i forgot to call – SOLC 2017 #11

I forgot to call.

We changed our meeting place at the last minute and she doesn’t have email and so she didn’t know and I always call to check with her even if no changes have been made and this time I forgot and I feel absolutely awful.

It isn’t the first time.

Once before we changed the date of the meeting and I forgot to call and she went on the wrong day and then she came home when no one showed up and she called me when she got home and I felt awful and promised I would never do it again.

I did it again.

She came to the wrong place for today’s meeting and even brought Friendship Bread to share with the board members and she always has such good insight that she has gained through the years and it adds so much to our group and the plans we make but she wasn’t there today because I forgot to call.

So I called tonight to apologize.

She was so gracious as always and said there is too much for us all to worry about in this world for me to spend time worrying about this but I told her it made me sick because I could just see her standing there outside the door wondering where everyone was and no one else showing up and her holding that bread and then turning around to go home all by herself.

I pray I never, ever forget to call again.

Because not only do we serve on this board together but we also go to the same church and she is my neighbor and her friendship has blessed my life in countless ways and in my eyes she is a jewel and she didn’t even get mad and was so nice when I called to apologize and I wouldn’t want to hurt her or disappoint her or make her feel left out for anything in the whole wide world because she really does mean so much to me.

But how would she know that for sure? Because I forgot to call.

a life in pieces – SOLC 2017 #10

I stepped inside someone’s life today.

It was laid out for all to see. The bigger pieces had all been stripped away by someone closer, or earlier. What remained were bits and pieces of a life well-lived. Everyday items and collected memories.

  • sets upon sets of dishes
  • cloudy glassware
  • newspapers and letters
  • books filling shelves
  • flowerpots and baskets
  • furniture and pillows
  • rolled up rugs
  • portraits and mirrors
  • glass and china figurines
  • custom floral drapes
  • lamps and light fixtures
  • gas cans and yard tools

Mr. Brown’s house had been sold and there was an “Estate and Moving Sale.” The yard was filled with cars. There were people there that I knew, and many I had never seen before. Everything there was for sale. Priced and ready to go

A life in pieces being scattered.

The house is beautiful but old. The items for sale were well organized, but not positioned where they lived “in real life.” Covered in a patina of age and uselessness, now that their owners were gone.

Settled dust that had been disturbed. Scarred hardwood floors. Tiny bathrooms with handmade cabinets and drawers that stuck.  A small kitchen (the cabinet doors were for sale). Damask wallpaper and ruffled curtains on small windows. Painted basement steps, scuffed on the edges, with a small rail on one side and open to the concrete floor on the other. Moss spreading on portions of the brick patio. A raised curb of asphalt along the driveway to keep rainwater from draining onto the patio. An outbuilding with the smell of rich dirt that had been kept turned and loose by the animals (foxes?) that had burrowed dens there to live in. A beautiful creek with a raised power or cable line from the street.

We could walk through every part. And so I did. I had never been there before but it was like stepping back into my old childhood home. I tried to take it all in. Sights and sounds, and memories.

I had only met Mr. Brown once, but he made a lasting impression on me. I wrote about his devotion to his beautiful wife, who had gone on before him:

It was a joy to meet Mr. Brown that day. He was quite conversational in his own quiet, mannerly way. We had several common acquaintances and experiences. Visiting with him was a delight. Early on in our conversation he pulled from his shirt pocket a photo of a beautiful, smiling blonde lady. “This is my wife,” he said. “I miss her every day.”
I do not know how long ago Mrs. Brown died, or how long they were married, or how many children they had, or if she was a good cook. I do not know if he carried her picture there before she passed away, or just since she has been gone. What I do know, I saw in Mr. Brown’s face that day – he was still very much in love with her.

Mr. Brown has now gone to the nursing home and someone else will update this old home and make it theirs.  I am thankful I was able to see it as Mr. Brown knew it, for in my mind it will always be “Mr. Brown’s house.”

And what did I get at the sale today?

A picture of Mrs. Brown – of course.

 

 

art imitates life – SOLC 2017 #8

What in the world?? This public art display in a nearby town caught my eye and caused me to question: What is it? Who made it? Why is it there?

It is across the street from the public library. When I asked someone about it, I was told there were more inside the library.

Hmmmm….

Another day, traveling some back roads we came across this sight:

So art imitates life. Plenty of similarities, including more cause to question:

Were the trees dead when they were cut? Why do such tall stumps remain?

I may never know about the tree stumps – the natural ones – but I did find out more about the manmade, more shapely versions. They were created by a Nashville artist named Alan LeQuire.

Really? I was impressed.

Before you appraise his talent based solely on his tree work, you should know that he is well respected in the Nashville area, and he was chosen to create the statue of Athena that graces the inside of the life-sized replica of ancient Greece’s Parthenon that is located in Nashville’s Centennial Park.

Yes, that is the artist next to the goddess in the picture.

Wow!

