I take great joy in observing life. I spend a lot of time pondering my observations. So, one day I thought I would write them down. These are my ponderings. -dana

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Parable of the Coffee Pot.

"Oh, I'm so thirsty!  You know what sounds good and refreshing right now?  A big cup of ice-cold vinegar!" said no one ever.

About a week ago, however, that is exactly what I got.  A cup of vinegar.  

Of course, it wasn't really vinegar.  It was words.  Words that had many of the same characteristics of vinegar.  So bitter was this cup handed to me by one I trusted.  Vinegar can look like water at first, but how quickly its true properties are revealed.

The human reaction to taking a sip of vinegar is to spew it out.  The same with words that taste like vinegar.  We get a mouthful, and it repulses us.  We spew it out and want no more of it.  It makes a mess, though, and we get a cloth and try to clean it up.  Perhaps it has gotten on others who might have been in the line of fire, too, and then there's an even bigger mess.

After taking that sip of vinegar, I just could not get the taste out of my mouth.  I tried--I really did!  No matter how I tried to make my taste buds happy with sweet-tasting things,  the taste of vinegar kept coming back.  It was just like I was taking the drink all over again.

Isn't that just the way it is with us when we have a "vinegar" experience?  We relive it over and over again.  We keep opening the wound, allowing our feelings to get hurt all over again---getting a little more angry each time.  Why, when the original dose was so distasteful?

I don't know.  But one morning when I was pouring my coffee, I believe I got a word from God regarding this exact thing. I thought I'd tell you about it.

As I was pouring myself a cup of coffee, I noticed a blinking red light on my coffee maker.  Under the light was the word "clean".  The coffee pot is relatively new, and I'd never really done a deep cleaning.  It was high time, I guessed.

I pulled out my instruction booklet (do not ask me how I was able to lay my hands on that thing!),  and went to the section marked "Cleaning and Maintenance".  It said when the red light starts blinking, the coffee maker likely has calcification build-up and could not function properly.   It said, if the coffee maker was not cleaned, it could affect the taste of the coffee.

The cleaning concoction was 2/3 pot of cold water mixed with 1/3 pot of vinegar.  Vinegar?   That was a property of vinegar that I had never considered.  I had only been considering the value of vinegar as something akin to poison, but cleansing?  

My coffee pot had developed calcifications from hard water that needed to be removed, and vinegar of all things was the answer.  But not straight vinegar.  Vinegar mixed with water.

If I believe the holy scriptures, they tell me all things work together for good to them who love Christ Jesus.  All things. Even bitter, foul-tasting words that come from the lips of a fellow believer.  If I'm honest, I will say that I sometimes find this so hard to believe.  But then the Spirit tells me it is indeed so, so I choose it!

When our hearts become hardened toward someone because of how they've treated us, we can't possibly function at capacity. It will affect everything we do. We can't love like we need to.  We can't worship like we need to.  We can't serve like we need to.  The calcification has to be removed.  So God takes the vinegar, that alone was so offensive to us,  and He adds the cool, clear water of the Spirit.  The vinegar that poisoned is diluted and actually begins to heal.  He ever-so-gently cleanses away the hardness that has built up until, once again, our heart is functioning properly and at full capacity.  All things work together for good.

How long had that red light been blinking on my coffee maker before I actually took the time to clean it?  And what if I hadn't cleaned it?  Would it one day quit working altogether?  

I believe it is possible to keep tasting the vinegar in our lives until we aren't quite so sensitive to it anymore.  In fact, we might even acquire a taste for it--until it doesn't repulse or offend us quite so much anymore.  Until we kind of like it.  Until we don't even notice the "build-up" and the hardening in us.  We just slowly, stop functioning at all.

There is always a red light.  I don't want to miss it.

Oh Lord,  when the taste of vinegar offends my soul, let my first thought be to cry to you;  that you might send your cool water to dilute what is foul and bitter to cleanse me so that my heart will not become hardened.

Never underestimate the importance of a red light.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The loo.

I just arrived home from a 4,000 mile road trip.

Here's what that means.

I have used approximately 38 public restrooms.  I know.  Oooh.

I doubt that I have hardly any male readers, but in the event that you are one of those who just stumbled onto my blog, let me give you an opportunity to go now.  You will understand little of what I write about here.  Only my "sisters of the squat" will understand.  So there.  You've been warned.

I will admit that it is a little odd, and maybe disturbing even,  that out of all the things to ponder,  I am pondering public potties. But hey.  It is was it is.

I, like many of you, was taught at an early age to regard public restrooms with great disdain.  I was also taught to enter them with extreme caution.  So I do.

Don't.  Touch.  Anything.

That means I open all doors by pushing with shoulder or hip--never, ever with my hands.  In the unfortunate event that a "pull" door is encountered, I use a paper towel to avoid actually touching anything.   Even when I have no plan to "sit" on the toilet,  I still take the time to tear four lengths of toilet paper...each approximately 12 inches long, to be placed on the north, south, east and west sides of the toilet.  Never, under any circumstance, no matter how great the urgency,  do I forgo this step.  I always flush with my foot.  After washing hands, if given the choice of paper towels or an electric hand dryer,  I always go with paper towels--unless, heaven forbid, I am in an archaic restroom that has those horrid rolling cloth towels. Then it is mandatory that I choose the electric dryer.   Also, it is a good idea to have hand sanitizer in my bag just in case the hand soap container is empty.   I don't forget to  have a paper towel in hand as I prepare to exit just in case I have to "pull" a door.  If the restroom I just left was without soap or toilet paper, it is my civic duty to report it to the cashier.  I have been known to stand in line to do so.   Can I get a witness?

After my most recent, and by far my longest,  road trip adventure, I have a whole new dislike for public restrooms in general.  It was, however,  the restroom at about mile 3,882 that did me in.

It was late.  I was tired.  Then there it was,  like a beacon in the night.   The glowing green and white Starbucks sign.  "Oh they have nice restrooms," I thought.  And that was before I remembered that they had seat covers, too!  Imagine my excitement.  So the hubby goes for the coffee and I go for the bathroom.  Shoulder pushing open door.  Good.  Oops.  Toilet seat cover dispenser empty.  No worries.  Plenty of toilet paper on the roll.  Then it happened.   The straw broke the proverbial camel's back.  The sleek-looking, male-designed, Georgia Pacific spring-loaded toilet paper machine would only give me two squares at a time.  Two. If you tell me you have never, in the privacy of a stall, silently mouthed a scream at a contraption like this I might be inclined to think you were lying.    I know this thing was designed by a man because a woman would never be so cruel!  Do you know how long it takes, at two squares at a time, to get the 48 inches necessary to cover the toilet?  Girlfriends, you know that is just a recipe for disaster.
Anyway, that was the restroom that pushed me over the edge and made me ponder for the remaining hour-long ride home all the things that really tick me off about public restrooms.

Here we go.

Stalls that don't have a hook on the door for my purse.  I refuse to put my purse anywhere near the floor.  Sometimes I just hang it around my neck.

Worthless hand dryers.  What is the point?   I want an Excelsior that just about blows my skin off.

A regular bottle of hand soap like I use at home.  NO.  A public restroom should have the industrial size  dispenser mounted on the wall.  It is way more sanitary.  In my mind, anyway.

