Fairy Dust

I’m spending the day at my childhood home while a Lowes installer puts in our new laminate countertops. I’m sitting at a folding table with my back to the work area, minding my own business when I hear the familiar whine of a circular saw. 

The ear splitting squeal of steel cutting through plywood takes me back to a day, in this same house, when I was a very small girl. The scent of freshly sawn wood reminds me of my daddy working in the garage on one project or another, and I remember watching him, amazed and impressed that he could make such wonderful things with blocks of wood. At different times in my childhood, he worked on any number of projects in that garage. He and a friend made wooden frames for a craft shop in Pasadena. The frames had routed edges, and oval openings in the center with the same routed detailing. Then there were the built in shelves he made for the closets in our home, to make them more storage efficient. And bookcases. And the wall shelf he made me with a bar for hanging a quilt. 

Probably the wildest thing he ever built that involved the scent of sawdust was the wing for a Stevens Acro plane flown by Doc Eoin Harvey, and later Debby Rihn. Over the years, Rihn modified the plane because what competition pilot doesn’t want to make their wings better, stronger, faster? But my daddy was a big part of the original dream and when I smell the scent of sawdust, I think of that project and the sheer enjoyment he derived from working on that wing. 

Who knows if the next family to live here will be craftsmen, woodworkers like my daddy? I’d like to think, however, some residual bit of sawdust will float through the air, revealing itself in sunbeams shining through the garage windows. And the new family, completely unaware, will be inspired by that fine little bit of fairy dust known by average mortals as sawdust.

Wisdom of the Ages

I have three posts in the drafts folder, but none are ready for posting. In the mean time, watch this video and see how it applies to our current day and age:

 

Dragnet

Education Major Rant

My daughter makes me so proud…

I’m an education major, and I keep hearing this phrase:  Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. I keep hearing horror stories of fellow educators who were asked why they settled…

Source: Education Major Rant

Discovered in the “Drafts” Folder…

I began writing this several weeks ago. I put it aside, but I guess I’ll go ahead and finish it today.

Snippets of blog posts have been churning in my mind for days — weeks, actually.  I’ll be driving down the road thinking about the last few months and words tumble over each other  in my mind, like rapids in the wilderness.  Bubbling, frothing, splashing — and much like the water falling wildly over the rocks, my words are without order, spilling over any boundaries that might resemble sentences or paragraphs.

The holidays were strange.  My family and I had the challenge of “firsts” a relatively short time after Mama passed away in August.  We took my niece to college mere weeks after the funeral, so my poor sister had to deal with the grief that comes with losing a parent and the ache that comes when a child leaves home for the first time almost simultaneously.

The next few weeks, I threw myself into going through the papers and photos and other things accumulated through the years. My goal of getting most of it done before going out-of-state to visit a childhood friend in October was achieved. It was good to get away for a bit. To think of other things, happier things, besides the last few months of bad news, illness, death.

November rolled around and with it, Thanksgiving. For the last several years, my sister drove to Alvin to pick up our mama and bring her to our house in Jones Creek. We would enjoy the afternoon, eating all our family’s favorite recipes. As the evening wound down, we developed a tradition of watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, which was one of Mama’s favorites, and then I packed up leftovers for her to enjoy and drove her home.

This year, we had all the right foods and we watched the Grinch. It was a good day, to be sure. But Mama was most definitely missed, and when I split the leftovers between us and my sister, I struggled with wanting to get out extra containers to fix some for Mama, too. I used to get frustrated with her, because two or three weeks before the holiday, she would start asking me, “Have you decided what you are going to cook?” This, in spite of the fact that we always made the same dishes, since to skip the favorites might mean a riot in the kitchen. I’m not a natural cook, so I don’t pore over cookbooks for enjoyment. My mama was a champion recipe clipper. She loved to clip them from the newspaper, and she loved to talk about recipes. I wish I could call and ask her a cooking question again.

Christmas Eve, I usually picked Mama up and took her to Angie’s, where we would enjoy a non-traditional meal like tortilla soup and open our gifts to each other. Mama did her Christmas shopping at home the last few years – choosing things from her treasures she thought each of us would enjoy having. The last Christmas she was with us, she chose a box for each grandchild. She had a thing for boxes – trinket boxes, jewelry boxes, display boxes. She gave her grandson a display case to put treasures in, her granddaughter an ornate box with a jeweled medallion on the center of the lid, and my daughter, a rich cherry wood jewelry box. She gave my sister and I each a piece of petticoat glass: a cake stand for Angie, because she’s the baker in the family, and a pretty bowl for me. I remember her serving Watergate salad in that bowl when I was a kid. When I picked Mama up last year, even though she was worried about getting to Angie’s on time, I drove through a couple of neighborhoods so she could see some Christmas lights. She always loved them, and I’m so glad we did that. It’s a good memory for me.

