Tuesday, June 29, 2010


For the past few years, I have been saying that Time has no meaning whatsoever because I blink and another year has passed.

I can never figure out how Butterfly got so big when I could swear she was just born 6 months ago. And it is utterly impossible - but very true - that my little brother is having his 20th high school reunion this year.

In the last 20 days, though, Time has made my head spin in ways I didn't think were possible.

Twenty days ago I learned our friend was in the hospital with pneumonia. It made total sense because in May she worked for weeks on her friends' house that had been destroyed in the flood. I thought she maybe got sick from all the mold.

Seventeen days ago, we were told it could be cancer instead and they were doing tests.

Fourteen or fifteen days ago they confirmed inoperable cancer.

Twelve days ago she went home from the hospital and also left me an inspiring comment on my FB status about praying for her (which is so her).

Today she is in heaven. Just like that.

Most of those days, I was sure this would not happen. She is not someone I thought the world could do without. She loved too many people and was beloved by countless. She served and laughed. She attracted people like a magnet and made all of us feel welcomed. She inspired the kind of devotion that made our hearts melt for her. She was too bright and surely if she left, the world would get darker.

But today, the sun did not appear to know she was gone. The birds were singing and the flowers were blooming. People were driving places in their cars. I drove places in my car.

I thought it was so odd, and it reminded me of Skeeter Davis singing on my mother's old record: "Why does the sun go on shining, why does the sea rush to shore? Don't they know it's the end of the world....." and "I wake up in the morning and I wonder why everything's the same as it was. I can't understand, no I can't understand, how life goes on the way it does."

Life goes on. For us and also for Nancy because she is in Eternity.

She is free of Time with all its strangeness and constraints. She is free of sickness and pain and sorrow. She is free to run and dance and probably even fly. And she is free to throw parties for Jesus and hang out with her friends and little dogs who got there first. Don't you know they are SO glad to see her?

I know we will see her again in a while. But we have to go through Time first, and right now it seems to be a dark tunnel where things don't make much sense and weird things happen. But the days will turn into weeks and the years will start turning into hours and then minutes.

Rob heard me say her name aloud in my sleep this morning. I would give anything to remember that dream because maybe my spirit knew she was gone even if my mind didn't yet. Did I see her smiling and flying, dancing and laughing?

I love you, sweet Nancy. I am thankful to have known you. I wanted more Time with you, but I know Eternity is the best. Until then, I'll see you in my dreams.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thinking Outside The Birdcage

I've always thought Butterfly was fairly creative. She has a huge imagination and uses it well. For example, she pretends to be at least 10 different animals or people per day, all with elaborate outfits, elaborate names with equally elaborate meanings.

So when my mother-in-law gave us a book on raising creative children a couple of Christmases ago, I thought it would be full of great tips. I found it the other day and started reading about this interesting activity called "The Pretend Game".

In this game, you ask your child to close her eyes and imagine a bird cage. You ask questions about the birdcage (is it large, small, etc.) Then you ask her to imagine the bird and ask similar questions about the bird. Eventually, you get them to imagine the bird growing large enough for them to take a ride on it and you ask them questions about what they are seeing and where they are going, etc.

I decided to try this with Bella thinking I would get some great answers since she is always pretending anyway. Here's how the game started:

Me: Butterfly, let's play a pretend game. Close your eyes and imagine a bird cage. Do you see it?

B: Yes.

Me: Is it little or big?

B: It's big!

Me: Do you see a bird inside there?

B: No. The BIRD is in the doghouse. There is a DOG inside the birdcage.

Me: Oh?

Not in the book.
Not in the box.
Not in the birdcage.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Facebook Friends

This conversation happened today:

"Butterfly, could you please put on some pants or a skirt? Tyler is coming over for a guitar lesson and you need to get dressed. It's not very polite to show strangers your panties. They are private."

She leaned over, cupped her mouth with one hand like she was telling me a secret and whispered conspiratorially.

"But he's a Facebook Friend."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


This was a conversation I had with Butterfly today after we talked about how important it is to obey. (Especially in the parking lot.)

B: Mommy, the baby Bunny always obeys the Mama Bunny. It's called obeyment.

Me: Wow, that's a great made-up word, ButterflyB.

B: I didn't make it up.

Me: Where did you learn it?

B: I learned it from myself. It's not like a mint that you eat. It's like agreement or _____.

