Friday, May 29, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Getting outside...

Storm clouds moved out, sunshine moved in and post nap time
was spent frolicking in the yard.

Kyleigh was a little unsure of the fountain. But once I turned it down some she was just fine.
Please ignore the dog licking himself in the background.

Of course, there was climbing to be done as well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Drive by blogging...

It's another one of those weeks around here...late nights, early mornings, sickness...figured I could take a cue from Momma Val and do a drive by post--about all I have the energy for right now...

Due to my annual bladder infection keeping me up last night I was forced to wake up Sean after he'd only managed a few hours sleep from working last night so he could watch the kiddos while I sat and waited at a doc in the box...

Fortunately (?) I've been going to the same place and Doctor Lady was smart enough to pull up my past visits and see that even though the sample there didn't show anything, once cultured it'd show the lingering strep B that rears it's ugly head about once a year and went ahead and sent me home with drugs...

Sean has been home all weekend--much to the delight of us all...

The kiddie pool came out of the shed--once again, much to the delight of all--though a little worse for wear. Not sure if it's going to handle two rambunctious wee ones jumping in and out of it all summer...

Friday afternoon I'm leaving to spend two nights away from my family. Not sure how I feel about that...giddy and then guilty about the giddiness...

Saturday I'm spending the night with a friend I grew up with. We were roommates in high school in 10th grade. I haven't seen her in sixteen years. Pretty excited about that...about seeing her again, not about the fact I haven't seen her since just before I left for bootcamp...

A lot to still get done in the next two days...working out last minute details for the Little-Big Adventure triathlon that is the reason for me going out of town. And, no. I am not participating. I am simply the public relations team for the event...

Job wise--life should calm down a little next week and I can dive into the pile of projects over there in the corners that I've been neglecting and ignoring...

So there you have it...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Papaw's gift...

Once, long ago in another life, I was a feature's writer. For today, in honor of those that came before us, I reworked a piece I had written for another Memorial Day.


Of course it was raining. And it wasn’t the refreshing rain either--the kind you want to go out and do pirouettes in. It was a hot, muggy, miserable August rain in North Carolina. By this time it had reduced itself to a lighter, but no less miserable, drizzle.

Standing at parade rest flanked by my sister and six of my cousins, white carnations wilting in the heat pinned above our hearts designated us as pallbearers. The lineup of three males and five females had caused no small amount of panic on the part of the funeral director.

Girls? As pallbearers? He had never heard of such a thing.

Neither had any of the family.

Just a few days before I had stood in a small flower shop in Askewville, NC as moral support for my mom. I had meant to just drive her down, drop her off and come back in a few days for the funeral. Witnessing her shaking hand on the door handle instantly changed my plans.

As the second oldest of eight my mom’s siblings often looked to her for support and guidance. That day she needed her own support system.

The arguments began as we crossed the flower shop threshold. Is there a large southern family that does not argue? There is undying, unconditional love running deep through the core of these arguments, but they can get heated none-the-less.

For a man who passed away quietly and without fuss in his sleep, Papaw left a lot of turmoil behind him.

Named after their father, my mom had been the favorite. She knew her father in a way that none of the rest did and she was determined that the service and funeral would reflect the daddy she knew--not the one her sisters felt they knew. He wouldn’t have wanted flowers. He would have wanted donations to mission ventures instead. Her sisters, if left unchecked, would have him draped in blue carnations and a cheap Styrofoam Bible.

Longing for an escape I forwent the cool interior of the shop, opting instead for the bench outside in the hot, muggy August heat.

“You have got to be Murriell Gray’s daughter!”

Welcome to Small Town, USA. How did the Flower Lady know who I was?

“Yes, ma’am.” Smile pasted to my face. “They’re all inside waiting for you. You might want some protection.”

After a while I wandered back in to check on the sisters’ progress and walked in on the discussion of pallbearers.

One aunt was suggesting calling pastors that Papaw had mentored. Only problem was it was the weekend and most pastors work weekends. Aunt Cora, the eldest, suggested having the grandsons serve as pallbearers. The dilemma being there were so few male grandchildren.

“But...” was all I could get out.

My mom, instinctively knowing what was in my head, picked up my sentence.

“Why does it have to just be grandsons?” Mama asked. “Is that what you were trying to say?”

