faithful – solc 2019 #11

We have had RAIN! And DAYS of cloudy, gloomy weather, even when it wasn’t raining.

Outside our front door we have a solar-powered lantern. It hasn’t had much time to recharge lately. Yet on a day when we had downpours of drenching rain, over and over, I looked out that evening (as it was raining still) and saw this:

My first thought was, “How Faithful!”  This lantern has a job to do, and against all odds, it is doing it well.  Then I wondered, “Am I being faithful?”

My friend with a difficult medical diagnosis is depending on others showing faithfulness to care for her. Another young friend with a newborn in the NICU is missing the faithfulness of friends who have NOT called her. Our Bible study group has been meeting for 20 years, and the leader epitomizes faithfulness.

Am I doing the job(s) I have to do, and doing it (them) well? Am I being spiritually faithful, and caring for family, and checking in with friends, and keeping house as I should?  And am I lighting the way with joy and smiles?

Our Father has great faithfulness: morning by morning new mercies I see. He can help me to be more faithful.

Thank you, little light of mine, for shining your steadfast light.

 

 

as promised – solc 2019 # 10

It’s not a bright sparkling day today.  As a local meteorologist would say, we have a milky sky.

BUT…

There is some sun, and it is NOT raining!  As promised yesterday, the rain has stopped for a while.

The creeks are beyond swollen, the puddles remain, the soggy ground does not welcome walkers. Yet the rain has stopped, we have a filtered sun, and that is such a blessing.

Sinuses are clearing, bones are not aching, birds are singing, and smiles are everywhere.

Thank you, George Harrison, for putting words to our feelings at a time like this:

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right

drip, drip – solc 2019 #9

another day with skies of gray

mist envelopes all

low spots and hilltops, too

rain pours, or drizzles, or hangs in the air

no breaks for the sun

 

outlooks dim

joints ache, hearts break

moss is spreading on the bricks now

soon it will be hanging off us, too

mold and mildew creep in

 

thick clouds

blanketing the sky

wind arrives to blow and sweep and howl

blurred images out the window

and also in our minds

 

but tomorrow, the promise…

the sun will return

warming and waking the sodden ground

clean clear air for our lungs

hopes for a brighter day

provenance – solc 2019 #8

A friend of mine decided to refinish a table that had been in her family quite a long time. When she was working on it the other day I asked her how it was going.

“I was unable to get the water marks out of it from someone putting a sweaty glass on the finish – probably years ago,” she replied.  “I sanded and sanded.  Bleached. But it’s still there. It looks a lot better than it did and I guess that’s just part of its history. Maybe I was the one who put the water stains on it in the first place.”

She went on to explain, “I remember it next to my bed when I was a kid in Wisconsin. It was also in our living room and then somewhere along the way it made its way to the lake. Now it’s in Franklin, Tennessee!”

“That is a great history!” I remarked. “Like all valuable pieces of furniture it has a ‘provenance’. I learned that word long ago when I was at a fancy antique show at the Opryland Hotel.”

Then I went on to explain: “In one booth at the show, I said to a friend, ‘So how are they so sure this desk belonged to James Madison (or whomever) and that it was made in 1790 by Wilkie Woodcutter?  I mean it is one thing to claim that, or guess it could probably be true. But how do they know?’ ”

And I told my friend, “The dealer apparently overheard me and answered haughtily, ‘Years and years (yee-uhs and yee-uhs) of research and study…blahdy blahdy blah.  And so we know the provenance of each of our pieces.’ ”

I am still somewhat skeptical.  I know some exceptional pieces can be traced liked that, but other histories get lost in the shuffle of everyday life.

So I said to my friend, “You should record the provenance of your table!  That way your family of today and also of tomorrow will KNOW its provenance.”

“As for your refinishing work – I bet it looks great!  Most importantly it has character, and a story!”

“Thank you,” she responded.  “I know that each time I look at it I will think of my mom and dad and the history of the table. I’ll remember its provenance.”

a tree’s final tale – solc 2019 #7

Yesterday we had a tree taken down in front of our house.  It was a water maple, and for years we have fought with the above-ground roots that have taken over the yard. Between the protruding roots and the shade from the leaves, it was almost impossible to get grass to grow on our small front lawn.

A few years back we had the tree pruned extensively, but it grew back quickly and was up to its old tricks of ruining our turf. We do love trees, but this one’s time had come. We will replace it with a smaller tree one day.

ANYWAY, the tree removal process was interesting. The lots in our neighborhood are small, so there was not much room to work with.  The guys cut a wedge from the side of the trunk away from our house so the tree would fall that direction.  They tied a rope onto the tree to pull it away from the house, towards and into the street, then tied the other end of the rope to a skid steer (bobcat) to pull the tree.  And the man with the chain saw started slicing into the opposite side of the tree. Soon the tree would be down.

