Monthly Archives: January 2014

Five on Friday

1.  Some days I look at the blank screen and wonder what in the world there is to say.

2.  I met an autistic 70-year-old man yesterday at the dermatologist’s office yesterday.  He introduced himself to me (“My name is Tony, T-O-N-Y”) and asked my name (“That must be spelled S-U-S-A-N”) and we then spent the next thirty minutes talking about his favorite pizza, dancing, Crystal Gayle, and answering questions about the difference between a trim and cut, how much I paid my hairdresser, and if I thought Bojangles was crowded.  He showed me his driver’s license, his gift cards and, twice, his NC State t-shirt. After he’d spelled his name for the fourth time, he abruptly shook my hand and walked back over to his chair where every so often he’d whisper my name and wave at me.    I could tell some in the waiting room were uncomfortable with his constant questioning but I could also tell that he felt some relief to have someone speak to him while he waited.   A lady stopped by to whisper in my ear “You’re a saint to talk to him” and I really wanted to throttle her but instead I smiled and said the pleasure was all mine.

Friends, reaching out to others who are different from us isn’t hard.  It just takes a willingness to be patient and the decision to step out of your comfort zone.

3. I guess I had something to say after all.

4.  When the boys came home from school yesterday we sat around the kitchen and brainstormed dinner ideas (I am currently uninspired in the cooking department) and after coming up with a plan for some exciting, life-changing tuna casserole, they grabbed their jackets and volunteered to go to the store to buy what I needed.

Volunteered.

To be helpful.

And they were genuinely cheerful about it. Like, SMILING.

I don’t know what’s happening to these kids though I suspect saying yes to the new tortilla Pringles might have contributed but I like it.   As challenging as this season of parenting has been, it’s the little moments where they smile and joke and surprise us that make it all so rewarding.

5.  Speaking of rewards, I’m trying not to devour half a box of Pop-Tarts as a pat on the back for getting back in the exercise swing.  Craig and I have resumed  regular morning dates with our friend Jillian Michaels and the good news is we didn’t die starting Week 1 again.

Oh, Week 1, we’ve seen you soo many times.  Week 2? Not so much.

Have a nice day.

Monday Musings

We were down two kids for the weekend since Tommy and JJ were off on a church trip in the West Virginia mountains sliding down a snow-covered mountain, hanging on for dear life to a flimsy rubber tube. Besides spending the time praying for no broken bones, I had grand visions for our remaining Raleigh merry band of three.  We would stroll the mall, visiting shops I wanted to visit (in other words, no GameStop or Lego store).  We would eat at restaurants with no counter or an order by number system.  I wasn’t going to touch the stove or the washing machine, pick up a dirty sock, or police Xbox and TV time.  Yes, friends, mama was going to be off the clock.

And what did we do?

Didn’t leave the house once except for a milk run to the grocery store, washed mountains of clothes, ate cold cereal and sandwiches, and spent three hours cleaning out that EPA Superfund site known as the boys’ bedrooms.

And you know what?

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It was non-stop, shoulder-to-shoulder time with Craig and after a busy travel month, just plain fun. There’s nothing that’ll cement a relationship faster than together digging out the unspeakable detritus found under a teenaged boy’s bed (bonus – found two of my good spoons – had to get past what I found them buried in but found them nonetheless) and there’s something to be said for the shared guilty pleasure of eating in front of the television in the living room when you’ve banned it for everybody else.  We caught up on a few shows on the DVR, finally got around to seeing Skyfall (cementing my opinion that Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever), and I don’t think we ate a vegetable the entire time unless you count the bits of cabbage in the frozen dumplings we ate for dinner while we watched the Sunday afternoon football games.

With a healthy side of tater tots and tortilla chips.

Dear grandmothers, do not be alarmed.  We did make sure Travis had an apple and a glass of milk to balance out his Frosted Flakes.

The fun continues today.  Craig returned to work but Travis and I are headed to the mall to hit the Apple store (a treat for both of us), Sephora , and then he’s going to enjoy (well, not really but let’s pretend) the quilt shop with me before we pick up his brothers at church.  He’s missed them and we’re looking forward to having the gang back together again even if it means more laundry and a return to the kitchen.  It’s funny, I’ve always thought that I’m the one that brings discipline to their lives and I’ve recognized this weekend how much they bring to mine.

Welcome home, boys.

Your mama missed you.

Have a nice day.

