8/28/08

Automatic Locks

The years of my youth are recalled in snippets of significant events these days. This morning, as I was fastening my seat belt, I had a flashback to days when seatbelts were a luxury. Yes boys and girls, there was a time when a person paid extra for those items. Since my family never had a new car until my later years, we never had the option to purchase seat belts with the car. We simply had cars that did not have the belts.

In the late 1960’s some genius engineer also made the determination that the best method to manipulate door locks was to make them automatically UNLOCK when one attempted to open the door from the inside. That's a good plan as far as safety during an accident but without seatbelts...well...it just wasn't that good.

During that same time, suburban Huntsville was growing and our area had developed a weblike network of neighborhoods that were beginning to sprout up around the original housing and growing outwardly. My Mimi lived a few blocks away and we often loaded up in the old wagon and headed over to her house to visit.

Each trip in the wagon began with bartering over the front seat until Mother developed a scoring system that was simply based on the next one's turn. On one particular trip, it was my turn and I was thrilled. It was early fall and I got myself dressed up in the new pantsuit Mother made for me and patiently waited in MY SPOT in the front seat. I felt like a queen having power over even my older brothers at that point.

We headed to Mimi's and began navigating the turns from one subdivision to another. One particular navigation entailed a sharp right turn followed by a sharp left turn. Mother was so used to the trip, she could take these turns without having to slow too far down except for the dip at the end of the second turn.

One fact of life is that double knit and vinyl do not mesh well together. As a matter of fact, double knit will slide on vinyl like iceskates over fresh ice! As we headed around turn one, I began sliding across the wide seat and bumped into mother. This was funny except to Mother who not so gently pushed me back over to the other side and advised me I would lose my privilege if I continued to "play around". So, as we rounded turn two I did the only thing a 30 pound kid can do who is in danger of sliding like a greased pig - I grabbed the door knob and clung for dear life. At the same time, Mother somehow miscalculated the speed, probably as a result of being distracted by my sliding antics and she sharply yanked the car back onto the road.

There are physics involved in what happened next but I have no concept of the exact laws and theories. I do know that the law of the door automatically unlocking as the knob is pulled first played out and the lock popped up. I remember the moment when I realized that the loosening of the lock would soon be followed by the loosening of the door but that double knit gave no leverage. The door flung open with me still holding to the knob.

I flapped in the wind at this point like a small paisley flag until I could no longer cling to the knob. Upon my release, I realized that double knit does not SLIDE on pavement but rips and tears as one's body rolls across the street, up the curb, over the sidewalk and into the grass which finally provided enough friction to stop the rapid spin of my tiny body. I landed right in front of man who was pushing his mower and still recall his horrified look at my little self. I was expecting pure and outright sympathy - perhaps a medal - a badge - the awe of my family - I would be famous!

I failed to realize that my Mother's initial reaction to any situation was to blame the kid for disrupting the plan o-d-day or I might have cried a little louder over the cuts, scrapes and bruises. She got to me before I could completely stand up and before the little old man could emphasize the danger of my previous predicament. As she picked me up, I was mentally evaluating the pain points so as to present to her the most outstanding one and she realized how lucky she was that I was still alive. She stood me on my feet, looked at me and then...did what any Mother in such a horrifying situation would do - whipped me all the way back to the front seat, slammed the door and yelled all the way to Mimi's about how she had TOLD me to NEVER grab that knob!

My only victory in this event was that I was Mimi's chosen one and as we walked in, I first showed Mimi the rips in my new outfit and then the scrapes and bruises. This gained me a raisin pie and coke while Mimi ran for first aid supplies. My brother had been quiet up to this point and he finally burst out laughing at the entire scene which calmed my Mother's nerves and gave her the opportunity to realize the situation was over and quite entertaining upon reflection.

To this day- nearly 40 years later, I USE that event when my Mother has "something" on me. I remind her of the pain upon the pain from the whippings and then we both bust out laughing at how horrified the little old man was at the entire scene. She never spoke to that man or acknowledged he was there. I just wonder ... did he KNOW we were all crazy!

8/27/08

Another day.

Our City and county elections were held yesterday. We had a great turn out and our little town once again has an opportunity with a re-elected mayor and all but one re-elected on our City Council. I'm not good at change or good byes and I am going to miss terribly the one council member who did not get elected. I do my job regardless but there is this tiny little part of me that resents the new person for "unseating" her even though I know change is just a part of life. It's not a contest really, it's just progress.

I know everyone has been biting their nails over my little tragedy yesterday. I am fine...no broken bones but I have new bruises this morning. Why oh why do our bodies have to grow old. I feel so betrayed these days when I don't just bounce back from some disaster. I have never been one to cry and milk a pain or ailment but I find myself complaining more and more. The difference in now and in my youth is that these complaints are justifiable.

I am back on a "healthy kick" these days as well. That's shocking I know considering I can't keep myself standing but you gotta do what you gotta do. I am trying to avoid sodas except maybe once a day so this morning I am drinking that new "cranergy" drink. Unfortunately, I have discovered it doesn't have tons of caffeine so it's not punching me into upright position. I am getting used to the flavor. It's not bad actually, but I'm old and I need caffeine no matter how bad it is for me!

Honestly, I'm not healthy- I'm middle aged/old. But, I am pretending that it matters and that I am doing what I can to overcome. I have always been an overcomer and I WILL overcome middle age!

8/26/08

I am O.K.

Good morning world.

This week is STILL a long week. Fay, my friend - NOT - decided to hang out at our place for about oh- say - the last 72 or so hours! First she came through and blew down a few limbs, destroyed a few signs in town and caused a few auto accidents and after about 12 hours just left us with a bit of rain, thunder and lightning. That was fine. We needed the rain and the thunder wasn't that bad.

Then, of course, there was the 4:00 a.m. wake up yesterday by the weather alert and the continual (I DO MEAN CONTINUAL) sounding of the alarm as tornado after tornado alert was resounded in our area and surrounding nearby areas. We survived again - a few more limbs, some signs, some accidents - same story different day. Then the "all clear" was sounded. Fay was finally leaving at aroune 8:00 last night. See....she already left ONCE and then liked it here so much she had to come back on her way back across the country.

Our 2:00 a.m. wake up this morning was a little louder as it began with the thunder and lightning BEFORE the alarm of the weather alert - I think even the weather alert people are tired of hitting that button. So, another slightly sleepless night.

The thing about losing sleep is we have different levels of sleep loss. For instance, when I was younger and would go to the beach and scuba all weekend long, I could drive back home, take a shower and go to work where I was then a clerk/legal secretary. It never phased me. I would go home the next night and crash and be ready by the next weekend for another trip. I was fearless. But...it was fun!

