Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ties that Bind

I was talking to Lisa the other day and the subject of blogs came up. We were talking about one of our blogger friends and wondering what was going on in her life. We've never met her in person, or spoken to her on the phone, yet we were talking about her like we knew her and hoping that she is doing all right.

This lead to a discussion about how amazing it is to connect with people through blogging that you would never have the opportunity to meet. That's the reason we blog. To connect, to encourage, and to receive encouragement. We blog to be reminded that we are all tied together in this immense world.

One of our mutual favorite bloggers is Brian. He writes prolifically, honestly and beautifully. And he leaves encouraging, warm if he feels everything we're writing. He pays the utmost attention. This is no small feat considering he has about a million followers.

Recently, I've been a dry well and I wrote about that on my last post. Brian left a comment, said he's going through something similar. I went back to his blog and read what I've missed the past of week and found this piece. And it reminded me of the poem below. It's one I wrote twenty years ago during a very dark period of my life. Brian's takes place in a coffee shop and mine takes place in a bar. Brian mentions Charles Bukowski and at the time I wrote mine, I was reading everything I could get my hands on by Bukowski. If you've ever read any of his work, you'll see it in my piece. I was trying to imitate his style and it reeks of Bukowski...absolutely reeks. And though the two pieces are different, they are similar. Especially that one line about fitting. You'll recognize it if you read them both. And immediately, I was reminded about how we all search for that connection. I was reminded that even in this big, sometimes sad, world, we are all looking for some place to fit. A place to belong.

I was lucky enough to have it published in the Marr's Field Journal, an undergraduate literary journal published by The University of Alabama. I say lucky because it's horrible. My creative writing teachers tore it apart and I've tried to rework it a few times, with no success. And here it is, twenty years later, somehow tied in a mysterious way to a piece written by someone I've never met. Maybe it's just me, but I think the connection is pretty cool. And maybe I'm the only one that sees the connection and that's just fine. It got me writing again. Thanks, Brian and Lisa.

Crazy for you, baby

Back in my tequila drinking days, I knew a lot of insane people
who used to hang out at a bar I know.
They are the best people to be with because they're honest.
They don't know any better.
One guy named Glen was from New Jersey and a manic depressive.
He used to cry like a baby everyday while sitting on his bar stool.
He was good at suffering.
He had a friend named Mike who used to be a psychiatrist at Bryce Hospital.
Mike was fired for being aggressive with his aggressive patients.
He was good at beating the shit out of people.
Glen and Mike would sit there everyday, on those same puke green bar stools in
that nasty, smelly bar, and disagree.
That's what they did - that's where they fit.
Glen hated the south and Mike would tell him to shut up and go away.
Said if he couldn't handle eccentric southern bullshit, he should go back to Jersey,
and that's when Glen would start to cry.
The drunker they got, the better they got so I bought them tequila and we drank it straight.
None of that salt and lime bullshit.
It was smooth and hard going down.
One afternoon, after too many shots and a round of Jeopardy which
included a category on Jewish history, Glen started to cry again.
He couldn't stop so I took him home.
His apartment was empty except for his depression which smelled like something dead.
He told me about his girlfriend, who he had driven crazy, and I said,
"No big deal, we all drive the ones we love a little crazy."
He said, "No, she's really crazy.
She wears a straight jacket like a security blanket.
She eats nails like candy.
She feeds one me."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Scattered, but still here

Every now and then, I run out of words. I don't know how this happens, or why. It's as if I've completely forgotten how to write, how to string a sentence together or even, how to spell. I'm amazed at the people who crank out a poem or a thoughtful post almost everyday. I lurk in the shadows, silent, and read.

But I know the longer I go without writing here, the more foreign it becomes. My thoughts are scattered, though, and so is this post.

Remember when I mentioned Panting with a Twist? I had a great time and this is the result.

See the sweet girl on the left? That's my daughter, Stevey. She just turned 18. Eighteen. 10 + 8. Two years less than 20. She's going to college in eight months. I have so many mixed emotions about that, I can't even begin to write about them yet.

This guy is one of my most favorite people on the planet, my grandson, little Brian. We had a scare a couple of weeks ago when he was pretty sick with Kawasaki Disease. He was in the hospital for four days. He's fine now. Great, actually. I have amazing friends and family who prayed for him. In this photo, we're at Barnes and Nobles. We go there often and he asks me to buy him every book in the children's section. It's hard to resist that little face, people. He rarely leaves empty handed.

