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

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.