When you lose sleep over worrying, you pretend you are not tired because you don't want people to know how silly you are to let things bother you. When you lose sleep because the baby is teething, you are very vocal about your fatigue because you know the entire universe will feel sorry for you and maybe let you get by without doing a few things during the day. When you lose sleep because you stupidly decided to raise five puppies on a bottle and forgot how much work it is to keep them clean and...fed...you pretend you are not tired and you discover that the extra ten pounds you wanted to lose disappears pretty easily. When you lose sleep because you and your dearly beloved - soon to be departed - husband are disagreeing, you spend the rest of the day reminding him how tired you are and how it is all his fault.

But...when you lose sleep due to weather, there is no sympathy. Instead, everyone else has lost the same sleep more than likely and there is no boundary of understanding. There is only a group of bleary eyed grumpy people who want to rip each other apart if they hear a loud noise. Then, there is always that ONE PERSON who decided to stay home and sleep in and everyone else gets the chance to hate them for being smart.

When I am tired, I tend to mess things up. Then I tend to blame routine mess ups on being tired as well. But this morning, Fay is completely to blame. Because of Fay, the loading ramp to my shed where my feed is stored is somewhat slick. I am tired so I forgot to step lightly. I got TO the feed o.k. and got everyone fed. On my way back, I managed to splatter myself all over the ground. Where one would usually just land on their behind, I decided on my way down that I had a better plan and I landed on sides of my feet, one knee, one hand, one elbow, three cats and one dog! The cats cried, the dog ran under the shed until he realized it was not something he did and then he ran back to check on me/slobber all over my clean body and hold me down with his weight.

I know at this point the suspense is killing everyone so let it be known that I am o.k. I am good but if I were dead, I would not be writing this. The cats are o.k. too as is the dog. I have a bruise of my yittle foot though so you can all go "awwwww- we're sorry!" to make my drama complete.

8/25/08

Goodbye Fay

Good bye indeed for Tropical Storm/Depression/Pain in the backside Fay! She's been a real challenge in this particular part of the country. First, she came from the southeast and caught us somewhat by surprise with her wind power Saturday. We had power outages, signs blown down and tree limbs on the ground. This means another couple of hours walking the fences when the climate permits! Yes, I wrote "permits".

So far Fay has still not left our area. Actually, she DID go west of us yesterday and left behind a mixture of clouds and sun - thunder and lightning as well. I love how the world is clean after a day of rain and storms. We live in a rather elevated area, so flooding wasn't our worry. Wind, however is always a worry. We survived. Our sassafras tree lost a big limb. I have decided to test my theory and began cutting the newer growth off the limb to put in water with rooting enzyme to see if I can get something out of the shoots. It's a lovely old tree and I would love to have more of them. As I was cutting, the horses decided to have a taste and they OH SO LOVED the sassafras leaves - especially the ones off my fresh ones. It left their breath all smelling good with a hint of mint scent. Sassafras cuttings smell lovely too so I put a few of them around the kitchen until they get old.

The front door of our "bungalow" which means a cute word for small confine within which we live until the house is finished also developed a leak. I suppose that can happen when rain is driven with a 50 mph force for several hours. It's o.k. We got all the water dried up and placed fans on the carpet. The flooring seems to have survived the abuse once again.

This morning- at precisely 4:00 a.m. our weather alert began sounding the alarm. I recommend one of these objects for all households. If you survive the heart attack from the initial sound of the alarm, you may survive a storm given advance notice. The alarms have been going off pretty routinely since that time. Thanks Fay!

So, as Fay leaves, we send out a note telling her not to bother coming back as we really will not miss her that much.

8/22/08

Radar

Many years ago, a man who did not know me exhibited the most unconditional act of love one could witness. I have blogged about this in the past. He had a horse named Radar. Radar was the 1986 World Champion Spotted Saddlebred Trail Horse. Radar would do ANYTHING a person on his back asked of him. He was awesome.

His owner found out he had cancer and after treatment, knew he had a short while to live. He also saw me everyday in the corner lot with our Trusty and our babies and he stopped to talk to my husband. Trainers in that particular area had already pegged me as "crazy" because once I got a good horse, I refused to sell it. Thus, Trusty lived out his elder years on my watch. David had made this promise to his Radar but it became evident that he could not survive to live to that commitment.

David had sons- two of them. Radar despised one of them and would never let him ride. What is the most incredibly gentle horse in the world would simply not let this son on board. The other had little interest in Radar short of his "book value". David begrudged neither son for their lack of understanding regarding his commitment to Radar. But, out of his love for a horse that had taken him down many a trail both in shows and in the real world, he sought a promise. I made him that promise and he delivered Radar to my barn in 1996. We joke that Radar and Trusty have ridden more miles in a trailer than we have ever ridden on them. They have been from TN, to NE to MS and now to South Alabama where we laid Trusty's 34 year old body to rest last year.

Radar is now 30. Horses are like people, they live long lives and they give you experiences you cherish. They also grow old, senile, forgetful and needy. I last rode Radar two years ago and it was bittersweet. I knew his body was beginning to deny him, his bones were beginning to show and his agility was waning but he gave me one last ride, stepping his high step, spinning, turning, even one last "hi ho silver" rear up that he used to always give me on command. Oh, how I miss our rides. I have other horses but I am growing old as well and Radar and I have known one another for over ten years. He just "fits".

Last night when I got home, Radar was laying next to the garden. As with Trusty, he has earned his right to roam about freely and the front yard has become his favorite place to "hang out". The other horses are beginning to walk away from him, just like they did Trusty. That must be a herd instinct as a horse grows old and endangers the rest of the herd with their weakness. Before, Radar was the leader, now he's just a lonely old man hanging in the front yard with the dogs and cats - just like Trusty was.

But, for him to be laying down so close was alarming. He didn't move when I got to him, just layed there looking at me. So, I tested him and he got up - whew. Like I said, I KNOW the day's coming, but one is never prepared. A little while later he laid down again. This time when I went to ask him what was wrong, he rolled over on his side and grunted. One tends to panic when a gazillion pound horse rolls over and grunts. I retrieved a halter which sent Joe under the house for fear of going to the vet and Spin under my feet for joy of being lead around and I put it on Radar and once again got him up. This time I did the only thing I could think of - I began walking him around the farm and talking to him.

We walked to the woods, we walked to the old barn in the back. We walked to Trusty's grave and I fought back tears as I let the drama and fear overwhelm me. We walked back to the house to retrieve the vet's number and call for advise when Radar blew the biggest "blow" a person could ever hear. This wasn't typical colic as I had suspected. This was simply errrr- gas and more gas and even more gas after that. It was probably the onset of what could have been colic, but my husband reeled over at the hilarity of the situation. The dogs had separate reactions. Spin ran, Brutus barked. The other horses who had now begun following Radar and I jumped and Lucy began sniffing the err....area.

