Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving in the woods

We have returned from a trip to the woods. On Wednesday we headed across the county and up to the top of a mountain to camp. I was glad to see the temperatures rising as Thanksgiving draw near. Yet as the dusk came so did coolness. It gets dark early these days so by 5:15 we were happy for flashlights and lanterns.

As we huddled around the campfire it occurred to me that we were fairly close to Jones Valley- a shopping area that is about 30 miles from home but only a few miles from camp. Being homebodies we normally hibernate at home once we arrive there so often we might think of a movie but tend not to venture out. I presented the idea to Papa and after a quick hotdog dinner off to town we went. Not our normal camp activity but just right for that cool evening, made me feel like we were tourists or on vacation. The laughter and fun of the movie Bolt proved to be a good start to our time in the woods.

Thanksgiving day began early at camp- by 6 am we were stuffing Tom the turkey into the smoker and cranking th heat up to get him smoking. Throughout the day he was checked, new wood added and he continued to smoke. It was a leisure day of walks and knitting and visiting as we slowly prepped for the soon to arrive visitors. We had invited neighbors and friends.

Around noon they began to arrive and we began to put finishing touches on the meal. As the gathering grew we handed out treasure hunt lists and teams scattered to find items of interest and creativity. After our dinner the judging began and it was fun to see what was collected and how creative some folks had been. We had parts of a dead skunk, a dead snake and a flattened, dehydrated frog with price tag all presented for a category. Where items were not to be found the pens and paper came into use as they were written out or illustrated.

Paul and I agreed that the moment that made all the work of the day so worthwhile was seeing our neighbor and her daughter (19) chasing a salamander, dancing in the leaves and smiling like little kids. It was a delight to share the day with them as "dad" is away in Iraq and having walked that path we know how hard such holidays can be.

The meal was enjoyed with words of what we are thankful for and thanks given to God for the many blessings and joys He has allowed in our lives. It was a blessing to share the day with several families with diverse traditons yet all enjoying the natural setting and the woodsmoke that warmed us

Thanksgiving in the woods is a bit different, but having gone to the woods for 3 or 4 years now i believe it is also addictive. To be surrounded by nature, away from electronic distractions and touching a bit of the pilgrim lifestyle brings out an appreciation for modern life and the beauty of the world has created for us.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Refurbishing the throne room

Today has been a day of changed plans and activity. We hoped to rake leaves but the blessed rain of last night changed that plan. Then as we were planning trips to town the word "bookstore" came up and the middle two clammored to go with us so off we went on a multi stop shopping trip.

Years ago Saturday morning shopping was the norm, but its been years. Years ago having the family all around was also the norm. I have forgotten what it is like to have 3 kids hanging about as I make decisions. Kind of crazy, kind of fun. Many of them went off on the coupon run- finding the coupon item as I did the other items. We survived and Dad endured the teasing and poking of many fingers. Memories were made, one child even suggested it should be repeated every few months.

The main purchase of the day was a new throne to reign upon in the kitchen bath. The main dancers are tired of dancing with the throne room sceptor, so the research team came up with a replacement and it was procured today. Not to miss an opportunity to share "life skill points" with any of the prodigy the princess was tapped for the job. She and the Burgmister have since been engaged in the process of removal and replacement.

Yet, not to miss out on the fun the elder princes took possession of the old throne and used it as a base for some creative photography. It has been a while since a family picture and depending upon the outcome of todays endevor it may be awhile again. yet in the midst of it all came laughter and creativity as the kinder bonded under their originality and quirky use of porcelin.

As the sun prepares to set I find myself filled with the sweetness of the day, time with children of all ages, life shared with my bear and normal tasks but made richer by the company of the day. The throne room is being restored to normal with delight in knowing that dances should no longer be held before the new throne off the kitchen. Soon we hope to shut down the master dance room and the upstairs dance hall.

The moral of the story is when building a house spend the extra for a better functioning throne!

Friday, November 7, 2008

living with the clothing clueless

We started our life together years ago with a life in the military, as such our closet was filled with uniforms, church clothes and a few other shirts and pants. The daily choice was dress uniform or BDUs', not really choices as they had set choices preselected by the powers that be.

Fast forward to 2007, the Mr is now working in midlevel management. The "uniform" has changed to business casual or a business suit or on Fridays casual attire. Though truth be known he tends to side on the casual side more than not, as I married a man who favors jeans and flannel shirts. He loves to dress down on the weekends. He longs for the "wooby" (lined flannel shirt that has been broken in) of 20 years ago. It has disappeared so the favorite is the 10yr old version. Nice.

On any given workday morning our darkened bedroom is interesting.
me- "what are you wearing"
him- "the greenish pants and the red kind of shirt"
me- "let me turn on the light" click "no, they don't really go."
him"why not"
me "the pants are casual, the shirt is not"
him "oh, well pick something out for me"

And so it went at first. Then I bought hangers and color coded the pants and shirts on matching kind of hangers. That worked ok. I then got out the paint chip charts and created a matching chart. The chart shows possible pant colors and possible shirt colors that co-ordinate. Oh to have adult gerr-animals that we had as kids- all the cats match, all the horses match. My color chip chart is the closest I could come up with easily.