My three favorite girls, daughters Stevey and Sara, on the left and right, and granddaughter, Makaila in the center. This was two nights ago at Makaila's first Christmas program. She was in the center of the stage, dancing up a storm to "Happy Birthday, Jesus". Not really a dance song, but she made it her own. We all had to fight back the tears. She was beautiful.

Let's see...what else? I'm still riding my bike every Saturday. I'm getting stronger, lasting longer before I keel over and pass out. This coming Saturday should be challenging because it's supposed to be wicked cold.

Christmas is in 8 days. I haven't bought one thing yet. I planned on getting it all done the week after Thanksgiving but life got in the way. I think I self-sabotage early Christmas shopping every year because I secretly like the hustle and bustle of last minute shopping. Or maybe I'm just a procrastinator. Which I am.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch Polar Express for the umpteenth time with B. He loves that movie, and so do I.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hey, hey it's the monkeys!

Nearly every Saturday morning for the last eight weeks, I've been on a bike ride with a couple of guys from the band at church. It's been a Saturday ritual with them for about a year now. They don't ride in the streets, though, smooth blacktop roads and few inclines. No, they ride on the nature paths that wind through the woods down by the river or on the six mile trail that's winds around Chimp Haven. You read that right, Chimp Haven. It's a very cool place that provides homes for chimpanzees that have been retired from the medical research field, entertainment industry, or chimps that have been kept as pets but are no longer wanted. The guys I ride with, Ryan and Greg, refer to it fondly as the Monkey Farm. Yesterday was my first day to ride the trail at the Monkey Farm. It kicked my butt. Five and a half miles on a narrow, winding, hilly, root-infested trail. I think I almost died.

The guys have been very patient, stopping with me when I need a moment to catch my breath, or I don't know, just to make sure my legs are still there because I haven't been able to feel them for the last five minutes. During these breaks, the conversations are the highlights of the ride. Yesterday, during one of these breaks, we could hear the chimps loudly screaming in the distance. It was actually kind of scary, they didn't sound happy. Greg said sometimes that sound makes him keep riding when he feels like he can't pedal another inch, must less four more miles. He imagines one of them crashing through the woods chasing him.

Me: This place isn't open to the public, right, like a zoo?

Ryan: No, it's a sanctuary for burned-out chimps, basically.

Me: Wow, that's pretty cool.

Ryan: I think once a month they let the public in to look around around and see the monkeys. Last time that happened, we had to leave and ride somewhere else. You couldn't even get in here because of the line of cars.

Me: I'll have to check it out the next time they open. I'd love to see what they're doing here.

Greg: (somberly staring off into the trees) I don't like to look at monkeys.

(pause...Ryan and I look at each other questioningly, and then at Greg)

Ryan: Did you have a traumatic experience with a monkey or something, Greg?

Me: Really, I mean, who doesn't like to look at monkeys?

Greg: They just make me uncomfortable. Seems like they should be wearing pants. It just ain't right.

(Ryan and I, looking at Greg like he's insane)

Me: Pants?

Greg: Yeah. Or maybe overalls.

Ryan: Or a three piece suit?

Greg: Nah, that would be strange.

Me: Right.


I love Saturday morning bike rides. You just can't buy this kind of entertainment.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Maybe I'm a Slacker

Today, I had an unexpected break from watching my grandson. I'm having one of those rare days when I'm completely alone. I crave these days but I find when I have them, I'm lost. When everyone leaves and the house is empty, I stand in the middle of the living room and absorb the silence. Then I start to think about all the possibilities that lie before me and my free day! Free! I can do anything I want! My first thought involves Starbucks, a comfy chair and a book. Then I think maybe I deserve something new and consider going to Target or TJ Maxx in search of a new top that will make me look like Gwyneth Paltrow. Or maybe I'll work on my novel (snicker) for a while or write some more angst-ridden poetry. Maybe I'll call Diahn. Or Lisa. Or Troy. Or hey, why not visit a museum or go for a bike ride?

Instead, this is what I've done the entire morning.

1. Decide to eat some Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal @ 9:30am. Make more coffee to go with the oatmeal because I've only had three cups. More.
2. Check my blog for new comments which leads me down a rabbit trail of blogs I've never read before for at least two hours.
3. 11:30am, decide I need to re-watch last night's Glee episode which oddly enough, featured Gwyneth Paltrow. She rocked.
4. Need a good snack with Glee, so I finish off a bag of Zapp's Potato Chips (Mesquite Bar-B-Q).
5. Channel surf for a while and end up watching the last half hour of The Wedding Singer.
6. Do an intense google search which asks the question "How many movies have Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore starred in together? (Answer: Two, plus she had a small bit part of the swedish receptionist in Big Daddy)
7. 12:30pm, consider getting dressed in something besides polka-dot pajama pants and old t-shirt and flip-flops.
8. Nah.
9. 12:30 pm, time for lunch, tuna in a pouch and wheat thins. And maybe some Zapp's dill pickle flavor chips. And Chips Ahoy.

