Thursday, May 25, 2006

Today Cody and I attempted to learn about some of the ancient civilizations in Central America. I had grabbed Susan Wise Bauer's wonderful book "The Story of the World" and plopped outside in a chair while he sat on the sidewalk watching the ants. Of course, it was funny when a roly-poly scurried by, elephant to the antmen. We had to break to watch him humph on by the undistracted skilled workers of the city, carrying material for their mounds. We made it back to the book; I think Cody heard about the huge mysterious drawings in Peru. I retrieved a globe inside and found Cody still bent over the ants. We moved on the porch, and then the discussion went all over the world as the topographical globe was felt. We finally returned to the Olmecs and the huge mounds of dirt that were built basketful by basketful to form a pyramid temple ... like the Egyptians whom they had no contact with, they built the same form to connect to the heavens. I tried to discuss the connection. Maybe he got it. Maybe it takes much more context. I realize now, though, that I failed to use the most fitting metaphor at hand: the ants! How are we like them and how have we not been like them? What would we think if one group of ants in Missouri built a monument that resembled the West Virginian ants' monument? What if this monument served a purpose unrelated to food and shelter? Perhaps this discussion would lead to other places, places with huge questions but no sanctified answers?

I do love learning alongside my son!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Humidity has hit. I've started substituting a bike ride for running some days. The bike takes me farther away quicker, which I like. It takes me down our city trail to a city lake where I like to sit on Helen's memorial bench and pray and watch the geese swim and watch the dogs splash into the water after a thrown stick. It's so peaceful there. My friend knows Helen's husband, goes to lunch occassionally. He related the story of Helen being a swimming enthusiast. She must of been drawn to the water. I like to think of Helen as having similar motherly concerns in her lifetime -- the concerns which I'm usually thinking about. Yesterday I was at once full of gratitude because my daughter was back and full of anxiety about how we would have the hard talks (or the easy laughs) again. God reassures, though. I also deposited the thoughts of my son's autism spectrum issues. His public school class "graduated" fifth grade last night, and so, although I'm extremely pleased with homeschooling and love it for him, benchtime helped me grieve the losses and challenges that my son faces and has faced. Afterwards, I always stand up feeling refreshed and strengthened again, capable of pushing down on the pedals towards the tough, tough hill I must overcome before I whiz into my cul-de-sac. I'm glad it's the humid time of year again; I believe I needed it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Thanks for all your prayers ... as of today, she's back! And, after multiple Oreos and sit down chatting, we just got back from a late night jog in the cool beautiful honeysuckle-full night. I love having my girl back. We've always enjoyed each other's company during our times of peace. I know peace is elusive ... when we begin talking about responsibilities, expectations, some curtailment when needed, she becomes ... unpredictable. I'm not sure she's back to stay because something may set her off again, and she'll be gone. But for now, my daughter is home, andthis in itself is a blessed gift. Divine father&mother, please release us to love. Amen.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Having reeled and stumbled from Chico's per my last post, I now can think about more substantial things in life. I'm going to think along the lines which will make me peer down at my french manicured fingernails and toenails, which lie glamorously below this hotel sofa table. Lie glamorously. That's funny!

My friend and I made an appointment for fingers and toes last week. I was a virgin. No lady had ever touched me before in that manner. I had a standard of natural beautiness and non-grating nail sensationalism. But I wanted to spend time with my friend and so there I was with my feet in scalding water. A lady with a chisel awaited in the corner.

My friend was an eager Christian teen before she married a Jew and became active in their synagogue. She's a wonderful, wonderful person ... authentic with a laugh that envelops you and makes you sense sorrow and joy and perception all together. We both went through a lonely phase when we weren't working, and we would get together and sing "Coal Miner's daughter" at my house. Don't all lonely people do that? She then began work, and I would see her occassionally at book club meetings.

We chatted and relaxed during the procedure. She laughed, and I did my usual whatever-strangely-endears-me-to-her bit (still not sure what that is although she's been trying to spell it out lately in her writing, bizarre!). It wasn't too bad really. My nails turned out oval and elegant and the clear polish won't supposedly turn my nails yellow in the long run.

