Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It's Alive!

Picture taken at 8 a.m. today! 
People! My peony survived the storm!

Remember yesterday when I was so happy that my peony (pronounced PEE-uh-knee, which is the correct way to pronounce it and I don't care what you pee-OH-knee mispronouncers think) was setting on buds but I was concerned because the weather forecasters were basically telling us to put our affairs in order because we were DOOOOOOMED and I was pretty sure there was no peony-zation in my future?

It survived!

We did not have the hail some had to the north of us (I'm so sorry, Wichita) or the winds some had to the south of us (I'm so sorry, Oklahoma City). What we had was torrential rain for just a few minutes and some tiny pitter-pats of hail.

Oh, and we had one monstrous thunderclap of a lightning strike that brought me straight up out of my chair and left me sniffing the air for the rest of the evening because I was convinced it had struck the House on the Corner and that the house was on fire.

This morning I messaged Boy#2, who studies lightning and who (even though he lives half a continent away) can pinpoint where lightning has struck pretty much anywhere. He checked the records for lightning in our area at that time, and sure enough, at 9:23 p.m. a four-stroke flash hit a house less than a block away from where I was just relaxing into an episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

"Wow! A four-stroke flash!" I wrote back. "That must be gigantic!"

Uh, no. Turns out a four-stroke flash of lightning is a fairly standard, run-of-the-mill lightning, not one that anyone will be writing a scientific journal article about. In fact, the mean number of strokes per flash according to a few small studies is 4.6 and 6.4 so our flash was actually below average. (That is copied verbatim from what Two messaged me. I do not know what it means, except for the final five words.)

But I'm giving that lightning bolt credit for the beautiful blossoms I found this morning. In my mind, the poor plant was giving up the ghost when BOOM! A four-stroke flash, a massive clap of thunder, and


Good job, puny little four-stroke lightning flash. You've made me very happy.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Also On the List


Oh, my gosh, people. All of your comments (both here and Facebook) turned me into a soggy Kleenex of a human being yesterday. You are so lovely, and I bet you make really good coffee.

The lovely Swistle went so far as to start her own list of things that are more important in life than, well, than the other Thing that is happening to me now. That got me to thinking: How many days in a row could I think of something more important than that Thing?

I'm starting today with the peony plant that is just inside the back gate. It is so beautiful I have to take a moment to stare at it every time I go into the yard. Never has it been so large (it reaches higher than my waist and I'm a tall woman) or had so many buds.

Now in interest of full disclosure, I'm writing this post as quickly as my fingers can type because (woohoo, Kansas!) we are scheduled for some weather this afternoon. Odds are better than even that by the time I see this plant next it will have been beaten into tiny shreds by the wind and/or hail, and the promise of those beautiful buds will have to wait for next year.

But right now, in this actual moment, it makes me extremely happy.

How about you? What is making you happy today?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Life, Happening


For the past month, since three days after my last post, I have been making a list of things that really matter to me in life.

My faith.

My family.

My friends. 

My health. 

I started with these, the bedrock, and they would have been enough. Losing any of these would have been so much more painful. But the list kept growing itself.

The House on the Corner. 

Words. 

The way the trees on Small Town's main thoroughfare reach their branches across the street during spring and lock fingers to make a leafy London-Bridge-Is-Falling-Down car canopy. 

The values of the Small College where I have worked for 27 years. 

Blogging, and the wonderful readers who support this self-indulgence.

And in spite of many, many tears during the past month, in spite of a sense of standing outside myself and watching life happening in a way that baffled me, the list insisted on being longer.

Four tiny tomato plants, two basil plants, and a banana pepper promising caprese salad in a few months. 

The Cynthia Heald study "Becoming A Woman For Whom God Is Enough" that was exactly, exactly what I needed and which my Wednesday night group had started weeks before. (How did God know?)

Husband's reminder that my final few months in the job will determine my legacy--"Be a pro," he told me, and those words have become my mantra. 

Today my boss sent a notice to campus, a notice I have known was coming since three days after my last post. It said that my job would be absorbed into a different job, and that he would be looking for someone else to fill that new position. He was very complimentary about my past work, and has encouraged my next steps.

It has helped me remember these things that truly matter to me in life. These, and dozens more that clamor to be on my list every day, are irreplaceable. A job, this or any other job, is not on that list.

I'll be fine.

