Sunday, May 12, 2019

Delightful Mothers

As I mentioned on FB this weekend, I was fortunate to have two wonderful mothers. One, my birth mother and the mother of my childhood. The other, my step-mother and the mother of my adult life. Both were warm, loving, determined and funny. They both had subtle, dry senses of humor that are part of my special memories of them. So - here are two stories.

I must have been about 3, no more than 4, and I was playing in the backyard. My mother was at the kitchen sink and could look out the window and see me playing and that I was safe and happy. All of a sudden I came screaming and frightened, truly frightened, running into the house. "Mama, there's a wolf in the yard!!" Being aware of the totally empty yard, my mother looked at me and quietly said, "Well, invite him into lunch." Immediately the energy shifted. Having always been dramatic, I turned on my heel, flung open the screen door, bowed deeply and said "Mr. Wolf, please, come in to lunch." Looking back at my mother, our eyes met and she smiled and I laughed and I had learned something about the wisdom of play.

Fast forward many years. I now had a step-family and the youngest was a man about a month older than I was. We both had dark hair and greyed at about the same rate.  One weekend, I went to Dallas to visit my parents and as it was in our family, I attended church with them. The next weekend, this step-brother went to Dallas to visit our parents and as it was in our family, he attended church with them. The next weekend, a woman who was new to the church, commented to my step-mother, how much he and I looked alike. She smiled and said, "That's true. I think it must be because he is only a month older than she is." The woman smiled, nodded, walked away and ~ stopped. She shook her head and kept going. Mama Bear and I got a good laugh out of it later and I had learned something about not saying any more than was necessary in the moment.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

"The American Spirit"

This last week we attended our Chinese daughter-in-law's US citizenship ceremony. I wanted to give her something to honor this auspicious (really big deal) occasion and I thought I would give her a little pocket-size copy of the Declaration and Constitution. When I went looking for that (which I got for her), I discovered David McCullough's "The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For".

I love McCullough's writing and have read a number of his books including 1776 and John Adams. This book is a compilation of his speeches from 1994 through the present at college graduations, anniversaries of important American institutions, and times when history was important to relate. His words speak to us today as surely as they did when he spoke. He is pithy, humorous and eloquent. He doesn't use long words. He simply puts words together in articulate and impressive ways that bring alive the players from the past so that we can understand ourselves better today.

He writes so well that once I started reading, I decided my 11-year-old granddaughter could read it too. Her mother had expressed and interest and so they received a copy. My best friend teaches government so I sent her a copy. I think a number of other people will receive copies because today we all need the hope for the future that the past can offer.

It is available on Kindle, in hard copy, and probably at your local library. I strongly suggest your reading it. Speeches are short and easy to read and they come with wonderful old pictures. David McCullough is the premiere historian of our times and his words are a blessing today.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Holy Week Humor

I'm not at all sure where I am going with these thoughts, and they make me smile so here they are.

Many of my pastor friends, from several denominations, have posted really wonderful deep reflections on the meaning of Holy Week and especially Good Friday on FaceBook. There have been pictures of lovely poignant altar settings and even videos allowing people who can't get to church a way to attend a Good Friday service. I have participated with my church in VA in a prayer vigil over the course of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. For Christians, it is a time of personal and communal grounding in our faith.

On the other hand, some of these same pastors and active church people have posted delightful, down right funny cartoons and memes focused around the events of this week giving the seriousness of the occasion an ironic, humorous, sometimes even modern political twist.

I find both of these perspectives refreshing and helpful. I guess I believe that if we cannot laugh at that which moves us the most, then we have lost our sense of the spiritual. Jesus certainly had a sense of humor and I think it is important that we keep ours even in the face of our most profound beliefs. If you can laugh at what you hold dearest, then I am more likely to take your declaration of faith more seriously. Blessings to all of you ~ whatever your belief and whatever makes you smile.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Fun Addition to AirBnB Rooms

When we decided to post our two guest rooms on AirBnB, daughter Meredith asked if there were any signs we wanted to put in the rooms. Actually there were. I wanted to remind people to take their chargers because over the years friends and family had left us with chargers to return to them. And I had decided to put books in the rooms that I was willing to donate if someone was reading them and wanted to continue. I needed a sign to say that. Meredith said that anything looked better in cross stitch than handwritten or printed on a computer. Ergo - Here are the signs Meredith created for us. People like them and have commented on them - a couple even glad to be reminded as they walked out the door.

Book shelf in the blue room.

Next to the door as guests exit the blue room.

Book shelf in the purple room. 

Next to the door as guests exit the purple room.
Are you able to tell that the blue room signs are in blue,
the purple in purple. 

Meredith said her name was not to appear on the sign so I placed it on the back just so
we would all know whose lovely work this is.

Finally ~ the one in the library so these books will stay with the house.
Red because I like red!
Thank you So Much, Meredith.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Back of the Modem

My friend Mary is very creative with the names of yoga moves as she records some of her more spectacular falls around the house. I am not that creative and today I discovered a new exercise for sciatica and back pain. It is called The Back of the Modem.

It includes deep knee bends to sit on the stool to get low enough to reach the Back of the Modem. Then you get up, ignoring the creaks in your knees. Walk down a flight of stairs. Walk back up two flights of stairs. (Repeat several times). Get on your knees, turn modem around and plug in phone cord only to find after this two hour exercise routine that there is still no dial tone on the phone. Getting up from your knees requires a move similar to downward dog. Breathe. Be grateful for the arrival of the phone technician tomorrow afternoon. Pray he has younger knees. Phew.

And then, much to your amazement, discover your legs and back are feeling better!!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Whose Mother?

I had an interesting experience in the grocery store today. The check-out clerk, a woman I had never seen before, called me mother - twice!

I'm not sure what to say beyond that. I wasn't really offended and I certainly didn't like it. To start with, of course, I am not her mother. I was so startled by it that I had no words in response. If a man had called me "honey" or "darling", I would have responded. I learned to deflect those titles a long time ago.

If she had called me "honey" or "darling", I might have known what to say or even how to look at her. But "mother"??? I was stunned and then when it happened a second time, I really wondered. I know I am old, grey hair, a bit of limp because the sciatica hasn't completely cleared yet, but there really are only two people (maybe 4 if you count their spouses) who can call me that legitimately. If children want to call me something other than Susan, I go with my grandmother name, Mama Susan. That is fine with me. But somehow this threw me. And with all the problems in the world, this is a silly little one that is just an irritation and obviously enough of one that I needed to write about it in order to clear my space. Thanks for listening.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Siberian Winter

When I was a little girl "Peter and the Wolf" was very popular both as a story and as music. My first appearance on stage was as Peter when I was 5. I was hooked. That however is a different story.
Today's story is about pictures that accompanied the record or book. 

The trees in our back yard look like the trees in those drawings, heavy snow hanging on pine branches, grey skies, and lots of Siberian snow for Peter to tramp through in search of the wolf. 
What makes this particular photo so impressive is that at 9 yesterday morning these trees were bare. By 4 yesterday afternoon the build up had begun and this morning they are loaded. I won't be too surprised to see a boy with bird making his way through the trees in search of his duck and the wolf. More likely it will be a cross-country skier or snowshoer enjoying the fresh powder.