Afterwards, we went into a small restaurant and had the conversation we were supposed to have. About our daughters. Two purposeful mothers with trunks of love spurned by surprise in various unpleasant ways. I was the first person she's shared all this pain with she said. I was honored in that we could even approach such honesty with each other. I would not be judged (or 'discerned' by her as sometimes our language of judgment goes) or advised or rebuked. I was just one other Mom whose small girl had been enveloped by some cracks.

Happily, her daughter hit hard times and returned. They are reading books again together. She's hugging her good mom again.

Hope is potent, and sharing is healing. Our talk gave me both, not to mention the beautiful nails which type glamorously these days as I wait during these essential times.
It's a curiosity to be sure. Every time I enter a Chico, I see lots of women excitedly pulling clothes off the rack. I think to myself ~~ well, maybe I have a shot of liking something here now. They're obviously going at it. I begin at the front and see a layered t-shirt which I just bypassed at Dress Barn for $12.00. Chico's wants $34.00. Then, I pull out a shirt which has a layer of buttons, then ribbons, then crepe of some sort, in a lavender fuschia orange coloration blend. And, they want $98 for this? I look back at the women, chattering happily to their girlfriends who they've brought. Perhaps they're excited about the clearance racks there. Yet clearance prices are still in the $50 range, and the whole blotch of colors and various materials make me swoon insipid once more. In Chico's, I am insipid. I head for the door defeated once more by the bright women who are actually purchasing. I need to be home in my garden, dirty and happy ... and bright in the natural sunlight. I should have known better!

As I'm waiting for my husband today, I feel the weight of the dismal shopper. Materialism heavily ensnares. We women continually wish to look good. It always interests me to look at the empty, searching faces that are in the same aisles as me. Mine is no exception.

Dear Lord, allow life's purposes to be more substantial than the rack, the bag, the meaningless unnecessary item. I need detanglement as well.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I'm exhausted; my eyes are spinning; Arkansas road signs twirl in my brain.

Today while hubby works, I am exploring, like a muskrat, for a future home. It's frightening to think that next year at this time we will become residents. We're searching for a home on acreage, yet as I went towards the smaller towns and land north of Little Rock, I am wondering how the adjustment will be. I'm quite used to being mere minutes away from friends, coffeeshops, the anonymity of a larger town. Yes, Cody and I may have a little farm for our pets and garden and perhaps a horse or two, but how can we adjust to the loneliness? This is going to be hard for me, I'll admit.

I stopped at stores along the way and talked to the proprietors. One beamed about the fishing in town. One praised the atmosphere of a dry county. A couple of them liked their school system. A roadside interestate sign encouraged me to turn in fellow litterers. A young realtor guy promised to send me photos of homes and land.

Can Arkansas really be happening to us?!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Once I went to a hosta society meeting way out in the hills of the Ozarks. I went with Fay Coble who breathed the phrase "flowersarelifetome" as she shoveled mulch out of her truck when she was 84 years old. Here's one of the hostas from our time together. I miss her influence. She's gardening in heaven now
This is Cody's garden that we sliced out of the grass two years ago. The highlight right now is the cornflower/bachelor buttons which are tres impressionistic with their silvery feathery leaf and rose and lavender flowers. I love how they self-seed. He loves the asiatic lilies too, particularly the red or powerful orange ones. A friesland salvia loyally adorns any first garden. What happened to the perennial geranium that he planted? The boy does love flowers which makes my heart patterful.
Here's another look at the peony profusions.
The peony. What more can be said? I once read an entire book on peonies even though I did not care for biology one bit in school (strange that one of my fave magazine's is now National Geographic!). Botany is different, though. I've lost the name on this peony, but it looks like the Belleville described and shown here on the Heartland Peony Society page. I've seen many of these in people's yards. Do you have one too? I think I could live life for the peony (created by God to glorify him of course!). Ah, beauty.
For some odd reason, I was in a citrus mood when I shopped for the front of the house annual splash of color plants. Orange celosias?! What was I thinking? I'm rather a rose/lavender/impressionistic blend girl myself. But, here they are shooting up like torches of righteousness. You might be able to see a yellow rose just beyond and above the daffodil foilage. I planted two yellow antique rose bushes. Yellow and orange: I need to take my vitamin C for my deficiency, methinks!