But wait…

The rope kept breaking.  Then one of the workers would walk up to the tree, jump up, and pull down the end of the rope that had snapped back up into the branches when it broke. This happened at least three times. Still the man with the chainsaw continued to slice into the tree.

I was watching from our dining room through the blinds. I was a nervous wreck. At first I had just been hoping that the tree wouldn’t take a bad turn and fall towards (into) the house. Now I was worried that the tree would fall onto a worker as he tried to retrieve the rope.

And then, a young lady in a camel colored dress coat, long flowing black hair, and high heeled boots strolled by, walking a dog. Are you kidding me? Walking a dog by a lot with a tree about to fall into the road? My nerves were about to shatter. What is wrong with people?

She made it safely by the yard.  The workers retrieved the rope yet again and this time decided to pull the rope by hand as the bobcat went to the back side of the tree to push the tree down.

And here she came again!  Walking the dog back the other way. Unbelievable!  I held my breath – and thankfully she made it by one more time.

Then the tree cutters were ready.  The driver had the bobcat back on its “haunches” pushing and two workers were out in the street pulling on the rope and the chainsaw cutter was slicing and slicing…

and then…

a car drove by. Slowly. The driver was staring at the tree and the work being done.

Incredible.

I had almost stopped breathing.

And the tree did not want to budge.

The pushing and pulling and slicing continued.

Then…

at last,

the

tree

came

down.

Thank. Goodness.

I could breathe again. And other cars and different dogwalkers (these had stopped to wait) went right on by.

not so perfect – solc 2019 #6

Today’s daily devotional reminded me of an old problem I have had for a long time.

I remember reading something in Guideposts magazine long ago that perfectionism is the cause of a lot of procrastination.  You put things off because you can’t do them perfectly.  So these things never get done.

I was offended.  Hrumph! That’s not why I couldn’t get things marked off my “to-do” list.  I just didn’t have the time to finish everything I wanted to do.

But over time, this seed of an idea grew. I mulled it over often – I guess something struck a chord with me. When I honestly considered this and thought it through, it was exactly the truth.  True for me, anyway. It wasn’t that I couldn’t finish things. It was that I didn’t START them. And I didn’t start them because I felt I wasn’t ready/committed/visionary/dedicated enough to do them perfectly.

So things that I honestly wanted to do – ideas, projects, contacts, meals, even trips – piled up on my list of things to do – undone. And sometimes the materials for these things piled up as well. That still happens with some things, but I have tried to improve.

The devotional points out, “Have you ever noticed that perfection is everywhere? With every click of the mouse. With every glance at social media. With every turn of a magazine page. Everywhere you look, there it is.” 

Isn’t that the truth! The perfectionist tendency I had in days gone by was not a common trait among people I knew. It was more of a quirk that I had learned to live with. Others didn’t seem to have that “problem.” But now you can’t get away from the thought that everything everyone else does appears perfect. So social media would have you believe.  That leads to discouragement and self-doubt, not just procrastination.

Again, the devotional says, “Perfection is overrated. It’s a joy stealer, an illusion. Sometimes we get so busy focusing on the flaws that we miss the incredible creation that is already there.”

Amen. Even the perfectionist in me couldn’t have said it better myself.

what if – solc 2019 #5

This monochrome photo of a path behind our former lake house was taken several seasons ago.

The path caught my eye when the shadows were “just so” and brought it very clearly into focus. Other times of the day it might not even be noticeable.

The path veered off from a steep drive (you can see its mossy edge) that led to the water.  Although the woodland trail looks a bit level here, it quickly became a steep descent (or climb, from the other direction).

I have often wondered about this pathway. What animal(s) made it? And how often was it traveled? Obviously enough feet, paws, or hooves chose this way to carve it distinctly into the leaf-covered bank. While we often saw wildlife when we were there (and that was usually only on weekends, not every day), we never saw animals right here.

I never wished to travel this path.  It was hard enough to climb (or descend) the asphalt drive where the footing was more sure. I knew I shouldn’t try “the road less traveled.” I would stick to the known, the sure, the familiar. So it remained unexplored by me.

But in the back of my mind I have often wondered – about this path and about other adventurous choices that present themselves from time to time – what if…??

coming soon – solc 2019 #4

Thank you again to Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Challenge each March.  I am grateful for the dedication of the people who keep that blog site going. They believe that, in order to be a good writing teacher, you must first be a writer yourself. Doesn’t that make sense!

It is because of them I started this adventure in 2012. Since then I can say, “I am a writer.” Check out their site and read about their commitment, and then visit with some of the other many writers who share their work there.

I have become sporadic with my writing, much to my dismay.  Thankfully, it’s March, and Two Writing Teachers have consistently started the SOLC again! And just like that, I have started writing again.

