Saturday, February 27, 2010

the winter willies

Except for a few unnamed neighbors people I know,
most folks around here
are getting just a tad sick and tired
of snow,
the forecast of another storm,
treacherous roads,
salty, grimy cars and
gritty garages.
In fact, I am getting the willies
over being cooped up inside
after week
after week.
Oh, I go outside
to shovel snow or
go to work or
walk the dog,
hoping I don't fall.
But it can't compare to
poking in the flowerbeds
planting and digging,
jumping on my bike or
eating my lunch in the summer sun.
Come  quickly, spring.
I'm weary of the winter willies.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

confessions of a road rat

I've been tearing up the roads the past six weeks. On the one hand, I love to see family and friends, discovering new places, even new countries.

Oddly, something is wired in me that makes travel a love-hate mixed bag. No matter my excitment level over a trip, a little sense a little dread creeps in. Like a voice telling me, "you don't really want to go, do you?!"

Maybe the dread can be traced to childhood as I sprawled in the back of our station wagon during cross-country trips. Oh, siblings love that. They'd whine, "Barbara's been in the back for hours!" I didn't care about being fair: my tummy always leaned to the queasy side. Or the first time I ever flew, on a prop plane at age seven and got violently sick to my stomach.

Travel as an adult moved into a new realm. Four kids on a road trip resembled a military invasion: games, books, snacks, bottles, diapers, favorite blankets and stuffed animals, pillows, and all the luggage. And don't forget the mayonnaise jar: a must for little boys small of bladder! It could hardly be called a vacation.

Well. Things have now vastly improved. No stuffed animals or mayonnaise jars! Road trips these days have morphed into opportunities to reconnect with my travel companions. A complicated travel plan came into play in December and our son David ended up riding to Ohio with us from North Carolina for Christmas. I'm not sure a 26-year-old would choose road-tripping with the 'rents, but I found it a sweet gift of time together.

Just last month, I road-tripped with my daughter Katie, almost 20, to North Carolina. A real power-trip, completed in under 72 hours. What we won't do for the newest member of the family, all 10 pounds of her!

Family road trip, summer 1965?
photographer: me

Saturday, February 20, 2010

so long, teens: Happy birthday, Katie!

Today we say farewell to nearly 14 years of teenagers as our youngest, Katie, turns 20.

I realize teenagers have a less-than-stellar reputation and we definitely had our moments around here. But overall I'd take teens over toddlers any day. They become more independent in their thinking, which can be maddening but also loads of fun.

Of course, even more fun is the young adults we now have ... they do all their laundry and figure out what's for dinner and run to Walmart for their own toothpaste.

Twenty years ago this afternoon, we added a little girl to our boy brood. An exciting day for us all. We're leaving soon to spend some time with Katie and I will update on the day soon. Happy 20th birthday, Katie!

Katie with friends Abby and Bridget at Mi Pueblo for Katie's birthday lunch. And our waiter got wind that there was a birthday ...

Friday, February 19, 2010

happy birthday, brother

Today's my big brother Pat's birthday. I've searched high and low for a photo of us from way in the past, but of course can't find it. It shows us on Martha's Vineyard during college days: my first and only time to hitchhike, thanks to Pat's daring influence.

Pat lives in South Carolina and we don't see each other enough. In fact, he and his wife Janet moved to their new home going on three years ago and we still haven't visited them there.

Anyway, seeing as how I've been under the weather since last night, this short post will have to do.

Happy birthday, Pat! And when I come across that photo, I'll be sure to post it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

no looking back

Solitary drives are a curious thing. On the one hand, I might dread hours alone on the road. Will I fall asleep? What if I have a flat tire: could I change it myself? And ... the silliest of all, what if I'm accosted in a rest area? I let go of such fears by the time I had four children in tow. Really now, who in their right mind would attack a woman with four loud, bickering children?

Last Sunday I drove solo for nearly seven hours, home from Nashville, Tennessee after visiting my dad. I'd planned to come home Monday, but another impending snowstorm brought me home a day early.

