Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Going the Distance

Brian has been attempting to teach me how to steelhead fish for about a year now.  I would love to say that I'm getting the hang of it, but that would be a lie.  The more time I spend in waders, wallowing in ice cold waters, I realize how much about this sport I do not understand.  I know enough now to know it isn't easy and that I do plenty of things wrong.  It's easier being ignorant -- then one can enjoy oneself, not realizing how stupid one looks.  Or the fact that in one year I have yet to catch a fish. 

Last weekend Brian and I headed out for some time on the river.  We waded and hiked and found what looked to be a lovely spot.  I casted.  And casted some more.  Some. More.  Nothing.  I kept watching the things that my handsome instructor had warned me about -- my pole, my bobber, my line.  Not so good.  I kept trying to fix my errors.  On top of that, everything else was so distracting.  There were geese, and a beaver, and a multitude of bobbers floating orphaned down the river (must have been other wives out there losing their husband's tackle).  When I finally hung up my line on a rock and the hunky instructor had to free it (lest my bobber join the others on an oceanic migration), I gave up.  I put myself in time out and pouted along the shore while the real fisherman in the family continued to work his fishing magic.  The only thing I caught that day was a crawdad...that had no pincers.  Pathetic. 

I lamented all the way home about not being able to learn this type of fishing.  Maybe I'm  too old to learn new things.  I have plenty of activities I enjoy that I know how to do.  Perhaps I should stick with those and just tag along and observe instead of participating.  We unloaded our gear and headed outside to work on weekend projects.   Brian started laying out fencing for a repair that needed to be done.  I sat on the woodpile, still grumpy, and finished my coffee.  I noticed that the pile of firewood had started to cure and looked dry enough to split -- thanks to our unseasonably warm weather.  I dug out the splitting tools and started taking whacks at some of the rounds.  At first it was slow going and I didn't make much progress; however, I've had lots of practice over the last couple of years and I adjusted my technique.  Soon enough a little pile of split wood started piling up.  Encouraged, I kept chopping.  I chopped and hacked for over four hours.  The boys even caught my enthusiasm and joined in for a bit.  The whole time I blew off some steam  and found contentment in my accomplishment.   The more I did, the more I wanted to do. Success!

Finally I was worn out.  I stepped back and admired...yes pile.  Then I made the connection and heard that quiet voice reminding me of the distance He has carried me.  I remember being so frustrated after Marc died.  I was left with having to chop wood and kindling all by myself.  I had never done it before.  It was frustrating to learn, but rewarding when I figured it out.  A lot has changed since this post.  I chop lots of kindling now.  And firewood.  Not only that, but my boys have learned.  I was able to teach them and it is so fun to watch them contributing like adults.  Men.  Ugh.   It's amazing to me to see how far we have come.  Sometimes I just need to take a step back and survey the valley from this mountaintop....and give abundant thanks. 

So, this weekend I'm going to take a deep breath, find my humility, and cast my line for steelhead again.  Maybe I'll catch something.  Maybe I won't.  But, I know if I give up I'll never have the satisfaction of knowing that success. 

 Catch of the Day...
Crawdad sans pincers. 

 The most patient and kind fishing instructor EVER. 
Also chivalrous....he won't even wear his good waders and gear when he's with me.  He wears these dumb LEAKY hip boots.  Why?  Cuz I don't have a fancy set up and he won't enjoy the luxury of Simms waders without me.  Don't try to understand the logic folks.....

Toddler Adam.  Checking out the wood pile.

Teenage Adam.  Delving in to help his old mom.  
How far we've come.

 My glorious woodpile.
Complete with heavenly light streaming down on it.
Hallelujah! Amen. 

With love and gratitude....

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Best Gift

I wasn't going to post anything regarding Valentine's Day this year.  Being my practical self I figured I had posted last year.   Since my feelings haven't changed, that should suffice....right?  As I was settling into this logical thought process,  I had a revelation.  Perhaps this is how the fun fades from a a relationship.  It's not that the loving feelings change.  It's not that appreciation or admiration wanes.  It's that we've said  all the sweet things so many times over the years.  What more is there to say?  Why say the same things over and over again?  They know, right?

After really thinking about it, I guess I have to make a confession.  I NEVER tire of hearing my husband tell me that he loves me.  I am always so happy to see his daily texts and to take his calls.  He tells me I'm an amazing wife.  He tells me he loves me and that I'm the best.  He compliments me frequently -- whether it's my cooking or my figure.  That never gets old.  Despite feeling self conscious and awkward....I like it.  He makes me feel special and safe. And it's not just his words.  He isn't all talk.  His actions show me every single day that I can count on him.  He doesn't let me down.  So, if his words of affirmation make me feel so great, why wouldn't the same be true for him?  Why would I ever withhold any positive or kind word?  There is no reason on earth to be stingy with words of appreciation and admiration.

It's in that spirit that I am writing this post.  I  want to make sure  I don't ever stop expressing my gratitude, respect, and love, for my husband.  He has been a tremendous blessing to me and the kids. Last year I wrote this post about him.   Another year has gone by and I remain grateful and happy to be his wife.   Not much has changed.  He is still the same great guy -- I just love him more.  I still dislike and find no use for Valentine's Day.  But, I still feel abundantly loved by my husband....on Valentine's Day and EVERY day.   I still love the same wonderful qualities about Brian. He's kind, thoughtful, hard working, affectionate, and supportive.  He makes me laugh -- even when I would rather not.  He is a gift to me.  Life would look a whole lot different without him in my life -- not nearly as happy.  He didn't have to choose me.  He didn't have to take on more children and responsibility.  But he did.  And because he did, he made so many things infinitely better.   I just hope he knows every single day how much he is loved and very much appreciated for all the good he does for everyone.  Like I said....he's a gift.   Lord, let me never forget it...and let me never take him for granted!