"Blaze" climbing rose sears herself against an ugly concrete retaining wall. I'm so grateful! She's also lovely in any vase with a spiral of indigo next to her.
This is my abundance bed: everything is smashed in together, except for a bit of room at the border for bedding plants. I'm a collector, what can I say!
My last post about dresses was way too depressing, so I'm turning towards flowers for more cheer. I'll be posting more pictures for a walk around my garden. The above will start us off well. False indigo is one of my flavorite plants. It gets about 2.5 feet high, has lovely flat bright green leaves, and clumps in a nice form. In the fall, it sports black seed pods which can be used in dried flower arrangements. The blue flowers that are pictured are lovely-lovely in a flower bouquet.

I've spent the night going through stacks of clothing in my daughter's room. My widowed friend has a motherless daughter who is growing and could use some. My daughter has lots of too small ones.

She always has had a sense of style, much more than me. I dressed much differently as a teenager; she's always had such body comfort, whereas I was awkward with all the rumbling and sprouting below. I envy her this in a way. Yet as a mother, still uncomfortable with showing cleavage (I even tried one time during a romantic dinner out with my husband. We kept laughing at how I self-consciously kept pulling my shirt together. Geez!), I've always had the sense of discomfort when seeing her being so bold, even though I admired her beauty. Yes, I think our symbolic differences with dress and modesty impacted the relationship we don't have today.

Yet as I went through her closet, I kept remembering our shared female delight of pretty things like skirts, shoes, ribboned shirts. I remember, for a formal business get-together, trying on fancy dresses. My daughter was right in the dressing room with me, trying on women's dresses whose necklines plunged down past her little girl belly. She was in heaven, prancing around in the grown up beauty gear. She always wanted to be fancy.

She told me two days ago while at the front door that she won't be going to prom afterall. Her dress cannot be altered soon enough for Saturday night. It's a neck-plunging number which made me again think of our differences when I saw it. She looked sad, and so did I, but dresses never lie. That same dress was crumpled up on her closet floor a week after she bought it ~~ a valuable thing tossed aside. What has happened to the small girl smiling up at me, twirling around in her gown, trusting me with her dreams? I tried not to betray them, yet other factors have stepped into the changing room with us. This princess-ball prom won't happen this year for her.

I think my friend's daughter will like some of these clothes. She's a wonderful girl, and I keep thinking of how she will have fun going through the sacks. She's a big t-shirt dresser, though, an athlete, more like I was as a kid. Tomorrow, my son and I will deposit the clothes on their front porch. May she dig in with a tempered glee.

It has been a purging night. I think God is allowing the feelings again for which I'm thankful. Maybe He's allowing them for her too.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

She beckons us to burn and offers us roast for remuneration.

Yup, on the crop farm today with my mother-in-law who had sticks for us to pick and toss into a roaring inferno in the ditch. Yup, I wore my overalls and old running shoes, and my mom-in-law guessed correctly that I was dressed for haulin'. She likes to point and sharply yap and bustle about the place, making tidy and decrying bedlam, dandelions, sticks, lazies. She has fake red hair, and stalks about on thick strong legs like Godzilla at home for the weekend yard drill (?). Yup, she sets a solid table, though, and we ate and ate like we bucked bails for years on horse drawn wagons. I think I have some new blisters. I'm not so muscular as those old timey men were. Right now, Mom-in-law's yard is likely shimmering in the Missouri river bottom moonlight. In her categorized fields, the little wee forked corn pokes upward searching for orderliness in order to grow straightlaced. They smile all together. Mom-in-law is rocking in her normal rocker before jumping up to do one last self-assignment before collapse. All is well.

Don't tell anyone in her county, but for Mother's Day, I've a self-mission to undertake the purchase of a delightful bird bath for her. She can haul it (or direct one of her men to haul it) outside her bay window, and she can waste a few minutes each morning in luxurious mesmerization as the little birds play and splash. Perhaps she'll spy in the afternoon as well. Maybe she'll stop her stalk and remember her own childhood in the creek. Yup, Mom-in-law needs a bird bath; a hammock would become an automatic stick gurney for her next order of incineration. Next Sunday, she will pause, perhaps, to know that she is loved like she, self-ascribed, is, and more importantly to her, because of what she still, stringently, does.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Grateful for the preliminary news out of Darfur that a peace agreement has been accepted between the factions. Now for a movie for how the world stood by and did nothing while atrocities happened? I know that there's been work within the U.N. to impact this country, though. It's a hard call ... when do you let countries work out their own struggles, when do you step in? I think the time to step in was getting closer at hand; hopefully, now the frightened people there can be resettled into their lives. Yet, there will always be the memory ....