Monday, March 28, 2016

GODISNOWHERE


The title to today's post was also the title of yesterday's sermon. It took me a few seconds to figure out that this wasn't just a result of the preacher falling asleep as he prepared his notes and hitting the keyboard with his forehead. No, this was a divine proclamation by the Maker of the Universe:

God: "I snow here!" 


Oh, I know the REAL answer was a sermon point on how adding spacing to the smushed-together letters takes it from being a Good Friday observation (God is nowhere.) to an Easter morning revelation (God is now here!) but my answer was correct, too, if you add punctuation as well as spaces.

For the first time I can ever remember (and I go back a long, long way) we had measurable snow on Easter morning. I did a terrible job of documenting this fact, seeing that I was already late for music practice and the heavy, wet snow was making my hair un-curl, but my Facebook feed was crammed full of people's white lawns and snow-covered decks. My favorite was the shot of Easter snowman dappled in pastel food coloring.

Of course, because we are Kansans, this wasn't really a shock. On one day last week, the forecast called for 80-degree temperatures in Small Town, blizzard warnings in the northern part of the state where my father lives, wildfire warnings around Boy#3's hometown, and gale wind predictions in Much Older Sister's stompin' grounds.

Oh, Kansas, how we love thee.

So Sunday, when I was trying to photograph our snow, my father watched the sunrise in 37-degree chill, Three's wildfire was dampened by slushy rain, and Much Older Sister bundled her grandkids up for egg hunting. It was normal. Routine, even.

By the afternoon the temperature had hit 53, the snow was gone, and the spring flowers were once more basking in spring sunshine.

God is now here.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

On the Verge of Crankiness

This picture makes me laugh heartily, out loud. 
Many years ago the brilliant Dave Barry wrote a column about what a man should do if asked by his wife whether her pants make her butt look big. Google is failing me in my attempt to find the exact wording of that column, but Barry said there was only one possible response to this question: The man must immediately fake a seizure.

This morning I mentioned to Husband that I might have been a little cranky in the past few days, and I could see the questions running through his head. "What are the symptoms of seizure? How do I fake those? Do I actually have to fall down or can I just stagger a little?"

Fine. I admit it. I have been the Boy#2 of the birthday revelers in today's illustration. Good things were happening all around him, but dang it, he was not going to smile for that picture. Between the paint fumes and the construction in other parts of the house that has meant there have been PEOPLE AROUND ME DURING MY LUNCH HOUR (the horror), I'm not my usual sunshiny self. And there have been other items harshing my buzz this week, namely the following:

1. The use of "genius" in internet click bait. "He mixed blue and red paint together--what resulted was genius!" (Or, purple. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.) ""This easy weeknight casserole is genius!" I do not think this word means what you think it means, genius.

2. The paint guy at the local hardware store, who treated me like I don't know how to paint. Which, in fairness, I don't. I am a terrible, terrible painter, but being unwilling to use your magic matcher to find the outdated color that is on my back door and then acting like I was the one being unreasonable? Not cool, man. Also, not good business, since I took my ineptitude to the hardware store in the next town, where they could match my outdated color, and I bought paint there. A lot of paint. Extra paint, even, just to spite the local paint guy who wasn't even aware of this spiteful action. ("It's genius!)

3. The new Facebook reaction emojis. Too many choices! Too much pressure! Do I just like this, or do I love it? Does it make me cry? Or laugh? Oh, how I miss you, single thumbs up button.

All in all, I'm out of sorts, in desperate need of a nap, and more than ready to be done with my home improvement project. But on the plus side, I changed my own windshield wipers this week. I may be cranky, but I'm adulting like nobody's business.

Maybe Husband won't have to fake a seizure after all.


Friday, March 18, 2016

My Spring Break, Illustrated


Well, here we go with the painting again. You can't say you weren't warned.

This is a reality check to show that my world is not all made up of Cinderella's bluebirds flying around our heads as Husband and I walk hand-in-hand through life. No, my days also include blue tape, disposable non-latex gloves, five (count 'em, five) tiny cans of sample paint because I seem to be incapable of getting the exact shade of brown that is in my mind for the steps, antique doorknobs removed for clean-up, and brushes and rollers sitting on the kitchen island to dry.

And right there among the detritus of my "spring break,"* a French press.

Because what is life without coffee?


*Although I work at a college, I am an administrator. Unlike the students and faculty, administrators do not get spring break, so if you want to see my eyes spin completely around in their sockets, ask me how my spring break is going. I will not deny, though, that there has been some March Madness streaming on the auxiliary monitor as I go about my work. Go Shocks!