He also created the controversial “Musica” which is located in the Music Row roundabout in Nashville:

This sculpture is definitely representative of LeQuire’s talent, but it caused quite a stir at first because the figures are naked. It also caused several motorists to go ’round and ’round the roundabout.

But back to the trees. I finally did a little research and learned that this is part of a work called “Dream Forest.” According to the online newspaper Off the Duck, the inspiration for the sculptures came from LeQuire’s rural upbringing. Later in life he dreamed of the trees he saw as a child and he saw them as loving and supportive shapes. Three of the original plaster trees were displayed inside the library. The larger concrete structures are more sturdy and fit for public display.

Ah Hah!  Questions answered. And art appreciated!

I love this picture of the artist and the city mayor. The looks on their faces make me smile:

Here’s a nice touch: Excerpts of poetry are carved on the shapes and were printed for display on the library windows. There were also inked woodblocked prints of leaves as part of the display, created by LeQuire alongside the master printer from the famous Hatch Show Print in Nashville.

It was quite a coordinated effort for the community to bring the display to their town. But don’t go looking for these – they are no longer there. It was always meant to be a temporary display.

I wonder how long the tall stumps will remain in the backroad yard? Will nature eventually assure that they, too are a temporary display?

No doubt, in time, life will imitate art this time around.

a sight for sore eyes – SOLC 2017 #7

I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. A small town back then – “Music City, USA,” and “The Athens of the South.” Opryland – and a church on every corner. Separate communities on different sides of the river. Good Ole Boy politicians from long-established families.

Home Sweet Home to me.

Now Nashville is the “It City.” There can’t be many of us native Nashvillians left in Nashville anymore. Everyone wants to be here (for various reasons), and with all those people come big buildings, more traffic, new jobs, LOTS of houses, and so many restaurants that you could eat somewhere new every day and not repeat any meals for at least a year.

If this is a problem, it is a good one to have. It beats empty storefronts, abandoned houses, and a downturned economy any day.

Still… I get lost in my hometown sometimes. Streets are unfamiliar, place names don’t ring a bell, and changes continue like waves towards the shore.

A recent conversation with a friend revealed that he is one of the many who are tearing down the old, small houses in established neighborhoods and replacing them with two (or more) giant, side-by-side shotgun mansions (on the same lot as the one before). And they are bringing astronomical prices. I really like this guy, and I am truly happy for his success. But I hate what he is doing to our town.

Last summer I drove through a familiar area of Nashville, one with well-kept homes surrounded by rolling yards, with home values that are measured by good schools and long time neighbors, as well as bidding wars on their high prices when they have to be sold. I was tickled to see a once-familiar sight:

If that fence could somehow tell what it has witnessed through the years!

Simplicity and resiliency – speaking to me about where we have been, and what is still valued today.

 

what a great idea – SOLC 2017 #6

Last summer my husband spent quite a bit of time and extended lots of labor when he power-washed a concrete stairway that was much improved by his efforts. We couldn’t get over how much better the steps looked when he finished. Here’s an in-progress view:

Darkness to light.  Amazing!

Yesterday we came across an interesting driveway that caught our eye. At first we thought it was painted, but on closer examination we discovered that someone had been an artistic power-washer. The old grayed concrete mingled with the newly washed surfaces to create a unique design.

How clever is that?

I wish I had thought of this. But my husband is glad I didn’t!

pronoun hierarchy – SOLC 2017 #5

This isn’t a grammar lesson. It is about where our attention lies…

  • Someone who says (or writes) YOU often is focusing beyond him- or herself.
  • US and WE – the use of these inclusive pronouns is inviting.
  • HE, SHE, and IT – all speak of not being sure, or maybe not caring, who might be out there.
  • THEM and THEY are always to blame – because it isn’t ever our own fault.
  • ME is better when referring to oneself because it takes the self-centered spotlight off the speaker (or the writer). Object rather than subject. (OK, maybe a little bit of grammar here.)
  • I, I, I  doesn’t notice anyone else.

A friend said, many years ago, that when she and her husband had disagreements, it was always because one of them was putting I before WE.

When another friend proofread a letter of recommendation that I had written for a teacher who was job searching, she asked me, “Who is this letter about? Every one of your sentences starts with ‘I.’ Shouldn’t it be more about the other teacher?”

This is something I continue to watch out for. Something to remember:

YOU

US

WE

HE, SHE, IT

ME

I

Who’s on first?

right in our own backyard – SOLC 2017 #4

Our current house holds the record for being the place we have lived in for the longest amount of time – going on 13 years. This is a little ironic because we have built (or have had built for us) three other new houses, which we lived in and eventually sold. But this house was worn and used by many previous owners when we bought it. Yet we have patched up its scrapes and bruises and polished its better attributes and have come to deeply appreciate this place we call home.

