Sunday, December 16, 2012

Snow globes and coffee cups

A little girl showed me her "soul" a while back...and her soul is full of snow globes. Her favorite is the one given to her by her grandmother (shortly before the grandmother's death). It is Shamu---in a snow globe---from Sea World! (Irony, anyone?)

This sweet, childish absurdity made me look at my own life, filled with paint colors and flowers and coffee and Sudoku. These are all good things. They bring me so much true pleasure. But my "soul," at the snow globe level, is my coffee cup collection.

My mugs and cups are a visual journal of my life journey, and those who have seen my "soul" either get it or they don't. Some of those who get it, have even added to it.

Just a sampling:

~a calligraphy K, black on white, given by my niece Shayna
~a Harvard mug from Zack and Autumn's first trip to Boston
~a rooster mug I bought after my Emmaus Walk
~a Thurber, TX miner mug from my friend Sarah Claunch
~Disney mugs, added to by my husband and kids through the years
~Tombstone, AZ collection gathered from every trip to Benson
~Sports mugs from every university in every town where Jon speaks
~a Starbucks Christmas mug from my b-i-l Bruce
~a Dallas mug given to me by Hayley, after helping with a video game launch
~a Wedgwood china cup from my sister Jane

But my favorites are the ones in the picture for my blog, the stack from around the world, which have been given to me by my kids. They represent a world vision and a life of curiosity. That is my legacy to the most important people in my life. A legacy couched in whimsey....

What does your "soul" look like?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Look out! coffee in the lookout!

Jon had work in the same town where LouLou and Jack live; so, of course, I tagged along! We took with us one of their Christmas presents: the Step 2 Lookout Tree house, which resembled nothing like a tree house at all! It was small, made of "durable plastic" (can you say huge carbon footprint), but had a cute set of three stairs and a slide that even Jack could use.

In the assembly, the parts were large, and it was easy to see how to put it together. Jon supervised from afar, LouLou anticipated, and Autumn and I added muscle while Zack called the shots.

The "tree house" itself went together easily. It was adorable; just the right size for toddlers. Lou climbed and slid with pure joy, having such a fine structure in her very own back yard.
Then, Zack discovered the "lookout" part of the tree house.....5 pieces of hard yellow plastic, a real mirror, and SEVERAL screws and bolts.

Hmmmmm.......bolts.......hmmmmmm.......why would a plastic lookout need bolts? Probably, it was the tree house part that needed the bolts. That was immediately problematic. What should be taken apart to attach said bolts? What should you do with the joyous little angel enraptured currently by said tree house while you attached said bolts?
Suddenly, instructions were necessary! After searching through the discarded box, there they were. Instructions. One way, they were in English. The other way, they were in Chinese.

Immediately, the construction process took on new meaning and urgency......the invisible image of a Chinese couple, similar in age to Zack and Autumn, appeared in the opposing corner of the yard! They had a matching tree house with the unfinished lookout, and a giant invisible stopwatch appeared in the sky overhead! An invisible starter pistol armed with a silencer went off, beginning a competition to rival the arms race!

Instructions were studied, cast aside, then picked up again. Aut read them aloud, then silently to herself, then looked on while repeating from memory as Zack used the screwdriver to attach.

At this point, I should add that they went with their favorite screwdriver for this competition:  a replica 2-inch long Duracell battery for a handle that had a 1-inch long Phillips head screwdriver piece sunk into it. **Please stop to picture this screwdriver, and then imagine the Chinese couple with their state-of-the-art robotic, electronic screwdriver hovering invisibly above.**

At some point during all this, I have exited the fray, steathfully acquired my camera, and am snapping pictures without drawing attention. My lens focused in on the ultimate secret weapon! There she was....lying across the slide.....partially on the platform....carefully perusing the instructions from the Chinese side! LouLou! It was LouLou! We were saved!!!
I never knew that she could read Chinese, (or even read at all!) and, obviously, the invisible Chinese couple had not expected this turn of events. By transferring instructions to her parents telepathically, Zack and Aut sprang into action and completed their task, besting the Chinese couple and sending them into invisible exile!

The Star-Spangled Banner began to play silently, and a gigantic invisible American flag was hoisted high into the heavens above! LouLou and parents stood on the podium, hands over hearts, a slight tear on Autumn's cheek, proud to have beaten the invisible Chinese for first place in the tree house construction division!
As 2 year old Lou hit the high note loud and clear, we all felt just a little bit safer.....

At least, that's how I remember it....

