Mar 30, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

FYI:  This post has nothing to do with Mr. Rogers. Except that it was a beautiful day in our neighborhood. So if Mr. Rogers was your draw here, then, feel free to carry on.

When we came home from Texas, one of the things we brought back with us was a picnic table and benches that my grandpa built when I was young.

The story is that he was driving in town one day and spotted a set in the back of someone else's truck. He liked the shape of them, so he came home and explained it to my grandmother: "This is what I want to build!"

The fact that I am visual in my creativity in that I need to "see" something before I can create something (even if it's in my own mind) is a characteristic I got honestly. From Grandma. She couldn't see it from description alone. So he took out some cardboard and drew his pattern for her to see and him to use.

The result is a beautiful picnic table and bench set that is as unique as he was.

When I was little, he used to tell me, "Matchabelli..." (as in, Prince Matchabelli perfume...I told you -- unique)...he'd say, "Matchabelli, you need to drink all that orange juice. It'll make your eyes curly and your hair blue." I'd laugh, and he'd look at me like, "What's so funny?" And then grin that precious smile of his.

Grandpa was the one who would squeeze me so tight that I had to hold my breath. I simply couldn't take any air in my lungs while he hugged me. Grandma would get onto him for hugging me so tight, but he loved me so much he couldn't help it. Those were great hugs.

Grandpa was also the one who, when I was four years old and loving the Love Boat show, promised me that when I was 16 he would take me on the Love Boat. And the summer before my 16th birthday, gave up his dream to take an Alaskan cruise because I had always pictured a tropical one, and took me and Grandma to the Bahamas.

He was a great man.

So, back to the picnic table.

Grandma didn't have room for it anymore, so she asked if we wanted it.

Um, that would be a yes.

Today was so much the perfect blue-sky-crisp-breeze-birds-singing-in-the-trees kind of day that we took a break from school to have lunch on Grandpa's picnic table.

Thank you, Lord, for a special Grandpa, warm memories, some awesome boys, and an uber-gorgeous day.

Mar 26, 2010

Flashback Friday

Linda at Mocha with Linda has started a meme called Flashback Friday! Here's her prompt for this week:
What was Easter like when you were little? For example, did you receive a basket with toys and candy? Was the Easter Bunny part of your family's celebration? Did your family integrate both secular and spiritual aspects of the day? Did you dye Easter eggs. . . .and did your family eat them afterwards? Did you usually get a new outfit? (Post a picture if you have one!) Does any Easter stand out particularly? You might also share how your Easter today is similar or different to your childhood?
Easter when I was little was really more secular than anything. I never made the connection between what I saw as Easter and the Resurrection of Christ until I was much older.

But most of my early Easters were spent at my Granny's house in the beautiful hill country of Texas. My favorite memories of all those Easters are encompassed in one thing: bluebonnets.

I used to take a basket out in the meadow and pick as many bluebonnets as I could fit in it. Now, if you pull over on the side of the road and try to do that, you'll get heckled and honked at by drivers on the highway. Rumor has it you can even get arrested for it! (at least that's what they say *wink*) 

Bottom Line: You're flat not supposed to pick bluebonnets on the Texas highway; you're taking away from everybody else's enjoyment of them when you do that.

But if you're on private land, now that's a diff'rnt story. And my Granny's land had more bluebonnets than dirt during the spring time, so propagating them wasn't really an issue.

So I would pick me a big basket full and take them back to Granny's house and make designs on the back porch with them. I would lay them out in the shape of Easter baskets, bunny rabbits, eggs (decorated with other wildflowers like buttercups and indian blankets):

Then the Easter bunny would come and fill the "baskets" I had made for all the family...each person got their own basket. My basket always included these staples: hollow chocolate bunny, a ceramic Easter "knick-knack," and a stuffed animal. I adored stuffed animals.

My other favorite memories include many walks down that old country road wearing my new Easter dress (Grandma was always so faithful to get me a new dress for Easter). I truly enjoyed the birds singing and the bright sun warming my face as I walked down Granny's driveway, which had to be a half mile long.

What a beautiful place she had.

As for now, we don't really buy into all the bunny hype for Easter. I think it rather takes away from the point of the celebration. I usually wake the boys for church by saying, "Happy Resurrection Day!" For which I always get a sleepy smile.

We don't do Easter baskets anymore, since we don't have bluebonnets here, but we usually do dye eggs a day or so before and then have an egg hunt in the yard. I don't usually buy the hollow bunnies, but last year I did find some chocolate crosses, which I was thrilled to see and buy for my boys. And we may not give many material gifts to each other, but we gift the gift of ourselves to each other.

After church, we usually spend the rest of the day cooking brisket, beans, and potato salad, some kind of yummy dessert (like banana pudding), and drinking sweet tea. And after the egg hunt is done, we find all the "Resurrection Eggs" out of our baskets, and go through them one at a time retelling the story of Jesus' death on the Cross and Resurrection on that blessed Easter morning.

Just special family time to celebrate a special family Holy-day.

What about you? Do you have any special Easter memories? What do you do for Easter to stay focused on the true meaning? Be sure and check out Linda's and others' answers at Mocha with Linda!

Mar 24, 2010

Where In Sam Hill is...Sam Hill?

So I got this to-the-point comment from a great blogging buddy the other day. Basically, she just wanted to know where in the “sam hill” I’ve been lately.

So now I’m inspired to share.

Right now it’s 3:30 am, {as in morning} and I’m in the family truck headed to Texas. Our quad cab is stuffed to the door jams with favorite pillows, cuddly teddy bears, overflowing food bags filled with junk food we don’t ordinarily eat (and a few pieces of fruit thrown in for “balance”). We have no less than five large travel coffee mugs (for only two adults, mind you)… and it’s all surrounded by windows full of obscurity…except for the reflective white lines that disappear into it.

We’re somewhere in Alabama right now, and I have to tell you, since there is nobody else awake in this state besides the few of us on the road, it feels more like we’re running on an oversized asphalt treadmill rather than actually going anywhere.

Now don’t get me wrong, Alabama is a beautiful state…with all its rolling green hills and tall, thick evergreens. It’s just that I can’t see any of that right now. All I can see is pitch black all around, and a relatively short portion of road illuminated before us. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of another’s presence on the journey, but all I see are headlights. Or taillights. I can’t see who’s in the vehicle, where they’re going, or what they’re doing to stay awake. All I know is they are either ahead of me to some degree, or maybe coming up behind me, or just plain going in the opposite direction.

Some are even pulled over on the side of the road, resting.

We have guidelines to follow that show us the way, signs posted to alert us to what is up ahead, and the capacity to decide if we’ll stay on the road, obeying the directions, or suffer the consequences of veering off road.

I’m struck with the parallels of life here: Limited view. Sometimes, a WAY limited view. The necessity of following the written directions established by the Authority…or face impending danger if they are ignored one too many times. Occasional glances into the journey of others; and the stillness, perhaps even brokenness of a few along the way.

Sometimes it feels like I’m running like a dog, but not actually going anywhere. Tonight is reminding me that it’s all about perspective. When I’m 75, am I really going to feel like I didn’t go anywhere? I don’t think so. Because by then, I’ll be able to do something I just can’t do now: see the journey as a whole.

Right now, I can only see a few feet in front of me. All the time. That’s why it feels like there’s no progress. But those white lines were painted on my road before the foundation of the world. That’s something one can trust.

Lord, help me keep my eyes and my heart focused on what You have given me to do with this life You have redeemed.

I guess this is one of those “life is like…” posts. But you know what? As long as the journey takes me to the closest Whataburger once in a while, I’m just going to enjoy the ride.