Monday, July 30, 2012

catch some light and you'll be all right

i spend my day looking at a computer screen, breaking only to pour a hot cup of coffee or take a walk around the building, my headphones drowning out the highway traffic. and i look at the parking lot. and people in restaurants. and the pin oaks in front of the house. the clothesline. the stove. at night, it's the blue buzz of the television that draws me close.

but on saturday, i looked up.

and saw an explosion of rose in the sky. a few spots of amber. we took a walk like we do every night and i couldn't get over the sheer beauty of it all.

later that evening, we took a blanket outside. to that far corner of the yard beside the blueberry bush, where we can't see or hear the road. and we talked like teens and looked up at the stars, the sky again a wonderous shade of ebony.

this morning i looked up and said a prayer of thanksgiving. for a clear lane on the highway (a blessing every time).

i've become determined to make this a habit, this upward glancing. to remind me of prayer. and of nature. and of consistency. because the sky is always there, whether i acknowledge it or not. and if paintings like this are always above me, it just seems silly to ignore them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

you say tomato, i say supper


i wasn't kidding when i said we've been eating tomato sandwiches every evening here lately.
last night, after a long walk, where the ground was cool and the clouds hung as shade,
i noticed our garden needed to be picked.
also, we were a bit hungry.
so we took our supper outside, eating them right off the vine.
the winds and heavy storms that have pestered the carolinas have caused our little stakes to lean
the garden needs to be weeded,
and the squash has seen better days.
but last night, lying on our backs looking up at the pin oaks,
i was thankful for this little 10x10 square of dirt and seeds
for simple suppers and old quilts
a happy life do make.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

on being human, discussions with myself at midnight

we went to bed early last night, in an overambitious effort to rise early in the morning and have quiet time. he wanted to go for a run before it got hot. when the dew was still clinging to the thirsty grass and a cloud hung over the pavement. i wanted to make a hot cup of coffee and stir in my new milk. read my Bible and breathe in the morning from the vantage point of my kitchen windowsill.

but at midnight i was still awake and my mind was still pacing furiously. the awful events of last friday. the last movie i saw in a theater. my pup asleep at my heels. how hard i made him walk in the evening heat. the ensuing guilt. robert's whisper soft slip of breath on the pillow to my left. such is the fodder of a dark bedroom when you're the only one awake.

eventually sleep came, followed by a late morning. an afternoon in the coffee shop, my headphones on high and my nose burried in journal articles.

all of this to say that i have been feeling incredibly human as of late. incredibly fragile and breakable and fallen.

and there are nights like last night and days like last friday when it's this tenderness that just breaks my heart. but then there are moments that change everything. like on my morning drive when i saw two birds run into the sky just moments before my honda cut through the air. i watched them ascend into the sunrise, this life redeemed. and it was my humanity for which i was the most grateful.

Monday, July 23, 2012

just for today

there are days like today when a simple supper, a bath with the windows open and a walk down the road at dusk are enough to make me happy. other days, it's a half hour of reality television, a strong cup of coffee and a too-long shower.

it's a funny thing, this growing up. realizing that with every daybreak, this little heart of mine is changing.

Friday, July 20, 2012

i have a 63-year old child

pablo turns eight, 2011.

pablo turns nine today!

or 63.

however you want to look at it.

i was up late making pupcakes (which contain regular, dog-friendly baking ingredients but taste like cardboard. think whole wheat cupcakes.) i put the finishing touches on the slideshow and trivia game, and robert prepared the pork roast for our cookout tonight.

i rose at 5:30 to clean the house, put up the requisite birthday banner, wrap all his gifts and prepare the goodie bag for the trivia winner.

a bit much?

i think so too, but then i think about the five years that he wasn't mine. the five years he was abused, neglected, starved and left alone. and all of a sudden, spoiling him doesn't seem so bad.

because life's about days like this. silly memories that you create that someone else might not understand. wearing a pretty dress to wal-mart because it's a nice day out and your hair is falling in a good way and you feel like it. staying up late to watch reality television even though tomorrow is a big day. eating breakfast for dinner and cake for breakfast.

