Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Garden, Anniversary, Dog Day

My summer garden fades. The zillions of zinnias are turning brown.
Only a few colorful blossoms remain, and I can't bring myself to pull them up until all hope of beauty disappears. The faces of the sunflowers curve downward ready to dry up and scatter its seed for next summer. My children stand under the towering sunflowers and take pretend showers. I've pulled up my yellow squash and zuchinni. I harvested the last of the sugar baby watermelons. The lavendar I started this year still smells heavenly but the blooms are gone.
My goats love this season. As I toss the dying green bean vines into the goat pen, the furry creatures wonder whether to run so they don't get hit by hurtled debris or stay put so they don't miss the next delight flying their way. They munch everthing down to the stalks of the sunflower and corn. Jango, the largest wether (castrated buck), braves the vegetable torpedoes and gets first pick of new leftovers.

My husband, Buck and I finally celebrated our 17 years of marriage at Helen and Clay's cabin while they kept the children overnight. I can't explain how luxurious and precious this time is to my whole family. My children consider the Helen's house to be Tennessee's version of Disney world; a real boy, girls, guns, trampoline, 48 acres, waterfalls, a snack jar, every video game and movie known to man make it so. Helen sees the kids only for the time it takes them to gulp down spaghetti, watermelon or cinnamon rolls. The cabin's just up their long drive, but it's far enough to be absolutely private. Buck and I make our way to Crawdaddy's in Cookeville. Can you believe there is a really tasty restaurant in reasonable driving distance to Deerlodge, TN? We stuff ourselves with wine, salad and steak. After dinner, we go to a coffee house/bookstore down the way. Of course, I beat Buck at cards. It's an anniversary tradition. He's too tired to take me on for Scrabble. I take about two hours between each turn, and tonight he's just not up for the tedious experience of waiting on me to find the perfect word. Back at the cabin, Helen ignites candles everywhere and has prepared a chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and orange marmalade between each lucious layer and frosted with more chocolate icing. Buck and I have enjoyed great food and each other's company without interruption.

Now we are home and today is Dog Day. Ripley, the great pyraneese, needs a bath, but at 140 pounds, it takes both Buck and I to brush, scrub, and clip out mats of white fur. We pull enough hair out of the brushes to start an entire new BIG dog. He smells so much better, for now. As soon, as I put him back in the field tonight, he'll find a way to roll on some nasty stinks all over himself. I needed to take Ripley to the vet, because I let his heart worm meds lapse and it takes me, the vet, and the assistant to lift and hold him on a table to have his blood taken. Since he's a rescued dog, he's very jumpy about anyone messing with him in any way other than pettin' and lovin'. Our cat, Janet, gets her shots. I also pick up flea drops for two cats, wormer for the goats, and meds for my other cat who has some bad looking teeth. The whole shabang is less than $200. Maybe you think that is a bunch of money, but it's not. God bless, Doc Butler. He charges what things cost. No more, no less. He also does not charge anyone anything who cannot pay. I've heard it estmated that this man has donated half a million dollars of service and meds to folks in this area.

I treat Doc Butler and his assistants to a tale from a previous visit to this place.

My eight year old son, Wise One, approached one of the many cats that live in this compassionate vet's office (Doc Butler never turns an animal away). The cat lounged on a waiting room chair, and Wise One obliged the animal with much love. The cat began to drool all over in ectasy, and my boy noticed the cat didn't have one tooth left in it's head. Wise One exclaims, "Mommy this cat must be rich!" Huh? I am stumped and downright puzzled, "I don't understand, son. Why would a cat with no teeth living at a vet's office be rich?" to which Wise One promptly replies, "TOOTH FAIRY MONEY!" Oh, yes. Filthy rich.

The vet and assistants look at Wise One and burst out with a good laugh.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Past, Present, Future

The six year old girl sat carefully down on the stoop outside her front door dressed in her red smocked dress with a peter pan color and oxford shoes on a hot summer day. She began to finger the lace around the ankle of her socks, "I will not move from these steps until she comes back for me." Noone knows she's outside or has asked what she is thinking. "She will come back for me. She always has."