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Marriage: A Perspective

My dearest M.,

Oh, sweetie. Your wedding was so beautiful. I loved every single thing about it. I loved the video your friend posted on Facebook that morning, the one she shot after your first date with your new husband, when you admitted "I think I like him" then pulled a blanket over your head.  I loved that you cried during the entire ceremony and still looked radiant. I loved the song you chose to symbolize this ceremony; it made me cry right along with you. I loved seeing your parents, our dear friends, who have been such wonderful parents and role models--I have felt that internal seismic shift of joy that comes with placing my child's hand into another family's child's hand. I loved the joy that was rising from all of us--so many of us who have loved you for so long and have wanted this moment for you.

Would you like to know how Husband and I spent the hours that bracketed your ceremony, while you were busy pinning your veil under your braids and snapping pictures of your new ring nestled in your bouquet?

We'd both been busy that morning (I was painting and Husband was at the office) and we hadn't seen each other much. We left home a little later than I had hoped, and I worried that we wouldn't get to Big City in time for the processional. Maybe that's why I tried to pick a fight as we walked from the car to the sanctuary.

"Want to go in that door and stop at the restroom first?" Husband asked me as we walked through the parking lot.

"No, let's just go straight in," I told him.

"Are you sure?"

And for some unknown reason those words lit a fuse.

"Why do you do that? Why do you always ask my opinion, then when I give my opinion, you try to talk me out of it? Fine! We can go in that door!"

He looked over at me, but didn't say much as we went into the church.

As I mentioned, I loved your wedding. I loved every single thing about it--except the little patch of dry rot that was hanging around from my sharp words. I also loved the reception and I'm going to eat my cupcakes the right way from now on. But still...a tiny bit of sadness that I had trashed a piece of joy from the day.

So we started home.

But on the way home, forty minutes from the reception and twenty minutes from the House on the Corner, we stopped at a rest stop so that Husband could make a business call. That's where we realized that some time during your special day, a very important paper had disappeared from the back seat. It had been there when we left home, it had been there before we reached the church, it was not there now.

It was a windy day--could it have blown out when we opened the door at the church? Or maybe when we stopped for a Coke at the fast-food restaurant, wasting a little time between the ceremony and the reception? Where else had we opened the car doors?

This was bad. Not end-of-the-earth bad (identity theft wasn't at risk), but bad enough.

Husband looked at me, and before he even said a word, I knew we had to retrace our steps. The odds of us finding that paper were next to zero. It was so, so windy, a little bit rainy, plus at every place we'd been people were constantly cleaning up.

Still we had to try, so instead of going home where my comfy robe and slippers were waiting, we turned around and headed back for the city. We got to the church and drove slowly around the parking lots, checking the lawns and bushes and most likely setting off some concern in the rooms where security cameras were monitored. The fast-food restaurant lot was clean, and the paper wasn't in the top of the trash can (we were in agreement that pawing through the trash was a terrible idea).

The reception parking lot was our final hope. By now it was almost full dark, and spitting rain. All of your friends and family had left long ago and the venue was deserted, We drove into the grassy area where cars had been parked and started to circle the perimeter when I saw a shadow in the headlights' glare. Suddenly I was clawing at my seat belt and grabbing the door lock.

"There it is!"

And it was. Crumpled and damp, the very important paper had caught in some grass at the edge of the field. I grabbed the paper, smoothing it as I did a happy dance right there in the parking area where anyone could have seen. And then we went home.

At this point, my dear M., you are wondering why I am telling you this long, convoluted story, and what it has to do with your beautiful wedding day. It's just this:

You are going to be the best wife in the world. You are going to love your groom unconditionally. You are going to support your husband even when the cause seems hopeless, and you are going to go to whatever lengths it takes to be by his side, giving him confidence and helping him fulfill his potential.

Except when you are a terrible wife. You will be cranky and snappish, and you will KNOW you're being cranky and snappish, and you'll pick a fight, then you'll hate that little spot of dry rot that being cranky and snappish creates.

But this is worth it.

This commitment, this marriage, this new stage of life, is worth putting up with the times either one of you is cranky and snappish, because getting to the times when you are working together toward a common goal with the person you love and have pledged your life, especially when the odds are against you--it's so, so worth the work. This is the anti-dry rot that will keep your relationship healthy.

Many blessings to you and yours, M. May the dry rot be minimal and may the joy of your common purpose fuel your love now and forevermore.

Amen.