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Silly coffee talk

I am feeling very conflicted at the moment.

December 21st happens to be the birthday of my daughter-in-law, Autumn. She is one of my favorite people in the universe. However, that also happens to be the day of the Apocalypse. The Mayans seem quite insistent about that, so I am left with a quandary.... buy a birthday present for Autumn, or proclaim my secret crush to Bob Costas in person before it's too late? .....what to do, what to do.....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Good to the last drop...

I know that everyone on TV screams that our economy is improving, but I just don't get it! It's not that we aren't doing OK....we are....but we are doing OK because we have self-imposed austerity measures that make our necessities into luxuries. My leather coat from 12 years ago still looks beautiful and it's warm. Yay! Not buying another. Green beans, 10 cans for $5 (but not my normal brand), yes, please! Water from the tap instead of bottled water--you bet; I need the fluoride to keep my teeth strong! (We cut out bottled water a few years ago, along with carbonation. It was the first "luxury" to go.)

There is nothing wrong with making do. Nothing. There is nothing wrong with DIY, repurposing, or regifting. There is nothing wrong with hand-me-downs--if they're new to me, they're new! There is nothing wrong with Goodwill, Garage Sales, or Swap Meets.

As a lifelong pack rat, a recent closet cleanout allowed me to see just how much jewelry I actually have collected over 35 years (that's right, some of it from college). I spent a whole day grouping sets together, figuring out what I would wear, what I would never ever wear again, and what was appropriate for LouLou to play with. The result was a ton of "good" jewelry to spare. By "good," I mean that my ex-boyfriend, Sam Moon, let me buy lots of items for under $10! I ziplocked each item or set of items and took them with me everywhere---to Bible Study, to my teenage neighbor, to my sisters---until they were gone! I didn't sell them,  because, believe me, I got my $10 worth by wearing them myself!

I am happier with less stuff. I never thought that I would hear myself say that, but I am.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Latte

"Gratefulness is what takes the sting out of adversity."

This statement, not mine but instead from a devotional book, sums up my life journey at this moment. When I am not grateful, I always feel the sting, like a splinter in my finger that I forget about until the next time I pick something up...then, it stings again! 

At our family Thanksgiving this year, several, as I looked around the room, have been or are in serious adversity. They have every reason to be overcome by their adversity, if they so choose. But, in this season of thankfulness, their expressions softened. In laughter, their body language relaxed. In our corporate gratefulness, the sting of any and every situation was diluted because it was shared. The cloud of sadness was banished by laughter.  The gnawing realities from our current struggles were swept aside by the sight of children playing football in the front yard, the snores of grown men sleeping in front of football on TV, and the joyful chatter of familiar voices all around. 

Perhaps, the statement should read,
                 "Pumpkin pie takes the sting out of adversity."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

If it's Tuesday, it must be medium blend...

Completion is a strange acquaintance. On the one hand, to complete something that has been hanging over your head is to get rid of it and the sense of failure it has caused by hanging there.
But sometimes, completion means saying goodbye. When you finish a great book with strong characters, you know the last page will be your last meeting with them. When the cold weather comes, those blooming plants which have been so generous to share their splendor, will close up shop for winter, short circuiting our glimpse of their glory and instantly banishing the flying wonders from their supply of nectar.
That's why I love Thanksgiving! We can be grateful for all that has come before, while we get caught up in the anticipation of the holiday season! The party starts in November and doesn't end until January!

Year-long house repairs are ending for us today. Our lives can find an order that has been absent longer than that. This has been a big deal for us. It has tied me to the house, and it has stolen my joy in being creative. BUT IT'S TIME TO BE THANKFUL THAT "BROKEN" IS ALMOST OVER!

Break out the Christmas stuff.....I am moving on!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Do they have fried coffee at the fair?

I love to hear my little LouLou count! At age 2 1/2, when she counts, there are some numbers that she likes and some that she doesn't. She isn't too keen on 4. And 7 is far from receiving "favored" status.  But she absolutely hates 10!
Instead, she just chooses to re-count, using the numbers that she DOES like.
She likes 5 a lot, and puts a distinctive Texas twang into it when she says it. "F-eye-veh. F-eye-veh." Who cares about 4 when you can have 5, a couple of times! She is also fond of 8 (aaaate), 9 (nah-eye-nah), and 12 (teh-vel-vah). All too soon she will give each of them their due; but for now, I can enjoy her particular pattern of counting.