All in all, Radar was greatly relieved and we have added cooking oil to his diet just in case the little situation returned. He set about grazing again and was still grazing this morning and trying to eat all the dogfood when I fed the dogs . My husband says he now has full "old man" status. I am just thrilled that this became yet another entry into the story of our lives together. I hope there are many more.

8/20/08

Snake in the Barn!

In my mind, there are two major fears. There are lots of little fears like heights, getting caught staring at someone and stuff like that, but only two major ones - snakes or spiders! And...these two fears do not ever come combined. You are either afraid of one or the other. In my case, it's spiders. I hate them. I have learned to tolerate them to some extent because life has taught me that they do have a purpose, but I still don't like them around me. Daddy, on the other hand, had a morbid fear of snakes.

This fear surmounted all fears of any human being I have ever known. It was a fear so tremendous that he did not mind letting his own children know it existed. Most men don't want their kids to know there is anything vulnerable about them. Daddy was the type of man who not only let us know he was afraid of snakes but didn't mind hurting us if we got in the way of either the path of escape or the firing line between him and a snake. Once, he shot an old hose pipe so many times, you couldn't even tell it had been laying in those weeds! Of course, he later professed to be "practicing up" in case the real thing did show up.

My brother and I were just the opposite. I am not sure my brother had any fear of anything - snakes OR spiders, but he especially loved to catch the snakes, hand them to me and we would just wonder at their mystical values. My Mom was an advocate of "King Snakes" which she said would kill everything else in the barn...spiders, rats, rattle snakes and so on. So, not only did Daddy have to deal with his fear of snakes, but with the constant situation of either brother and I catching them behind his back or my sneaky mother depositing our latest find in the barn for "protection".

As we got older, a sense of evil surrounded our intellect and we began figuring out that the best way to torture Daddy and get a few laughs were the occasional snake jokes. This usually involved a live snake, but sometimes that resulted in a cow getting shot or something so we soon discovered that the toy industry had designed real looking rubber snakes. Oh what joys a rubber snake can bring a teenager.

You have to know at this point that practical jokes of the cruelest sort were Daddy's forte, so to ever get him back was our last dying wish if indeed it did result in our death. Our old barn was built in the early 1900s and just stayed up by the will of God. To get to the hay in the loft, you had to climb the wall -literally - Daddy, being the farming genius he was, figured out that if he nailed pieces of 2 x 4's (scrap pieces at that), you could CLING to them enough to use them to scale up the wall and into this small hole in the side of the barn loft. He loved to demonstrate his mastery of this skill to one and all, especially if his "city" co-workers decided to come for a visit.

Daddy always managed to have his guests stay until feeding time and would volunteer to relieve my brother of the hay duty, having his friends in tow to demonstrate his superiority in barn maneuvers. It was the day his boss visited that stands out in my memory the most.

We had managed to procure one of those wonderful rubber snakes at the Big K with what meager returns we garnered from our ditch coke bottle recovery trip. This particular one was amazing - marked just like a real rattlesnake, tongue pointing out, evil red eyes glaring at you and flexible enough to put in any form of striking or coiling.

Brother managed to get it positioned in "Striking" prose just over the edge of that little step ladder - as you raised up clinging for life to that last so-called step and were just ready to let go and grab the floor to heave yourself over - there was that snake! It was divine! I worshipped my brother - he was such a master at Daddy torture and this was the best effort yet. I didn't even mind that we might lose the money on the snake. And Daddy would be so proud of us once he realized that snake was rubber, it would be a joke of historical significance in our family.So, off Daddy went to the barn.

What we didn't plan for was first, the company and second, the fact that Daddy carried his 45 with him whenever someone was visiting instead of his little wussy 22. This 45 was a gift from an uncle of his and must have been almost as old as the barn. If you pulled the trigger, it went into automatic mode and didn't stop firing until the clip was empty - or at least that was what happened most of the time. Daddy said he had fixed it as Mother objected to him loading it into the holster and told her not to worry. We were just beside ourselves by now, on the one hand so excited our master plan was about to be played out, on the other hand convinced that afterwards we would probably die since the boss and his kids were here to witness it. But even Daddy would laugh at the ability of his kids to pull off such a surprise right?

It was really too late to do anything. Sure, brother tried to convince Daddy he LOVED feeding so much he wanted to do it, but that didn't work.

There isn't a lot left to this story. As Daddy was clearing the top step, he saw the evil rubber snake as it was reaching out to get him between the eyes. He pulled the 45 as he let go of that last step and discovered quickly he had not fixed the gun. He didn't even HIT the rubber snake which thrilled us to have salvaged the investment, but he pretty much blew the top step off the wall, the wall off the floor of the loft and a few holes in the roof on his way down. It was funny to see his snobby boss and those snobby brat kids running for their lives out of that barn. We heard the word "SNAKE" but I think it was actually the flying bullets that gave them super human speed.

I am not really sure how long it took Daddy to get back up...we ran too! This is another one of those "not another word" stories. Daddy knew he was beat but that was a temporary victory - believe me, it was VERY TEMPORARY. For some reason, he NEVER saw the humor in that wonderful rubber snake - go figure.

8/19/08

Spiders

It's foggy here this morning! I love the fog. Then again, I love the rain, I love the sun, I love clouds. I suppose I just love the variety that we have in our daily lives that is provided compliments of God. The fog hangs on the spider webs and creates a new world in the fields. They glisten and look like crystal laiden canvas across the grass. It's amazing how a spider must work everyday to maintain or re-create their little homes.



I do not particularly like spiders! Honestly, I loathe them! There is nothing more horrifying than waking up in the middle of night KNOWING without a doubt that the sensation that awakened you was a spider crawling down your arm. When that happens to me, I lay there wide-eyed and completely unable to go back to sleep. I have to decide whether I should risk waking up Dave with an all out search for the creature or just lay there and hope it was just passing by. I have discovered that you can now buy spray JUST FOR spiders and it guarantees a 12 week time period before they return. My newest plan is to provide him with a mask so at night when I get this sensation, I can just fog the entire area. We may lose a few fish or frogs in the process, but ....it's worth it.



In my old age, I have developed less of a "kill or be killed" feeling about spiders and I am willing to allow them to be captured and moved outside. My mother will be proud to hear this as she has an affection for those gigantic and gruesome banana spiders that weave the webs in places that they KNOW you will be passing. She will take her broom and gently gather up the spiders and their egg sacks and move them into other areas where they can......errrrr...ummmmm....cough cough...choke - reproduce! She STILL tries to relay the story of Charlotte's Web to us in explanation and I still believe that pig should have stomped on that spider. O.k. the spider DID save the pig's life or so the story goes but that was PURE fiction. We all know spiders would prefer to eat the pig just like humans.