Her grandmother, Eeddie, had lived with her since before she was born. Eeddie bathed her, brushed her hair, sang to her, followed her about as a toddler, pushed her on the swing, made snow icecream with her, played with her, fed her comfort food, picked locusts and grass from her clothes, cooled her with the hose, taught her life lessons about sisters and dead animals, snuggled with her in bed until she fell asleep. The sacred bond between child and loving adult wrapped tightly around the two beings. As any caregiver, Eeddie was the center of this child's world, and suddenly this world was changing. Eeddie married and was moving two and a half hours away to a new town. So, this small girl's universe and it's order shattered as her grandmother's wood stained station wagon pulled away from the curb.

The girl remained on the steps. How does a child express grief and loss? Tears didn't touch the depth of pain now present in this child. The adults around her now believed she, like any child was resiliant. Now looking back from an adult's perspective, she knows her grandmother needed to make her own life. However, the child did not have the advantage of an adult perspective and was caught in a web of hurt completely beyond her control.

How long is forever? The child stayed on the warm cement for just that long. She doesn't really remember what made her move or why. Was it someone calling for dinner? Did she grow to tired, bored, and simply forget her vow? Did she figure out her grandmother would not be coming back after all? Even after she left her spot, the pain remained in her chest. She carried it with her into adulthood.

Until one day, she visited that quiet moment in her memory thirty-two years later. She sought guidance to heal the broken place in her heart. Divine help through praying, forgiving, considering the circumstances still left a void within her. An new inspiration came in the form of thoughts, "What if I take my Creator to that moment with me?" The Creator whispered back, "How about you take your thirty-eight year old self to that child. You know what she needs most." Ohhh! The woman slowly made her way to her present day porch. She was wearing her favorite grey jeans with big pockets on the legs, a wildly colored hip shirt, and comfy clogs on her feet. She awkwardly made her way down to a seated position with legs stretched out on the only step from porch to sidewalk. She crossed on leg over the other. She's much larger than a child now. She tightly closes her eyes and looks into her mind's eye. She sees the little girl close the glass front door of the house from the past and sit silently on the stoop. The woman pauses to watch the girl for some time. She's a beautiful little thing- golden ringlets of curls flow down her neck to the collar of her red dress. Her skinny yet delicate legs and arms met at her chest in her seated position, and she stroked the edge of her sock. The child looked up as the woman makes her way down the sidewalk from long ago. The girl instantly recognizes the lady's blue eyes. The woman places herself next to the child. They do not speak, and they both fix their eyes on the trellis of flowers across from them in the neighbors yard. Passion flowers grow up the structure. As a child, they believed this flower was a treasure noone else on earth had ever seen before. They believed it was the only plant of its kind, and they had discovered it by miracle on an exploring childhood day. The woman broke her gaze from the purple burst of wonder and touched the child's hair. She then wrapped her wildly colored sleeved arms entirely around the girl. The child pressed her face into the woman's breast, and together they began to softly cry. They joined in a singular thought, "Grammaw." The child finds comfort at long last," This woman will be with me, beside me for all my days. She knows me, she loves me, just as I need to be loved. " True inner healing took place in the woman and the girl.

Today I take my four-year-old daughter upon my lap on my front porch stoop. She's snuggles close to me, legs dangling, and leans forward to kiss me. "Do you see the butterfly on that flower, Mommy?" What will break her heart? What events will or have caused her deep sorrow?

I promise to always meet her on the steps and love her as best I can.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ten Years

How do ten years fly?

I remember the phone call, "We have a newborn at the hospital for you to foster. He needs to stay in a few days so we can monitor him." Gasp! We aren't even finished with our foster/adoption classes yet. How can this be? "Can we go hold him NOW?" "You must wait for security clearance- we'll have that in a few days."

What does a newborn need? Scramble in the attic for the infant carseat. Wash everything. Can't do that- must buy Dreft first. Buy little teeny diapers. Bottles! I've never used bottles with my birth son. Formula. Have to wait to see what the hospital feeds first. Make posters, and banners to welcome you into our home. Wait- we can't remember, let alone spell your unusual names. Buy a babydoll for birthson to care for while we care for you. Call everyone we know, and they begin to make a list of who will cook dinner for us for the next few weeks. People are very soon on our doorsteps with gifts for you in hand. What else does a baby need?

