Thursday, May 28, 2009

All in the Family

My little brother Stephen surprised us last weekend with a delightful impromptu visit. We picked him up from the airport at 8 on Saturday night, and had him back by 10 the next morning. In those 14 hours, we went to a birthday party, met some neighbors, saw Joy working at The Chocolate Bar, watched frogs swim in the garden pond, stayed up late visiting, got up early to see Reese's bees wake up, met some more neighbors, took silly photos, and still made it to the airport on time. It was totally worth every moment.

The Amazing Reese's and my daughter Hilary is temporarily an employee of the national government. She and her favorite manfriend, James, applied for and got jobs working at Canyon Lodge in Yellowstone National Park for the summer. James has decided to blog about their adventures (or misadventures) at Yogi's Place.

Hilary from Texas says,
"I mostly know people as their first name followed by 'from [insert home-state here].' This is because our name tags have our first names on top, and our state (or country) of origin on the bottom.

On our hike down to the canyon, which is super beautiful, I saw an Osprey nest with a mama bird in it. It was really hard to see, but there was a man there with a camera that had, like, super zoom lens or something and he let me look through it. The Canyon is unreal! Not literally, but it totally looks like it is a painted cover of a fantasy novel, or where the elves live."

Also, brother in law Bill has decided to chronicle his battle with recently diagnosed non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Read all about it on Bill's Blog. Bill is Reese's little sister Catherine's husband.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Out of Gas

It's actually a little nerve wracking to start painting again after so long an absence. I'm hesitant to begin, and delicately apply the outline of a shape, an idea. Where do I go from here?

It doesn't help my fragile psyche that I just found another dead fish in the backyard pond. That's three dead fish in two weeks. Ugh. Rightfully so, I feel personally and morally responsible for these fish. How pathetic that I can't seem to find the right balance between plants, fish, and fountain to create a self contained water ecosystem. It's not rocket science.

Plus, at this moment, I'm hesitant to venture out in public for fear of catching something while my immune system is compromised. Again, how pathetic. The last two weeks before this one, I did the grocery shopping and ran a few errands. And the last two Fridays and Saturdays, I ran a fever. This week, except for tiny little things, I've been completely home bound, hoping hoping hoping that my immune system will recover. For the record, I hate being a recluse.

One of my friends sent me this in an e-mail:
I remember learning that after being ill one's energy levels can be compared to a gas tank in a car without a gas gauge. You get up in the morning thinking your tank is full and go full bore into something feeling pretty good and then all of the sudden you go around a corner and find you are flat on empty. No warning whatsoever. It was weird.

That's exactly how I feel, like I have a gas gauge that doesn't work.

On the brighter side of things, with all this down time, I'm constantly adding to my ukulele song repertoire. Some day, I'd like to try busking on a street corner. Put a hat out, strum the ukulele, sing a little, and see if I can earn enough money for supper. To this end, I can now play the chords to (and sing mumble) Freebird. Doesn't someone in the crowd always shout out, "Freebird!"? A small disclaimer, my ukulele version of Freebird, so far, is without the awesome three minute solo riff at the end of the song.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Name That Ukulele

If B.B. King can name his guitar Lucille, then certainly this little bitty instrument deserves a name.

It's not exactly a contest, but if anyone has a name on the tip of their tongue that would be appropriate for an ukulele, by all means, please, let me know.

Monday, May 18, 2009

All My Lovin'

As I moped around the house today trying to think of something to write, which, since this is largely a blog about artistic pursuit, and I've been sick and not painting, I couldn't think of a single thing to say. Then Reese suggested that we make a little video of me playing a song on the ukulele. These past seven weeks of illness and convalescence have provided both time and opportunity to learn a new trick, the ukulele. Hey, I'll be the first to admit that I can only think of two people in my life who will enjoy seeing this, but whatever. Life is full of risks and new adventures, right? So, before watching, a couple of disclaimers are in order. First of all, my voice is a little wonky because I'm still quite congested and cough-y. And secondly, I'm a newbie on the ukulele. That said, entertaining myself by learning to play has been the best thing EVER about this long bout of sickness. So, with little ado, here's one verse, a mere 36 seconds, of All My Lovin' by the Beatles. Please accept my advanced apologies for the amateur performance.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yard Play

Several years ago, I spent an inordinate amount of time in what I called yard play. It didn't seem fair to call it yard work as I thoroughly enjoyed being outside, digging, planting, weeding, pruning, landscaping, designing, planning, and watching things grow. One day, in the middle of said yard play, while talking to a friend on the phone, she asked, "You're not one of those crazy garden ladies with twigs in her hair, green stains on her clothes, and dirt forever under her nails, are you?" I had never thought of it before, but happily admitted that I was. The garden eventually started to fill in, and didn't need as much tending, except for an occasional whack job when some rogue plant grew beyond it's intended border. But, fairly recently, as our lifestyle and outdoor needs evolved and changed, it only made sense that the back yard warranted a new look. That's when Reese dug a huge hole for the fountain, and I started work on a new patio.

Originally, it was planned to have the entire patio finished by now, but this #@*%! lingering illness really threw life for a loop, and there just hasn't been a single drop of energy left to accomplish the goal. There is delight in the fact that slowly but surely, the backyard master plan is all coming together. The water lily in the above photo is one more completed piece of our Hazel backyard puzzle.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Some Mother

"Never do for a child what he can do for himself." I think it's a quote from Susanna Wesley, though I've not been able to find proof, except for a fuzzy memory of a book read long ago.

The Amazing Reese and I took this to heart, and encouraged our daughters to have personal responsibility at as early an age as possible. For example, if they were coordinated enough to hold a toy and walk at the same time, they were certainly capable of holding their own diaper after it was changed, and throw it away.

My mom goal (or rather desire) was to raise healthy, mature, independent, emotionally well, fully functioning adults. Up to a certain age, we help them become THE whatever kind of people they are going to be. We, as moms and parents, have no control over how our offspring respond to us, or if they choose to grow, or if they even want to act like humans. We pray. We offer grace. We show mercy. We encourage (not nag.) But, we have no control over the outcome.

All that said, from the very beginning, I've loved the whole experience. My firstborn turned 24 yesterday (Mothers Day) and my youngest is 17. It's a privilege to have been chosen out of the entire universe to know and love these four beautiful (inside and out) young ladies.

So, thank you my sweet daughters. Thanks for all the great years as your mother, but best of all, now that we're all getting older, thanks for letting me be your friend.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ode to Whooping Cough

It's limerick time on this blog,
which happens when life is a fog
of chores left undone
(here's a horrible pun)
and swine flu becomes a news hog.

What happens when life is a mess?
Does one feel the need to confess
that watching TV
and eating (omg!)
a bonbon is life's only quest?

It's true I've been sick for a while,
much ado for a cough that on file
is hacking and wheezy
and even quite sneezy
and something I've come to revile.

Each day is a hope to be well,
completely on track for a spell
of excellent health
(akin to great wealth)
is a story I'm anxious to tell.

Yesterday, I went for a walk
with Hilary, my daughter, we talked
about this and that,
and then you know what?
It happened. I started to cough!

"NO FUN!" I cried, "When will this end?"
I thought I was turning a bend,
a fork in the road,
but my body, it showed
that it still needs some time left to mend.

So, that's what I'm doing today
lying low...keeping sickness at bay.
The best thing by leaps
and bounds and big heaps
is playing the ukulele.

For that I can do while I'm sick,
practice and learn a new trick;
new chords and new strumming,
perpetual humming,
uke new favorite kick!