Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to Our #1 Son!

Twenty Seven years ago, this little darling with the punk rocker hair and the huge blue eyes, came to join our family. Now he's 6' 5" of manhood. His eyes are still amazing, and he's still sweet! Happy Birthday to our firstborn son, who filled our lives with so much joy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All is Well on the Floor Project

The flooring project is going quite well. It's mostly finished, except for trim and transitions. The laundry room is coming along nicely too, and the platform is built.

Haven't begun the new bathroom yet, the den (man cave!) needs trim and bookcases, and the guest bathroom needs painting, also the back porch... are you ever really done? Especially when you have a bad case of what my friend calls "While I'm At It" Syndrome!

It doesn't help any that every one is leaving! Our oldest son, who is going to do the phone and computer networking stuff, is going to Georgia for the weekend to do some hiking and camping. Well, it's his birthday tomorrow so he gets a buy, I guess. Our middle son, who is doing - well, just about everything! - is going to Galveston to help with the clean up. Even our youngest son, who isn't currently working on his parent's house, is leaving Tuesday for 2 weeks in Bulgaria and Greece! (For a missions conference and retreat). At least my camera gets to go. My camera is well-traveled.

Please forgive me for not visiting and leaving comments much right now, I'm SWAMPED! And don't even get me started on what all the poor garden needs. Well, actually, do get me started, or stuff is gonna start dying. I need to do some industrial-strength weeding. When I surface for air, I'll come visit again, I promise.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Remodeling Conundrums

You never know where things will end up when you are remodeling,

But a Queen always finds her throne.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Becoming Gracious

I have given a lot of thought to the way I want to grow old. My mom said she was going to live to be 100 so matter of factly the whole time I was growing up, that I just thought that's what one did. So I've always intended to live to be 100. I will be 50 in a few years and it feels like I'll be able to re-start the odometer and do the whole trip over again, so I definitely don't feel old yet, but I assume at some point I will be officially an old woman. Instead of being horrified by that idea, I want to grow in to it graciously. I've known some grand old women, beautiful and gracious and comfortable with their age. They are wise, wonderful, kind and funny. Intelligent and accomplished, too, with very interesting stories to tell. They wear their crowns of white hair as regally as queens and I admire them greatly. That's the kind of old woman I want to be, and I figure it won't just happen. No, I will have to work toward it every day as I build my life decision by decision, choice by choice.

I have always been fascinated by Scarlett of Gone With the Wind fame. She secretly wishes to grow to be exactly like her gracious, self-sacrificing, servant mother. Scarlett is portrayed as self-centered to an amazing degree, willing to do anything that will advance her own welfare to the detriment of anyone who gets in her way. But every time she makes a bad choice, she reassures herself that some day when it is more convenient, she'll be kind, worry about others before herself, sacrifice for the common good. She puts off every good choice to a tomorrow that never quite comes, never realizing that with every bad choice she makes she goes the opposite direction of where she wants to end up. That made a huge impression on me growing up. I came to realize that every single choice I made was a building block in the person I would become. Kindness and self-denial are not concepts to be discussed but character traits to be developed by practicing them time after time, when it is least convenient and hardest to do. But if I practice being gracious throughout my life, I am confident that some day I will grow to be like the women I so admire.

"A gracious woman attains honor. Let (her adornment) be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. Strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." (medley of Proverbs 11:16, 1 Peter 3:4, Proverbs 31: 25, 26) This is what I aspire to.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Election Experiment

I love all the drama, debates, and excitement surrounding the election, but when all is said and done, whoever is voted in will be my President and Vice President, receiving my prayers for their well being and wise decision making.

I wish more people would take voting seriously. I don't understand people who say it doesn't make any difference anyway. If we don't vote, then of course it doesn't make any difference! We have a representational government, and the only incentive the people in office have to represent us instead of themselves is knowing we are paying attention to what they do and voting accordingly. I heard some foreigners saying everyone should be allowed to vote in America's Presidential election, because we couldn't be trusted to make the decision that affects the whole world. That made me mad, but I had to acknowledge that we don't take the privilege as seriously as we should. If 30% of eligible voters actually turn out to vote, it is called a good turnout. Rubbish! What would happen if 100% came out? Believe me, it would make a difference.

Let's do a little experiment. No matter who you favor, please, go vote for them, and take as many friends and neighbors with you as will agree to go. Let's see what happens if there are HUGE numbers of voters turning out DEMANDING to be represented! It is our privilege, right and DUTY!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9-11-01 Memories

September 11, 2001 was already a weird, tense day before the planes ever left the ground. For me it was, anyway. After 20 years of staying home to school my children and keep my home, I was headed out to find a job. All summer my husband had been getting sicker and sicker, and no matter how many doctors I took him to, nobody could figure out what was going on. After a summer of trying to spend all my time taking care of him and preparing myself for whatever we might be about to face, I finally knew I had to go to work. I was sick myself, at the thought of leaving him alone and untended, but if I could bring some money in, it would at least be one less worry for him. (It would be a year before we got the diagnosis of encephalitis due to a virus similar to West Nile, and 2 years before he could even begin to think about returning to work).

