Deadline

Rather than resolutions, I have set a deadline. I have several “projects” similar to the snow village lined up to do.  I have a large ornate framed canvas with an oil painting I don’t like.  I only bought the piece for the frame.  I picked up a landscape picture about 20 by 40 inches.  There are some other things I can’t specifically recall at the moment.  Things lurking in the closets and on shelves.  I have particular plans for some of the items.  Some of the items are still awaiting inspiration.  The deadline has to do with actually completing things.

I am going to spend some moments gathering things. I will either complete the project at hand or get rid of the stuff February 1.  January 31 is the last day to complete things.  Let’s see if I can stick to this plan.

Additionally, I have set the same deadline to unload some excess dishes and kitchen items. With all my talk of decluttering, my kitchen is seldom mentioned.  Rather, I continue to add to my packed cabinets.  Dishes are like chairs for me.  Both represent hospitality and parties and a house full of people visiting.  They are occasionally irresistible. Particularly when they match or resemble things from the ancestors’ kitchens.

Another area that remains untouched is my jewelry collection. I don’t have any real stuff beyond a few rings and a pair or two of earrings.  I have piles of costume jewelry, though.  Some of it has to go.  And not to my daughter’s house.  She says it will go to the prop room at the school theater.  I’m not sure it will make it there.  She likes to collect as much as I do.

I intend to keep this scheduled deadline for several reasons. I want to resolve past projects. Either finish or eliminate them. I want to spend time working on the yard in February and March.  I am supposed to have a particular visitor coming in February as well.  By May, I will be fully engaged with another new Dream. This one a Texas Dream.

Incentive and motivation are so important in my venture. The incentive is increased physical space, less cleaning, easier cleaning, more energy, more free time, less wasting of mental energy on indecision.  Motivation is preparing for the new generation before they get going on their feet.

I have a slight hope that eliminating distractions will force me to write. Not this babbling. Not my journal scribbling.  I need to focus and write the stories.  Write the tales that haunt my dreams and drift in memories.  Write the tales that will be unfolding in the coming years.  Write the tales I want my grands to read.  Tales that will show them who we are. Show them the toughness and the love that brought us to this point in this race of beings.

Yes. I would say I have incentive and motivation to meet my self-imposed deadline. Now, if I can just pay attention long enough to get it done!

Happy New Year. May all our plans be guided by a Greater Hand and be filled with His Love.

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Strange Treasures

From time to time, I consider the following question. If I had to load my earthly possessions in my small car and evacuate, what would my I count as irreplaceable treasure?

Like most, I have photographs. I have two small trunks full of old mementos. The trunks themselves are heirlooms.  Then, there are my books.  I have a lot I would not pack. But, I have previously shared comments about the ones I would try to save.

I have a large pottery jar and an ostrich egg. There is a glass tray of sea shells.  An old flour barrel has some dolls and toys.

I do have a few pieces of furniture I would like to somehow stuff in there. They wouldn’t fit in my car.  So in my imaginings, I allow him to place them in the truck.  One piece is a credenza.  It is full of glassware collected from both grandmothers, my mother and my own purchases.

Three jewelry boxes should go in the pile. For themselves as well as for the odds and ends in them.

My kitchen cabinets are an entirely separate problem. The collection of dishes, pots, pans, casseroles is two lifetimes of work.  My mother’s and my acquisitions are interwoven behind those birch panels.

I am resisting getting up from my writing to wander the house and see what I am missing in my description.

Just today, I pulled from my shelves a small assortment of vinyl LP albums. These are the melodies I would put on the turntable on sultry summer afternoons.  Exotic, dramatic orchestral performances by Mancini or Mantovani.  What does this collection of music my mother acquired reveal about her?

Many of the tunes familiar from old movies that were broadcast on our little television that got two channels, NBC and CBS, until I was a freshman in high school and mother got an antenna booster than allowed us to get ABC, too.

Those albums would go in there someplace. Though I don’t have a turntable to play them anymore, I would rather not leave them behind.

I have had to let go of so many people and so many ideas and dreams for one reason or another. My treasures, strange though they may seem to onlookers, help me feel a connection with my ancestors.  Perhaps my strange treasures will help my descendants feel a connection with them also.  And with me.

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The Right Medicine

My grandmother called them “nerve pills”.  She would go to the doctor and get a prescription for anti-anxiety pills.  I wonder what demons chased her.  I wonder why she could be so violently angry and yet so generously loving.

When I was growing up, she would come spend the night and sleep with me in my bed.  She would rub my back for the longest time.  I guess until I fell asleep sometimes.  That was good medicine for me.  I need to be touched to feel loved.  I need hugs and kisses and cuddles and back rubs to feel all is right with the world.

These days those kinds of things are scarce in my life.  There is only him and infrequently my angel baby to provide such affection.  That need in me is why in never put a certain baby down when she is with me.

I must often turn to another kind of good medicine.  A muddy waterhole on the Neches River.  It is actually a legitimate lake.  Neglected and dismissed in the shadow of grander drama queens in the area.  She is home to me as much as this house in which I live.