Sticky floors.  With each step, you are a little more grossed out.   I will do anything to  insure that my pants don't come anywhere near that floor.  I will roll them up to my knees if I have to.  Once outside, I will find the nearest patch of grass/weeds and rub my shoes in it until I imagine that all the germ-y stickiness is gone.

Cracks in the stall doors.   I want privacy.  You want privacy.  We don't want anyone even catching one glimpse of what goes on in the stall.

One-ply toilet paper.  I have been known to use half a roll during one visit.   And I'll admit that when, in irritation, I flush (with my foot, of course), I secretly hope the dang toilet clogs and overflows.  That'll teach them to skimp on toilet paper.  Again, I know beyond a doubt that a guy is in charge of purchasing this kind of TP.  How do I know?  Because every time I send my husband to the store to buy it, he comes home with the same kind.  That's how I know.

Too-small stalls.  You know the ones.  It's like the bathroom designer miscalculated the space and so one of three stalls has to be just a smidge too small.  Oh yeah.  A smidge.  It's like when you walk into the stall you have to wedge yourself between the back wall and the toilet just to close the door.  This makes the "don't touch anything" rule impossible.  I just have to go to my happy place at this point.  This is the stall where there is about 8-inches of clearance between the toilet and the door.  Clearly problematic.

Stall doors with broken latch.  No problem if you have a bathroom buddy to guard the door.  But if you're flying solo a huge problem.  I personally use the "check-under-the-door-for-feet" system before I enter a stall.  That simple measure can prevent an awkward moment.  It's the kind of surprise no one wants.

When restrooms are portables.  Uh-uh.  No.

Well, these are my top nine anyway.

During my road trip,  I went to the restroom at a restaurant.  When I walked in, both stalls were in use.  By a little girl, her mother and her grandmother.  The grandmother and the little girl were doing a "happy dance" because the little girl had gone in the big girl potty.   As they danced around outside the stall they chanted, "Go Sophia, go Sophia...you went potty, you went potty".  They seemed oblivious to the fact that an absolute stranger was witnessing, at close range,  this lovely little moment between a grandmother and granddaughter.  Honest to goodness truth. I've never seen anything like it in a public restroom, but then I'd never been to Kentucky.

From her own stall,  the mother said in a voice just dripping with southern drawl, "Sophia, did you put some paper on the potty before you went pee?  Sophia, you have to put paper on the potty when you go pee!" Sophia isn't listening.  She's still doing the happy dance with Grandma.  When I left the bathroom, Sophia was still there, having the best time washing her hands,  happy and unaware that she'd just broken most all my rules for using a public restroom.  Her mother looked at me and said, "It's always an adventure taking my girl to the bathroom".

Oh my. Maybe it's just me being a kill-joy,  but I say that a public restroom is really no place for adventure.  I will stand by that until the day I die.

Some people look forward to getting home to their own beds after being gone on a long trip.

Me?  I'm just thankful for my own loo.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lost Keys.

I can sing the entire theme song to the Captain Kangaroo show.  It is one of those weird things about the brain.  For years that song had been tucked away somewhere in my gray matter and then one day it showed up again.  My ability to perform it has become my "stupid human trick".  I really think everyone should have one.

"Jingle, jingle, jingle.  Do you hear what I hear? 
 Jingle, jingle, jingle.  It's something just for you.
Is it a sleigh bell?  No, it's not a sleigh bell.  
Is it a doorbell?  No, it's not a doorbell.  
It's the sound of the keys to the treasure house... 
and Captain Kangaroo!"

And there is much more which I won't recite here.  But I want you to know that I could.  Most certainly could!

However, this really isn't about the wonderful workings of the brain.  It's not even about Captain Kangaroo. It is about the bain of my family's existence for many years now.


It's about keys.  You know.  The kind that start your engine so you can go conquer the world everyday.  The kind that quickly get you into your house when you cannot "hold it" another minute!  The kind that go "jingle, jingle, jingle" in your pocket until you lose them, at which time they fall deathly silent.

Some people have a huge wad of keys they carry around with them.  Seriously?  Why would you do that?  First of all, they're heavy when you have more than,  say, 15 on a keychain.  Secondly, how long must it take to find the right key?  Who needs the frustration, you know?  

The only time I think it would come in handy to carry that many keys would be if someone came up behind me and said, "Ma'am, give me the key to your car and no one gets hurt".  Then, with a shaky hand I would toss over the "wad" to him and he would be like "dang lady, what do all these keys go to?",  and I would be all cool and just sort of shrug.  Long before he figured out which one was the car key he would get frustrated, throw the keys on the ground and that would be the end of it.  That is the only good reason I can think of to carry around a lot of keys.  But what are the odds?

All I know is that if you were  looking for someone to be "the keeper of the keys" you would not want it to be anyone in my immediate family.  Ever.

There are five people in my immediate family.  One day some years ago,  I got tired of dealing with the house key situation.  Where is it?  Who has the house key?  Where did we hide it outside?  So I went to Hasse's Hardware Store and watched them make me five keys.  With my original, we would then have a total of six.  Everyone had their own key with one to spare.  Total key organization.  I can safely say that house keys weren't an issue for all of a couple of weeks.  Then slowly, one by one, they just vanished into thin air until one day, no one had one but me.  Along with the lost keys went their recollections of ever having been given keys.

 Just a bunch of deniers--that's what they are.  

The children no longer live at home, but still somehow we all seem to be twisted up with keys.

My sisters and I are heirs to my uncle's house in the mountains.  My aunt made us each a set of keys.  I loaned mine to my boys, who lived there for a summer.  We all maintain there was never a key to the front door.  Only the garage door.  Then my brother-in-law found a key to the front door and made several copies for all of us. Great, except for he couldn't remember where he put them or the original.  So we're back to no key for the front door.  My keys became involved in a game of  "key, key, who's got the key?  Turns out, no one has it.  Right now I have in my possession only one way to get into that  house.  The garage door opener.  Sometimes it works and other times not so much.

My oldest son attends school in Michigan and has left his 1992 Mercedes station wagon with his younger brother.  Younger brother has one key, which is on his keychain.  Younger brother leaves for Germany.  He gives his father his one little key.  Father puts it on his keychain.  Father leaves for a business trip with the key.  Brother returns home a few days before father.  Oops.  No key to the car.  But that's okay, because there is another set of keys...on a red keychain.  I remember.  They were given to us for safe-keeping by our oldest son.  Ha.

"Jake, you know where they are, right?" I say.

"I don't think I've ever seen them.  I've only had that one key the whole time I've used Adam's car," he says.

 We've played the blame game. 

 "I have never seen another set of keys," my husband says from his cell phone in a city miles away.

 "Well I have never once driven that car so why would I ever have had them," I say.

Then we deny.

"Maybe Adam never left us that extra set of keys after all".

Holy guacamole.

If I'm honest I will admit that even I occasionally am prone to losing keys.  Out of my two other siblings, my parents chose me to hold the extra key to their safe deposit box.  In my mind it was probably because I was the most responsible.  If you ask the sisters, though, they would probably--no, most assuredly-- say it was only because at the time they each lived about 1,000 miles away.  Whatever the case, my parents would later say it was ill-placed trust because when they closed that box several years later and needed to turn in the keys, not only could I not find the dang key, I was only vaguely aware of having been given the key.  