This Christmas Eve, we decided to do something completely different. My sister would be coming off a 12 hour night shift at the hospital where she worked, and it just seemed silly to try to prepare food after working so hard the night before. She took a nap and we went over mid-afternoon to open gifts. Afterwards, we went out to dinner at a very nice Brazilian grill in Clear Lake. It was really nice, and I think a little easier to handle, since it was different from our normal.

We’ve had a couple of birthdays since then, and I think my birthday was the hardest day I’ve had since she left. Every year since moving away from home, she would call me and sing “Happy Birthday” to me. If I concentrate really hard, I can hear her singing it in my head.

It’s been six months and I still miss her. I always will.

And I’m back…

I just read a thought provoking article and it rang true on so many points. I’m pretty sure that some will see the title and get their hackles up, thinking “Not ANOTHER list of rules…” Hear me (and the article) out, though.

Some of us are pretty damaged (parent AND child) by some of the teachings we heard and tried to apply as ‘homeschoolers’. Going to homeschool conventions, we heard seminars on discipline and courtship and purity, and in our heartfelt desire to please God, we tried to follow rules that were created by men, rather than just listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance through the years.

It doesn’t help that I’m one of those people who can be hardheaded when I think I’m right about something. When I try to explain that I’ve had a change of mind, the person on the other end of the conversation usually ends up struggling with doubt because I was so convinced before, and suddenly I’m not.

Reading this article though – it’s so full of wisdom and common sense. I just think it would be really hard to argue with any of the “rules” set forth, now or in the future. I don’t even like calling them “rules,” because it’s more a list of concepts to think about and apply as the Holy Spirit leads. There’s good stuff here, whether you plan to stay single or desire to marry some day.

Winter Stroll

Please read, share, and consider for your own lives and the important decisions you have to make as you journey through life:

10 Rules of Christian Dating

Words

I’ve been hanging out at the local coffee shop today, working on my novel.  My daughter had a break mid-day and so she met me for lunch and we had a great conversation regarding our writing and our words.

She let me read several poems she’d written on Evernote.  I’ve read her blogs and some of her stories, but I’d not read her poetry before.

She prefers free verse and I chuckled, because in my poetry writing days, I preferred free verse, too.  We agreed that sonnets and the like are too confining, too restrictive.  But as I read several of her poems I stopped chuckling.

Because she writes better poetry than I ever thought about writing.  And I won an award or two for mine, so it’s not too shabby.

I love my daughter’s words — her words like little mirrors reflecting the sparkling depths of her heart and soul.

Keep writing those beautiful words, baby girl… as if you could stop.  You’d sooner give up oxygen than give up your words.

Snapshots

I tackled and conquered another box last night/this morning.  Two down, six or seven to go.  The method that seems to work best is to drag the letter size file box into the living room, along with two archival “shoeboxes” and a photo labeling pencil.  After turning on a movie I’ve seen before, I start sorting through the photo packets, splitting up the duplicates between the two shoeboxes.  I don’t know about your mother, but my mother always ordered duplicate prints… so they could sit in a box with their twins for the next thirty years, rather than be shared with the people who would enjoy them.  I guess that sounds a little snarky, but the hoarding of memories is probably the thing I struggle with the most out of all the things that one works through after a loved one dies.

It’s a fine balance — the movie and the photos.  If I don’t have the movie running, my sorting speed slows down as I look at each photo, reminiscing — but since it’s a movie I’ve seen before, I don’t get distracted from sorting, either.  I take each packet and look to see if there’s any helpful information on the outside envelope — sometimes she made notes:  “Christmas 1979 – Alvin, Baytown” or “1982 AHS Centennial Parade”.  Other times, the only clue  is the date the film was sent in for processing, which could be the week after it was taken, or more likely, several months later.  So my Nancy Drew cap comes out and I sift through my own memories while looking at the photos to see if I can identify anything that will help me put them in their correct chronological spot in the shoeboxes.  When I’m pretty sure I have the date right, I scrawl a two digit year on the back with the photo labeling pencil and move on.  The time for enjoying the photos will have to wait until I’ve finished going through them and sorting them.  At a box a night, I think I should be able to complete that part of the project in a week or two.

I’m grateful to be self-employed.  I can’t imagine trying to tackle the disassembly of a home and the archiving of a life if I worked a regular 40-hour work week.  The flexibility of being in control of my own schedule has helped immensely.  Control is a power that can be used for good… or not so good.  I wish my mom had relinquished some of her own control when it came to these photos.  It would have made for sweet memories to be doing this with her, rather than alone.  Somedays my mind races thinking about all the things I’m learning from losing my mother.  Things like making the days count, since we have no idea how many of them we have each been allotted in this life.  Loving people the way they need to be loved, rather than the way we think they should be loved.  Assessing what is important to our loved ones and showing them they are loved by doing the hard things, the things that may not come naturally to us, but mean so much more just for the fact that they are hard.