Finishing Things

My Sunday Post is almost a Monday post.

In fact, I’m trying to talk myself out of posting at all.  But I will not listen to that voice any more.

Last Thursday we made another two-hour trip to the dentist.  Three trips in three weeks.  But this time, since Doug wasn’t under the influence of pain killers or bleeding profusely, he drove.  So we got there faster.

To me, speed signs are the law.

To him, speed signs are merely a suggestion.

When he spotted a copper and cream Cougar on the road, we went even faster.  Because, you know, he had to check it out.  So I grabbed a couple of pictures for him to drool over later.

But it was all good.  Stitches out.  Healing well.  And we got to have lunch with youngest son who works near there.

We took the back way home… up and over Chehalem Mountain.  It’s not a big mountain, but it is a pretty mountain.  And on the other side, it dropped us into Newberg, where we lived for 22-ish years.

It surprised me, but I got a little choked up as we drove through.  We were only there to close out an account and stop at a store, but suddenly I was overcome with emotion and memories.  Young sons growing up, football games, wrestling tournaments, family visits, parades, church events, weddings, trips to the hospital emergency room and chats with the school principal.  (You do a lot of the last two when you raise boys.)

And this youngest son we’d just lunched with, lives there still.  With his childhood sweetheart and their three children.  The family saga continues.

It’s been four years since we lived in that town, but I guess we never officially parted ways.  For a long time I thought we’d be back.

But we haven’t.

It looks unlikely.

So it kind of felt like a sweet good-bye.  And the memories were a gift I get to keep.

For some odd reason, I’ve been full of energy since that day.  My list of unfinished projects has loomed large for too long.  I decided to knock them off one at a time.

For example, it’s been over a year since I painted our bedroom… partially.  Well, almost completely, except for about one fifth.  Paint ran out, along with my will to continue.

But as of Friday, the tired pinky color is gone.  It is now 100% Woodlawn Colonial Gray.  I like it.  My husband is happy.  And that’s always a good thing.

And in the kitchen, peeling wallpaper has bugged me forever.  So it’s outta here and in its place is Farm Green.

My budget is set for August.  Calendar is filling up.  We’ve been eating cucumbers from the garden.

Those irritating unknowns are floating about like they always do.  But I’m just not going to worry.

I am blessed beyond measure.  I’m thankful for another day and another chance to finish.

And that includes this post.

Refreshment

It’s overcast today.  Warmish, but not too.  Just the way I like it, actually.

I opened all the windows this morning, as always, then sat down with my journal and coffee.  The breeze rolled over me.

And so began my list of thanks.

I ran through the names which impressed themselves upon me, including the one so far away in a sandy, hot place.  I prayed cool refreshment for each one.  Body. Soul. Spirit.

Because sometimes, you just need to be refreshed.

This week I went lunching with a son.  And then we did a little shopping.  And since we weren’t finished talking, we went coffee-ing.

On several cool mornings, I culled through the overflow of stuff which still exists in this place where I live.  Another dump trailer one third full and a stack of boxes labeled for give-away was my reward.

We made an emergency trip to the oral surgeon for more stitches on Thursday.  When the doc says do nothing for several days, to not bend over or lift things… there is a reason for that. I think the guilty party got the point.  Right???

And then, unhappy words were spoken here this week, which is to be expected when you’ve blended two households.  And because I am who I am, I spent time wondering what I did wrong… until I realized the answer.

Nothing.

Because some things can’t be fixed and you just need to stand steady.

And then do the next thing you know.

Like laundry.  Or dinner.  Or wait.

I read a great book this week, Love Does by Bob Goff.  It made me smile and think, all at the same time.  Can you imagine?

I like what this Bob guy says,

“There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I’m tempted to turn it down all the time.  I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does.  It doesn’t come in an envelope.  It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen.  It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day.  Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I’ve seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live.”

I’m often tempted to turn down this invitation as well.  I mean, how many ways can you make spaghetti, or change the sheets or wash the towels or listen to the same words that push every single button you have, without thinking this is getting old?

But if you skip the invite, you also skip the cool morning air and the great cup of coffee and the lunch with the son or the healing words and the promise of what is yet to be.

It’s scary, but I’ll continue to take the unknown behind door #3.

I didn’t take many pictures this week.  So in honor of today’s refreshing breeze, I’m posting a few taken a couple of months back.  Doug and I went to the Oregon coast for my birthday.  It was foggy and beautiful and not too cold and all the perfection that sand and ocean offer.

It was refreshment.  And my happy place.

(Click on the pictures for a better view!)

