Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thirty-four Years On

At one point, he told me he felt like a yo-yo.  I had stopped, then resumed, then stopped, then resumed dating him 2 or 3 times.  I think he asked me to marry him just to get it over with.

I made him wait 3 days for my answer while I consulted the urim and thumim (according to ancient Hebrew theology), fasted, prayed, and ran through every conceivable reason why I shouldn't say yes.

I think it was his patience in waiting that finally won me over.

1978bride and groom copy

And so, much to the delight of our parents and friends, and in spite of having second thoughts the night before ("are you out of your mind?  You don't really know this man!"), my Dear Professor and I found ourselves standing in front of the altar of Houston's First Baptist Church on December 20, 1975, me in my mother's wedding dress, he in a rented black tux, saying "wherever you go, I shall go" and pledging our troth for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.  Inside his wedding band I had the jeweler inscribe Hosea 2:19-20.  Some friends sang the words in a song I had composed for another's wedding 2 years before,  "I betroth thee unto me forever, in loving kindness forever."

Writing that song had made me aware of an ache inside, an ache to be known and loved deeply.  And now, standing in that place I had known all my life,  I cried . . . for the beauty, the joy, the holiness of that moment.

Yes, in these 34 years together there have been other moments I am not proud of.  Moments of selfishness, anger, hurt, missing each other. I think a good marriage is like a good pair of jeans. It takes the wear and tear of everyday life and laundering to make them soft, comfortable, and fit.

And lots of talking.  "Keep talking, from the talking comes the love."

And Jesus. He is the source of love that can overcome our selfishness and brokenness.  I don't know how other couples manage without Him at the center, drawing their hearts to Him and through Him into the other.


I almost gave up on him.  When our children were young and he was preoccupied with his career, I decided one day I had had enough.  I'd take the kids and move back in with my parents until I had sorted out my life.  The next thought sobered me up--it wouldn't work, my parents would send me right back to him!

I'm glad I didn't listen to the voice of anger that day.  I'm glad we stuck together through the difficult times.  What we have now is worth it all.

If I had it all to do over again . . . I wouldn't make him wait 3 days.

Happy Anniversary, my Truth Seeker, my Atticus Finch, my Braveheart, my Darcy, my Dearest Professor.

 "Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!''
Robert Browning

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A light frost and full heart

We awoke Thursday morning to a light frost after a very cold night. It takes longer to get going on cold mornings--from the exercise of will to abandon warm covers to the piling on of coat and scarf and glove. Then, finally,  the scraping of ice off the windshield.

As I walked around the front of my vehicle I paused just short of the driver side door and held my breath.


The frost had left a perfect present on my windshield. I grabbed my camera instead of the ice scrapper.


Such an extravagant array of beauty.  Can you see the tiny  florets?

tiny treasures

Normally the snowflakes are so dense I carelessly sweep them away, unaware of the beauty, the intricate patterns I am wasting.  They ARE unique!  Each one bearing a distinct image stamped by temperature, altitude, the hand of their Creator.

frosty sunrise

On my left, the new day's sun peeked from behind branches and window frost.


On my right, a tiny snowflake played hide and seek amongst the ice fractrals.  Do you see it?

"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads." Henry David Thoreau

And sometimes, sometimes it can be found on our windshield.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Where there is dark, light!


As we begin the journey into the darkest part of the year, I find myself recounting the flashes of light over the last 11 months...

31. Last January's snow,
snowy mist

32. Spring in all her glory,


33. The Texas sun beating down on a day of fun with Principessa and her friend Ashley,

aloe big 2

34. Time spent with family in Texas,


35. A birthday tour of Texas wine country with my sister iPodite,


36. Sunrise over a North Carolina beach shared with our Sprittles,


37. The late summer sky,


38. A still pool and late summer's flowers,


39. The quiet of a beloved retreating place,


40. A glorious moon at daybreak.


For these glimpses of light and life, and more, I am grateful.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

Won't you join me as I join others in the impossible--the recounting of those "countless gifts of love" at the gratitude community?

holy experience

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Crazy

We always knew when Mom was getting in the Christmas spirit. She had a phrase she would use, always spoken with joy and anticipation. And a smile.

