Monday, February 28, 2011

A Billowing Sail Filled with a Fresh Wind

     Yesterday the ship sailed for the new harbor. It glided out of port about mid-afternoon. My aunt was there but this was one voyage she was not taking with my beloved Uncle Brother, even though she had spent 50 plus years by his side. They had weathered many storms together. Seen great sunrises and equally beautiful sunsets, and never tired of watching the dolphins at play under the prow of their boat. Yet this voyage was the one he would sail solo. She understood. She had maintained a vigil by his side and was aware that the final preparations had begun.
   My uncle stepped foot on the boat just as the wind skipped and picked up.  It was just enough to fill the unfurled sail and take the boat toward open water. The sun was shining brightly and the sea looked like a thousand winking diamonds. There was not a cloud in the sky. All too soon the little sailboat turned out to the open sea and was lost from sight. But just before it rounded the bend, you could see a tiny figure of a man smiling broadly and throwing his head back in laughter as the shining hull came up out of the water and he hung suspended one last time over the swell of the water below.

    Last year I wrote the following piece about my much beloved Uncle Brother. Yesterday he slipped away from earth to sail to the other shore. I am reposting this piece in honor of one of the best men I ever knew.

      When I was but a little one, a few years older than our own Little One, I came to know and love my mother's brother. My momma and her twin sister did not call their only brother by his name (that was my grandmother's LouLou's purview to call him not just Dykes, but to always refer to him by his complete given name, Edward Dykes), yet the twins lovingly referred to him and do so to this day as simply "Brother." And so it was that over time this man known as "Brother" quite logically became the "Uncle Brother" to the next generation. A hearty laugh, a gentle winsome smile, and a tender spirit are the hallmarks of this man who was a project and office manager for a securities firm by day while he dreamed by night of one day living for for a season or two on a sailboat. I like to think it must have been because he, like the rest of us, spent his childhood exploring the bays and coves around the beautiful offshoot of the Choctawhatchee Bay known as Cinco Bayou. I suspect he never got over his powerful addiction for the smell of the sea and the taste and feel of dried salt on one's skin. I am glad that was he who taught me first to sail and to know the sheer unadulterated and exhilirating joy of flying the hull on a Hobie catamaran. I am also glad that he followed his dream and did not abandon it for more mundane pursuits. He and my aunt did purchase that sailboat and did live for the better part of more than one year on it as they sailed up and down the coast of the Eastern United States and wintered in the tiny cays of tropical islands here and there.
       Today my Uncle Brother is slipping away. He has fallen prey to that great robber of minds: Alzheimer's and something else called Lewy Body Dementia. It makes me sad to say or write the words because I know the awful portent of the reality of loss that they have brought and are bringing to Uncle Brother's family: his precious wife, children, sisters, and grandchildren. Each day that passes brings to light a man who barely resembles the husband, father, uncle, brother and friend that they once knew. It is a most difficult and painful loss.
      Yet armed with my faith in God and His goodness, I like to think that when we see those whom we love slipping away from this world in such a manner, their ships have simply weighed anchor and are moving toward the fresh winds of that more glorious place. Their bodies here might be tattered and torn, but where they are going the sails are always filled with wind and the prow of their boat is moving briskly toward its destination as it cuts through the waves with a purposed and much anticipated joy. It is what gives me comfort and hope.
     In the Book of Revelation, it is revealed that there will be a river filled with the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the heavenly city. On each side of the river will be the tree of life and the leaves of the trees will be for the healing of the nations. And far as the eye can see, there will be no curse to be found. No Alzheimer's, no Lewy Body Dementia, no cancer or sickness of any kind. There will be no darkness to fear, no shadows, no lies, or false promises of any sort. It almost sounds too good to be true. And yet, the angel himself told John the Beloved, "These words are indeed trustworthy and true." I don't know about you, but I am living my life counting on it to be just that. True.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Showered with Blessings