For Uncle Clyde

One of the highlights of my trip home was spending Christmas Eve with extended family on my mom’s side.  The Mason clan is a large one; at the time of her death, my grandmother presided over a family of six kids, 19 grandkids, and 21 great-grandkids, all of whom thought they were her favorite. It is a loving family and even though I spent most of my formative years away from them, my aunts and uncles and cousins embraced us when we were together and left me with a strong sense of belonging.

The night of the Christmas party I was uncharacteristically emotional.  I hadn’t seen my aunts and uncles in a long while and to be among them was meaningful and overwhelming.  I was soberly reminded that my days with them are growing shorter – we lost one uncle last year and another, Uncle Clyde, battling cancer, was preparing for another surgery to keep it at bay.  I made it a point to spend time with all of them, to tell them I loved them, to let them know how much I cared for them. Three short weeks later, I’m thankful for that night as I received word this past Sunday that Uncle Clyde died unexpectedly during his surgery recovery. He was 85.

Today they are celebrating his life in a little country church in Texas where he taught Sunday School to squirmy 5th grade boys for 30 years and served as deacon for more than 50.  He was an honorable man, loyal, God-fearing, humble, hard-working, and steadfast.  He was faithful to his wife of 64 years and loved his children deeply.  If you belonged to him, he was concerned about you and there was nothing he wouldn’t do to help if he could.

My heart and thoughts are with Aunt Mo, Wendell and Patti, Brenda, Brent and Carol as they lay him to rest on a hill at the edge of town that, sadly, we know too well.  We do not mourn as those who have no hope for Clyde knew the Lord and walked with him all the days of his life.  We take comfort that he is with his Savior and free from the pain that he bravely bore.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

You will be greatly missed.

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Monday Musings

It’s a bit of a relief to write this morning’s post after a harrowing brush with danger over the weekend. Okay, not really, but it makes for a more interesting introduction than what I spent twenty minutes writing that ended up disappearing into the ether.

Apparently the computer gods are my editors this morning.

Late Friday afternoon a few friends threw together lunch plans for Saturday at Chuy’s which is my current go-to restaurant in town for the queso, people, THE QUESO, and none of us really checked the weather except for Heather who is a self-acknowledged weather nerd and she said, “Should we maybe postpone until Sunday when the weather’s nicer because you know we’re under an elevated risk for severe weather, right?” and I scoffed, SCOFFED at her, mind you , because I’m from Oklahoma where we don’t let the slight risk of bad weather keep us from doing anything because you’d never get anything done.  I assured her we’d be fine because nothing bad can happen when you’re eating cheese dip and so off we went to the restaurant.

It was a little windy and spitting rain when we arrived (PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE INCOMING STORM, SUSAN) but visions of flautas danced in my head and I ignored it all until half-way through our meal when all of a sudden the lights went out in the restaurant and everyone’s cellphone started blaring and we looked at the screen and it said “Tornado Warning, Take Shelter Immediately.”

Sweet.

No one seemed to be diving for cover but we were in an interior room and couldn’t see out a window to know exactly what was going on but with a little weather app and Twitter sleuthing we were able to determine that the worst of the storm was north of us.  It made us feel a little better but didn’t completely keep the nerves at bay because we’d left our respective families at home, smack dab in the middle of the storm while we were partying like it was 1999.

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We checked in with them and Heather’s family was in the closet like they were supposed to be and mine?  Out and about trying to decide whether they wanted their fries from Burger King or McDonald’s.  I texted Craig to make sure he and the boys were safe but the lack of flying bovines meant he had no cause for alarm.

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Someone’s watched Twister one too many times and has a very high bar for what constitutes a bad storm.

And so I had a good laugh, paid the check and headed home only to discover downed limbs all over the place and find out that an 86 mph squall line had come through town, uprooting trees and knocking down an apartment building under construction less than a mile from where Craig and the kids were at that very moment.

So that was the big excitement around here which wasn’t all that exciting for me, just my people.  I hope your weekend was much less dramatic and just as cheese-filled.

Have a nice day.

 

 

 

 

Greetings from the Frozen Tundra

The thermometer greeted me with 8 degrees and a zero degree wind chill and I stepped out on the back porch just long enough to test Columbia’s claims that their jacket will keep me warm when it’s that cold. It did, and having checked that off, I’ve decided that copious amounts of hot tea, a fire, and NOT GOING OUTSIDE is a better plan for accomplishing the same goal and everyone’s a lot more comfortable.

Dear Yankees, hats off to you.

