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All in the Family

My house has been taken over by my family. And cats.  It’s like a whirlwind/tornado when my family comes to visit. It’s not like in the movies, where you open the doors and there are calm, sweet hugs and kisses. There are hugs and kisses yes, but then there is the unloading. The unloading of the van is like a race, it must be fun fast and furious, before anyone sits down or catches up. While this may not seem like anything substantial, it is quite the event because my parents pack for just in case – of a nuclear war, of a famine, of a mass communication outage or power failure.

There will be many coolers worth of food (they feel bad for making me cook and provide sustenance, so they bring a lot of their own). Meats, breads, cheeses, wine, filtered water, fruits, vegetables and a whole smorgasbord of home made, home cooked yummy goodness. Even fresh canned treasures from their own garden. There is more food than can possibly be imagined, and my mother immediately starts organize the treasure on the cupboard, refrigerator and freezer with such precision, talent and concentration, one can only stand back in awe and watch the master at work.

Next will be all of Dad’s electronics. My father is a professional engineer, and truly believes that having every gadget known to man-kind is a must. And so he travels with the Garmin, his laptop and several things I have no clue as to their purpose, but they have a lot of chords. And parts. And little lights. And sometimes they make noise. I try not to go near where ever his treasure of electronics are, as I am a clumsy disaster waiting to happen, especially after a few glasses of wine.

All the bedding is next. Blankets, sheets and more pillows than anyone should be legally allowed to own. There is no shortage of pillows at my house, however, they like their own and want to make sure they are comfortable sleeping. Don’t you hate it when you sleep at someone else’s house, and it’s not YOUR pillow? And you can’t get comfortable. And it smells different. And then you wake up the next day with a sore neck? Smart people travel with their own pillows.

My wonderful parents also always bring lots of things for me . And the house, or garden, the laundry, the garage, or just because you might find a way to use it, stuff. It’s like Christmas, but better because you didn’t have to spend any money on gifts. Or wondering what to get people who already have everything. (Monogrammed golf shirt? Dad doesn’t play golf. That new fangled, gotta have it, only available for a limited time, can’t find in stores, so call now and get free steak knives too, kitchen gadget? Mom already has it.  A nose hair trimmer? Now, that’s just tacky).

After all of this, two very small, almost dainty, overnight bags are unloaded, containing toiletries on clothes. NO matter how long they are gone, a weekend or a month, somehow everything they will use, wear or need fits in those little bags. I swear they have no bottom, like going to see David Copperfield and he pulls a 10 foot pole out of a two-inch hat? Yes, just like that. It really is amazing to see everything they fit into those bags.

After everything is unloaded, organized and put in the proper place, everyone sits down and starts to catch up. Coffee is poured (unless it’s after 5, then it’s wine). There is laughter and smiles, teasing and oh so much love. we talk, tell of our latest adventures, whether in the garden or across the world and have good family time. Yes, it’s good to have family come visit.

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Gardenening by the Light of the Moon, and Wine

They were in thee little pots, green and leafy, some of them already loaded down with blooms. And they needed to be planted. My sister has quite a green thumb, a gene I did not inherit. Everything I seem to try to grow ends up brown and withering, each leaf falling slowly one by one. Painful to see really.

Down here in the south it gets quite hot during they day, even now in the early spring. It is mid April and already the temperature has hit 80. So my sister and I, and her green thumb, went out to plant by the moonlight. We got the little pots of plants, our garden tools, two wine glasses and two bottles of wine. And we, two sisters, planted a garden by the moonlight.

She told me where to put the plants so that they would grow in the garden. She told me how to plant them, how deep, how to water them, and what to plant them with and next to. We dug in the dirt, talked, laughed, dug, sang, drank and planted. Two girls out in the moonlight. If our neighbors happened to see us, they would have laughed and thought we were crazy. But we had so much fun, and the result is a beautiful garden, great memories and the making of a…home.