(It was some other word ending in 'ment' -- like agreement -- that perfectly fit, but since I apparently gave all my cognitive abilities to her, I forgot it.)*

Me: Oh, I understand.

Daddy (upon hearing the story): Maybe she won't need school.

*UPDATE: I asked Rob what the other 'ment' word was, and it was compliment. (He didn't have to give his brain away to make hers....)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Book Lover's Paradise

(This is for all my bibliophile friends, who will certainly appreciate my glee. It will bore the rest of you to tears.)

On our quick trip to Rob's grandmother's house last weekend, we had a chance to go through his late grandfather's extensive and dusty library and take home whatever books we wanted. It was magnificently fun.

A little background: Mr. H -- actually Lt. Colonel (retired) H -- was an officer in Army intelligence during the Cold War and learned Chinese and Russian. He also served in India, Burma and Algiers in World War II, as well as Korea (after that war). The family lived in many exotic places during his career, including Okinawa, Thailand and Germany. Needless to say, his library was fascinating and diverse.

Here are the books we brought back with us. The majority of them are very, very old. (I included some very fun chapter titles for a couple of them.)


The Song Of Hiawatha (two copies - an extremely old one and an even older leather bound one)

American Poetry (1671-1928)

The Year Out Of Doors

The Boat United And Other Poems, a translation of Tang poems in wood with original poems in Chinese Calligraphy (this book has some incredible artwork in it. I'll have to scan some.)

Joseph Wood Krutch Herbal

Driving To Biloxi (poems by Edgar Simmons)

Scribner Magazine, Winter 1996

Ducks At A Distance, a waterfowl identification guide (small booklet)

Guide To Spirits and Liqueurs

Riley Songs Of Home (by James Whitcomb Riley)

Ginseng And Other Medicinal Plants

Translations From The ChineseT(by Arthur Waley)

Heidi (children's picture book version)

The S.D.N Theory Of Music Rudiments

Webster's New World Vest Pocket Dictionary (so tiny & cute)

The Grapes of Wrath (by John Steinbeck)

Nicholas And Alexandra (by Robert K Massie)

Marie Antoinette, The Journey (by Antonia Fraser)

In Dubious Battle (by John Steinbeck)

The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (by Alison Weir)

An Introduction To Bird Life For Bird Watchers (by Aretas A Saunders)

Volumes II, III and IV of The Harbrace History Of England

Pigeon Flight (by Mary Stolz) - a juvenile fiction book

The Boy's Book Of New Inventions (Harry E Maule) -- check out the chapter titles
The Aeroplane
Artificial Lighting Made And Harnessed To Man's Use
The Motion Picture Machine
The Tesla Turbine
The Romance of Concrete
The Wireless Telegraph Up To The Minute (What would they think of Twitter??)
Steel Boiled Like Water And Cut Like Paper
New Engines Of War (aeroplanes, balloons, submarines)
Les Miserables (by Victor Hugo)
The Conquest Of Everest (by Sir John Hunt)

American Boy Adventure Stories

Foxfire 4 (includes fiddle making, springhouses, sassafras tea, etc.)

Basic Russian Book 2 (we got book one last time)

A Practical Guide For The Beginning Farmer

Haji Of The Elephants

The American Boys Handy Book (chapters below)
Novel Modes of Fishing
How To Camp Out Without A Tent
Home-Made Boats
Knots, Bends, and Hitches
Practical Taxidermy For Boys
Snowball Warfare
How To Make Various And Divers Whirligigs
Tracks And Tracking (by Josef Brunner)

Count Of Monte Cristo, Illustrated (by Alexander Dumas)

World Enough And Time (by Robert Penn Warren)

A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court (by Mark Twain)

The Tale Of Mr. Tod (by Beatrix Potter)

The Pilgrim's Progress (by John Bunyan)

A Wrinkle In Time & A Swiftly Tilting Planet (by Madeleine L'Engle)

Hamlet (very small & cute book)

Modern American Poetry (copyright 1921)

Poetry Of The People: Ballads, Lays of Heroism, And National Songs

How To Live On Nothing (by Joan Ranson Shortney)

The Stranger (by Albert Camus)

Flowers, a Guide To Familiar American Wildflowers

Clocks And Watches

Unfortunately, we had to leave hundreds and hundreds more behind. He had so very many about World War II, including official Army booklets analyzing the battle strategies on the different fronts during the war. It was amazing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A List Of Thoughts

