Sunday, November 29, 2009

Putting the place to bed...

Late afternoon...
early evening...

I head out to tuck the place in for the night.

I feed the dogs.
I feed the barn cats.
The horse whinnies, low but insistant that I not forget her feed.
I pour her grain into a bucket and scoot through the fence to nuzzle with her a few moments.
I ponder that she is now alone... lonely in a pasture... I run my hands down her flank.
I wish her goodnight.

I notice that the light is fading faster.
I hear the birds in the treeline along the woods...
their urgent calls to their mates to come to roost for the night is near.

I tend my own flock. 
I fill the feeders and drag the hose and fill their waterer.
I pull them some grass and promise them pasture in the morning.
I think that I need to spend some time in their coop,
cleaning and making ready for the colder weather.

I close the tack room door that's been left ajar.

I check the broccoli in the garden, planted too late, really, but it will bear.
I notice the fig bush, bare in the twilight...
I think of it when it was a twig, an off-shoot of my grandmother's  fig bush...
my grandmother who is no longer alive,
but who is connected to me in so many ways.
I notice the cherry trees which have survived a second summer...
from my husband's grandmother's home, after her death... a legacy that we hope will bear for years.
I close the gate to the garden.
I turn off the water at the spigot.
I'll coil the hose tomorrow.

I sit for a moment on a heavy stone wall and tie my boot.
I listen and I feel the fading warmth.
Just ahead lies days that are cold and wind that whips about the place.
I make a mental note to make a list of the winter jobs that need to get done before the cold arrives.

I head to the clothes line.
I fold the clothes that have waited patiently until last.
When did my son get legs this long? 
How do I manage to hang out 7 socks?
I need to mend some things, remember to set aside time to do the mending.
I smell the sunshine on the clothing... on the bed linens.
I love the way it smells.

I walk back through the yard to the house, with the basket,
big dog pushing on my thigh with her full weight, racing off to chase a cat.
The moon has risen over the old, old trees.  The dusk is thick around me.
Golden light pours from the windows in the old, old house.
Warmth within will welcome me.

Last week of Junior Year Marching band season.

Insert a deep, deep, maternal sigh here...

Marching band competition season "proper" ended in October.
Football games necessitate lots of travel on the part of the band, and weeks that run well into December.
That is where we've found ourselves this year.

This coming Saturday, we'll have a long, long day at marching band, but it will be the last day of marching band this year.
First, we have Christmas parades, which are fun, in and of themselves.
You all know that a parade 'sounds' like the merry sound of a marching band, playing carols.


We are scheduled to do three parades, but will be cutting the day short, in order to go to
the state capital with our football team as they vie for the State 3A championships.
We wish the best of luck to the Clinton High Red Devils on their way to State!

This makes for a long, long, long season for the parents, whose presence is required
and necessary.  We coordinate and pack, and load buses and trucks.
We encourage and discourage and keep careful watch over our own progeny and all their friends.
We feed them and hug them and dry their tears.
We watch in those moments of pre-performance fear and in those moments of  sheer elation.


This coming Saturday will mark the end of my youngest child's junior year of marching a snare drum.
I fully appreciate his buddies on the drumline, for making a season full of spirit and fun and being a tight band of brothers.
I am thankful for a young and enthusiastic band director, who brought us to a new place and made us better and made my child smile again, while strapped into his drum.
I appreciate all the parents who came and worked and cared.
I appreciate all the smiles and hugs that came MY way.

I wish for my son, a senior year of marching band...
of heat and sun, of cold and rain,
of trials and triumphs,
of hands and hearts together as one...
on a field of competition... under the lights.
For all the life lessons learned... for the depth of feeling of the family that is band,
for the measured steady beat of a snare drum in the night,
I thank him for being the 'baby' in the family,
and for sharing this journey with his mother.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Thanksgiving brings up a lot of emotions for me... for lots of folks, I think.
It's a time to think about what we're most grateful for... our blessings, if you will.
This blog is full of my blessings. 

For today, I'll think about the actual act of gathering family and friends in around a table
to celebrate that closeness where we know that we are part of a spirit of companiable being together.

I happened to inherit the house in which my extended greater circle of family has celebrated most holidays for the last 110 + years.  For many, other than just me, it is a home-coming... a returning to where earliest memories are of relatives and friends, of food and celebration, of human touch and connection.  There is nothing fancy here... nothing modern or new. It is old and soft and offers up the charm of time gone by.
I am thankful that the house still stands, home to me and mine and a place that we love to share.

