I go and visit one of my friends every week or two.
She has been on bedrest for the last few months.
She is stuck on the couch and I just know that would drive me out of my mind so I come.
At first I go because I think that this is what friends do.
They show up.
They bring food.
And well, I know friends are supposed to do a lot more things than that.
Like remember birthdays and not make insensitive comments.
And I keep screwing those up.
But I’m good at showing up and getting take out.
And visiting my friend is a little bit hard.
Because her life is difficult right now and I can’t do anything about it.
I can’t bring her son back.
I can’t get her husband a job.
I can’t heal her tear or promise her that this baby will make it.
All I can do is sit with her on the couch.
Sitting on the couch with her means I have to be willing to go through the hard with her.
Feel some of her loss and hope and doubt in my own heart.
Even if that is rarely what we talk about.
But I have started to really look forward to seeing her.
And my time at her house.
And I am busy and squeezing out this time is sometimes tricky.
But I am starting to look forward to it. To want it. To make my visits closer together.
And it isn’t so much about “being a good friend”, but more about hanging out with one.
Because I am starting to enjoy my time on the couch.
I like showing up in my pajamas.
I like sitting down.
Not going anywhere.
Not drinking anything.
And just being.
Breaking up toddler fights.
And trying to clean up after myself for a change.
Getting my own glass of water.
And talking about nothing and everything all in the same sentence.
There is very little pretending on that couch.
There is nothing easy or off limits or pretentious.
I am starting to really like her couch.
I’m sure my friend is anxious to get off of it.
Or to hold a newborn on it.
And I’m starting to be more sure that the time for that will come.
Until then, I hope she saves me a spot next to her.
(p.s. and to those of you that actually know me or my couch friend...this was obviously written a few weeks ago. I'll follow it up with an update soon enough)
My husband hasn’t always had a history or giving great gifts. Once I got some bouncy balls and a half eaten bag of candy for Valentines. Another time I got a floppy corduroy Blossom style hat (long after blossom was off the hair) and a large blue unrecognizable stuffed animal or Christmas.
But over the years he has improved in leaps and bounds.
There have been Emerald earrings and concert tickets and the perfect pair of Toms (that I actually ordered myself).
But this year for my birthday he did even better.
When we got back from vacation there was a small brown box sitting inside the door.
I knew what it was because he had already told me. (And my birthday had come and gone almost 2 weeks before).
He had printed out many of my blogs in book form.
I had intended to print or at least save most of them a long time ago and had just never gotten around to doing it. I didn’t know what program to use, how expensive it would be or want to take the time editing.
So I was glad that he had done the leg work for me.
He spent hours trying to edit and correct spelling and put things into some kind of readable order.
So I opened up the box, knowing exactly what was inside, and was still a little silenced when I opened it up.
It was a real book.
With a hard cover and pages and my words inside.
Not some flimsy little copy job from kinkos that I had imagined.
And there were multiple copies.
And I know this isn’t the same as having a publisher pick up your book or seeing it on the shelves at your local Barnes and Noble.
But to me. It was my dream in real life. With pages and bindings and a cute cover design.
Maybe even pushing me to the next step.
I can hike all day.
And in Colorado it is what I would rather do than fish or ride horses or even shop in town.
I especially like getting to destinations that are slightly off the beaten path.
If we can find the path at all. Which is the case more often than not.
Going high and far and seeing pretty views.
Snow capped mountains, a tucked away mountain pond and maybe even an elk.
I like the crunch of gravel and twigs beneath my shoes and the rush of the stream nearby.
I even like the burn in my calves after a long hike and eating a peanut butter sandwich for lunch in a tucked away spot.
But I am always a bit distracted.
I spend much of the time afraid.
I am closely eyeing the tracks in the ground or large piles of poop more than the people around me.
I am constantly scanning ahead and in the bushes.
And when I finally do get to my destination, I am anxious to go back to the jeep or the house as soon as possible.
I try to soak in the beauty and sounds and the smells.
But I am constantly on the lookout.
For snakes. And bears. And mountain lions.
Some of you might think I am being paranoid.
But I am talking about the mountains and those things are there.
The week before in New Mexico we ran into a cute little bear just a few hundred yards from the house.
I said some words I won’t repeat here and start running.
Which is exactly what you aren’t supposed to do when you see a bear.
Fortunately I think the cute bear was more afraid of me than I was of it and it just hissed and me and quickly scurried up a tree.
The other group we were staying with in Colorado spotted a mountain lion on their first day out. And a few more were spotted down by the pond close by. So these aren’t made up fears. They are legitimate ones.