Don't worry. Tonight I'm going to Painting with a Twist with a friend so I'll be exposed to some culture. That is, if you consider painting the same picture with a room full of middle-aged women while drinking multiple glasses of red wine, culture. And I do.

Happy Friday.

Monday, November 15, 2010


In my mind's eye, I see you.
Your head in your hands,
sandwiched between a salesman
and a movie producer.
You are 35 and this is your first time.
What should have been a
great adventure is instead,
a heartache,
a grieving repeated.
A shot of five dollar whiskey
to calm your shaking hands,
the sound of your father's voice,
then the lift...


stomach dropping,
ears popping,
and your heart,
You can hear him clearly now,
Real men don't fly...
This is not our way, you think.
Better to be behind the wheel,
on the blacktop, window cracked,
your cigarette glowing amber,
and Axle Rose singing about Patience.
You hear his voice again,
your father's, and you start
to strap yourself in,
batten down,
man up.
You start to anyway, until,
you glance out the window,
as the plane breaks through the
storm clouds, into the light,
and you forget.
You lose yourself in a halo of color,
beneath the wingtip of the plane.
It's ghostly, ethereal,
but still you snap a picture with
your fancy phone, hoping to catch it,
and send it to me,
miles away.
Do you see it?
I do.

This is for One Shot Wednesday. A weekly communal writing event. Go, read, enjoy.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

For Grandma, Queen of the Piggly Wiggly

My first reminder that the holidays are quickly approaching is the festive Starbuck's christmas cup. And with the approaching holidays, my thoughts always turn to my Grandmother. She's been gone for a while now and the holidays just aren't the same without her. When we were kids, Grandma was the center of every holiday. Imagine a house, a tiny house at that, with about 12-15 adults, and about 20 kids, all crammed in, all talking loudly, all eating. Did I mention eating? Grandma cooked enough for a small army. And even though we could probably pass for a small army, there was always food leftover. After we ate until we were in induced into a carb-coma, the men and boys usually got together for a game of football down at the local high school. Sometimes my cousins and I went exploring. We had a fondness for the "drainage ditch" down the street from Grandma's, which we were forbidden to explore. It never stopped us. We always got caught. And we always got into trouble. Sometimes, my cousin Troy and I (we were the oldest) would stretch the cord to the rotary telephone into my Grandma's room, lock the door, and make prank phone calls. The old school kind like, "Is your refigerator runnining?" and "Do you have Prince Albert in a can?" At the end of the long, tiring day, Grandma would always let us spend the night, all the cousins. We would stay up all night, climbing over her furniture, playing quicksand. Our feet could never touch the floor as we worked ourselves from one end of the tiny house to the other.

I miss her so much. She was a true Grandma, always trying to feed us and always telling us, each and every one of us, how special we much she loved us. She treated us all equally.

This is a piece that I wrote about her about 20 years ago in my first creative writing class. I wanted to post it here, in her memory. I love you, Grandma. We all miss you.

Queen of the Piggly Wiggly

When Grandma slipped, it happened in slow motion. First her short left leg, clad in white support hose, went out from under her, and then the other. She landed with thud right in the middle of the produce section of Piggly Wiggly. "Oh, Lord!" she said, mashing down her perfectly sprayed, rinsed-brown hair. I thought she was really hurt until she started rocking and moaning, then I knew she was all right. She loved an audience. She told me to find the manager, which I did. He was just a kid, with a middle-aged man aura, like he was put out when you spoke to him. He wore a short, thick moustache that sat on his thin, top lip like a Chihuahua. When we finally got to her, she was still sitting there, dress properly pulled down over her puffy knees, legs straight out in front her, feet pointed towards the ceiling and toes tapping together. There were three of four blue-haired women standing around her, leaning on their carts, listening to her like she was Jesus as she told them the story of how she fell. The nervous, boy/man manager rolled his eyes and cleared his throat and asked, "Are you okay, ma'm?" My Grandma looked up at him and I thought she had never looked so beautiful, sitting there on the green-and-white tiled floor of the Piggly Wiggly with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables surrounding her and I swear I almost told her that, but what I said was, "Get up, Grandma" and that's what she did.

