent and partner is an indication to me
That there may be something more that our society could not see.

Women weren't fully functional, except as an extension of the man;
This included the nurturing of men and children, in the Eternal plan.
When women become frail, there was often nothing but rejection;
To whom should they turn for fellowship and protection?

To have no separate identity but what is reflected in others,
Was the accepted norm for all women, especially for mothers.
Much was wrong with this, that woman wasn't completely formed,
But this was the accepted philosophy, our past society's norm.

Who would rise up and speak for all of those mothers
That had been told to keep silent in respect for others?
What was to become of women, once they let go of their children?
They were still unprotected from the callousness of men.

Many did not wish their daughters to have all the responsibility,
But husbands and fathers were not brought up to, caretakers, be.
What was to become of the women and daughters of our nations
Unless the fathers and the lovers sought their own re-creation?

There are many men today, though they may be relatively few,
Who, when their women are weary, know just what to do.
They have learned by truly becoming one with her soul,
Fulfilling the unmet needs that keep their union whole.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Sunny South

I love light, whether it's artificially arrived at, or the natural light of early dawn. It's so great to be able to wake to the clear shimmering crystals left by an overnight rain, made magical by the reflection of the pool lights, on the leafless tree outside our window. Upon seeing the sun, we have all day of twice the light as the it beams down and reflects up from the mirror of the marina.

When we're in the forest, light doesn't descend on us until the sun tops the hill behind our house in the latter part of the morning. Even then, the illumination in the foothills of the Smokies is hazy, hence the term Smoky Mountains. The light then leaves rather early as it dips behind the vast array of both deciduous and evergreen boughs on the opposite hill. It can be very soothing, especially in the heat of summer, but not so soothing when winter lingers long. It is true that we also have our share of fog, but we on the water see the sun fighting to free itself behind the bank of morning mist.

Maybe some of us suffer from a vitamin D (as in daylight) deficiency. I don't know, but I do submit that, whatever the case, winter in the woods is not the best for me and my mental health. And we all know that "If Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy" -- at least in the sunny South.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Technology and the Tower of Babel

The new Tower of Babel is technology;
It seems that no two systems are the same.
Before I can communicate with anyone,
I need a password and a user name.

We are warned not to repeat them
From one secure account to another.
Is it getting to where we need secret names
With even our sisters and our brothers?

The sound of the voices of those I love
Is my preferred communication tool.
But with the speed at which life is lived,
Time between talks can be too cruel.

My daughter prefers that I text her;
My son wants no message left on his phone.
He checks and returns the missed calls;
I guess he does this when he's all alone.

The grandkids are into facebook posting,
Which is the way I most often see them.
My nephews and nieces mix it up;
It seems to depend on their whim.

Facebook is fine for small talk,
But I'm much too long-winded for that.
At least with the use of email,
We can have a longer "chat".

When having a misunderstanding,
Sometimes I find it to be better,
To put my discussions with others
In the form of a well-thought-out letter.

I do not mean to imply that
I often make use of snail mail.
I hate to send out greetings that,
By the time they arrive, they are stale.

I leave it up to each person
To let me know their preference,
And unless I want to be correctly quoted,
I usually give them deference.

The Tower of Babel seems to prevail
In my relationship paradise.
At least with written communication
Before "talking", we can all think twice.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Back to Basics

My niece told me yesterday that she sees me as the family's chief cheerleader. Could this really be the case? Is my role in life to offer encouragement to those who are getting bloodied and beaten on the battlefield of life? Into what a weird place this puts my mind!

I was a cheerleader in grammar school, chosen by a group of boys who stated that they voted for me because of my loud voice. Once I graduated and went to an all-girl school, I was no longer chosen for any honors, as my loud voice was seen as a negative nuisance.

I figured that I had a shot at being chosen if I tried out for a spot on the cheer leading squad of our brother school, but I didn't really like the superior, snarky attitudes of most of the top tier sportsmen at that academic institution. I also knew that being chosen was not a way to earn friendship or favor with the other girls in my class. What was The Almighty thinking placing me in the midst of a stable of sneakily competitive sisters?

Southern women, for the most part, won't confront you; they simply shun you, expecting you to magically know why. This obviously is not my way. If I don't like something, I tell you; we can then negotiate for change. I don't always get my way, but at least we know how to avoid issues that throw rocks into our relationship.