Outside my window...
I hear A Duet For Mower And Weedeater playing

I am thinking...
about organizing my day

From the learning rooms...
Moonlight Sonata, To A Wild Rose and Notturno await me

I am thankful for...
an enchanting little girl who kisses me a hundred times a day

From the kitchen...
the dishwasher is begging me to unload it

I am wearing...
a dark-brown, ankle-length, tiered skirt and a dark-brown tanktop

I am reading...
The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
(recommended by my bookworm in-laws)

I am hoping...
for more light and less fog

I am creating...
a gift for a beloved friend

I am praying...
for light to shine from above

Around the house...
there are toys everywhere

One of my favorite things...
is my midi-interfaced, digital, hammer-action piano with a Steinway digital sample

A few plans for the rest of the week...
laundry, cleaning, birthday party and a fun Saturday brunch

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

(Topic borrowed from The Simple Woman's Daybook via Walk Slowly, Live Wildly.)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Those Crazy Words

Butterfly hates getting her hair washed.  

In retrospect, I regret being so careful with water when she was a baby, never letting it get in her face and eyes.  I thought I was being kind because I don't particularly like water in my own face, but I realize now that I missed my opportunity to desensitize her to it.  Now she hates the thought of a single drop getting near her face, which will be a huge problem when she takes swim lessons.

Sometimes when her hair gets dirty, I will just put it up in braided buns (aka Bear Ears) and put off the drama another day.  She has started using this as a negotiating technique.

This conversation occurred a few weeks ago, and I just came across my written record of it.

Mommy:  We are going to wash your hair today.

Butterfly:  I just want to have bear ears.

Mommy:  No, your hair is very very dirty and we have to wash it.

Butterfly:  I am going to be very unhappy if you wash my hair.

Mommy:  You shouldn't say that.  You should say, "I am going to be so happy because we are washing my hair, and my hair will be silky and clean."

Butterfly:  I'm just going to leave because you are saying those crazy words to me.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

For Daddy, On His Valentine Birthday

I had never imagined
not once
until yesterday

that those magical days
of wandering
through the woods
with an all-day sucker
staying in earshot
of the chainsaw
and later
the axe's chop and clack
exploring the mysterious
dark creek down in the

I didn't know those moments
could be remembered
as anything but
adventurous, luxurious

but now
I think of your freezing hands
your aching muscles
lifting the axe above
your head over and over
all day long

I see the mountain 
of triangular logs
in the back of the trailer
heaped high for us to sit on 
as we dodged low-hanging
branches on the way 

and I realize
only now

the neatly stacked
pile of wood
warming us through the
was the fruit of 
a day of labor
and not 
a day of fun

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Anthem Of My Fierce Heart

"From A Wigwam" was the first song I learned to play on the piano that I really liked. It was on the last page of the book Teaching Little Fingers To Play, and it was a 'hands-together' song. Not only that, but my left hand played two notes at once for the entire song. Those two notes provided the Indian drum-type rhythm while my right hand played the 'Ba ba, Ba ba-ba bam' part.

It was very fierce sounding to my young ears, and it pleased my fierce little Indian heart. Deep down, I knew I was an Indian, and finally I could express my wildness in song.

I was almost certain I was an Indian because my cousin Mark was a real, 100% Indian. Since I was related to him, it was only logical that I was at least part Indian, despite my pale skin, green eyes and un-black hair. Mark, on the other hand, had jet-black hair and skin as brown as the moccasins he wore every day that summer.

According to Mark, the ultimate proof of authentic Indianhood was the ability to find arrowheads, and he had found many along the gravel road leading to my Papaw's house. I was awed by those finds, and I would imagine bows and arrows and feathers and scalps as I smoothed them in my hands. But I always had to give them back, which was woeful since, to my great consternation, I had not found my own yet.

My lack of success did not stop me from looking every day, my eyes glued to the ground. I never stopped believing that one day I would find my proof, and everyone would know that I was a displaced Indian princess, wild at heart and worthy of the anthem in my beginning piano book.

*Disclaimer: when I was growing up, the political (and geographically) correct term Native Americans did not yet exist, so we did not yet know we were supposed be playing Cowboys and Native Americans.

Monday, August 18, 2008

In Which The Mommy Is Rendered Speechless

We seem to be in a parenting stage in which Butterfly does not see the need to do what Mommy and Daddy say.  We have been discussing obedience for quite a while.  Since she is so verbal for her age and sounds much older than she actually is, it is sometimes difficult to know how much to expect from her.  After all, she won't be three until the end of next month.