So I had lots of time to think, to reflect on conversations with my dad. A song played on a CD and I repeated it over and over again. It became a worshipful time and, I believe, God speaking to my heart and spirit.

Create in me a clean heart, O God
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence, O Lord.
Take not your Holy Spirit from me.
restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and renew a right spirit within me.

As I sang
(I sing long and loud while driving alone)
and drove
and glanced in the rearview mirror,
the day saying its farewell,
I was reminded to let go of yesterdays
living today with trust grace
and look ahead, only ahead.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

diggin' out

I totally appreciate the snowplowmen, as stated on February 8. With two storms hitting us in a week, they've had their plows full.

And I understand their caution in not wanting to slam into mailboxes. One year ours was knocked completely off the post.

But wow, our plowman was overly cautious last night, leaving a couple of feet of snowbank in front of the mailbox.

Plowmen and mail carriers, I salute you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Game Day: A Relationship Rescued *

I entered Dad’s hospital room. He stared vacantly at me and seemed vulnerable, like a scared boy. His hair spiked in all directions and he lay crookedly, unable to straighten himself.

"Do you know who I am?" I asked.

"Yes ... Barbara," he whispered.

We both began to cry, the first I’d seen him cry in 30 years.

As a girl, I often found my dad parked in his recliner on Saturday afternoons. I’d walk through the family room.

"Whatcha watchin’?" I'd ask, feigning interest.

"Football." Obviously.

"Who's winning?" Like I cared.

I really only wanted a bit of my dad's weekend. A walk in the woods, a card game, an outing for ice cream. Only on occasion did those happen. I now realize he was exhausted after a long work week. But in my 10-year-old mind, Dad seemed interested only in football and I resented that.

On this Saturday, I scanned the sports page. The Arkansas Razorbacks, Dad's favorite team, was scheduled to play.

"Dad, guess who's playing this afternoon?"

"The hawgs?" he grinned weakly.

"Yep, let's watch!"

And so we sat, Dad reclined in a hospital bed and me close beside him, watching football. I cheered the plays and pretended to understand the strategies. His Razorbacks, the very thing I once resented, drew us together that afternoon.

I cried for time lost, but I marveled at the irony. Only a great God could tenderly mend my heart by building a bridge from the source of my resentment: football, to the father I love and long to know.

* This post is my entry for the Thin Places Win a Kindle essay contest. I only learned of the contest yesterday, and the deadline is this Friday, February 12 at midnight! Entries must contain exactly 259 words and the winner will receive a free Kindle reader. Any quick writers out there, go to the site and get writing!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

snow is what happens when we're making other plans

Why yes, there has been a hefty portion of weather posts. But then, the snow just keeps coming. No sooner were we shoveled and plowed out three days ago, winter dishes up a new storm.

So, things like school and meetings and work get delayed or cancelled altogether. Once again, we're out chatting and shoveling with the neighbors.

We Ohioans are nothing if not adaptable. Serve up the snow: we can handle it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happy birthday, Mark!

(I'm borrowing from last year's post ... it still fits!)

The world doesn't embrace shy children. Nor does it celebrate the quiet and sensitive ... rather, the extroverts are noticed. "Class participation" is even given a grade in school. It's the job of families to love such children for who they are and who they'll become. The village can help, but it takes the love of family and home to nurture, encourage and wait on a quiet one to emerge.

My son Mark was such a little boy. He hid behind my legs and rarely uttered a word to strangers. But he came alive at home: a racing, tumbling jumble of a boy who loved wrestling with his dad and brothers.

It took a few years for Mark to shed his reticence. I believe there was a sort of brewing going on inside him: a quiet building of a maturity far beyond his years. He is still a young man of few words.

Today, my youngest son turns 22 years old. He is a senior in college and last summer  married a beautiful young woman, Jill. He juggles classes, marriage and a job here in town. He truly loves hard work and planning for the future. If Mark's assigned a task, it's as good as done. In this photo, notice his weary face, having spent 30 straight hours plowing snow this weekend. 