I have already relayed in some post the story of walking through the web in the wee hours of the morning- fainting - crying to Daddy. That web was a banana spider web as I recall. I wonder if I make "no spiders allowed" signs, since Mom says they are all intelligent and such, would they find another home. If so, they can live! That's a pretty good plan.



This year is a particularly good year for spiders on the farm. I don't know if it's the moisture or the food supply, but they are thriving. This area is famed for its black widow population and I am becoming quite skilled at identifying where they may be hiding and proving time and again to my husband that I am right! Spiders are evil and their little spider eggs and little spider babies are evil.



All this evil being said, I learned a long time ago that a cob web placed in a gushing wound will clot the blood and stop the bleeding. This is particular useful with horses who tend to cut their ankles on anything they can find to rub them on. If we could only have cobwebs without having the associated spiders. Then again, they do fill those webs up at night with mosquitoes, flies and all sorts of other bugs.



When I think about the spider underworld, I envision the scene from "Beetlejuice" where they are looking down on the little pretend town and there are signs for brothels and clubs and neighborhoods. Perhaps we need little flashing signs for spiders that say things like "no trespassing" (indication of choking webs) or "men at work" (indication of prowling spiders) or maybe something like "beware of dog" (indication of wolf spiders - the most ugly and evil of the spider family). This way, us humans could avoid them and we could all live in peace. Then, maybe in their little spider preschools, they would teach them that touching human skin results in instantaneous death or death by gas fumes. They could teach them to stay out of cabinets, shoes and closets. Sure, they would have a few rebellious teen spiders and there would be little spider headlines about the death of several of them at one time during home invasions or drunken web spinning incidents in the wrong place, but for the most part, perhaps the world could co-exist more peacefully with spiders and humans.



It's a thought and all you elder spiders out there reading this should consider it so there could be more make it into the little spider nursing homes instead of the little spider graveyards. You may have those fangs, but we have shoes, flyswatters and spray. You can not win!

8/18/08

It is Well...

A change of pace for me this morning. I usually write about events and life at the farm. But today, I write about another reflection. In the last couple of weeks our community has experienced the loss of a child. A nine year old girl was killed in a 4-wheeler accident. The details are still sketchy but the reality of the situation has been quite disturbing to me.

I don't know the family, they are from Florida and were up here visiting their grandparents. I have spent over a week now grieving however, over the loss of a child so young. I haven't grieved for the child I did not know. I have grieved for the parents and grandparents, imagining the pain they must be experiencing. As with everything, I dramatize in my mind the sense of loss, the suffering, the emptiness. I have a friend who has lost two children and I inadvertently explained to her my grief as if she knew nothing. I have not lost my child yet I got so caught up in the drama, that I failed to remember she has. And how gracefully she has handled that event in her life and turned it to the glory of God.

This was the beginning of my wake up call. When is grief selfish and when is grief helpful?

This weekend I was fortunate to overhear the retelling of the story of Horatio Gates Spafford. He is the author of the popular hymn that I recall being titled "It is Well with My Soul". The words in that song alone can bring an unbelievable peace to one's spirit - oh the power of words!

It seems Mr. Spafford was quite the giving individual having helped many through the great fires of Chicago. He was scheduled for a vacation overseas with his wife and four daughters but for some reason, had to stay behind and finish some business while they went on ahead. On their trip, their ship went down and only the wife survived. He lost all of his children having lost a son earlier.

In this retelling, Mr. Spafford cruises to be with his grieving wife and spends a majority of the time on the cruise reading scripture and trying to figure out HOW God can let this happen and HOW God can heal a person who has lost a child - that sounded really familiar to my pity party last week except even more selfishly, it was not even MY child that had been lost. As he came upon what was speculated as the resting place for his four daughters, he went to the deck to cry out, carrying his Bible with him. As he opened the pages, there was the story of the cross!

I suspect that, upon hearing that telling, I had the same reaction though not as strongly as Mr. Spafford had. We ask God HOW can a parent endure the loss of a child. Of course, we know we have no right to ask God anything but still...those thoughts just carry forward. The answer however, if we concentrate on scripture is QUITE clear. God knows how we can because he as a parent lost his one and only son. He didn't lose that son to some unfortunate accident, he lost him by his own design - he sacrificed that one and only son for all the rest of humanity. He watched as his son was tortured, accused and abused and He kept his omnicient powers at bay while His son was dying on that cross. So, guess what? God knows all too well even the suffering of a left behind parent as he was left behind by a son who was the most perfect human to ever exist - a son who deserved nothing of the abuse he suffered. He did that for us - for me and you and our children. And yet we think we can ask God ANYTHING - or at least I trip myself up with that thinking at times.


From what I overheard, this was the revelation that inspired this song. Now the song rings even truer in my spirit than ever before. It's amazing to me how people can take words and create vision and peace. I am forever grateful God gave them that gift.

PEACE LIKE A RIVER
When peace like a river,

attendeth my way;
When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot,
thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well...with my soul...
It is well, it is well, with my soul...

Though Satan should buffet,
though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well...with my soul...
It is well, it is well, with my soul...

He lives--oh, the bliss of this glorious thought;
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Oh my soul.

It is well...with my soul...
It is well, it is well, with my soul...

And, Lord, haste the day when our faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trumpet shall sound, and the Lord shall descend;

Even so, it is well with my soul...
It is well...with my soul...
It is well, it is well, with my soul...
~~Horatio Gates Spafford [1873

8/15/08

FYI

Here's a piece of trivia for the wise and culinary ignorant - such as myself:

A Mufetta is NOT a special style of pasta! I repeat - it is not!

This has been a routine item on the local menu and I was convinced that Jamey had realized that pasta should be a staple. Upon calling and asking specifically what it was and ANTICIPATING someone to tell me "oh it's this amazing pasta dish with dozens of kinds of cheeses and spices", I instead learned that it is this boring kind of sandwich with some kind of special meats, olive dressing and something else or the other - you can tell by my description tha it's not as equally delicious as all my co-workers and town residents allege it to be.

I am not sure I have even spelled it correctly as my disappointment has taken nearly two weeks to overcome and I can finally type about it. Oh the disappointment! Will the world never realize that pasta is the life-food of champions!

Another week

And Friday rolls around....

This has been a rather uneventful week on the farm. Well...Minnie the blind horse got into the garden and ate the last of the bean crop. It's o.k. because the crop was nearly gone but she also stomped on the squash and ate a few ripe tomatoes. Rocky sounded the alarm and we quickly got her back out of the garden. What amazes me is she is blind - she has partial site in one eye - and she's the only horse to figure out how to get into the garden. Then again, she's the only horse to figure out how to get out of the field and eventually lead the others through the breach in the fence. She's a crafty girl to say the least.