A Tale of Two Teeth

A long, long time ago, in a place far away, I married this great smile.a001a

Somewhere during the 2nd or 3rd year of “for better or for worse”, and because of a night out playing ice hockey with the guys, it morphed into this toothless version.

a003

Over the years an interesting variety of bridges and “flippers” and pegs and posts have found their way into that grin.  An early version of implants got him thru our years in Alaska.  But they finally met the beginning of their end in an Army-Navy Surplus store in Seattle.

Deep in animated negotiation for an item he thought too expensive, I watched, along with my father-in-law, Cliff, as Doug’s two front teeth simply fell out of his mouth and plopped on to the sales counter.

Cliff stepped behind a merchandise display in an unsuccessful attempt to hide his laughter.  I watched, amazed, as Doug just stuck the teeth back in his gums and continue to haggle.

Nothing much stops Doug, which is what I like most about him.  And also the least.  But probably the most.

So now the latest version of modern implants have failed and he’s mid-way thru a 3-part plan to get him some new teeth.  This week was the big surgery to remove the posts.

And goodness, drugs do amazing things.

Doug has no memory of going into the pharmacy, even though I begged him not to, where he staggered around like a drunk person.

He has no memory of the ride home and conversation about how much he wants to shave off his mustache because… “I like my face”.

I told him I like his face too and that shaving off the mustache is a great idea.

He has no memory of stopping at a Denny’s because he “really, really, really” needed some soup.

And he has absolutely no memory of his mildly inappropriate remark to the waitress.

I left a big tip and continue to extend my sincere apology to anyone at the Denny’s off Highway 22 who may have been offended.

So he’s got a couple of days of healing under his belt and is doing well.

He thinks I’m lying about the shaving of his mustache, but I’m not.  And I think he should keep his word.

I’ve wondered if he regrets the cost of that hockey game so many years ago.  But I know better.  He’d rather do things than wish he had.

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In other news, the vegetable garden is growing well.  The fence we put up to keep deer teeth and bunny teeth out is doing its job.  But mole teeth keep finding their way up from beneath.

Other than providing dental shuttle service, my week has been quiet.  My Dad shuffles up and down the deck with his walker.  We sit for a while.  I read.  He watches the birds and falls asleep.

I think about my military son in a dangerous place far away, then read the news of others’ military sons who died on American soil just doing their job in an office building.

I watch my Dad and remember it wasn’t so long ago he rode bikes with me and created beautiful gardens and fixed cars and gave wise advice… and now he occasionally doesn’t know my name.

Time is a valuable commodity we share.

It doesn’t come with a guarantee beyond this moment.

It almost makes a little sense to risk a tooth or two doing something you love.

Instead of wondering if you should.

Or finding out it’s too late.

Symbols that move me forward

It’s hard to escape symbols lately.  They are thrust in your face every time the TV news comes on.  And as we all know, symbols can get a body worked up.  And cause frustration.  And misunderstanding.  And turn one against another.

So I’ve been looking for symbols that are life-giving.  Not life sapping.

Because I am a little sapped.  Which does not mean I am a sap.  Just feel that way.

Doug and I have lost three people these last couple months – – my best friend from childhood – Lorna… our first friend in Alaska – Tom… and a friend who was kind of mentor to us as a young couple – Dave.  I believe they’re in heaven and I will see them again, but still, their leaving makes the world a little bit gray.

So I’ve found a few symbols around me that say, be resilient… don’t give up… love and laugh a lot.

And here they are:

     ~~~~~~~~~~

My dead fuchsia –  OK, that didn’t sound too uplifting, but I have a horrible record with fuchsias.  However, this one lasted all of summer 2014.  By early autumn it looked scraggly so I took it down and set it in the back of a flower bed.  It sat there all of last fall.  All winter long.  All this spring.  It was nothing but brown and dry and  I purposely ignored it.  I weeded around it, hung new baskets over it, always intending to pull out the dry contents and plant something new.

But it got tired of waiting.  So it just grew itself!  And with a little more water and fertilizer and some apologies on my part, we have this a month later.

I love this spunky fuchsia!

     ~~~~~~~~~~

What says great days are coming better than a wedding invitation in the mail – – although we’d be there regardless – – because we’re helping with the food and we are half the parents – – so, like, we HAVE to be there!

To sit across the table from this cute couple and talk about reception food and cake and such and such and so forth and so on…. is a very big, happy love thing.

lauren andrew

     ~~~~~~~~~~

Blank notebooks.  Ready for new words.  All on sale and with pretty covers besides.

“Driving Miss Paisley”   Oh, how I love a good play on words.

tablets

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My husband.  He makes me laugh.  Here’s an exchange from the dentist office this week:

Receptionist: “this is your co-pay today, would you like to pay it now or later?…ummm, well, maybe you should pay it now.”

Doug: “why, is there a possibility I may not come out alive”?

