Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Confession is the First Step

It's industrial.  It's plain.  It's nothing at all like some of the neighbors' deck areas or sunrooms.  We really tried to live without it.  Last winter, when some serious wind gusts took down our last canopy, we thought about our neighbors who had to look at it every day.  We thought about how it cut some of my beloved morning light into the kitchen.  We thought about upgrading or simply doing without.

Last week-end, we put another one up.  We sat in the shade on our rockers, listened to the fountain, watched our boys try to kill each other on the trampoline, and finally admitted the truth: 
we really are canopy people.  

Perhaps our neighbors will be speaking to us again by the end of the summer.

Friday, May 20, 2011

FF: To the Moon and Back

Did you ever have one of those weeks where you could manage just one partial thought at a time?  Okay, that makes me feel that I’m among friends.  Here’s what I mean:
  • Any Scrivener users out there?  I don’t know that I’m IT literate enough to get my money’s worth out, but so far - so good.  It’s nice to see chapters lined up so neatly in the binder.
  • I still love Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose cd. 
  • My daughter has a new boyfriend.  We like him. She likes him.  Our dog LOVES him.  Seriously enthralled.  The last time the boyfriend came over, the dog took her foreleg and wrapped it around the boy’s leg to pull him closer.  I have never seen her do that before.  I suppose when the inevitable break-up comes, I will have to console my daughter and my dog.
  • BEST medical explanation ever: ovaries your age are like someone who has submitted the paperwork for retirement.  Some days there are four hour lunches, some days she won’t even bother to go to work, and then some days she gets worried about her legacy and she’ll decide to work overtime.
  • I really do not remember there being so much drama in my high school as exists in my daughter’s school.  Do you suppose it’s the constant ability to text and IM and those other immediate access means that are to blame?
  • My husband strongly suggested to our 7th grade son that he collect all the hoodies he has loaned to some very pretty girls.  It took him two arms to carry the clothing home.  
  • Apparently, the more perfume the hoodies arrive home wearing, the better.
  • My daughter’s choir is working on music from the 60’s.  I can so clearly remember being in the basement of our home and listening to Age of Aquarius on a transistor radio.  
  • Why is it so hard for a boy to admit he punched his brother - especially when the brother is crying and holding a very blood-shot eye?  No, I'm just not buying the explanation that the younger brother punched himself in the eye. Then again, stranger things have happened.  
  • And finally, drove my those same two youngest boys to school this morning and was appalled at someone's breath.  I gave a lengthy lecture on the evils of not brushing and pushed breath mints their direction as they remained mute.  When we got to the school, my 5th grader said, "Just so you feel better: I DID brush this morning, but I also was farting all the way to school." -  I'm pretty sure that someday his wife will blame this type of behavior on me.
Now to improve my mood, I'm going to see the most gracious hostess in town - or at least in the Midwest.
Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dear Teacher,

They usually start arriving just before final grades are due.
"You're my favorite professor, Dr. Caution!"
"I'm going to miss your class."
and unfortunately,
"i seen you yestarday but didnt get a chance to tell you that your the best english teacher ever!"

The notes are sweet, but the timing is suspect, and I am sure there's some ulterior motive there.

Sometimes the students wait long enough, but the content is a little annoying:
"I was in your class last year.  Remember me? I liked you.  Will you write me a recommendation for a scholarship? It's due in 15 minutes."

Sometimes the notes are just pure sweetness:
"I did it!  I got admitted to the nursing program!! Thanks for your encouragement."

Last week I got a different kind of note.  It was from a student who was in my class five YEARS ago.
It was heartfelt and beautiful.   It spoke of her amazing struggle we could not have foreseen and survival we might not have predicted.  She has now graduated, and needs nothing from me.  Her words, though, touched my heart.  She said I made a difference.  She said I had offered her hope that stayed with her all those years.  She said a lot of other things, too, and they are words I will treasure forever - most especially on those days when my boss doesn't know my name or a stubborn student tries to convince me that I chose the wrong career.

So what's this post about?  It's not self-serving.  Really!  But the school year is coming to a fast close and sometimes we parents scramble to find a good year-end gift to show a teacher our appreciation.  If you have truly loved the teacher, write a note.  Better still, have your child write the note.  Trust me, it's more than enough.  Just be sure to send it AFTER grades have been turned in!

Works for me Wednesday

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


At some point in the last couple of months, this tiara found its way to the bananas.  Ever since that fateful night, each new bunch of bananas to join our family gets a crown.

I now find myself feeling a little sorry for any fruit without such adornment.

What images make you smile today?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Boss Revealed

I am Caution's hybrid Japanese Cherry Something Something else tree.  See the graft scar from some would-be botanist or dendrologist or arborist a generation ago?

Forget Hollywood and its created beauty. Around here for two days every May, I am the center of the universe.

I am gorgeous.

I am fragrant.

I am worth the 363 day wait to see.

My owners try to take my picture.  They focus conversation on my beauty.  Then they all grab tissues.  I  pretend it is because they are moved by my beauty and ignore their complaints about pollens and such.