Today at the library, Butterfly found it an impossible task to stay beside me and instead decided to run up and down the rows in a very un-quiet manner.  Consequently, when we got to the car, she was not allowed to look at a new book she had picked out herself.  After the drama of her tears passed, we had this conversation while driving to the grocery store:

B: Mommy, can you just be happy?
M:  Yes, I can.  And can you obey me? (she knows what that word means)
B: (shaking her head no)
M: You know, if you don't obey me, bad things will happen, like time out or not getting to look at your book.
B: I don't want bad things to happen!
M: Then you should obey me.  If you obey me, good things will happen!
B: Why can't you just be a good mommy?  Why don't you not ask me [to do] things?
M: (crickets chirping)

My husband said (when I called him in shock) that it sounds like something he would have said.  Well, then.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

To Sing of Brightness and Beauty, Part II

To honor the life and commemorate the death of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, who died Sunday at the age of 89, I am reposting one of my earlier entries. I hope he had those many days of joy that were just a preview of the eternity of delight he is surely now experiencing.

Here's a quote from Cancer Ward, by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, one of my favorite novels (and authors) ever: The author is describing the character Vera Gangart:
Her smile was kind, not so much her smile as the lips themselves. They were vital seperate lips, which seemed about to flutter from her face like a lark into the sky. They were made, as all lips are, for kissing, yet they had other more important work to do: to sing of brightness and beauty.
Everyone should read that book and really anything else by Solzhenitsyn. As you can see from the paragraph above, he has a lovely way with words. I am trying to read more of his work, but he wrote so accurately about the oppression in the Soviet Union that much of his work is very, very sad and disturbing (though Cancer Ward is, surprisingly, not so sad and kind of funny at times).

For his trouble and talents, he was arrested many times, tossed into the gulag (prison camp) and was eventually exiled to Kazakhstan. He also won an Nobel prize for literature, which may have saved his life. It brought him and his work so much attention from the outside world that the Soviets couldn't really kill him without a big uproar. He eventually left (escaped?) the USSR, and he now lives in Vermont. For a brief biography of this remarkable author and man, go here.

Also, if you are an artistic person, you MUST read his Nobel prize acceptance speech located here. Wow.

Now read his books! You can start with A Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich; it's really short and covers one day in the life of a gulag prisoner. Then be sure and read Cancer Ward. (By the way, the author also had a bout with cancer when he was in exile and spent time in a soviet cancer ward. And we think our lives are hard...) For some really sad but true non-fiction, you can read The Gulag Archipelago about life in the former Soviet Union.

Thank you, Mr. Solzhenitsyn, for believing in a better world than the one you saw around you and for persevering to show us that art really can change things. May the rest of your life be peaceful, and may you see as many days of joy as you did sorrow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Foray Into Fiction

I came from that small town in south Georgia you hear about on the news occasionally -- the one where all the peaches die every year and nobody knows why.  They've had all these scientific people in from Atlanta digging up dirt and checking on the weather ever since it started about seven years ago, but all anybody can come up with is that it's a 'natural phenomenon'.  That means they just can't figure it out but are too proud to admit it, what with all those doctorates after their names, so they just slap a fancy name on it and they're done.

I figure my explanation's as good as any.  See, it started about the time my crazy grandmother started thinking she was a witch and could fly around at night on her broomstick (which was really a pool cue from the billiards room my grandpa had built that time the Vanderbilts came down from Asheville to visit).  

Grand had no idea where Estelle, the help, kept the real brooms and couldn't ask her because Estelle had gone down to see her daughter's first baby being born down in Macon.  Anyway, Grand is the creative type and when she saw all those tassels hanging from the valances in the music room, she yanked them all off and put two and two together, so to speak, and she had herself a broom.

And I know for a fact Grand hated peaches all her life and couldn't stand the way the air smelled when they got ripe every year, so I imagine she just cast a spell on all those trees one night and that was the end of them.

But that doesn't stop them making headlines every year and all the bookies taking bets on whether anyone would eat a peach grown in Bonaire, Georgia that year.

(I found this in one of my old journals.  It was an exercise in creative writing I gave myself years ago.  My husband liked it so I thought I'd post it since I couldn't think of anything else.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Miniature Maxi-Dress

The funniest thing happened to me last Saturday:  after I posted the story of the sewing elves' visit, they magically re-appeared!  I think they like the publicity.