At other times of the year, I sometimes revisit my blog and go back to read previous posts “for inspiration.”  I am always hopeful that this will get me writing again.  But life just gets in the way.  What a bad excuse!  We find the time to do the things we want to do. Always.

Anyway, as I read back through posts in previous March months, I realized that I often write about Spring. How can I not? March is that tantalizing time of year when sunshine and warmer days tease you outside and force you to notice that change is coming.  Hallelujah! Then, even on cold, COLD days like today, that promise has been whispered and you can’t get it out of your mind.

Still, I told myself that I wouldn’t write about Spring this month. At least not as much. However, it is just day 4 and I am doing it already.

I’ve been wishing for some blooms in my yard. I am hosting a breakfast tomorrow, and I had to buy flowers because mine are still dormant. While I am soaking in the sweet hyacinth scent in my dining room, I keep thinking that in a month or less I’d have some flowers of my own.

Then, as I was looking for another picture, I found this one.

Now that’s what I am talking about! These are blooms from a backyard tree in a previous year. I love everything about them!  Their pastel color, their soft fluffiness, their delicate stems, the way the petals drift slowly down when they fall. But it isn’t their time to shine yet, so I don’t have them to bring in for breakfast decor.

But I do have them to look forward to!  These beautiful flowers, and a month of writing ahead, too.

sweet – solc 2019 #3

My husband and I have a favorite Mexican restaurant, and we go there almost once a week. Last Friday night we made our usual trip and looked forward to a delicious dinner.

This meal was sweetened a bit by some thoughtful friends who had given us a gift card for my husband’s retirement.  Being able to have a tasty treat for a bit less money was even better than usual.

On our last trip there we had unusually bad service, but this time we were waited on right away by a smiling fellow who made us feel at home. Sweeter still!

And then – the icing on the cake, so to speak – the sweetest part of all.  We were surprised by our daughter and her family, including her husband and their daughter and son. They had asked for the vacant table next to us so we quickly pulled them together to share our meal – as well as a good visit.

The anticipation of a good meal is sweet, made even better by added sweet surprises!

i knew it was her – solc 2019 #2

Merridee’s is a charming bakery/cafe in our town.  We were there for breakfast one morning recently and I looked over at the counter where you place your order.

”That woman looks like Tonya Gaines,” I said to my husband.  She lives in a neighboring town, a friend we don’t often see anymore, so I was doubtful it was really her.

Plus we both have a habit of “recognizing” people who turn out NOT to be the person we thought they were.

Then the woman turned and looked at us.  She smiled and waved.

“It IS Tonya Gaines,” I smirked.

So as not to disturb the ordering process and the waiting line of people, I motioned for her to come over and see us when she ordered, and she nodded that she would.

”I knew it was Tonya!” I said to my husband with a smile.  “Wonder what she is doing in Franklin?”

Soon she was tableside.  I jumped up, we hugged, and I told her about our conversation. “I told Wayne, ‘I knew it was Tonya Gaines!’ ”

She gave me a puzzled look and said, “That’s not my name.”

?????

I looked at her, and immediately, almost as if a light switched on, I saw that it was a former teaching teammate of mine, Mary Ruskin.

”Oh, Mary, of course it is you!” I sheepishly stammered. “You look great!  And apparently you look a lot like another friend of ours, Tonya Gaines!”

So we had a nice catch up visit, and she graciously never mentioned my mistake again. It was really good to see her again.

I have known Tonya for 30+ years, and Mary for almost 20.  Never once in that time have I ever thought they looked similar, although I see it now. I am still puzzling through my mistake.

And now I am considering, “I wonder how Tonya Gaines is these days?”

**********

Update on my friend Tonya Gaines:

I have seen Tonya recently. It breaks my heart to say that her husband has been diagnosed with cancer in several areas of his body. We attended a prayer service for them last weekend. They face a long hard battle ahead.  Please say a prayer for them if you will.

 

opening the door – solc 2019 #1

A door that has been closed for a while is opening up.  The passage through it leads to awareness, insight, connections, and decisions.

Writing makes me so much more conscious of what is going on around me.  Am I looking, but not seeing? When I write I am so much more aware of things outside myself.

Writing helps me think more carefully about what things really are and where their priority lies.  What is the essence of that situation? Putting thoughts into written words allows me to see the deeper meaning.

Writing helps me understand how things are woven together. How do these things relate? One idea reminds me of something else, and then I can make those connections and understand more fully.

Writing causes me to consider word choices and turns of phrases. What do I really want to say, and what is the best way to say it? Decisions abound in every keystroke.

My hand is turning the knob and I am pushing on the door. I see the rays of light spreading out around and beneath the wood as it creaks open.  My excitement rises. I am coming home to my true self.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the 2019 March Writing Challenge. Let this year’s writing adventure begin.