That is when I decided it was too much pressure to be "the holder of the keys".

But pressure or not, that is my position in my family.  Holder of the keys.  When someone can't find a key, who do they come looking for?  Me.  So, I created something fondly known in my house as "the key bowl".  It's a cute little antique bowl and it currently holds lots of keys that we have no idea what they unlock/turn on.  

 It currently does NOT hold my husbands truck keys which have gone missing as of this morning.  He searched high and low.  I joined the search, retracing his steps from where he last parked his truck to the front door of the house.  No keys.  Where does he turn for help?  Me.  I would like to go on record as having removed the only remaining key to his truck from my keychain and placing it in his hand.  I no longer have a key to the truck!

My husband looks one last time in his truck for his key.  He walks back in the door and I say to him, "Any luck?"  He says, "No, I couldn't find it.  But look what I did find!"

In his hand he holds up a red key chain with the second set of keys to my son's old Mercedes.  They were under the seat of his truck--apparently teleported there because, as my husband earlier stated, he'd never, ever seen a second set of keys.

That's when I thought to myself that sometimes you have to lose something to find something.  Then I had to smile at how God continually reminds me of his words and promises through things as silly as lost and found keys.

P.S.  I pondered "keys" and wrote this last week just before I left for vacation.  I planned to post it after I get home next week. However, last night while sipping something refreshing in the small town of Kane, Pennsylvania,  I got a text from my son who is vacationing/house-sitting with his sister at our house.  It seems relevant to post now.

This was his text.

"Lainey lost the house key". 


the key bowl.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Getting hitched.

I was twenty-two years old when I got married.

Thirty years ago tomorrow.

It was 1982.  It was a time so different from now.  

Before Todd would ask me to marry him, he would ask my dad--a gesture that is somewhat out of fashion these days.  I guess it wasn't as much for permission as it was for a blessing from the man that up until that time had been the most important man in my life.

Next, came the engagement ring.  I didn't pick mine out.  He did.  It was a surprise--just the way I had hoped it would be.  It was yellow gold and a marquise cut. It was perfect and I said yes!  

The dress I chose was long-sleeved.  Wedding dresses were a bit more modest in the 80's.    

We chose our wedding date to squeeze in right before Todd would start his last year of college.  Did I always dream of an August wedding?  I don't know, but it was practical!  The end of August in West Texas...the land of beautiful sunsets!

The wedding was at a beautiful church with a center aisle.  My colors were jade green and mauve.  Don't judge.  Todd's tux and shoes were white.  Again, don't judge.  The song that everyone had played at their wedding in the early 80's was "The Wedding Song".  I went non-traditional.  My dad walked me down the aisle to "Oh Danny Boy"--it was a surprise to him because it was his favorite song.  My best friend's dad married us and our siblings stood beside us.   As was the trend of the day, the whole beautiful ceremony was captured on cassette tape for years of listening pleasure--or until the tape disintegrated.

Our reception was held in the church fellowship hall, as was the case with the weddings of most of my friends.  No sit-down dinner for a couple of hundred.  Just a little punch, a bride's cake, groom's cake, mixed nuts,  pastel mints, monogrammed jade green napkins  and BOOM!  We had ourselves a reception!  It was at a Methodist Church, so I guess technically we could have had a dance.  But we didn't.  Short and sweet and off we went into our future! 

Hook 'em horns then.  Hook 'em horns now.

We had only a few days for a honeymoon, so San Antonio was our destination.  Our first night there, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the restaurant on the top floor of the Hyatt hotel.  It was Italian.  We ordered the special.  In our little world, the "special" was usually reasonably priced.  We learned that in the real world one is actually charged extra for the "specialness"!   We were just two giddy kids who were trying to act grown up because we had a marriage license that said we could.  The $80 tab blew our cover though,  and resulted in us cutting our stay short a night!  

There were no computers on which to post our young love and wedded bliss as a facebook status update for people we didn't even know to see.   There were no cell phones to take Instagram wedding pictures with the "1977" retro application...(I still don't get how 1977 can be retro??)   There was just me and this guy with the most incredible, tender blue eyes, who I had just vowed to call my husband for the rest of my life.

And just like that, thirty years have come and gone. We grew up together through trial and error. Celebrations and sadness.  Three bundles of joy that grew into three amazing big people.  Happy times and hard times.  Chaotic times and peaceful times.  Laughter and tears.  Thirty years that even knowing all that I know now, I still want "overs".    The joys have been so magnificent that I would willingly go through life's inevitable miseries again just to have a second go-round with them.

So here it is.  This is what I believe to be true of marriage.  I really hope my children read this.  There is no such thing as a perfect marriage.  There is, however, such a thing as a perfect commitment to love someone for life.  That is a commitment we made 30 years ago.  No matter what. This commitment has been perfected every time the world said "If I were you I'd quit" and we didn't.  Every time the world said "compromise" and we wouldn't.  Every time one of us wanted to pull away and the other held tight.  Every time one of us said "I'm not strong enough" and the other said "I'll be strong enough for both of us".   God only knows the exact number of years I will be blessed to keep this perfect commitment.  But this I know.  It won't be enough.

Happy 30th Anniversary to my sweet Todd.  Mountains may crumble and oceans run dry, but you and I will be alright. I love you.

Oh goodness. Those eyes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


The absolute tiniest of things in a day can sometimes upset the apple cart.

Case in point.

Evidence that something could be falling apart.

To you, this may look like just some random little screw.  But to me, it is the source of some stress.  After multiple attempts of having mechanics fix my A.C. fan in my car (keep in mind that we are in the dog-days of summer now), I finally let the dealership give it a go.  After paying 5 times the original estimate, the fan now blows.  However, as I'm driving away from the dealership, I notice this little screw rolling around on my dash.  Back and forth it rolled.  I'm certain it wasn't there when I dropped my car off,  and I'm equally certain that it was meant to hold something together.  I mean, that's not rocket science or anything.  I'm a little bugged.  Not in an irritated way, but in more of a worrisome way.  Like what if this little screw is actually the critical one thing that keeps my engine from falling out of my car when I'm driving down the highway?  Admittedly, I know nothing about cars, but just what if?   I know that's kind of dramatic, but oftentimes that's how I roll.  And really, couldn't the mechanic have tossed the screw out if he didn't need it so I wouldn't wonder.  And couldn't he have at least vacuumed out my car to thank me for my business?  What ever happened to customer service?  Seriously!!  A few apples just fell off my cart.

Case two.

A few days after the birth of my third child,  Nana was going to watch the baby while my husband and I took our older two out for ice cream one evening.  I was in that post-delivery-but-still-wearing-maternity-clothes stage.  So yeah.   Still, I was ready to get out of the house for a bit and happily walked into the living room ready to go.  Here is what my husband said.

"Come on big mama."

I'm just going to let those four words hang there for a few seconds, (one.  two.  three.  four.  five. ),    because that is what happened in real life.  Big pause.  Then "big mama" burst into tears and ran from the room as my husband looked at my mom in total confusion.  Oops.   Four little words.  Happy to sad in roughly 2.2 seconds.   Apple cart completely derailed.

I know.  All of this is silly.  But isn't that how we usually come undone? A silly thing or two is all it takes sometimes.