I should have told her how beautiful she was.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Modern Day Selkie

Sometimes, I want to crawl out of my skin, fold it up neatly, and bury it underneath a stack of winter sweaters in the back of my closet. Then I'd walk right out the front door, down the worn steps, into the night, and steal a car. A red corvette, I think. I'd drive and drive until I found someone with a life. Someone who has purpose, and writes books, and attends dinner parties where everyone listens to her every word, because she is important and she moves the world. I'd visit Italy and Spain. In my new skin, I'd sail around the world. And play guitar. And paint with my feet and speak seven different languages, fluently. I'd climb mountains in Tibet and build cities. And when I was done, I'd drive back to our street, climb our worn steps, and dig my skin out from underneath the sweaters, slip it back on, and climb into bed with you, never missing a note.

This piece is my entry for One Stop Poetry.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saving Blue Like Jazz

About six years ago, a friend chased me down after church and handed me a book. He said, "You've got to read this book. It's every conversation we've ever had about Christianity. This guy gets it. We're not the only ones." I trusted him and knew the book must be something special. And it was. That's my copy, up there. It's tattered and torn. It's been underlined, folded, doused in coffee, and wine, cried over, laughed over, taken several road trips, and been passed around to friends and family. I think I even slept on it one night. Not because I wanted to absorb the words during my sleep, but because I fell asleep while reading it late into the night, and rolled over on top of it.

It's hard to sum the book up in one sitting. And also difficult to explain why it's so important to me, and so many other Christians who felt like we were different, on the fringes, missing something. But I'll try because something pretty amazing has happened in the last few weeks concerning the making of the movie that has me buzzing with excitement.

First, why it spoke to me. All my life, I've been raised in the church. My father started pastoring a Christian church when I was 6 years old. As a child, you accept what you're taught with no questions. But as you grow, and begin to think for yourself, most of us question what we've been taught. So many of the ideas that I was fed about Christianity didn't ring true. And my parents, who were great parents by the way, answered in the only way that they had been taught. Still...the questions and thoughts lingered through the years until, finally, I rejected Christianity altogether.

This book came along many, many years later. Even after I had decided to embrace my lost faith and find those answers for myself. After I read the book, I no longer felt like an outcast or a heretic. I felt like God was real. I felt like I wasn't alone. I felt excited and inspired. Here's a few quotes from the book that spoke to me.

"For me, however, there was a mental wall between religion and god, I could walk around inside religion and never, on any emotional level, understand that God was a person, an actual Being with thoughts and feelings and that sort of thing. To me, God was more of an idea. It was something like a slot machine, a set of spinning images that dolled out rewards based on behavior and, perhaps, chance (p. 8)."

"I felt a long way from the pre-me, the pawn-Christian who was a Republican because my family was Republican, not because I had prayed and asked God to enlighten me about issues concerning the entire world rather than just America (p. 19)."

The book speaks to how self-absorbed we are. I don't think we realize this. I can only speak for myself. Here's one more thing, a poem by C. S. Lewis, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, that was included in the book on the subject of just how narcissistic we humans are.

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through;
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, reassurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch inside my proper skin,
I talk of love - a scholar's parrot may talk Greek -
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Those are the beginning thoughts in the book that lead to a truth I can identify with...a truth that rings loud and clear. The rest, well, you'll have to read for yourself, if you feel so inclined.

And now the second part, the reason that I'm so buzzed with excitement.

Donald Miller, the author of the book, was approached by two guys, Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson, about writing a screenplay adapted from the book. Steve Taylor is an ex-rocker, turned director, to my understanding, and Ben, well, I'm not really sure what his story is but he seems really cool. He seems like a guy I'd like to get to know. And the reason I know that is because another book was born from the screenplay writing experience entitled, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Which, in my humble opinion, is one of the best books ever written about changing your life when you feel it isn't telling a good story. Both of these books are humorous, great storytelling and very insightful. And, I hate this word because it's become so trendy in recent years, but they are both very real. No high-brow religious talk or hiding behind tradition and fears. Just honest, in your face, inspiring, intellectual, relevant reading. Both books ask the hard questions. And whether you're a believer or not, they are great stories. They deserve to be told.