   The invitation with the cute little red wagon front and center encouraged guests to come and celebrate the birth of a special baby boy and in lieu of a gift to bring a written blessing for either the babe or his sweet Momma. Nearly thirty guests made their way to a lovely historic bungalow in East Nashville on a gorgeous Saturday morning for a delicious and delightful brunch hosted by sisters and friends of the young momma. There were special touches everywhere to celebrate the advent of this young lad who follows two older sisters into a family already filled with lots of love. Laughter, conversation and hugs were in abundance and served as the perfect compliment to the happy day. Guests were offered their choice of a savory or sweet waffles accompanied by a veritable buffet of toppings, veggie or turkey sausage, fresh fruit, poppyseed bread, lemon-blueberry bread, artisanal cheeses, and iced cookies. There were two great-grandmothers in attendance as well as several aunts, great-aunts and old and new friends. The honored boy's grandmother Mimi held court from heaven, and it is strongly suspected that she sent the beautiful sunshine to grace the perfect day!


The precious Guest of Honor!

The young man will make his acting debut on TLC's A Baby Story in May. Stay tuned for the date and time!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Babysitting Honey

     I am just here to tell you all that Honey has it all wrong. She comes over to my house every Thursday and follows me around like a puppy dog. I tell her what I want and she makes it happen. For example, it's a no-brainer getting the daughter of a librarian to read me book after book after book. Then I play silly games with her to keep her happy like hide-n-seek and where is the lovey (she made this one up). I really try not to give her too much of a run-around since she just turned the grand ole age of 57. I guess that's why they call them grand-mothers. get it?!
   And the funny thing about this is Honey actually believes that she is babysitting me! Ha. Make no mistake. As soon as Mommy leaves for work, I know who's the boss of the house. And it's not Honey. No siree. I AM IN CHARGE. Just take a look for yourself at all the fun I am having keeping Honey entertained. It's easy as pie.
      I'm going to let you in on a few of my secrets, but you must promise not to tell Honey...or my parents.
     You just get them to do what you want them to do. Let them pick out your clothes. Don't whine or cry when they are dressing you. It will pay off later, just trust me. And besides, what girl doesn't love playing dress-up?!

      Look very interested in anything they suggest. If they want to read to you, let them. They will also usually let you pick the books. And you can ask them anything you want. They are all too eager to assist you in every endeavor.
     And if they want to take pictures, try to be as obliging as possible. Even though I will admit that sitting still can be almost impossible, especially when you are 15 months old. I know this to be an absolute fact.
     If you are still not getting enough attention, go over to the window and ask where Mommy is. It gets them every time. The sympathy vote is always good to pull out if you want to delay your nap a bit.
    Keep a big smile in your back pocket ready in case you think you might be in trouble. A good twinkle of the eye also goes a long way toward restoring goodwill. See demonstration above.
    Then, if you play your cards right, your Mommy will be home to give you sweet kisses before you know it.
And Honey will leave happy. Of course, she will be back next Thursday to follow you around in the same song and dance. I guess they never learn!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Sister of Mine!