But....it got me thinking about how it takes only a few silly little things to sour a day, while it seems like it takes increasingly greater things to make a day that we consider to be awesome. Something is wrong with that picture.

Enter Mary.  Born in 1922.

It was my day to mind the antique/vintage shope where I share a space with my mom and sister when Mary walked in.

"Can you tell me how old something is before it is an antique?" she asked me.

She told me she had a wooden bed with "real nice wood"  and an old adding machine.  She wanted to know what kind of price things like these would fetch.  We talked a little about prices,  and I told her that honestly we didn't have much of a market for those kinds of things at our shop--they just weren't big sellers.

"Well then what kind of things do you sell here?" she asked, a little defensive about her "things" not being marketable!

"Mary, you should take a walk around the store and look.  I bet you have a lot of stuff like this--you might be surprised at what you can sell it for,"  I said.

For the next 30 minutes, she slowly wandered through the store.  When she made her way back to the front of the store she was smiling and shaking her head in amazement at the old stuff people would pay good money for these days.  We talked about her old aluminum measuring cup that her granddaughter thinks she needs to replace.  We talked about her old costume jewelry. We talked about how her son wants her to get rid of stuff and how he wants her to move from her home to where he lives.  But mostly, we talked about her flamingos.

When I asked her where she lived, she told me the street name and asked me if I knew the house with all the flamingos out front.  We live in a small town, so of course I instantly knew the house.  She proceeded to tell me about each one--where she had purchased them and how much she had paid for them.  She told me that when water became so expensive, and then scarce, her yard had pretty much died.  That is when she decided to add a flamingo or two.  Then she added a few more!

But it was the last few sentences she spoke that blessed me way deep down in my spirit.

"Oh, I know some people think they're tacky, but those flamingos make me happy!  At my age, that's what is important.  To be content and happy".  Her eyes just sort of disappeared into that round and wrinkled face when she smiled.

We said our goodbyes.  I told her I hoped she'd come back in again soon.  As I watched 90-year-old Mary slowly turn and make her way out our front door and down our crowded sidewalk full of "stuff", I had this thought.

If little things can so easily upset my apple cart, then shouldn't little things be able to knock the socks off my day in the most lovely ways, too?  I mean, that seems fair, right?  Maybe I'll try this.  Maybe the next time some little thing bugs me, I'll stop right then and there and look for the tiniest little wonderful thing.  When I find it,  I'll just let it wash over me for a moment until I am just dripping with pleasure.  And I'll thank Mary for the reminder.

A reminder that ninety years of living can be summed up in this--the greatest happiness comes from the tiniest of things.  In Mary's case,  those things just happen to be pink.

Mary's flamingos.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


My text to my husband sometime on Friday.

Hey, tomorrow lets stay in our pajamas until noon, drink a whole pot of coffee, fix a big breakfast and watch the Olympics.

His response.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Today is Saturday.  And that is what we did.  Here is the delicious breakfast we enjoyed together while sitting on the couch and watching Olympic cycling.  My contribution was pouring the OJ and dishing up the yogurt.

  I would have preferred swimming or gymnastics to accompany my delicious breakfast, but cycling was still exciting, what with a few crashes on the curves and stuff.  It made me nervous to see all those spectators out in the road, though.  I mean to me, that is just inviting disaster. Oh well.

Alas, 12 noon arrived.  Time to trade pajamas for weekend attire.

"So what are you gonna do?" I asked my husband.

"Think I'll head in to town and pick up that starter and take it over to Steven to see if he can get my mower fixed.  Then I need to run by B.J.'s before one and pick up that recliner and take it to Sylvia. You?"

"Well I need to wash underwear today.  Maybe do some light house cleaning," I answered.

Just a nice, leisurely Saturday.

But then it happens to me.  I don't know why it happens,  My days used to be comprised of a series of straight lines with a beginning point and an ending point.  Tasks were started and finished.  Now most days I just go in circles.  Like today.

Note:  Bold print indicates my conversation with myself in my head.  Some conversations might have been audible.  Don't judge.

Laundry in.

Unload dishwasher.

Gosh this cabinet is a mess.

Pull all of the dishes out of the cabinet and organize.  Throw away chipped dishes.  Put cute antique silver serving spoons engraved with a "W" in a bowl because that is aesthetically pleasing to me. 

 So what if they are in a cabinet where the door is usually closed.  Every time I open the cabinet I will experience a moment of great, simple delight!  

Move a pitcher to a high cabinet, where household medicines live.

What a mess.  We don't use half of this stuff.  I have borderline high blood pressure anyway...this stuff could probably kill me.

Throw out everything but Advil, Imodium, Benydryl, BandAids and Todd's Asthma inhaler.

This medicine would look kind of cute all together in a little basket--like that one I have in the bathroom.

Retrieve basket from bathroom.  Fill with medicines and return filled basket to bathroom--where our medicines will now reside.

So cute.

I bet the washer is finished.  Better run put those undies in the dryer.

Sit down and play a song at the piano.

Gosh, there is Jake's graduation picture I never framed.  I'll just pull out that old picture in one of the frames and put Jake's picture in there. And there is Lainey's cute square picture I took when we went kayaking.  I know I have a square frame in that armoire in the living room.

Unload armoire, because it appears the square frame is in a stack of frames on the very bottom.  Re-load armoire after it turns out the square frame was actually not where I thought it was.

I can't believe I let the M&M bowl get empty.

Go to the pantry to get the bag of M&M's.

No telling how old all those little packages of oatmeal are--although they do look really cute all piled up in that bowl.   I need to just throw them out.

Throw out oatmeal.

I better get another trash bag, because Todd is going to be so irritated with me for making these bags so heavy.  You know what, I might as well clean out those lower cabinets since I have this big empty bag.  Maybe even the upper cabinets.

Throw out:   one used paint stir stick,  one old tea kettle, 10 plastic crystal cups left over from a baby shower I gave prior to 1994 (not kidding), a stack of directions to small appliances we no longer have, 11 cans of  mostly empty spray paint, a box of staple gun staples with about 8 staples left in it.   A chipped vase.  Found:  a full can of Lysol spray, a full refill container of Dial hand soap,  an unopened package of steel wool, one of those cool little openers for paint cans,  a brand new container of mirror chalk and a laminated placemat my oldest son Adam made me for Mother's Day in 1993.

Oops... was that my phone?  Think I left it on the couch.

Olympic volleyball game happening on the TV.

Oh, I always really loved playing volleyball.  Gosh, the rules are totally different now.  Those tight shorts are really not thigh-flattering even to the most slender girls!

Drink a glass of OJ while watching team USA play Korea.  Glance over and see empty M&M bowl.  Oh yeah.  Get M&Ms from pantry and refill bowl.

I love that old M&M bowl.  You know, the little old pink bowl I have would look really cute in my bedroom.  Where is that bowl?

Go on hunt for pink bowl.  Find pink bowl on shelf in closet, Put pink bowl on table in bedroom.  See vacuum cleaner.

While I have those cabinets empty in the kitchen, I should go suck the dust out of them.

Take vacuum cleaner in kitchen.  Plug it in.

Those flowers Todd brought me are so pretty---but they are kind of in the way on the kitchen counter.  They would look great on that other little table though.  But then what will I do with that cute centerpiece on the silver tray?   I could put it on that footstool/table by the piano.   Oh yeah, let me just change out that picture frame for Jake's picture.  First, I need to put that piano book in my bag before I forget it.   I love that song, but it would be easier for my music students to sing it in the key of C.