"My yingles are yingling!"

We don't know where it came from (Mom was a dyed in the wool Southern Baptist teetotaler which means she knew nothing about the Yeungling beer that is so popular with local college students in the Frozen North), but that phrase has become a tradition among the women in our family, a code to indicate we are shifting into Christmas overdrive. Our dear Principessa sent me an email the day before Thanksgiving with the title, "yingles", and an included picture of her little Christmas tree all decorated and ready for the season.

The "yingles" kick all other sorts of family traditions into motion--decorating, shopping for gifts, serious baking of goodies. Sometimes they also initiate a little craziness. This was the year for crazy.

Let me explain something important here. I hate shopping. I'd rather have a root canal without benefit of anesthetic than go shopping. I also hate crowds. I'm a closet hermit. Given that, what on earth would cause a normally sane person to jump into the Black Friday madness? I blame it on Principessa. She spotted an Old Navy ad for a free Lego Rock Band game for early shoppers who spent at least $20.

I have already chronicled my introduction to Rock Band here, and my love of gadgets here, so need I say more? Fortunately, my local Old Navy opened at 10pm Thanksgiving night. Principessa's opened at 3am Friday morning. I think I got a better deal.


I showed up at the mall at 8:30pm after having tucked my Dear Professor at the computer with the Texas-A&M football game blaring. As I sat in the my car in the dark, intent on each move toward the door, I kept asking myself the same questions over and over, "Are you CRAZY?????????" "What on EARTH are you doing here??"

At 9pm a few started lining up at the door and I grudgingly left the comfort of the car to take my place. I stood there in line with about a dozen people and listened to stories about bugs and cars and other shopping deals. I continued my internal mantra as I shuffled to keep warm. "I am NOT crazy! I am NOT crazy!!"


At 9:45pm a brave employee appeared bearing paper bracelets to claim the prize. The door opened promptly at 10pm, and we politely marched in. After 30 minutes inside the store, I emerged with some much needed clothing gifts for our youngest son, The Dreamer, the desire to get home and warm as quickly as possible, and a Lego Rock Band game. Last night Principessa and I enjoyed playing a couple of songs together via cell phone. Technology CAN help us reach out and touch.


But there were a few brief moments before the door opened late Thursday night that I wanted to turn to my fellow crazies in line and say, "I know where we can all get a free gift, any time of the year, and no standing in line or purchase is necessary. It's a really expensive gift. Free. It lasts forever, no batteries required, and never needs an upgrade."

"It's the gift of eternal life from God our Father through Jesus Christ His Son."

I wish I had. Now THAT would have been a real Christmas gift worth standing in line for.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

psychedelic turkey

Monday, November 2, 2009

Gratitude Attitude


Today's entry is a marked departure from the last. But then, life is full of surprises and complexity. If you're at all curious, come join me at 91-1 for an explanation of the above photo.

holy experience

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rifles and hunters and deer, oh my!

"The frost is on the pumpkin


the goose is getting fat.


Please put a penny in an old man's hat.

Don't you just love fall? It ushers in a jumble of family holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Deer Season...

In this part of the Frozen North, Deer Season is a serious enough holiday that it rates a day off from school. That's because nothing spells family time like hunkering down together in the early morning cold and damp, clutching your high powered deer assault weapon and waiting for the first sign of Bambi's mom. Ahhhh, the smell of gunpowder...


Last year I actually purchased a deer license. Of course, nothing ever came of it because I don't have a rifle or a clue what to do with Bambi's mom after she lays lifeless at my feet. I just wanted to experience the thrill of looking through the Hunting and Trapping Digest with my fellow citizens.


If you are proficient in all sorts of weaponry you could probably hunt for something year round. People in the Frozen North take their right to bear arms seriously. That, and glow in the dark orange vests. (they're not just for construction workers anymore!)

Since we have fields around Iron Acres, I am well acquainted with hunters. A neighbor down the road once told me she caught one leaning against the backside of her house getting reading to pull the trigger on the deer that come to her backyard feeder. I take a certain delight in imagining her chasing off Rambo with her kitchen broom!