Since she's always in trouble, Minnie has taken to simply taking flight from us everytime she sees us. She canters a few paces away and then... passes gas. Sometimes she passes gas while cantering rendering a rather large sound. It's a horse thing...they tend to pass gas when they are excited or when they are ill with something. Our old gelding Trustee could hold his stomach so full that by the time you got on him, the saddle would roll under to his belly. Our solution with him was to put him on a lung line and make him canter a bit at which point all the "air" would pass from his system and we could then adjust the saddle.

I stayed in the house as Dave ran outside to try to salvage the garden and the sound effects from the events that followed were quite entertaining. Dogs were barking, he was yelling and she was running and yes...tooting the entire way! We have now nicknamed her "Tootie".

I managed to get Slow Joe to the vet to get his dipping accomplished on Wednesday. That was a huge achievement. I tricked him and got him in the car but had a bit of trouble because Spin wanted to go too and kept climbing in under Joe and around Joe. I considered letting him ride but then had visions of what he could do to the inside of the car (as if it's not messed up enough) as he waited for me to take Joe inside. So, I left him at home and he cried all day about that.

Our old cat Tigger hid in the house that same day and when we got home from a road trip we had to take, he had managed to either eat or take a bite out of every slice of bread we had. Tigger only weighs close to 24 pounds these days and I have no idea how he got the bread from the top of the refrigerator. I honestly do not want to know but I wish if he were going to rip it open, he would also eat the crumbs he leaves all over the kitchen floor. To debate A.A. Milne - Tiggers ARE NOT wonderful things. The wonderful things about Tiggers is they bounce when you throw them out!

Winnie the Pooh was always one of my favorite stories. Our cat Tigger has completely ruined that for me even though he actually does have the characteristics of the original Tigger only they aren't so cute in real life. So there will be no more guinea pigs pr [pot bellied pigs named Piglet, no donkeys or mules named Eyeore, no rats named Kanga or Roo and no more "Rabbit" creatures. Tigger put the curse on the farm, we can't use that story any longer.

So, another week passes, gas passes and the lesson of the week is to not use anymore storybook character names for animals who may ruin the storybook for us in the long run. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

8/14/08

Home

What is home? Or Where is Home? Over the last few days my heart has been contemplating these questions. It's sort of like trying to contemplate "what is a friend" though. In our lives friends come and go but the real ones are always there, if nowhere else in our hearts. My friend Arthur has been gone three years now. At least weekly if not more frequently, however, I find myself seeing or watching something and thinking "Arthur would LOVE this" or "Arthur would think that is sooo funny". I miss him, but I have him in my heart as I do many friends who are still here.

So...back to home. The home in Tennessee where I grew up is and will always be home to me. That being said, that home has changed. The community has changed which has changed the dynamics and function of that particular plot of land. As my Mom has aged (say it isn't so) her ability to manage that home has waned and she's now contemplating selling it and moving somewhere closer to some of my siblings. If I were to go there after she sells it, would it still be home? No it wouldn't because it is home only through the memories of my family growing up there, my mother nurturing us and teaching us how to farm and memories of friends I once had in that area who are now grown and moved on. Home would still be in her kitchen, whereever that kitchen is. The "home" she has described to us in her well written memoires does not even exist any longer but I feel it when I read her accounts.

My Grandmother's house in Athens, Alabama was tiny and efficient. It was home away from home for me whenever I was allowed to go and stay. I grieved the selling and release of that house as she transitioned into full-time nursing care. My mother gifted me with Grandmother's old couch and the "corner cabinet" which was made for Aunt Birdie, grandmother's oldest sister in the 1920s. It's a rough old cabinet made in a time when materials were harder, heavier and more difficult to smooth over. It's now a very important part of my current "home" - part of what makes it feel like home to me.

In my life, I have moved with my family many times to many different places. Each move involved uprooting my life and taking my few treasures to a new location at which point we would work at settling into the current community and becoming somewhat functional. Always, with each house - I felt "at home". We remodeled and made each house suit our tastes and somehow each house was "home". While we were there, we felt it was where we were intended to be for that time.

My mother once told me that if she said "let's go" I was in the car before she got it out of her mouth. It was not until a few years ago that my spirit actually sensed a desire to actually stay in one place and call that one place home. Perhaps my body is tired or perhaps my spirit wants me to rest, but I am having to adjust to the new desire to make my current home my future home. My new quest to "settle" has resolved me to re-address what "home" may be to me.

There are tons of cliche's out there about home and what may be home. I can only tell you with me, home is where I return after a long day. Home is the life I live and the people I live it with. Home is the sun coming through the back door, warming me as I sit at the table. Home is my Mother's Russian Tea and the conversation I still enjoy having with her. Home is my husband's grilled chicken, shared on paper plates with friends. Home is the sound of my daughter's horrid music playing in the distance. Home is puppies, blind cats, blind horses, old horses, and all the strays that show up to be nurtured. Home is where I grieve for things gone past and things never to be.

I could go on all day after thinking about this because home is really a simple thing. It's a feeling, a comfort, a memory. Home is the life we are living and our comfort in that life. If there is no comfort, we are not home. In my life, however, I have managed to make "home" out of some pretty discomforting situations because most of all for me - home is my attitude towards the circumstances within which I am surviving. I am a survivor, so home is always easy to find.

8/12/08

Happy Belated Birthday Mark!

Happy belated birthday to my friend Mark. I sent him an e-mail but forgot to tell him here that I wished him many more! Unfortunately, his favorite food must not be spaghetti but ham with something and pineapples so I had to make my own pot of spaghetti this weekend. I make pretty good spaghetti despite what my husband says. I didn't get to go and sing Happy Birthday to him either - something for which he is very lucky. My singing tends to cause people to flee.

Thinking about missing Mark's birthday, I began reflecting on how much I enjoy the tiny little place he and Jamey have carved out in our little town. They have taken an old hair salon and made it into a quaint and inviting dinery. I say dinery because it's not a restaurant - that would be too stiff and formal and it's not a diner. It's like going home and eating with friends and family in someone's kitchen. Well...there are people who wait on you but they are like family who I am visiting at home. And...unfortunately...when I eat there, I DO have to pay. If I went home Mom would feed me for free or one of my brothers or sisters would! So, come to think of it, maybe it's not so much like home after all! Selfish me says "never go back until the menu says 'free for Robbi"". Realistic me says "that's really stupid and the food is SO worth it!" Besides, they have to pay for that comfortable setting.