Transpose "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".   Return music book to bag.  Phone beeps.

Where is my phone?  What?  It's already 2:30?  I need to jump in the shower--oops, better throw those undies in the dryer.  Wonder if Todd will have eaten when he gets home because the kitchen isn't quite finished yet.  Wonder what the score is on the volleyball game?  Oh, those Zinnias are dead in the vase in the living room.  I should go pick some fresh ones real quick.  While I'm outside I should bring that suitcase in from the car.  Gosh my car is filthy.  Maybe I'll wash it today.  Gosh, the dogs are filthy.  Maybe we'll bathe them today.  But if I do that, there is no sense in showering now...oh yeah...the undies...I never put them in the dryer.

Head to laundry room.  Spot dog treats.

Oh poor Lefty hasn't had one of these in a few days....Lefty...come here boy.....

Feed Lefty a treat after he lies down, jumps up, gives me a high-five and speaks.

I should take a picture and email it to Adam.  Or maybe I should write a blog.

Help me.  Please.  Someone?  
Make the madness stop.

Still sitting on my kitchen floor awaiting my decision regarding their demise.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I don't know how it works for everyone--how it is that they remember loved ones who have gone.  But here's how it is for me.

I remember through a slide show of moments that play through my head.  And, of course, since today is Father's Day, today's feature is a slide show of my dad.  Though I know my words won't paint the picture as vividly as my mind still remembers him, I will try.

The two of us sitting in a big red wagon going down a hill with dad steering the way with the handle.

A room filled with doll furniture and a little tea table and chairs he built for my sister and me one Christmas.

Him teaching me how to play catcher on my little softball team--the Blue Bloodhounds.

Trying to explain Geometry to me.

Me getting to sit on top of the homemade ice cream freezer while he cranked it.

His smile when he opened my Christmas gift to him--a penny in a little glass dome that I ordered from the Sears Catalog.

Him sitting in the living room listening to Marty Robbins play on the stereo.

Him taking me rabbit hunting.

Him sitting on a little green stool in front of the television playing Atari.

Him picking me up from school when there was a tornado and the two of us sitting on the outskirts of town in his company vehicle,  watching three funnels drop from the sky, moving away from our little town.

Me sitting on the edge of the bathtub in the middle of the night with a dislocated jaw that resulted from a too-wide yawn--Dad standing in the doorway to the bathroom scratching his head and saying, "That's the damnedest thing I've ever seen".

Him trying to maintain a stern exterior as he called all of us girls (including mom) down at the dinner table when our giggles got out of control.

Him as the captain of the family raft on a trip down the Rio Grande.

Him kissing my mother goodbye every morning and hello every evening.

Him engulfed in a fog of cigarette smoke waiting up for me when I stayed out way too late with my boyfriend---who, by the way,  is now my husband.

His pride in me when I graduated from his favorite university.

Him walking me down the aisle to his favorite song "Danny Boy".

Him sitting on the floor in his kitchen teaching my son to walk.

Him in his wood shop teaching his grandsons to carve.

His silliness with his grandchildren.

Him driving the grandkids around in a golf cart.

His way of letting me know he loved me, not so much with words, but with his gently-laid arm around my shoulders and  his signature soft "pat".

His emotions getting the best of him when he heard me sing.

His strong body becoming weak.

His words being typed with my hands as I helped him compile a book in his later years.

And the hardest picture of all for me to see---me holding the hands that first held me as he left.  But even in that sadness, there is something so beautiful in that picture for me---the full circle of us--father and daughter.

I know there was so much more to Dad---so much that came before me.  He was an adventurer. He rode the rapids on the Rio Grande, enjoying what was still "wild" in the west.   I think he was quite possibly rowdy back in the day!  He served his country.  He loved history.   He didn't have a college degree, but he could have had several.  He was incredibly intelligent.   He was fiercely strong-willed.  He was honest as the day is long.   He worked hard every day he was able.  He took care of his family.   He was unique.  He was creative.  He didn't give one care about what everyone else thought.  He was well-spoken and expected his children to be so, too!  He was well-mannered at the dinner table and required that of his children.  He was a gentleman.   Oh, he could curse, that's for sure,  but he carefully guarded his speech in front of women and children.   He was a man of few words, but he never really needed that many. 

My dad was Rex Wayne Knox.  And though I really miss him, so much of him lives in me and my sisters and all of our  children.  We are his legacy.  And I think, but for a few minor glitches here and there, he would be exceedingly proud of who we've all become. 


Friday, May 4, 2012

Little Things.

Little things.

They often get the short end of the stick when it comes to drawing attention.  They don't seek out visibility.  They don't scream "look at me!".  They are happy to just "be" and give a little bit of pleasure when they can.   I kind of think they are what hold us together on days when we might otherwise crumble.  Mostly they have little or no monetary value at all.  Usually, they don't make us over-the-top-crazy-giddy-screaming-at-the-top-of-our-lungs happy.  Rather, they touch and comfort us way deep down inside where there are no words.  They calm us. Make us see clearly when we're on the brink of losing it.  They save us from losing it. (I know you've been there!)

I have had a life of some really big wonderful things.  But mostly, a life of a whole lot of dear, sweet, little things.

A birthday note from my son, written on an old manual typewriter--just because he knew I would love that little touch.  A random text message of love in the middle of the day.  A 3-year old little girl telling me I'm her best friend (as she's eating the piece of chocolate I'd just given her!)  A note left on the bathroom mirror.  A little piano student pausing right in the middle of his song to ask me to come to his baseball game.  Holding a newborn baby duck.  A midnight "nighty-night" text from my daughter.  A song-sharing afternoon of music with a friend.  A hot bath at the end of a long day.  A gift of homemade mulberry jam from another friend.  Going for an impromptu, late-night ice cream with my favorite guy. A bear hug from a grown son. 

Little things.  Here's why they're on my mind.

Because Miriam ate an M&M.

This, of course, makes no sense without the back story.  So here it s.

For almost 15 years, there is this one thing you can always count on finding in my house.  A bowl of M&Ms. Peanut.  They live in a little, old bowl on a table at the end of my couch.  They are colorful and happy.  During the holidays they appropriately turn to the colors of the season.

Of course, eating a few of them each day is a sweet thing for sure, but more than that, I have come to love the sound of them being eaten.  Actually, it isn't so much the sound of them being eaten as it is the sound of them being "taken".  I can be in the kitchen and I can hear the sound of a hand reaching into the bowl--a sort dull jostling sound.  It makes me smile.

Many hands have reached into that bowl over the years.  Little hands.  Big hands.  Old, wrinkled hands.  New friend's  hands.  Old friend's hands.  American hands.  Foreign hands.  Rich hands.  Poor hands.  Happy hands.  Sad hands.  (Even a few non-humans that have no hands but have found other means by which to enjoy an M&M.  Not to worry-- I washed and disinfected the bowl!!)

