Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hump-Day Hilarity

Marcel the Shell.
"You know what I do for adventure?"
"I hang-glide on a Dorito."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hold Still

I have never been very good at this.  Holding still.  Or keeping still.  Or landing long enough to enjoy the stillness.  As I “mature”, I actually find myself seeking stillness--or places to be still.  The mere thought of the ocean evokes a happy sigh; but, as I currently dwell in West Tennessee, the beach is not as easily accessible as it once was.  So, now, I retreat to the hammock.  The hammock--which is another blog post within itself.

The hammock forces me to be still--otherwise, I lose my balance.  Or risk falling out.  Which, of course, would be a grand source of entertainment to my family.  But, that would negate the whole “seeking stillness” quest.  So, I am learning to hold still.  Or to be content with where I am.

In “The Little Way of Ruthie Leming”, Dreher makes a provocative statement. 

“A theologian is not one who knows about God; but one who knows God.” 

And, then, the Psalmist drives the point home in chapter 46, verse 10.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Thus, I have come to the conclusion that what is vital in my life-long pursuit to know God--fully--is to be still.  Hold still.  Be still.  Listen.  It’s a work in progress. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Groom With A View

The opening strains of the Bridal processional begin--Pachelbel's "Canon in D" perhaps.  The lovely bridesmaids enter, the flower girl tosses her petals (ideally), and then, the door closes.  The music shifts, a dewy-eyed mother rises to her feet, and the bride prepares to meet her groom.  And, the once-closed door opens wide.

Watch the groom. 

While many, if not all, eyes are trained on the bride, I watch the groom.  The raw emotion, the adoration, the nervous yet delighted smile that shows on his face captivates me.  Even the most placid of bridegrooms will involuntarily smile--he simply can't help himself.  Sometimes, he even mouths, "Wow!".  Or happy tears shine in his eyes.  

Watch the groom.

There is plenty of time to admire the bride.  The aisle, no matter the actual length, seems like a mile.  For both of them.  Frankly, I would have skipped down the aisle; but, "The Prince of Denmark's March" just didn't have the right rhythm for such antics.  Yet, that instant when the groom catches the first glimpse of his bride is one of those "oh-my-heart" moments. 

Watch the groom.

 {This post was inspired by many couples, over the years; but, most recently, by Caleb and Janie.}

Monday, July 21, 2014

Never Leave A Pillar Candle Unattended--And Other Helpful Household Hints

In just a few days, the eldest daughter of a dear friend of mine will pledge her troth.  This young woman to precious to me and I know that she will be the most wonderful of wives.  She has received much advice and wisdom, some solicited, and some--not so much.  However, there are those things that only experience can teach as you find yourself employed in the role of domestic goddess.  Bits of wisdom from those "a-ha" moments that should and must be preserved for future generations.

I have started a list--and would love for you to offer any insights, helpful hints, or wisdom that falls into the "if only someone had told me this" category.  I fully intend to pass along the list--and if you are so inclined, stories that support the advice given, are deeply appreciated!

1.  Empty the bottom row of your dishwasher first; then, if any water has accumulated on the dishes in the top row, it won't slosh off onto your once-dry dishes. 
2.  Never leave a pillar candle unattended.
3.  Know how to use your fire extinguisher before you actually need to use it.

(Yes, there is a story behind numbers 2 and 3.  And, yes, our house is still standing.)

Friday, July 18, 2014


According to Wikipedia--yes, there is an entry for it--PoohSticks, for those who aren't card-carrying members of the A.A. Milne Fan Club, is "a simple sport which may be played on any bridge over running water; each player drops a stick on the upstream side of a bridge and the one whose stick first appears on the downstream side is the winner. "  Apparently, there are detailed rules and an annual World Championship that is held on the River Thames.

The start of the race.

We like to keep it simple.  Our favorite place to play is on a much-loved bridge in the mountains of southern Virginia--right around the corner from the cows, of course.  My youngest and I simply choose sticks of mostly-equal size, count to three, and let them drop.  After carefully looking both ways, we zip to the other side of the bridge to root our sticks on to victory.  This year, we had to modify our "rules" a bit.  Because of the cows.

The Anti-Cow Crossing Barrier.

The wise farmers built a "fence" to keep the cows from crossing this portion of the creek and escaping down the road.  Yes, we once witnessed their daring escape; thus, we understood the need for the contraption.  So, we decided that the winner would be determined by the first stick to go through the narrow "goal".  It's not as easy as it looks--you have to sneak by the rocks, hope the creek flow is on your side, and trust that your highly-refined PoohSticks skills have not gotten rusty since the last match.