Five sets of blank eyes met my own.

“I’ve never heard of anyone using females for pallbearers before.” Aunt Cora finally remarked. “I don’t see why it can’t be done.”

“Of all of the grandchildren, you should be up there--you’re right.”

If my mom had been the favorite child, I was the favorite grandchild--but not in a spoiled kind of way. The truth is, I hardly ever saw the man. Growing up on a separate continent from my cousins, I missed out on the grandfather/grandchild relationship. But so did the majority of my stateside cousins.

All of his children and their children were terrified of Murl Jarvis--he was a stereotypical southern minister/patriarch: stern and iron fisted--with the exception of my mom. Papaw had missed the first two years of his eldest child's life. He returned from a war joyful to be have survived when so many had not. Determined to not miss out on any part of his newborn daughter's life he gave her his name and his full attention. Because of that my mom enjoyed a very special relationship with her father. She saw the tenderness beneath the prickly exterior, the dry humor and wit that her siblings failed to recognize. It was only natural that the relationship the two shared should trickle down to her children.

The summer I enlisted in the Navy I traveled down to Windsor to spend some time with Papaw. The look of pride in his eyes when I informed him of my enlistment was enough to carry me through even the toughest moments of my military career. During that visit he pulled out worn photo album after worn photo album, leather bindings coming apart along the spine. Fading black and white scalloped edged photographs held onto black paper with little corner stickers. I heard story after story of his own days in the Navy as a torpedo man in World War II. He left a pregnant wife to go fight for his country.

The visit was a long weekend filled with reminiscence and grandfatherly advice. One of my fondest memories. If grandchildren were going to be asked to be pallbearers for this man’s funeral then I was not going to be cheated of the opportunity to pay Papaw that last bit of respect.

“Pastor Denton isn’t going to like it.”

“Well, he’ll just have to realize that that’s the way it’s going to be.” Southern backbone showing through. Family is more important than church hierarchy.


If I shut my eyes I can pretend the gun salutes are claps of thunder.

With no good place to look, standing there just on the edge of the makeshift shelter, my eyes wander.

My husband. Sitting there in front. My mom’s hand clutched in his--wrapped around the arm as if it’s her only lifeline.

My eyes move on. Up and over--taking in the flag-draped coffin that holds the body that up until four days before had been my grandfather. As my eyes move down I ponder the use of fake grass while my minds tunes out the words of the pastor. Why, here in probably the best kept grounds in the county, do they insist on laying out Astroturf? A gap in the blanket offers a glimpse of the deep dark beyond. I realize that the coffin is reality enough for now. We do not need to see the gaping hole underneath to know where it’s going.

The VFW, Papaw’s comrades-in-arms, lower their guns. Old men standing out in the rain in faded uniforms. Do they look at each other and wonder which one of them will be next?

Following the gun salute I hear the opening bars of “Taps.”

Day is done, gone the sun...

Instinctively my right hand pops up in salute.

Michael’s hand goes up beside me. He’s active duty 82nd Airborne.

Sean stands up. Saluting.

Two of my uncles stand and salute. Former National Guard and Army.

Tears join the rain on my face. My left hand clenched at my side. Mourning not just Papaw, but everything that song represents.

The Navy funeral representatives approach the coffin and lift off the flag.

Both sailors are practiced and skilled, but somehow this doesn’t appear to be rote behavior to them. Every time they are called upon to remove, fold and present a flag has to wrench their hearts.

“Taps” fades out.

One of the sailors, with his right hand on top of the flag--now a perfect triangle--and his left hand underneath, steps in front of my mom, executes a perfect 90 degree turn on the fake grass, kneels and presents the flag to her.

I don’t witness the exchange. Too much there to see.

Maybe one day it will be my dad, or myself, laying there in the coffin. And my mom will be presented with yet another flag. Or maybe one day it’ll be Sean and I’ll get my own flag. Far too many pictures going through my head for me to be able to open my eyes and take in the scene at hand.

Movement to the side is the funeral director making his way down our line. Unpinning our carnations and placing them in our hands.

One by one we file out. Laying our wilted flowers on the coffin as we walk by. Just the briefest of pauses as my hand contacts cool wood--a breath for a final farewell.

Sailor. Sharecropper. Circuit riding preacher. Husband. Father. Grandfather. Great grandfather and even great-great grandfather. Above all, a man who loomed larger than life in my childhood memories.