After all these years,  I'm just now thinking about the importance of this little bowl of M&Ms.  It is one of those little things.  Sometimes, you don't even notice it's there.  But it would be missed if it wasn't.  I believe that in a silly, strange way it has blessed many, even if only to give just a moment of pleasure.   To my kids, it says "Welcome home.  We're always here for you".  To first-time guests, it says "You're welcome here. Come and sit".  To those who are drifting, it says "You can stay here as long as you like".  To those who show up unannounced it says, "We were hoping you'd stop by."  To my husband, it says "Always". 

But Miriam is the one who got me thinking about this.  Because she loves this bowl of M&Ms.

She came into my life through my son a few years ago.  A beautiful young woman with a beautiful heart.  She lives in Germany and we are blessed to enjoy extended visits with her a couple of times each year.  I know this little bowl of M&Ms makes her happy in such a simple way.  Last night, as we enjoyed a last visit before she returns home, I thought about that.  I know these days are bittersweet days for her....excited to see her family soon, but sad to be leaving my boy.  As I heard her hand reach into the M&M bowl, I thought how this tiny little thing, a bowl of M&Ms, might in some small way, give her joy as she goes.   I hope it says to her, "You always have a home here.  I will be sitting here, right in this same exact spot, when you come back".  Comfort in the little things.

Now I'm not saying that a bright,  red,  shiny little Volvo in the drive with a big red bow on it wouldn't make my heart go pitter pat for a second or two. But if I had to choose between that moment and a lifetime of eating M&Ms from a little, old bowl....well, I think you know what I would do.

little things.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Glittering still.

I really don't mind getting older.

Hang on a minute.  Let me grab my 2.75-strength reading glasses and re-position the heating pad in my chair.  Okay.  Done.  Now where was I?  Oh yeah.

I really don't mind getting older.

Sure, sometimes I stand in front of the mirror and with both of my index finger pressed against my cheekbones,  I ever-so-slightly ooch the skin up and back toward my ears.  Wah-lah.  Lines (which sounds better than "wrinkles") are gone just like that.  Alas, I can't hold that position forever--I mean have things to do.  So eventually I let go...gravity does what it does and things drop into the place where nature intended them to be.  Sigh.

It's kind of like the fabric used in so many fashions these days.  You know, the fabric that looks kind of slept in.  The kind you don't dare iron because it's supposed to look that way.   Well, I guess I kind of see myself like that.

With that said, I must be totally honest with you and tell you I do admit to a degree of vanity.  I realize that I do hope in some way to at least slow down the appearance of the aging process tastefully.  There are a few ways to do that I figure.  Here's an example.

With fashion--which is me attempting  to look youthful but in an age-appropriate way.  This can be risky.  I think sometimes the look I'm going for and the look I achieve might possibly be two different things.

Case in point.

 It's a cold winter day.  I'm about to go somewhere with my daughter.  I have tucked my jeans into my very hip boots.  Cute scarf and sweater.  We're about to head out the door and I say to her, "Does this look okay?"  She says to me, "Yeah, it's cute".   But I, being a most perceptive mom,  hear just a tad bit of hesitancy in her voice.  I say to her "What?"   She says, "No, it's cute".  I say "But what?  I can tell you're thinking something".  She says, "Well, it's just that those jeans are a little baggy to tuck in.  But really, they look fine".  So see, there's the thing.  If I had walked out the door would I have looked like I was trying too hard to look young and hip, therefore, actually making myself look older?  And slightly pathetic.  Hmmm.

Remember, I really don't mind getting older.  Even still,   I would prefer to call the age spots on my right hand "freckles".  Freckles is such a cute word.  Sometimes it is just a matter of semantics to make me feel more confident with the aging process.  So freckles it is and freckles it shall always be!

Recently two very specific things happened that sort of hampered my endeavor to age tastefully and seamlessly.  I got a glimpse of how this aging thing could possibly go down.  Here's all I can say.  Lord have mercy.  

I walk into the local coffee shop one morning.  I see a young, "thirty-something" mom that I haven't seen in awhile.  We hug and she says, "Oh you smell so good.  Like strawberry shortcake".  Strawberry shortcake?  What???  Do I want someone to smell of me and think of food?  Six-year-olds smell like strawberry shortcake, not 51-year-olds.  This is the part where I tell you that I have no sense of smell.  I never have.  I can smell nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Not flowers.  Not dinner cooking (or burning!)  And certainly not strawberry shortcake, for heaven's sake!  Do you think I would have purchased and used a hair product that smelled like strawberry shortcake on purpose?  Please tell me that you don't think I would have done that.  Because if you do believe that, then you also must believe that I'm trying to be young in a totally age-inappropriate fashion, which I most certainly am not.  Sheesh.

Remember, I really don't mind getting older.  Seriously.

But there's more.

I, along with a group of friends from my bible study, recently traveled to the city for a concert.  I had been looking forward to the girl's night for a couple of weeks.  Because I work mostly with children and dress super casually on a daily basis, I was looking forward to a chance to "fix up" a bit.  When I began putting on my make-up I realized I was out of the natural-colored eye shadow that I use.  So I ran upstairs to  what was my daughter's bathroom when she lived at home,  and  I raided the drawers for some she might have left behind.   Score.  I found several, and quickly chose one that would work.  Applying eye make-up is challenging as we age, because you really need reading glasses to see the finer details of the application process.  That's all I'll say about that right now.

Flash forward.  We attended the concert.  Our group is all over 50 except for one of us. (Bless her heart!)   We were undoubtedly the oldest attendees.  It was a relatively small venue, so this was glaringly obvious.  I saw a few people from out-of-town that I knew.  Plus my daughter and a few of her roommates.  I loved the concert, despite the fact that I couldn't clearly hear some of the lyrics.  Oh, they did have the lyrics on the screen, but I couldn't read the font from where I was sitting.  The room might have even smelled nice, but I wouldn't have known.  You see,  out of five senses, only two of mine were fully functioning that night.

Even still, I felt good about myself.  Content at where I am in life...happy to be at this place of wisdom.   On the way home,  my friend Jean and I treated those in our car to a song--a quite moving rendition of "Up, up with people, you meet 'em wherever you go".  We didn't miss a single lyric.  We reminisced about how we'd dreamt of joining this peppy song and dance movement in the 70's.  The fact that I can admit to that tells you that I'm comfortable in my own,  be it somewhat age-tinged,  skin.  No really.  I am.

I felt a little like a rebel when I walked in the door at 12:30 a.m.  I quickly got ready for bed.  I turned on the light in the bathroom to wash my face.  Even in the wee hours of the morning, my tired eyes could make out a few flecks of glitter on my face.  Hmmm.  Wonder what I brushed up against tonight, I thought.  As I practically put my nose up to the mirror  for a closer look,  I saw more glitter.  Then, to my horror,  I realized I had worn glitter eye shadow.  Glitter.  Eye.  Shadow.  All of the sudden it made sense why my daughter had left it behind--because she wouldn't be caught dead in glitter eye shadow!   But apparently, her poor pathetic mother, the one who tucks baggy jeans into boots in an attempt to look younger, totally digs it!

 I screamed, "NOOOOO!".  Of course, I only screamed it inside my head, because my husband was sleeping soundly in the other room. He wouldn't understand.

Please no!  I am not that woman.  I do not wear glitter eye shadow and I don't smell like strawberry shortcake.  Not on purpose anyway.  Please....I can explain.  Don't judge...for one day you too might experience sensory shut-down.  Literally.