Since graduating from grammar school, I've generally had disdain for the cheerleader types, mainly because they are mostly dedicated to whipping up adoration for a bunch of bullies. This was definitely not how I wanted to spend my life; and now I'm seen as a cheerleader by one of my almost-daughters. I guess we can run from our destinies, but we cannot hide. Our true selves will eventually be outed.

At least I'm back to the basics where I began. I cheer just as loudly for the hard-working females as I do the males. And I don't ever encourage unsportsmanlike behavior, aka, bullying.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What I Was Meant to Be

It feels so good to be back to a routine. The thing that I missed most about our lives before Richard became disabled was a rhythm to our lives created by his schedule. I was brought up to wait on those who take care of others. No matter how I fight this, it's still my comfort zone. This isn't a problem for me as long as there are young families, non-profit public relations efforts, or recuperating family and friends around.

When Richard was working, his schedule was brutal; many weeks he worked well over sixty hours. We had to carefully plan any time together. As social as I am, I'd often have to declare a week-end of "just the two of us". I often thought that I could be happy with only the two of us and the occasional visit from family and friends. I got what I wished for, in spades.

After Richard became ill, his energy was limited; simply having him continuing to breath became my primary goal. We had to limit his exposure to the germs of others, so having him around babies and small children was dangerous. My world contracted to be all about him and his health, but we still had easy access to our family and friends when we (or I)wanted company.

When Hurricane Katrina wiped out our house, our neighbors' homes, and the homes of most of our families and friends, she left behind all kinds of microorganisms that were potentially deadly to my man. We went away, but still came back often to help our people rebuild. They are all settled again, and we've been missing the celebrations.

I like to be home, preparing for my man's return. This requires that he go somewhere. There were only very few places to go in Coker Creek, and there was no urgency to anything. I also don't like to be in organizations that change my priorities from family and friends to hobbies.

For eleven years I've been creating daily events to give us a sense of purpose. In our little house in the forest, we were entirely focused on each other. We have about worn each other out with togetherness.

Now that Richard has daily employment (although it is volunteering), I can spend my days reading, writing, and being the best wife, mother, granny, and aunt that I know how to be. This feels like the life that I was meant to live.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A New Normal

I, who wanted never to own another house after Hurricane Katrina, now has a house in the holler and am attempting to buy a lot on the lake on which to build a second home. What could possibly be wrong with this picture?

We have spoken to friends who have a storefront from which to rent out our mountain retreat when we're not in residence. They have assured us that there is a market for such a spot as our eight plus acres complete with stables, fish pond, RV electric outlets, wi-fi and satellite TV. It also comes with a mountain dog to patrol the perimeter and keep the beasties and ghoulies at bay.

Other friends have contacted us about the prospect of selling or leasing our Coker Creek cabin at the edge of the forest to friends of theirs from Florida. We could certainly make other arrangements for where we would stay when we wanted to come back to Coker Creek to visit. We may even be able to stay in our RV on what would have formerly been our piece of mountain paradise.

We now know that the distances that our families have to travel precludes their frequent visiting of us, up there. We also ascertained that our house was too small to accommodate a significant number of our extended entourage when we had twenty-five folks over for the holidays and twice overflowed our septic system. The brood continues to blossom, so we were going to have to come up with alternative accommodations if we ever wanted to host another "Holidays in the Holler".

Decisions, decisions. What will the wanderers do?

For the time being, we're happily co-habitating where there's a maintenance crew which comes when we call, at no extra expense to us. We have to pay no taxes or insurance, other than that included in our rent. If there's grass to cut, it's not ours. The pool has a barbecue pit on the adjoining patio, both of which are dockside. It seems so simple and serene.

I may be able to get used to the stomping above our heads in the adjoining upstairs unit. When summer comes, I may also not object to the music pouring into our windows and door from poolside. Having dinner parties with only one other adult couple may become our new normal. It could happen...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday Sojourn

Our niece Marj joined us for my first night at the apartment, camped out on an air mattress on the living room floor. Since this is a one-bedroom unit, that's the only way to accommodate overnight guests.

When we woke on Saturday, Richard had already left for his beloved PT Boat. Marj and I drove to see her sister and my son's family in Mississippi, an hour away. How nice it was to be able to take a day trip to be with my boy and his babies, and still get home to have supper with my sweetie.

The next day, I had to return the car lent to me by my daughter-in-law when my van wouldn't start because I had left my lights on. The strangest thing happened when we tried to jump it. Every time we connected the cables, the panic horn would begin to blare. Rather than have me miss my reunion with Richard, my son agreed to work out the problem before I came back for Marj. I knew I could get Richard to drive Marj's truck to Mississippi, so we left her little red truck in the apartment parking lot in Louisiana.

