The way to love someone
is to lightly run your finger over that person's soul
until you find a crack,
and then gently pour your love into that crack.
~Keith Miller

Thursday, April 30, 2015

last class .. before and after

(Game face  smile in driveway prior to departing)

I've worked with a lot of students in this very room.
I'm proud of their accomplishments,
and there will be days that I miss this.

messy places and grace

I've noticed that in life there are a lot of loose ends.  Stuff ... doesn't wrap up.  Most of the time there is no closure.  Where did the idea of "closure" come from anyway?  I mean , I am partially who/how I am because of life's events and how I navigated/continue to navigate them.   The thing (one of the many things) I love about being almost 60 is the perspective that time on task affords.  I like the perspective, and I like the subtle changes that life tweaks in to those perceptions.  I like that we can learn, rethink, and maybe even settle in to a more graceful attitude.  I like it when I see grace in action around me.  I'm really amazed and so very thankful for those tiny glimpses of God's love in action.  He keeps on using our life stuff to benefit us it seems.  We don't get closure because it seems like we keep on learning from previous events - some of them messes or "near messes".

That really is what I'm thinking about today ... messes.  But first this:  You can barely see him in this shot, but that is a fox.  He, or more probably she, sauntered across the street not more then 50 feet ahead of us.  This is my neighborhood of mostly heavily wooded one acre lots.  New homes are going up on a large parcel which was near the creek and relatively undisturbed.  Those hand rails step down to a tiny overflow branch of the main creek which zigzags through here.  This has been a great place for walking.  I've loved the birds especially ... and the deer are cool ... foxes and coyote less so.

So ... messes.  You really don't know mess until you start the moving process.  That's my new "epiphany".  It's really a multi-layered thing.

We have decided that our time here really is winding down.  Bittersweet isn't the right word because none of it is bitter.  I have loved raising my kids, walking my dog and flying here.  It's been a good place.  And ... the people are good people.  I'll miss seeing faces familiar and dear.  Like this ... the mailman.  He has been the mailman the entire time we've lived here.  Last year, just out of the blue, he gifted me with a handmade wooded cross (imperfect, more on that later) for reasons unknown to me ... he said it was just on his heart to do so.  I've already packed the cross or I'd snap a picture of it real quick for you.

Messes.  Two things need to happen in the house.  I have a few "loose ends", unfinished (and some un-begun) maintenance to do ... plus, this came as a bit of a shocker, being away as much as I was last year encouraged messes to accumulate!  Dormant messes, like the layer of dust perched atop the bedroom drapes at ceiling level.  I re-painted that room (messy) a couple weeks ago and in the process the drapes and rods came down (messy) and ... they were really bad ... after washing and the laborious effort of ironing and rehanging them I thought they looked nice.

A few years ago I put a beautiful new cork floor in the master bath ... but I hesitated on how to properly seal the seam where cork meets tub.  That created a mess.  Eventually it was a big mess and had to be pulled before showing our home for sale.  There's that mess near where I rest and in the rest of the house boxes are stacked in every room as I begin to cull through and pack.  Some boxes which are not going with us and are left open as we decide on rummage sale or Salvation Army ... some boxes are taped shut and labeled as carefully as I do things (maybe overdo things).  I'm finding that I just thought I didn't need my wok ... it's crazy (and feels extra messy because I tend to be organized). The bathroom floor is a smaller mess setting in the larger mess.

