Monday, March 31, 2014

Unblogged Happiness: March Edition

What's that old saying about March? In like a lion, out like a lamb? Well, in the Greater Richmond Area,  March 2014 was more like Lion!...Lamb!...Lion chasing lamb!...Lamb!...Just kidding: lion! It was crazy-making. We had days in the 70's followed by snow and ice storms. Scary enough, my mood somewhat mirrored the weather. It didn't help that we had bouts with what I think were two different stomach bugs.

I wish I could write out, in this space, everything I'm thinking and feeling, but fact is: I don't feel like it's appropriate to do so. I'm learning that--as grumpy as it makes me--there are seasons in which the stories that affect me most aren't really mine to tell.

I missed some amazing shots in March. I'd just dropped Cade off at school, one morning, when I drove up on some deer in the woods in front of our house. They didn't even startle: just stood there in the freshly-fallen snow, looking at me. I'm also particularly sorry that I failed to capture Charleigh, clad in red feeted jamas and pink cowboy boots and running down an aisle in Food Lion. I left my camera behind on several other occasions, besides, but here are some photos I did manage to take.

03/08 - The little kids and I visited the Children's Museum of Richmond so they could meet Daniel Tiger. If you're not familiar with Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood on PBS Kids, it's a cartoon based upon The Neighborhood of Make-Believe from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. We're fans.

Dr. MeMe. Great shot of the haircut she gave herself.

03/09 - The little kids and I attended a party for our friend Maeve's 5th birthday.

03/09 - A couple more from the "Glinda Shoot."

 03/10 - Birthday, ballet outfit from Auntie Jill the tutu maker. Visit her Etsy shop by clicking here.

03/11 - Day at the Metro Richmond Zoo. I took very few photos; it was so stinkin' hot that the animals hardly moved. We bought annual passes, though, so there will be plenty of zoo photos before it's all said and done.

Not a particularly happy moment, but entertaining in its own way. We never did figure out what his problem was,  despite his going on and on about it. Out of character for my Chip of a yumster.

03/15 - Chuck E. Cheese's. Back in February, when I was blogging about Clementine's circus birthday party, I left out the harrowing part about her manifesting, mid-party!, the very first signs of pink eye. We'd promised a trip to Chuck E. Cheese's the day after her party but ended up postponing until March.

It was crowded, and we lost Chip for a few minutes, but Samwise found him: said Chip was encroaching on someone's game by pounding a giant button (hee hee).

Sam and Clementine. I have a photo just like this of Cade's first time in the car with Chuck E.

I quite like the Chuck E. Cheese's art. At $1 for the frame and roughly $.40 for the art, you can't beat it! 

03/19 - Cade and I survived the science fair again, this year. Both he and Maddie (the babysitter for our small group) earned second-place ribbons.

09/22 - Jim had never been to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, and I hadn't been for many years (7? 8?). We know we're not going to be able to vacation like we did, last year, so we bought summer passes. Cade was with us, too, but he and his friend Phillip were off doing their own thing.

The Mom I Want to Be

The Wife I Am ;)

Chip's New (to him) Kicks

Charleigh's face!

A close-up: LOVE it!

 03/27 - Fun in the back yard.

I'm thrilled that Chip can walk around the back yard, this year.

03/29 - Rachel's baby shower. So excited about our miracle of a "lake baby," due in June.

Friday, March 28, 2014

One Last One, for Jason

How about a ride on Monday? I asked.
How about Wednesday? he countered.
I'm flying out to Dallas on Wednesday,
I said. How about Monday? Monday's
my birthday, he said. I know that, I said,
but let's get real. What better thing could
you do on your birthday than take a ride?
He nodded. We'll ride Monday, he said.

And it was that simple, my dream: a little
exchange like a million others; he was
never the person to whom I turned for
deep conversation. He was, however, a
person I expected to be there at my whim
and just the same, thank you, as he'd been
last time, even if years had passed. And he
indulged me (I see that now) out of love.

I didn't expect that losing him would hurt
so much, and I know he didn't expect it,
either, before he died; whatever I said
or did to indicate my affection didn't touch
the depth of it. But I'll tell you what I believe:
I believe he sees and knows, over yonder,
and recognized an opportunity to visit me.
(I was close, having just come off a fast.)