And at dinner we swap stories and photos about the wildlife we saw. The bigger and the closer the better.
And this place we go year after year is beautiful.
Wild and lush and green.
And we almost always see something.
Elk, mule deer, butterflies, big horn sheep, foxes, llamas and marmots.
And sometimes even bears.
And this place that is so big and wild and beautiful isn’t really safe.
And I can’t help but think of Aslan.
The lion in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
When asked if Aslan was safe, this is the response:
Mrs. Beaver says, "If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly."Lucy asks, "Then he isn’t safe?"And Mr. Beaver says this famous line about Aslan: "’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you."
If the mountains were safe, something about their appeal would be gone. I might as well take a walk around my neighborhood and hope to see a pigeon. Instead, they are wild and should be tread through with respect and a bit of fear.
Kind of like our God. He isn’t tame. He isn’t little. He isn’t a city block to walk around. The trail isn’t always well marked. He is mighty and majestic and occasionally walking with him is hard and scary and you never know who might cross your path.
But it is beautiful. And I am going to keep hiking. Even if I might run into another bear.
I haven't been home in weeks. Literally. I have tons of things to unpack, overdue bills to pay, a jungle of a yard,friends to catch up with, a sad soccer crazy hubs to console and hundreds of things on my google reader. I haven't written anything in the last week, but have read a half dozen or so books and have a few things swimming around in my head. Until then....here is an old post about where I was and a few recent pictures.
The Other Ranch
In my circles the ranch, always meant camp. Mo Ranch and where I spent most of my summers from ages 11-21. I haven't dedicated much writing to this place because it is one of the few things in my life that seems to be too big to tackle on paper. It is where I learned about friendship and family and first kisses ( well thanks to camp stewart dances) about being real and sharing a bathroom with 20 other girls, the importance of mail, my love for the late night conversation, the non-necessity of a hair dryer, that maybe jumping off a bridge isn't the best idea, some of my best practical jokes, that there is all kinds of grey, that sometimes it really hurts to send them home and lots lots more. Shaun has another ranch. One that he has spent almost as much time at, but in Colorado. There he learned to flyfish, how to sneak up on some elk, how to make gorp, how to clean a fish, just how much water a jeep can actually drive through. They are both beautiful: the Texas hill country and Stonewall Colorado. Ok, I know most people would pick CO hands down, but memories have made the first just as beautiful to me. Both serve meals family style and both mean sharing a bathroom with more than a few people. Both mean really hot naps in the afternoon and lots of walking. Mine had a river and forbidden ice machines and a chapel on the hill. His has snow capped peaks, bears ( yep we saw one), jeep trails and it's own chapel on the hill. It isn't marked with any cross or pews –but when you reach a summit there is something just a spiritual about it. Both are dusty and rocky and loud. Loud in a quiet sort of way. Lots of crickets and hummingbirds and the stars are so bright they almost scream at you. I have grown to love "the Ranch" along with Shaun and his family. My family, we are beach people – but there must be some mountain in me because I love forgetting what day it is, catching fish and just hanging out on the back porch with a good book. At the campfire one night I was getting a bit nostalgic for Mo and realized that i am happy to still have a Ranch in my summers.
Thought I’d post a few pictures from today and a slightly tardy Friday playlist.
Sticking with the mountain theme since I’ve been in them a week, and heading north to even more for the next week.
1. Can I Love a Man the Way I love a Mountain – Molly Venter
2. Sugar Mountain – Neil Young
3. Walk Down This Mountain – Bebo Norman
4. Beer for my Horses – Willie Nelson
5. Blackbird – Ellis
6. Country Road – James Taylor
7. I was Made for Sunny Days – The Weepies
8. The Wood – Indigo Girls
9. Blue Ridge Mountains – Fleet Foxes
10. One Voice – Wailin Jennys
11. The Brown Trout Blues – Johnny Flinn
12. Mountain Music – Alabama
Both my family’s side of the vacation and Creativity Boot Camp are winding down. Today is the last day for both.
And the random word of the day is smile, which is pretty fitting.
For example, today Owen smiled all the way up the lift, while I white knuckled the bar and closed my eyes. But I did smile when I got to the top and took in the view.
And I’m smiling just thinking about getting in the hot tub in a minute.
Or playing some dominoes later.
I’m smiling because even though everyone else is packed up to go home before the sun rises, my crew has an extra night here. And even then, we are headed further north for another week rather than south.
But my biggest smile came as I climbed down the steps in a tiny white Baptist church.
I’m not particularly Baptist and I didn’t attend a service there.
Let’s backtrack a bit.
My family likes to make good food and especially to eat good food.
Even though I’ve hiked miles with a toddler on my back and rowed for ten miles in the last few days, my pants are fitting a little tighter than when I packed them.
Back home, my parents belong to some kind of gourmet club where they cook and eat foods I have never heard of.
So let’s just say there was no peanut butter and jelly on this trip.
We dined on 2” steaks and my dad’s famous spaghetti sauce and brie cheese on crostini and homemade bruschetta and crescents with nutella. And this morning my husband made some mean breakfast burritos.
Later today when everyone was packing up and cleaning up, the refrigerator and pantry were still full. There was a half dozen steaks, an entire lasagna, a dozen hamburgers, multiple packages of hotdogs, (the kids have to eat too), milk, cheese, waffle mix, oreos, granola bars and lots more. I couldn’t bear to throw it away, and it is too far to haul it all back. So I made a few phone calls. I googled local churches and started asking whoever answered the phone about local families or any food pantries that might keep some of this food from going to waste. Eventually after a few minutes, I got someone on the line who was happy for me to fill up their fridge.
So I recruited one of my nephews to help me load up the truck, because it was too much food for one girl to carry. And we headed down to a small local church. And unloaded our coolers into their kitchen while the woman told me of a family with lots of children and an out of work father who would be thrilled to come pick up our food.
Which makes me feel a little bad for the gorging I did so freely the last few days while others go hungry.
Which would have been trashed.
I’m not sure why I never thought of this before and suddenly had this idea where I quit my day job and run a food pantry in a resort town and put little magnets on all the condo and rental house fridges offering to pick up their leftovers before they leave town.
I don’t think that they will really happen, but I assure you I will throw away a lot less from now on.
And so I climbed down those church steps with an empty cooler and smiled while I thought of a family who usually does without, dining on thick steaks tonight.
(and it is Friday, and usually I do a playlist….but I am so tired from the hot tub soaking and the dominoes that it is everything i can do just to get this post up by midnight...so it will have to wait until tomorrow or maybe even next week. My destination next week doesn’t have wifi so the blog might be a little quiet.)
This morning we went for a little raft ride.
It was cool in the morning and the river was cold and smooth.
The ride was easy and the scenery amazing.
We floated along and occasionally paddled our rafts at a leisurely pace.
And stopped for a picnic lunch.
At a few points the water had a few ripples and we may have gotten a splash or two.
But mostly it was an easy ride with a few splashes here or there.
And after lunch we sent the kids and grandparents packing and the brave few stayed.
For bumpier waters.
And we tightened up our life vests and paddled harder and faster through some white waters.
Things with names like “The Maze”, “The Narrows” ,“The Toilet Bowl” and “Sal’s hole”.
We went right back and left forward and held on tight.
We may have even gotten stuck on a rock once.
At the last rapid we watched other boats tip and sway and even dump out an unsuspecting passenger.
Whenever we made it over a particularly tough spot we would all cheer and do a paddle high five.
A few miles down the river my shoulders were aching, my pants were soaked and my knees sunburned.
We were all tired, hungry, wet and sore.
But we all had a good time.
We all commented on the morning stretch. That it had been nice for everyone to float for a bit, but really it was kind boring.
The afternoon had been more treacherous. Harder work, riskier and messier.
And much more fun.
Smooth is nice and calm and easy.
But sometimes you have to be willing to go down the rougher path.
This post was another installment for creativity bootcamp which is sadly winding down...
today's random word prompt: smooth
We are staying in one house.
All 16 of us.
I can’t remember the last time we all slept under one roof.
With 16 it has never been done.
And even when we were just 5. It has probably been over a decade.
My family is on vacation, and instead of the usual slew of condos at the beach,
My dad rented one house in Angel Fire New Mexico.
And I won’t pretend that it is all roses.
It is noisy.
There have been harsh words and too much wine.
But there has also been smores and big breakfasts.
There is laughing and running on the stairs and crying and screaming from too tired toddlers.
More giggles from cousins and splashes in the hot tub.
There is snoring from Paw Paw on the couch.
Cussing in the kitchen and quiet conversations on the deck.
And even though I like this noise.
The loud living together kind.
Last night I needed a bit of a retreat.
So me and just my husband slipped away and headed into Taos for a birthday dinner.
We had no plan and no leads only that we wanted to eat somewhere good and new at a table for two instead of sixteen.
And we ended up at a resturaunt that didn’t look so promising from the outside.
But we went in anyways and chose to sit on the patio.
Which was really more like a small back yard with a grand mountainous view.
The place was small with only a few tables and menu selections.
I chose my wine and meal quickly.
The couple next to us were obviously early in their relationship. They talked nonstop.
Which made me feel a little bad for me and my husband sitting so quietly.
Until I realized that maybe a hushed meal at the base of beautiful mountains was exactly what I needed.
And something you only get after years of marriage and no longer feeling the pressing need to talk or make conversations or impress.
Instead I sipped my wine and felt my heart quiet with each bit of my meal.
I could literally hear my heart slowing down and feel my muscles relax in the quiet.
We stole off of each other’s plates and mostly just listened.
To the wind.
To a chicken cock-a-doodling somewhere in the distance.
And the clink of silverware.
The quiet hush of familiar love.
And we drove the winding road home.
Suprisingly quickly. Like maybe we had had enough quiet for one night.
So we rushed home to our babies and the rest of the noise
And birthday cake for sixteen instead of two.
Again, this is another post from Creativity Boot Camp. Today's random word prompt: hush
Way too early in an unfamiliar bed and timezone.
It had been a long night spent mostly with a toddler kicking me in the face and another fighting for covers.
But I could smell the coffee brewing downstairs.
Full-bodied and inviting along with muffled conversations
That eventually pulled me out of bed.
Out of this.
And I went downstairs and poured myself a cup.
And headed out onto the deck to soak in
Some of this.
Both the coffee and the view were worth the early rising
Another post for day-i've-lost-count creativity boot camp. Today's random word prompt: full-bodied. I struggled with this a bit. because i didn't want to do the obvious. I used it as an excuse to try and schedule a full body massage but didn't have any luck, i could have talked about my fuller than necessary hips....but i refuse to post pictures of that...so you are left with the coffee (and my amazing view).
It was ominously gray ahead.
It started with just light drizzle on my windshield.
But soon big heavy drops were falling.
Harder and faster.
Until my wipers were working over time.
On this one lane mountain winding mountain road.
That maneuvering if fair weather is enough to make me nervous.
But ahead the skies were blue and sun cut across the peaks.
I held my hands firmly at ten and two.
And kept my eyes on the road.
And drove towards the sunshine.
So I've skipped a few days, but I am participating in Creativity Bootcamp and today's random word prompt is: drizzle.
Next, about the nose ring...well some of you asked for proof...so here it is. And I told you it was tiny. And I had no idea that my nose was that bumpy!
I'll even throw in a video just for laughs. And trust me you will laugh. Keep in mind a few things. First, I had no idea this video was being taken! Second, i watched several on you tube before I went and they all bled. Alot. So I kept expecting blood to pour out of my nose and it never did, which would be why I look like I am going to throw up on more than one occasion. I make some great faces and am sure I'll be too embarassed to keep this up for long so watch and laugh while you can and thank Vaness for sneakily recording it on her phone ( I just thought she was taking a picture!) Also note that maybe I haven't showered in a few days which would explain the greasy hair. And why does it look like I am in a dental office or aquarium rather than a tattoo parlor!
And last but not least....usually I do a Friday playlist and even with Creativity Bootcamp kicking my rear I'd hate to dissapoint.
Months ago, my friend Tina asked me to do a kid version ... but I hesitated because well...not all of the songs are exactly "kid appropriate" and I know better....but promise we turn it down for the questionalbe. Since it was Owen's birthday here are a few of his favorites.
1. Brass Monkey - Beastie Boys. And likes to sing it at inoppertune times.
2. Hot for Teacher - Van Halen. I am a teacher and this disturbs me a bit. O just likes all the drumming. And I blame the hubs for this and most of his musical choices.
3. The Family Song - Laurie Berkner Band. This song means we have to stop whatever we are doing and dance. And shows you that we listen to some kid music after all.
4. The Imperial March from Star Wars - John Williams. He can hum this one. Again. I blame the hubs. My kid is brainwashed already.
5. Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag - LL Cool J. Not sure?
6. Can you Kick it - A Tribe Called Quest
7. BulletProof - La Reaux. Actually I'm not really sure that this belongs on the list, but he did ask me to turn it up this morning. And I kind of like the song and wanted to put something on here that Shaun didn't influence.
8. Big House - Audio Adrenaline. I loved that he loved this song. Until he wanted to sing it a bizillion times last year after VBS. There is only so much big big house a girl can take.
9. We will Rock You - Queen. Maybe his favorite.
10. Bare Necessities from the Jungle Boook. again proof that he listens to at least some kid music. And actually he likes any song from the jumgle book :) or even the in the jungle song which isn't in the jungle book at all.
My sweets has fluid in her ears.
Well actually we all get fluid in our ears from time to time.
But it usually drains fine on it’s own or after a quick round of antibiotics.
My my little girls is thick and hasn’t drained in months. Maybe over a year.
It is quick to get infected and probably causes pressure when she lays down.
Hence, her waking up over and over again each night.
With lots of tears.
Hers and sometimes mine.
We have had at least a dozen ear infections and very few good nights of sleep.
And I am more than ready for it to get better.
And this is a pretty common problem
With an easy fix.
Little tiny tubes inserted into the eardrum to allow air in.
To release the pressure.
And let some of that fluid finally drain.
Just provide an escape route and release the pressure.
Unfortunately this involves surgery.
But surgery and Children’s hospital and anesthesiologist and 5:30 am are not words and phrases you want associated with your baby.
But something has to give.
And from everyone else whose kid has already had this surgery promise me immediate relief.
Less trips to the doctor.
And maybe even a less irritable kid.
And I may not have thick easily infected fluid filling my ears
But I do understand the buildup of pressure.
And then need for release and relief.
And how quickly rest can be restored when it finally comes.
So tomorrow at 5:30 am I will be checking my sweets into the hospital.
And after the ten minute thousand dollar procedure.
My little girl will be less a little fluid.
And hopefully mom will be released of a little pressure as well.
Another post from creativity boot camp. random word prompt: fluid
Some mornings my son wakes up and I swear he is bigger than I left him from the night before.
His doorframe is filled with sharpie marks.
And even though he is tiny for his age, he is always bigger every time he stands flat footed at the door while I make my mark.
Marks that are slowly creeping up the post.
And just a few hours ago he blew out five candles on his birthday cake.
And five feels like forty.
Because I don’t remember what it was like before he got here.
And I love that I get to watch him grow.
But lately it has seemed a little too fast.
Everyday he needs me less and less.
Which is the point of course.
To raise an independent man who hopefully will love God and love others.
But for now,
I’d kind of like the sharpie marks to stay put for just a little while.
(So I know this prompt and this day deserves a much better post, but I just ran off 20ish 5 year olds who wore me out with water balloons and silly string and slime. I'm exhausted. And this is all I've got. This post is part of creativity boot camp and today's random word prompt is growth. Which was pretty appropriate for my guy's birthday)
Last night I added a few grams of surgical steel to my body.
Via the nose.
And I know nose rings are pretty common.
Like the naval rings everyone had back in highschool (yes I had one of those too, one that I even tried to pierce myself with a safety pin, which for the record, does not work).
But not too many of my friends have them.
Only the really cool ones.
And I am not cool in any way shape or form.
Next week I turn 32.
I have 2 little ones.
I live in the suburbs.
Am about 30 lbs overweight
And do most of my shopping at Target, and I am not referring to groceries here.
I love to be in bed by 10 pm (or before).
I can’t tell you the last movie I saw in a theatre that didn’t involve talking animals.
I have a house, a dog, 2 kids and a 2 car garage.
I don’t drive a minivan, but have started to occasionally envy people who do.
All that space.
All those cupholders.
Built in booster seats
And the magical way the doors open and shut with just the tiniest click of a button.
Nose rings are not in dress code ( I teach high school).
But it is summer
And I figure why not.
It is just a little tiny hole.
(that they happen to make with a very large needle).
And I need to feel a little younger.
A little cooler.
A little more alive.
I’m not totally sure I can pull it off.
But I don’t really look good in capris either and I still occasionally wear those.
And am pretty sure that my parents will say a few choice words when they see it.
And that maybe my in-laws will have me added to the prayer list in their little North Texas down.
But pissing off my parents,
Even at 32 still kind of only adds to the fun.
And I don’t know if I’ll keep it.
Or if it will just be for the summer.
But for now it is kind of fun.
Or it was until Tess ripped it out at 5:15 am.
Or when Owen put his head out the window in the carpool line at camp and screamed
“my mom has an earring in her nose” to all the counselors, campers and other minivan driving moms who were not impressed.
To which I turned red, rolled up my window and got out of there as fast as I could.
Cool or boring.
I’m still me.
I’ll just be adding a little metal to my wardrobe for the next few months.
Who knows, maybe longer.
(and if you look closely at the pictures you will note that I wasn't too cool to shed a tear for the actual piercing!)
(This post is part of creativity boot camp. Today's random word prompt: heavy metal)