Here are the new floor tiles.  My very smart husband is "learning" exactly how to install these.  He has been perfecting his technique over the past few weeks ... starting with the place in the bathroom where the toilet connects to the drainage pipe.  Yeah ... no working toilet in there for the last little while and because this is a special weekend in our family we have plans to be away for the next few days ... so ...most generous time estimate of getting the toilet back in looks like a couple of weeks (to me).  I don't really care about the inconvenience of being down a toilet in the house.  What I don't like is ... the dust from the do-overs.  He is getting more thin set squishing up through the voids between the mosaic pieces then he thinks is advisable.  Once that dries to his dissatisfaction he cleans it out with a scrapper and an air compressor (with the help of José ... Cuervo that is, or more accurately, Hornitos).  The dust is everywhere.  I still had important girl stuff out on the counter when the dust started swirling in there ... the door way has remained open through out this process and I fear for the tops of my drapes as I sweep and mop, dust furniture and lamps, rewash bedding ... it's a mess.  A big mess.  And ... well ... it's a mess.  Last night as I lay in bed wondering if "that smell" could be pervading from the open floor drain (I put a plastic lid on it a few days ago) I started thinking about messes.
My messes.
The messes I may want to help make ... messes avoided by God's grace alone ... messes that people who care for me have directed me around rather then through ... those kind of messes.
Sin messes maybe.
It's funny how we are ... we really sometimes do want to flirt around with making and enjoying messes even when we know messes are messy ... messier then they could possibly be worth.  It seems best to reserve room in your life for the unavoidable messes rather then knowingly creating them.
I was thinking about that within the context of the bathroom tile mess ... not my mess. (A mess I appreciate, truly I do.  Thank you for fixing the floor so beautifully ... so excellently. This isn't about that ... that just helped me see this.)  Not my mess, but a mess I am "near".  The entire environment I am in seems to be excessively messy ... as messy as a move.  As messy as living in a storage zone ... as messy as between here and there.  But ... that with the dust mess ... that's what I'm thinking about.  Someone near me is "fixing" a mess and that's messy business.  The dust from their mess settles on my stuff.  The dust from their mess becomes my mess.

When I do wrong, make messes ... the mess makes messes for people who are near my mess.  If my mess is sin ... my sin (my choice to sin) affects the people near me (near me and my mess).  And this ... I'm not participating in the bathroom tile mess.  I am stirring clear.  But ... the fallout from that mess is very much something that I deal with, something that at very least affects my space to do life in.

I think it is interesting that people say "I'm not hurting anyone 'cept myself (with my messes)."  Last night I thought it must be grace which makes the messiness of figuring out how to best behave ... or the messes created when we don't behave well ...  grace must be the secret super power which makes escaping or enduring the messiness of life possible .

So - Sometimes as we "fix" messes we make other messes (and possibly even want to make what we know will be other messes).  It's really good to have tolerance for one an other's messiness.  It's amazingly cool that we can help each other not to make messes.  It's neat when the residue from our fellow's messes can be swept up fairly easily.  It's great that grace abounds in messy places.

It's amazing to see grace in action(s).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

that one exception ...

Maybe I know, somewhere
Deep in my soul
That love never lasts
And we've got to find other ways
To make it alone
Or keep a straight face
And I've always lived like this
Keeping a comfortable, distance
And up until now
I had sworn to myself that I'm content
With loneliness
Because none of it was ever worth the risk
(PARAMORE LYRICS - The Only Exception)

something about ... leave something behind to prove it wasn't a dream ... something about I'm on my way to believing ... 

It's funny how lyrics, or partial lyrics can pop in to your head.  I remember some of this song, probably what I wanted to remember. (I like that word, the way it looks re-member)I'm reading back over that dream that I wrote about here and then decided to archive.  Dreams ... pouf ... they are gone even quicker then real life, but the value lingers because it (the dream) illuminates aspects of oneself left unexplored in the conscious world.  Dreams can be irresponsible.  Dreams can be dreams.  These lyrics were beside it, the dream thing, in the draft pile. Just a couple of minutes ago I watched the video for the first time. Maybe it was about just a dream ... or maybe she was on her way to believing in love.

I'm not sure how I feel about any of it ... except that it's risky for certain, and ... not for the faint of heart.  I do think it can last though. I'm certain that it can.

Sometimes I pray to forget.  But sitting here thinking about it, I realize that I really don't want to forget.  Love is always good - even if it's just a dream ... it shows us what we are capable of.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

22 ... 23 ...

boy ... last year really is a blur.  I was looking back at pics stored on my laptop from around this time last year.  These are from 22-23 April 2014.  Momma passed ... and Tommy was scheduled for the surgery that would give him a shot at more time (I'm thankful that he chose that option and that the doctor had the courage to perform it).  After Momma passed I drove from hospice back to the hospital o sit with Tommy through the night.  It was beyond any doubt the worst night of my life up to that point in time.  The nurses said I could click his pain med pump every 10 and then later every 15 minutes as he fought his way back from the surgery.  There was a very special nurse who spent a lot of her time in the room with Tommy and me because of the unrelenting drainage at the colostomy site.  So ... I clicked and helped keep clean linens going.  He was mercifully out of it most of the time.  My husband drove through the night to be with me while we tended to Momma's arrangements and by time he asked for the address I was able only to send him a location pin.
... the sun came up on the 23rd.