An eternity later, three days, we have security clearance to go meet you. We must scrub with surgical brush and soap and wear scrubs while our hearts pound with anticipation. My husband passes you in the swing and says to himself, "Can't be him. Too beautiful!" But it was YOU. Those giant chocolate eyes, to match the huge hospital pacifier. That swirl of black hair. Those perfect cheeks, arms, legs, body, fingers and toes. That constant stare to the depth of our hearts! We took turns holding you for the next few days. The nurses told us at times you needed rest, and we should go home. Didn't they see how peacefully you slept in our arms?
I hadn't heard you cry until the day we were to take you home, and you had to get some shots to be released. Such a peaceful baby otherwise.

Then at home during feedings, you began to look increasingly more uncomfortable. Next thing I knew you had a fever, and we dashed to the hospital. Fever of unknown origin, but I knew something was up with your formula too. Thought the hospital docs didn't, my pediatric physician took me at my word and let us begin experimenting with formulas, and we found one that would work. Your birthmother was so worried for you and got permission to come see you and meet us. So young and vulnerable you both were.

You were soon able to come home again.

For two years, we visited with Momma Shannon every week until the day came she allowed us to adopt you.

Now the years have flown by, and you turn ten today. What have we done in all those years? What will we do together in the years to come? Maybe more of the same- play guitar, plan projects, build forts, soccor, swimming, flashlight tag with goats, study, cook, celebrate, travel, bike, hike, argue. Maybe something very different we've never even thought of yet. I just know I am honored to have you in my life to share in sorrow and joy. I love you my pearl.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Dear Husband's Birthday

Here's what I'd do for your birthday if nothing stood in the way. I'd cook an excellent breakfast with homemade sweet rolls for you. I'd watch excitedly as you opened your new ipod, handmade jewelry, new David Crowder cd, fantastic inspirational book, and your "Old Guys Rule" t-shirt. My mom would walk in the door and wink. She'd take the children to Legoland, Disneyland, Seaworld, and Europe for a few days while you and I headed to a cabin in the woods. I'd bring Merlot, a deck of cards, a mandolin, and of course, Scrabble. We'd eat ham with melted cheese on rye for lunch, and ribs for dinner. I wouldn't say one thing about you not eating vegetables. We'd hike and sit by a lake for hours together. I'd let you win a 5K race against me. There would be no mosquitoes. No worries about the livestock at home, Rosie, God Bless Rosie, would have that all taken care of including the baby chicks. We'd have chocolate cake and milkshakes for dessert, and sleep till 10:00 in the morning. Happy Birthday, my love.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Viva La Fiesta!

So, I'm back from my trip to California. Not once did I stare at other people's children and miss mine. I spoke to my family almost every night, and the one who missed me most was my husband. He has strictly forbidden me from dying or leaving him. He's not keen on single parenting after two weeks alone with his progeny. I had contented evenings reading and studying alone. I experienced a treasure of a seminar during the days. Thanks, Kate. I ran to the beach almost every morning. The reciprical gym I found offered free valet parking. Twas fancy. The weather was gorgeous. I now believe the line in that song, "It never rains in California, but girl, let me warn ya."
My dear friend Helen visited with me there over the weekend, since my seminar was only on weekdays. She and I were unaware that Santa Barabara was celebrating Spanish Fiesta Days when planning this trip, but we took in all the crazy sights and sounds. Spanish dancing and singing, craft fairs, great Mexican food and beer. And did you know California has great wine? . Helen and I decided to go dancing one evening and learned something about how very different people dance these days than when we were in college. Dirty dancing is in, and it was to our advantage to dance with each other rather than take up one of the many offers from men to have sex with our clothes on in this public place.
The next morning Helen and some people from my seminar went whale watching. Three hours into the four hour tour, a gorgeous humpback female spent a good 30 minutes playing around our boat. She twisted, turned, dove up and back down. She showed off her magnificent giant body, fins, and flippers. Her tail was simply huge. Did you know whales have bad breath? What came out of her blowhole indicated she was distinctly fishy. She swam within five feet of boat. It was a fine experience.
I trained in my seminar the next five days and was anxious to get home by the last day. My children and husband greeted me at the airport, and I am so happy to be home. My husband bought me roses, and cooked breakfast for supper. The taste of the eggs from our farm is unequaled.There's nothing like crawling into my own bed again. I'm easing my way back into the daily grove. I love this Tennessee life.