Saturday, June 28, 2014

Moonlight and magnolias

Magnolia grandiflora. Photo by (DavetheMage)

John, a former colleague, entered our favorite coffee shop. His arrival was not unusual for a Friday morning.

But he usually didn’t arrive carrying a magnolia blossom. He looked around, obviously searching for an appreciative recipient for the near perfect specimen of Mississippi’s state flower, Magnolia grandiflora.

He explained it was the last bloom from a magnolia on his property and one of the rare blooms to develop low enough for him to pick and share. He set the flower on our table.

I have seen magnolia trees and the blooms of this southeastern United States native all my life. I spent some moments enjoying the extravagant loveliness of John’s iconic Deep South flower.

I was quite familiar with those large, creamy white petals that surrounded a distinctive, sturdy yellow stalk and the stiff, glossy green leaves that framed the bloom before me. Then I held it close to my nose and sniffed.

How had I never before encountered that distinctive scent? For the first time in my 65-plus years I experienced the magnolia blossom's clean, lemony fragrance. It has to be a significant sensory facet of the moonlight and magnolia mystique.

Not for the first time I wondered: What else have I been oblivious to for much of my life? I am amazed at what I learn at this stage of life—knowledge and insights about things both simple and complex that have surrounded me for more than six decades.

But I spend no time worrying about why. I am just thankful to be here to learn and enjoy.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Remembering May 2014: Visiting Georgia tribe

On our way north for a Virginia wedding, Husband Walter and I visited with our son Walt and family in Georgia.

We were able to catch both girls’ dance recitals, all four grands’ competitive swim practice, some girly movies ordered on TV for granddaughters and me, Monopoly marathons by Baboo and grandsons, and an afternoon at the neighborhood pool.

Stella’s cake choice for a second May birthday celebration

On Saturday May 31, Stella took the traditional birthday trip to Walmart with Baboo. When we are not able to celebrate in person, Baboo and I have a “mini-celebration” whenever we next see the birthday grand. 

Stella’s birthday was earlier in May, but she was definitely still in a celebratory spirit as she picked out a confetti cake and ice cream the flavor of what else but birthday cake.

Helpful big brother Nate does the candle-lighting honors.

Making a wish

Six-year-old Stella snuggles with Baboo after a chilly morning competitive swim team practice.

Luke ponders strategy in water gun battle during an afternoon at the pool.

We savored experiencing the rhythm of the household’s summer days. And we hit the road again happy with the chance to join grandchildren’s activities and conversations and laughter with Walt and daughter-in-law Sarah.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Remembering May 2014--An obnoxious jerk

The delightful tour of homes that my husband treated me to on the first Sunday in May closed on a less that stellar note. It was at the last home on the tour that an obnoxious jerk showed up.

I was that jerk, exhibiting a facet of my character that I am not proud of.

At the home’s entry, steep brick steps with no railings had me mentally scrambling for strategies to deal with the intimidating challenge to my stroke-impaired balance. Walter offered his arm, but holding on to someone’s arm doesn’t always offer the perception of safety that keeps me nearer my comfort zone.

When Husband Walter made another suggestion for how to tackle the challenge, I barked, loudly, a negative response. People were gathering and waiting behind us to enter the house, but I still didn’t keep my mouth shut and muttered something else negative.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

I later apologized, but I know my apology didn’t take away the sting I had inflicted. And it certainly didn’t take away the guilt and shame I experienced.

Wouldn’t you know, the next day I was reading in Ephesians, and the verse below popped out at me. Yep, it hit me right between the eyes.

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (New American Standard Version)

It zinged me on my need to work on bad habits of speech and attitude. It also did three other things. It reminded me that the most effective way to change a bad habit is to repeatedly substitute a good action.

It spelled out what the good action should be and why. The good action would have been saying something that strengthened rather than attacked. The why is to share God’s grace, his unearned and undeserved favor. That is far different from launching verbal grenades that hurt the target and inflict collateral damage among others within hearing.

Third, it reminded me that through God’s grace the obnoxious jerk was already forgiven and the eternal record wiped clean. Walter extended undeserved forgiveness to me, too.

Will I ever be better at passing along to others the grace I have received so abundantly?

Thank you, God, for your grace, for your word and for my spouse.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Remembering May 2014--Eye-catching transportation

Vehicular eyelashes

Eyelashes on vehicles? I have seen several vehicles so embellished in the past year. But the small green car in the Walmart parking lot was especially striking.

It tickled my funny bone and prompted me to pull out my camera. When I was slow achieving the angle I needed, Husband Walter volunteered to take my camera. 

Ah, success. I was happy with the image he snapped, He was happy to get our just-purchased fresh veggies home to refrigeration promptly.