Wine glass in the pots

Wine glass in the pots

Planted wine glass in the garden

Planted wine glass in the garden

Easter and Chainsaws

Easter with the family is always wonderful and this year was no different. We drove to the family compound this year. The weather was wonderful and it was a great break from the rainy cold we had been having prior tot he holiday in Atlanta.   It was the perfect weather for yard work, and our parents took full advantage that their young healthy children would be there for the weekend.

Spring in southern Georgia is a very special thing, so having to be outside was not a problem at all. I helped Dad with the yard work. We started off by trimming Mom’s many fruit trees. Dad got the little, what I call mini-chain saw. We worked well together, he chainsawing the limbs as i would hold and catch them as they fell (they were small trees). I would put the limbs in the back of the truck to haul off to the burn pile later. Those who have grown up in the south or in the country are very familiar with this practice.

Soon the limbs from all the trees were taller than the cab of the little work truck. This meant it was time for this 40 year old girl to revert back to childhood. This meant fun! I climbed into the back of the truck and started walking, even jumping on the large pile of limbs. I felt like I could shout “I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal!”  You can take the girl out of the country…

Next it was time to cut down a few small dead fruit trees (something that doesn’t happen very often around my mother because she has more than a green thumb). I begged, begged, begged to finally be allowed to use the chain saw. After all, I am forty. My father agreed and we had a great father daughter moment as he showed me how to use it. He was proud of his little girl. A chain saw wielding red-headed klutz. Oh yes. Be afraid, be very afraid. Especially any ex boyfriends or anyone who eve cut me off in traffic (insert evil laugh here).

But before I could cut the trunks of the trees, all the grass and such needed to be cleared put. Dad offered me some gloves, but they would have just gotten in the way. Having my hands in the dirt makes me feel closer to God, as I feel the dirt on my hands and smell the earth. It’s a lot harder than it looks! But I felt triumphant the stump I was chainsawing became nothing more than a small piece of wood that could be pulled up later.

After the hard work with the chainsaw was done, it was time to sit and relax. By this time the weather had changed, and the clouds were rolling in. There was just enough time to pour a glass of wine and sit out on the back porch. Soon you could hear it; the sound of the rain hitting the lake.  The scent of the rain was heavy on the breeze, and finally when the sight of the rain caught up with the scent and sound, it was quite a site. Lighting lit up the sky, and the rain came down in heavy sheets that flooded the yard and made waves on the water. It was beautiful.

And that is the way it is in life – Sometimes a little rain must fall, even after a lot of hard work. But when the storm is over, everything is clean and clear, ripe and green. And if we look, we can see God’s hand in the changes that the storm creates. For change is often not easy, and the waves are far reaching. But every storm runs out of rain. So until then grab a seat and a glass of wine. And know, in your heart of hearts, that it will be ok.

This year Easter was a wonderful blessing. There was a lot of hard work, lot’s of love, laughter and family. Yes, life could not get much better (well, I could win the lottery, or George Clooney could fall madly in love with me…but I digress). Life is good and I am happy.

A Great Day for a Hike

When the weather is warm, for the first time since last summer, we all just want to get outside. We have spring fever from being cooped up so long and having cabin fever. it’s warm, it’s sunner, it’s time to get outside and start moving around agian. Breathing in the fresh air, hearing the birds start to chirp again, seeing the squirrels play around on the trees. Yes, spring is here, finally!

My sister and I, anxious to enjoy the warmer weather, headed up to the northern part of Georgia to a place called Amicalola Falls, Located just a little nmore than an hours drive, we knew it would be the perfect place to dive back into spring, into life. And indeed it was.

Now when traveling with my sister, one must be prepared, for her being prepared. This is no ordinary, or let’s just bring this for just in case, girl. No. I had to convince her to leave her 25lb purse home. But we still brought with us, because she beleives in having for whatever what-if’s come along, a large knife, a compass, a flashlight, two sets on binnoculars, our phones, her cameras, a poncho and several other things…and I felt as if we could take on the world. We were not just two city girls getrting away to the comforts of the country. We were nature people prepared for anything.