Richard and I have a deal; now that he gets to spend six days a week working with his boat builder buddies, he has agreed to spend Sundays socializing. Yesterday was our first morning of relaxing together at our new home. We began by having coffee together before jumping into our day. It was lovely to loll around in our pajamas savoring the time together.

We then took our time driving to Mississippi. Upon arriving in Ocean Springs, we were graced with the presence of Marj and her sister Mel, both college students, even though Mel is also a mother of two baby boys. It was so exciting to sit having sushi while they regaled us with their stories of adventures in academia.

This Sunday sojourn was followed by time with Mel's husband and boys. If I had known that her professional cook husband was at the stove at his home, I'd have probably skipped the sushi. I knew I was home when he put some of his chicken cooked Creole-style to my lips. When he left for work, after having put their fussy baby boy to sleep, Richard sat on the floor with the three-year-old building cabins with Lincoln Logs. This gave me and Mel lots of uninterrupted time to catch up.

The day ended with a trip to a casino buffet for the snow crab legs I had been promising our daughter-in-law since before Christmas. What a glorious way to spend the Sunday, in the company of several of the people we most love.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunrise on the Stucco

Here I sit, cup of coffee in hand,
Looking at the water while waiting for my man.
He likes to sleep in and stay up late;
I, usually, to start the day can't wait.

I had hoped to see the sunrise,
But the fog was rather thick,
And the orientation of the windows
Doesn't help one bit.

Will I have to get my shoes on
And begin sunrise walks?
Or will I still require my morning
Online friendly talks?

I see the reflected colors of sunrise
On a white wall across the harbor;
This will have to suffice
For this morning's starter.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Healing, Home, and the Heart

We leave our lovely mountains today. We will return, but I don't think it will still be our home. I no longer know how to feel about this place that has been home for almost five years. And I don't know how to put in perspective the relationships we've built.

It's not that I don't value our friends in the mountains, it's just that I don't have the strength to completely open my heart to a whole new set of people. Nothing makes us more vulnerable than open hearts, and I don't think I can do justice to the emotional investments of any more folks. My heart is already bursting with the people now in it.

There's a phrase in the Bible, attributed to God, "I know mine, and mine know me." This is the ultimate in intimacy. When we open our hearts to others, we often need a group of intimate friends to hold onto us as we enter into love. Only then can we be sure of remaining ourselves, in addition to being at home in our blended selves. I want to spend my last years among the people who I know and who know me.

The phrase, " A friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway." gives me great comfort as I age. Home is really where the heart is, and my heart must be completely open in order to feel at home. My people are part of who I am, and I am a part of my people. My people are those with whom I bond to be stronger together than we are without each other. That is what makes them mine.

I also want to exercise the strength Richard and I have gained, individually and as a couple, in being available those of our people who are vulnerable by virtue of opening their hearts and souls to marriage and children. We want to be with them in their trials and tribulations, as well as their celebrations.

Home is where the healing is. I don't have a lot of faith in anonymous psychology, religion, or self-help without those who know us and our history. We can't help each other heal wounds that we cannot, or will not, see. The deeper the wounds the more we need those who really know us and know where our wounds were formed.

Maybe my mountains will become a retreat where we come to simply rest and be.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Commitment and Compromise

I don't have the faith or forbearance to live off the land,
Even though I thought that, to do so, would be grand.
The butternut squash we stored has withered away,
And the seed potatoes are sprouting a vine array.
The five pounds of onions that we managed to harvest
Mostly have returned to compost in our forest.
We do have jams and pickled beets from our last garden,
But, to survive in the mountains, we'd have to become hardened.

It takes many years of practice and putting up stores,
And trading with neighbors across the mountain and next door.
Survival comes from battles with nature, hard fought,
And being careful of whatever our labors have wrought.
There is much faith and hope in better times to come;
This is all that is necessary for the contentment of some.
But the long winters are not good for those who brood
Or those that have trouble with controlling their moods.

The washer is now washing while my man runs to town
To dispose of the trash that many bury in the ground.
We recycle everything, including our kitchen refuse;
To do otherwise, we think, would be a serious abuse.
There are many delights in living this way of life,
But the survivalist's world is not without strife.
Making do as a way of life is an almost forgotten virtue
That is proficiently practiced by only a few.