This time, we constructed a maxi-dress for Butterfly.  I had a couple of really pretty cotton scraps from my grandmother's house.  It looked like someone had re-purposed an old table cloth or sheet, and I had the leftover pieces.   

Together with the elves, I came up with this:

Don't you LOVE that fabric?  It is so soft and so groovy!  You can't tell in this picture, but it goes all the way down to her ankles.     

I still didn't use a pattern, and if she grows very much, I will have to re-construct it.  The bodice is held together with a hook & eye and only opens down to the gathers (the back of the skirt is just one piece).  So there's not much room for her actually squeeze into it -- it's a tight enterprise, especially with little wiggly arms.  Once it is on, though, it is quite roomy, and she just loves it.  If only she would stay little forever... 

I am even more envious of this dress than I am of the tutu because I have wanted a maxi dress (a long sun dress) for several months now.  They were all the rage in the 70s, and now they are wonderfully back!  I love how they are so flow-y and breezy and all those fabulous things.  

And here's the exciting thing:  I won't have to wait long because I am about to start making my own!  I will be using the fabric I got for my birthday and a new pattern I got last week.  I meant to make The Walk Away dress with it, but I am a little nervous about that pattern and decided I wanted a maxi-dress more anyway.  I'll try the other dress with some not-quite-so-expensive fabric, I think.

I'll keep you posted on that project.  Hopefully, one day I'll show you a picture of Butterfly and mommy in their respective maxi-dresses.  If the sewing elves will just come back!

(This post is part of the Water Cooler Wednesday blog carnival at Ethos.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I Want A Tutu, Too

This week we made a tutu for the butterfly.  She thinks it is too puffy, unfortunately.   So maybe next time we'll go for less poof.

I would really like to make one for myself...maybe in silver.  But I wonder, would I just be embarrassing other people to wear it at my age?  Shouldn't I care about the feelings of others, maybe just as a public service?

But when one doesn't think of doing something at the appropriate age (say, in one's twenties....), does one have to miss it entirely?  Do I have to wait till I get to heaven to wear my tutu?   (Because, you know, there will be tutus GALORE in heaven.)

I don't think so.  I've never been known for my patience.   So maybe one of these days you'll see me, here on earth, walking around in a silver tutu with extra poof.  You never know.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Sewing Elves

Last month, I posted a picture of Butterfly in my brother's wedding wearing her flower-girl dress made in my very own home by sewing elves.  Here is the rest of the story:

My brother asked us last year if Butterfly could be a flower-girl in his beach wedding in May.  At the time, I thought to myself, "Maybe I could make her a flow-y little dress.  That would be fun!"

Fast-forward to the week before our trip:  I had not made a dress nor did I have had any plans whatsoever for her attire.  Then I got sick with some kind of feverish cold that lasted days and days.  It is not pleasant to have a fever for six days straight.  

We had plans to leave on a Sunday, and when Thursday rolled around, I suddenly remembered the dress, or rather the lack thereof.  I couldn't just go out and buy one for a variety of reasons, most involving the lack of disposable income for beach flower-girl dresses and the desire to not inflict those feverish germs onto the unsuspecting public.

I remembered my plan to make a dress and then remembered that I didn't have anything like a pattern or fabric.  So I looked around at what I did have.

I had the leftovers from a fabulous vintage chenille pillow sham I got at my grandmother's house (and had previously used for the skirt at the bottom of this post).  I had an old linen slip that was unwearable due to a huge rip across the back.  I had several white cotton sheets just begging to be turned into something.  And finally, I had a little package of various shell buttons I got for about 25 cents when a fabric store was going out of business last year.

A while ago, I saw this top online and thought it looked easy to reproduce, so I looked at it again.  I measured Butterfly and got to work.  The pillow sham became a bodice and straps, the linen slip became the skirt, and the sheet became the lining.  (Yes, I said lining.  Aren't you impressed?)

Now, lest you think I am some kind of amazing seamstress, I want you to know that I have not followed a pattern since I was in fifth grade and my mother made me enter the 4-H apron contest.  It was such a trying experience that I refused to get near a sewing machine until my daughter was born 27 years later!  Since then, I had basically only sewn straight lines to put blankets and burp cloths together.

This is what the elves taught me to do:  I used the existing hems on everything.  I also used the zig-zag stitch on my machine (that I had never noticed before) to make the button holes.  I could not figure out how to put the button hole maker onto my machine, much less how to work it.  If you look carefully at this picture, you can tell these are my first buttonholes! 