I understand the problem with deer overpopulation in Pennsylvania--they make messy speed bumps. I also understand the desire to take care of your family by putting some meat in the freezer.

What I don't like is being awakened in the wee hours of a fall morning by the sound of rapid gunfire close by, wondering if some overzealous newbie wielding a shiny, new, high-powered rifle whose potential trajectory can cover several miles has mistaken my geese, dog, or house for a deer!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Farm Memories: Drunk and Giving Birth

The leaves are falling, the sun is setting sooner, the cold is settling in blankets of morning fog here in the Frozen North. The long winter nights give rise to memories of days gone by...

waiting for daylight

It was almost midnight and I was in the barn alone with my first goat about to give birth. Uh, let me make that perfectly clear. The goat was giving birth, not me.

I was well acquainted with the process firsthand from a human standpoint, having borne three children of my own "naturally". One would think that after the first time I would have insisted on heavy duty drugs and lots of them, but no-o-o-o, this was the seventies, gosh darn it, and the natural way was better for my babies. Thank you for where was I? Oh yes, the goat, not me, was about to give birth.

It was both thrilling and humbling that this particular goat, the herd queen, seemed to desire my presence. She was still hours from the event, but experiencing some discomfort and that wisdom of what is to come that animals are gifted with, when I heard a loud rustling sound out in the pasture.

Was it a pack of coyotes waiting to devour the helpless animal babies about to be born? I scanned the stall for something to use as a weapon to defend both doe and kid, but the ever present manure shovel was nowhere to be found. As my eyes stared into the blackness I began to see a human form. A male human form. My concern for the goat's safety shifted to concern for my own. (Where WAS that manure shovel?)

About twenty feet away from the maternity stall, a confused individual appeared from the middle of the fenced pasture, weaving toward the fenceline. He saw me in the light of the barn and asked, "Is this thing on?" (refering to the electric fence which at that moment just happened to be turned off.) I found myself wishing I could say, "Yes it is, and if you touch it both you and your unborn children and grandchildren will feel it." But all I managed was a startled "No", and watched him struggle through the wires and stumble on his way toward the road.

I drew a deep breath and turned my attention back to the mom to be. Marie bore twin kids that night without complication, and I became a genuine goat midwife.


But 17 years later, the question still remains. Where did our inebriated visitor come from? And where was he going? Behind the pasture was acres of woods, beyond the fence was a lonely country road.

I suppose that is just one of the "perks" of living in the country. One never knows who is going to stop by.

Another is horses running wild on the road, but that's a story for another day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Road to Winter

The road to winter is paved with ripening cornfields...


foggy mornings...


beautiful sunrises...


chameleon leaves shedding summer's green.

Autumn leaves

The road to winter is paved with brilliant trees...


brooding skies...


red rose hips...

rosa rugosa hips

and leaf strewn streams.


The road to winter leads to home, cozy winter fires, warm family gatherings and time to dream...


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Goodnight Moon

The day began with a pale moon skirted by pink clouds...


... and a shy sunrise.


Down the road, a neighbor's ripening soybean field was changing colors along with the leaves.


The sun and blue sky was a welcome change from the typical gray of fall.


Yes, it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. And the day's beauty continued with the lengthening shadows across the corn field.


And the setting sun...


...made way for the harvest moon.


Goodnight sky, goodnight leaves, goodnight soybeans, goodnight field, goodnight corn, goodnight farm, goodnight moon.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saturday Sillies: Locust Theatre Presents -- The Princess Bride

Thank you Rob Reiner and William Goldman for one of my favorite movies. Please forgive me for the liberties I am about to take with it...

Locust Theatre Presents "The Princess Bride"

"Has it got any sports in it?"

"Farm boy, get me that pitcher!"
"As you wish"

“Do you want me to send you back to where you were... unemployed... in GREENLAND?!”

“You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never to get involved in a land war in Asia. And only slightly less well known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

“Mawwage is what bwings us togwether today....”

"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die!!"

P1500943 copy
There have been five great kisses since 1642 B.C. ... (before then couples hooked thumbs.) And the precise rating of kisses is a terribly difficult thing, often leading to great controversy...Well, this one left them all behind.