Archive for August, 2011

Inspiration

It’s not in the endless view of chrome fenders and exhaust pipes I see through the front of my windshield every morning.

It’s in the rainbow that I see way far up above the fenders. Over there to the right, in the sky. It didn’t even rain and it’s not going to rain. But two little white clouds squeezed themselves together at just the right moment. They kissed and it made a little tiny rainbow in the early morning light.

It’s not in the way that I can’t keep my foot steady on the gas, but must keep going, braking, going, braking, letting this guy in here, going again, trying to get over there, braking again, almost running into the guy in front of me.

It’s in the way I almost run into the guy in front of me because I am distracted by all those black birds over there to the left, way up in the sky. They don’t know or care that they’re in the middle of a concrete jungle. They only know that the patch of green right beside me, connecting one concrete patch to another is good enough for them to descend upon, all at once. A living work of art, they land in perfect rhythm, one after another and sit there contentedly as I and the guy in front of me drive on by.

It’s not in the way that the people getting off the elevator in front of me have the identical conversation with each other as they arrive at their respective places of employment on Monday morning: “Did you have a good weekend?” “Yeah – too short though.” “Tell me about it.” Then the elevator door shuts on them and the conversation is repeated as the next person gets off at the next floor.

It’s in the way that I feel when I create the perfect spreadsheet. All formulas work and everything balances and for a moment I am at peace. My desk is clean, my mind is quiet, my to-do list is shorter and my drawer is filled with all the pens, scissors and post-it notes that a girl could want.

It’s not in the fact that today was the 65th day this year over 100 degrees. There is no longer any satisfaction in beating old records.

It’s in the realization that today is the last day of this month. All things start new tomorrow. It can only get cooler from here, right? Right?

It’s in the sound that my Coke can makes when I pop it open during the afternoon lull.

It’s in coming home to my middle girl, sitting alone in the living room, playing her dad’s guitar.

It’s in watching the delight on my youngest’s face when ¾ of the way through The Magician’s Nephew, she realizes with great joy that this story is just like the story of Adam and Eve.

It’s in my oldest telling me all about getting the best sushi in the world with her best friends in the world and looking every bit like she did when she was two years old while she’s telling me.

It’s in school starting next week, which means I will once again have my most favorite companions in the world with me for half of my morning commute.

It’s in the fact that tonight, when the passion and the heartache and the wonder of this day is over, I will unmake both the face and the bed that I so carefully made this morning and I will rest.

I will be unmade.

Somehow, that’s inspiring.

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Travelin’ On

The last time I saw my grandpa was here in Dallas, four months ago, when his trip here turned much longer than planned after a heart attack. He was 85 years old, completely blind and my grandma had driven him down here to play guitar in a music festival. After the festival, he didn’t feel so great and went straight to the hospital, which turned into a couple surgeries in a couple weeks. When he was released, he stayed a few days with my uncle before he and my grandma made the eleven hour drive back home to Southern Illinois. I went and spent the day with them before they left, playing Scrabble with my grandma by the pool while my grandpa dozed inside in the easy chair. As I was leaving that night, I gently woke him and told him I was leaving. He couldn’t see me, but he spread his arms out and said, “Okay, Hon. I love you. Goodbye.” I hugged and kissed him tenderly, so thankful for the chance to say goodbye. So thankful to have a grandpa who loved me.

The things that could be said about him are numerous. He was a big man, with an even bigger presence. He loved to entertain and he loved to tell stories. He had an opinion on pretty much everything. He was the best guitar player I’ve ever known. He loved his family and he loved to make everyone feel like family. My memories of visiting him always include him standing there expectantly when we walked in the door, his hands in the pockets of the overalls he was always wearing, a silly grin on his face and saying “Where’s that Leslie?” as he waited for me to come hug him. He would say the same thing to each of my kids, (his great-grandkids). He loved to talk (argue) theology with my husband and encourage (argue with) him as he progressed in his studies. He loved to hear my girls sing and encourage them with what sounded good and challenge them with what they needed to work on.

He rests now. His fight is done and his sight is being restored. I believe I’ll see him again someday and he’ll see me too.  Last weekend, we traveled up to Illinois to bury him in the little church graveyard down the road from the house in the woods where he lived with my grandma all these years.  All three of his children and their spouses were there, all eight of his grandchildren (and spouses of the married ones) were there, and all ten great-grandchildren were there. The bigness of such a moment swallowed me wholly inside of it and I was blessed beyond measure to be a part of it. We said goodbye to his body as it lay amidst the most flowers I have ever seen in once place at one time in my life. My dad and I shared a moment together as we discussed the significance of the flowers being the way things are supposed to be as he has now gone back to the garden. My brothers, my cousin and my mom’s cousins carried his casket to the grave that he and my grandma have had ready for years. The preacher prayed final prayers over him and we cried and we laughed together. Many flowers were left there on the grave and the funeral home brought the rest of them to my grandma’s house that afternoon, where an assembly line formed as we put one beautiful flower arrangement after another on her front porch. The grandkids and great-grandkids all played together in the front yard, some tossing a football, some playing America’s Got Talent, some hiding behind trees and running and making piles of sticks and some spinning delightfully in circles. As the sun set that evening, I went for a walk with Chris down the gravel driveway out to the corn fields. I liked the way our long shadows looked on the road in front of us. And as we came back to the house, we noticed everybody gathered around every car in the driveway, all of them tuned loudly to the live Saturday night show at the Opry, where Vince Gill was playing a tribute to my grandpa.

Here is what we heard.