The other night, Sweet Pea nurse asked, "How do you get through staggering grief?"  I guess the real answer is you keep breathing as best you can and wait for the sun to come up on a better day.

Life is lived in the present moment, but I think reflecting on the past, even if its just a few moments past, is where we mine the golden moments ... the shimmer ... it is very nice to remember the shimmering moments.

I was with them while they lived.  And ... I get to choose to think of the best moments, not all of them the happiest, but that's life.  I have learned to dwell on the moments which have the finest meanings for me.  I'll remember this day as the day Momma passed peacefully on to what comes next for her ... and Tommy fought on for the life he lived, the bonus round of another 8 months.

The sun keeps on coming up until it doesn't.  Life is a gift from God and as the saying goes - what we do with is can be our gift to Him.

I'm going to go walk my big silly dog.  I'm going to watch his tail wag and I'll wait patiently while he sniffs out doggy business around the neighborhood.  Then ... I'll come home and work a bit on getting my house ready for the next people's sweet memories (putty/paint the upstairs railing), and I'll do some office work for my jobs while I wait for the bus to bring my daughter home.  She has practice tonight and I promised her a dinner out which I know she is enjoying anticipating today.  It's a plain ole day.  Nothing eventful on the horizon as far as I know.  I'm going to try out the felt-tip eyeliner I bought yesterday ... I'm gonna live life and it wouldn't bother me at all if no memories are created today ... but I'll be looking for something good just in case.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

moving boxes

It's definitely Spring and the grass is "greening up".  You can't see it in the picture of the front of the house, but the hydrangeas under the garage windows are sprouting new leaves.  I like the blue flowers with the orange brick ... and the yellow day lilies.  Spring.  Birds singing and crickets chirping and frogs making that strange froggy sound.  This is the first movement of the cicada symphony.

I don't know what we will do with all these books!  Last year, at Christmas, I gave away several of my most valued books.  I thought one, just the right one for each of the seven kids (our five plus two they share with our family).  I thought it would be interesting for them to read the book this year then pass it to someone else in the reading circle so that in time we might have developed a common vernacular by which to think about some important ideas.  We'll see how that goes.  Maybe the books haven't been opened since - idk.
I do know that L has a ton of books.  I am down to one bookshelf full myself, most of them aviation related.  This semester I am giving students any duplicates that might help them, previously I have loaned those out.  I may be past instructing.  I smile in my heart when I think of flying again, but I don't yearn for it.  Staying proficient requires more time then I seem to have for it ... and I really hate sloppy flying.

Late last night, well, later then late because we went for a walk around 11:00 and the text came in after that, anyway, last night the one of Tommy's nurses who I felt such an affinity for sent a text.  I was very happy to hear from her.  Tommy came to love her and I did too.  He loved easily.  I don't.  I've become more so, but I am still somewhat reserved with strangers and ... everyone is strange to me.  That's not really so.  I love my people very much.  I'm learning how to "embrace" better.  I don't like to be hurt so I manage the risk ... we all do relationships differently.  She has had a heartbreaking experience this year, and my heart joins hers in the grief of it.  Life can be quite difficult.  We agreed that there are also shimmering moments of joy.  I wonder if it were possible to see the big picture of one's life or even bigger then that ... I wonder if the joy could be more readily perceived.

I do notice that a more relaxed pace allows one to hear the birds sing ... and time to wonder what they are singing about ... and time to ask myself why I don't sing more myself.