On really good days, Mark and Jamey begin quarreling. They haven't perfected the art of quarelling like Dave and I have so cats and dogs don't line up at the back door to feast on the tossed out food. They more just vent on one another about how either one is in the way or not moving fast enough or moving too fast or asking for the pasta because I believe it should be on the daily special list when there is not pasta in the kitchen - pffft- who doesn't ALWAYS have pasta in the kitchen?! O.k. those are not really good days - it's evil of me to say so, but it's refreshing to see I am not the only one who gets tired of someone at work on occasion. And, usually, they offer free food sooner or later if someone says something to them. Unfortunately, I am not good at saying "o.k. guys, you're fussing" so I never get the free food. Once, Jamey even put up a sign that said "if you catch us fussing, you get free food". I spent days concocting accusations to present to one or the other about things that may have been said behind their back. I thought about tripping Mark and making him drop a plate or two and pointing out to Jamey that I thought it was because Mark said his food was not good. I thought about turning off the a/c so Jamey toasted in the kitchen and blaming Mark. But, I can only think up these things unless it's my own husband, so I failed at "Mission Get Free Food".

All things considered, for people who don't get the importance of pasta on the food chain, these two have made a great little restaurant team! They are pretty good for friends as well. They have also built a very fun and efficient staff who also make you feel like old friends. The only downside is I don't always have the time to go and visit and sit for a spell and enjoy a good meal. It's not exactly a place one wants to go to eat and run. It's a place one wants to go to sit and talk and eat and enjoy really good food - lots of it! (let's not forget about all the desserts too!)

Oh - the place? It's Sit n Sip in Brundidge, Alabama. If you stop by city hall, ask for me and I'll show you how to get there. It's just a short walk away.

8/11/08

Facts to Live By

MinWax makes a great stain product for amateur and professional woodworkers. It is as permanent on carpet when left on a t.v. tray with the lid loose as it is on wood!

Stain left loosely sealed should NEVER be left on a television tray. Red Oak is a beautiful stain color - unless it's on blue carpet!

T.V. trays are for eating from not storing stain when a clumsy wife is in the house! Never blame the wife for her clumsiness when you indeed are the guilty one for leaving the stain on the tray! Trays wobble and, unlike weebles, do come down.

Light Walnut is likewise a beautiful color. It will, however, soak through a non-plastic professional quality drop cloth when an ignoramous tilts the can and "accidentally" pours half the can out.

Light Walnut is also not beautiful on just painted white folding doors or an already finished wall! Sometimes the wife who painted said doors does NOT enjoy repainting them.

Any MinWax stain may look quite satisfyingly perfect all over a husband who can't seem to understand the rules of storing or holding the cans! This theory is still in planning stages!

If one is using turpentine, please use some sink OTHER than the sink another ONE is using to wash dishes in! Turpentine does assist with alleviating stains left on blue carpet but isn't the all around solution -new carpet is the all around solution.

IF the wife spends most of her day making the most "to die for" chili on the planet at your request, don't try to tell her some magic ingredient you are SURE she left out of it. Even if it DOES taste like water, it's best to tell her that she is a fantastic cook. One can easily shovel the stuff out to the dogs when the wife is not looking without saying a word about the taste or lack thereof. She will assume you loved it and ate it all and you won't be spending the rest of the week eating Cheerios and milk.

Don't wash dark colored clothes in dishwashing soap with "bleach alternative" Sure...it says it's good for everything, but those white spots SHOULD tell you something. That bottle of laundry detergent is ON THE LID OF THE WASHER for a reason other than putting it to the side and griping about how it's in your way. Just because you already doused the clothes in the other stuff "because it was the closest thing to me and hey - it's ALL soap!" doesn't mean you are doing ANYONE a favor.

and last but not least...yes it IS funny when the dog jumped up and ripped the seat out of your pants! I'm sorry but it is STILL funny to this day! It's REALLY funny! That dog is my hero!

And that's it folks. Only one of you may read this and find it annoying but I love that one of you to the ends of earth, so you will know that I type this with the greatest of love and....entertainment!

8/8/08

The Boys

People who have known me over the last fiew years, know that my bulldog Diamond was my absolute treasure. She was born with a failed immune system and thus, was naked her entire life despite various treatments. But, she was the most devoted, loveable, willing to please and protective creature that has ever entered into my life. Her sky blue eyes could soften the hardest of hearts.

Six months ago, Diamond gave me a litter of puppies. I shouldn't have let her and Brutus embark on their affair. I shouldn't have let her have the puppies but for every failed attempt she made, she grieved and carried around her toys and forced some poor unsuspecting cat to be her puppy until the grief subsided. So, I let her and Brutus once again have their fun and she remarkably got pregnant. To my great despair, I lost Diamond the day after she gave me five little puppies. The loss was bittersweet in that she left them behind for me to treasure. There are blogs about our days and nights with bottle feedings, stinky boxes, stinky house, training to eat food and so on. Three babies made it - I lost two. They are now resting with their mother who I know adores having them at her side. Losing them felt like complete failure to me as Diamond left them for me. They were her gift to me so that I could let her go after many years of suffering.

One of the pups is living with a dear friend - two have stayed with me. They are Joe and Spin. I've written about them before. Joe and Spin inherited her suppressed immunities but not to the level she did. They have their Dad's fortitude and strength and his stubborness. Where Diamond sought only to serve and please, Brutus seeks to do...well...really whatever Brutus wants. The boys are a perfect combination of the two. Spin, however, is more Diamond than Joe. He lives to please and is happy to just be anywhere we are.

This morning, their true differences showed.

As a part of the treatment for their ailment, they get biweekly dippings. I began by carrying them to the car and carrying them into the vet clinic. When they reached 45 pounds, this had to stop. They don't realize that at 45 I can't carry them and that I can no longer hold them like a baby in my arms. They simply want life to be as it always has been.

We began leash training. At first, they did not like the collar but Spin quickly realized that the collar meant a leash which mean a lot of attention and telling how great he was while he walked along. Since his third day in training, Spin has taken to walking exactly where I would place him were he on a leash. If there is a leash around, he will carry it with him assuming it is supposed to somehow be attached. Yes - Spin is missing any sense of intelligence but it's replaced with love and affection.

Joe on the other hand identifies collar and leash with submission. He's like his father, submission is a bad word and Joe has his own set of rules to write. I try to make a game of it but he's still not in. So, now it takes food and coaxing and a bit of dragging - after two months of practice. Spin on the other hand is usually there trying to get Joe's collar and leash and show him how fun it is and show me how I don't need to waste my time on Joe.

So, this morning it was time to load them into the car and take them to the vet. Joe immediately crawled not only under the house, but deeper into a hole that he must have been preparing for just such occasion. He knew instinctively that today was dip day. If Spin knew, he really didn't care. This morning, he won. I have to go to work and I don't like spiders. So, crawling under the house isn't part of my gameplan. Boy, will he be upset Monday morning when I invite him in for breakfast and then collar and leash him. I will load his big behind into the car and he WILL get his dipping. Next time I will have to come up with a new plan.