because in breaking those little rules we gain something big. i'm not sure what that is yet, but i'm learning. and honestly having quite the ball in the process. are kids this much fun? goodness, i hope so.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

this old routine

yesterday i swear the air stood still. the walk between the slamming of the car door and the unhinging of the mailbox at the end of the gravel drive was like pushing myself slowly through heavy steam. i pushed and pushed and met an equal resistance and was quite literally out of breath by the time i reached the bills and magazines.

and i opened the door to find robert napping, his work clothes still on and sweat still on his forehead, one arm propped lazily over his head beside the windowframe. and we ate tomato sandwiches and checked e-mail and sang a song at the same time that, for some reason or the other, was in both of our heads.

we saw mama and dad and took a walk around the yard. when the sun started feeling gracious and sunk itself back into the earth, we went outside and talked. and when it finally turned to dark on the old porch we went and sat on the long sofa. i curled up in that old blanket that's neither soft nor warm but wholly mine. and we talked some more until after midnight, dragging ourselves the ten feet to bed, the moon pouring itself through the cracked blinds.

i know some woman closed a big deal yesterday. i know someone got a promotion. someone cut her hair and feels brand new. someone got married and another engaged. a woman gave birth. someone, somewhere, probably had her life changed yesterday and july eighteenth is forever changed.

but we just had this old routine.

and i'd do it again. every second. over and over again. we can make a big moment out of the little ones, you and i.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

scenes from a country cottage: summer sheds its light

i'm getting spoiled by these late afternoons. where the sun shines dimly until past nine. i'm getting too used to it, stretching my days past their limit. staying up late on the couch with no lamplight, just the comfortable blue buzz of the television. to the late risings, just getting out the door in time. to the delving into covers soft from the wash. to lying on my side and giving belly rubs to a dog who turns nine this friday. to gazing out my window at work. the sunshine can make even a parking lot seem pretty.

to allowing myself to dream, and to move past just the dream. to really, truly believe it could happen. that's the powerful push of summer. it makes me just drowsy and delrious enough that i'm not scared to move into that unfamiliar, but achingly beautiful space called hope.

but such is summer, and such is a home. and such are these blessed dog days.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

a stolen moment

i apologize for the sporadic posting as of late. truth is, i'm surrounded by summer and am having a hard time sitting in front of my computer. there's an old dirt road near my house, and every evening, after a tomato sandwich supper on the front porch swing (we've seriously done this every night since the tomatoes arrived), we go walking. and get to talking. and get to dreaming. and get to scheming. and get to laughing. and  running. and telling stories and remembering.

so it's hard to pull myself away.

but i love this little blog here. and i love your blogs. so i write.

i wrote a little guest post for my sweet friend jackie on my wedding day. on a moment stolen on the front steps of my hometown church. you can read more about it here.

thank you for reading, and for hanging around and waiting on me, kind of like those june bugs that haven't quite realized it's july and still swarm our front yard every morning. except you're cute!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

you don't have to, today.

here's the thing.
you don't have to make the bed.
you don't have to curl your hair or even put on mascara.
the pilates mat can sit, rolled tightly, in the closet.
along with the stilletos and the kitten heels.
that dish from last night? the one that held the 9 p.m. pasta craving?
it can stay, sticky, in the sink.
the e-mails and facebook chats and texts and missed calls
can stay missed.
it's wednesday, july 11
and you were granted another day.
that's the truth of the moment
and you're worth it, you pretty little thing.
the fourth hit of the snooze button.
the third repeat of that song.
the second helping of chocolate.
and that first cup of coffee.
or wine.
or water.
that look up to the heavens, where sunshine
or clouds
or rain
can pour down your cheeks.
instead of tears.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

perishable goods

around midnight, all my appliances start glowing. my laptop casts a pretty blue light around the office, my cell phone glows in the dark bedroom, buzzing occasionally with a late night call from my sister. the television, in all its glory, beckons me with light and sound and moving images just waiting to take me out of my world, off the couch in our tiny house by the side of the road, and into a realm of glamour, where giada can eat five pounds of pasta without gaining weight, emily can deny a boy a rose and make him cry, and country stars can sashay around in painted on jeans. even the news doesn't seem as scary when delivered by a pretty blonde in a smart blouse.

but last night, when i was directly in the throngs of technology, i looked over at robert and pablo and had a clear thought. if i wanted them to be, every single appliance in this house could be here forever. this iPad can sit right there on the sofa until i'm 90. it's not going anywhere at all. it's a non-perishable good.

but these boys looking back at me? why, that's a different story. we're aging. pablo hesitates to jump up on the guest bed now. it's harder for me to touch my toes in the morning. even robert has a few renegade grays in his beard. the truth is, we're perishable. it's not morbid or sad, it's a beautiful truth. we will go bad one day, just like the cucumbers hanging in the kitchen, or the bread on the shelf. so i have to remind myself to savor the good. the now. the ripeness of today.

of course, if i plan on saving pablo, i've got another thing coming. that pup's been spoiled since the day we got him.

