Monday, April 19, 2010

Polyester Pants

I had a dream a few nights back, a good dream. My cousin and I were busy in my Grandmother's kitchen putting Sunday leftovers from the avocado colored fridge onto the 50s era metal breakfast table. The family used to come together every Sunday for Grandma's cooking and in the summer or over holidays, when we were out of school, we would stay over and have leftovers the next day...or so. Grandma always made sure there was plenty. Better to have too much than not enough, she thought.

So, there we were, two red heads in the kitchen taking lids off the saved cool whip and cottage cheese containers that now held mashed potatoes, veggies and roast meat. Buzzing about when Grandpa came to stand in the doorway. He was wearing his classic overalls and light denimy blue button up. I was so startled by his presence I stopped in my tracks. He was the old Grandpa, the good version, the jovial one we missed so much after he became so sick and unlike himself. His hair was slightly muffled like it was when he had just come in from the garden and placed his straw hat on the pantry hook. He ran his hand back through his hair as he was telling me a story. Then he laughed his hearty laugh, probably at his own joke.

I wish I knew what he was saying and that I could remember every word. I was so startled to see his face and the red birthmark spot under his chin letting me know it was him for sure, that I was shocked out of my sleep. It was so real and I woke up so happy to have seen his face. It's been 10 long years without seeing him. What warm wholesome goodness. And like we do with the best dreams we lay our heads back down and close our eyes real tight in hopes that we'll fall back to sleep right where we left off. Somehow, we can never quite get there.

I wore a dress to church on Sunday that reminded me of my Great Grandma. Every time I am reminded I can't stop remembering and thinking of her for days. It was a polyester blended dress with a black diagonal criss cross pattern. She had a pair of pants that looked nearly identical in my mind. She wore them what seemed like every day. She liked her polyester pants.

We would walk or ride our bikes to her little white cottage which was just across the way. Just across the field. We never had to knock or ask permission for things unless it was going beyond her sight. We just popped right in and she was always there, always there to greet and give undivided love, there was plenty to go around. Once she was on her feet, up from her reading chair to welcome you with arms wide open, she would freshen her coffee and tell you to help yourself to "lemonade in the fridge and chocolate chip cookies in the freezer." Always in the hard plastic brown bowl right on top, left hand side. She would head back into the living room, plop down in her chair, sloshing a bit of coffee on her polyester pants and we would follow with our lemonade and cookies for a lazy afternoon on her soft brown couch. We didn't have to say anything at all knowing we could say anything we needed. Most of the time we laid there while she read her book, safe in the silence of love. Somewhere in the afternoon when it wasn't quite so hot we'd tag along on her daily walk and on the way back she would let us stop and throw rocks in the water hole for as long as we wanted. Big ones, little ones, medium ones, ker plunk, making their different sounds as they hit the water. Those were good days.

The depth of meaning one person's utter devotion and steadfast love has becomes etched in the mind and written on our heart. It won't ever go away. It will never be forgotten. So aware of their absence like missing socks for bare feet on a cold night. The love is so much a part of you, woven into the tapestry of who you are and will be for generations to come. We are reminded unawares with the waft of their perfume or favorite cologne. When we walk into a cafe that smells exactly like their house, no one could pry you away because that aroma cannot be created and you wish with every ounce you could bottle it up and take it home. Reminded with overalls, straw hats, kleenex tucked into couch cushions, the crumpling of newspaper pages, snapping green beans and the shucking of corn. Their sights, smells, sounds. Even with fabrics; worn plaids, soft denims, plush pink robes and the pattern of polyester pants. And on rare priceless occasion with wide eyed wonder, we see them, in our dreams.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ham and Cheddar Rolls

Tonight's dinner: Blogworthy Ham & Cheddar Rolls and fresh fruit. If you want the real thing you'll have to go to On the Rise Bakery in Osage Beach. I was craving them. Thanks to Julie and PelicanLouise for meeting my recipe needs. I had fun making them and they were quite tasty too.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blowing Kisses

I saw my life flash before my eyes today. Not in the near death way but in a quite literal way. I was importing photos into Brooks' computer. All the digital photos we have of our life together. It was like a supersonic slide show of my life. Flashes of weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, lazy days, the best vacations, houses built, babies born, dogs come home, paintings painted, pumpkins carved, stories told, dinners prepared, slumber parties, shopping trips, beautiful faces and Christmas mornings. Music and memories made.

