Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I finished my Christmas shopping yesterday. This project necessitated a drive NW to SE through the city with two stops in between. It wasn't bad, I'd done my research, knew exactly where I was going - quick ins and outs - no opportunity for impulse buying or surprises.

Austin was beautiful, the sky was blue, the temperature was record-breaking high 80's, the cedar isn't terrible yet. So there were a lot of bikers on the road. This is nothing new, Austin is a cycling city. Terry rides his titanium-framed, very sleek and sporty bike to work many days and out in the hills for 80 miles or so on his days off. I ride my Granny's adult 3-wheeler (complete with front and rear baskets) sedately around the neighborhood sometimes. Whenever it won't embarrass my children. We have lots of bike lanes, Austin drivers are usually careful and polite. I am particularly attentive and watchful of cyclists. I learned this mostly from the gasps that come from the passenger seat when I am driving and, well, you-know-who is the passenger.

Yesterday I saw two quite interesting bikers. The first was male. It was easy to discern the gender of this cyclist because he was nude, save a slender thong. On a bicycle. In a busy urban area. He had a great build and fabulous tan. One assumes from cycling naked. The other was female and in a completely different area of town. She wore spandex shorts and top, gloves, helmet, windbreaker. She was a woman of a more significant, traditional build and all her clothing was pink. She was an impressive sight on a bike.

I had two wishes after encountering these brave and intrepid cyclists. I wished my expansive, wide, tractor-style 3-wheeler seat for both of them. And I wish they would somehow, in this enormous city, find one another. And have a ride through the hills together.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

28 years

Spat. Sizzle. Spat. Sizzlesizzle. Spatspatspat. 

Terry and I looked across our joined hands at quite a solemn moment - and tried to hide the giggles. The 'drip-less' candles weren't just dripping - they were regurgitating all over the spotless alter of a very formal, very poinsettia decorated, very borrowed, very Methodist church on the University of Texas campus - 28 years ago today.  I tried to rein in the wide smile at the absurdity of that ridiculous sound at this life altering moment when my eye caught the twinkle in the eyes and grin, yes it was a grin, on the lips of my seconds-away-from-becoming, very unknown, very Southern Baptist preacher father-in-law.
I think he probably knew way more about the absurdity of life and solemn moments than we did. I learned much from that twinkle and grin in the next 25 years of his life and our marriage. Terry's Dad - who became mine too.

I learned that keeping some secrets is smart and keeping some isn't wise, at all.
That commitment isn't about sometimes and whenever, but about all the time.
That believing in someone, and being the someone someone can believe in means you spend a lot of time praying.
That learning to cook is a good thing, watching your husband cook is even better.
That the world still turns if the white load is quite strangely and suddenly pink.
That taking a bike ride is better than visiting the counselor, well sometimes.
That kids are a learning experience, but the one with the most pain and  joy.
That some words shouldn't be said, ever, and some should be said every day.
That covers, closet space, burdens, almonds and the driver's seat are sweetest when shared.
That I am my best when grateful for the gifts of every day.
That the one one marries is the same and also very changed 28 years later, and how you've loved each another all those years is who you've both become.
That marriage is full of solemn and absurd moments - and both will make you smile.

I think that's probably it for this 28 years, I'm thinking there's more in the next 28 or so.
Happy anniversary, babe. You are the best.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Little Boys

So, all this week I've had little boys in and out of my office, my classroom, my life.

There was one who had a black eye.
One who wanted to talk about life. One who wanted to argue.
Three or four with missing front teeth.
One with eyelashes so long I thought for sure they were fake.
There were swimmers, basketball and soccer players, a gymnast and one fencer.
A curly headed one who assured me there is truly a Santa Claus.
Two who can't read and want to so bad they cried. One sat in my lap.
Two who looked exactly alike except one was born 2 minutes earlier than the other - they say you can tell which one is older if you look REALLY close.
One with his arm in a sling, one with just one leg, one with his middle finger in a splint.
One pretty much convinced me that there is a monster in his closet. 
There were curls and cow-licks, buzz cuts and sticky-up hair galore.

Then there was this one. The one who 24 years 11 months and 20 days ago surprised me by arriving in my life and changing it irrevocably. That's the one.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I made a few good decisions as 19 year old who only had brothers and boyfriends, not many (any?) girlfriends. One of them was to choose to attend a women's college. I got a great undergrad education. I learned a lot about women - the kind I wanted to be, the kind I didn't want to be, the kind to choose for friends, the kind that didn't stay friends. I was a good friend to some and I was a pretty poor one to others.
But the seeds of what has become a deep and abiding appreciation for women was birthed in those turbulent years.
Within the last week I have laughed and cried as...
~ one woman friend had her children removed from her home and custody given to her estranged husband
~ I watched a red-haired woman friend push a grocery cart with her two blond toddlers in it - children doctors said she would never have
~ one woman friend handed me her 24 hour old baby to snuggle
~ one woman friend told me of the devastating medical diagnosis her child just received
~ one woman friend and I prayed for our young adult children
~ one woman friend hung up on me
~ I watched two women give finances sacrificially so that another can adopt 
~ I talked over daily life and deep personal issues with two long-time women friends
~ my carelessness caused one woman friend to tell me how she wished I'd change
~ I watched a group of mommas and babies play on the floor together, swapping diapers and snacks and mothering thoughts
~ I talked to a woman friend who lives cross-culturally and we wept over the challenges she faces
~ I watched a young woman have a difficult conversation with a friend - just because she knew it was the way to best love her
~ one woman volunteered to teach a Sunday School class this busy season just so a friend's child would feel safe
~ I texted with one woman friend whose child's behavior is unexplainable
~ I passed an envelope full of cash from one friend to another so the one receiving wouldn't know the sender
~ I felt connected to a lonely woman I met in the grocery store
~ I went to the movies with my daughter and she put her head on my shoulder

I am humbled and filled with joy....somehow. I love women.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holidays and duty

  There's never NOT a time when I could be doing something useful. Work paper work, work planning, work related reading, student papers to grade, phone calls to make, files to complete for neuro clients, email to answer, piles of paper to sort, laundry, house work, yard work, shopping, cooking, pool cleaning, babies and development to talk about, people to check up on, people to call, people to write, people to encourage, people to just love -  not to mention pets, kids, husband.

I have a lot of 'duty' in my life. I mostly love it.

But around holidays I indulge myself. I do puzzles. 500-750 pieces are my favorite. On my big square coffee table with a mug of tea handy. I move a strong lamp in from another room. Preferably there's a fire and a book on CD happening in the same room. Chequers paces around and around the table and watches me, eventually he lays on my feet. I like it when some family member will wander in and talk to me, but I really don't want any help with my puzzle.

I like primitive Americana - flat and colorful: nothing repetitive, no Monet-y soft edges, no fuzzy kittens or puppies. Stern barns and wagons, quilts on the wash lines of big white farmhouses, ponds with small boats, happy children in overalls, apple trees.

This latest one, finished just a bit ago, has taken me 6 hours. Emily and I have listened to "The Return of the King" all the while. I've successfully avoided the incongruity of Americana and Orcs occupying my head at the same time. It's been absolutely lovely.

Before and after holidays I keep a stack of hopeful puzzles on the window seat. I smile at them on all the many dutiful days.

Monday, November 22, 2010

it's the day before the day before the day before Thanksgiving...

and I am so very thankful for my son who is teaching me all about blogging. For my daughter who slips me vocabulary and for my husband who laughs at me. Nothing better than being laughed at by those you love.