Monday, September 29, 2008

Idyll [Idle?] On The River

Down by the river it was all about green---green grass, green trees, green water, green reeds. And pale golden sunshine. The mercifully coolest day we've had since April. I'd gone along with my chair, my camera and a bag of books, but The Bean insisted I should paddle around in his kayak for a bit before he took it off up the river. I left my books with him on the bank, and paddled off with my camera.

The kayak only seats one, but you can sit on my shoulder. Photography is a wonderful invention. However, it has it's limitations. You'll just have to imagine the warmth of the sun on your arms, and the cool, delicious greeness under the trees. Watch out for low hanging branches. And try not to jump out of your skin every time a fish leaps out of the water, shattering the surface into a million shimmering shards of sunshine.

Here's the breeze, fracturing reflections into fantastical forms...........

The river is narrow here, with cabins and cottages right down to the water's edge. They blend into the rushes and trees along the bank and seem to be part of a bygone era. More innocent. Less pretentious. Heavy on the kitsch! Behold the beauteous mermaid....

Pelican and Toad seem to be waiting............for Ratty and Mole?

And since this is Florida, we have to have at least one pink plastic flamingo! See him there, just inside the gazebo?

This little fellow was definitely a remnant from the past. Looks like he's also patiently waiting.....for Mr. Obama, perhaps?

Lovely shapes and colours in the rushes............

A screen of cattails..................

..... and here we are, back where we started.

You can climb down now. I hope you enjoyed messing about on the river with me.....Shoulder massages will be gratefully accepted......No hurry. Whenever you have the time......I'll be here, on the riverbank, reading my books and soaking up the sunshine.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Little Fabric Basket....

Certain quilty bloggers instituted "Finished by Friday" as a way, I think, to motivate the sluggish among us,to Get It Done Already, and give us the opportunity to brag! I got it done [last week, I've been up to other mischief this week!] and here I am, bragging about it.

Ali had this little basket on her blog last week and I fell in love. She had found a tutorial for it at Pink Penguin.....

When I went, just now, to have another peek, I found that Ali has made another, but bigger this time. So, if you're looking for something quick and cute to make, don't say I didn't provide any suggestions.

The OC, in his capacity as the Chief Wag around here, saw it lying on the table, half made, and commented on the "lovely hat" I was making for Judy, the wifely half of a couple [edited to accomodate my sister's word usage persnicketiness!] we visited last weekend........I suppose you could wear it on your head,[if you were a little daft] but I think it would look much nicer on a table, filled with chocolates, or acorns, or jellybeans. But, he must have his fun!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Love The Colour Purple, But Not On My Nose!

"I'm off to bed dear," he said.
"I'll be in in a minute," I answered.
I wasn't trying to lie. But I did.

While the OC was up north, playing rocket scientist for two years, I developed some bad habits. One was staying up ridiculously late. Doing what, you ask? No prizes for guessing!

Since his return, I've been trying to change my evil ways, and retire when he does, so I'm not still imitating a corpse when he's up and prowling for coffee. But you know how they say it takes something like twenty one repetitions of a new habit to kick an old one out the door?

Well, some nights are better than others.

Last night I fell off the wagon, trying to catch up with reading and commenting. In the wee hours I was creeping, ever so quietly, into the bedroom, trusting my feet to remember their way to the bathroom. Trying to be stealthy and not wake him, when


The wall reared up and attacked me.

I heard the sickening crunch of bone, or maybe it was cartilage, against drywall, and stumbled to the bathroom to check for splinters, feeling sure I must have broken my nose. To my surprise, when I turned on the light, my nose appeared to be intact. But oh, how it smarted! I ran to get some ice and packed it around the ache, groaning softly all the while. I needn't have worried about waking him up. I could have knocked myself unconscious and he would have tripped over my crumpled form in the morning before he realized anything was amiss....

"Oh my God, what happened to your nose?" at breakfast.

"While you were sleeping, darlin', I was set upon by a wall.

You might not want to walk anywhere with me for a few days. You'd be sure to get some dirty looks.........."

Seeing that I was alright, he was amused to an unseemly degree.

He keeps me around for my entertainment value.

I'm just happy I didn't break my nose, or my glasses, for all the good they did me in the dark. Maybe what I really need are some night vision goggles.

Or....could it be that simple?...... to go to bed early!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Once Upon A Time, In A Ratty Old Box, In A Lifetime Far, Far Away.....

The OC was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the summer of 1970. He retired from the military in 2000. In that time we lived in eleven different places in the U.S. and Europe. That's eleven, yes eleven, different houses. Each time we moved, our "Stuff" was packed into boxes, noisily taped shut and loaded onto a moving van. Except for the memorable move in which a few boxes, containing Hummels and Waterford crystal and sundry other treasures, lost their way at the end of our driveway and ended up in the back of a thief's truck instead of on the moving van....but I digress.

The challenge at the new place was to get the boxes unpacked and our new digs looking like "home" as quickly as possible. It was a daunting task, but fun, arranging familiar things in an unfamiliar place that would henceforth be home. Every day more boxes would be broken down and ready for recycling. But after the first week or so things slowed to a crawl. All the things that had an obvious purpose or place were serving that purpose, or in that place.