Thursday was Thanksgiving day... and this Thanksgiving there were people missing among our number.
We felt the space and miss the souls that have gone on.
We celebrate the incoming of new members to the family, by birth and by marraige, by engagement and by new friendships.  We hope that they feel and know how very welcomed they are.
The definition of family here is not what you would first think of, but is all encompasing. 
I am thankful for the family that I have... that which I was born into, that which I married into, that which I made with my husband and those friends who have joined me on the journey, whom I love and adore and count as family where I find them.  They are all a blessing to me, truly.

As folks gathered to share the meal, the chatter and noise picked up and the hugs went round like wildfire.
Dishes were cooked and brought to share.  The table was expanded (yes, with that extra leaf it IS a trick table) and mismatched chairs gathered round.  I am grateful that no chairs broke, nobody fell down and that no filled plates went airborne in the attempt to gather round.

Grace was shared... and then the feed began.  Goodness... what fun... and how quiet things get in that ten minutes after everyone is seated.  As appetites are whetted the conversation picks back up... and you hear the familiar voices... the zany sense of humor... the signature laughter... you see their smiling eyes.
I'm thankful that I love to cook and that I love to eat and that I've health in abundance to share in this time.

I need a solid week to revel in thanks giving... to enjoy the afterglow of the coming together of us all.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Wednesday, I happened upon a scene that made me smile... a scene I've seen hundreds of times...

Two brothers getting ready to go fishing.

Fishing supplies, in large part are kept at the ready, in the OLD brown van, which serves as a river vehicle.

Essentials... plenty of rods and reels... plenty of tackle... a can of worms, a box of crickets...

The right tools and the knowledge of how to use them.



Uhm... well... some modern conveniences, just in case we need to keep in touch.

A lantern, in case it gets dark,  and a walk to the river...
with your brother.

Companionable silence or chatter...
with your brother.

Time well spent with your brother.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sleepy mornings.

This has been a busy week... like most weeks.
Next week will be a busy week.... fun, and I'm looking forward to it, but busy.
Last night, we attended a local highschool talent show.
At first, I admit, we thought to skip it.  Our son was part of an 'act', but we thought that we'd have a rare 'date' night and have dinner, out, together.  Actually, we were having dinner when we realized that we were alone... my 'usual' waitress at a local restaurant asked me where were my 'kids'.  The kids she referred to were one of my own children, a selection of band kids and several adults with whom I often eat in advance of all things band.

We ate a leisurely meal and STILL ended up needing to hang out in town and the show had just started.  The proceeds all go to the local Memorial Home for an emergency generator. So... we attended.  It was cute.  The 'bad boys' of the highschool drumline took first place.  Even if I am a drumline mom, they did a great job.  It's an awesome thing to see 9 young men work so in synch as if they breathe one breath.  They'd all worn all black and were truly a good looking bunch.

Anyway, that brings me to this morning. The menfolk that are here are asleep... quiet and warm, it's a pretty Sunday morning.  Cloudy and overcast, the light is soft about the place and nothing at all is stirring on the farm.  My morning coffee smells and tastes wonderful and the quiet... the quiet is so peaceful and calm.
Rest comes in varying forms and I love early mornings that are like this. I find them restful enough to 'store up' that feeling for when I'm tired and world worn.  I take a lot of comfort and find peace in being the first one up.  I love knowing that my family is sleeping just a room away, and sometimes, I peek in and smile.  I love to see their sleeping faces, all sweet and at peace.

So, I'll sit on the porch, with a fleece blanket and my coffee and watch the world come to life... but I'll relish these solitary moments and the quiet beginning to my day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

So... I'm not good at this posting everyday thing.... really.

Life is too busy... routine life that is... have recently begun to figure out that part of the issue is being part of the working world again AND band season in combination.

A few weeks ago, the morning after our school sponsored an Upperstate Band Competition, I awoke to an insistant husband...  He insisted that I get up and eat breakfast (he had cooked) and that we WERE going on a day trip that I had planned but had decided to abandon.

We went to SAFF.  Southeaster Annual Fiber Festival... Crazy fun for those who knit and/or those who love animals who produce fiber.

The man packed a surprise picnic... AND talked me into dressing and getting in the car.  He drove mountainward and it was beautiful.

The colors were near peak and the drive was leisurely ... nice to spend time with each other, considering the hurried-ness of the last weeks.

We get to SAFF, and the man produces the picnic... and it was really, really nice,,, tablecloth... the whole thoughtful thing....

So, at SAFF, my agenda/travels begin in the outdoor venues.  A real favorite is petting the bunnies and trying hard not to take one home. (We've 'done' bunnies before and I'm thinking... uhm... no!)  Then you walk around to the alpacas...

