and bolts

July 28, 2012

There’s a little bit of nuttiness in my blood. “Little” is probably an understatement. So it didn’t really surprise me all that much when this morning found the three of us: 2 “old folks” [they said it, not me :-)] and a not-so-young-anymore woman, braving the Tennessee heat in order to tackle the yard. PaCharley started it, heading out with the lawnmower and weed eater. GramBea had to follow suit, one eye watching him and the other monitoring her own weeding. And of course, when I saw the project, I had to join in. I motioned to PaCharley to hand over the mower and went on to conquer a highly gratifying hill project. It was actually quite a puzzle, with the steepness of the incline and the nooks and crannies, to figure out how to manage it. But, as we joked afterwards, once one [at least one in this nutty family] starts a project, it must be completed, no matter the obstacles. Afterwards we sat in the shade, sucking on ice cubes, with wet rags on our necks [GramBea had draped them on us as we mowed] as we watched the entertainment next door [several trees being felled]. At GramBea’s prompting, I walked over to the tree men. “Excuse me, gentlemen, but we were wondering if you’d like some ice. We’ve got plenty here to share.” They thanked me kindly, but told me they were also well supplied in that department. Leave it to our family to strike up a conversation with just about anybody . . .
The funny thing about all this is that I had actually discovered the project after walking with some neighbors. As we walked, they spoke how incredible my grandparents are, and how inspiring with the way they always embark upon all their own projects, defying norms of societal expectations. I laughed at the time, agreeing with them and admitting that it was a bit comforting to stay with my grandparents and realize that I come by some of my quirks naturally . . . yes, I guess it’s all in the family :-)
Speaking of which, last night was another Olympic TV-watching evening for us. And another during which I spied a lovely sunset. This time I didn’t disturb the show, just snuck out on my own to snap a shot. I will miss this view.

I have never before considered cutting carpet with a kitchen knife. But as I tried to squeeze a square into the corner, PaCharley handed me a bread knife and said, “Here, try this.” I tried it. It worked. Guess you never know till you try . . . and don’t worry, I did have my fun with the power tools today as well :-)

in the family

July 22, 2012

I guess it is to be expected that one would encounter unusual responses when returning to a place you have spent a portion of your childhood. So this morning I sang in the choir with my grandma, at the church where all of us spent a good chunk of growing-up years. I had to laugh when, at one point, I was standing in the lobby and an older gentleman walked in who knew us all as children. He saw me and clearly recognized my face. So he looked at me for a few moments then simply demanded, “Which one are you?” I was tempted to display my amusement at the question but instead just stated my name.
In other news, last night we watched an Olympic special at the house. In this family, thanks to our various athletic endeavors, we all are pretty into such things. But I interrupted the show to ask my grandparents to come see the light-rimmed sunset show out the living room windows. They didn’t mind the interruption too terribly much, as it turns out :-)


July 21, 2012

She says it’s because of my “artistic ability” that I’m supposed to do this job. Not so sure about that: I told PaCharley this afternoon that I’m more inclined to think that it’s my willingness to risk error and do things without necessarily doing it the way it’s supposed to be done; so instead, he thanked me today for doing the carpet-cutting and laying without being “well-trained.” Hmmm . . . not the sort of thing one would expect to make you a desirable fit for a task, now is it? ;-)

a bit of goodness

July 19, 2012

Julie Andrews’ voice is running through my head. “Perhaps I had a wicked childhood. Perhaps I had a miserable youth. But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past, I must have had a moment of truth. For, here you are, standing there, loving me. Whether or not you should. So, somewhere in my wicked, miserable past. I must have done something good.”
Mistaken theology notwithstanding, there is something in those words that resonates with me all the same. For today I have the time and space to putter in a garden. As the sun begins to set, I pick fresh produce and I sing to myself. Yes, for some reason unbeknownst to me, I have a bit of luxurious luxury. And at this moment, in this time, that little bit is more than enough.

super sweet

July 17, 2012

As we ran laps around our little neighborhood park, we spoke of grace. The kind of grace that brings two friends together after so many years of wanderings and growings. The kind of grace that allows two broken-footed women to heal, to still be running. The kind of grace that allows one weary woman to rest. To pick sweet peas and raspberries from a love-saturated family garden. Actually, I should clarify: these peas are so sweet I exclaimed that they were the sweetest peas I had ever picked. J then told me that yes, actually, this variety of peas is named “Super Sugar Snap Peas” . . . But of course they are!, I replied :-)

through a lens

July 14, 2012

A homemade arbor in a secret garden.

A crock pot meal and delightful dinner companions.

Conversation speckled with pointed fingers up at the darkening sky and lightening flashes.

“Hey look–the mountain’s erupting!,” at which I retorted No, it’s not!, then agreed that Yes, indeed, the billowing clouds did indeed appear to be a volcanic eruption …

Two bright boys taking turns experimenting with my camera, and demonstrating their budding photographers’ skills.

Reminiscing over years past as a part of the same community . . . and musing on the ways in which life is a gift however, and wherever, we are to receive it.

