Saturday, March 27, 2010

March Pinks

After reading the title of this post, you might look at this photograph and think, "Poor Ang, gone colorblind, she has." However, if you knew my Granddaddy, then you'd realize I'm talking about the flowers in the photograph.

Yep, Lee Duncan called daffodils "March Pinks," and I don't think it ever failed to get a reaction out of us kids. March pinks? Pinks? If he doesn't want to call them daffodils, fine, but can't he see that those flowers are yellow?

Now, I wonder where he heard that name. Now, I wish I could sit with him and pepper him with questions, from the minute ones (like Why do you call that flower by that name?) to the all encompassing ones (like What made you believe so whole-heartedly in doing things according to the signs of the moon?)

I know exactly what James and Kate would ask him, if they had been alive when he was. . . How bad did it hurt when you cut off your finger, and did you really "feel" it years after it was gone??

Our Granddaddy was a tall man, a tough man. In fact, he was so much taller than my cousins' other grandfather that they called their other grandfather "Little Granddaddy." Granddaddy had a grip like a vise, and you'd never have known he was missing a finger if you didn't look at his hand. He accidentally chopped that index finger off with an ax while splitting firewood. I think my mom was there when it happened, but I don't remember how old she was at the time. I just remember hearing the story and thinking two things: that must have been one heckuva sharp ax and how tough do you have to be to watch that happen to yourself and not go crazy?

I do love words and history and pop culture, so I realize that March Pinks might have been a common name for daffodils in the early 1900's. Still, I figure Lee Duncan might have made the explanation into a fairly entertaining story. Happy Springtime, Granddaddy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Okay, you'll have to supply your own soundtrack. Now that I think about it, I can't recall the sound of finches, much less translate it into English. Tweedle-dee-dee, it is.
I can tell you that if I had my torch set up, I would be anxious to translate that wonderfully intricate black and white tail feather pattern into glass. Look at those curves and swoops, look at the mask it creates, and just look at the graceful yin-and-yang synchronicity created.
Nature must be an artist, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chewing on My Own Tongue

I have been biting my tongue for months now. I've been lambasted as being a "liberal" for most of my adult life. Now, when I don't like the health care mess, I am suddenly lumped together with every card-carrying conservative? Sorry, but I don't blindly follow any party lines, be they liberal or conservative.
I don't like insurance companies-- never have, probably never will. If you pay for insurance, you shouldn't be dropped or have your rates jacked up because you actually have to use the insurance...sound very conservative to you?
I don't trust the government to provide health care in an efficient and beneficial manner. Exactly which government programs are good examples of why I should be comfortable with the government taking over health care? Postal service? VA hospitals? Public schools? Social security (for which I have no choice but to pay the taxes, but which may not be solvent by the time I retire)? Does all of that sound very liberal to you?
PLEASE, do not assume you know someone else's political preferences just because they are or are not in favor of one particular plan.
PLEASE, remember we are each entitled to our own opinions. Express yours, and allow everyone else to express theirs, as well.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Seeds

Well, the picture is a little fuzzy because the boychild insisted he didn't want me to "show this face to the whole world on the web, Mom." However, he did want to show everyone the seeds he found inside a pod. He and Kate were exploring, rubber boots and adventuresome spirits and all, one afternoon last week. One thing we all love about the new house is the acre-sized yard. There was some wonderful, sunny fall weather when we first moved last October, but the winter seemed so cold (and wet) and muddy (<--more of the wet) and dreary (and wet) that we didn't do much outside. Now, with songbirds chirping before sunrise and Daylight Savings Time extending the evenings, we're doing some serious appreciating of our spot on earth. We're watching where we step, unless we have on our old boots, but we're sure having fun. James and Kate have been pulling on their rubber boots in the afternoons and trekking across the ditch at the back of the yard. We can call it a small creek when there's rain, but I suspect it'll be just a plain old ditch come summertime. Whatever you call it, the kids have found their place to explore.