Those with many years and generations on the mountain top
Have grown to accept and be grateful for whatever they've got.
They know who to trust, and who will cheat them;
They're not subject to trusting anyone on a whim.
They know better than to include away folks in their plans
Because when times get hard, we return to our clans.
I know this is true, and yet my man and me
Still cherish the friendship that they've offered for free.

We miss the simpler life when we are away;
I sometimes wish I could commit to stay.
But decisions made before I was born
Still conspire to mold my life's form.
Young folks still yearn for our physical presence
And passing on lessons is an elder's life's essence.
I pray that we find a comfortable compromise
For which our family, our friends, and my soul cries.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valuing My Valentine

I didn't realize it was Valentine's Day until it was almost done;
I had been on the phone most of the morning, and then I was on the run
Packing and planning for our trip down south, while Richard put up sheet rock.
This method of celebrating our love may lead others to, our passion, mock.

I did get flowers from my sweetie, about a week ago;
He got ahead of the holiday, which made my heart fires glow.
He wanted to make certain that we had time to enjoy their bloom
Without having, in the trip down south, to make flower delivery room.

We could have had a candlelight dinner, if I had been able
To, under the painting supplies, find the kitchen table.
We have to find our romance in the little everyday things;
We can never predict the next twist that our marriage brings.

I did have a card to remind him that he's the love of my life,
And I did serve him a chili supper, like a dutiful and loving wife.
We're cleaning out the freezer; the chili was part of a bigger plan.
This is the way of life and love with my hard-working man.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Values for Family Life Conversation

A friend and I are starting an on-line "conversation" about where we obtain guidance in values for living our family and friendship lives. We're looking for a way to find commonality in the values of those of different faiths and community-centered value systems. We are not looking for sermons (on the mount, or otherwise). We are looking for personal experience.

Do you want to join the conversation?

From Wheels to the Waterfront

I now find myself packing to live in an apartment, that I've never seen, not much bigger than our RV. The biggest difference is that this living space is on the water, rather than on wheels. And we'll see the same piece of property every day. It's hard to know what one needs to leave and what to take on an open-ended adventure such as this. I didn't have this problem when we lived in the RV; all that we owned traveled with us.

I began with buying a two-slice toaster and a coffee maker at a thrift store; according to Richard the apartment kitchen is too tiny for a four-slicer. There is no tub, but I'm assured that there is a shower, so towels will still be in order. But what towels? Do I dare break up the matched sets for this house, now that I have most of our house in the holler looking casually coordinated? And where are my beach towels, now that I'll live close to the beach?

I guess we'll be looking at bare walls, as I'm sure that, upon leaving, there's a penalty for putty. At least I'll look out the window upon water, even though it's the marina, not the lake. Not a knick-knack will I take; any apartment too tiny for a four-slice toaster surely doesn't need decorative do-dads. I guess it won't be too bad not to have pictures of my people when I'll be seeing their faces in the flesh.

Without pots and pans, I clearly can't cook. But if I start creating a kitchen, where will that lead? I'll have two sets of everything from salt to cinnamon, and I'll have to move everything again when we get more settled, or in three months when the lease runs out. Maybe I could make do with a pressure cooker and a frying pan. Oh, but I can't cut without knives, and there's no stirring without spoons. Richard suggested that I bring the ingredients for three great buffet-worthy dishes, and rotate them for different occasions. I say that maybe we won't entertain; my friends just roll their eyes and say, "Yeah, right!"

My plan is to be living large (and growing large) with all the restaurant choices in the area. I'm sure that I can get us invited to use the kitchens of friends if I really want to whip up something homemade. I have several junior chefs who love to cook with me, so this could kill two birds with one stone: Lots of kid time and home cooking. What could be better than that?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Painting Project

We'd been down in the sunny south for three months, off and on for Richard, consistently for me. There was an opening in the work schedule on the PT boat at the World war II Museum, when Richard's every day full-time attendance was thought to be discretionary. It was time to return to our rural roots for doctors' appointments and to finally paint the kitchen, which had been our winter doldrums plan all along.

When we got home to the holler, we had some surprises. Richard drove into the driveway and released our big bear of a Great Pyrenees back onto her patrol grounds, which she very enthusiastically ran through, banishing the several months build-up of beasties and ghoulies. He then unpacked his Bronco II, happily carrying his gear through the living room, down the hall, and into his office and our bedroom. It was so nice for him to be back in our familiar surroundings, until he entered the kitchen where he stepped into "squish."