     She has always been there. Or at least as long as I have had an operative memory. She was born just one year and fifteen days after me, and from that moment until I left to go to college at eighteen, she and I shadowed one another. As young children we were literally inseparable but it was easy to tell us apart. She has thick dark very fine hair with chocolate eyes. My hair was lighter and I have greenish blue eyes. She was a happy and funny little girl from the start. As we grew, I was far from the typical firstborn (I think most are conformists and upholders of the right rule to a great degree) which I attribute to the fact that she and I really smudged the first-born/second born line of primogeniture in our family (if such a thing exists). I was always a rebel who pushed any and all boundaries in my quest to determine the efficacy of the rules under which I lived, and she was the one who wanted to do everything right and everything well which she invariably did. We shared a bedroom. As you might well imagine, it was the source of a number of vociferous arguments. She is incredibly neat and organized. I am much more of a fly by the seat of your pants type of person who can usually manage to pull it all the last minute, no less. When we were younger she liked to dust, to clean, and to iron. I hated those things then, and I hate them now. Some things never change. We were a study in contrasts in many regards:  I was tall (awkwardly so at an early age) and she was tiny. I am loud and she is soft-spoken. Yet the bond that we share is like that three-fold cord described in is not easily broken. In fact, I like to think that it will never be broken.
     She is so dear to me that I cannot wrap words around what rises up in my heart when I think of this steadfast sister of mine standing beside me through the years. She covered for me, rescued me on many occasions and when she could not set aside the inevitability of some of my most stupid choices, she did not lecture me to death (though I do remember a few of her baleful stares!), she simply loved me.
   She makes me laugh. She makes me cry. She and my other sister are the best gifts my mother could have ever given me. I am thankful that we like each other. I think she and my other sister are secretly happy I don't live in the same town with them. I am absolutely certain that I would drive both of them crazy. So from my safe haven (425 miles away), I wish you dear sister, the happiest of birthdays....I do and always will love you! You have my heart.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Family Babes

This day I did not play, I only wanted to be held!
    It turns out that when Little One tried to tell everybody she felt yucky, she wasn't kidding. I know 'cause she passed it on to me. Five days of fever can put a lot of shake in old bones. Thankfully, I did not come down with her double ear infections, but I think I got everything else plus some. But I am on the mend now and was able to spend President's Day with our newest wee one, Little Two.
     Little Two was on her best behavior and cracked lots of smiles for her Honey. Pappy had the day off as well (banker's hours, you know) so he came over for a visit. He and I competed for a while for the most smiles award. In the end we both won. Our hearts are mush. But I got the cackle. Of course, I had to chew on her foot and pretend to put it in my mouth, but I was rewarded with the biggest belly shaking chortle ever!
   Little Two and I also started our read aloud program today. She especially loved the mirror page in the children's classic, Pat the Bunny. Her great-grandmother was a librarian and she would agree that three months of age is none too soon to be introduced to fine literature! Next time we will be reading Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings, another of my favorite children's books.  

