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Hero in the family

My nephew Avery’s a good kid. He’s sweet, he’s kind. While his mom and his Nana and I were having our seventh cup of coffee and third piece of cake after Thanksgiving dinner, he cleared the table… all on his own. And then he rinsed the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. He always hugs Millen hello, and then before he leaves he’s always sure to hug her again. He’s always been a good boy.

And man, that kid can smile like no one else I know. Seriously.

I mean, get a gander at those teeth.

But recently he’s changed. He’s taken to wearing tee shirts with things like SERVICE BEFORE SELF on them. He keeps his scanner turned up and his phone turned on, even during dinner… just in case he’s needed. He hangs out with a tough crowd these days. And he looks tough.

That nephew of mine, that Avery… he’s a good man.

Oh yes he is.

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I got so distracted, not that I’m usually distractable or anything like that, by the turkey and the tomato soup cake and Beth’s great pumpkin pie it’s a layered dontcha know and Nana’s amazing stuffing….

O be still my heart….

Anyway I got so distracted by all that and the cups of coffee in my mother’s little fiestaware cups and the after dinner chatter that lasted until nigh about supper time, but hey’s who’s hungry for supper anyway? and my terribly handsome nephews…

O be still my heart…

So yeah. I got a little distracted, collapsed into bed wayay too late and then slept wayayay too late this morning. And I neglected to take the time to finish up that final Relevant post…. you know, the one I promised you?

So yeah…. sorry about that. How ’bout we try for Monday morning?

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The girl’s got me pegged.

Mrs. Mayne has been gently encouraging me to start piano lessons…. for a long time. A very long time. I’d like to, I tell her, but I’m completely tone deaf. Seriously… it’s like a developmental disability or something. I’m the only person in the entire history of Chautauqua Central School to be kicked out of the junior high choir… Miss Greg called me up in front of the class one day to remark that she thought we’d both be happier if I dropped out.

“Oh yeah,” I laughed as I sauntered out of the music room and down to the office. I switched to a study hall… I think. Oh yeah, my friends and I had a good laugh about that one. yeah.

Precious memories, how they linger.

“Besides, I don’t have the time,” I told Mrs. Mayne. “I’d love to start piano, but I really can’t spare the time. I’m just soooo busy,” I shook my head.

“Okay,” she’d smile. And we’d talk about the kids or church or the ridiculous new law that prohibits the burning of one’s own leaves in one’s own yard. Or her grandchildren. Or rhubarb.

But then one day Mrs. Mayne gave me a present…

“These are easy arrangements,” she said. “I can teach you to play these.”

“You can?” I asked.

“Yup,” she said.

Ply me with vintage hymn books, Mrs. Mayne and I’m putty in your hands.

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I done give up butter.

Well, not completely. I mean, I haven’t given total leave of my senses for heaven’s sake. SHEESH.

I still bake with butter, still saute in butter, still use butter the kids’ toast…. but what I don’t do anymore is slather my each and every edible piece of anything with the stuff.

Not that I don’t want to. sigh.

It all started over at Mamie’s house, and a pre-crack-of-dawn-heart-to-heart with Gail. She’s been smoking since she was eleven years old and she figures now’s as good a time as any to quit. But it’s hard. I can relate, I told her. I go through a stick of butter almost every day- I like my toast dripping with the stuff. I like my warm bread so thick with the stuff that it squeaks when I bite into it. I like my veggies swimming in a pool of melted butter… maybe with a little squeeze of lemon juice thrown in for variety’s sake. But of course, that’s TOTALLY DIFFERENT from smoking a pack a day.


So anyway…. we agreed, Gail and I. Every time I have the urge for a coupla tablespoons of melty buttery goodness, I’ll say a prayer for Gail and her cigarettes. Everytime Gail has a hankering to light one up, she’ll say one for me. It’s been a week with no smokes and no butter and so far, so good. I’ve lost 3.6 pounds and Gail tells me she knows exactly where they went. Gail’s chewing a lot of gum and I’m doing things like slathering my cheese bread with cashew butter and homemade preserves.

I feel so deprived. sniff, sniffly sniff.

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Practically a gramma* ** ***

Bethany was in my Daisy Scout troop when she was in kindergarten, then she was in my Brownie troop. When she and Louisa were little enough to still love pink and glitter and My Little Ponies, they were Best Friends. Bethany was over t’my house many a long summer day and many a short winter afternoon that stretched into a cozy winter evening. We had an American Girls craft club and Bethany sat in my living room and did cross stitch. She held Millen when Millen was just a tiny baby and she cuddled up to Jake when pretty much no one else wanted to. Back in the day when I was in the throes of a super-duper-healthy-eating-extravaganza and I made pureed frozen bananas and told the kids it was ice cream, Bethany ate it. She even said she liked it. Yep, that Bethany is a good girl.

But all that was a long time ago. Bethany is all grown up now. Bethany has a baby of her own nowadays… and oh my goodness, what a baby he is! I finally got to meet him the other day, and yesterday I had him all to myself for several long glorious hours. A roly-polier, jollier, more contented baby I’ve never met… and I’ve met a whole lotta babies in my day, I can tell you that. This little guy is a dreamboat for sure, and I have the videotape to prove it. Mmhmm. Yup.