Imagine. My quiet little boy. Which just goes to show. God fashions our children for unique purposes and gives them to us for a time. For protection, nurturing and finally, release.

Happy birthday, Mark! Love you.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

whopper of the year!

I love to look up when photographing!

We got a decent snow starting yesterday morning and on through the night. Bill (who shoveled THREE separate times) estimates 14 inches. If you've never lived in a snowy climate, especially a small town, you've missed something fun. People out at all hours trying to keep ahead of the snowfall, neighbors helping each other, and most everyone cooking up a pot of soup or chili.

You'd almost think I LIKE snow, which I do when we get slammed with a big one. It's the weeks of winter road grit and slush that wear on me.

Anyway, in a way it's festive when normal life comes to a halt so that we can all dig out, eat soup and watch movies. One slight irritation with this storm is our directTV dish atop the house is covered with a snow drift. No TV. Bill mentioned firing tennis balls up there ...

Our daughter-in-love Jill came over today. Her hubby, our son Mark, has been out working for over 24 hours. His job? PLOWING for a landscape company. Please, folks ... be kind to the plow guys. They are working crazy long hours and doing the best they can.

Howling winds are predicted tonight, so instead of the Super Bowl tomorrow, we might have another round of super shoveling ... especially if our TV is still out!

Friday, February 5, 2010

travel woes

My son David flew from Florida to Akron, Ohio today for a buddy's wedding. Welcome back to Ohio, David! He arrived on the edge of a good midwestern snowstorm. I checked the Akron forecast, which is ...


But here in central Ohio, we get the heart of the storm as it races east ... trusty foretells of the hours ahead ...


It's amusing: some of the locals love it and others despair of a snowbound weekend. This February weather should come as no surprise. We do live in the midwest, after all.

I say embrace it. As for me, I hope to have a mountain of filing and organizing accomplished by weekend's end.

I also hope to have some photos to post tomorrow.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I know that many more read this blog than are 'official' followers. I invite you to sign up as a 'follower' so I have a better idea of who's reading. The link on the left will guide you through it.

Thanks so much!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


In case you missed it, this is my 300th post since beginning this blog back in July 2008.

Having written 300 posts really rather surprises me. People have asked, "do you get tired of writing?" There are many things that grow tiresome. Cleaning bathrooms. Doing laundry. Making school lunches. Playing 'Candyland' or 'Chutes and Ladders.' Driving south on route 23. Answering the "why" questions of a 4-year-old.

But no. I don't tire of writing. I can't explain how or why I've written solidly, regularly for 18 months without tiring of it. Other than the fact that God wired me to write.

Then I got to thinking about 300 and its significance. Or insignificance.

Our family endured nearly 300 days in 2003 when the four kids were teenagers simultaneously. I'm not sure I'd have wanted any more days than that, but we survived.

300 hairs on a head. That's nothing!

300 pennies is $3.00. Not big to us, but significant to many people the world over.

300 dollars. Only a portion of the cost of one semester of college textbooks. Horrifying.

300 years. In 1970, the town in which we lived celebrated her 300th birthday, called a tercentenary. (I'll bet you knew 200 is a bicentennial, but 300?) Simsbury, Connecticut did it up big that year. As a 15-year-old Girl Scout, I joined my troop in recreating an "Indian encampment" beside the Farmington River as part of the celebration. This was very cool; I imagined myself as a real Indian squaw.

OK, so where is this post going? I really don't know, so I'll end it soon. But 300 posts in 18 months. Not bad, that is if someone has created an ideal average number of times a blogger should post. Which I certainly hope isn't the case.

There. Finished. Happy 300.

Monday, February 1, 2010

worthy reads

Two people I love have posted on their blogs today, and I invite you to take a look. My younger brother, Mark, honors his first wife, Elaine, who would have turned 52 today. It's a sweet and fitting tribute.

My daughter-in-love Jill makes a beautiful connection between "weirdness" and the Christian life. I relate closely with this post and love how Jill crafted it.

Finally, happy birthday to my beautiful granddaughter, who is one month old today. She and her dad have a new portrait ...