We’ve been busy beavers around the house. On the cleaning side, the craft room is finally put back in order and I can see the floor for the first time since November when I chucked all the fall decorations in the room and didn’t sort it or put it away and then piled the wreckage of Christmas on top of it. It took five trips to the attic, three garbage bags and one moment of despair that it would never come together but it did and I’m happy to have a clear space to sit and wonder why I even attempt to be crafty.
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On the creative side, I took a deep breath and picked up a sewing project that’s languished for months and moved it forward to the next point I don’t know how to do so hooray for progress. Today I get to learn how to set snaps which I’m trying to view as a new opportunity to learn patience, perseverance and to not swear.

I’ve also spent a little time in the kitchen (mainly to keep the house toasty) and made a couple of soups (Ina Garten’s Winter Minestrone for the third time in two months and Julia Child’s French Onion) and tried my hand at my mom’s recipe for cinnamon rolls which didn’t turn out as tasty as hers but hope springs eternal that next time I’ll get it right.  (My unbaked rolls on top and Mom’s rolls from Christmas below.  I weep remembering them.)IMG_6144

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Now that the house is back in some semblance of order and the big projects are done you’d think I’d find time to get back into a good exercise groove but YOU WOULD THINK WRONG. The spirit is unwilling and the flesh is weak but I need to find something to do because I have to be in a swimsuit in late February and typing those words kinda’ terrifies me a little bit.

But then there’s that whole pan of cinnamon rolls on the counter thing to soothe my jangled nerves.

Maybe going outside and shivering will knock off a few of those calories.

Sounds like I might need to change my plan.

Have a nice day.

The Holidays: A recap, if you will

As soon as the kids got off the bus on the last day of school, we loaded in the car and started the trek towards Oklahoma to spend Christmas with my family. (My sweet husband, taking note in early November that his wife was in the absolute dumps, thought it would be good to carry her home to be with her people. It was just what I needed.)

Driving in the plains in late December can be a roll of the dice weather-wise but we were feeling lucky that we’d traversed Tennessee with nothing but a sprinkle and a little fog and as we gassed up in Jackson for the final run to North Little Rock where we were to stop for the night, Craig suggested I drive the final leg.

Straight.

Into.

The.

Apocalypse.

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The skies were ominous as we pulled into Memphis and I tried to tell myself it was just darkness descending at the end of the day but the minute we crossed the bridge over the Mississippi, the firmament opened (it was biblical, people) and it began to pour buckets, nay, oceans of water all over us. And if any of you have ever had the great pleasure of driving I-40 in Eastern Arkansas in the last, oh, twenty-five years, you’ll know it’s nothing but orange barrels and jersey walls for miles and miles which are really fun to navigate when YOU CAN’T SEE A FOOT IN FRONT OF YOU. And it didn’t help marital relations to hear “Can you see the white line? Can you see the car on the shoulder? Can you see if that car is stopped?” whispered ever so helpfully by my beloved who had suggested I drive in the first place.

Relaxing is what I’m saying it was.

It ended up taking four and half to get from Memphis to Little Rock, two of which we spent literally in park and no family was ever so happy to see a hotel as we were when we pulled in for the night. To avoid ice in Eastern Oklahoma, the next day we drove south through Texarkana (stopping for a quick detour in Arkadelphia to show Craig the OBU campus for the first time) and then hugged the northern border of Texas before crossing over into Oklahoma. The view was spectacular and the longer we drove through cattle country, the happier I was.

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We got home in time for dinner and spent the evening visiting but before turning out the light, it was my great delight to share in the ritual bedtime glass of eggnog with my dad, always in the little cup and always from Braum’s.

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It was good to be home.

Have a nice day.

New Beginnings

I don’t often wake up singing but this morning Come Thou Fount was swirling in my head along with the fog that often accompanies a hefty dose of NyQuil taken the evening before.

The flu is helping me ring in the new year.

Festive.

All morning long the insistent phrase “Bind my wandering heart to Thee” repeated over and over and as I mulled over the familiar words, I kept coming back to boundary. Not boundaries in the restrictive sense but more of a defined space that I want to be in as this new year starts. The last two months have been about wandering. It’s not that I’ve been lost, it’s just that I gave myself a lot of rope to cope with physical injury. While I needed it, it’s now time to tighten the reins just a little and bring some order and focus to life around me.

While I flesh out what that means, I’m forging ahead and being intentional about making some things happen. To wit, in January I’m going to:

1. Revive the blog.
2. Enroll in a pottery course. Try not to laugh.
3. Tackle the scary closets and the craft room.
4. Plan and invite girlfriends over for a fun night.

It’s a simple list but after a busy holiday, it’s just what I want to do.

Write.
Create.
Clean.
Reconnect.

Prone to wander? Yep, I feel it.

Here’s to a new year of finding home.

Have a nice day.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. (Ps. 16:6)