I believe he came through in accordance
to how I perceived him before his passing,
but I see, today: he was deeper and wiser
and just more than I gave him credit for being.
He saw me for what I was (shallow in my
self-importance) and coddled me like a child,
never guessing he'd leave this place so soon
or that, in his absence, I'd know him at last.

**writing with the communities of Poetry Jam and dVerse

Monday, March 24, 2014

An Exciting Something

Charleigh on Her 3rd Birthday. Mark Cline's Hippo, Natural Bridge Zoo.

I got an e-mail, the other day, from Mark Cline."Want to help fund this before I die?" he asked, and he included a link for a Kickstarter project: a documentary about Cline called Blue Ridge Barnum. According to filmmaker Emma Mankey Hidem, filming's 95% complete, and the team's beginning post-production. They're trying to raise the necessary funds to finish and release the film.

Jim and I became backers within moments of receiving the e-mail. We've viewed so much of Mark Cline's work free of charge that we count it a privilege to give a little something back. (To read my post about meeting Mark Cline, click here.) I'm thinking the team will have no problem raising the necessary funds if they can get the word out. I'm determined to do my part and hope you'll come alongside.

Why should you care about this? For so many reasons.
  • Because you care about art and artistic expression.
  • Because you care about a person who dares to follow his dreams.
  • Because you care about a person who lives to bring others joy (and very often for free).
  • Because you care about a person who makes childhood (and adulthood) magical for so many.
  • Because you care about a person who helped bring Bethlehem to life
  • Because you care about a person so called/driven that not even TWO suspicious fires have been able to stop him.

Trust me, to meet Mark Cline is to love him. Please click here to watch the clip from Blue Ridge Barnum and consider how you might help. Do you have a dollar or three to help fund the project? Can you help spread the word on social media and/or in the blogosphere?

The world should have the opportunity to be inspired by Mark Cline and his work. It really should. This is important.

Friday, March 21, 2014

On Entering and Breaking a Fast

I confess I've been overwhelmed, lately, in my spirit: so overwhelmed that I haven't known how to separate--in my mind or heart or writing--the wheat from the chaff. Truth is, a person can write in a line or a circle, but there should be a vision. I like my writing tight. I believe every word matters, and if I can't write in a way that makes sense, to me, of me, I'll wait. I'm more patient than you think, too, especially with myself.

Also, I know: in the end, this business of separating wheat from chaff is the Lord's. He's not the author of confusion. When I'm not hearing Him well--when His voice is just one of so many others in my head, when all the words (His, other people's, mine) whirl around in my nog like debris in a dust cloud--I need to let something(s) go: to simplify in order to discern.

I quit facebook almost two months ago. My thinking improved but not enough, so I entered a Daniel Fast on the 3rd. In case you're not familiar, this is a twenty-one-day, partial fast based out of scripture (see Daniel 1 and 10). It's like a vegan diet with extra limitations.

I feel stronger when I'm fasting. I don't mean to downplay the spiritual implications of this statement but know: for me, the increase in strength is tied to my avoiding sugar in all its forms (including carbs). Sugar makes me sick, but it calls to me from the cupboard, and I'm weak.

Jim spent just over a week of my fast with his mom, and I put my extra strength to good use: taking care of the children, yes, but also shampooing the living-room carpet, getting the minivan inspected, helping Cade with his science-fair project, taking two children for well visits, taking two children for haircuts, putting away the piles of clean clothes in my bedroom (which almost never happens), hosting small group. I felt empowered, and loved ones came alongside.

I prayed while fasting. A lot. I asked the Lord to enter four different situations, and I know He entered all of them. I experienced most profoundly His entering my marriage; I'm sure I'll write more about that, later. God showed up, too, in smaller, quieter ways; one Sunday morning, I stepped into the choir room and a warm-up of the same hymn I'd sung over my crying baby the night before.

I vomited four times in the wee hours of the eighteenth day. A virus. (Clementine had done the same twenty-four hours before.) When I got up to take Cade to the bus, I felt released from the fast.


"I don't need your sacrifices," He says. 

"I know," I tell Him. "I needed my sacrifices."

He nods. "Yes," He says, and pushes the cup of flat ginger ale in my direction.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Owl

Dad, I breathed into the phone, I was sitting on the stoop
(smoking alone into the dark of the middle of the woods),
and I heard the craziest, freakiest noise. Really? he asked.
What did it sound like? I tried my best to imitate. Well,
he said gravely, I have good news, and I have bad news.

The good news is that what you heard was only an owl.

The bad news, he added, is that the Native Americans
referred to that particular owl as the Messenger of Death.

**Linking with Poetry Jam,where the prompt of "owl" reminded me of this little story from my days as a single mom. It's one of my very favorites about my dad because it captures the wise but unpredictable spirit of the man.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Glinda the Good Witch: A Photo Shoot

At some point this winter, Clementine shared with my mom her desire for a Glinda the Good Witch costume. I didn't hear her confession but will tell you that my daughters spend a great deal of time in Nana's lap, giggling over and talking (in hushed tones) about girlie things. ("Mama!" they cried on a rare day that I'd applied make-up: "You're wearing mascara like Nana!")

And who--with a foot that, post-surgery, needs propped fairly often--spends days putting together a play dress of carefully-preserved taffeta (not to mention a crown and wand) with sparkly accents? My mom.

The birthday package arrived between pink eye and a snow, but I promised photos and took these yesterday while Cade watched over Charleigh and Chip (because anything for Nana!). They're completely unedited: just straight out of my camera and, with one exception, in order of how I took them.

It's been a hard, little season in some ways, but I look at these photos and feel my deep-down blessedness: my mom (her heart and talent); my daughter (her beauty and imagination); my log cabin in the woods; my camera to capture it all.


Friday, March 7, 2014


What inspired you,
 I asked him,
to make a bottle
 nine feet high?
He sighed and
 scratched his head,
shifted from foot to foot.
I could tell he hadn't much
talked about his art (or anything).
 Well, he said, I reckon I learned a
long time ago: people don't much want to
talk about how I feel, and why. Figured I'd need
a mighty big bottle to bottle up all my feelings,
so I set about making me one. Fascinating,
  I remarked. How's that working out for you?
 Just great! he said. I've sold a ton of bottles.
 I just keep filling em up and shipping em out.
And it does bring me some manner of
satisfaction to know, he said with a grin:
 people are paying big bucks for what
 I would've shared gladly
with all of them, free-of-charge.

**writing in community with Poetry Jam 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Just Before

I'm sitting here watching Jim pace back and forth by the front door. He's on an important call, and I wish I could close my eyes and float on the expertise in his words, but I can't, and he's wearing sweat pants. Our five-year-old's holding his hand and pacing with him. Also, there's random....just...trash on our living-room floor. Half a cheese stick. A long piece of toilet paper. A sucker stick and broken pieces of crayon.

Jim was supposed to have his truck repaired yesterday and leave for his mom in Knoxville, today, but we're snowed in again. My big kid's sleeping in the cave of his room: puts me in mind of a big cat, these days. The baby and I haven't been up long enough for me to attend to the living-room floor, which has been trashed by my daughters just this morning. We call this rat behavior.

"Were you a good girl, today?" Jim will ask one of them, some evenings.

"Yes, Daddy," she'll answer, "excepting some rat behavior."

Speaking of rat behavior, the five-year-old cut a big hunk of hair from the front center of her head, the other day. (Thank you, Nana, for her scissors that I should've locked in the school cabinet weeks ago.) The good news is that it should take only 2-3 years for the hair to grow back to its previous length. For now, she's sporting a bit of a spike. It suits her; we don't call her the Wild Orange for nothing.

And I feel thankful to be snowed in with these, my people: my man in his sweat pants, my lean and lazy big kid, my Wild Orange Spike, my redheaded ninja (who's asked to be called Pinkie Pie), and my Chip of a yumster (who started adding smacks to the ends of his kisses just yesterday). Soon enough, the snow will melt, and we'll have to share Jim in ways that will require his leaving the house and, probably, the state.

Yesterday, I started a Daniel Fast because I recognize this season for what it is: the just before. It would be easy for me to sleep, or better yet, bake! through this moment, but I'm choosing instead to pray and watch and go a little without. My brother's having spinal surgery, tomorrow (It'll be the third time someone tries to do the same durn thing.), and my mother-in-law's very sick. Please cover our people in prayer.

The other day in the grocery store, I inhaled hard and felt my lungs fill to the brim with air. How long has it been, I wondered, since I've taken a deep breath? And so I declare it good, in times like these, to create a calm environment for my babies: to watch them drift down, down like loosed and colorful leaves, to watch them sleep in peace wherever they land.

**writing in community with Heather