Hello!  Gentle humming... soft brown eyes... the most incredibly soft coat.

There are Llama's...   LOOK at these eye-lashes...

And so I'm walking along... enjoying the sunshine... sidestepping the mud and like always, I'm just talking away... and I get a couple of funny looks... so I turn to discover... the man is gone... GONE... Not walking along listening intently to my every word... (OK, so that part is not a surprise!)

I KNOW the man.... I'd better find him...

uh. oh...  That's the contemplative stance...  He's thinking about it...

No... no... no.... Let me run back over there...
Turns out the whole pen full of males were CHEAP... owners needed to unload them TODAY...

Those darned creatures were making eyes at my husband... and this is exactly how we landed a horse, many years ago, when we had no pasture fences.    I tell you, the man has a hard time resisting eye batting.

Couple of things saved us...  I can be very convincing,,, ok... so we'll accept the term 'bossy'... and we had driven a smallish car to SAFF (How many critters CAN you put in the trunk and back seat of a Ford Focus?).

We're an excellent balance for each other... keep each other 'in line' so to speak.

Might we someday need to own some alpaca and llama?... indeed... I'll about guarantee it...

But for now, we're good. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The river's high!

Living on the river has it's positives and it's negatives.

And sometimes, even the negatives are meaningful.

After a two day hit of rain from Tropical Storm Ida, we have a full flood stage on the river.
The raw and powerful surge of water coming down from the mountains and foothills remind us that life is not within our control.  What, on the average day, is a mild mannered, peaceful and very lazy river, was by midday, a muddy and spread far out of her banks sort of crazy river.

We forgot to move the camper.  And noone has braved the rain to go and check.  The guys I work with jokingly said that while they were out replacing a kiosk panel that they saw a camper go floating by...  tis possible... but more likely  if the water got up to the camper, then it's full of muddy water and propped up sideways on a tree.  Sigh...

The park has interpretive signboards under water and trails that I'm told we'll spend two weeks trying to find again. 

In the morning, I'll take a few minutes and go down to the river and watch.  I love the river most in the peaceful phase... but I  like to see it in every light.  From various favorite spots along the river, it helps to 'know' this place that we live.

One of the nicest things about a flooded river, is that everything usually comes up pretty clean after a flood... a new downed tree here or there, but a new and deeper channel of water and new sandy beaches and a blissful perfect quietness and cleanness.  The water this moment is muddy and angry, but in a day or two will be calm and quiet and clear again...  it will be cooler with the late autumn weather, with little puddles of leaves caught in an eddy... well worth the walk, well worth the moments to sit and think.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Nest

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows that the fullfillment of my life has been being the mother of my three children.  Having a husband who has given me that great joy and with me, provided for them is also a true blessing.  For these, God's blessings, I am truly grateful.

This was a gift to me, from my child.

It speaks to what we have intended as parents, all along.

" to grow and built to last~"

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wedding thoughts.

I have a half-brother... half.... brother..... weirdo phrase...
he's not half of anything,
... he's a whole brother.
Another way of putting it is that we shared a father.
We also share a sister.
He shares his son with me,,, my only nephew.

I really didn't get to know him at all until we were adults.

I love him.

Today, he was married. 

I welcome his bride to our family.

I will pray for them as they become a family.

For all the joys and all the struggles that life in a family entails, I wish them strength for the journey.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Quote of the day...

The less routine the more life...   amos bronson alcott


We live a lot here... a LOT!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


One of autumns most beautiful surprises in my yard are camelias.  I have both sasanqua and japonica camelias
which are next to perfectly carefree, grow in the moderate to deep shade under my mature old oaks and bless the cold and dreary days of fall and winter with these amazing blooms.

Though our nights are quite nippy  lately... we've had a few early frosts... the blooms are magnificent... covering the 10 foot high bushes with a layer of pinks.  The little pollinators have been busy with this last of autumn burst of blossom and I've enjoyed the delicate bloom as well as the steady drop of what looks like pink snow flakes onto the ground below.

Several years ago, I planted a holiday camelia... which should be dark red and bloom nearer to the winter holidays.  It's been a slow starter for me, but I am so looking forward to having red blooms in vases brightening up the house.

Another fall favorite of mine is the ivy.  I know folks have very differing opinions on ivy, but I enjoy my ivy.  The colors of it, dappled in the sunlight are simply beautiful... a dark and glossy green year round, but especially when the winds are cold and all the rest of the gardening world is dull and brown.  I use ivy in holiday arrangements a lot and it keeps forever in a windowsill vase.

