Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mama Mia! Here we go again...

Surely you have seen the great girlfriend movie of summer, "Momma Mia!" At least once.
I saw it first with my husband. It was a sold out theater with a only a handful of men in the audience. The crowd went wild. The second time was for my sister's birthday. Again, full of women who were friends totally loving the show.
The third time was today with teacher friends. Women just "get" this movie . Because it really is about who we are: mothers, daughter and friends.
We couldn't resist posing outside. I'm taking the picture of M, S and B taking a Facebook-type shot for posterity. (Note to our embarrassed college aged children viewing this: we can still be taught new things.)
And I'm sure we'll go back.
With a bigger crowd next time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like...

July 30: I was so glad to see that the Americana/ Fourth of July merchandise was being clearanced today so that Cracker Barrel has room to put out all of its CHRISTMAS MERCHANDISE. Clearly, I am already behind in my holiday shopping. Maybe it is because three weeks of consecutive 100 degree days in central Texas (with the added bonus prediction of at least another month of this heat) have caused my brain to slow down. Silly me! I thought it was still summer.
Apparently, even the good people at Michael's got the memo before I did. I stopped there next to get a summery arrangement for my guest bedroom. Lucky me: summer merchandise is 70-90% off so they have room to frantically unpack and shelve Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas products all at once. Just watching the frenzy made me not merry.
No wonder so many people lead such frantic lives. Are we really expected to begin planning for holidays that are respectively 3, 4 and 5 months down the road? To quote my sister, R, "This is making my heart beat too fast!"
Couldn't we just enjoy the sweet smell of new crayons on the back-to-school aisles without having to pass Christmas stockings? How about being able to select a new pink camoflauged lunchbox without backing into Halloween candy that is sure to be especially fresh in 3 months?
Presidental canidates: are you listening? Maybe we need some promises to keep Pilgrims and Turkeys in their places until new backpacks are showing a little wear.
Happy Back-to-School. And that's all I'm going to say until a few more pages on the calendar turn.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A day that was a long time coming.....

Today, we had the adaptions done to the van so that D will be able to drive with controls on the steering wheel. New license in pocket, he slipped behind the wheel. I snapped this picture as he started the engine and got ready to drive for the first time in almost a year. I can only imagine the freedom and joy he was feeling in this moment. His world is about to crack wide open. Feeling a little heady, I imagine. God's plans continue to be for you to have a future and a hope, D. And we are all so very grateful.
Go, speed racer, go.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Let the earth rejoice!

To make a very long story very short, my husband has battled cancer for six years.
During that time all four of our children have graduated from high school. One has even graduated college, and is now in grad school. One is married. And they have scattered across the country. But this I believe for sure: we have not missed one blessing that God had for us during this time.
But this past year has been especially hard. Last August, D had to have his right leg and hip amputated. And just when we thought it was safe to continue on in life's path, a brain tumor was discovered a few months ago. A very large brain tumor. We all held our breath in April because we thought that surgery would be the Bad One. We are not without faith, but the sheer number of procedures and surgeries were stacking the odds against us. So, we geared up, endured the 13 hour surgery, and were surprised by joy. Where we had expected a marathon recovery; it was more like crossing the street. D was talking as soon as he woke up, was released out of ICU as soon as a regular room opened and was home in 4 days. He was clearly the rockstar of recovery. And we were all so very grateful.
So, cut to this summer. D is taking classes to learn to drive with controls on the steering wheel. Today...ta da!...he, of course, passed the test and got his new license to drive. For the first time in a year.
But, wait! There's more! The insurance has also approved a scooter.
He can drive and he can scoot. The freedom of movement is a little heady for him.
His bravery has inspired us all.
I hope the good things continue to come his way.
May this seventh year be one of only recovery.
And good times.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot....

In 1961, my grandparents moved in from "The Farm" and bought a little bungalow in Austin. I think one of their criteria was that it be close to the other family members who had also relocated to town. My great-grandparents and all four great-aunts, along with their families, lived within a 4 mile circumference. (Great-grandpa Young had immigrated to this country from Sweden. His people were recruited because they were considered "loyal and hardworking". That would definitely describe this branch of the family.)
My grandparents paid about $10,000 for this home all those years ago. It was two bedroom, one bath with no central heat or air. It had one of those great floor furnaces in the hallway that you could stradle in your nightgown on a cold winter evening, causing the gown to billow around you. There was also an attic fan that pulled air from all over the neighborhood, and blew it through the rooms. I do not remember missing air-conditioning as a young girl.
My grandparents later decided that they needed a den, and had one added to the back of the house. This also put the bathroom into the dead center of the house. The bathroom window that used to open into the back yard now opened into the den. Why didn't they close it over? Well, the man that they hired to build the den (we didn't call them "family rooms" back then) was a fellow Swede from the country. As a child, his hand had been bitten by a rattlesnake. He was only able to use one arm. While the addition was impressive, the removal of the window was too much for him. So it stayed.
We loved this little white house and watched the two pecan trees continue to grow and tower over it for the 40 years that my grandparents owned it.
When we lost my grandmother 7 years ago, we had to put the house on the market. It sold very quickly for $160,000 in 2001. An investor, we later learned. Not someone that loved the hardwood floors, arched doorways and attic fan. Central heat and air were added and a second story to the back of the house. It was an industrial looking nightmare to our eyes and the community at large dubbed these awful remodels in old Austin "McMansions". But someone eventually bought the redesigned house last year for $250,000. Clearly, the central Austin housing market is out of control.
My sister and I went and peeked through the windows when it was on the market, and could hardly recognize where things used to be. The downstairs was basically just one large, hollow open area. We could see little or none of the charm of the original bungalow.
We walked into the backyard and saw that my grandmother's garage, shed and greenhouse were gone and replaced by perfect sod. Every quirky and charming addition of my grandparent's had been obliterated. One of my favorite parts of the backyard had been an old truck toolbed grandmother had turned into a container garden for her yearly vegetable garden. Gone. The shed that held every outdoor toy we'd ever owned? Disappeared. The garage with the secret room for storing clothes that were out of season? (The house only had 3 small closets.) Removed. We felt so sad to see this sterile and lifeless backyard replacing the memories of a vibrant childhood. But then, I looked over in the corner and saw something popping out of the sod.
My grandmother's prized "wandering jew" plant was pushing its way through the newly laid grass. As if it knew it formerly belonged in this place. Forgive my temporary insanity, but there was a part of me that felt this nightmarish redesign did not deserve its beauty. I plucked up the plant and took it to my home. Where it still grows today. Actually, it flourishes. As do my memories of what was the wonderful house that my grandparents picked cotton to buy.