So I went to one interview, along with a little orientation. I tried to pay attention, but I was thinking of my husband, and also of my robust grandfather, who'd been taken suddenly ill the day before. Finally it was time to head to my second interview at an attorney's office. It was a bit of a drive, so I turned the radio to the Christian station and set out. But the Christian station seemed to be doing some sort of skit or something out of the ordinary. They played a little music, then broke in and said a plane had hit the World Trade Tower. Then shortly after that, they spoke of a second plane. I thought they were doing a take off on "War of the Worlds," possibly trying to show people what it would be like if the end of the world came and they weren't spiritually ready, and I was quite indignant. It seemed irresponsible to frighten people that way. I was looking out the window at everyone going about life as usual, nobody seeming distressed in any way. When the third interruption came on, saying a plane had hit the Pentagon, I'd had it. It suddenly occurred to me that if I changed the channel, I could find out if there was any thing to it. I adjusted the dial, fully expecting the other channels to be calmly playing music. But of course that wasn't the case, and I tried to absorb the reports I was now hearing on every channel I hit. By the time I reached the attorney's office, I was shaking. I watched a lady walking her dog, a man doing landscaping work in the median, cars coming and going. Finally, I dialed my cell phone to see what my husband had heard. He'd been trying to relax and was unaware of anything happening. I told him to turn on the t.v. because we were under attack. He couldn't imagine what I could mean, but he flipped on the t.v. and in a very subdued voice, said "Oh, no," and I knew it was true. I told him I'd be home as soon as I could, and it was then he told me he'd just gotten a call that my grandfather had died that morning.

I went in to the interview with eyes full of tears and a head so muddled I couldn't even remember my social security number, flubbed a test I was given, and stumbled through the interview. Finally I could head home. But on the way, I passed the Red Cross office and decided to go in and donate blood. It was a madhouse, and for the first time I could see footage on the little t.v. in the waiting room. After way too long for my nerves, I was called in, but my blood pressure was so high by then that they wouldn't let me give blood after all. I headed home and in to the arms of my husband and sons. I got a phone call letting me know I had gotten the first job, at an insurance adjuster's office, and I would begin the next day, so I just had to put everything going on in my life in to little compartments in my head and learn a new job to support my family. I didn't really have time to process anything. No one in the family could fly to Grandpa's funeral, or even have flowers sent, due to the planes all being grounded. But I had a picture in my head of my Grandpa, bustling about in Heaven greeting all the new arrivals, the way he did at church, with a smile, a handshake, and a warm, friendly word.


9 - 11 - 01

We will NOT forget...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Percussion Summit 2008

I am a happy girl! Recently my husband surprised me with tickets to Percussion Summit 2008. As if that wasn't wonderful enough, he made a quite a date out of it! First he took me shopping for appropriate attire. The event was held at the Naples Philharmonic, which is quite the ritzy place. They did loosen the dress code somewhat for this event, but we didn't want to look dowdy. So it was off for a day of shopping and lunch, too. Then on Saturday we took a scenic route down to Naples a few hours before the concert. We strolled around the Waterside Shops, which feature places I've only heard of, such as Cartier's, Tiffany's, Louis Vitton and restuarants whose menu offerings I couldn't even pronounce. There was a live band and a beautiful, meandering fountain of sorts, more like an elaborate stream, flowing along through varying configurations of blue tile, surrounded by benches and greenery. We went to dinner and then to the show.

We had fabulous seats, 10 rows back, front and center. We could see everything and there was plenty to see. The entire stage was set up with percussion instruments of every description. Snares and bass, tom-toms, gongs and cow bells, marimbas and sets and timpani, finger bells and cymbals and steel drums. Different sets featured different arrangements of instruments and ran the gamut from lullabies (!) to marches to Earth, Wind and Fire and Harry Belafonte arrangements. The headliners were Gordon Campbell on a large set and Taku Hirano, the premier hand drummer. Both have performed and toured and recorded with just about every big star you've ever heard of, everyone from Barry Manilow to Fleetwood Mac, Kenny Loggins to Chaka Khan, Sean "Diddy" Combs to LeAnnRimes to Jessica Simpson to Earth, Wind and Fire. And let me tell you, they were GOOD! Amazingingly good. The concert went an hour before intermission, where we stretched our legs and heard people ordering Chardonnay; then there was another hour of pure entertainment. All of it felt like about 20 minutes, I was enjoying it so much. The place was packed with enthusiastic people as diverse as middle school boys to elegant dowagers, and they all joined in a standing ovation, earning us a great encore.

But finally it was over and we had to leave. I felt like a kid on a roller coaster, saying, "I wanna go again!" On the way home we stopped for what my husband dubbed "a decadent dessert," something called Caramel Apple Crisp alamode and basically it was "diabetic coma on a platter." Boy, was it good! Then it was home and to bed, lulled to sleep by the steel drums still reggae'ing in my head. My husband really knows how to show a girl a good time!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

For Your Viewing Pleasure...

Amaryllis among the ferns...

Crepe myrtle among the plumbago...

Hibiscus in the sun...

Enjoy the last days of summer!
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