As it becomes time to put the garden to rest for the winter, I value the things that I can bring inside... to brighten the shorter days and to remind me that seasons come and go quickly.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I've been challenged to post an entry a day in November... many do it... we shall see.  As you can see, I'm off to an iffy start... I'll have to settle for two entries today... as I missed getting yesterday's finished on time.

Today, I have a day off... a scheduling change at work gives me today to catch up on housework.

Housework... I wish I were good at it, but I am not.
I live in a house that is more than 100 years old and yet I cannot do it justice by caring for it properly.
I am often sidetracked by life, other tasks and by things I want to do, rather than things that I should do.
In the great, grand scheme of setting priorities, the people in my life come before the house... for which I do not apologize.

A clear-eyed look at things indicates that it's time for some serious work... new paint and repairs
that will be necessary to keep things going for some time to come.  I've no desire to change the quirks that come from living in an 'heirloom'...  I just need to rethink. 
In advance of colder weather, holidays and homecomings, I need to be able for the house to be the
setting of the human story, not a distraction.

When each child joined us, I simplified... serious, serious simplification.
I had to make the tasks easier, to be able to focus on the humans... not the house.
As children are now leaving our home, I'm finding myself wanting to simplify again.
I begin to think of what we need to please ourselves and how that works with an influx of
happy adult children on various occasions.

I see, just down the road, time to do for myself and time again to do things as a couple.
I don't want to do it somewhere else... I want to do it here.

This past weekend, everyone came home... at different times, for different reasons...
Every footfall on the porch, every opening of that front door, every warm body that sat to my table
is a reason to get down to business and refocus what we need the house to be.
We all come here for comfort, for rest, for a retreat from a world that is fast and furious.
This house, it's time and place, is timeworn and a reassurance of past, present and future... a framework for the lives lived around it.

Of wedding gowns and old wives tales...

First let me say that there will be no photos... because I inadvertantly erased the ones in the camera that I made last night...  Which is a really weird thing because I've never had that problem before... and as I intended to sit here and write about an old wives tale associated with wedding gowns and the photos were of my daughter... wearing my wedding gown.   It is just as well...

In 1983, I got married and while some of my aunts and uncles who raised me wholeheartedly approved of my marriage, a few of them balked.  As I was hard headed and very independent their objections did not prevent my wedding, and time, itself has proven our steadfast love and devotion to one another.  With 100% surety, the old ladies in the family explained to me, that though I would be fine sewing every stitch that everyone else in the wedding wore, folk lore held that for every stitch I would sew on my own wedding gown, I would cry a thousand tears.  I was not allowed... it would be 'wrong'... and though most of them sewed, no one stepped forward to tackle the task, so one day, a few months before the wedding, I simply went to the mall and bought a dress.

Now, let me say that weddings are NOT about dresses... or any of the other assorted things that now seem to be 'the thing to do'.  Weddings are about the commitment, stated, before God, in public of the intent of the bride and groom, and witnessed by those who love and support the couple.  Plainly and simply, at the end of the day, you will be married regardless of the pomp and circumstance or lack thereof.

I liked my dress.  It was a LOT of lace and ruffles, sequins and beads.  High necked and long sleeved, with a long train, I wore it without a veil.  The symbolism of veils held little meaning to us, as a couple... I wore flowers instead.

Yesterday, the occasion arose that my daughter was home for a few hours without her beloved.
It gave us the opportunity to for her to try on my gown.
We giggled as we opened it's sealed package... we laughed about a blast of air from the 80's when we cut into the sealed case.  We opened the box and slipped the gown over her head and let it fall.
It could not have fit her more perfectly, if it were made for her.

And I had a very strange moment...  My daughter... myself, in a mirror... two very different women, though she comes from me... she is very much her own...

This is not a woman for ruffles and lace... nor should she wear an heirloom...
... with luck, she will wear a dress made by my hands... but in her likeness...
...elegant, sophisticated and modern... but not a dress to 'steal the show'...
a dress that will flow with the day and the moment...
and be a minor backdrop in the exchange of sacred vows.

On the day that she was born, I dressed her in a gown that I had made.
On that gown, was tatted lace, made by her 'nanny'...
her great, great aunt who delighted in her more than words could ever say.
On the day that she was born, lace was made expressly for her wedding day
and laid away, to bless her union, to connect her to more than a hundred years of
tradition in a family of strong-willed women who would all wish for her never to cry a tear,
but who would be very proud of her faith and her spiritual commitment to Christian marriage.

Here's to a journey filled with love and happiness, deep and abiding faith...
... and a little bit of lace...