Receptionist: (with much nervous laughter) “oh, no!  you’ll be just fine… I just meant… I may not be here, umm, when..”

OK – so he is not the actual symbol – – it’s his hands, holding a cup of coffee (or the occasional glass of wine).

Because that seems to be how we get thru this life… sitting across the table, one cup of coffee at a time.

Life’s not always pretty.  The conversation isn’t always pleasant.  With my tendency to worry and his to make jokes, you’d wonder how we get anything done.  But we have.  And we do.

And it’s the best part of my day to sit across the table from him.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – Symbol

My take on rainbows, faith and fear….

roygbivLast Sunday, on my weekly post, I was going to include the fact I’d achieved ROY.G.BIV in my closet.

Months earlier I’d complimented my husband on his new-found closet organizing, color coordinating skills.  He waved across his shirts and said, “ROYGBIV” (pronounced roy-ga-biv).  I’d never heard the term before.  red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet.   Am I the only person on the planet who did not know that ?

Anyway, due to a crazy good sale I found whilst shopping with my mom a couple of weeks ago, I added some new tops to my wardrobe and thought they looked kind of cool hanging there.

Until (gasp) I realized these tops made a rainbow.  And last Sunday, I did not want to be associated with any rainbow.  No way.  No how.  Period.

Being the thinker I am, I’ve spent considerable time mulling over my anti-rainbow gut reaction.

Obviously, it’s more than the rainbow.  It’s the ever-changing nature of our American culture.

It is change I find disturbing.

So all week I’ve observed the rainbow banner, the #Love Wins, the ugliness erupt on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue with law suits and the words bigot and intolerance bandied about on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

The back and forth within the Christian community alone is sad and disappointing.  And I don’t know what Bible is being quoted, but some of the words and actions attributed to Jesus don’t exist in anything I’ve ever read.

Me?  I’ve wanted to rant a little myself.  But I’m not a debater.  At least that’s what I tell myself while eloquently pleading a case to my bar of soap in the shower, while I drive, while watering the plants, while doing laundry and while cooking dinner.

Man!  I’ve got to get this stuff out of my head!

So how do I remain faithful to God, true to myself and meaningfully share this planet with those I don’t agree with?  I’ve got a plan for that….

1)  Preserve relationships –

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18

I love my people.  I respect my people.  But all my people don’t believe the same thing I do.

I may be on the conservative side.  They may be on the liberal side.  But when we share life events, when we sit around the dinner table together, it will be with love and respect and concern for the other, as far as it depends on me.

Love is greater than being right.

And that extends to friends and friends I’ve yet to meet.  Because when rainbow flags and being right is our focus, we cannot hear anyone else.  And when we label, mock and marginalize, we do not learn.

2)  Remain in Faith –

Remain in me and I will remain in you.  For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine; and you cannot be fruitful apart from me.  John 15:4

Those actually are words Jesus said.  And they’re words I hold on to.  Ask me how I know they are true….

I’ve lived long enough and screwed up enough and been extended more grace than anyone deserves.  I know who I am, I know what I believe and in whom I believe.  And I’m standing firm.

That is not bigotry.

That is faith.

I trust Him to guide my thoughts and words and direct my steps.

3)  Punch fear in the face –

In the words of the great philosopher, Rocky Balboa –

It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.

I’m not sure why.  I’ve looked back on my life to find an event that might have triggered this, but I struggle with fear.

I fear offending people.  And sometimes it’s silly stuff, like I’ll want to call one of my sons.  And then I spend an hour trying to decide if this is a good time to call, is he working, is he eating dinner with his family – – and then when I get him on the phone I start apologizing for disturbing him.  What is the deal??

I mean, this fear thing goes way back…. when Doug and I went on our first date, oh, about 47ish years ago, we stopped in Santa Cruz, California to watch the ocean.  It was getting too dark and windy to walk on the beach, so we stood on the edge of a cliff, watching the waves crash below us.  Suddenly I saw his arms raise over my head and my first thought… my first thought, people!, is…

… “he’s going to push me off the cliff”!  Who thinks stuff like that??  And by the way, he was just throwing his jacket over my shoulders.

Anyway, beyond being tossed off cliffs and making phone calls at inappropriate times… I fear being judged.  I don’t like labels.  It’s hard to undo the false perception someone paints on you.  And a label does not account for the whole of your life story.  I know this first hand… from the receiving end and the giving end.

But maybe worse than being labeled is being afraid to speak up at the right time.  Even taking points #1 and #2 into account, there are times to speak up and stand up.  And that’s why I need to get violent with fear.

I’ve noticed that intolerance word used a whole lot on both sides of the aisle.  I’m not sure how other folks define the it, but here’s my take on it…

Intolerance is a spoiled brat that has to have its way.