Years would pass and soon the excitement/dread of a new assignment would loom. And in the back of a closet, somewhere in the house that was now our home, lurked at least one box that had never been unpacked. Or if it had been partially unpacked, other orphan bits and pieces had been stuffed into it, for want of a proper home of their own, so that it was full again. And as the number of assignments and moves grew, and our family also grew, the number of boxes that never got fully unpacked at each new place grew and grew and grew!.

It was in one such that I recently rummaged successfully and found the essay in the last post. Rummaging in such a box cannot be accomplished in five minutes. Even if the first thing you pull out is the thing you were seeking.

Oh no.

We've been in this house, our twelfth home, for seven years now and I cannot seem to empty this last box. Because it is not what it seems. It's not just a ratty looking, worse-for-wear cardboard box, containing a hodgepodge of papers, cards, letters, essays, clippings, articles, recipes, high school graduation programs, postcards, leftover school pictures and report cards.........

Nothing that simple.

That plain, brown cardboard box holds little bits of my heart. Once opened it carries me back to all the yesterdays that flew so quickly by. It pulls me in for "just a peek," and hours later I'm still sitting on the bedroom floor, having laughed, and sobbed, and marveled, and accomplished the square root of nothing!

Well, I did find that essay. And even though I should have been changing sheets and getting laundry done, it was better for my soul to sit among those tattered memories. I found one folded loose leaf page with childish, spidery writing from eleven years ago.........

"My Sisters Weding."

"My family and I drove from Florida to Tenissy to go to my sisters weding.

I got all dresed up in a tucks.

My sister looked very happy she couldent stop smileing.

I like the groom like a brother.

The seromony was short.

When we got to the resepion I danced my hart out.

But I didint get to say good by to my sister befor she left on her hunymoon."

Do you know what finding a piece of paper like that can do to you when you come upon it unexpectedly? All the water that has flowed under the bridge since then comes pounding back through your head and out through your eyes. It was one of his first writing assignments in a new school at the beginning of fourth grade. He kept it short and pithy, and while it made me laugh, it also made me cry. We had just moved from Belgium to Minnesota, visiting in-laws in Florida and attending Liz's wedding in Tennessee along the way. He was famous back in those days for his daring and innovative approach to spelling and punctuation. I'm happy to report that both are much more conventional now, if a lot less interesting.

When I had finished rummaging, I put that dog-eared piece of paper back in The Box, and promised myself that, since there are no new assignments looming, I will make it a priority to get it unpacked. Before I die.

Friday, September 05, 2008

"World, Take My Son" *

"My son starts to school tomorrow.

It's all going to be strange and new to him for a while, and I wish you would treat him gently. You see, up to now, he's been king of the roost. He's been boss of the backyard. I have always been around to repair his wounds, and I've always been handy to soothe his feelings. But now, things are going to be different.

This morning he's going to walk down the front steps, wave his hand, and start on his great adventure that probably will include wars and tragedy and sorrow. To live his life in the world he has to live in, will require faith and love and courage. So World, I wish you would sort of take him by his young hand and teach him the things he will have to know. Teach him....but gently, if you can.

He will have to learn. I know that not all men are just, that all men are not true. Teach him that for every scoundrel there is a hero, that for every crooked politician there is a dedicated leader. Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend. Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest people to lick. Teach him the wonders of books. Give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on a green hill.

Teach him that it is far ,more honourable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong. Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is getting on the bandwagon. Teach him to listen to all men, but to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and to take only the good that comes through.

Teach him to sell his brawn and brains to the highest bidder, but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob, and to stand and fight if he thinks he's right. Teach him gently, World, but don't coddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.

This is a big order, World, but see what you can do. He's such a nice little fellow, my son."

This essay found it's way into my hands when my children were very small and starting off to school. It expressed, in words I couldn't have strung together at the time, exactly how I felt. Since our 5 1/2 year old grandson, T, and just six year old granddaughter, S, started kindergarten this week, I've been remembering when their mom and dad respectively, started off to school. The huge brown eyes of T's mom as she stood, not yet five, so pretty, so little, so shy, and so scared, on the school playground, and the sparkling, excited eyes of S's dad, swaggering his way off to the big world, having heard all about it from big sis. And I thought of this.

And now, looking back I know that the World listened. I know that they face the inevitable slings and arrows with faith and love and courage. I could take the world to task for not being as gentle a teacher as I would have liked, but that wouldn't change anything. It did teach them the wonders of books, and they do have a finely honed appreciation for the marvels of nature. And backbones of steel.

In my mind's eye I could see the thin, yellowing piece of paper...So I dug and dug, in all the wrong places, and couldn't find it. In despair sat down, and thought.....and thought. And then the universe took pity on me and threw me a lifeline. The raggedy old bulging journal I'd written in sporadically all the years they were growing up! That's where it's sure to be! Some more digging. And sure enough! There it was! And here it is. I hope you like it as much as I do.

*My thirty plus year-old piece of paper declares the original source to be unknown. Whoever printed and distributed it found it in the Pennsylvania Parent-Teacher Bulletin of September 1971.