Even in death Papaw gave me a great gift. That day in the flower shop was a defining moment. If my life were spread out in a timeline it would get a huge dot. Or maybe an outlined circle, filled in with color.

Up until that day anytime I had spoken my mind--and it was usually against common opinion--my comments were met with eye rolls and sighs of “That’s just Dori”. That moment in the flower shop they listened to what I had to say. I don’t know if it was a rite of passage, but I’ll accept it as a final gift.

See ya, Papaw.

Full speed ahead.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Firefly in the morning...

Both children were up with the sun this morning. Their Kind and Loving father got up with them. Did I mention it was early? And that I was allowed to stay in bed? Even though I wandered downstairs not too much later there's just something about being able to wake up at my own pace--as opposed to being in demand by creatures great and small the instant my eyes open (or are forced to open)--that just makes 7 am just a little more bearable.

On my way to the kitchen for Coffee I glanced into the living room. The three most important people on the planet were snuggled together watching an episode of Firefly.

It made my heart smile.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Straw bale. Fail.

I don't know who, exactly, is to blame. Me, probably. Though I don't know why. I did everything my research showed me to do. But not only was something nibbling at the tender leaves, the plantlings never took root.

However, I have inadvertently discovered how to grow grass. Now if I can only replicate my findings and grow grass in our patchy backyard.

Before mine and Jacob's garden became a complete loss I decided to go with Plan B. Planting directly into bags of potting soil. This "no dig" gardening is proving to be as much work as the traditional "dig" method. The bales still provide usefulness as risers. They'll also be great fertilizer for next year.

The plantlings that went into the containers are, however, thriving (well, one is at least). I may get tomatoes this year after all!

Monday morning comic relief...or, proof dogs aren't atheists and also why we don't use a tablecloth...

Dog eat Doug

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Routine maintenance...

Maybe it's because it's finally warm around here and I am a Solar Powered Being--back up power provided by caffeine.

Maybe it's because I recently liberated my head from a most of its hair and I'm feeling a lot lighter and just a wee bit feisty.

Maybe looking back over the past year has made me realize that I really do have a pretty amazing life and the original blog title just came across as too negative (even though that was never my intent).

Regardless. There are one or two changes around here. I don't think they need a lot of explanation.* The title change...on my quest for simplicity I wanted to be open, honest and straight to the point. For the most part I am a What You See is What You Get kinda person. And, you wasn't taken by someone else in the crowded blogosphere. The picture? Embracing my inner Calvin.

So there you have it. The evolution of a blog. Darwin would be proud. I adapted and I'm still around. I'm sorta looking forward to seeing where both the blog and my life goes from here. Join me, won't you?

*I apologize for whatever inconvenience the title change may cause--the blog url remains the same so google reader should have no trouble keeping up. You know, for the one of you that has me on reader.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Give us today our daily bread...

It started with a statement...I have a proposal I would like to discuss with you...and was met with the usual wary look most statements like that have received in the past. I couldn't blame him. For the most part my proposals have been requests for much with little given in return. But I knew that he stood to gain greatly in this stance so I met his wary gaze with a smile.

"Now that our days, our weeks and our weekends have a fairly predictable schedule" I said, "I would very much like to carve out time on the weekends for making bread."

"Oh," he replied, "I'd like that very much too."

See? I told him he'd come out good on this one.

To my core I really am a simple country girl. And as I get more years behind me I find that I'm looking at my life from a different angle. I want to keep things simple. Uncluttered. Un-messed around with.

Watching my son crawl around I realized that he was inches away from whatever chemicals I had used to clean the floor. So I started researching people friendly products. When he started eating solid foods I looked at what went into the baby food jars and how much a two ounce jar of smooshed bananas cost--freaked--and started making my own baby food. It was just a natural progression to start purchasing less processed, more natural and organic foods and products. And I discovered that I throughly enjoyed the bread making process. However, barely having a chance to finish a sentence, let alone bake bread, for the past three years it has sort of been reduced to a "holiday only" baking hobby.