As I write this I wonder if the owner of that flirtatious auto has given her--definitely a her--a name. 

I think Lulu would be appropriate.

Today would have been my mother's 95th birthday. I still miss her. She had a wonderful sense of humor. I think she would have gotten a kick out of that car with eyelashes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Remembering May 2014--Celebrating with our youngest grand

Superheroes guard Walker’s birthday cake.

On May10 Husband Walter and I joined grandson Walker, his family and friends in Baton Rouge to celebrate his birthday anniversary #4.

Walker's cake-topper hero, Captain America 

His mom and dad had pulled together at their home a superheroes party featuring some of the characters that Walker and his friends emulate in their play.

We arrived a few minutes early. Walker recognized Nana and Baboo as excellent candidates for introduction to the huge bouncy house his parents had rented with set up and take down included. Our enthusiastic four-year-old (minus two days) guide pointed out each feature of the blow-up rental.

Then he climbed through the entry guarded by a giant Batman. He bounced, climbed and slid down a huge slide that was part of the bouncy house. And he checked with me regularly to be sure that I was watching him or to alert me that I needed to pay special attention to the next maneuver he planned.

 Walker engages in birthday fun.

Soon other guests arrived, and Walker and his posse of neighborhood four-year-old boys put the bouncy house to constant use. Their enjoyment was evident in laughter, non-stop action, cheeks red from exertion and clothes drenched with perspiration.

Meanwhile the girls, all Molly Kate’s neighborhood friends and older sisters of Walker’s buddies, enjoyed the party with Molly Kate. They dipped into MK’s supply of princess and fairy attire. They accessorized lavishly and buzzed around in their own non-stop action.

I didn’t hear any complaints of little brothers intruding on the girls’ occasional retreats to MK’s bedroom. Maybe the boys were too intent on their own fun to be tempted by the appeal of tormenting their sisters.
 Molly Kate "brother-proofs" her room.

Or maybe the signs MK created and posted had an effect. During a visit in March, I first saw the warning above on MK’s bedroom doors from the hall and from the jack-and-jill bath.

*     *     *     *     *

Walker at three years old

Our son Jeremy posted on Facebook this conversation shortly before Walker’s 4th birthday:

Jeremy: As I'm waiting for Walker to fall asleep, his tiny little voice whispers, “Daddy...guess what!”

Jeremy: “What?”

Walker: “I love sleeping.”

Jeremy: Thinking about getting him a man card for his birthday.

Our littlest man is a baby no longer.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Remembering May 2014

A visit to NOLA

Café in New Orleans French Market

May has been a busy month for Husband Walter and me. Saturday May 3 was a beautiful day with comfortably cool temperatures, just right for a quick day trip to New Orleans.

We enjoyed lunch, music and people watching in a French Quarter café. A short walk up Decatur Street and we arrived at Café du Monde for a dessert of beignets.

Hubby’s interest decreases as heat and humidity increase. That means we probably won’t be visiting NOLA again until about October or November. He posted his take on our jaunt here.  

*     *     *     *     *

A Sunday treat
Historic home in the Pass (Photo by Walter Skupien)

Sunday, May 4 my spouse surprised me with an afternoon outing to nearby Pass Christian to join the Pass Christian Historical Society’s tour of homes fundraiser.

Five of the homes featured on the tour were open to the public.  Three of those five were located on Scenic Drive. Whenever we travel west anywhere near Pass Christian, Husband Walter knows I want to take Scenic Drive. The street veers off U.S. 90 to a higher elevation that parallels the beachfront highway.

The drive offers views of historic homes, ancient live oaks and gardens. Some of the homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina have been rebuilt. Others that withstood the force of winds and storm surge with varying degrees of damage have been restored.

Vacant lots are reminders that after almost nine years, recovery and healing are far from complete. We managed to make it to each of the five open houses with lots of walking. With Hubby as my safety officer, I even made it up and down stairs in two of the three homes with second floors open to the public.

My surprise was a treat indeed as well as excellent therapy for this stroke survivor. Husband Walter posted more about the tour of historic homes here.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

We are okay!

Husband Walter and I are okay, but I just seem to have had a bad case of avoiding my computer for the past month. 

Apologies for not posting for ages and for not typing that quick sentence earlier in my estrangement from the computer screen.

There are dozens of reasons why I have procrastinated, all real but not particularly worth anything. I kept thinking I would finally wrap up several posts I had worked on and would get back into my normal--though sporadic, rhythm.

Well, obviously that didn’t happen. What I did do was remind myself at the end of each day, “I will post tomorrow.” Ha. Maybe I will publish a list of ways I have frittered away a month of opportunities to post. We’ll see.

In the meantime I’ll tell myself once again, “Finish that post you started.”

And perhaps this time I will listen and comply.