The drain pan under the washing machine had clearly overflowed onto the kitchen floor. How could this have happened with us out of town, and knowing that no laundry was left washing as Richard had headed out the door? He looked high and low for the source of the swill, but couldn't find any obvious offenders. He even ran the washer, sure that the metal-clad hose must have burst, but found nothing. He called me with this news; now we were both mystified. He swabbed the deck, and decided to start the paint prep.

I had planned to have friends over to supper, but since the washer and dryer were now pulled to the middle of the kitchen, this clearly wasn't going to happen until the laundry closet was complete. I arrived the day after Richard, while he was at doctors' appointments for himself and Gypsy. My assignment was to remove all the items from the shelves over the washer and dryer. I happily puttered about rearranging our pantry cupboard and pitching lots of stale stuff, so as to make room for the overflow grocery items that had ended up in to laundry closet. I know, the board of health would have been appalled that we stored spaghetti next to stain remover, but that's recently remedied.

Upon his return from town, Richard began peeling off wall covering, and washing down walls. The next day, we agreed that I would clean up the mess while he went after more painting supplies. This is when it got really interesting. As I swept the floor, I saw some dark spots. I put my hand down and realized that the darkening was caused by wet wood. Not only this, but the floor was mushy. Richard's plan to paint the kitchen was now turned into one of his "infinite regression of steps" projects.

Before he can paint the kitchen, he has to paint the laundry closet. Before he can paint the ceiling and walls of the laundry closet, he has to rebuild the floor. Before he can rebuild the floor, he has to remove the soggy spots. Meanwhile, the PT boat builders are calling him back to duty. What's a woman to do when the "war effort" calls? Wherever this project stands, I'll release my Richard right after his last doctor's appointment on Thursday. As long as I have a working stove and sink, the painting can be put off.

On the up side of these surprises, I discovered that the leak was from a rubber washer that had become brittle...a cheap, easy fix. And the orchid that my daughter's family had given me four years ago, had not only survived my absence, but had once again begun to bloom.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lilting Laughter and Lies

Laughter is something with different bents,
Depending on the message that is sent.
Just as tears are shed for many reasons,
Laughs are the signs of many seasons.
I know a woman who laughs at tragedy
She is simply built this way, you see.
It embarrasses her at funerals and such;
People may think she's been drinking too much.

My grandma and I laughed a lot, at many things
We often got baudy, when our stories took wings.
We could laugh at our diseases and laugh at death;
This was usually at her specific request.
This caused her to blush with embarrassment only when
We were caught in the act by my mother or her men.
I learned from this to choose carefully
Those, with whom, I let my emotions fly free.

There is sincere laughter that tends to heal;
There is also laughter that, as a weapon, we wield.
We must retrain our souls' ability to discern
The meanings behind signs of emotion we've learned.
A smile or a laugh can be meant to disarm,
Leading us to falsely believe we are meant no harm.
About the crying of tears, the same can be said;
Politicians and famous folks I've come to dread.

Laughter can be couched as friendship, when in fact,
It is a coward's way of launching an attack.
By opening souls with a show of shared mirth,
Many an hate-filled crowd has been given birth.
A smile may be used as a way to get close,
And find the weaknesses to exploit the most.
A tearful approach can soften the heart,
To use another's compassion,and rip them apart.

A sincere, sweet smile is not the same as a smirk;
The former is practiced by babies, the latter by jerks.
A smile or a tear when someone looks in our eyes
Helps us see if the emotion looks like truth or lies.
A laugh can be lilting, like that of a child,
Or a hearty admission that our plans have gone wild.
To laugh at another is often done to inflict pain;
This is not the way I wish new friendships to gain.

But to be among those who still have pure hearts,
And to share in the laughter that, from pure joy, starts;
To hold someone in tears and absorb some of their pain,
And to be with them as their spirits soar again;
To smile in the eyes of one without anger or jealousy,
And to feel this positive energy flowing back to me;
This is the form of friendship that I seek,
Affirmation that is given without having to speak.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why I Cry

The less I cuss and fuss, the more I cry;
This may not be the same if I was a guy.
I shed tears of joy, of anger, of pain
Then I can begin to think straight again.

I cry because of how awesome all of life is made to be,
And because of the many blessings that have been given to me.
I cry because the of the passion that wells up in my soul,
When it becomes more powerful than my human heart can hold.

I cry when my grandchild wears her first prom dress,
And when my grandson wants to show me he's done his best.
I cry when a granddaughter plays piano and sax music for me,
And when another creates a dance program for me and my man to see.