I used to love it when my Grandmother would go around the house singing this song in her cute voice, dancing a ditty. I still love it:
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

For the most part I am the most content and at peace with myself and life. And at the same time, so aware of my frailties and broken places. For once the puzzle pieces are fitting together, falling into place and there is a deep sense of rightness, wholeness and joy. I won't pretend it was easy getting here and I won't pretend it was my doing. I am, however, glad it's landing here, finding a home in my heart.

Sometimes the homesickness still washes over me. It hits me like the swell of a wave at sea with a crash. Today as I sat in front of a computer screen I was shown what a rich and wonderful life I've had, one photo at a time. Like someone was blowing me kisses.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter 2

I walked with a friend tonight. I picked her up in Miss Bianca and we set out to find a reserve park she had heard about in a nearby town. It was lovely and a welcome change of scenery especially for her. She is without a car and any chance there is to get out of the 1 mile radius is exciting. I am so thankful for our little car!

The weather is perfect today, not too cold, not too hot, it's just right. We weaved in through the bright green forest talking and laughing moving branches gently out of our path. Enjoying the night air and change of scenery. As it is with the good friends, you find yourself talking about the smallest of things and the biggest of things. What's for dinner and what are we even on earth for? We talked about how annoyed I am that the kitchen floor will not stay clean no matter how many times we clean it. She told me about her country, South Africa, and the civil unrest there and how scary it is. She said we would never ever be able to just go for a walk in her country and how nice it was to be free. I marveled at this truth. She asked me to pray for her Mom's biopsy tomorrow. Of course I will. I told her about my good friend who has something scary happening in her body and she doesn't know what it is or why? We talked of politics, history, war, health care, genocide, cancer, landscaping, housekeeping and holding out hope when all seems so grim. Being positive among the pain. Being a keeper of the faith. Landing on the fact that so much is a mystery and is too big for me to understand.

On my walk home I was telling God about how things are kind of going to crap down here, as if He didn't know. I admit I did use the word crap and now I've used it twice more. I was wondering out loud with Him if it's much worse in the world now than it was when He flooded the earth and how bad does it have to get. I know He promised never to wipe us out again but sometimes I think He must want to. I was thinking about the ark and how we might need another one of those to save us from all this ugly. I'm sure He needs my big ideas. And then it washed over me, my very own flood, and I realized He already has... He did it and we celebrated it a few days back. Easter.

"And Noah...entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood."
Genesis 7:7

"But God remembered Noah...and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded." Genesis 8:1

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Over the past few weeks it seems like everyday we've received a new report of someone near to us with sickness, disease, despair, disappointment and even death. For someone like me it's difficult to be so far away, unable to reach out and lend a hand of encouragement. And this is exactly how I've felt:

"And I felt powerless against the body and time and medicine, and I wished that the sheer force of my love could reverse it all, and I wished that I could be ten places at once, and that if I was, it would matter...and in that moment the world seemed so fragile and life so dangerous and risky, and more than I could hold inside my heart and mind...and I felt like things were breaking and turning to dust before my eyes, like the earth was shifting and out of control." ~Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

Yesterday for us was Easter Sunday. I had an inspiring phone call with a friend about a miracle and a Skype call with family about a tragedy. The juxtaposition of it.

Last night we went into the city for joined church services at the Sydney Entertainment Center. On Easter Sunday night they have a film and art festival. Members of the church submit works of art and short films for the event. The talent was inspiring, moving and powerful.

I submitted a small painting and it was accepted. Before the service started we milled through the gallery. It was wall to wall people. I couldn't move at times, trapped by all the people. We looked at all the art and near the end found my little painting hiding in a corner, a little knocked around from all the people, smudged. I had given it to be silent auctioned, benefitting relief efforts in Samoa.

At the end of the night it was the Artist's responsibility to pick up their piece if no one bid on it. So I kept checking back on it. No bids, so I wanted to make sure and pick it up before it got lost. I went back to grab it before we left and there was an emphatic Asian woman standing over my silent auction sheet, hitting it with her hand saying over and over "no one take dis one, dis one mine." I watched her from a distance for a moment, smiled and walked away. Satisfied that it had spoken to someone and that she would obviously cherish it.

In that moment I realized how the creator feels about the created. Seeking out what they have made, eyes open for it, making sure it's alright. Does it have good placement, good lighting, good conditions? Has it been taken care of? Will it be loved, adored, admired? And I realized the twinge of hurt when it's bumped around, hidden and smudged in a corner. How much more does the Creator feel about His created.

"Are you not much more valuable than they (the birds and the lilies)?" Matthew 6:26

"But I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in" 2 Kings 19:27

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

Psalm 139:2-18