And then, all too quickly, I'm done.  

Exhausted, I drop my petals and decorate for these people.  Of course, it's not quite enough to compensate for their decorating choices, but I do my best.

I roll my tree eyes as Checkered repeatedly clears certain filters of my detritus,     

and I smile inwardly as he relaxes thinking the worst is over.

You see, it's just a matter of weeks until the cherries come out and I invite every bird in the state of Michigan to come for the feast.  It will be such fun to hear my people step on the pits and yell about their tender feet and grumble about the way the birds decorate the furniture.

I am Caution's hybrid Japanese Cherry Something Something else tree, and I seriously own this family.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Indulging in Memory

My mother-in-law made fantastic mashed potatoes.  I mean, they were so delicious that there were times the serving bowl was just about empty before it got to me.   I used to be puzzled about why hers were so good and mine weren't.  Peel, chop, boil, mash.  How hard can that be?

Then one day she didn't shoo me out of the kitchen quickly enough and I learned the secret.  While I used skim milk in my potatoes, she used real cream.  While I used a thin slice of butter, she used entire sticks.  While I may have occasionally added a small dollop of fat free sour cream, she used several ounces of the real stuff.  Oh, those potatoes were lovely!

She has now been gone longer from this life than seems possible. 

My boys have been raising money for the local Relay for Life.  In a few days, we will go over to the event and we'll cheer for the survivors as they walk around the track, and light a luminary in memory of Grandma Judy, and then I think we'll come home and make some mashed potatoes her way.  

Isn't it interesting how such seemingly insignificant things can mean so much years later?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Fragments: Mother Nature I'm Not

No thanks to iPhoto, I am here WITH pictures.  While I practice controlled breathing to reduce my iPhoto anger, here's what's been happening in other parts of my life:
  • This week I should have enjoyed the rabbit siblings cavorting in my front yard.  They have wrestled and jumped over each other.  Very cute except they eat everything in the yard.  So while others may have grabbed their cameras, I ran around chasing rabbits and yelling, "Go away!"
  • In another situation of poor housing choice, a fox has built a den next to a nursery.  Unfortunately, it is on the property of my sons' elementary school.  Can you imagine her confusion when 700 children descended on her home?  Animal Control will be out next week to rehome the family.
  • Eight months ago, the asthma doctor decided that my son had outgrown asthma.  This week a massive flare-up netted my boy this bag of meds.  I suppose that belies the outgrowing it theory.

  • I just heard an interview with Jesse James.  Know what?  I still like Sandra Bullock better.

  • Know what else?  I don't appreciate Pakistan telling us not to repeat our Navy Seal behavior in their land again.
  • We have a good pastor.  He cares, he prays, he visits, he preaches well, and he reminds me a lot of my pastor dad. All said, I still probably wouldn't put this bumper sticker on my car.

  • This is my newest tree.  It's a Forest Pansy Redbud.  I have every hope that it will: survive, grow branches, and maybe straighten up.  Until then, my neighbors continue to wonder why I planted a stick in my front yard.

  • Now, Mac users, please tell me how to get pictures from iPhoto to Blogger.  Do you all use Picasa?  It just seems so cumbersome.  I am not feeling that Mac love right now.  Actually, I want to punch it.
  • Perhaps I need to spend more time with Mrs. 4444's.  She is tech-savvy and good with angry people.  Okay, I'm headed there now.  Why don't you come with me?

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Running with the best of them

He wishes he were on the varsity team, but he's not.

He wishes some of the coaches would stop talking about how important the varsity team is, but they haven't yet.

But he keeps running and jumping to the best of his ability.

We'd like to attribute that to his "never give up" disposition,

but we know it probably has more to do with the fact that girls don't care if a guy is varsity or junior varsity as long as he lets them wear his team hoodie.

During the last track meet, three girls won that honor.

Pretty good stats, me thinks.

Monday, May 2, 2011

He did it!

I suppose last night's events in Pakistan will be debated for years to come, but in our family we have a victory no one needs to debate.  You see, some times when a person does what he thought was way beyond his ability, it needs to be celebrated.

Our youngest boy likes football.  But crowds?  Social situations? Being noticed? Anything where people don't follow the rules?  Well, those are a lot tougher for him.  But after a lot of advice and treatment and thought, we signed him up for a six-week flag football league which began yesterday.

Low-pressure, everyone plays, no yelling coaches.  All tailor-made for our boy.

But he was completely overwhelmed.  It took two parents to get his cleats on.  Two parents to help him walk into the stadium. Two parents who kept asking, "Did we do the right thing?"

Then we had our answer:

A game where our boy was told exactly what to do each play by a very encouraging and low-key coach. And our boy did everything his coach suggested.  He hiked the ball.  He carried the ball. He made two fourth-down "flag steals" to stop the other team's touchdowns.  A final score of 6-6.

Afterward, he said he liked it a little bit and will go back next Sunday.  And this morning when I saw him studying his schedule and talking about how many times he will play each team, I believed him.  

P.S. Next week I promise to have Checkered's entire head in the picture.