Anyway, the screenplay for Blue Like Jazz has been in the works for a few years now and recently, Donald Miller announced on his blog, September 16th, that the project was dead for lack of funding. Then, lo and behold, two guys in Nashville, who believed in the book, started a campaign to raise the money so the movie could be made. In less than 6 weeks, the word has spread, and the fans of the book have come together to raise an astonishing 341,394.00 dollars as of a few minutes ago. The deadline is midnight tonight. The goal was 125,000. Wow.

Shooting of the film starts this week in Nashville, Tennessee.

I'm inspired. If a group of ragamuffin, beat-up, confused, Christians can come together for this, what else could we do?

If you're intested, there's a link on my sidebar so you can follow along with me on the progression of the movie. And if you want a great read for the upcoming winter months, pick up the book. I think you'll like it.

Friday, October 22, 2010


It's Friday, and the days before
are fading, bleeding,
into the background.
I'm peeling jumbo shrimp at the kitchen sink,
listening to John Lennon,
and he sings, he speaks.
He prophecies.
Nothing's gonna change my world.
We are both old enough
to see the lie - and yet...
you sneak in behind me,
slip your arounds around my waist,
lean in, and ask,
"wanna dance?"
And we do.
Clumsily, but holding on tight,
the smell of the sea in the air,
and you, shirtless, in sagging Levi's,
smelling like workdays and honeysuckle.
It's just a moment, but still,
it's everything,
a perfect circle,
a beautifully, orchestrated two-step,
in our broken kitchen,
with the sagging, popcorn-speckled ceiling,
and plump, jumbo shrimp,
in the sink.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One Shot Wednesday: Tuesday Night

So I'm reading Roethke and I'm wondering,
how did he do it? How did he turn weeding
a garden into a grieving, death celebration?
And I'm thinking that I'll never be able
to do that, at least not with nature,
and you,
you drag in, with that familiar scowl on your face.
You've just read a poem that I wrote
and you want to know why it doesn't rhyme.
You say it's definitely not poetry.
A dreamer, you say. Not well read, you say.
It's all bullshit anyway and how much does it pay?
Keep trying, you say, try reading James Michener,
and did you know that Jimmy Buffet writes poetry, too?
You're waiting for an answer.
I don't give one away.
You turn, dragging your withered, right leg behind you,
and I know that you will pause,
just for dramatic effect,
before you slam the door.

This post is my first contribution to One Shot Wednesday, a weekly communal writing event. And a confession: it's an older poem but I'm testing the waters. I'm slowly warming back up to my poetry writing and looking for some critical feedback.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


A lack of oil means
lack of flame.
A lack of flame means
lack of spark.
A lack of spark means
lack of touch.
Winter is hiding behind
our bedroom door,
her cold draft seeping into
your fingers and toes.
And I can feel you
folding inward,
like a card table,
a box-top,
tucking your heart
away from me
until spring

This piece is for Magpie 34.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I went for a bike ride this morning. The kind of bike ride I used to go on as a kid. The kind that trails through the shady, damp woods. Breathe in dirt and moss. The kind that makes my heart race and my senses open wide. Makes my face bright, beet red. Up and down sandy, trails, crunching dead leaves under rubber tires. Over makeshift bridges, covered with carpet (someone really cares about this secret place ~~) My t-shirt sticks to my back, drenched. My breathing labored, like Darth Vadar. At first my muscles sleep, refusing to help me. But by the middle of the ride, they decide to wake up, to stretch, to fill. They remember.

I am reminded of that feeling of play. I remember the exhiliration of soaring, of abandon, of sweating. I feel my muscles move, my skin breathe, my bones creak. For the first time in years, my mind is quiet. It doesn't utter a sound, a rancid thought, a complaint.

My heart flew and now, of course, it wants to fly again and again.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Last night, I attended the Centenary Book Bazaar just blocks from my house. I look forward to it all year long. It's my Christmas, my New Years, my very special day. Imagine a colossal dome filled with thousands of books. Imagine the smell of old paper filling the air. Imagine the prices are anywhere from .25 cents to 4.00. Imagine the chattering and camaraderie between fellow book lovers. Imagine the canvas bags, totes and strange storage devices.

Here's mine before the sale.
It's not my design. Crystal, my book fair partner, is responsible for designing the deepest, widest, easiest to maneuver shopping cart. This is a laundry basket, zip tied to a rolly thingy. I suppose it was handy before they started making luggage with wheels (the rolly thingy, not the laundry basket). We got quite a few comments on it. I could tell people were jealous. Maybe next year we can sell them.

I love the conversation. These are things overheard or spoken directly to me.

My wife and I got stuck at the grocery store on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving

I don't really need this copy of Wuthering Heights, but I can't resist.

What is this place anyway? Why are all these people here, oh my god, there's like so many books

You ran over my toe with the rolling laundry basket, lady

I drove up here from New Orleans just for this sale. I'm not sure yet if was worth it.

This last one was from a woman that was ahead of me in the checkout line. She had eight large bags filled with books. I bet she had at least 200 books. I felt like an amateur, a lightweight. She admired my laundry basket and I asked her how she managed to move around with eight bags of heavy books. All she said was, "it wasn't easy." I was intrigued but I could tell that she wasn't about to give up her secret. She was committed.

This is my loot, my booty, my haul and plunder.

I'm storing them up for winter.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

August Break is Over

It's been a long month but a good one. August was bursting, ripe. We had a lovely vacation in Townsend, Tennessee with the family. We fished, swam and played in the river. We played loud, silly card games and ate well. We explored nature and the touristy side of things, Gatlinburg. I came home rested and content.

I've never been to Gatlinburg before and after an hour or so in the busy, mountain town, realized this name was prevalent.

They even had signs advertising an Ogle Dog, a famous foot long corn dog. Later on in the day, we stumbled upon an old school house in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Next to the school house, was a graveyard. I walked through, reading the tombstones and saw quite a few graves marked with the same name.

Martha Jane Huskey Ogle, and her family, were the first settlers in 1807 in what is now known as Gatlinburg. She moved her entire family there because it was her dying husband's last wish. He had traveled there and fell in love with the area, calling it the "land of paradise." Upon his return home to gather his family for the move, he grew very sick with malaria and died before he could return.

The story fascinated me. I have been thinking about Mary Ogle for a while now. Can you imagine how strong she must have been? What must it have been like to move an entire clan of family from Georgia to Tennessee in 1807? My family complained on a 12 hour car trip to Tennessee in air conditioned cars filled with things to do and snacks. I can't imagine moving that same family in covered wagons with all of our belongings to the remote mountains of Tennessee. I would love to have the chance to talk to Mary Ogle. I bet she has some incredible stories to tell. I wonder how she would feel about having a foot-long corn dog named after her family.


And on another note, fall is in the air. It makes me want to climb into my bed and sleep. It's strange, when I was younger, I hated the summer and lived for fall and winter. Something has shifted. I feel as if I'm grieving the end of summer. I dread the coming months of cold and endless skies of gray.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Somebody has a birthday!

Today is Diahn's birthday! My grandson calls her "John"...he says "I yike John."

We all yike John.

We yike her because:

1. she's smart, jeopardy smart
2. she's giving
3. she's funny, monty python funny
4. she's so purty
5. she's ever so tall, and who doesn't yike tall people?
6. she's a talented, creative artist and shares her art
7. she's UBER smart...seriously
8. she's compassionate
9. she can sing like a nightingale
10. she's a great listener
12. she's lights up a room and makes everything fun
13. she has a magical unicorn toe
14. she's my best friend and sister

She's so special to me that she gets a Top Fourteen list.

And I really, really yike her.

Happy Birthday, dear John.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

August Break, too...

Lately, I feel tired. Tired of laundry, half-eaten sandwiches, lousy stains, sweeping, answering the phone, toilet brushes, answering questions, asking questions, my job, looking at the calendar, watching the clock, weighing in, running around, and brushing my hair.

I'm craving silence. Maybe because I so rarely get to experience it. So, I'm following Mark's example and taking a break for the entire month of August from posting wordy blogs. I'm all dried up. I'll just be posting a picture a day, hopefully. Take the badge from the sidebar if you want to play along. I think it's a perfect idea, set in the perfect month. And tomorrow starts my blissful, long awaited vacation.

Talk to you in September!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Time to Get out of Dodge

The seeking is going well. I'm really being encouraged by the new book I'm reading, Eat Pray Love, and it arrived in my life just in time. I LOVE this book. It makes me happy. It feels like me. It's just like God to send me such inspiration when all my worlds are colliding. It feels like he's speaking just to me. Like this woman's amazing success and lovely, life-changing experiences, and best-selling novel, were just for me. Imagine that. Thank you.

Here's some pieces of my worlds colliding:

My baby girl. She has her license. Gulp. That's the last of them. And to top it all off, she's the one who's most like me. Which means, she's the one who's pulling away from me with everything she's got. And then some. Just like I did.

My other sweet, Grandson. He just had surgery. Well, actually, this is a post-surgery picture with my Mom. He's such a trooper. And SHE has amazing humming skills...just ask Diahn and Lisa. They've seen, and heard, first-hand demonstrations of the amazing, hypnotic, somewhat shrill, humming skills of my mother. Anyway, the surgery has been looming over our heads for weeks now but it's over, with a good report.

Whew. He's fine. Another gigantic, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Really, thank you.

BUT, by the end of the week, after a very long year, my family will be piled high in two vehicles, headed out of town. And I do mean ALL of us, including my son, his wife and both grandchildren. On the way, we're stopping to pick up our stepdaughter. She lives in north Alabama so, in spite of my post a while back about heading to the coast to support the limping tourist industry in the wake of the spill, we decided to head to the Smoky Mountains. It didn't make sense to drive practically all the way to Tennessee to pick her up, and then head all the way down to the coast, with three small children, and then drive her all the way back home at the end. As much as I want to go there, logistically and financially, we couldn't make it happen. Next year though. Oh, how I miss the Gulf.

But she'll be there waiting when I'm able to return.

In the meantime, I get to spend an entire week, uninterrupted, with my family in a riverside cabin. Sweet. And included in that sweet family, is Diahn and her crew. We're stopping to spend the night with her and her family in Knoxville, and then she'll head up to the mountains during the week to hang out and, BONUS, tube down the Little River. For whatever reason, she and I are SO excited about this particular adventure. Everyone else, not so much.

The girls and I are going to Nashville one day so if anyone knows of some cool places to check out, let me know.

It's been five years since I've taken a vacation so maybe I'm a little too excited, but what the hell! Bring it on! Bring on the long drive and the cramped living quarters! Bring on the hot tub and the sounds of the river, right outside my window. Bring on the long, lazy evenings of Monopoly and sitting outside on the deck, telling stories. Bring on the bickering little ones, and the complaining teenagers and planning meals for 9 people, three times a day. Bring on coming home to a depleted bank account, but a heart full of memories and cherished days.

I've had a couple of friends (you know who you are) who have pointed out that I'm bearing a slight resemblance to Chevy Chase in Vacation. I concur. Guess we won't be going to Wally World. And so much for teaching my girls how to whittle. And the giant ball of twine. And the world's largest frying pan.

Kids these days. They just don't know a good time when it slaps them in the face.

Maybe some crocheting classes while we're there...hmmm.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I heard a story once about a woman who was seeking guidance from a wise, spiritual guru. She traveled many miles to find this man sitting on a hillside. Exhausted, she flopped down beside him and begin to gush about her frustrations and how she couldn't seem to find any balance or peace in her life. After a few moments, a fly landed on her nose and she started flailing around, hands swatting her face, spewing expletives, but the fly never budged. She finally gave up and wailed, "What can you teach me? Please tell me something, anything, that will help me make sense of my screwed up life!" The wise, old man looked at her calmly and answered, "Be the fly."

I want to be the fly. I want to find that calm, peaceful center in the midst of this chaotic world. I'm not complaining about my life because life is what it is. I have two beautiful, chaotic, angst-ridden teenager daughters, an older son who's coming into his own, finally, a sweet three-year-old grandson who's learning quickly how to master the art of temper-tantrum throwing, a boss who can be somewhat intense and an old house that we're working on, little by little. I also have a kind, warm husband who works hard to provide for us and a supportive, loving family and amazing friends. So what's the big deal? The big deal is that I don't want to be swayed anymore by the chaos of life. I don't want my mood or self-worth to revolve around whether or not my daughters are happy. That in itself is exhausting, for crying out loud, they're teenagers! Their moods, desires and needs are all over the chart. I can't keep up, as well I shouldn't. They're just being who they are supposed to be. So is my temper-tantrum throwing grandson and my intense boss and my old, somewhat charming house.

The problem is simple. It's one I face from time to time as I'm sure everyone else does, and it lies in my stale spiritual life. I'm a Christian, have been for a very long time. My father has been a pastor since I was 6 years old. And sometimes, the Christian world tends to look at God, in my humble opinion, through very narrow eyes. They often tend to box God in to what they're comfortable with, a God who is like them. And while I do believe we are created in his image, the image that we conjure up is often very limited, very tame, very pragmatic. I believe God is beyond our comprehension, magnificent, untamable and beautiful beyond anything that we've ever imagined. I lose sight of that. I falter. I grow bored with the image of him that I've been taught and always struggle to see more of him. That takes discipline, something that I lack. Ask my parents.