I cry when I see people hurting others, and I cannot do anything.
I cry when I'm in the place of my birth and hear the church bells ring.
I cry when I see babies held gently by their fathers and mothers,
And I cry grieving for the pain of so many of our sisters and brothers.

I cry tears of joy when my daughter and son and their families come to call.
I cry wondering what made me so special that this manna, to me, should fall.
I cry also when I hurt because I cannot see The Creator's plan,
Especially when I fear the loss of those who love me as I am.

As Frank McCort's mother said to him, "Your bladder is close to your eyes,"
I cry because, in crisis, my grandma asked, "Do you want to laugh or cry?"
She seemed to know that laughter didn't clear out all the passion,
So I make no apologies for releasing this extra passionate ration.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Best Deaths

A friend I've not met called me today,
As her beloved father near death's door lay
She knows what he wants and she believes in The Light,
But she still wonders what actions would be right.

There are few things as sad as feeling alone
As we send our loved ones to their Eternal Home.
We want to be there for their final breath,
But these moments put our faith to a great test.

How do we remain happy as we say our final good-bye,
Without showing our grief, no matter how we try
To be joyful because they are released from pain,
Knowing we'll never hold their bodies again?

The face, the voice, the laugh, the smells
That said homecoming, within us dwell.
We know that it simply won't be the same
If we never have their physical bodies again.

The best way to handle death, that I have found,
Is to gather with family and friends all around,
To celebrate our memories as we say good-bye
Instead of waiting for eulogies after they die.

Gift of Grace

We're back in Coker Creek, my man and me.
Our dog is as thrilled as she can be,
To be back to guarding every acre and tree.

Inside and cozy, I loved the smell of home.
I knew that I wouldn't, for long, be alone
My prince had reassured me of this by phone.

He had laid in a fire, yet to be lit;
I decided that I'd rather wait for it,
When we could together by the hearth sit.

There's now snow on the ground, as is fitting,
And much downed timber for collecting and splitting.
I could, by the fire, sit with some knitting.

But neither sitting nor knitting are my gifts.
Snow is not on my "favorite things" lists,
And I dread the thought of emergency air lifts.

Richard has already, twice, gone into town;
He's not afraid of the snow on the ground.
Except for emergencies, his thinking is sound.

I live in fear that we'll, while snowbound, die.
When roads are frozen, ambulances take to the sky,
But the patient's spouse is left on stand-by.

I'm also afraid of being alone in the dark,
And while children may think icy ground a lark,
I don't consider winter a walk in the park.

I was raised on fairy tales where princesses were served,
And anything they wished for, they richly deserved;
But my life in reality has thrown me a curve.

My prince is the servant I have, to date,
I fear wearing him out at a rapid rate.
I'd hate for him to look at a more useful mate.

Down south, I'm usually not frozen in place;
His museum work goes on at a steady pace
To live in both places is a gift of Grace.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bullies and Blessings

I used to think that it was important to protect oneself
From the different religious views that defined "someone else".
Now, I know that what is really important for us to do
Is to look for common examples of faith in me and you.

I'm so tired of making apologies for that which I am;
We can kill each other or accept both as part of The Creator's plan.
Which one will it be for you? You will have to choose one;
I'm tired of being the one about which many "People of God" make fun.

You think you are so funny because many others laugh;
Am not a child of which your Bible says, "Don't bring to wrath"?
But, if I am a child of your God, why do you think that, at best,
Your God would give me no self in which to feel that I am blessed?

I'm fairly sure that if I am beaten, you will portray me,
As one your God would have said was never meant to be.
But you still insist you are one of which your God approves as "thee",
And you should inflict your truths on all who you deign to see.

It may be that, in Eternity, the first shall be the least,
But my hope is this, that in the Eternal Loving plan for peace,
There will be no more who, their piety increase
By taking unfair advantage of any plant, person, or beast.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Relay Race to Life in the Light

When we are called upon to minister to those who are ill or otherwise vulnerable, we must be absolutely sure that we are closely tied to those who walk in The Light. It is very easy to slip from a position of service to a position of earthly power, especially with the challenges to our human hearts that come with absorbing the pain of others.

Even Jesus felt power flow from him as he was contacted to heal the afflictions of others. Even Jesus had to take extended breaks from these drains on his power in order to renew himself and his Divine Spirit of Wholeness. Even Jesus felt the need to stay in physical communion with other devout People of The Word who walked with him in the Light of The Spirit.