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why I Don't Do DIY

     Inspired by all of you fabulous bloggers out there, I recently attempted a DIY project...and guess what, it was a total FLOP! I know. I know. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. But the problem is that you don't usually share your failures with us, so I was expecting this to work. I still think the general idea was sound, but other factors intervened. How many times did I hear that song and dance from my kiddos when they were growing up and had been part of a situation that turned into a fiasco? "But Mom, you don't understand. Everything started out great, and then...then it went South..."
     So here I am. In my right (or so I thought) mind I purchased four drapery rods at TJMaxx for the low price of $12.99. That's cheap folks. For TJ Maxx and for Target. I had been looking everywhere and could not find the gold/bronze rods I needed for my living room, and when I did find them, they were at places like Calico Corners. Great store. But not cheap. Especially not for curtain rods. So..I picked up a bottle of Aztec Gold metallic outdoor paint (water based of course) and decided to do my little DIY project. No bronze/gold rods? I would paint some. Everything was going according to plan. I painted my first rod and was quite pleased with the results. Just a subtle hint of gold, but enough to tie in with the look that I was trying to achieve.
    Now comes the hard part. I am up on a ladder next to my ten foot ceilings trying to hang the brackets for the curtain rod. I have my trusty electric drill in hand, but I should already suspect that I am in trouble because I have had a hard time finding the correct Phillips head bit to fit my screws. At last, I think I have finally found something that might work. So picture this not too agile on a good day person up on this ladder with a bracket, a drill, and lots of hope. When I am up there, I realize that the rods are a bit lighter in weight that I had realized and with a 108" length on the curtains, they are going to be carrying a good bit of weight. Uh oh. I am also extending the rod to its maximum length of 48" which is also never a good idea. But 48" is not that long and I should be able to get by without putting a support bracket in the center (which by the way, was not included with the curtain rod anyway.) If they don't include it, you don't need it, right?
   When I am up there, I notice that the previous owners of the house (we have lived here 24 years, by the way) must have had some curtain rod up there in the same location because there are those little anchors in the wall that have just been painted over (not visible from 10 feet down I can assure you). I will just use those. It will save me time, energy, and labor.
    I get my drill ready. I am 10 feet up in the air. Candace Olson doesn't have anything on me. I am the new aging DIY babe, in my hard-bottom Ugg slippers, no less. Then I begin to drill. You are supposed to insert the drill bit into the end of the screw and press. Ooops. I have the drill turned on in the counterclockwise position. I do this like two times, having to get down the ladder to retrieve my screw (they did not package any extras) both times. My legs are quivering. Okay, I understand now. That Vanderbilt degree in History and English with a concentration in Slavic Studies is not totally wasted.
    Then I proceed to drill my screw into the little anchor. RRRRRR. My drill is not happy. RRRRRR. I persist. Suddenly the drill stops about one-eighth of an inch from the desired point and gives up. It simply will not go any further. Why? The drill bit is spinning needlessly in the screw head which has now been completely stripped. I sigh. Problem solving skills come into play. This thing is ten feet in the air. How many people are going to see that it is not totally flush with the wall and has a slight sag in it? It's basically undetectable, or so I tell myself. I pretend that there is not a second hole for a second screw. I am leaving well enough alone.
     I get down from the ladder, leaving the first bracket in its place and move to the second bracket. I am in trouble now. If the drill bit did not work well on the first screw, how am I going to expect it to work on the second? No problem. I will go get my Phillip's head screwdriver and rely on that good old elbow grease. Problem. My elbows are old. Really. But if I get the right angle, I think I can apply enough pressure to screw one little screw into the wall. I begin. Ten minutes later I am sweating like a pig and the screw has stopped moving. This time I am 1/4 of an inch from the bracket. Too much space. Too much sag. What's a girl to do. When all else fails, go get the hammer.
   I go get the hammer. You DIY folks are going to cringe here. I can't help it. I decide to just hammer the screw the rest of the way into the bracket. I pound and pound and end up totally defacing the screwhead but it is not budging much at all. The question is will the sag on this side match the sag on the other side? I am hoping. I forget the second screw on this side as well. Too much trouble. And just how much stability is one tiny little screw going to add anyway?
    I climb down and begin to run my lovely cream silk linen curtains on the rods. Wow. With the lining and interfacing and weights, they are really heavy. I dismiss this thought. I am only thinking positive thoughts at this point. I climb up the ladder with the curtain laden rod balanced carefully across my shoulders. Yes, I do look like an ancient water bearer. Forget the babe part. I was just kidding about that anyway.
   Like a weightlifter I lift the rod up over my head and onto the rod. I am worried that I can't play around too much up here or I might fall. I do a little repositioning and think to myself that the sag (the gap between the bracket and the wall) is about the same on both sides, so the rod doesn't look too whoppyjawed. I climb down off the ladder to admire my handiwork.
   I even have some of those clothespins that the other DIY girls have mentioned that will give my curtains an even more finished look. I step back to admire my handiwork. Not too shabby. I move forward and begin to slide over and clip little sections together. The draperies are not sliding too well. I give a little tug. Bad move. The next thing I know that right bracket has pulled completely out of the wall, flown behind the English chest and the lovely silk linen curtain panels are sliding down down down to the floor. While I stand there aghast, the rod pole tumbles. Complete disaster. I feel like the Titanic has just sunk in my living room. However, there is one bracket hanging on for dear life and it is the one that I pounded into the wall with the hammer. But there is no way I am getting back up on that ladder again. It is just going to have to dangle there...forever, maybe.
   I want to cry. But I begin to laugh hysterically. My brain starts turning. I think I still have the receipt from TJ Maxx. I will return the other three rods that I did not paint with my little DIY treatment. The glimmer of hope fades. This exercise is suddenly getting much more costly. I am starting to see Calico Corner rods in my eyes along with dollar signs. And I know without a doubt that I am NOT getting back up ten feet on that ladder again.That would be pushing it. I am going to call my trusty handyman and let him ride to the rescue. I am already waving a cream colored silk linen curtain in surrender. One that is 108" long.bloggers