Recently after a few weeks of "that isn't a casual shirt, its a dress shirt" mornings I got smart. I pulled out the label maker and have added a new feature to the closet for the clueless. He now has labeled sections in his part of the closet- casual shirts, pants (cargo pants), dress pants and dress shirts. Ahh, I think we have the solution here.

** For the record my dear husband tries really hard, its just that he has a learning gap here. Just as I have one for computers- I can use them and figure some of it out, but need lots of tutorials, his is a visual thing when it comes to clothes, colors and textures. He lovingly remembers the days of ease- the days of uniforms and few choices beyond clean or worn before pants and shirts as they all looked alike. So, I am thankful for the visual eye that I was born with and the bit of fashion sense I have gleaned over time. It has been fun to find creative ways to make something that was listed among his "hardest things in his life" to be a bit easier for him. Another way to be a "helpmeet" for my bear!

Monday, November 3, 2008

falling like flies

A few weeks ago my husband came home with the news that another couple we know are taking the path of least resistance- Divorce. In the past year it has felt like the couples around us are falling like flies. Different reasons, same reasons, reasons unknown- always something that spurs them to say "I'm done".

First came the couple we've known the longest from our military life. The call came after the D day occured, a tearful tale of infidelty, quick divorce and now a long time friend now leaving town and saying goodbye. She has managed to land on her feet in another state. Thankfully she has been provided well in the midst of it, and has turned to God in the midst of the pain. She is still very much in recovery but seeking God and finding solace there.

This past spring brought work related deaths of marriages. Boredom, too much separation, not enough connection, not really sure. But all of a sudden I found that my husband was surrounded by men who were no longer married to their wives- some happily, others tearfully yet the death occurred. And all so quickly it seemed. I spoke to one of the men, encouraging slowing down and breathing in the midst of the pain, but it all was too much- better quickly done than enduring the pain longer was the response.

We are not ignorant of marital strife, pain and mistakes. We have made our share of mistakes. Yet somehow in the midst of it all we have been stubborn enough to hold on and hang out and ride the wave of pain, the quell of quiet and slowly do the recovery work that comes with our own stupidity. Not easy, not fun, I dont like to admit it or visit it, but worth it all.

A few weeks ago as word came of another impeding split came my heart broke again. I wondered aloud to my husband if he would ask for a divorce if I came down with Alzheimers or was suddenly disabled and he'd have to scrap plans for the future as he desired it to be. That was my analogy of what was happening in the recent death scene- tired of what is, and as he looked at untold years ahead he wanted something different. As I came to grips with such thinking I thought of how life can change plans and we can make choices to change with or change commitments. Not easy to stay with early commitments, but marriage vows didn't ask for easy commitments.

So, as we continue down this path of matrimony, with all its joys and sorrows, all the laying down of our life, our wills and wants and timing. With the joys and high times, the memories and the normal days I think about what it is that I commited to.

" to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part. "

Some days are better- we get along well, our words are sweet and kind and we enjoy each other. others are worse- we have few words and we dont like each other very much. silence or talk of the weather dominates our space. we dont agree and we dont want to be together.

We've had seasons of blessings- four children, sweet memories, abundance of things and peace.

We've had the "poor"- $35 paycheck and seasons of lots of beans and rice, debt and foolish spending and the drudgery of paying off our mistakes.

As for sickness and health , I've had seasons of being quite ill- once we looked at my life wondering how long it would last,I've sprawled on the lawn in great pain, he's had a bad back, and all the grumps that come with great enduring pain. We live with a child who has a health condition with an unknown quality about it.

We've had seasons of strength and we now find our bodies ache as we grow old together. Overall we think of health and we know that it is a blessing as we consider our life together

And then there is love- the part of the commitment that fills in the gaps and cracks-its characteristics so wonderful yet so hard at time to display

love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It is not rude,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails

Cherish- to hold or treat as dear. to care for tenderly. to cling fondly to.

from this day forward until death do us part- wow! what a great reminder and time of reflection this has been. No wonder I delight in seeing older couples who have stayed the course, who have weathered the storm, who have allowed love to cover and cherishing to bind them together. what a delight to watch the ones who have soared and worked and struggles and commited. They too have known pain and heartache but somehow in the midst of the quiet days of pain they have chose to stick not hit and drop.

So, in this season as we watch others around us who have parted, and our heart breaks for their pain and choices we too have choices we make daily. will we believe lies about marriage? that it can't go the distance? that another will fill the gap within our heart and life? or will we review the commitment that was made when the love was fresh and the life ahead of us full of promise? will we choose to cherish for today, and today, and today? will we allow ourselves time to renew our heart if it has grown weary or cold toward our spouse? will we remind ourselves that the grass is green on the other side because its new growth but the same trials will come and the same lessons will have to be learned amidst life. Newness can come if we plant new seeds into our marriage today, and today, and today.

PS- I write this not in judgement of any kind, rather in reflection as I have found myself wondering who is next, and if we, after 25 years are likely to fall. I have long ago learned that I am but one step from any choice. I can honestly say that to see so many fall around me has rocked my world a bit, and I have had to remind myself of truth and from where my love comes. Even in writing this I have been reminded of the depth of my vows and how costly yet how dear they are. I continue to pray for the coupleswho have parted and we desire to encourage all who are in the midst of marriage struggles.