So I have to seek Him. And seeking him for me starts with broadneing my vision of him. And the only way that I know how to do that is to read. But not the Bible, anything but the Bible. Blasphemous, I know, but true. I have read the Bible through a few times in my life, and while it is a source of inspiration, it is also the place that all of my childhood fears and questions and strange teachings reside. When I feel like this, they are all I see and I can't penetrate through that veil. So I decided to rattle the cage, to plunge the depths, to use the inquiring mind that God gave me and challenge my vision of who He is. And I'm pretty sure he's okay with that, even encourages that.

I'm starting with Eat Pray Love. So far, it's wonderful. It's stirring things inside of me that need to be stirred. It's challenging the way that I see Him and reminding me of his beauty. And of the beauty that he created, here in this world, for us to enjoy. And it's reminding me that spiritual growth has a structured, methodical, consistent path and not a chaotic, free-for-all, lackadaisical, circle. And it's reminding me of His love.

So, for the umpteenth time in my life, I'm seeking.

I really want to learn how to be that fly.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Magpie 22: Irony for a Tomato Hater

If you were a fruit, you'd be a tomato. Not a store bought tomato, the ones that come from sterile greenhouses and facilities. No, not those impostors. They reek of florescent lighting
and chemicals. They have the consistency of Styrofoam and they taste like a lie. You are not a lie. You are fresh from the garden, your skin taut and split, unable to contain your sweet core. You smell of black dirt and sun. You are summer, all long days and evening symphonies of cicadas and crickets. And I can never get my fill of you, can never find enough ways to devour you.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Big Baby

[ker-muhj-uhn] –noun
a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person.

I owe an apology to my sister-in-laws and cousin. We all read the Twilight series, along with our daughters, and last night was our second bi-annual trip to the midnight opening of one of the movies, Eclipse. It's a tradition now. We grab a quick bite to eat across the street at the ever popular, elegantly named Fudruckers, and then commence to standing in line for about three hours with crazed, fans of all ages. And I do mean all ages. And I do mean crazed.

My sister-in-law, Lisa, heads up the event. She used to be a teacher and she has four children so she has an incredible knack for organizing and herding large groups of crazed people. My other sister-in-law, Cheryl, and my cousin, Tonia are the other parts of the Twilight posse, along with all five of our daughters, ranging in ages from 11 to 20. It's a rare occasion that all the girls get together for something that we all have read. No, let me rephrase that...there's never been an occasion where all of us girls get together for a series of books that we all have read. Never. I would stand in line for a showing of To Kill a Mockingbird on the big screen, but the teenagers, not so much. Common ground with our daughters is a beautiful thing, even if it is a story about a vampire and his bleeding-heart family, teenage love, and shirtless, muscle-bound, shapeshifters.

But as Lisa pointed out last night, ever so sweetly I might add, I wasn't in the best of moods. See the above definition. In my defense, it was raining. And on a weeknight, I'm normally in bed by 10, asleep by 11 at the latest. Okay, that doesn't even sound like a good excuse now that I'm writing it. But I was wet! And tired! And just like a baby would do in that situation, I whined. I'm sorry, ladies. Next time, if you'll have me, I promise to enjoy myself. And not to sing anymore TV theme songs...especially the theme to Good Times.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Full Circle Shadow

My grandson loves to sneak my old camera and try his hand at photography. Maybe one day, I'll find pictures of something other than himself. But until then, I find these sweet, little nuggets when I download pictures to my laptop. Makes me smile from ear to ear.

I kind of like these two. So much so, that I've decided they're worthy of Shadow Shot Sunday. These were taken in our backyard, in his bamboo jungle. It's where he goes to hide. And apparently, sometimes, he goes on adventurous photo shoots.

I just absolutely love this kid.

A couple of days ago, my daughter and I took him to see Toy Story 3. He loves the first two movies. In fact, that's a huge understatement. He wears a cowboy hat most of the time, has various Woody and Buzz dolls and characters. He recites lines from both movies. He's been in love with Woody since he was 18 months. He's almost 3 now.

On the way to the movie, he decided to wear TWO cowboy hats, in honor of this glorious event.

I was a little worried that he would be a little squirmy. An hour and a half is a long time for a two-year old to sit still. He was mesmerized. He barely moved, except to shift Buzz or Woody on his lap so they could get a better view. And occasionally, he would look up at me with that beautiful, little crooked smile and whisper, "'s Woody!"

The whole experience was so precious, almost surreal. I used to watch Toy Story movies with my son. And Brian looks a lot like him when he was this age. And here we were again, me a little older, with my sidekick, cheering Woody on.

Life doesn't get any better than this.