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Other Family

     When you work in a school, and a k-12 school at that, and raise your children in a community such as this (, you form connections with other people's children that sometimes defy explanation. When I retired two years ago, I was blessed to have had the privilege of working as the college advisor with every single one of Christ Presbyterian Academy's 1000+ graduates. While I may have forgotten the parents' names or the particular college or path that each student chose upon graduation, just give me a minute or two and I can usually tell you something about each one of my students that made an impression upon me. It is not that I have a prodigious memory, but rather I believe it can be attributed to the fact that CPA is a Christ-centered community that seeks not just to educate the mind, but to grapple with the soul of every student, and to offer each an encounter with the Living God. And it is this type of relationship that leaves an indelible imprint upon the soul, one that does not fade or diminish with time.
    It certainly proved to be the case for me. More times than not, daily I had a front-row seat at the display of God's marvelous power at work over and over in individual lives.  I also frequently felt the touch of His hand through my students and was the beneficiary of God's wisdom and His grace from many of them. To be sure, they, like me, were cracked and broken jars of clay, yet they were those through whom the light of glory would more often that not shine.
    I have been gone from that place for two years now, but CPA is far from gone from my heart. I stay in touch with many of my former students and celebrate their lives at every opportunity. I also continue to pray for this school which opened its doors twenty-six years ago to a total of 111 students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade -- with a little more than a handful of faculty along with a group of committed parents --  all of whom were willing to step out in faith. Despite the downturn in the economy, CPA is in the process of building a new high school facility (its third major building expansion) and preparing to stretch out its tent pegs to accommodate more families and new students. Yet, despite its growth, the founding vision of CPA remains the same. Timeless. Enduring. Relevant. Important. A constant in a society that is experiencing staggering change. Like a tree whose roots are planted deeply in good soil, this school offers stability, shelter, and the opportunity for minds to be educated and for lives and hearts to be changed...all to the Glory of God.

Christ Presbyterian Academy intro from CPA Communications on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


     My head hurts. My eyes hurt. My nose is running non-stop. I haven't learned how to blow it yet, and it is turning bright pink. Pink was the color for Valentine's Day but not today and not on your nose. Oh dear. Everybody keeps talking about how cranky I am. Of course I am cranky. You would be, too if you felt like I do. It's no wonder I can't stop crying. I am not liking much about this day. I don't want my milk or my apple juice or anything else my Mommy keeps trying to make me drink. I know she means well, but...I think I just want to be left alone. Wait, no, I don't. I want my Mommy to hold me. But her shirt is itchy and hot. I can't get comfortable. I want to color with my crayons. But my head hurts. I want to lie down. But I definitely don't want to take a nap. I am rubbing my eyes because they itch. Is anybody paying attention to me? I FEEL YUCKY!
   Things are looking up. After some applesauce and milk, they are bundling me up to go for a spin outside. Honey has come over and convinced Mommy that that is just the very thing I need. Whew, am I glad. Those four walls were getting to me. I have on my new Puma jogging suit that GiGi brought me. I am supposed to be wearing it when we work out at the "Y," but today I am wearing it because it is the most comfortable thing in my closet. It just happens to match my brown coat. I think that's a good thing, don't you?
        This picture was taken shortly before I backed my firetruck off the curb behind me and bonked my head.
        Honey was so busy taking pictures with her new toy that she could not get to me in time. She's not tops in the agility department anyway, but don't tell her that. She means well. Since I had on not one, but two jackets, I didn't really hurt myself. I just made a lot of noise and got a lot of attention. Sometime a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...especially if she feels a little bit Yucky!


Monday, February 14, 2011

The Love of a Lifetime

My Momma is the one on the left!