Here's a full length view of the finished dress in the wedding:

Necessity really IS the mother of invention.  And inspiration, I guess!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Because I Said So

I promised myself I would not employ that phrase in my maternal vocabulary.   I told my naivety it is only fair to a child to give her a good reason for whatever you were wanting her to do.  I assumed it would only take a little imagination and creativity to come up with sufficient answers to the inevitable challenges to my authority.

And then somehow, somewhere, someone (obviously inspired by the devil himself) said the phrase, "But, whyyyyyyyy?" around my verbal little copy-cat sponge.  With a little pause and a slight breath after the 'but' and a long and drawn out 'why' with a falling tone, it was the worst possible combination of two words for her to overhear.

Would you just please observe a moment of silence for me?  

While I have not yet broken my promise, I am running out of anything else to say.  I mean, who can come up with 7 answers to 'butwhy' in 120 seconds?  I am NOT exaggerating.

I have tried the following:

"What are you talking about?"
"That doesn't make any sense at all?"
"What did you say? Is that English?"
"Blah, blah, blah, blah"
"Because the sky will fall down on you if you don't"
"Because the monster in the disposal will come out and eat you"
"Because you will turn into a frog"
"Because, because, because, because, because.....because of the wonderful things he does"

(OK, I've only used first half, but I have thought the rest.)

What would you say?  But, why?

(This post is part of Watercooler Wednesday at Ethos.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Beach Butterfly

Butterfly was the flower girl in my brother's recent beach wedding. Here's a picture to tide you over until I write about the sewing elves who came to my house and created a little dress for her to wear. 
I will post that story, really. I will do it at least before she grows up.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thank You, Encyclopedia Brown

I have been pondering The Case Of The Vanishing Breakfast for sometime. Each day, as I prepare my morning meal, I serve myself generous portions - surely more than I will need. After the tasty repast has been consumed, however, I find that my tummy is not full, and I can usually only remember taking a couple of bites.  What happened to all that food if it did not reach its planned destination?  I began to suspect that mine was not the only tummy being filled, but I had no real proof.  A mystery, indeed.

I decided to look to a few experts for a solution.  What would Sherlock Holmes, Guy Noir, Nancy Drew, Jupiter Jones, Trixie Belden and Encyclopedia Brown do in a case like this? Follow the clues, of course.   

Like any good private eye, I set my trap and staked out the scene.  Voila!  I procured photographic evidence of a little-known creature rumored to be completely imaginary:  The Breakfast Elf.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you irrefutable proof that she exists:

Don't be surprised if you hear about this ground-breaking discovery on NPR.  If I don't return your calls in the next few days, it's probably because I am busy with interviews.  Or because my phone reception at my house is non-existent.  One of those.

Butterfly Elbows

These little dimpled elbows were much yummier than the bread we made that day.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Love Sonnet

My husband just e-mailed me asking for the text of a love sonnet he wrote me for our third anniversary.  He just found out about a love sonnet contest at Prairie Home Companion today, the day of the deadline.  Since I typed it all out for him, I thought I'd share it with you as well.
In keeping with our own anniversary traditions, he wrote this poem on leather, the customary third anniversary gift.  He also got me some incredible Fluevog knee-high, lace-up leather boots to celebrate our becoming debt free that same month.
Though rare, some things I've found improve with time
And though these can range from the finest wines
To a truly great pair of leather boots
To a Shakespearian sonnet, the truth
Found at their core, distilled by time's warring
Factions: a golden heart of Quality
Whose luster is only evidenced the
More through every passing year's abrading.
And as a poem can newly strike the heart
Each year it's read, or music find anew
Some hidden treasure, all our sacred art
Seeks that eternal, upward sloping view.
And now, my clearer eyes begin to see
The beauty our togetherness will be.
Isn't he awesome?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Green Allergy Cure

Have I mentioned that after a lifetime of suffering, my husband is no longer allergic to Spring?  And maybe even dogs?  Here is the marvelous story:
For about a month and a half, we have been drinking daily Green Smoothies consisting of frozen fruit (usually mangos & pineapples), bananas, spinach and water - all blended up into a delicious and delightfully green smoothie.  Rob also adds locally-produced honey to his.

(Before you say "Eww, gross.  I could never drink spinach," you MUST make one for yourself and taste it.  It is very, very yummy; you can barely taste the spinach.  In fact, you should take the Green Smoothie Challenge, as we did.)

We started out enjoying about 16 ounces each daily, but Rob started having more and more. He would make a blender full every morning, drink half for breakfast, and take the rest to work to drink with a bowl of soup for lunch.  

Rob also began to add more and more spinach (or kale) to his smoothies, using the locally-produced honey to offset the extra green flavor.  He typically uses around 16 ounces of fruit, about 3/4 of a bag of spinach and two tablespoons of honey daily.

Well, as you know, spring has finally arrived and with it, we expected the usual month of Rob Not Being Able To Breath because of his allergies.  This would entail constant sneezing, loud sleeping, and just altogether miserableness for him.  We would buy lots of very expensive Claritin, which may or may not help but must be tried.  And allergies lead to asthma, which leads to chronic inhaler use, which leads to even more general misery.  And Spring is not the only thing he is allergic to, if you'll recall this post and this post.

BUT NOT THIS YEAR!!!  This year, Rob has been allergy-free!  He has had nary a sneeze and has been so quiet as he sleeps that I sometimes wonder if he's ok.  But I look over and he is still breathing - silently!   We have even visited his parents twice, and he has had no reaction whatsoever to their dog.  Normally, he would need the inhaler.

I cannot explain what an amazingly, fabulously, wonderful change this has been in our lives.  While I did not suffer the allergies directly, I always felt the effects of a chronically miserable husband (not to mention feeling so bad for him.)  Rob had tried the daily use of local honey in the past to no avail.   We think it is the combination of the greens and the honey that has helped him this time.

And the money we spend on frozen fruit, bananas & spinach is NOT being spent on Claritin, inhalers and tissues!  By the way, the cheapest frozen fruit around here can be found at Whole Foods, surprisingly enough.  It is drastically cheaper, also, so check it out.  (I haven't tried Sam's, but even Walmart and Costco were much more expensive than Whole Foods.)

Butterfly LOVES the smoothies also.  Her favorite way to drink it is to put on her lamb ears, climb up on the table and drink it in a crouch while baaing.  She apparently thinks it is the way a little sheep would drink it. 

So...will you try a Green Smoothie?  

Here is the recipe we started out with:

8 oz frozen fruit (we use 3 parts mango, one part pineapple)
1 banana
1 cup of water
2 handfuls of spinach

Blend the fruit and water until it is all smooth.  Add the spinach and liquify it.  Pour into a glass and drink with a straw.  Yum!

Try it.  It could change your life!

(This post is part of Watercooler Wednesday at the blog Ethos.)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

With Bells On

Our dear friend Eric is getting married next month after patiently waiting years and years for the right woman.  To say we are thrilled for them would be an gigantic understatement.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dreamy Laughter

This morning Rob and I were awakened around 6-ish by the giggly laughter of the Butterfly.  It was a lovely sound to hear first thing in the morning. 

It became even lovelier when we realized she was still asleep and was laughing in her dreams.  So we smiled sleepy smiles at each other and dove back into our own dreams.

Then this afternoon, she fell asleep in the car.  While stopped at a stop sign, I looked back and saw her looking around, awake (or so I thought).  She smiled, mumbled something, closed her eyes and went right back to sleep.  

Friday, March 28, 2008

Broaching The Subject

Butterfly and I had our first conversation about death this morning. 
B:  What is that, Mommy?
M:  It is a dead bug.
B:  A dead bug?
M:  Yes.
B:  I want to look at it.
M:  You can go look at it, but don't touch it.  It is dirty.  I need to throw it away.
B:  You want to hold it?
M:  No, it's dirty!
B:  It can move around?
M:  No, it can't move around.  It's dead.
B:  You get some batteries?
M:  (unable to speak due to laughter)

After I took the picture, she looked at it on the camera and said, "That bug is really hard to see!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Real People With Real Hopes

(Thank you to Shlog for the images and posting.)

Very Bright Indeed

"I'm a sunshine.  I'm very bright," said the Butterfly to the Mommy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Historic Speech

Barack Obama spoke today in Philadelphia about the condition of race relations in our country. It was one of the most encouraging and truthful speeches I have ever read. (I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet.) Here's an excerpt:
But I have asserted a firm conviction -- a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people -- that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances -- for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives -- by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny...

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds -- by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand -- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
Read the whole speech here.  Are you inspired yet?

Monday, March 17, 2008

High Hopes

Well, I am going to make a dress.  Or maybe I should say, I am going to try to make a dress.