Spin on the other hand gladly took that leash and collar and gladly got into the car. He now insists on riding shotgun in the front seat and looks about joyfully as we ride along. He's such a clown! We pulled up to the vet clinic and I could see his expression. "I remember this place" He hesitate and shook a bit before getting out of the car but then bounced along beside me and announced his entry with his usual "SPIN IS IN THE HOUSE!" squeel when we walked through the door. He sat when I told him to sit and he whined when he heard a cat crying in the back. Spin LOVES everything and cats crying made him cry.

Finally, the vet came out to get him. BOY WAS SPIN GLAD TO SEE HIM. We both laughed. He told Spin "at this point, you are supposed to HATE me!" Spin didn't listen until....they headed to the back. The guy slipped out of his collar and ran back to me - finally realizing that he wasn't there to visit, he was there to get dipped! Guilt rules this morning.

They tell me that when they dip Spin, they barter for who gets the duty. He's so happy for any attention and he's so willing to do what they ask. Joe on the other hand turns to jello and it's hard to manipulate 50 pounds of jello. I think this morning they were relieved to just see Spin and they sort of frowned when I told them Joe would be in Monday morning.

This afternoon I will go get my beloved chip off the old Diamond and I can not wait. We will ride back home, him sitting in the front seat next to me and we will talk about his treats he gets at the house. He won't care, he's happy to just be Spin! He'll get to come in for a can of food and some aspirin as the dip will make him feel not so well but he won't care.

If Diamond had to go, she could not have given me any greater gifts than Spin and Joe. They don't fill the void, but they are making new places in my heart. I secretly remember Diamond's own stubbornness and insistance for some things her way and know that Joe is carrying that to greater extremes. But I joyfully remember her love when Spin is so silly and adorable! Actually, I joyfully remember everything about Diamond when I see these boys. I think Brutus does too. He now tries to block me everytime I load them into the car and he grieves while they are gone. For all his fussing and growling at them when they get in his way, he loves them just like we do.

Diamond has been gone six months. Time flies they say. That also means the boys have been here six months and what better way to spend that time.

8/7/08

Thursday

Every other Thursday, I get the joyful task of preparing and organizing payroll. It's not a massive payroll - only 60 or so checks. But it's a massive task for me. Guess what today is?

So far this day has not gone that well. This is my "poor me" moment! First, I got up and got ready. I didn't realize that I had noxcema on my hands until I put my contact lens into my eye. I spent a long while cleansing and re-applying eye make-up.

I feed early before I leave for work. I try to time it so that the puppies are still eating when I leave. Then, I make a mad dash to the car hoping they don't catch up with me. They ARE bulldogs and bulldogs have those big floppy lips that always have ...drool and anything else stuck to them - usually my guys have that lovely red dirt/sand mixture from digging around the yard. Combined with dog drool, red clay/sand mixture turns into permanent dye. Rubbed against a clean pants leg, skirt or skin, it's a complete waste of time to try to defeat it. In the event the boys manage to cut me off before getting to the car, I implement plan B - maneuvering as if I am running across a firing range with live ammunition. I have never been in the military but I am thinking I can probably train future soldiers on how to avoid getting shot by run the "Z" pattern. Those bullets can't be any harder to dodge than two bulldog puppies who think the best thing in the world is to rub on mom before she leaves for work. In the event Plan B fails, I resort to Plan C - returning to the house and changing clothes!

This morning, Plan A failed, but Plan B worked. That's a good thing because there is little time to spare on payroll days and Plan C would have been difficult because I have been lazy this week and what I would have worn as "replacements" were in the laundry.

People were late turning in timesheets today, or one person was. That took off 30 minutes from my schedule. Then, I was erroneous in keying in not one but several timesheets - another 10 minutes. Finally, someone here put down sick leave instead of overtime and there is a HUGE difference in how (did you ever notice that if you mix up the letters "how" can become "who" - I just found that out) the paycheck comes out. Fortunately, my boss and I check, double check and gazillion check all data before hitting the "button" on the computer that allows the payroll to actually calculate.

Around 10:30 - an hour behind normal schedule- I hit that button. It took a few minutes longer than normal which leaves me shaking and sweating in near panic. Finally - a report to review and it has "errors". Another delay! A quick call to our systems genuises and we discover that they fixed an old problem where the system would not tell you something was missing. In particular, the something that is missing is SUPPOSED TO BE missing. So the system is not telling us anything but using three sheets of paper to not tell us. Oh - how I love system fixes! Another 30 minutes lost (Are you getting the picture that payroll day is much like a carefully orchestrated military maneuver)

Finally, around noon, the glorious, wonderful checks printed. WOO HOOOO- it's always nice to know that people are actually going to be paid for their efforts. It's even nicer to know that I will not be blamed in the event they don't receive their checks - I have to live in this town and such a blame could result in dire consequences which have not even been discussed so far in my career.

So...in a nutshell and 1000 words or less - that's how my day has been. All in all, it's not a bad day for me. I got paid too!

8/6/08

My Turn

As I was describing to a friend yesterday how I was losing inspiration, I realized the cruelty of my comment. I think what I actually said was something like "my husband hasn't fallen lately, so I don't have anything to make fun of" or close to that. How evil of me and selfish. As if I never fall.

I have broken my two pinky toes more times than most people have even gone to the doctor in their adult lives. I have hit corners, cabinets and yes, the vacuum cleaner. That one was entirely HIS fault as he promised to put it up and forgot. It was a stormy night and I was running down the hall to close the living room windows - BAMM- there it was! Oh how that one hurt. I managed to hobble back to bed, tell him how useless he was and lay there with my toe pointing at him until daylight at which time I managed to get dressed and go to the doctor. It was shattered - beyond repair. All they could do was tape it once again to the other toe and advise me to keep it that way...forever! The good thing about shattering your toe is from that point forward when you bash it, you only bruise it really bad as there is nothing left to break. Well...the doctor recently reminded me about cartilage and muscle tissue when I was once again crying over the rainbow colored digit and blithering something about how could I ever break a shattered toe. Again, I was advised to keep it taped to the other guy - forever. There are options reserved for athletes but they sound more painful and expensive than tape and cotton balls.

Everyone in my family is prone to sprained ankles. I have been spared that handicap as I have rubber joints. Therefore, normally when I twist my ankle, I just bounce back up. There is slight pain but I can walk it out. I am also a devoted "walker". There is nothing I love more than long walks down the road, into the woods, through the fields or to the neighbor's house. Sometimes, however, we become overconfident.