The dark-haired beauty had just finished her sophomore year at FSU. She and her identical twin spent each summer at the family's bay house on Cinco Bayou just outside of Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. The house next door had been rented by a family from Opp, Alabama. The only son was a cadet at West Point and would be joining his family for the two-week vacation during his summer leave. My parents fell in love at the beach during those two weeks.            
      Reliable sources say that the two had "eyes only for each other" and were pretty much worthless during that two week time. She ate dinner with his family and went on dates with him in the family Chrysler. He ate dinner with her family and spent every waking moment with his eyes on the dark-haired beauty. At dinner one night his seven-year-old cousin asked the girl the question that was in the back of everyone's mind: "Are you going to marry him?" The grandmother took the little boy aside to scold him, but my father purportedly just looked intently into my mother's eyes. It would be two years before the two stood before God and the witnesses to make it official, but there is little doubt that the love for a lifetime began that summer.
    The hard thing about this story is that it ends all too soon. My parents were married only eleven short years before a brain tumor took the love of my mother's life away, living her widowed at 33 with three little girls. In the short time that they had been married they had travelled far and wide. She had gladly followed this Air Force pilot to make a home wherever he was stationed. What no one knew was that time was already running out for them.
    For my parents, the romance never dimmed. They never faced the challenges of teenage age daughters or college expenses or the joy of seeing their daughters become parents. They never had the chance to grow old together. In some respects the young couple are frozen in time. My mother is 82 now. I called this morning to wish her a Happy Valentine's Day and to ask her a couple of questions so I could get the details of this story correct. The tears caught at her throat almost immediately. Yet I could hear the joy in her voice as well as she described my parents' life together. I know that in all her years of living, her love for this man has never waned, never faded, never lost its shine or beauty. I don't understand the ways of God or why a young man with so much promise and so much to do was taken from his wife and his children at such a young age. We live in that fallen world on this side of Eden where cancer and lives cut short are sadly a fact of life. It makes it no less painful to know that it will not always be so, but it does bring hope of an enduring nature to the human heart to know that the glories of heaven and the promise of redemption await those who believe in the Lord.
    The scripture is clear that men and women will not be given in marriage in heaven. But I do believe that where two became one on earth, there will be the memory and the recognition of that eternal bond in the life beyond. Though she seeks to live each day fully, I know that my dear Momma is looking forward to the day when she will cross over. She will look her Savior in the face and know fully as she has always been fully known. Her heart will be at rest. Then she will turn at the sound of the name that only my Daddy called her to hear the words, "Bobbie, I have been waiting for you..."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine Party Ideas

You may remember that my sister and I celebrated our February birthdays with a single party on Valentine's Day. It was something I looked forward to each year. I saw these pictures of a darling party here and next year might just have to throw one for myself!
       Here is a close-up of the decoration on the back of each chair. I am assuming that the guests go around the table, dropping their valentines into the pockets on the hearts. At the end of the party, you untie the bow and take home your darling felt valentine holder!                                                                

              had these ideas of something fun to do with simple votive candle holders. At my age, everything looks better in candlelight!

Oh and let's face it, we can always count on Martha to come through for us. Her ideas might not be particularly budget friendly, but they never lack in style and flair.

    That should just about do it for my party inspiration: table decor, a little candlelight for ambiance, and lovely-looking food. Now I just need to call my friends!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Unspoken Messages

   We have begun an important dialogue in my Bible Study that is comprised of women who are much younger than their leader. But before I tell you the topic that I have been pondering non-stop since Wednesday of this week, I need to give you a little background on these women. I want to grow up to be like them. They are deep, they are unfraid to ask the hard questions, and they don't run away from their fears, their doubts, and their struggles. Yet each one  is firmly planted on the rock of their faith in Jesus Christ. They know where to turn when the storms come. This shows in their daily lives, their conversations, and their actions. Each week I come away from my time with these seven women renewed and refreshed and so grateful to have them in my life.
    And what are we beginning to explore is the concept of:
Unspoken Messages
 Unspoken Messages in the Church
Unspoken Messages in the Culture
Unspoken Messages We Receive
Unspoken Messages We Give
Unspoken Messages for Women, for Wives, for Daughters, for Mothers
Unspoken Messages for Friends and Family