And on our way up, as we drove and passed strange sounding roads and lanes, as we followed the voice of the GPS telling us where to turn next, as we laughed and had a great drive, I came to a realization. I finally have intimacy in my life, at the young age of 40. Most people think of intimacy only in a romantic sense, but that is not the case. There are many types. I have lived alone and been on my own now for over 20 years. And living with my sister has been a wonderful expereince, as for the first time since I was a child, do I have someone around who I trust and am comfortable with no matter what.

I mean, who else will stand in the bathrrom with me and make sure my chin is free of those annoying hairs?  And who would I trust to pluck those little hairs out with no judgement? It is companionship. It is trust. It is familiarity and comfort. It is family. All this time I have been seeking it in a romantic relationship, when it was right their in my family relationships. And so, as I go forward, looking for a romantic relationship, I know the kind of comfort and intimacy that I want, because of the trust and comfort I have with my family.

This expereince has made my life more fullfilled and complete, so that when I look for a partner, I am a complete and happy person. And that, among many other things, it what I can bring to the table.

I was first overwhelmed at the idea of mysister an nephew living here, because I thought I can never do all of this alone. But my sister has made it so easy, because she has made sure that I am not alone. She, as my big sister, has made sure that WE have this. It is the first time in my adult life, that I have not shouldered everything myself. Life is truly easier when you share the load.

So we drove up and had great conversation, listened to music, and just had fun. When we arrived, it was time to hit the welcome center store for a few things, then head up the trail for a great hike.  We went up the most popular way. It was only a mile, but it has 604 steps before you reach the top, after hiking uphill for quite a while. not for the faint of heart. And as we huffed and puffed out way to the top, she pointed out things about the rocks, the terain, the plants, the water flow, the minerals arouond the area, and I was taught quite a bit.

My sister is brilliant, and has studied biology, chemistry and geology quite extensively. She taught me how to see the different years in the rocks, as she told me their age, she showed me the different minerals in the rocks, as she pointed out the different colors and hardness of each. I learned how to tell the age of the tress by just looking at them and how to tell where the water used to run, how big the waterfalls used to be, before they were dammed up and controlled. I was amazed, not only at the amount of rich geological history that I never noticed before, but that my sister knew of these things like they were every day things. She reminded me a bit of Temperance Brennan on the TV show bones, rattling off all of her superior knowledge to wide eyed people around.

We went up the 604 steps, stopping along the way to look at the trees, plant life, the way the water was dripping form the rocks and notice the different size and shapeds of the rocks. We did not, however, stop because we were tired or winded. no. Absolutley not.

We even did a bit of rock climbing, as any self respecting 40 something women would do. It is true our bomes creekd a bit more than they did when we were younger, but we still managed to get up the rocks, take our pictures, and awkwardly get back down. We still got up up there, we can still do it, we are women, hear us roar! 

And on our way down, we mused at life. We talked about how sad it was the my latest ex, who I last made this hikle with, never tried to steal a kiss or hold my hand while hiking (one of the many reasons why he is an ex maybe?). We talked of the different types of trees, of our childhood, of the views of the waterfalls and the mountains, and we got a lot of exercise. These two middle aged women are going to be very sore tomorrow morning.  And we will wonder what we were thinking, going up all those stairs, walking all those steps and climbing all those rocks? And then we will smile and say, we were living life. And then we will stumble to the medicine cabinet to get the Advil.

And so it is, this hike on a perfect day, with the perfect weather, with a great big sister, and a wonderful life.

 

Loves Labor

Today has been on e of those days that reminds you how lucky you are to be alive and have the life you do. First of all, it was a beautifl day with beautiful weather. The windows were open, the fan on. There was laughter, TV watching, rice crispie treats and good times.

But in the back of my mind, I had to say a prayer. A man I knew 7 years ago was going to his son’t funeral today. His son committed suicide, and he and his family have to find a way to pick up the pieces.

And so as the day went on, there was nothing that could keep me from beeing thankful for the life I have. No matter what happens, no matter what issues or hick ups, I am here, I’m alive, and that in itsself is a huge gift and blessing. We are given the gift of life, no one promises that will be easy, no one promised that it would be fair.

