Friday, August 24, 2012

what a good woman won't' do…not much.

"You're gonna do what Mama?" I asked, face squinched.
"Well, honey, it's not often I get to do something for Chris that he really needs or wants.  I'll make a party out of it."
So there we were this morning at 3.00, Mama clanging pans, cooking meat and whipping biscuits.  By 4.00 the kitchen was fairly bustling. We had coffee brewing, all the lamps on and Daddy frying thick bacon slabs.  We were slicing and buttering biscuits and Mama was slapping flour on Daddy's face. When Chris got there at 4.30 or 5.00 he took the sacrificial biscuit and tried it for us, then had two or three more because Mama scrambled eggs and made gravy and there was this season's jam of course, and a strong brew of coffee.
At Delta, there's a policy that if you're late, you bring breakfast one day for the guys on your crew.  Chris has taken lots of breakfasts, but this one was going to put all the rest to shame.  He's day shift, which means getting up at 3.30 am… and for Chris that's not easy, but he was here sharp and bright eyed, poking us and squeezing, kissing Mama, peering at the pots and exclaiming,
"Boy! Smells Good! Think I could smell it from the driveway. Law, law!!!"
"You called Sam, Chris? I want him to get one. You tell him I'm thinking especially of him while I'm making all this." Mama has made food for the guys before, delivered some of their babies, helped out with some life problems they've taken to her, prayed for them, etc. etc.
"Yes'm. I was telling the guys the other day about this and Roger - well, you gotta know Roger. You just can't argue with him, but - "
"He the Japanese guy that gave Dawn the necklace?" Anne shuffled past, fresh from bed, straight to the coffee pot, arm outstretched limply.
"Yeah. He's the one. Well, I told him about Mama making the biscuits and - "
"Honey, stir that right there - Melody, you have those eggs beaten?…Oh! don't open the oven, biscuits rising, Chris, grab that handle."
"Whad'ya say he said, Chris?" Daddy, with black coffee, feet crossed under the table.
"Well, he's all about healthy foods and he sees me eatin' healthy all the time so he starts sayin' 'Ahh…I bet she'll make those whole wheat biscuits….turn out flat!' So I didn't argue with him. Ya just can't."
"That why the number went from 21 to 20?" asked Mama. 
"Reckon so."
"Poor Roger," I say.  "Will Lance be there?"
"Yep, he'll be there."
"I wonder if he'll be wearing Auburn colors." And I laughed to myself because the first time I saw Lance was outside Chris' window, and all I remember was thinking "My…now that's one dedicated Auburn fan." He wore Auburn everything, down to flip flops and tricked Dawn into blindly saying that innocent little line to her soccer coach {an equally dedicated Alabama fan}  'WAR EAGLE'.  He told her just which way to say it, of course.  The intonation, and stress of words. So next time she saw her coach - whom she revered something heavy - she obediently blurted out, "WAR EAGLE, Coach!!!"  Dawn has never forgotten Lance. Nor forgiven him and she is now an unbendable Alabama fan.
 By six we were rolling the ice chest full of biscuits down the walkway to Chris' car, loading it with meats and jellies and notes for him to remember certain things throughout the day, plates, spoons and bags, and then it was Chris rolling out the driveway, in the dark, us waving and dew falling so thick it was almost rain. But it wasn't. We could see the stars bright and clear.

 mischievous mama.

handsome feller.

My eyes were blurry and squinted and I hadn't coordinated my walk yet. It was still the morning shuffle, but I went in the living room at 8.40 after sleeping again and saw Mama chatting with Daddy, Daddy with his boots on and coffee in his hand, hair combed.
  "Mom…you didn't go back to bed?"
"Well, hun," she said airily, "I tried, but every time I did the phone rang or I got a text or something. You'll have to see the text though," and she pulled out her phone.  It was from Chris and said,
"A smashing success," with a photo of empty containers, pots and jars.  Mama wrote back,
"Does it mean all gone?"
"Yep. And all the guys say to thank you."
Mama turned to us and said, "I just thought you'd like to see the fruit of your labors."
"Nothing," Mel and I replied.  She laughed.
"Yes, Nothing!  You've got empty containers and that's it.  Hate to say all that work was in vain, but there you go!"
"Isn't that the perpetual reward of women's labors?  Empty pots?" as I observed that continuous cycle.  "But reckon that's a good thing."

Full bellies make happy men and both are essential to life, as we know full well.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

congrats, dawn.

Dawn was my grammar student last year and being the generous, thoughtful, briber I am, I thought I'd take her on an "End of School Outing" in May to celebrate finishing school and forever seal my unquestionable position as 'Blameless Tutor'. Well, that day came finally, though a little later than I had planned.  Not sure how May melted into August like this, but it still works, eh?  So congratulations to Dawn! She officially finished grammar today.

She came to my room last night and we talked til nearly 12 about mind paths, where $20 bills have been, the challenge and reward of school, men like Thomas Jeff, John A. and John Q and the capabilities of humans. 
She started explaining an idea she has about  the collective force of multiple minds working together…but she didn't finish it.
"…all these different channels of thought and possibility and - oh! I get jittery just thinkin' about it, but what if all those channels of thought were connected, why, then someone in Japan could be thinking something and someone here could know what they're thinking and it's just - ah! so amazing.  …….and that's when I stop talking," she said, gathering her dollar bills and jumping off the bed resolutely, 
"because I get so excited it starts getting weird, so I take my money and walk out and put it in an envelope labeled 'tennis shoes'. 