In Iraq, a British helicopter went down, and the crowds that shot it down there (they are against occupation) cheered. Four died. News like this makes me wonder about whether our involvement has been worth it. Iran believes so now that their primary enemy is gone. The world is confusing; I'm just sorry for the loss of lives and the political causes of hatred and power which causes it to happen.

I googled an old best friend from college and found out that he and his wife (who was my resident assistant) are missionaries in Central America. Because of his cynical inquiring mind, I found it to be doubly gratifying that he had plowed through the questions, plowed through the doctorate in philosophy, plowed through the preponderance of mighty thoughts and kept hold of faith. Kept hold of a hand. It was fun to see his big grin (and to know the silliness that accompanied it most of the time) posted in the middle of playing with his kids or the natives in the land. I'm certain that he's a gift to them, dropped from the north, full of heart and energy, and good thoughts.

And then, I felt inadequate. What was my week about? Taking care of my one sick kid in a big house, meeting for poetry or coffee with my friends, playing my guitar, tidying up after a long pleasurable trip. It all seems selfish in a way. I'm hardly doing any visible work for the "Kingdom" these days. I used to be active in ministry at church, but l've withdrawn from that because of feeling the need to be home more, to burrow due to the daughter situation, to travel more with my husband to Little Rock. As a matter of fact, my connection to church community feels slim at the moment. I know there are seasons of activity ....

I communicated these thoughts to a friend, and she was encouraging. She's a musician and said that perhaps, during this time, I'm supposed to be doing just this: nurturing the family (an important calling); playing and perhaps writing music; and, just learning about my faith in relationship to God, not the church, not in serving others in a community at the time. She's right of course. However, I pray that when it's time for active, outward service, God will kick me with strong intent (along with my husband too. Kick him too, God!) so that we will get out of our comfortable places, which is often hard to leave. I pray that here I can still be mindful of his work in my home and heart and in other forms of giving.

I'm so proud of my friend for responding to the need. May his family's work be protected, blessed, and influential in bringing Christ's love to areas which are needed. As a ripple effect, I'm glad to be reminded, convicted, and influenced regarding my part as well.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

We're sick inside today, but my tree peony displays rosy hopeful health.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

While my napping son is on the couch, I tried to ignore my encroaching signs of sickness by transplanting hostas from a crowded side bed. The four larger hostas shown weren't here before. Usually impatients or begonias add some color in this shady, dry area behind our house. I must remember to water and fertilize during the heavy days of summer. I often neglect if truth be told.

It was soothing to garden in the soaked quietness of the morning. I tried to pray. I was more successful at focusing on the weed in front of me. Prayer has been hard lately. I have a notebook, yes, with some letters in it. I rush through the Lord's prayer from time to time. I burst out pleas for my daughter at random moments. My prayers feel sliced, though. I trust God takes them in particles. I trust God waters with care.
The trip is over, and the boy is now sick. Perhaps the germs were swirling in the Museum of Natural History? There were student groups swarming everywhere. Or, maybe it was in the National Archives where multitudes leaned in to see the fading glorious documents of old? The metro where Cody, hands on seat rail, excitedly looked out the window at the next station?

It was probably in Louisville, when after the "mini-marathon" I took his fleece jacket, as we walked in the rain for 35 minutes trying to find the van as Mom forgot where she parked. I'm to blame! I used his jacket! But regardless, he is sick, and I'm feeling the mother sympathies that slow down the day into a waiting room. Now, I feel the sorrow for the chronically ill child and the parents and the pulsation of time and blood. Life is difficult.

Yesterday, though, he and I planted our new plants that we bought at Monticello ~~ plants that Thomas J. had in his garden: tarragon, antique roses, tiger lilies. We took our evening walk and found our old cat who lives somewhere else now because of the "girls", Trixie and Cassie, who took over our home. He followed us down the sidewalk for a while in our healthy pleasure.

But last night was interrupted. Now the kid is sick. The day is literally gray with thunder storms. May a healing wind blow in for tomorrow.