The following morning,  as I was still snoozing from my late-night escapades, my husband came in to tell me goodbye as he was leaving for work.  Here's what he leaned down and whispered in my ear.  Honest to goodness truth.  He said these exact words.

"I want to tell you you're absolutely glittering this morning".  Are you kidding me? Apparently the stuff is waterproof.  I wonder what my husband thought as I lay there glittering in all my morning glory.  He's knows I can't really lure him with tasty dinners since he's a much better cook than I am.  Do you think he thought  I thought I could dazzle him with glitter eye shadow?  Oh no!  Do you think he was thinking, "Has our marriage been reduced to this?  Glitter Eye Shadow?  Really?".    That's kind of sad.  If he thought that.  I didn't ask.

Like I said, I really don't mind getting older.  I'd just like to do so in as tasteful a way as possible.

But it will take a village. This is your personal invitation to be party of my village. If you see me wearing glitter eye shadow, tell me immediately because you will now know I did not intend to wear it.  If and when you give me a hug, please remember I am challenged in all things olfactory.   If I smell even remotely like anything edible, I will want to know that because it is hard to age gracefully when you're walking around smelling like a five-year-old's  favorite scratch 'n sniff sticker.  Know what I'm saying?

P.S.  I turned on my computer a couple of days after writing this to read it one more time for typos before posting.   While the computer was starting, I ran in the bathroom to put on my jammies and wash my face.  This also included taking out my earrings.  In the left ear, a silver hoop.  In the right ear, a silver dangle.   Just dandy.   Oy vey. 

All who glitter don't mean to.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Blip on the Radar.

The Mountain Laurel doesn't get to show her blooms for long.  Just a few weeks of regal, fragrant brilliance and then, just like that, her flowers are gone and she becomes just another green plant--just hanging out.  Her beauty is but a blip on the radar.

But for a few weeks, she is queen! 

Especially in my yard.   Where last summer's drought brought great devastation, her grape-like blooms seem to cheer on all the other plants that aren't sure they have the strength to wake up from their near-death experiences.  From her perch next to the porch, she overlooks her kingdom,  and I imagine her saying, "Okay girlfriends, work with me here.  Put on your big girl undies and BLOOM already!  I, like, cannot make this place look good all by myself!"

And yes.  I did just put words in a plant's mouth.  And I sort of gave her a valley girl accent.  Creative license at it's best!

In a similar way, God took some creative license with me regarding my Mountain Laurel.  He, of course, has every right to take creative license with me because---well you know why! Anyway,  He spoke his words in my heart this week.   I'm a slow learner, but He worked quickly to teach me, because, as I said, the Mountain Laurel's blooms don't last long.

So here it is.  The story of my Mountain Laurel.

We moved into our 100+ year-old-house 15 years ago, after two years of renovations.  By our own hands, we planted grass, shrubs, trees and flowers.  Over time, trees grew taller.  Flower beds filled in as plants matured.  In the summertime, butterflies swarmed our salvia.  The Crepe Myrtles flourished.  The Lady Banks roses and Jasmine grew thick in the arbor. Just down the hill, the river flowed clear and lovely. 

God's creation at its best.

On the southwest corner of our house we planted a Mountain Laurel.  It was small when we put it in.  In five years time, it seemed to have hardly grown at all.  We thought maybe we'd gotten a "dud" at the nursery.  It was always such a pretty green, but it never flowered.  Ten years passed.  The tree grew taller and fuller, but still no blooms.   We aren't really folks with green thumbs.  When we plant, we do so with a song and a prayer and hope for the best!  We wondered if perhaps we'd bought a variety of Mountain Laurel that doesn't flower if indeed such a thing exists.  You know, kind of like a "fruitless" pear tree. A "laurel-less" Mountain Laurel.

Year 14 in our house--last year--was the year of the great drought.  There was still water in the river, but it hardly moved at all.  Our water well was putting out an alarmingly small amount of water.  One by one,  our plants began to die. They were slow, painful deaths.  Not for the plants, but for us.  It had taken so long for them to mature.  So much hard work and expense.  All gone.

First the shrubs in the front and back yards.  Then  the jasmine that had climbed on our front arbor for years.  The Sweet Briar rose bush.  The Mexican Heather (that supposedly doesn't come back every year, but it did for us). Even the wildflowers that usually blanket the field in front of our house refused to show up. 

Brown.  That was the color of summertime in 2011.  Except for one thing.

The Mountain Laurel.

Her leaves were the most beautiful, deep green we'd ever seen.   As  everything else grew weaker,  it seemed that she became stronger.  As summertime turned to fall, and fall into winter, she held her own.  Actually, she more than held her own.  She flourished.

And late in February, just a few weeks ago,  at the ripe old age of 15, the Mountain Laurel bloomed for the very first time.  After years of silence.  After drought.  After living a simple and quiet life just off the corner of our porch, she decided to step forward and shout, "I am here!  I survived, and I am more beautiful than you ever thought I would be".

Oh my!  No chance on earth that God was going to let this teachable moment be lost on me. It was loud and ever so clear.  Sometimes, when it appears that the period of drought will never end, it does. When it seems that all is lost and all the "color" in our lives is gone, it isn't.

For years, that Mountain Laurel had, in fact, been getting too much water.  If we had been gardeners with an education we would have known this.  If we'd thought about it, it would have made sense.  The Mountain Laurel is native to Texas.  She needed a good dose of drought!  She was not only created to  survive in dry, dessert climates, but to thrive there.  HELLO!

Me too!

Sometimes I need a good drought.  And just in case you know me personally and are thinking, "Yeah, she sure does", let me just tell you, so do you!!  We all do!  We have stored up enough sustenance in our roots to get us through the droughts in life.   We will not shrivel up and blow away.   Because even though  all of our senses tell us otherwise--we will survive to tell about it!  To everyone around us, it might look like a poor, pitiful drought.    In reality,  it is really and truly a time of rich, healthy growth beneath the surface.  It is a time where we ready ourselves for that big moment of BLOOM!

Drought makes the blooms, when they do appear, even sweeter.  If my Mountain Laurel had bloomed amidst the backdrop of all my other garden lovelies, it his highly unlikely she would have received quite this amount of attention from me.  It was the fact that she bloomed for the very first time against a backdrop of brown  after a period of drought that made her flowers the most beautiful I've ever seen!

Late in 2011 and early this year, the rains have come, bringing with them the promise of a beautiful crop of wildflowers.  The river has begun to flow again.   We will slowly begin to replant everything that perished.

From her perch next to the porch, the Mountain Laurel will watch it all, knowing, like me, that another drought is sure to come at some point.  But to be found standing at the end of the drought, and even more, to bloom-- well now that is really something.

first bloom fifteen years in the making.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The invisible line.

About seven years ago,  when I was a young 44 years of age,  my husband and I traveled to the city to take our oldest son out to dinner for his birthday.   By the time we reached the restaurant, our dinner party had grown to include about 10 of his friends.  Todd and I took our seats at the end of the large table.   The conversation was delightful as we heard hysterically funny stories about college life.  We laughed.  We smiled.   We ate.