Last Saturday as I took the time to coax flour, yeast and water into something light and airy I realized how much I missed it. I missed the entire process. The metamorphosis of dry dormant yeast into fragrant bubbly froth. The transformation of lifeless, sticky dough into soft, pliable future bread. The therapeutic rhythm of kneading. The dangerous possibility that something just might explode this time. Yes, it's time consuming and it takes careful planning around nap times. But fresh bread for supper and for the next couple of days was well worth the frustration of a baby
not taking her usual three hour nap.

Which brings us to today. All along it was going to be a long, tiring day. Yet I really wanted to keep with this plan of making bread. I recalled a recipe from one of my bread books that made use of a bread starter. I've attempted starters in the past with disastrously
explosive results...apparently one is not supposed to close the lid on the starter jar prior to the starter cresting--they should write that down. So while I was a little leery to attempt a starter again this one was a simple overnight process. I decided to live dangerously and give it a try.

When the little ones and I walked in the door from Angel Food distribution this afternoon not only was there was a bowl of non-explosive fermenting yeast paste waiting to be transformed into loaves of bread, but the heady, sweet smell of yeast permeating the house welcomed us home.

Kyleigh napped. Jacob went to the gun show with his dad. And, in quiet solitude, I baked.

Using the starter method eliminated the time consumption issue.

40 minutes to double in size. 10 minutes to knead into a soft dough. 15 minutes to proof. 35 minutes to bake.

Bread making on a time schedule this life of mine can handle. Not only was it delicious, but I know each and every ingredient that went into it and into the ones that consumed it. Yeast. Flour. Water. Simple indeed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I've been digging through files of old paperwork on a research mission--completely separate from things that I'm actually supposed to be researching right now--and I'm finding myself being sidetracked by miscellaneous bits from my past.

A random booklet of papers grabbed my attention. It was my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator--taken for a job just over seven years ago. By a two point difference I was typed as an INFP instead of an INFJ. Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving. And for the first time ever I think a personality test actually got it right with me.

INFP: Full of enthusiasms and loyalties, but seldom tell of these until they know you well. Care about learning, ideas, language, and independent projects of their own. Tend to undertake too much, then somehow get it done. Friendly, but often too absorbed in what they are doing to be sociable. Little concerned with possessions or physical surroundings.

Interesting, isn't it, how that explanation sort of puts the first sentence of this post into perspective? I'm sure someone in my past, knowing what they know now, would have burdened me with an ADD label. Fortunately for my attention span and energy level my childhood was spent roaming the rocky hills and climbing mango trees in Mwanza, Tanzania with my faithful four-legged best friend Oblix the German Shepherd (he didn't climb the trees, just laid down at the base on guard duty) and not sitting in front of a television set.

Of course, once I started looking into the typecasting, I kept finding shiny stuff...other INFP's are/have been James Taylor, A.A. Milne, Amy Tan and Mary (you know, that Mary--though beats me how they got her to take the test). I'll take those for company. Fictional INFPs? Calvin, as in Calvin and Hobbes. Apparently it's genetic. I feel better already.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Handed down from my mother...

Spunky, Fiesty and Smart trump Submissive, Docile and Ignorant any day

Size does not matter if one is mighty in one's soul

Sometimes a road block really does simply mean
that's not the road you're supposed to take

When God closes a door, he always opens a window

Never pogo stick on gravel

Play...a lot

Sewing doesn't make one domestic--it makes one useful also helps keep family members from getting lost.

Making meatballs for your daughter--even though you really do not
enjoy the task--makes your daughter feel pretty darn special when she walks
in the door for lunch and sees meatballs.

Being your child's biggest supporter and fiercest defender
is a pretty Big Thing in parenting

Never waste an opportunity to celebrate

Birthdays are Very Important Days
Allow your child to make mistakes--even if they're super dooper big ones

Love unconditionally

Reveal your own mistakes and weaknesses

Show fear

Show courage in the face of that fearGo about the impossible with fierce tenacity

Enjoy the moment when the impossible has been made possible

Goals and dreams are attainable--without sacrificing family

Take care of yourself--inside and out

Follow your heart

Follow your own rhythm

"Bloom where you're planted"

Be impulsive

Have Faith

Be faithful.

Thanks, Mama...I am, indeed, a blessed daughter.
Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday morning cartoon...without the commercials!

The Buckets

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Simply because it seemed apropos...