     As we begin to explore this, we will also be looking, not just at messages, but also at rules -- obvious rules and rules that we keep that we never even think about. Why are we doing this? We are picking apart the concept of obedience to God and the idea of freedom. If it is true that, "It is for freedom in Christ that you have been set free, therefore do not take upon yourselves a yoke of slavery" then we are willing to ask ourselves, where is it that we have unwittingly been enslaved and where have we unwittingly enslaved others? Where are we perpetuating a message that is false and from whence does it come? What is the root of what we believe that governs so much of what we do? How are actions driven by implicit beliefs?   
     I already have a feeling that this could be one of those never-ending conversations that simply turns back upon itself, except for one thing. God keeps showing up. So, I expect that this nice conversation I am currently having in my head with myself and soon with my dear young sisters may, in the end, prove to be life changing for all of us. I sure hope so. 
     If you would like to comment on messages (good, bad, or otherwise) or rules, please do so. I would welcome your insight.

     To close on a lighter note, I saw this sign on a blog that I regularly follow: Gus and Lula.   These are not unspoken, but spoken messages. My children used to say that I spoke a language called "Motherese" and that my sayings were "Motherisms." Thus, I think that you will agree that these are classic Motherisms written in the finest Motherese! 
image from


Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's a Sweet Life

    And this is why...
                 Oh and this...
                             And 'cause you can't really see her in the other photo, this, too:

                              And these folks take up a big space in my heart (my Momma and my sisters)!

      Oh dear, I can't forget fabulous five cousins, otherwise known as the Bosom Bottom Club:
        Or these friends who have stuck with me through thick and thin (and trust me, thin was a long time ago), good times and bad, and have encouraged and inspired me in ways too numerous to recount.
Or these dear ones who continually refresh the heart of this woman with
their authentic and genuine faith.
    And to the rest of you who make my life sweeter than a honeycomb, I hope you know who you are. You bring sunshine on rainy days, leave the Shalom of God in your wake, and never fail to make an impression of grace upon my life. You leave me blessed and filled with wonder at the goodness of a God who would lavish such love upon a woman like me. I think I need to pinch myself. Thank you again for your love, your faithfulness, and your friendship. You mean so much to me! Soli Deo Gloria...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Music to Soothe This Savage Beast

    If music soothes the savage beast, this music soothes my savage heart. These works of art continue to alter my perception of this world. The afford me a glimpse of that which I can barely comprehend: the nature of the Divine. The Glorious Impossible. The Word become flesh. The Lover of my Soul: even Jesus, the Holy One.
Come, share in the joy, and be transformed. It's some of the best music this side of heaven!

The incomparable Yo-Yo Ma playing Ennio Morricone's Gabriel's Oboe and the Falls.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

       Woods in Winter by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O'er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.


       Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
                     Pour out the river's gradual tide,
                        Shrilly the skater's iron rings,
                      And voices fill the woodland side.

             Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
                When birds sang out their mellow lay,
                     And winds were soft, and woods were green,
                And the song ceased not with the day!

         But still wild music is abroad,
          Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
              And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
          Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

            Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
         Has grown familiar with your song;
    I hear it in the opening year,
       I listen, and it cheers me long.