Then I made the mistake.
I commented on something someone had said at the other end of the table.   I waited for them to be thoroughly amused at my comment.   I waited some more.  When it got really quiet and everyone just sort of looked at me in a sad,  awkward and pathetic way, I knew there was a problem.  At first I thought maybe the cheese from my enchilada, which can sometimes be a little stringy, might be dangling from my chin.  No... that wasn't it.  Eventually someone put me out of my confused state and let me know that what I thought  I'd heard at the other end of the table was not what was actually said.  This meant that the really funny comment I thought  I'd made was actually nothing more than a random statement that had nothing to do with the conversation at all.  There was a little stifled laughter, but don't think I didn't catch the innuendo in the glances those young people exchanged.  "So sad!"  That's what those looks said.  And that's when I knew it.  I knew that I had crossed than invisible,  ambiguous line that separates young from old.   Could it already be time to take my place at the head of the table for one purpose only--to pick up the tab?    Well that's just a bunch of Bologna!

    In the years that have followed that little incident,  I have taken a slow little stroll across that invisible line that separates youth and all that is "cool" from....well, non-youth and all that is not cool!  I have dug in my boots in an attempt to cling to just a piece of my former youthful glory, all the while trying to maintain a level of decorum as I "crossover".   God has been gentle with me.  My children, not so much! 

    Recently, after accomplishing some great personal feat ( I can't remember exactly what it was--which is a whole other story--- but probably having something to do with using a Smart Phone),  I proudly shouted, "Boo-Yah".  My daughter looked at me and slowly began to shake her head before she quietly said,  "Mom, no".  Her tone was the same as I used with her when she was little when she would burp in public.  I would pull her aside and say, "No, we don't do that".  That was the tone she used with me.  Now, I don't really know what "boo-yah" means exactly.  I just know it seemed to fit the occasion.   It isn't a bad word.  I've heard others have a lot of fun saying it.  People even smile sometimes.  So at what age can a person not say it anymore?  That's all I want to know.  Clearly I have crossed over into that territory, but when?  Still,  as sure as I'm sitting here all alone, I find it funny to say "Boo-Yah".  So there.  "Boo-Yah, Boo-Yah, Boo-Yah"!

    Just last night it happened again.

    It's a rather steep learning curve for me.  I recently switched from a PC to a Mac, and I am trying to wrap my mind around iMovie for work purposes. At first, I relied on my kids to just do it for me.  But, they're busy and I finally decided I need to do it myself.  So last night, with a few of them still home for the Christmas holiday,  I had yet another tutoring session.  Without going into great detail, I will simply say these are the words that came out of my daughter's mouth at one point.  "Hey, Adam, let's tag team this.  It's your turn to help her now".   It's your turn!  Really?  It could be a positive thing if you're talking about driving a Corvette or playing Monopoly.  Sure.  "It's your turn" is a nice thing to say.  However, in this context the implication was the opposite.   She was practically begging to be relieved of the drudgery of helping me. "Her", the pronoun  for me, the mother, the very one who gave them life, was used in a less-than-loving manner.  I admit that in middle age, it can take me a tad bit longer to grasp a concept--the idea has to soak in for a minute before I can act on it.  I'm not doing it on purpose.  I'm aware.  I just need a minute.  Again, I don't know when I crossed the line into this, but all I ask is for gentleness.  After all, I told my daughter, how many 50-something moms do you know who use iMovie?  That alone should give me a tiny little bit of "coolness".  Shouldn't it?  I don't recall her ever answering!

    I teach music to preschoolers.  On an almost daily basis I interact with their moms.  Sometimes those moms are pregnant.  As all expectant moms do, they sometimes discuss "being" pregnant.  And my temptation to join in is huge.  In my mind, you see,  I've just delivered my own babies.  In my mind, I'm thirty-ish and I feel like I can hang with their conversations.  In my mind, my experience is still relevant.  Then somewhere, just in the nick of time before I embarrass myself, a still small voice reminds me of these things.  Babies sleep on their backs now, not on their tummies.  Mister Rogers is out, Dora the Explorer is in.  Labor and delivery happen in one room now.  No need for the phrases "it's a girl" or "it's a boy" now, because the parents have already known the sex of the child for months.  Why?  Because now they have these things called Sonograms.  And not just plain old sonograms.  Sonograms in 3-D.  Wonder if the doc provides the glasses or if you have to bring your own?  Wonder if you also get popcorn and a drink when you watch?  I want to ask, but in the back of my mind I hear my daughter saying, "Mom, no!" So I don't ask.

    But I want to.

    I love speaking in accents.  I do a killer British Cockney accent, not a bad Aussie accent, a South American accent of some sort, an Indian (from India) accent and lovely southern drawl.  My most favorite accent of all, though, is a New York accent.  When my children were little, the were so amused!  I would even have them repeat lines back to me with an accent and we had so much fun.  Eventually, when their little friends would come over, I would entertain them as well.  We had a grand time. As my children grew older, they tired of my accents, although their friends would still request them.  The friends loved it.  My kids just rolled their eyes. Here's the thing about doing accents.  When you finally get warmed up, you just want to keep going.  It's as if you can't stop!  One of my children, who shall remain nameless for this story, will refuse to speak to me until I stop.  I know...ridiculous, right?  When did the entertainment value of my speaking in accents go down?  The precision with which I deliver them is better than ever!  It's that dogone invisible line.  Once I crossed it,  my accents are no longer funny.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I have exactly three people in my life who appreciate speaking in accents.  These are their names.

    Todd.  Nat.  Harriet.   Todd lives with me and accents have become our "inside" joke.  I rarely hang up the phone with Nat when we don't say, "Good-boi", our New York version of "good bye".  Harriet and I always revert to our south-american accents at some point in our conversations.  It's just what we do.  We have all stepped over that line....no one really finds us at all amusing except ourselves.  And you know what?  That is enough.  Did you hear that kids?  We thought it would be lonely on this side of "the line", but guess what?  There are others here!   And we appreciate each other!

    I couldn't remember the last time we'd attended a matinee together, but a few months back Todd and I found ourselves in a neighboring town in the middle of the afternoon with extra time on our hands.  There was a movie playing that we'd been wanting to see. So,  in the middle of the afternoon we grabbed a couple of tickets and diet cokes and settled in.  We were a bit early, so we people-watched as folks came in.  Lots of folks.  Apparently this was the geriatric showing--you know, the "dinner-at 4, movie-at-5" crowd.  Todd and I felt like kids.  The movie began.  The British accents were a bit difficult to understand in places, but I, being the accent guru that I am,  was managing just fine.   But then the talking in the audience began.  Apparently one of the abilities we lose  when we "crossover" is the ability to whisper.  At one point in the movie, after the British movie star had spoken a particularly poignant line, I hear from somewhere behind me in an "outside voice" these words. "What'd she say?"  And then an equally loud voice answered, "I don't know!"  How irritating is what I was thinking to myself just as Todd leaned over to me and said, "What'd she say?"  Oh my.  We leapt over the invisible line.

    One of my sweet friends told me that there are moments in these middle years where she and her husband will look at each other and kind of shrug and say, "Well, here we are."

    So it seems we, too,  have arrived.

    Here we are.  Shrug.

    Can't go over it.  Can't go around it.  Gotta go through it.

    Well, okay then.  But wherever this road takes me, whenever I get the urge, if you listen closely you will hear my voice of rebellion.  And it will say this.  In a British accent.

    Granny.  Feisty until the day she died.  Boo-yah.