  • "Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length." ~ Robert Frost

Psalm 66:4English Standard Version (ESV)

All the earth worships you
    and sings praises to you;
    they sing praises to your name.” Selah

Canticle Of The Sun
The heavens are telling the glory of god, and all creation is shouting for
joy, come, dance in the forest, come play in the field and sing, sing to the glory of the Lord

Sing to the sun, the bringer of day, he carries the light of the Lord in his rays, the moon and the stars, who light up the way unto your throne.
Praise to the wind, that blows through the trees, the seas mighty storms, the gentlest breeze, they blow where they will, they blow where they please, to please the Lord.
Praise to the rain that waters our fields, and blesses our crops, so all the earth yields, from death unto life her myst'ry concealed, springs forth in joy.
Praise to the fire, who gives us his light, the warmth of the sun to brighten our night, he dances with joy, his spirit so bright, he sings of You.
Sing to the earth, who makes life to grow, the creatures You made to let Your life show, the flowers and trees that help us to know the Heart of Love.
Praise to our death, that makes our life real, the knowledge of loss that helps us to feel, the Gift of Yourself, Your Presence revealed to bring us home.

 ~ St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, April 9, 2015

that place in Texas

It really does seem like we are getting ready to put our house on the market this time.
Maybe not, there's something I'm trying not to pay attention to which will be decided this week (and would maybe keep us here through the summer).

I'm experiencing many new to me insights and emotions as we negotiate this process.  Yesterday I unloaded the top cabinets in my kitchen, painted what's there - L is changing the hardware on the door fronts to something better (now that we want to sale and that is a bit of an irritant ... the next people get the great stuff while I just made due ... life is busily sorting priorities) - I'm using the Annie Sloan Chalk paint on the cabinets because I like the softness of that paint on the older construction.  Today I'll begin the wax finish.  I replaced the cork lining on the two bottom shelves only - that stuff has gotten expensive and the top shelf just got fresh vinyl. I noticed that if you like to cook a lot of different things you need a lot of different types and sizes of cookware.  I'm "de-cluttering" so there is a big plastic storage bucket full of top cabinet stuff sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor waiting to be pack nicely into U-haul boxes.  I'm supposed to get a storage unit rented asap ... I want to make the house look like three people live here instead of the seven who have stuff, and lots of it, stored in every nook and cranny.  As I sort I wonder why so much stuff ... ?  Momma was too good at tossing stuff ... I'm trying to channel her!  Next dilemma ... I wonder if it's best to add a garage sale to my list of things to do.  Maybe I could make a couple hundred bucks ... which I'd like to do ... but it seems like a big project and I don't think my undesirable stuff is worth much.  In the past I have kept a bag in the front closet for things that are ready to leave our home ... I've always donated it.  Donating stuff you no longer need is easy.  We do that in life and think it's "charity" when it is in fact simply expeditious.  

This morning. before it got too hot (yeah, it really did, I was dripping sweat and Southern girls must stop at glisten! lol) I transplanted Day Lilies from the garden into 8 big pots.  I'd like to take some of my plants  with me to Texas.  Wisteria grows like crazy here and is considered a huge nuisance.  In Texas it's prized.  I need to get a good root system for at least one vine ... I'd love to plant some on a fence or trellis over there.  Also, I need a few starts from my Granny's gardenia bush.  Momma brought some over for me probably twenty years ago.  It was in a quart bucket.  Maybe I'll find (or start) enough babies to guarantee a good start of that for our next place.  

It's weird to move.  I'm finding little things that I haven't seen in years, maybe even many years. It underlines how fast life passes by.  

Well ... lots to do today!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Rub for brisket and pork loin

In order of amount needed:

kosher salt
black pepper
garlic powder
onion powder

mustard powder 
ground cumin
brown sugar
dried thyme
chili powder
coriander seeds

Tommy added juice from a batch of pickled jalapenos and lime juice to his marinade for fajitas, drop the brown sugar out for sure and the mustard powder.

 I am planting Impatients (aka, Poppers) today.  Yesterday I edged and pruned all the front yard shrubs.  I was away when it was time to do that last year and they were really out of hand!  I really enjoy gardening.  It's  cool to see things come back, hidden in the ground they spring back in the most delightful way.