Intolerance succeeds by dividing and isolating individuals and groups of individuals.

Intolerance divides and isolates by using labels and ridicule.

I won’t have any part of that.  And I won’t be afraid of it either.

There will be hard times moving forward in this country I love.  And there will always be label hangers.  But you’ve got to press on anyway.

Because of love.

And love, yes I do believe LOVE WINS.  But it’s a much bigger love than the version sloganized across social media.  It’s a love that was designed for ALL of humanity.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

Twenty Dollars Worth of Balls and a Dirt Bath

I could prattle on about my trip to the craft shop early this week, where a bin of hula hoops and brightly colored balls caught my eye.

$3.99 the sign said.

Since I’m updating the grandkids’ toy box I grabbed a couple of balls, the items I went to the store for and checked out.  My ending total was much more than expected, but since there was a line-up behind me and only one checker, I decided to head out to the car and recheck my totals.

To my surprise the balls rang up as $9.99!  I walked back to the front of the store and realized the sign on the bin actually said $3.99/$9.99.  Why did I only focus on the $3.99 when I first arrived?  It was the hula hoops that were $3.99.

So I went back to the check out stand where I found my mother at the head of the line, fumbling with her debit card, with 10 people, 10 irritated people, behind her.

I went home with the balls.

And here is what twenty dollars worth of balls looks like.balls

At least they are licensed by Marvel Comics.  So there’s that… for anyone who cares.

……………

And now I could lament of my attempt to help my husband with the creation of his vegetable garden a few days back.

We thought it wise to put up some deer fencing to protect our fledgling plants because, well, we have deer.  Lots of them.

So I held the metal poles and Doug climbed the ladder to pound them in.  And there is this tool thingy he puts on top of the pole to help him pound it in.  And when you fling that tool thingy on the ground which has been freshly tilled, there is a likelihood of the thingy filling up with dirt.  Which it did.  And then it got dumped on top of me.

It wasn’t fun.

But we have a fence.

And the veggies are growing.

……………

There are any number of little things I could ramble on about today.  But I’m kind of overwhelmed by the political events of the passed week.

I ruminate and think a lot, so it takes me awhile to process events and information.  I’m not one to spout off an opinion in the heat of the moment.

Since my world view is influenced by the living Word of God, I know there will always be a divide between those who believe, those who don’t, and those who’ve made up something in between.  It’s just a bit shocking to see it played out so vividly on this page of history.

So I will leave those thoughts alone for the time being because I believe:

Time + Prayer = Something worthwhile to say.

As I close my Sunday post, I’ll share some of how our flower garden grows around here… and my belief that no matter what I see happening on this earth, good or bad, or oddly peculiar… God has it all under control.

As my grandpa told me a long time ago, “honey, it’s all going to be ok”.

one of these is not like the others…..

Early morning sun, hanging basket, summer flowers….. and that one, last strand of Christmas lights.

Christmas lights in June. Yes, we are those people!

It’s interesting how the morning shadows caused me to see that strand of lights.

And it’s interesting how a change in routine can cause you to see something that’s been taken for granted.

This week marked 20 years since a particular son graduated high school.  It also marked 20 years since the Army recruiter whisked him away to a longer than I imagined career.

And for the last 20 years, with notable exceptions (like wars and fishing trips), he has called home most every Sunday evening.

6 p.m.ish  …give or take an hour.  Or a day.

Since he lives on the other side of the country, his phone calls are a connection I treasure.  A clearing house of sorts for all things family and then some – like the treasure he scored after a round of haggling at the 2nd hand store, his new favorite fishing hole, what mischief his dogs got in to, the likelihood of deployment.  We bring him up to speed on family and his brother’s recent deployment.  We talk of books and hobbies and how we got the gravel road in front of the house oiled.  Now there’s only one inch of dust to clean every day instead of two.

We talk about hopes and dreams – his and ours.  We laugh.  And he outlines his latest ideas on life after the Army.

Two weeks ago he was home for a short visit.  Gathered around a table, his brothers, their wives, his father and I, we picked up where we left off the last time we were together.  The Sunday phone calls took on flesh and bone, real-time story telling, laughter, and hugs.

These four men who had grown up in my home, sitting around a table… it felt as though one had never left.  That he never would again.

But he did.

For one more far away deployment.

And his leaving felt as foreign and awkward as if it were the very first time.

Last Sunday I knew the phone would not ring at 6p.m.ish.  Nor did it ring tonight.  But I listen for it anyway.  And I am amazed at how that simple call, about things so ordinary, became extraordinary to me.  It had become the way to wrap up the week and move on to the next.

So tonight it feels good to write these words and share a picture.  To punctuate the week.  To move forward to tomorrow.

And maybe even to look at my small space on the internet as a new Sunday night tradition.