The day they found the seeds in the picture, Kate had visited a history website after her Social Studies test at school. She came home determined to be a "history person" and "dig for stuff." With Indiana Jones in mind, I mentally dubbed her my "Illinois Garren." I'm still working on the name for James-- maybe "BackYard Jimmy" or "GumBoot Garren." Those seeds were the highlight of that afternoon. There will be more, I'm sure. The long pods come from one of the trees in the backyard, and there will be other treasures discovered in the ditch. Now would be the time for me to plant a few "fossils" or pieces of pottery for them to "find," but I suspect nothing contrived by me could outshine the childhood wonder of discovering muddy old mustard jars and pieces of lost toys that have already found their way to the ditch over time. That doesn't mean I won't try to plant some seeds of a sort, though.

You and I already know the seeds of ideas can be powerful. We all know the seeds we do and don't want to sow in our children's minds. For instance, I've always bought my kids books at the bookstore. . . one loves to read, the other one only loves to go to the bookstore and detests reading. I've always pointed out the intense colors in sunsets, always talked about the patterns and forms I see in nature. . .one is already a budding artist with skills far beyond what I could even begin to do at her age, the other responds to most "artistic" talk with a cursory "uh-huh, I see" and is only now at the point where he likes to draw football uniforms on his stick figures. I've always loved school and learning, always been excited to start the school day. . . both of my children think that enthusiasm makes me certifiably insane, and they remind me of it every single morning when I'm encouraging/prodding them to get dressed and get in the van so we can get to school on time. C'est la vie, right?

So, yeah, the seeds we sow for our children could be the subject of an entire volume. We all have our own chapters and themes. What I want to ask you right now is this. How much attention do you pay to the seeds you sow in your own mind? I'm not touting any wonder mantras or fads here. Skeptic that I am, I'm never totally convinced. . . but I have learned over the years that there is a grain of truth in the idea of positive thinking. If you are a skeptic like me, or if you can use yet another reminder couched in different words, then this is your non-denominational-bring-it-down-to-this-very-moment post.

What do you tell yourself when the alarm dings? Okay, what do you tell yourself that is printable/repeatable for the public? See? Lots of bad days have their start by our own hand-- telling ourselves it's going to be a crappy day before we've even made it downstairs to the coffeepot. What do you tell yourself when you're getting dressed? Do you say, "Hey, you're okay" or "Boy, I sure wish I had a new shirt/pants/shoes" or "Good, let's get on with the day"? See? You can plant the seeds of personal dissatisfaction or motivation or happiness, all while standing in front of the mirror and brushing your teeth. What do you tell yourself when you become frustrated or bored at work? Do you grumble about finding a better job, or do you mentally press a "reset" button and try to start fresh? See? Maybe you do need a better job, or maybe you don't, but why take any particular moment and make yourself miserable wallowing in unhappiness?

You get the idea. Make yourself look at the seeds you sow. None of us can do that every moment of the day, but each of us can do it at least one time a day, can't we?
Happy Planting :)

**This message brought to you by the woman who sometimes feels she is keeping herself sane by writing these reminders to herself because she really has trouble keeping it all together in the real world some days. . . so, take it with a grain of salt, but take it, okay?
Bulleted List

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Look up, look down, look all around. . .
pretty patterns and gracefulness abound.

May your day be one of joy, one of wonder. May you find yourself marveling at the beauty in life.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Grandma and Dreams

Grandma, don't you think it's time for another visit in my dreams? Twice in these last thirty-some years, you've visited in dreams that stayed with me after waking. Doesn't seem like much, when I write it down and count the years, but those dreams travel with me still. Those dreams were the kind that seem so real that when you wake up you get mad at reality.
I cannot explain my fascination with the first dream. It hurt so much. In that dream, you passed me in an airport concourse. You were riding one of those moving sidewalks, going in the opposite direction of the one I was riding. I jumped and waved and shouted, but you looked right past me, didn't see me. BUT you were alive, you weren't gone. Over the years, there has been a strange comfort drawn from the wisps of that dream.
Not too many years ago, the second dream practically knocked me out of REM sleep. Some sleuthing inside the dreamworld resulted in me finding you, alive and well, living in another city. You had continued growing older each birthday, and you explained to me that you just had to leave and start over somewhere else. You didn't really mind that I'd found you, and you happily spent the day catching up with me. I really liked that dream.
So, Grandma, it's your birthday, and I just wanted to talk to you. I'm a grownup, sure, and I am nothing if not matter-of-fact about life and death. You live in my heart and mind most of the year. It's just in the few days surrounding your birthday that this desire to see you and hear you always surfaces.
Writing is usually the cure, the antidote, the way to honor your memory. This year, though, I hesitated for a bit. Many of your grandchildren "see" and "talk" to each other online nowadays, and it seems like my limited memories of you pale in comparison to what the kids older than me remember about you. Heck, reading Aunt Carol and Barbara Ann's simple posts about remembering your phone number made me envious of my cousins who lived nearer and saw you more often. . . so, I know the power of a simple observation or musing when it takes you by surprise.
I guess that last sentence is my warning and/or apology for going ahead and writing down the snippets that crossed my mind last night when I was looking for this picture of you and me:
  • Every Christmas, I tell anyone who'll listen the story about me finding the Christmas presents in the back bedroom upstairs at your house. It was the year you got me and Lisa matching baby dolls. The dolls had pale blond hair and light blue-green dresses, and I thought they were wonderful. You nonchalantly told me those were for some other little girls. . . and was I happily surprised when they did show up under the tree for Lisa and me.
  • The giant rocking chair in the front bedroom upstairs is my gold standard for rocking chairs. The upholstered, padded seat and back are vague in my mind's eye, but the tactile memory of rocking in that chair is still here.
  • Another memory that dims when I try to focus it is of sitting with you at the end of the dining room table. You are telling me about Sam Greer, telling me a story about when you met him. Try as I might, I can't remember the story itself or focus on your face, BUT the feeling of being loved and trusted with a special story is here.
  • You and Grandpa came to our other Grandma and Granddaddy's one time when we were there. I can close my eyes and be back on that great big, shady front porch. Susie and William are there. Mother and Pop and Grandma and Granddaddy are close by in the yard or maybe inside the house with the screens open. You are swinging on the front porch swing with us. To make this flashback perfect, I am taking the liberty of mixing timelines to suit my imagination-- you are wearing that lilac doubleknit pantsuit, and Granny had to have been wearing her green checked doubleknit pants with the orange doubleknit shirt :-)
  • You know those old-fashioned roses that grew beside your house? Mother, the plant whisperer, still grows those. Hands down, my very favorite flower ever.
  • Gretchen. Another memory. That weinerdog is sprawled across the tile of the dining room floor, and I'm scratching her belly. Blackie was okay, but he wasn't Gretchen.

See, I told you the memories seem pretty vague and wishywashywithtime. Hope you don't mind that I can't capture in words all the feelings that cloud around the memories. Maybe if you come visit in a dream, I'll try to put them into words.

Happy Birthday, Grandma

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Which Ranks Higher-- FancySchmancy Mating Dance or Cleaning Out the Garage?

Yes, Dear, I see your pretty feathers and magnificent wingspan. I am impressed, really I am, and I'll be sure to tell my friends all about you again.

Hmmm, maybe a few flaps and jumps will get a more enthusiastic response?

Alright, Honey, I'll go home and clean out the garage. Wouldn't that be a thoughtful expression of my love for you?

Yes, Dear, I have to say that would impress me, especially since I keep knocking over junk I've left at the front of the garage whenever I walk around the front of the van. You're my hero!

This thinly disguised scenario is dedicated to my ever-practical, ever-non-romantic husband. Your cleaning up the front of the garage (you know, the place where I kept piling stuff I didn't want to drag into the house because I'm trying to keep from cluttering up the house) is actually much nicer than a bouquet of flowers :-)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the GuineaFowl

Silly birds!
Spindly legs pumping at enormous rpms under unflappable helmet bodies!
You should see the Noisy HalfDozen marching single file across the garden, suddenly double-timing it and then launching themselves airborne. Well, I guess you could call it airborne, all those gigantic cargo plane shaped bodies sailing just above the grass, lifting barely high enough to land on top of the chicken pen!
Noisy, noisy birds!
Talk about a combination alarm system/bug catching system/home entertainment system!
Yep, gotta love a guinea. . . as long as they stay at Grandma's house :)