I do understand how she feels. There are tasks that I just don't happen to like. Like, dusting. Or, laundry. Don't get me wrong, I also give them their required respect; but I don't enjoy myself. I would rather vacuum twice. Or, perhaps, empty the dishwasher twice... unfortunately, once a dishwasher is empty, it doesn't make much sense to put clean dishes back in, just so I can skip the dusting.

Life....being a mature grownup.... requires doing many things that you don't really like. Marriage requires that you be around someone who may be dislikeable on occasion. Too bad! Life just isn't fair! As my sweet b-i-l Bruce Moran says, "The only fair in life is the place you take your pig to win a blue ribbon." Boy, is he right!
You muddle through. You keep on going. You love the unlikable until you can like them again too. It takes courage and determination to stay positive these days. Do it because it is right. "Whatever is good, whatever is right....think on THESE things." It will get you through. I promise.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I need an extra shot of espresso over this one!

I just saw the strangest story on our local news. A young couple watched as a deserted house, in a nearby neighborhood, continued over a few months to have no active inhabitants. A car parked in front of the house was tagged by police as an abandoned vehicle. Now, the couple had all the evidence necessary to move on in, thanks to a little-known Texas squatting law from the 1800's! Initially, this law was enacted to allow those who came to Texas in its early days the ability to take over an abandoned piece of property, when the original owners found life in this unsettled frontier too much to handle. So, based on this law, the couple felt confident in moving into the $400,000 house as Squatters!!! Soon after, the real owners came home to find this couple living there. Citing the Texas Squatters Law, the couple REFUSED to leave, saying the house was now theirs, according to Texas law! And they were allowed to stay!!!
Eventually, justice did prevail, and the young husband is on his way to jail for this little scheme. His young wife, on the other hand, went on the record as saying, "God 'gave' us this house....He's going to straighten all this out and get my husband out of jail, I just know it."

Oh, and by the way, where were the home's actual owners for those months, you ask? Houston.... at MD Anderson.... where the wife was aggressively fighting cancer........

I am just not smart enough to think that wickedly! Or am I just not wicked enough to be that "smart?"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Across the cup from Mella and Herah...

I have come to know the most amazing group of young women. They are Ethiopian Evangelical women from across the globe. They are the most gorgeous women I have ever seen...flawless skin, bright eyes, brilliant with drive and determination. They have spunk! Being a lifelong Texas woman, I know spunk when I see it. ("Spunk calls to spunk"?---nah)
They have names that are unfamiliar to me, like Radiat, Yore, and Bemnet. And each stands out to me, as I have linked their beautiful faces to their unusual names.
In their culture, you are a child until 18; then, at 18, you become a youth. You are a youth until you are 30! Great importance is placed on higher education, so accepting that you are a youth until you have finished those critical transitional years is quite freeing. You can formulate your own faith, be kept on track through college without feeling like your personal freedom is being imposed upon, and view the next phase...adulthood... with the seriousness it deserves.
I married at 18 and instantly became a pastor's wife. I balanced going to college with being married and partnering with my husband at church. I would not change that for anything! But that was my culture. Then, you left home at 18 and either got married, went to college, or both. Or you got a job, because at that time, you could get a good job without going to college. A tremendous amount of responsibility was placed on you at 18. And the choices were fewer.
I wish American teenagers today could realize that they are still children until they are 18, because so many choices require supervision in their still-forming minds. And they are youths through college and, what we call, young adulthood; because they need gentle direction and a watchful eye to keep them from making life-altering mistakes.
Instead, we continue in our past cultural 18, we throw them in the deep end and tell them to swim!
........some of them drown........

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Room for Cream? Yes, please.

Today, it is cold enough to lay a fire in the fireplace. There is nothing as wonderful as drinking a fresh cup of coffee, sitting in front of the fire!

Well, actually, there are plenty of things as wonderful, even more wonderful, the way I see it:

*singing to my grandchildren, LouLou and Jack
*hearing my daughter Hayley laughing
*sitting on the back porch with my husband, Jon, while
*working the Sudoku to a successful conclusion
*soft soil under my fingernails from planting anything
*paint under my fingernails from painting anything
*sand between my toes, from any beach, anywhere
*playing cards with my mother and sisters
*playing dominoes with my teenage next-door-neighbors
*tromping around graveyards with my husband
*hearing my husband preach
*hearing my son, Zack, preach
*seeing my daughter-in-law, Aut, in prayer and praise
*going for a movie with my cool son-in-law, Chance

And last, but not least, having coffee with those I love, with those I am going to love, and with those who are hurting and need love.