First, the introduction to the show, talking about my grandpa:

Then Vince Gill, opening the show with my grandpa’s song:

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My pretty Grandma
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My pretty Mama
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The Children
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The Grandchildren
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The Great-Grandchildren
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And after church on Sunday, we all ate at Grandpa’s favorite restaurant
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Goodbye, Grandpa. Thank you for such a big legacy. I love you.
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And finally, two videos:

The first from 1959, singing his first big hit

And the second from just last year, singing and playing the last song he wrote

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Crop Circles, Deadbeat Moms and Zombies

Tonight we went out in the back yard and moved the trampoline because the grass was dead all around it, while a forest was growing underneath it. Apparently the grass in our back yard really likes the only place in all of Dallas that has shade all day long. Seriously, the abundant green grass growing underneath that thing is about a foot tall. It makes for an amusing look now that the trampoline is moved over to the other side of the yard. There is a perfect twelve-foot circle of green lushness in the midst of a dry and barren land. The apple tree is brown and brittle, the ivy covering our trellis dried up weeks ago and withered away and you can’t walk barefoot through most of our yard because each individual blade of grass is like a needle puncturing the bottom of your feet. But we now have our own little perfectly soft and perfectly round crop circle. It calls to me, begging me to do a barefoot rain dance in the middle of it. So I do.  It consists of hopping on one foot while spinning in one direction while chanting, “Hi yah yah yah Hi yah yea” and then switching directions. 

I’ve been noticing lately that I don’t have time for things like I used to. When I dwell on that, it depresses me. I’ve even had to stop reading a lot of perfectly beautiful blogs that I used to read because they now depress me. Not because there’s anything wrong with them but because they portray lives that are so very different from my own and I find that what I am really longing for is somebody who is like me. I gravitate towards people I can connect with. And when I can’t connect, it’s kind of depressing.  And then it starts feeding all sorts of jealousies, self-pities and ugliness. And there’s just no good that can come out of feeding those things and so I just stop reading those blogs. 

But I’ve started wondering if everybody else is like me in that. And if so, who reads this blog, I wonder? So far, I have not found another woman working full time in corporate, downtown, glass-walled America with a husband studying to be priest and three mostly teenaged children who also blogs.  If anybody knows of her, please point me in her direction. I would like to hear her perspective on life. But if she does rain dances in crop circles in 100 degree weather at 9:30pm, I am not interested. Because that’s weird. 

The other day I overheard my daughter ask a friend:

~ Who does the dishes in your family?

~ My mom, mostly.

~ Oh. My mom NEVER does our dishes. 

So that’s about how things are now. But at least we’ve reached day 38. Only four more to go. I know we can do it. Come on,Dallas! First the Rangers went to the World Series last year, then we hosted the Super Bowl in an amazingly icy ice storm, then the Mavericks won the whatever-you-call-the-basketball-biggest-game and now we’re about to beat a record not touched since 1980. Could we ask for anything more, really? 

I mean, everything is brown and dead and people are walking around like zombies and moms don’t do dishes anymore but it will all be worth it if we can pass 42 straight days of 100 plus temperatures. 

Hi yah yah yah Hi yah yea.

 

 

 

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Tell Me Can You Feel It

Today was the 31st day in a row over 100 degrees in Dallas. There really isn’t much else to talk about. Except that the record was set in 1980 with 42 days in a row over 100 degrees. The way I see it, if we’ve come this far anyway, we might as well shoot for breaking that record, right? Bring on the heat. We can beat this thing. I know we can.

The truth is that it’s depressing around here these days. It just is. It’s dry and things are dying. Our apple tree joined our peach tree this year. Their spirits have both departed this world. All that’s left is dry sticks, all held together by who-knows-what and sprawled every which way, with a couple little wilted leaves and shriveled one-inch balls of stink still clinging desperately to the splintered branches. Rolling black-outs are bound to start soon with the amount of energy this city is consuming, trying to keep all insides at 65 degrees even though nobody anywhere can get below 80 in the afternoons. Children sit around sulking and picking at one another and parents wonder how in the world they will make it another month before school starts. We are all well aware that August is always hotter than July around here and we cannot fathom what that means for our next 31 days.

We are withering outside and we are stir-crazy inside.

Therefore, I will not speak of the heat. Nor will I speak of how much we long for a good, long, drenching rain. Nor will I remember how I went to a tropical paradise that one time. Because that was a long, long time ago and I can hardly remember it at all anymore.

Instead, I will tell you about how I love listening to audio books while I drive back and forth to work in my air-conditioned car. Right now I am finding the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency most delightful. And I just had a sip of my husband’s chocolate malt shake. That was nice. And when I got home from work tonight, my two youngest had art supplies and paper spread all over the kitchen table just like when they were little. My fourteen-year old was working so hard on coloring her pretty princess picture that she didn’t notice me come in and I did a double-take because I thought she was my eleven-year old. Her cheeks were puffed out in concentration and the tip of her tongue was showing between her lips. And last week, we got to go to two Rangers games and sit in the front row! And they won both games! And even though it was still 95 degrees at 10:15pm when the fireworks show started, it was the absolute most beautiful feeling. The kind you rarely have in a lifetime. The kind that goes along with baseball and Texas and summer and your little girl catching a ball tossed into the stands and ice cold Coca-Cola and country music playing loudly while the most spectacular fireworks show you’ve ever seen in your life goes on right over your head.

Here are three of us at the first game. My face is happy because I am happy. I was very, very happy in that moment.
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Here are another three at the second game. I tell you what. They are cute.
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And here they are in one of their many tv moments. Ignore the blond in front with her eyes closed. Notice the cute people behind her.
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This is a wonderful summer.

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