Jesus was asked to walk his sinless walk on earth for only thirty-three years, only three of them in public ministry. Why do we think that we can continue our faith journey alone, with no human support network, while living in the public eye for our whole adult lives? We get ourselves and others in trouble by attempting to set others on permanent pedestals. We then use all sorts of energy boosters, energy diminishers, and other substitutes for solidarity in The Spirit. We also set up a false sense of servants and saviors.

Addictions are all attempts to secure a sense of solidarity with the society's preferred status quo of release from responsibility (the ability to honestly respond rather than react).

No human was never meant to be in a permanent position of power. We are all meant to minister to each other and the rest of creation as a group, with the baton of leadership passing from one servant to another, as the race is run. The finish line is eternal communion with all of creation and The Creator in the Light of the Spirit of Wholeness.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Love, Honor, and Obey

Wasn't it Adam's responsibility to ask God's guidance before "submitting" to "his woman's wishes?" It is my experience that women offer all kinds of options to their men, and prefer to defer to the wishes of a fair-minded and loving man.

Maybe the real message of the stories of men and women is the lack of moral courage in many men. Maybe men suggest their fantasies to their women, and their women try to make them come true, offering options to their men. Maybe men then make fools of their women by taking an option, then blaming their own downfall on their women. If women are ever again going to submit to men, men are going to have to become more trustworthy and morally strong.

Okay, it's on!

I want all the men who think they have the absolute answers on the Word of God to line up, in any order you'd like. Now, I'd like all the men who DON'T want to make and manage all the decisions concerning their wardrobes, their meals, their lives, their wives, their relatives, their finances, their in-laws, their children, their community involvement to drop out of line. The men left standing will get to choose from all the adult women virtuous enough to completely submit to their husbands. Oh, and each of you can have only one woman. No fair enlisting your mom's or your daughter's assistance.

Those men left standing better have a great deal of stamina, extremely good management skills, and a lot of time on their hands.

May The Force be with you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Coming to Coker Creek

My man is heading north to Atlanta, and I'm as excited as a new bride. It's not that it's been so long since I've seen him; it's just that so much has happened during our time apart. I sure miss our daily sessions of sharing our words, worries, laughter and longings.

In the time we've been away, we've begun the bid to buy land, buried my mother, played with the progeny, searched my soul with my soul sisters, reunited Richard with his beloved Higgins Boat Society boys, and escaped my fear of frost.

Richard has rented a one-bedroom apartment, to tide us over until we build a permanent waterfront home, on the same lake that swallowed our home in Hurricane Katrina. He has continued a daily commute into New Orleans to assist in refurbishing a PT boat for the World War II Museum. There is a lull in the activity that requires his presence, so he's taking advantage of the time to catch up on his doctors' appointments and to get some honey-dos done at our House in the Holler.

He'll get here in time to be my ride back from the mechanic's shop on Monday as I wait on yet another set of motor mounts for my van. I think this is the third or fourth set my old girl will be getting. I don't know what I do to destroy motor mounts, but since the twelve-year-old van is still humming along with over two hundred, thirty miles on her, I'm not complaining.

My ministry to my friend has come to it's natural conclusion, as she has announced her ability to, once again, do her daily acts of living without assistance. Since she intends to add driving to her repertoire, and even make an appearance at the mansion kitchen on Monday, I think it's time to set my baby bird free to fly on her own.

We're looking forward to seeing some of our winter-weary friends in Coker Creek, and catch up on what has transpired in our absence. With luck, we'll even catch a Bluegrass night at Charlie and Deborah's Coker Creek Saloon.

Coker Creek, we'll see you soon...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Laughter in the Hereafter

I really think it's great that you have high standards for yourself,
But I don't think it's fair that you impose them on someone else.
Each one of us is born with weaknesses and talents;
I believe Our Creator knows how to keep these things in balance.

It isn't seemly for you to expect the same strengths in me as in you;
If this had been the case, there would be nothing for one of us to do.
Christians are taught that Jesus is the final arbiter
About whether we fulfilled the mission that we were meant for.

I can no longer watch you ridicule those that I love,
As if you were the high priest sent from up above,
To declare who is good, and who doesn't make the grade
We're all being the best we can with how we were made.

So, you can relax now about whether I'm good enough;
You can use the energy to take care of your own stuff.
I may not see you very soon in the sweet hereafter,
But I hope that, one day, I will bask in the Creator's gentle laughter.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Getting Back to My Babies

I sure do miss my babies when I'm so far away,
Especially as I sit inside on this rainy winter day.
The young people with all their hope are wonderful to behold
The sight of their smiling faces keeps me from feeling so old.