When the tears flow, I run to her like a mother.  I walk through my abandoned parkway and the tears fall.  I call out to the ones who have gone before.  I call out to Him.  Always, I am met with one or the other of them.  This evening my grandmother, not the one above, but the other one, passed through my mind.  I talked to her and felt her presence.  I could see her clearly and recall images of us together.

I was overcome with despair and grief at the losses I have faced.  But, then suddenly, unexpectedly, something changed.  Rather than ending in resignation and toiling home to endure a season of sadness, I stopped in my tracks and turned to the water.  I spoke out loud.

“I do not want to feel this way.  I do not want to be sad and grieving.  I do not want to feel useless and without purpose.  I will not do this.  I will not despair.”  And I looked out over my muddy waterhole and saw the beautiful lady that she is to me.  I was filled with courage, peace and strength.

Further evidence of my ever improving emotional health.  See my beautiful lady.  She shines gracefully and serenely.  Welcoming my tears and returning them to me as calmness.  She is my nerve pill.  Just to have her in sight is enough to allow me to reach deeply into my soul and straighten out the tangles of darkness.  I never know which of my ancestors will meet me.  My Lord always meets me.  And my lady, the lake herself, patiently awaits.  I live here on a hill above her.  I cannot see her from here, but she in only minutes away on running feet.  Comfort to me for as much of my half century I can recall.  Here she is in her cold winter evening shimmer, veiled with black lace.  Isn’t she lovely?

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Enough Love

I was sitting on the porch holding my great niece.  She is six months old and pure joy.  She is one of the happiest babies I have ever met.  She is doing this delightful thing of clapping the bottoms of her feet together when she lays on her back playing and laughing.  While I was holding her, I was suddenly overcome with the notion that I have to love her and her sister enough to make up for the ones missing.  They should have my mother and father still here.  There are other family members whose health and other factors reduce the time and attention available to spend with them.  I want them to feel the love I felt from my grandparents and my parents. A love that flows through time and space to them.  So much love and delight from generation to generation.

I have to talk about him for a moment.  He cooked us the best ribs and chicken for dinner today.  He is so wonderful to take time to cook something special.  Everything he cooks turns out perfect every time.  I fixed some green beans with browned butter and almonds as well as herbed corn on the cob.  I had picked up some Hawaiian rolls to go along.  For a light dessert, we had pineapple angel food cake. .  My niece and her family were here.  My angel daughter was here.  We visited and cooked and ate and played with the girls.   I don’t think my niece and her honey ate any cake.  They had to get loaded and on the road to get home.

The porch is quiet now.  I am savoring the memories freshly made.  I sting in my eyes, though.  Missing my son and his bride.  They would have been here today, too, had they been in Texas.

On Friday, he and I went to Lockhart.  On the way, we stopped to see my cousin and her husband.  She is one of my anchors.  She remembers so much of the old ways and the ancestors from years past.   She is actually my mother’s first cousin and so of that generation.  Being with her always helps me feel better about life.

We went on to our destination and had time to visit with friends from Oregon.  My young friend is a delight to be around.  Her father is a good friend to us.  She keeps telling me she wants to come to Texas to go to college.  I have reassured her father I will keep up with her.  She is a senior in high school and Oregon is a long way from her Daddy, the rest of her family, and her friends.  The reality may be less appealing than the dream for her.  I am here for her if she needs me.  I remember her coming to the kitchen at the sale barn maybe 3 years old in her cowboy boots.  Enough love for her, too.

He raises longhorns.  I am on the paperwork, too.  But, he does the real business.  Sometimes I help by standing in the way to hopefully keep a cow going the right direction.  Maybe open or close a gate or pick up feed at the feed store.  Not much real help.  But, I love the cows.  We brought home a very nice cow to add to our herd.  We got her at the Butler Sale in Lockhart.  She was bred and branded by the previously mentioned cousins.  Longhorns are more than cattle to me.  They are living history.  They are part of my history.  As a Texan and an American, I understand the difference they made in making our nation what it has become.  Enough love for him to help out.  Enough love for history to appreciate what we have.

I have a cousin struggling with illness and her mother doing all she can to help her.  I have a friend dealing with a very ill mother and personal struggles as well.  I have another friend recently dealt a hard blow in her life trying to get her feet under her and regroup.  I don’t know what to do sometimes except go sit with them, call or text them, pray with and for them.  Enough love for them.

The wonderful thing about love is that there is always enough.  Loves brings love.  Genuine love.  The kind of love that needs nothing in return.  Unconditional.  The love needed comes from His Love.  He is Love.  God is Love.  Letting go and letting Him use me to love others.  That is what I want.  That is what He wants for me, too.  He wrote it clearly in His Book.  Enough love.  Always enough.

Labor Day.  Summer’s End.  A final fling.  Fall’s Beginning.  Another season.  Always turning and returning seasons.  As life has its seasons, love has its seasons. The labor of love is no real labor.  Enough love from Him, for Him, from him, for him.  Enough love from the ancestors to the descendants.  This is my season for loving.  The grandparents’ season has passed.  The parents’ season has passed.  This is my season.  My season to do the labor of love.  I pray I do it as well as they did.   Enough love to sustain through the seasons to come.  Enough love.

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