Introducing 'Mango Tango'... little joint in town with super good frozen yogurt and sorbets.

incredibly thankful for this kid.
can't imagine my life without her…she's more than one in a million,
she's dawn.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dickens at Sea

 {    Life is so full sometimes I can't seem to pick out one thing from my brain and just write about it because all the other topics are equally bursting at the seams to be written about; so I have to compromise.  Turn away altogether from those thoughts that occupy so much of my time and write or copy something completely unattached to those eager topics. 
 Hence, a sea post, as we just visited it last week and more conveniently a journal excerpt.   }

                                                                                                                      Thursday, Aug. 
16, 2012 

I like the sound of laughter coming from inside our sea cottage and the continual scraping of furniture being shoved around, for there is always a new reason to move it again.  Move it all together for a movie, shove it apart for daily traffic; move it to corners for cozy, low conversations and all facing each other for devotions.
  Our house is a tall thing on stilts and with ivy in a canopy over the archways. 
  We have been happily situated in a quiet nook at the southern tip of the island.  Daddy was preparing to begin Dicken's "Our Mutual Friend" and he said 'Y'all boys come in here and learn how to get a girl!"
It's a stormy day and we've been snugly tucked away with pillows, blankets and arms, hands and hair cuddled and intwined together as we're heaped on couches, much like puppies. 
The dialogue in-between the script is almost as entertaining as the script itself. 
"What is happening? Why are they digging in the heap?"
"It is the bone man and the one - legged guy…" 
"He is a REALLY bad guy now, isn't he?"
"If you get attached to him, believe me, he'll die," said Mercy morbidly.
Uncle Zack nervously rubbed his fingers together, "Oh…gohllly…good grief…get out. shoot, man…this is gettin' kinda…scary…"
"Oh no! Oh no!" Mama shouted. We were all on edge.  "Not the river! not the RIVERRRR!!!" 
"…Goodness…she's going to refuse him…." And Grandmama looked dubious and perplexed.  "She's going to refuse him and he's going to drown…"
"Yep." said Uncle Zack, rubbing furiously and shaking his head with an intensely blank look on his face. "They're gonna drown together…Gohhhly…"
 At the sight of two men struggling at the river drop off, and both drowning, Grandmama exclaimed, 
"Dickens went a little far with that one!………..a little too far, I think."
At the end, Uncle Zack vowed off Dickens forever, Chris sighed heavily and said, pacing, "Boy! I'm just gonna have to think about all' at…." and Grandmama looked at her book "Christy" and said after a moment of silence…"My….Christy just may not be that exciting after Dickens…"
  Grandmama reads and I lie here, my head on her lap. She strokes my face and plays with my hair. Her hands are cool and strong. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

mondays are for sentimentalists

If I didn't know our family, I wouldn't think it possible for such a sentimental bunch of people to exist. 
I remember the one and only time Daddy changed the lock on the Purple Bathroom Door. He did it when we girls were occupied with something else and so we didn't notice it until one of us blithely skipped in there and turned the lock - What??? It was not the same one at all. Oh that wretched lock! It didn't click when we turned it, and the knob didn't make the swish noise when it twisted. It was bright and shiny and gaudy where our other one was worn with the familiar grip of all our hands…TERROR!  We held a grudge against that knob for the longest time and some were near to tears when it first happened. I believe this is the moment Daddy realized just what he could be in for.  Ever since then, he has been sure to warn us about changes in the house, having sit down pow-wow's and mourning sessions which has alleviated some of the bitterness in change's sting.
Today I found a big piece of crumpled paper on my bed. On it was painted in a scrawling hand a riddle about roses and violets and the name of a 'supposed' flame. I saw it and hmphed, smiling.  Dawn had painted that at least 5 years ago, and I remember exactly where we were when she did it.
"I was going to throw it away," she explained, "But Merry said I should show it to you."
She walked away and I went to fold it and toss it but it stuck in my hand, and I couldn't find a good enough reason to toss away such a valuable piece of history and in the end it was stuffed away in a cozy little nook in the closet.
  Sometimes life shoots pure shots of joy. I've taken note of some of these happy scenes and here are some:

  • Old man in line with his wife, rubbing her shoulders in the slightly gruff, very manly but gentle way and leaning down every once in a while to smile at her and say something that made her smile.
  • Dashing colored couple in the rain, the gentleman holding the umbrella over her bent shoulders and standing very tall in an overcoat
  • Chris at his house sitting in the middle of a pile of books and odd sentimental objects…a 'do not remove from AC' sign, a ticket he got in Guatemala, dixie tag, WW2 posters, autographed, napkins from Puerto Rico, photos from Philippines, outdated clothes and foreign money.
  • Our church members standing on the edge of a river, one very sunny Sunday, singing and watching Daddy and Dylan wade out into the water for baptizing. The sun filtering down through leaves and brother Hermon wearing his daughter's black square sunglasses.
  • Dawn. And her face when she talks to me. Or talks at all. I could stare at her expressions without saying anything, for a very long time.  If you haven't talked to her lately, do it. The conversation is generally twice the reward, and it's almost impossible to walk away without reflecting.