After multiple displays of PoohSticks prowess, we decided to call it a draw.  Just wait till next year.

Beyond the finish line.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cows Are Multi-Taskers

They chew their cud, stare at strangers, and swish flies away with their tails.  And, they do all of these things, simultaneously--and skillfully.  They mosey about the pasture, rest when they are tired, and wisely, lay down in the shade in the heat of the day.  Even though they will wander away from the herd for a bite to eat--they are always within moo-shot of their cow pals. 

When we humans approach, one of the group will look up, seemingly unflapped by our presence, while the rest continue with their busyness. The designee evaluates the stranger--friend or foe--and returns to chewing and swishing.  They don’t miss a beat--and they’re not in a hurry.  The ultimate in multi-tasking methodology.

Yes, we, do have the ability to chew gum and walk.  On a good day, I can even pat my tummy and rub my head (or is it rub my tummy and pat my head?).  However, human multitasking seems to lack something--purpose, focus, and a built-in flyswatter.  We rush from task to task, just getting it done--but are we really getting it done well?  Are we really listening to our kids re-tell the story of the addition to the backyard fort, while checking e-mail?  Can we balance the checkbook and have a “tell me about your day” conversation with our spouse?  Truth be told, I have significantly delayed dinner time because I have attempted to fellowship with friends and work out a new recipe--I simply can’t do both.  And, there are witnesses to this, believe you me.

But, the cows seem to manage quite well.  Their purpose is clear and their needs are met.  And, they might even find time to stare purposefully into your eyes.  I’m a fan.  

And, I will refrain from corny jokes about what cows like to do on Friday nights...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Trail Practice

Lessons Learned from the Rock Castle Gorge Trail (or City Girl Giddiness--The Sequel)

1. Brooks not only babble--they also chatter, bellow, and chuckle.

2.  Watch for butterflies and millipedes.  And orange salamanders.

3. A one-mile incline is harder than 3 miles of flatland.

4. Hikers are nice people. 

5.  Walking the trail with a retired forest pathologist provides a better lesson in plant life than any 10th grade Biology textbook could ever offer.

6.  Follow a good leader.

7.  Shade trees are a hiker's best pal.

8.  You really can run out of synonyms for "beautiful".

9.  Walk softly--and carry a big stick. (See #3)

10.  Even weeds produce lovely wildflowers. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

I Think I Can--or Pickles

Several years ago, I decided I wanted to learn how to can.  I’m not a seamstress, I don’t  crochet, nor do I make my own bread.  (Although, my Philosopher makes awesome scratch biscuits!).  I have this romantic notion of quilting--thanks to growing up around my Nana’s Friday afternoon quilting group; but, while I excel at the “fellowship” aspect of that event, my actual quilting skills are non-existent.  So, thanks to Tamarin and her canning heritage, I learned the art of preserving and canning.

Since that first tutorial, jars of strawberry jam (and syrup, on the first attempt), green and red pepper jelly (another Nana influence), and apple butter have emerged.  Green and red pepper jelly are quite festive in color and make excellent Christmas gifts!  Paired with cream cheese on your favorite cracker--yumminess.  But, I digress...

This year, we decided to grow cucumbers.  They have taken over their garden plot, fuzzy vines reaching out to greet their next-door tomato neighbors.  Of course, a surplus of cucumbers means plenty of pickles.  Not just any pickles--bread and butter pickles.  The recipe takes several days as you combine the cukes with sliced onions, pickling salt, a few garlic bulbs, and a layer of cracked ice--and refrigerate it overnight.  Then, the real fun begins.  Mixing together sugar (you don’t want to know how much), apple cider vinegar, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric, the smell of the soon-to-be boiling concoction takes me back.  Back to my Nana’s kitchen.  Isn’t it wonderful how certain smells just transport you somewhere else?

When the pickles come out of the water-bath canner, I hear the sound that lets me know that all has gone well--a nifty “pop” that indicates that the jars have sealed, and whatever is inside, is preserved and delicious, Lord willing.  It is a process, it takes time, it cannot be rushed.  I like that.

I would not have won the Senior Superlative for “Most Likely to Can Something”.  In fact, I don’t recall daydreaming about canning something while I was attending SGA meetings, going to graduate school, or attending professional conferences in fabulous cities like Savannah or Hiltonhead.  It simply proves that God has a delightful sense of humor--and His ways are mysteriously wonderful. 

And, I think Nana would be proud of my pickles.  Perhaps, I’ll try sewing on a button

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hump-Day Hilarity

Blimey Cow.  We laugh and we laugh.
And, then we watch another one.