This is from last week.  I'll post an updated picture when these little guys are flourishing.  
Yesterday, I worked inside the house.  It amazes me how much "stuff" can be collected and tucked away over 20 some odd years of life in the same house.  I'm going through my stuff ... flying stuff for example ... and making three piles; keep (why?), pass on to my current ground students, toss (harder then you might think!).  I was distracted my a bread box size tin of pics taken around aviation, some my own, more then a few shared by other pilots.  Along with the post Mr. Van der Leun put together for his readers (linked below in the post before this one) that bunch of pictures reminds me of God working in a tiny life, my own life, as I journey along making choices and adapting to choices made by those around me.  Flying is ... amazingly cool.  I hope everyone has something in their own lives by which they may frame life experience, which are spiritual experiences in disguise. 

Well ... today.  Gotta get going on it!   Get to get going on it (thought with a smile). Life is good.

This is the day 

which the LORD has made; 

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

Choice ... making choices.

Okay, Here's the Deal: "This time it will be God without disguise...."
Via  American Digest  Gerard Van der Leun

"Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other."
-- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

One of the questions asked in the longer snippet from the book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis 

is:  Why is God not more obvious?  Here, in Lewis' own words: "Why is God landing in this enemy-occupied world in disguise and starting a sort of secret society to undermine the devil? Why is He not landing in force, invading it? Is it that He is not strong enough? 
"Well, Christians think He is going to land in force; we do not know when. But we can guess why He is delaying. He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely. I do not suppose you and I would have thought much of a Frenchman who waited till the Allies were marching into Germany and then announced he was on our side.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Chicken with Squash

The chicken is how I frequently prepare it.  Begin with boneless, skinless breasts, cut to bite size pieces and toss them with Italian spices, maybe garlic and onion powder, salt ... and brown them in a little bit of olive oil. I turn the fire down, put a lid on the skillet and let them cook through.  Sometimes a sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on them once they are on the plate.  Lately, I've been putting a wedge or two of one of the Laughing Cow cheese triangles in the cooler skillet, allowing them to melt and coat the chicken.  That's pretty yummy (and low cal.) too.
On the vegetables I spotted already cut up acorn squash in the vegetable aisle.  That stuff is so hard to cut in two much less cube!  Momma always served it as a holder for butter and brown sugar.  I built on her idea ... so this is acorn squash, zucchini, and onion (Vidalia). I peeled the Zucchini because it had been in the frig while we were on vacation and I wanted to get a good look at it ... still good, and I think it would have been prettier on the plate had the green been on.  To the big chucks I added tiny bits of crystallized ginger, some dried mango (darker orange in the pic) some yellow bell pepper and a Serrano pepper seeds and all ... oh, and two cloves of pressed garlic ... these were cooked in a bit of olive oil as well as the chicken.  After tasting it I added about a tablespoon full of honey.  Quick and easy dinner!  I think walnuts or pumpkin seeds would have added to it.

I'm looking forward to an easy Easter lunch menu ... make in advance style.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Missing Element in Modern Economics | John Mueller

John D. Mueller is the Lehrman Institute Fellow in Economics and Director of the Economics and Ethics Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Mr. Mueller specializes in the relation of modern economic theory to its Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman origins, its practical application to personal, family, and political economy, and the interaction of economics, philosophical worldviews, and religious faith.
Mr. Mueller retired in January 2015 as president of LBMC LLC, a firm in Washington, D.C. specializing in economic and financial-market forecasting and economic policy analysis. He has more than 35 years’ experience in those fields. Besides investment managers, Mr. Mueller has advised many American and foreign economic policymakers on monetary policy and exchange rates, policies for reducing unemployment, and income-tax, welfare and Social Security reform. He is author of Redeeming Economics: Rediscovering the Missing Element (ISI Books, 2010; updated paperback, 2014). From 1979 through 1988, Mr. Mueller was economist and speechwriter to then-Congressman Jack Kemp, mostly as Economic Counsel to the House Republican Conference (caucus) of which Kemp was chairman. In that capacity he drafted bills originating some key features of President Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts of 1981 and Tax Reform Act of 1986 and of Kemp’s 1988 presidential campaign. Mr. Mueller graduated in 1974 from Haverford College.John Mueller - EPPC