Don't get me wrong, this is not to say
That I want life to be like a "G" rated movie.
I enjoy discussing the deeper and more adult things
That the children may not be ready to see.

But to have a glimpse of youth every day or two,
To hear about their dreams and triumphs lightens
The adult world's problems and distresses;
Even hearing about them, my day brightens.

I know the young parents have much on their plates,
And they think that older folks are unavailable
Now that I have the time to spend with them,
Their time for me is unassailable.

My body is too old to chase after the babes
But still they and their parents, I'd like to see.
If we all lived in the same city,
This might be a possibility.

But the children all do grow away,
And form their own networks and families.
Then in order to experience youth again,
We must new opportunities seize.

Some teach at Sunday school;
Others tutor children to read.
I'm looking forward to, once again,
Feeling that I'm filling a child's need.

I have many nieces and nephews
That have many jobs to be done.
I am honored to know that
They trust me with their daughters and sons.

My granddaughter likes to cook with me;
Her brother likes to show me his sports acumen.
Why live a life learning discipline and respect
If not to share what I've learned with them?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pain in Perspective

Disasters are often proclaimed a judgment sent by God
On the soil upon which sinful people have long trod.
Do we say the same when it's our sisters and brothers,
Or are the smitten seen as simply "the others"?

There are natural disasters and wars across the world,
Why do some see these as a chance to unfurl
The hatreds and divisions of the Body Human?
Why not see these crises as a chance to unite them?

The are many signs of brokenness that happen every day;
This may truly be the chances that each one of has to say
That we want to acknowledge the part we may have played
In dividing the Sacred Body Human for which we were made.

We look at them, and cluck our tongues, and say "Let us pray."
We feel so superior to what they are struggling through today.
We do not seek to hold their hands and admit that not so long ago
Our nation had the same pains from which we still seek to grow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Becoming One Body

I'm called depressed, but I think that I am simply sad;
This is harder to bear than when I was always feeling mad.
Anger gives one strength to fight back fearfulness,
But we cannot soothe others when our own hearts are a mess.

Women, for generations, have been soothing the worlds wounds,
While the men were expected to be either warriors or buffoons.
This is no longer the case, but we haven't gotten the message
Now, when women are showing emotion this simply sets the stage,

For drugging those who have absorbed all the world's pain,
And are making others uncomfortable as they let it out again.
Pop a pill, submit to surgery, but don't you even dare
Show too much emotion just because you care.

There have always been men who were quite compassionate,
But in our society they were quite often the butt
Of sneers and accusations of being less than men.
They were called by the "us" society part of the great "them".

The women who were tough weren't treated any better;
This was in keeping with the law's letter.
Now, I weep and daily to the Holy Spirit pray
That we, as a society, will permit a different way.

There are many kinds of people and many varied jobs to do.
Why do we continue to promote the strengths of just a few?
Admitting our strengths and weaknesses is the only way to be one,
The society of equal partners that we were created to become.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Burdened By Bullies

Bullies typically target both the weak and the strong;
Anyone not seen as normal is perceived as wrong.
Normal is defined by looking at the crowd;
Only what the majority accepts is allowed.

The problem is that, in wild animals, this is protection,
But in the body human, this is only a form of rejection.
We don't have to define ourselves by who is other,
But we continue to torment even those that we call brother.

Why do we frame everything in life as competition?
Isn't building unity part of the Scriptural mission?
Why does one have to be wrong for another to be right?
Why do we insist on making everything a fight?

All the greatest of the prophets and saints were persecuted;
Where would we be if normal people were substituted?
There would have been no Buddha, no Moses, or Abraham
And forget about ever seeing the the path of the Infinite I AM.

We would have had no Ghandi, Martin Luther, or Mother Theresa,
All of these gave their lives in seeking to be the teachers
Of peace, and love, and compassion for those considered other
From the leper, to the prostitute, to the unwed mother.

We are called upon to stand together straight and proud,
And to give our lives to making sure that only justice is allowed.
Peaceful resistance only works when there are many united,
Not against others, but as the Sacred Body Human instead.

If Jesus Was My Next Door Neighbor

If Jesus was my next door neighbor, looking in my window, what would he see?
Would he find me being the blessing to others that Our Creator meant me to be?
Or would he find me sitting alone, feeling sorry for myself
Instead of looking for ways to spread my gifts to someone else?