So, take care of the life you have, treat the people in your life well. They say a man’s charactor can be judged by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. Yes, indeed. And you never know when those people who can do nothing for you today will be in a position to help or hinder you down the line. Karma is a bitch of a mistress, so make sure it’s pleasent visit when she comes to call.

Because the best way to show your appreciation and thankfulness for the life you have been blessed enough to have been given, is to treat those around you well.  It may be hard, but life will multiply when you do right by others. you will flurish.

And every day, I want people to see how thankful I am by seeing how I treat those around me.

An Almost Relaxing Weekend

Several months ago I said a prayer, the smae prayer I have said in one form or another for the past 4 years: Please give me something larger and more important to build than just myself. Open my heart and give me people with which to share this wonderful life. Bring Love to me.

Prayers do come true, but oftentimes in a different way that what we envision or expect. I was thinking alomg the lines of a partner, a lover, a wonderful man. Not so much, but what I have been given is much more solid than jut a romantic relaitonship. I have been given the ties that bind, that will always be there no matter what. I have been given family.

This weekend will be a wonderful non-relaxing weekend full of life. Tonight we are having a wonderful dinner of surf and turf, cooked by my wonderful and talented sister. Tomorrow it is a tour of the Fox Theater, on eof my favorite places inthe entire world. The history, the shows, and the fun I have had at the Fox in wonderful. The last time I was there was for the Blue Man Group, and it was wonderful.

Sunday will be church service followed by my sister and nephew headed up to Amicalola Falls for spending the day outside, hiking, laughing, taking pictures and having a picnic. Ut will be in the 70’s Sunday, and that is perfect for finally spending some much needed time outside in nature.

Also scheduled is house cleaning, organizing, reading and some movie watching.

And so it happens as it does most times, that when you set out to build something larger and more important than yourself, you end up with a better, richer life. Buidling others builds your own life, brick by amazing brick. It takes a villiage, of friends, of family and of love, to build a great life. And, like so many of the wonders of the world, we never quite get done exploring all the possibilities, all the secret, all the combinatons that are out there.

So build, build, build, because if it is built in earnest and with love, the result will be beautful. It will bring you Peace. And what brings Peace, also brings happiness.

Dreams

I have long said that I beleived that if you work hard, have faith and beleive, that your dreams will come true. Hard work and perseverance truly do pay off. And Now, during this time of my life, it is truly paying off.

I have struggled, I have been so very poor, I have worked all night and all day, I have cired so many tears, a river of tears, an entire ocean. I have known the pain of being too tender, had broken hearts, felt each piece break one heartbeat at a time, I have liad down next to love and woke up with lies. I have beleived the wrong men, men who knew too much, men who knew too little and man who didn’t know at all. Men who were late, early and men who never came at all.

I have tried with all of my heart and soul. I have stayed awake at night, unable to sleep or watching over those I love. I have krept out inthe morning, stayed too long, beleived when I knew it was wrong, taken calcualted risks that worked and some that didn’t. I have failed, so very hard. And I have fallen, so very hard, for him. And I have wondered, at night when the stars are quiet.

And I have known his footsteps as he nears the room, his smell, his looks, his everything. And I have known all of them, too well, too little and closed my eyes when I did not want to know. I have been a friend, a lover, a sister, a girlfriend, a fighter, a believer, a worker, an liar, a truther. And I have held my own heart, wounded, bleeding, beating. And I have put it back together. I have taped, banaged and bandaided my faith and belief in others.

And I have tried, so very hard.

And here I am. Finally. My dreams are coming true, both professionally and personally. Thank you to all who believed, to all those who faollowed, all those who cheered and rooted. Thank you to alal those who booed and hurt me too. For you too motivated me and made me better, though I may have not known it at the time.

And now, as I sit at the top of this huge, trechurous mountain, I see that the view is wonderful, beautifu. The air is clear and clean. And as I have have sweated, my heartache comin goout of my pours, dripping down onto the Earth, I know that every minute was worth it. I have Peace, and I have Love.

It’s all worth it, in the end. Every minute, every second, every moment.