Today we had the luxury of walking upon the beach. We didn’t hear “the mermaids singing, each to each . . .”
But we did walk the dog, and feel the sand in our toes. For some reason Micah refused to let his knees touch the sand: he maintained an awkward-looking position with his backside protruding out, er, behind him ;-), and his hands playing in the dirt. He was certainly happy enough–odd though he was to look at.
At any rate, it was one of those days in which, in the midst of kid-shuffling and daily errands, I felt the sweetness of it all. The sweetness of conversations with my cousin. The sweetness of a sticky little hand patting my own sweaty limbs on the car ride home. The sweetness of a mountain peak peeking over the distant clouds. The sweetness of life.

just a show

July 9, 2012

Excited to attend my old home church this morning, I walked over and, having underestimated the amount of time needed for the walk, slipped into the back row after the sermon had already begun. Towards the end of the service, folks were invited to share if they liked. Having excitedly noticed people I recognized from years ago [assuming that I was familiar enough with the backs of their heads to be able to do so ☺], I couldn’t contain my back row introversion any longer and raised my hand. Smiling when he noticed me, my old college classmate called on me by name after a few in the congregation had already spoken. Though few there were familiar from 10 years ago, I told them how good it was to be back in one of my old “homes,” and how hyper sweet all the normalities have seemed to me to be, now.
But as I did so, I thought also of the ways in which my homecoming has not been so sweet: the Fourth of July, for instance. I wanted to enjoy the festivities. And I intended to. I even thought I would. But I didn’t. As much as I am newly grateful for the freedom this country enjoys, and for the privileges it affords, I simply could not appreciate the celebration itself. It had been a usual day of conference meetings and sessions, and wasn’t until the evening that we began to recognize the day. The church provided a fine fish fry for us, and then we planned to watch the town fireworks from the parking lot, where we had a good view of them. As we filed outside and mingled about, I found myself out of sorts. I blamed it on the social overload I was beginning to feel, from being surrounded by so many people for the past week and a half. And I was starting to feel a bit of social insecurity about everyone else seeming comfortable in conversations while I just couldn’t seem to engage in any more meaningful interactions. I felt like my “words were done,” as I had half-jokingly told a friend there at the end of one of our verbally intense days.
Finally I decided to resign myself to comfortable silence for a bit, and I walked by myself closer to the edge of the lot to get a better vantage point for my camera. The show had already begun but was quite a long one so I had some time to quietly watch the show. But I was wholely unprepared for what came next. When the finale began, with its customary flurry of shots, I froze in place, terrified, and I began to cry. What is wrong with me, I wondered? I am emotional sometimes, sure, but this is nothing to be emotional about—it’s just entertainment!
But of course, once I thought about it, I knew exactly what was happening. I guess I needed to be removed a bit from my workplace responsibilities in order to be able to process my true reactions to the life I’ve been leading this year. And I guess it has affected me more than I had realized . . . or would like to admit. But I did get some kind of fun photos of those fireworks; they were impressive, I must say.

As a part of our closing ceremonies last night, many of us wore clothing we had brought from our respective countries. I had known ahead of time about this event, so had packed the most striking article of clothing I own. Sure enough, once I had donned the garb and was making my way through the crowd, I attracted a fair bit of attention. I think I may have even frightened one of the little children there . . . yes, as some of you may have guessed, I was wearing a Burka. Apparently it had a rather dramatic effect in that large church auditorium setting, with some of the crowd lined up at a barbeque buffet and others sitting at folding tables that filled the gymnasium. But the Burka does not readily lend itself towards dining ease [not for an inexperienced wearer such as myself, at least], so as soon as I had roamed about a bit, curious to see who would know it was me, I shed the cloak in order to dine. Shortly thereafter, I saw a friend I hadn’t spoken to yet and she noticed that my hair was not up as it usually is. I shrugged and said that, “A bun doesn’t fit in a Burka.” As soon as the words had popped out of my mouth, I paused at the oddity of them. She laughed and said that sounded like the title of a book. “Hmm—it does, doesn’t it? It does indeed . . .”
And I have been musing on that thought ever since. You see, there is so much packed into that little statement: so many layers of meaning if you think about the life of women where I live—about the life of this one dance-prone, free-roaming, song-singing, word-loving librarian. So very much.
Traveling again now, I also muse on the training session that has just ended. I will miss it. It frustrates me how times like this are so rushed; it is often not until the end that I start to feel settled enough to appreciate the things I’ve learned and the relationships that have begun and deepened. Two weeks of sleeping, eating, studying, and playing together. Well, not so sure about the sleeping part, actually: with a “dorm room” of an elementary classroom filled with cots, and approximately 100 people housed like this in one church/school building, you can imagine that sleep was not necessarily the easiest thing to come by ☺
But we surely did grow together. This morning I was moved, and awed, by the last meeting time of my small group of women. I’m not so great of a talker, when it comes down to what really touches me, so it caught me off guard that I time of spoken affirmations could turn out to be so significant. When working with children all the time, I think it is a struggle for me to let down my guard when I have some sort of role, like I did here. I forget to listen, and to learn, and to not just assume that I have to play a part and be a certain person, or a certain sort of person, in order to live up to the expectations of the moment. So as we shared with each other the ways in which we had all grown from, and learned from, the others in our group, I was amazed by how insightful these beautiful women were about the ways we touched each others’ lives. And I was honored. Honored to be a part of a community in which we are unified by a faith that crosses continents, languages, and nationalities. Honored to see such beautiful hearts, and to be welcomed into them. Honored to be seen, known, and loved.
As the journey of this season of my life continues, I have another foot photo. Enjoying a night out, we decided to take advantage of our unique location for a bit. So we crossed a bridge, came right back to the other side, and drove a bit in the opposite direction, in order to fit 3 states into one evening outing. Before crossing the river, I decided to play a bit with this side of it, and “step” into Arkansas while my behind was firmly planted in Tennessee. I’ll assume my readership to be savvy enough to figure out what the 3rd state of the evening was ☺