No bells and whistles.
It's still love in pastel yellow.....

As always....feeling lots of love and gratitude....

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Cups Run Over

I'm not big on collecting things.  I can't say I've ever had an official collection of items that I treasure.  I tend to get overwhelmed quickly by clutter and anything of mass -- my reaction being to pitch stuff out....not to keep it.  So, I was amused this week to realize that I am the owner of a collection.  And, much to my chagrin, I kind of treasure it.  It's been a long time in the making and it wasn't intentional.  It just sort of happened (and no, it's not my numerous children....I know how those happened and they were all intentional...for the most part).

Here it is.  I collect mugs.  I have a cupboard full to overflowing with mugs!   Now, before you roll your eyes and get all disappointed that it's nothing more profound, bear with me.  These mugs represent more than just pottery in a cupboard.  They are gifts from friends and family.  Each one takes me to a special time in my life.  When I sit down and have a cup of coffee I am reminded of life's twists and turns.  I get to remember where I've been, how I got here, and who I got here with.  The collection is random, eclectic, and quaint.  It reminds me of how amazing and varied my relationships are.  I laugh at the variety within the collection -- each one as unique as the person I associate it with. 

This is Brian's cup.   It used to be mine.  My mom gave it to me when I graduated college and was struggling to carve out a career and a life of my own.  I can remember clearly being so broke that I only had $5 left to my name after I paid all my bills.  I had to get really creative with that 5 bucks!  This little mug sat on my desk for years.  It always reminded me not to give up hope.   I'm glad I didn't give up -- the fight has always been worth it.  I'm so grateful for my mom and family that always encouraged me to hold on tight to my dreams and hopes.  My dreams look different now, but I cling to the same Hope.

My friend, Kathy, gave this to me.  She worked with me right out of college and became my roommate.  We both struggled as new college graduates, working at the same miserable job.  She spent her spare $5 on me for a Christmas gift:  This mug.  I still use it frequently and remember her every time.  I don't know what happened to her.  When I married Marc we parted ways.  She moved out of town and we lost touch.  So, Kathy, if you're out there and reading this -- Thanks for the friendship and memories.....and mug! Hope you're doing well!

This is a mug I use frequently.  It was Marc's.  His sister Michele gave it to him for his 36th birthday.  It's a huge, heavy thing.  We acquired two more from the same artist over several years, but his one is my favorite.  It holds a LOT of coffee...something I need to keep going these days.

These two mugs were made by my friend, Elo.  She made them at a craft get-together with our friends.  I couldn't go.  Marc was sick.  She stepped in and made mine for me.  Mine has a picture of me riding my lawn mower.  Marc's shows our family hiking.  I love these mugs and I have them prominently displayed, but I refuse to use them.  They haven't been used.  Not once. 

This mug was also handmade by my friend, Mel.  Mel and I have been friends for over thirty years.  She has seen me through most of the stages -- awkward and otherwise -- of my life.  When I married Brian I became an instant grandmother -- much to everyone's amusement.  We laughed about me being called "Grandma."  Sigh.  Wasn't planning on that term of endearment at age 40.  Mel came up with the nickname "Meemaw" and made me a darling mug for me to celebrate my new status.   Unfortunately the trendy name did not stick.  Grandma it is.  But, I have this cool mug and it makes me chuckle every time I see it.  

This mug was handmade by Kami.  It was a Mother's Day gift and I love it.  She did a beautiful job and it means so much to me.  As a step-mom I was so touched that she would honor me with a gift.  Being acknowledged at that level....was...well....WOW!  

Kami also got me this sweet little mug at Starbucks.  I'm infamous for being thrifty and had been eying this mug for weeks.  I just couldn't justify spending the money.  Kami took note and kept tabs on the price. She managed to buy it for me on clearance and surprised me.  I just think it's cool.  I probably wouldn't have bought it on my own.  So, when I use it I feel totally spoiled and frivolous!

This hot little number was a gift from Adam and Ben at Christmas.  There are no words.  It makes me laugh...hard.   Haven't quite figured out how to drink from it yet.  I try to class it up by drinking tea in it -- Earl Grey nonetheless.  It takes up two spaces in the dishwasher.  But, I love it.   It's from two amazing men that I adore and they picked it out just for me.  It's impractical, it's pink, and it makes me smile.  These days that's enough!

This travel mug I picked up when I was in Indiana this fall.  My uncle passed away suddenly and I was able to attend his funeral and spend time with family.  During that week my sweet aunt and I ducked out one morning for a talk.  I have always had a special place for my aunt in my heart -- she has always understood me.    Watching her grieve her husband of 52 years was difficult.  Though we have been through the same loss, I felt totally inadequate to comfort her.  We drove around town just chatting and ended up at Dunkin' Donuts.  We don't have DD in our area anymore.  It was fun to stack my aunt's coupons (she is also infamously thrifty) and come away with free coffee, jelly filled donuts, and a mug.  I will always remember that time with my favorite aunt.  Despite the fact we were grieving we had a great visit, several laughs, and many donuts.  I won't ever forget that day or that time with her.  Special.

Well, there's a lot more mugs in my cupboard -- some old, some new.  Life's kind of like that, though.  Loved ones and memories accumulate over time and before you know it you've got a beautiful collection.  I am always humbled by how blessed I am to have so many amazing people in my life.  I give thanks to God every day for his abundant mercies and gifts.  My cup runs over....

With love and gratitude....