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Philippians 4:12 (NIV)

I realize that I don't talk about it too much on here but I am a deeply spiritual person. I would not be able to function without my faith. There are some who would declare that it is a crutch. To that I would reply that so then would my need of oxygen, sunshine and love be crutches. Maybe that's why I don't discuss it--it's simply a part of who I am. But my sister posted the above verse on her facebook page and it struck a chord deep inside. And it's precisely what I have attempted to say--in my own clumsy way--so many times.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Never say goodbye...

Yes, I realize my life tends to be soundtracked by 80's music. For not having grown up in this country, I find myself a product of my own American generation regardless of geography.

Yet, I digress...

Mrs Fuzz--whose husband just graduated the police academy--posted a question earlier and I found that my short comment really did not go far enough to cover my answer.

The question posed was, "How do you say goodbye?" When this person whom you have sworn to Love, Honor and Cherish until the cold, clammy hand of death rips you apart girds himself in Kevlar, buckles on a belt fully accessorized with crime fighting accouterments, kisses you and walks out the door to go do battle in the name of Good--How. Do. You. Say. Goodbye?

Accidents happen everyday. Everyday someone's spouse--regardless of occupation--does not come home. Everyday someone has to explain to children why Mommy or Daddy isn't there anymore. Everyday. However, when one's chosen path crosses the path of Evil and Wrong on a daily basis and split second decisions determine whether or not Good wins or loses that day, the odds of coming home after work greatly decrease in our favor. How do you say goodbye in the face of that?

Maybe it has to do with my cultural inability to be truly concerned about the future. Maybe it has to do with denial--if I don't think about it, it won't happen. But I really do not think about it...much. I grew up around war and its destruction. Bomb drills in school--though, really? A tiny wooden desk is going to protect me from a bomb hitting a cement building? Just duck and cover--all will be well. For years--years--I couldn't handle thunderstorms. First clap of thunder and I would be curled up in the fetal position in the back of my closet. I'm better with that now--I hardly even flinch anymore. The point is, I've traveled beyond the labyrinth, looked the Goblin king in the eyes and declared, "You have no power over me." I am not scared for my husband's life. I have my concerns, but they do not paralyze me. I have vague plans in place should anything happen. But he knows his job. It's who he is. I trust his abilities. I trust his training. We've been through a lot together, he and I. Both of us in situations we should not have walked away from many times over. I know he will do everything in his power to come home.

So our goodbye? A kiss, a hug, with an "I love you!" and "See you soon."

I am, however, terrified for our lives without him. And so, after each goodbye, I pray that God brings him back to us safe and whole. Everyday.

Seriously, where's my flying car?

All I get are people telling me why cars can't fly. Where's the guy/girl saying, "Here it is...a fuel efficient and airborne mode of travel for all."

Gazillion dollars spent on the space program. How about a little love closer to home and build something useful for a change? I'm not asking for much. Really. Geeks of the world, use your powers for good. Stop designing stupid, tasteless and classless iPhone apps and get my car off of the ground. Thank you.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Finally a "pro" reason for owning this old house...or, just an excuse to post lots of pictures!

First...a little perspective. Understand that we were just coming into spring the year we purchased our 80-year-old house...however, it still looked like this the first time I laid eyes on it. And fell in love.

Following a couple more springtimes and a great deal of unguided
and often times ignorant care...this year, our patience has been rewarded...

Azaleas welcoming spring with an explosion of color is somewhere around
Reason #31 to enjoy living in the south. The neighborhood is simply breathtaking this time of year.
The dogwoods and Japanese maples in full color add an
amazing back drop for everyone's azaleas.

And then I just have wee little miscellaneous flowers popping up in the yard...

The color just continues on into the backyard...

Ah...yes...the Straw Bale Garden. So far, so good. I can report that the plants are, indeed, still alive. I can't, however, report any growth. We're still holding on though. Maybe they just take longer this way. I say that the fact they aren't dead yet is a good sign.

Remember last weekend? The 90 degree weather that I dragged
my poor children out into? Yeah, she wasn't too happy.

But watching Daddy demonstrate the new EOD robot was pretty cool...

Speaking of Daddy...the race cars are in town this weekend. We spell the race "o-v-e-r-t-i-m-e" in this house. But that also means we won't see him until sometime Sunday. He and the doggy are going to be a couple of very tired puppies! And I find myself being another form of a Nascar widow...