Both images were taken by a former student of mine, Josh B. Carter.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine Happy

     Here's a little Valentine happy to get you in the mood. Valentine's Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. My younger sister and I both have February birthdays and we are almost exactly one year apart. When we were younger our momma split the difference between us, and we usually would have a joint birthday party on Valentine's Day. I loved it. Red hearts. Candy. Paper Doilies. What's not to love about Valentine's Day? When my children were little I always baked a heart-shaped cake on Valentine's Day. The kind with fluffy white icing pulled up into peaks. I still have the pans. Maybe I will dust them off and bring them out now that I have granddaughters. Oh wait. My granddaughters are probably still a bit too young for that fluffy white icing.
Image from The Pretty Blog
Image from The Pretty Blog
     The two pictures below are from one of our joint birthday parties. To this day, I remember this particular party. The plastic doily hats were a bit hit with the girls. Not so much with the boys. I also remember that we got matching Timex watches with little black bands. I think my sister still has hers. She took care of everything. I have no clue where mine is. Does that tell you anything? She's at the head of the table in the top picture. I am at the opposite head in the bottom picture. I look like I am picking my nose. Knowing me, I probably was. That fuzzy figure in the left is my momma. Photos were taken by my Daddy circa 1962, Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dress Shopping

     I am going shopping with a friend today (see earlier post here). We are going into no-man's-land. Literally and proverbially. Seriously, no man alive would be caught dead doing what we are doing today. Shopping for a dress for the Mother of the Groom. In case you didn't know, the Mother of the Groom is the woman at the wedding with no official status. Tradition tells us that she is supposed to wear beige (I actually did at my second son's wedding!) and shut-up (I tried really hard to do this, but if you know me, you know that this was a nigh unto impossible task). I think my friend will be better at this than I was.
    The Mother of the Groom is the woman at the wedding who must take her cue from everyone else. Tradition also dictates that she cannot select her dress (length, style, or color) until the Mother of the Bride has selected hers, and she must also wait until the Bride gives her permission to go forward with this task. The MOG must also make discreet inquiries as to the style of the MOB's dress and must make sure that while her dress is similar in length, style, and fabric choice,  i.e., short, tea length, or long; sequins or no sequins; chiffon, silk, or satin, she can do NOTHING that would upstage the Mother of the Bride. Furthermore, she absolutely cannot COPY the Mother of the Bride, instead, she must delicately follow her lead.
   It's all about navigating the intrepid wedding waters with serenity, style, and grace. My friend should be fine. She has all three in spades. I did some online perusing today to get myself in the right frame of mind to accomplish this all important task. I discovered that there is quite a range of options out there. Some of them are literally mindblowing. Take a look at what I found!
This one definitely fits the traditional wear beige and shut-up category. It's a bit too frou frou for my friend.  

   This is for the semi-sporty Mother of the Groom. My friend doesn't fit this bill either. 
 This is for the Marrakesh Mother of the Bride. My friend doesn't like this trendy look. She's much more traditional. I bet she's also afraid that people might wonder what she is hiding under all those layers.
     I call this the VaVa Voom Mother of the Bride or what an aging cougar might wear. Nada on this one. My friend will not be showing any of her charms. I am glad. I don't want anyone in Texas thinking we Nashvillians have poor taste.
     Do you remember Uli on Project Runway? She might have designed this dress. I think it's a little too artsy for my friend. I don't think she would ever wear anything that looks like it had been tye-dyed, much less walk down the aisle in it!
     This dress actually caught my eye even though my friend will definitely not do strapless. She would have to fashion a little bolero of some kind. Then I noticed the price of the price of this dress. Gasp. Gasp again. $4,560. Are you kidding me? That might be more than she and her husband will be spending on the rehearsal dinner and the plane fares and get the idea. Do people really pay those prices for a Mother of the Groom dress? I couldn't do it. And neither can my friend. Besides, I really don't like the dress that much. 
     On all the websites I checked out, I could not help but notice that all but one featured ultra thin glamorous looking models who might pass for a "mother" but only if the mother had been dieting religiously, getting Botox regularly, and was a child bride when she married the fantasy father. 
      I did manage to find one normal looking woman.

      But the problem is that she is wearing white. And everybody knows that there is only one person who gets to wear white to the wedding, and that is the BRIDE. 
      Oh well, we are off to laugh, to cry, make a few memories, and hopefully, find the PURFFFECT dress!