Monday, July 9, 2012

a harvest in summer

the weekend was hot, yet again. a heavy fog forming, forming, forming until sinking its heavy boots deep into the summer grass, covering the ground with humidity. with no breeze, the leaves on the limbs just sit stagnant, quivering only when a bird or squirrel hops from branch to branch.

but the upside about the heat? the tomatoes have ripened. they are deep and red and sweet as candy. we stood in the middle of the day and ate them by the vine as the sun beat against my bare shoulders and feet. if there's going to be no relief from the hours of sweating and seeking air condition, at least there is fruit. or vegetable? either way, i'm not complaining.

because soon enough, fall will come marching in, and winter quick on its heels. and we will don our cardigans and jeans with moccasins and wrap scarves around our chilly necks. and we'll look at that spot beside the corn and the muscadines, diminished by then to a dirt square. and we'll remember the bounty of summer. and ache for the days when nine o'clock still meant dusky light and mornings arrived with birds and rooms bathed in yellow.

Friday, July 6, 2012

from clara to frances: a letter

when i read my first lines of neruda poetry, i thought i'd found the reflection of my truest self. i would lie awake in the middle of midnight and write lines in my old leather journal. so pretty were the words and so deep their sentiment that i even named my sweet puppy after the poet.

but then i came across this letter last week. from a woman named clara to my grandmother, frances. written at the height of their womanhood, when they both worked at the u.s. postal service and were living on their on in washington, d.c. truth be told, the letter is a bit gossipy, in the most polite way possible. there are spatterings of "i'm not sure what she told you" and "i think it only fair that you hear this from my side of the fence too."

but a few paragraphs down, clara begins describing her dream life. what truly makes her happy. and though time and space and seventy years separate us, i felt my heart sink to my stomach when i read her thoughts that so mirror my own.

that's the funny thing about being a woman, i suppose. the fashions change (or do they?) and hairstyles go from big to feathered to flat to big again, and technology finds its way, every decade, to sneak into our homes and lives and rearrange the way we do dishes, fold laundry and relax in the afternoons. we are different colors and shapes and personalities. but every so often, we find that in some ways, we are so very similar. perhaps we don't all love living in the country. i know some very fabulous women who make entire cities light up. but that need to communicate--whether by telegraph, typewritten letter, phone call, e-mail or facebook chat, remains.

i'm just glad my grandma had the wherewithal to save such a treasure. little did she know i would unearth it from an old album whose plastic pages had long decayed. and i hope clara, wherever she is, is sitting on a rocking chair looking up at the birds, her head thrown back laughing, her drama resolved.

Monday, July 2, 2012

this weekend: beating the heat

there's only so much to do in a small town when the temperatures crawl past 100 degrees. only so many cool, air conditioned buildings that provide reprieve. so we piled in the car and drove. just about anywhere we could. as the cold air blasted our shins and cheeks and pablo rested his head inches from the vent.

we found ourselves in a little deli an hour from home. with expensive, tiny sandwiches that were about the best thing i've ever tasted (it's a good thing i don't let myself wander into places like this too much. i'm a guppie for organic, delicious fare and am easily duped into giving my right arm for a tiny slice of something labeled "free range.")

we sat on old rocking chairs and ate homemade ice cream, overlooking a pretty dairy farm run by an old man in overalls. i decided right then and there that this man was living my dream.

then, we nestled ourselves indoors the rest of the time. where the chill was blasting through the floor like ice and we could lay against the hardwoods and let it blow our hair around. we made squash fritters and mini pizzas.

and the sun rose and set, and like that the weekend was over. it marched out on the heels of a wet, dark rainstorm that happened last night. cooling down the blistering pavement and quenching the yellowing, dying garden. and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief.