Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Traditions and Old Friends

Sigh. Diahn was here for a few days this week and we had a wonderful time. It's the second annual Mudbug Madness visit. It's now officially a tradition, you know. We had plenty of crawfish dishes, sultry nights and of course, lots of conversation. And Mark, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that my recipe for crawfish etouffee does NOT, I repeat, NOT involve cream of mushroom soup. Nope. No sir. Or peppers, or shrimp. But that's okay, I forgive you, my vegetarian, yankee friend.

The first night she arrived, Wednesday, she went to band practice with me and then we sat up way, way, way too late, talking and catching up. Thursday night, we headed out to a local, quaint establishment, the Olive St. Bistro, for wine and a nice meal with three of my closest friends. The meal was lovely in spite of our young, pretentious waiter. I'll let Diahn tell you about him...and she will, trust.

Friday, we headed to Jefferson, Texas, where we browsed through antique shops, walked around downtown, had a delicious lunch at a very cool place, Glory Dayz. Diahn took plenty of photos which she'll be posting soon. The highlight for me was an hour long Turning Basin Bayou Tour. Our guide told us the boats were purchased from Six Flags, an old river ride. He was awesome. We learned a lot about the history of Jefferson and how it evolved, via steamboats and the civil war. He told us about local mammoth snapping turtles, mayhaw jelly and snakes. And most importantly, because it's such a small tourist town, he told us colorful details about the locals. The ride was peaceful and lazy, complete with a little southern gossip. I'm going back soon. Can't wait to take a ride on the Ghost Train! Before the ride starts, there's a campfire at the depot, complete with ghost cool is that? There's a part of me that couldn't stand to live too far away from a nice, sized city with bookstores, Starbucks and museums. But there's another part of me that could really get used to living in a a small town like this. A place where you can take a stroll downtown, and have a slice of pie and a cup of coffee and catch up on all that's going on with the locals. A place where you can always catch a game of checkers at the general store.

Here's a few pictures. I miss you already, Dino.

The restaurant, Glory Dayz. We fell in love with the colorful chairs. The green ones have the Dr. Pepper logo.

This is the courtyard...

Cool, blue truck, parked in front of the general store.

This sign was in the doorway of the general store.

Dino, about to open a bottle of whoop ass...

Here's the cottage where we bought the tickets for the boat tour.

Ahh...the lazy, peaceful boat tour.

Our amazing tour guide and guests...

Happy Memorial Day everyone. Enjoy your family and friends and remember those who fought, and are still fighting, for our way of life...and for our amazing, beautiful, eclectic country.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Magpie 15

You can take my five loaves

and two fish, and multiply them,

that’s simple enough.

Or you can attend my wedding,

and with one touch, turn well water

into sweet, red wine.

You can cast out my demons,

one by one,

and send them into innocent swine.

Hold my hand, as we step out onto

the turbulent waves of the sea,

stare me in the eye,

and ask me if I believe.

Or how about this,

raise my son's father from the dead,

and while you’re at it,

my Grandmother, too.

And even then,

I wonder,

would I be any closer

to understanding

the way that you love me?

If faith comes by hearing,

speak louder.

If seeing is believing,

show me.

Go here to see more wonderful, eclectic'll be glad you did. I was.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The End of a New Beginning

I'm going to wrap this up now, dear friends. Again with the surprise, I bet you're thinking. I wanted to share this significant event in our lives with you and what I've learned, but it's time to move on. There's magpies to write! And a sweet friend traveling a long way to visit with me this week!

I watched "Parenthood" last week and there's a scene where an older aunt compares marriage to a roller coaster. She says that the first time she rode one, she felt frightened, sick, and exhilarated all at the same time. Some people love the roller coaster, said said, but some people choose the merry-go-round, where there are no surprises, no twists or turns, no speed. She said she always liked the roller coaster. What a perfect metaphor for life and marriage and family. It rings of truth.

When we got the call from his ex about his daughter, I heard a ticking sound as we were being pulled up the track of the roller coaster to a mammoth hill. I was consumed with fear. And the fear was simply this...I was afraid that this man whom I had built a life with the past four years, the man who had been a father to my children, a grandfather to our grandson, would leave. You see, Robert's always wanted child of his own. I can't have any more children, but I've given him mine and he's embraced them as his own. But I was so afraid that the pull he would feel for his daughter, his biological daughter, would be so strong that all of us, would eventually fade away. That we would began to seem less important, less real. Now granted, this realization didn't come to me immediately, the fear was too thick for me to see through to the crux of the matter. But some great friends helped me to see through the fog. And I learned that I didn't trust for this love to last, not that I didn't trust Rob, but I didn't trust or feel that I deserved this kind of love. Abandonment issues, remember? Replacing that lie with the truth became easier, once I identified the lie. Over time.

And Rob? He handled this like he handles everything else, with forgiveness and patience and grace. Instead of being angry that he had missed so much of his daughter's life, he chose to forgive and move on. He taught me that I had some people that I needed to forgive as well. I thought I had. Turns out, not so much. That bad energy was still hanging around.

In less than three weeks, we had the results of the DNA test and were on our way to Alabama to meet her for the first time. She was prepared for the visit, she hadn't known anyone as Daddy her whole life, and was more than ready to meet him. The first thing she said to him after she wrapped her arms around his neck was, "Daddy, I've missed you so much." I could have dropped to the floor and melted into an emotional Lifetime movie mess after that. My husband was overwhelmed, he was instantly in love, happy, and frightened, too. How would this work? How would he spend time with her, while she lived two states away? How would he get to know her? How would he show her he loved her?

But you know what? The bond was instant. See the picture above? That's pretty much where she stayed the entire weekend, in his arms. He asked me once if I thought she was too big to be held and I told him he could hold her as long as he wanted, he had missed so many years. He smiled. I love to watch him as he watches her. I can see him trying to memorize every curve of her face, every freckle, everything that he has yet to learn about her. And I'm so honored that I get to be a part of her life from the beginning, at least as we know it, that I get to be there for the both of them, just as he's been there for me and mine.

We took her to the aquarium in Chattanooga, a gorgeous fun place. My youngest daughter came along on the trip, anxious to meet her new stepsister. Our oldest daughter had to work so she stayed home. But their support was amazing! Before we left town, our oldest told Rob that he shouldn't worry, that he would make a great father, because he already was a great father.

Above is Lyanna, the little cutie, and below is Sara, our other little cutie, in the butterfly room. She and Lyanna hit it off amazingly well.

He loved holding her. It was the sweetest thing I have ever seen in my life.

Since then, she's been to visit us. It was a wonderful visit and we're planning another visit with her in about a week. He talks to her almost every night on the phone, reads her stories, as much as her four and a half year old attention span will allow. We're still learning, still trying to figure this out, but it will all work out. Things are only as complicated as you allow them to be, right? And it's not complicated to love this child, to enfold her into our lives.

Here's what I've learned:

1. The heart is ever expanding.
2. Forgiveness is a choice and so incredibly freeing.
3. Trust. Go out on a limb and trust that all is working out as it should. Because it always does.
4. My marriage is stronger than ever. My family has been strengthened by this lovely, new addition.
5. Embrace the curve balls...they turn into home-runs.
6. Family isn't always defined in traditional, biological terms. It is defined and shaped by love, encouragement and acceptance.
7. I have an amazing group of friends who know me, call me out when I need it, and still love me.
8. Never, never, never get too comfortable. Because change is inevitable and it's only through change that we grow. And who wants to be stagnant? Boring. I hate the merry-go-round!

So, that's it...for now.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Middle

Onward from the wedding...continuing with the surprise. We honeymooned in San Antonio, Texas. That in itself was an adventure. Just as we were pulling into the city limits, the transmission went out in my truck, affectionately known as, the Rover. I had always wanted a Land Rover and we bought a beat-up used one the year before. Actually, Robert surprised me with the Rover, knowing how much I wanted one, hating the mechanical complications that he knew would come along with the purchase.

This is a tiny picture of me, in the hills of Tennessee, with the Rover, tearing up some terrain.

Not really...that's what the Rover looked like, but that's not me. That's why the picture is so tiny. I'm not computer saavy enough to enlarge stolen photos. could have been me. One day. You never know. Whimper.

But I digress, the honeymoon was wonderful. We decided to stay, with our broken down truck, and finish out the week. It was easy to do since we stayed on the River Walk and could walk anywhere we wanted. Jazz clubs, boat rides down the river walk, souvenir shops, delicious cuisine, and a band from Peruvia that played everyday, at the main entrance. Who knew we both loved peruvian music?

My cousin drove to San Antonio at the end of the week to give us, me, Rob and the Rover, a six hour drive back to reality. And this is where I will start to give you the Reader's Digest version of the next four years, leading up to the great surprise. Seriously. I can't go on like this for six more months, pilfering little bits and pieces of those years, hear and there.

1. Rover got fixed and lasted for a couple of years, until I had an accident that totaled it. Whimper. I now drive a Malibu Maxx....yeah, baby! Did I mention it has satellite radio?
2. Son and girlfriend, complete with a five month old little girl, moved in merely months after we were married.
3. Youngest daughter, only 12 at the time, proclaimed that she hated us both.
4. Son and girlfriend proceeded down a very dark, Jerry Springer-like road for another year, moving in and out of our home.
5. Son and girlfriend became pregnant with my sweet grandson, little B.
6. Son and girlfriend got married in the backyard of my best friends home, neither one of them remember the nuptials. It was a horribly, sad wedding.
7. Grandson was born!
8. Son and new daughter-in-law moved back in, with now a 1 and 1/2 year old little girl and a newborn.
9. More Jerry Springer episodes ensued...many, many episodes.
10. Son and daughter-in-law left grandson with us at the age of 6 months for us to raise....just until they got back on their feet. It took awhile...he was with us full time for almost two years.
11. My Grandmother died.
12. Daughters grew into young womanhood, one started driving.
13. The youngest daughter hated me less, with only sporadic episodes of typical teenage hatred, while the oldest daughter blossomed.
14. Our boss, my husband and I work for the same man, drove us nearly to the brink of insanity.
15. Our old house, 75 years old, continued to deteriorate around our ears.
16. And really, the last 6 happened during the whole Jerry Springer episodes. More than once during those couple of years, my husband bailed my son out of jail in the middle of the night. And more than once, he went looking for our grandson when they disappeared with him. And more than once, he was reminded that he assumed a tremendous responsibility when he married me, and my brood. Yet, he stayed and never complained.
17. We struggled financially...who doesn't?
18. We adjusted to new married life, in the midst of all the chaos. Me, with my years of baggage and abandonment issues and anger. Him, with his years of baggage and abandonment issues and passive-aggressive ways.
19. My parents aged. My father became very ill, we thought we might lose him. He recovered.
20. We struggled financially.
21. My son and daughter-in-law finally got their lives together and started becoming the parents Little B deserved.
22. Daughters began emerging from teenage angst and became bearable functioning, human beings.
23. Started understanding my boss! Finally.
24. Started remodeling on the house! Finally.
25. Started getting a little ahead with our finances! Finally.
26. Worked through some past baggage issues with my passive aggressive, sweet husband.
26. Found out hubby has a daughter he never knew about from PREVIOUS relationship...wait? WHAT?

What the heck? I can tell you now, things are fine. But I can also tell you, it wasn't easy at first, folks. Because apparently I hadn't completely worked through number 26 like I thought. I was side-swiped! Ambushed! Bamboozled! We both were.

So...what have I learned? Oy-vey. I'm too tired to go into it now. But I will sum it up for you in my next post. It's all good...don't worry.

And here is a pretty picture of a flower to hold you over until I muster up the courage to tell you...the rest of the story. Rest in peace, Paul Harvey.

Ahhh, the Iris...pretty, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Magpie #13

An eye for an eye, is what he always said.
Revenge was the only religion he embraced.
But what he never saw was that he took
without reason, without prompts.
He took like a greedy child in a candy store,
fists full of Red Hots and Butterscotch discs,
with feverish, darting eyes, looking over
his shoulder left and right.
Always fearful, he took what he thought
he may need for an imagined apocalypse.
You never know, he always said.
So, he sits on his stockpile of bitterness,
his stockpile of bodies and plucked eyeballs
and guards his heart,
thinking he might need it one day,
in case of an emergency.

For more Magpie tales, go here, or click on the magpie image on the sidebar.

I'll continue my surprise story this week, for those of you who are following my very, slow, slow story. I'm still processing!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Magpie, #12

Because her memories are carried by the breeze, sometimes floating within her range of reason, sometimes fluttering weightlessly to the floor, she carries the paperweight in her pocket to keep them in place a little while longer. Because two weeks ago, her daughter promised her she would come by and help her write down her memories before they disappeared from the page. Because she feels the need for something solid, something to tether her here in this place for a little while longer, she carries this paperweight in her pocket.

This is something new for me, click on the sidebar, Magpie Tales, if you're interested in participating or just want to check it out. It's so awesome!