Except: all the bedrooms are upstairs. This definitely has benefits. But now our aging golden retriever has to be helped or carried up and down the steps each night and morning, and we ourselves know that someday – hopefully in the distant future – our own knees may struggle going between floors.

So… we had some plans drawn to add a sunroom that could be converted into a bedroom should we ever need it. I guess we put the cart before the horse, because when we received a preliminary building bid from a contractor, we could only laugh and shake our heads. We could build another house – the whole thing – for the amount of money he quoted in his estimate.

We have come to realize that SOMEDAY we will need to downsize and get a house where our bedroom is on the main floor. But the thought of moving (ugh!) makes us able to overlook the steps to the second floor with their current and future challenges. And our location is ideal, and we can’t even think where else we would want to be.

Interestingly, the house right behind ours – not in our neighborhood, and about 25 years older than ours – was recently sold for a hefty price. When I looked online at pictures, I couldn’t believe how beautiful this updated, one story, perfect-sized house really is. In a great location!

So our minds are open now to other options we hadn’t even thought of.  Still, not for a while, we hope.

back-neighbors-house

But right in our own backyard! Who knew?

P.S. Met our new neighbor today. Very nice. Discovered there were 7 offers on this house, all above asking price.

We had better learn to live with our stairs.

a good place to be – SOLC 2017 #3

My parents raised me to be independent and resourceful. Any self-confidence I have was planted and nurtured by my mother and father, who believed so strongly in who I am, and in who I was meant to be.

The power of this gift wasn’t apparent to me until I encountered so many people along the way who never had this support, and suffered from their lack of self-assurance. How crippling that can be.

My church youth group and my high school environment reinforced in me the desire to move forward, convincing me to believe I could accomplish the things I dreamed of doing. So I pushed forward and carried on.

There have certainly been roadblocks and missed turns in my life, and stalls that came from lack of fuel and desire. But I remain thankful for the promises kept and the goods that have been delivered.

Yet now I see things from a different perspective. Life sharpens our vision and deepens our understandings (finally!) It really isn’t about my hopes, my abilities, or my accomplishments. I finally am learning where the true joy abides.

front-yard-2

Because You are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 63:7

Thank You, Lord, for Your wings of protection.

And for allowing me to sing.

lion and lamb – SOLC 2017 #2

In like a lion, out like a lamb. So the old saying goes about the month of March. Bad weather at the first of the month, pleasant days at the end. Or vice-versa. Such an old saying that few people know of it these days, but if you keep track, you’ll find that it is often true!

Yesterday morning we had some wild weather and the old lion came on strong. Wind, hail, and rain, rain, rain! Grrrr! Hopefully we can put that behind us now.

Our weather lately has been so warm that spring is coming sooner than it should. But it is lovely, and the warmth is as encouraging to old bones as it is to new buds. My neighbor’s buttercups make me smile:

img_7256

I had to get out spring décor yesterday, and now my spirit-lifted house makes me smile, too.

This little fellow was a model for an art project I always did with my fourth graders eons ago. (He is mad, of course, because he was captured. He never told us where his gold was hidden, so we never let him go.) Top o’ the mornin’ to ye!

leprechaun

These teapots were a gift to me from my mother years ago – she was adding to a collection I had at the time. I have given away of most of them but couldn’t part with these. My mother was a milliner – a hat maker – and I’m reminded of her every time I look at these sweet signs of spring.

img_7260

This hand-painted bunny was a present from a talented friend when I taught her son, years and years ago. Her friendship and support were the best gifts she gave me, but I treasure this as well.

img_7261

So the lion has come (and gone?) and I am looking forward to the lamb’s calmness at the end of March.

I think I’ll look for a sweet lamb for my house, too.

new beginnings – SOLC 2017 #1

orange-SOL Challenge

It is another year of the March Slice of Life Challenge, a journey I began five years ago. I will ever be indebted to the dedicated ladies at Two Writing Teachers (now Two+) for giving me – and so many other writers – this opportunity.  Thank you all so very much.

I am anxious about this year’s March SOLC because I haven’t been writing much lately. Well, not much on fireflytrails.  Every day I have been writing, just as you do – emails, notes, project outlines, devotional thoughts, text messages, to do lists. But I have missed the thoughtful, consistent writing that this outlet provides, and I am ready to see what this month will bring out of me – and into me as well.

I am excited about this year’s March SOLC because I am ready to get back to this craft. I have been re-reading some of my previous posts for motivation. (Do you ever look back at something  that you have written and think, “Who wrote that? That’s pretty good! Could it have been me?” I have had a few of those moments!) I am thankful and inspired.

I am enthusiastic about what this month of writing will hold. I have been thinking a lot about this process, and already I have become so much more aware of the world around me. Certain things jump out at me, and other repeat themselves by running a loop in my brain, and with that I find myself analyzing and synthesizing and uncovering the truth in what I am experiencing.

So again I say thank you to Two Writing Teachers and all that they have inspired and brought to life for so many writers. Let’s get this party started!