One Sunday, I made my usual "to die for" biscuit and gravy breakfast with home made hashbrowns, grits, bacon and sausage and probably a few more things like eggs and mushrooms. Considering there are only three of us for breakfast, I waaaay overcooked and had plenty for the animals outside. They know the Sunday routine and sit impatiently on the front porch or in the front yard or where ever they believe may give them the best "attack the deliverer of food" vantage point. It's a challenge to run through the flood of kitties and dogs to get to a point far enough away from the house that the food doesn't draw ants. This particular Sunday, I was feeling friskey. So, I headed out the door a plate of biscuits and scraps in one hand, a pan half full of gravy in the other hand. As I bounded down the steps, they began gathering around me. I was not intimidated by the onslaught but quickened my pace instead. I hit that last step and heard the ripping and tearing of my ankle as I tumbled down, down, down to the ground. I was so shocked by the fall that I forgot about the gravy and it tumbled down, down, down on top of me. The awaiting crowd didn't mind. They simply leapt on top of me, the bigger dogs managing to hold me down with their weight while they licked and growled and the cats working on my hair and face while they attempted to get all the delicious gravy.

At some point during this fall, my husband heard the plate breaking. I suppose had that plate not broken, he would not have known I fell. I don't cry out normally as I tend to hold my breath when I am hurt hoping that I don't immediately begin reacting in other less lady-like ways. But there he was! He was swinging left and right, tossing dogs, cats and kicking in different directions as I was trying to collect my thoughts and figure out just what exactly was going on. There was pain in my foot, there was pain in my other knee and there was ....gravy all over me! I finally realized I wasn't going to easily get up even without the feline and canine weights on me and he helped me up. He's an expert on sprained ankles and immediately determined that I was truly injured at which point he announced he would carry me in.

After nearly 20 years of marriage, my husband is still willing to carry me - how romantic! So, he leaned over and tossed me over his shoulder like a sack of feed - a sack of feed I tell you! He turned around and headed for the door, swinging my head into the railing of the stairway. As I was trying to brace myself with my arms, he opened the door and swung my head into the casing. Then, he got me to his recliner and tossed me into it ordering me not to move. I was more injured upon arrival than I was to start. He was so proud of his manliness as he got some ice and made me an ice pack and advised me not to move. He forgot I was a big globby sticky mess and he forgot that he had bashed my head - or he didn't acknowledge he did it. The house cat immediately jumped up on me and began figuring out the best method of cleaning.

It took a while of discussion and manipulation of me and my poor foot but we got me cleaned up, back into the recliner and dosed up with aspirin so I could begin the slow process of healing. He took care of all the chores and let me rest the entire day - he even grilled me something to eat. Of course, we were not that hungry after the huge breakfast. Later on, we recollected the events of the morning and laughed out loud at the scene we must have presented throughout the entire event.

So, there you go! I too have fallen, broken things and been completely humiliated. But I still manage to figure out a way to pick at him and make it most certainly his fault. After nearly 20 years of marriage, if I have perfected nothing else, I am close to perfecting husband-blame for whatever situation arises. That's a skill people!

8/4/08

Storm in the Distance

I have a friend in Houston who is in the path of the newest tropical threat. Had it not been for the internet, I would have never known her. Had it not been for her profound ability to forgive and communicate, I would have never known what a great friend she is! I am grateful that God puts these people in my path. Then I wonder if maybe I am the most destructive force in my own life.

I tend to go through life in judgment and reaction. I base my judgment on not enough and I react too much too often to what people do and say. Years of struggle have left me assuming the worst before presuming the best about people. My friend Mary is a perfect example of how wrong it is for me to be such a person.

I could selfishly write about a day in my life right now but Edouardo (what a strange way to spell it) has changed my perspective. I am grateful he's a minimal threat but I still worry about my friend and her family and property. She's smarter than me so I am sure she's as prepared as anyone can be when you suddenly realize there is a threat in the distance.

While we are suffering horrendous heat, she is preparing to suffer the onslaught of what most certainly is a tropical storm and could be a hurricane. She's right in the eye of the "cone of doom" as we call it. But Mary is strong and she's intelligent and I believe most of all, she's prepared.

Either way, I would ask that anyone lurking or reading would pause and say a prayer for Mary and her neighbors as this storm threatens her area. I know she will make it, but I pray it's not that much for her to have to endure. She has become the calm in my storms of life. I don't know what I would do without her.

8/1/08

So much Talent

There are two obstacles on my way to work everyday. That is, there are two REAL obstacles not counting the occasional cow, deer, horse or dog that may get in my way. One of those is the train track and the other is the red light at the corner of mainstreet. The light ALWAYS catches me and I find myself giggling at the thought of how I get distressed that this ONE redlight has slowed my progress in getting to work. It's five miles to work. One redlight isn't going to make or break my day.

Today, I got caught by a train or I managed to get to the tracks just as the train was getting there. So, I had to sit and wait. CSX runs a train through here about every four hours. It's a single track and I am sure they have a well engineered schedule but it amazes me how they coordinate the back and forth because there are trains that I see going both directions at different times of the day. I'm not an engineer but I do understand that somewhere up and down the road is another track or a place for the trains travelling the other way to get off the track. But I digress.

As I sat there, the train experience gave me some interesting thoughts. First, I remember my childhood and how my mother would immediately initiate a contest in the car when we got caught by a train. We would all have to count the cars and ever who'se count agreed with hers won. We didn't really win anything short of the ability to tell the others we had outdone them. It was fun though. On hot summer days when we were sweltering in the car, it distracted us from the discomfort of the wait in the hot sun. Oh the memories of Mom taking us to the town swimming pool and heading home (the local quarry after moving to the farm) - wet, sitting on towels, sticking to the fake leather seats and counting those cars.

I often notice the "artwork" on the various cars of the train. It seems to be more prolific and more frequent lately or maybe I am just more curious regarding the world that this artwork comes from. My daughter tells me there are "gang" representations and I see words that make me sad that someone would actually paint on a rail car but I also see beautiful artwork. The train is moving so it's difficult to read the various words and symbols that are painted or decipher the code with which they are painted, but I sit and wonder about the talent behind this work. I saw blended and shaded colors in the letters and symbols, beautiful lines and coordination. From my artistically untrained eye, I saw a little extra beauty on many of the bland and rusted out rail cars. I wonder, what would happen if these individuals really put themselves to the task at hand? What if the rail company actually paid them a bit to decorate those cars? The cars would be far more interesting and fascinating. Would vendors then fight to get the prettier cars for their cargo?

The area in which I live is rich in "murals". We have local artists within a 100 mile area who are quite talented at painting representations of historic events and scenes on the sides of fences and buildings. What if this talent that paints these cars did this on them? Instead of teaching our kids to count the cars, we could give them little miniature history lessons as the trains came by. I would expect myself to look forward to seeing the next one with anticipation of what great events I could identify or the challenge of researching them after the train passed.

Yes people. I live in a dream world but it's the world I prefer to live in. I am a person of limited talent and creativity so I am in awe of those who have so much. And from what I saw on the train this morning (51 cars by the way), there are lot of those people out there.