My apologies for the annoying high pitched chattering in this video.
I ..umm… have no idea whose voice that is. Umm.. none whatsoever.
It’s probably one of the kids. Yeah. Probably.

*Okay, so I’m not practically a gramma.
**Okay, so Vivian is the real gramma.
***OK. Okay. Okayayayaay, so I’m not really anything close to being a gramma…
I was just kidding about the whole gramma thing… sheesh. LIGHTEN UP.

Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she? Someday… someday.. someday…

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A beautiful day

It was a rainy, misty, overcast, gray sort of day. The grass was wet. Mud was everywhere, but…

… oh, the lilacs!

Oh, the babies… the beautiful, beautiful babies!

What wonderful landscaping ideas,

what marvelous wonders to explore!

What lovely lilacs,

and what wonderful friends,

new but already so precious. Oh my.

It was a beautiful day.

Okay, anyone else seein’ my resemblance to a sea turtle in that last pic?
umm just sayin’…

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We’re off!

Off today to visit the Lilac Farm…. where they reportedly have birds (both pet and migratory,) a cat named Barney, a pea hen named Lucy, and of course they have lilacs. Lots and lots of lilacs.
I’m bringing my camera.

It’s supposed to rain and maybe even thunder, so we’ll probably get drenched, but that’s okay. We’re bringing our raincoats and boots and we’ll be fine. We may possibly end up enjoying the lilacs from the interior of our car, but I’m even okay with that. You see, we’ll be meeting up with Trina and her little darlings (plural,) Sara and her little darling (singular,) and a new friend we haven’t even met (don’t know for sure whether she has darlings, singular or plural). Spending time with friends and their little darlings makes me happy.

Add lilacs to the mix and I don’t see how we can go wrong. Seriously.

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One of our own

We’ve all been horrified by the reports of the hurricanes that swept through the southern parts of our country this week. We’ve prayed for those who have lost their homes and cried with those who have lost loved ones. Kelly Crawford of Generation Cedar and her family were huddled together in a basement when their home was utterly destroyed by this storm. Praise the Lord that all of them were kept safe… and let’s lift them in prayer as they begin to rebuild their home.

More details and an opportunity to donate here.

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On Thursdays I visit Mamie

Mamie lives around the corner from me in a house that was originally built as a replica of Monticello.

Photo from Getty Images


Mamie had a career back in the day when women with careers were called “business girls.” She worked at the bank and took up golf and decorated her lovely home. She and her husband invested their money wisely and traveled the world and they never had any children. When we first moved into the neighborhood Bill was still alive, but that first year he had a stroke and the year after that he passed away. Shortly after that Mamie fell and broke her hip and then she had a stroke and then she started wandering the neighborhood in the middle of the night calling for her cat Andy.

Nowadays Mamie can’t be alone, so her niece Eileen has arranged for an assortment of friendly women to come and sit with her in shifts. Gail sleeps over most nights and sometimes she brings her new little grandson for Mamie to hold. Michele spends the afternoons. Mamie loves the homemade strawberry jam she brings. A few months ago I started visiting with her on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I go over first thing in the morning and relieve Gail so she can get home early enough to have a snuggle with that new grandson before the day starts. I sometimes bring a bit of bread dough in a loaf pan along with me. After it has a chance to rise, I bake it in Mamie’s oven. Usually Mamie is still in bed fast asleep when I come. Sometimes she doesn’t want to get up. Sometimes she has terrible nightmares, so I sit on the side of the bed and we pray together and talk about happier things until she’s ready to rest again. Often she mistakes me as a nun.

“Did you know the sisters at Saint Joe’s?” she asks, her faded watery eyes staring intently into my own. “I used to work for them when I was a little girl. I used to clean for the sisters at the convent.”

“No Mamie, I never knew the sisters, but I’ve heard they were very nice.”

“Oh, they were! They were. There was one little sister who used to work in the kitchen… oh, what was her name? Why can’t I remember her name?

“Sister Alco?” I suggest.

“Yes! Yes! Sister Alco! She was so cute.” Mamie sighs, then she leans in and whispers conspiratorily, “She used to make me cookies and set them aside for when I was done cleaning.”

“Goodness!” I say. “It sounds like she was very fond of you.”

“Oh she was… she was. And I was very fond of her.” Mamie leans back on her pillow. “They wanted me to be a nun, but I didn’t …have …the …calling,” she murmurs.

Yesterday morning I went into her room to find her sitting up on the side of her bed. Her eyes were bright as if she couldn’t wait to tell me some wonderful bit of news.

“I just had the most marvelous dream,” she crowed. “Someone came to my house and brought me fresh bread and strawberry jam for my breakfast!” She took my hand in hers and patted it. Then she leaned her head back and laughed.

And then I helped her to walk out into her bright beautiful sunny kitchen where her breakfast was waiting: a blue and white china cup of coffee with cream and two sugars, a thick slice of fresh bread still warm from the oven and a little pot of homemade strawberry jam.

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Gossip is gross.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
Proverbs 11:12

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