For my birthday, my mother took me shopping for a present, and I chose to get the above pattern, some gorgeous fabric, and a few fun notions to make the fabulous vintage-looking wrap dress on the right.  Here's the fabric:

I am really excited, and if I must confess, more than a little nervous.  I had a really difficult time picking out the fabric, and that is the easy part.  When I got home, opened the pattern, and looked at the instructions, my heart starting beating faster and I sort of lost my breath.

I just started sewing a couple of years ago, and up until now, I've pretty much only sewn straight lines.   I've only used a pattern once in my life - to make an apron in 5th grade for 4-H. (And that went so well, it took me this long to try again.)  Even then, my mother was there telling me exactly what to do.  And not to do.  And how to take out seams.  A lot.

Since then I have mainly just cut squares and sewn them together.  Then a few weeks ago, I made Butterfly a little skirt out of pants, and I thought, "Well, if I can do this I could really make some fun clothes if I used a pattern!"  

But my mother, the expert seamstress, has gone back home now, leaving me here with a pattern, fabric, notions and a toddler.  Hm.  

I hope this turns out well.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How Does She Know That?

Recently, Butterfly (or should I say Bunny...), who is not-yet-two-and-a-half, has amused and astounded me with what comes out of her mouth.

Yesterday evening, we were walking to the car and were about to go home for dinner.  She said, "I am so hungry.  It's hard to think."

Then this morning, I came downstairs after my shower to find her eating with Daddy, and she said, "Your outfit.  I like it mommy.  You look very pretty.  You look very great!"  (Melt, melt, melt, says my heart.)

And a few minutes ago, she was running (and running and running and running).  As she sailed by each time she yelled, "I'm running so fast you can't even see me!"

And then this evening, while she was eating her scrambled eggs:  "Thank you, chickens!"

Who needs television when you have a toddler?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ghosty-Ghosty All Alone

Hiding behind the sheers, she shows us those chocolate eyes.

Friday, March 14, 2008

An Inspiring Example

In a couple of weeks from now, on April 4th, we will remember a sad day in history: the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Today I read a very inspiring article about him.   I hope you will read it and be encouraged as well.  The author says the following about Dr. King:
He was able to bring corporations to the point of acquiescence without resorting to violence or bribery. He was able to pass legislation that changed the daily lives of not only blacks but also women, people of faith, and immigrants - without ever being elected to public office or attempting to buy political influence. He was able to garner and leverage the attention of the entire international community on behalf of America's poor, marginalized, and disenfranchised - without ever being appointed to an ambassadorship or other high-profile international post. He was able to remind U.S. citizens what a democracy was and to engender a sense of moral responsibility that, more than 40 years later, challenges us to be the good we want to see in the world. King was a political genius.
When I read that, I realized how empowered it made me feel.  Even though I am not an elected or appointed public official, I can still change the world around me -- right now.  Granted, it will most likely not be on the scale of Dr. King, but it can be on some scale.

Many times I incorrectly assume that the only way I can make a real difference in our country is to exercise my right to vote.  But this occurs only once or twice every four years, during a very stressful season that seems to turn even potentially great leaders into mud-slinging, truth-bending meanies.  Then afterwards, it seems as though I can only sit around helplessly and cringe when they make the very decisions I was hoping they would avoid.  I've been cringing a lot these last few years as our government enacted policies and exerted its power in ways far from the peaceful and loving manner I longed for.

But this article brings me hope, as the author references the "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do me" parable of Jesus and concludes with the following:
So in this politically charged season, when race and gender and ideology are, as we have seen already, apt to become weapons in a war for the hearts and minds and hopes and dreams of all U.S. citizens, all politics remain identity politics - but that doesn't mean we have to pit our identity against the identity of another. In the spirit of King - and Jesus before him - we can choose to identify with more than just ourselves. We too can be both privileged and unprivileged, black and white, Asian and Latino, Muslim and Jew, Christian and Pagan, rich and poor, citizen and immigrant, national and international, public and private, veterans and peacemakers, Republican and Democrat, homosexual and unborn, blue collar, white collar, and no collar.

We can know each other's suffering, be acquainted with each other's grief, and work on each other's behalf to heal the hurts that have for too long divided the human family and robbed us of the solidarity that is, perhaps, our only hope of a brighter tomorrow.
Who can we be today?  What hurts can we share and eventually help heal?  Who are the least around us?