Little Thoughts While Andrew’s In St. Louis And I’m Waiting For The Storm

~ While exercising one day, a tatted gent sidled up with an I-know-you look and said,
Hey, aren’t you Lucky’s ex-wife?”
I am not making this up.
I stuttered out, “No, I’m Andrew’s wife.”
And he nodded knowingly, “Oh, you’re with Andy now!”
I know I don’t look like a magazine while exercising, but I wept that I looked like I could have been married to, and divorced from, someone named Lucky. And was the tatted gent implying that in his humble opinion Lucky was lucky because I was his ex? Was he that subtle? I realized that Tat Gent probably told his boys at the parlor that night that he had run into Lucky’s ex and she’s with Andy now and he always knew she was trash. I ended up really resenting Lucky for putting me through this.

~ I watched a woman chew her gum today. She was the kind who chews gum with her whole face. Mesmerizing.

~ Speaking of faces, when you are making a joke with your high school students and say, “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin” and then blush because that strikes a little too close to home. And they haven’t read The 3 Little Pigs anyway.

~ Speaking of hair, the current enormous triangular eyebrow trend?? I grew up in the days of Brooke Shields, so I’m all for a healthy eyebrow. But this?

~ Speaking of trends, I saw a tiny undergarment recently – I won’t say where – that had a tag on it that was bigger than the tiny undergarment. Which led me to an existential flight of fancy in which the tag was the product and the tiny undergarment was the tag, and it was entirely plausible.

~ Speaking of seeing a tiny undergarment and not saying where, I visited my kids recently and enjoyed the college rhythm of life. Time is different there. It’s the equivalent of coming through a toll gate into the broad area where there are no lanes quite yet. And it’s a wild free-for-all! Drive here, drive there, roll down the windows and holler. No wonder they have such joy and unique productivity.  They’re incredibly busy, but days and nights mean different things to them than they do to the rest of the world.

~ Speaking of college kids, they have no money. They really don’t. However, they somehow afford the following: a special razor ordered online that is heavy as Grandma’s silver and so, so good for the skin (Amazon suggests you also buy Harry and Co’s herbal shave lotion ((get it? Harry? Hahaha)); a combo color-changing nightlight/essential oil diffuser that will open the sinuses and decrease anxiety; the kitchen hand soap from Mrs. Meyers in spa scents that I crave but settle for Sam’s; Tresemme, Cetaphil, organic vegetables, quinoa, almond milk, almond butter, Rewind candles for the talking area, and Netflix. Hmmm. Essential oil to diffuse the anxiety that comes from being broke which comes from shopping for things to deal with the anxiety that comes from being broke . . .

~ Speaking of anxiety, I ran up against a challenge today. Said to myself, “You are a hero and life’s about figuring it out.” It worked!

~ Speaking of figuring it out, actually, God figured it out, or was never stumped to begin with. He started the lawn mower for me on the third pull. My first two pulls had no effect on the machine whatsoever.

~ Speaking of mowing the lawn, today was a valuable day. While waiting for the storm to arrive I figured out how to work the Coleman camp stove, ground enough coffee for two days (Wyatt Pettus, you have two days to fix my power lines if they go down tonight, and your bum shoulder is no excuse), filled the car with gas, gathered candles, stocked up on healthy snacks, heroically walked right past the Utz Cheeseballs in the huge container and if anything screams buy-the-cheeseballs an imminent apocalypse does, went for a walk, and am now officially ready for the storm.

~ Speaking of healthy, a friend and I agreed at barre last night that after this amount of time doing barre, we expected to look different. We still look like us.

~ Well, that’s about it except that as I sit here and wait for the storm, I can see all sorts of grass sprigs I missed in my character-building mowing. Grrrrr.

          
Food righteousness!                            Youtubing “How to start a Coleman stove.”

St. Elmo In The Morning

Hush and lull of quiet time in my
Daughter’s apartment as she
Prepares for a later-starting workday.
Extra time allows for the little nothing
Tasks like unknotting a shoelace,
Soaping out yesterday’s Thermos.
~
The oval mirror above the fern
Reflects the wall behind me.
Prints of birds – finches? –
And a South of France travel
 poster.
Books stacked and angled,
Bubbling fish bowl – home of Joel.

Ten foot ceilings widen narrow rooms,
And there’s curry, somewhere.
Yes, I am just rearranging prose on the page,

But the street window is open, and
St. Elmo is wet through from last night’s
Storm, and dazzling in the morning sun,
Vital and delicate both.
Baby green leaves peek out of wet, black limbs.
Wet tires slur rubbery down Tennessee Avenue
Because a time clock beckons. And the bluff face
Looks down from behind moving clouds,
Sun and shadow tagging over its rocks and redbuds.
I can trace the curved road only by glints
Of wet cars climbing through the greeny, misty
Trees, up, up, up. I wonder where they are going and
Why they need to get to the top of the mountain.

Eliza arrives with three coffees and we
Puzzle out her route through nursing school,
As the building pops in the morning damp,
And Joel recovers his nerves
After last night’s storm.


Eliza and Adrienne; March 28, 2017,Tennessee Avenue, St. Elmo
For the record, Eliza looks pained because she didn’t want her picture taken.

Ode To March: Covered up

January showed herself as
Sticks against the
Indifferent back of
Stephen Crane’s deity.

March is those sticks fanning out from
Within themselves,
Expanding their marrow
To the east and west,
Joining hands and
Becoming thatch –
A Radagast roof that
Turns the softening sky into
Tiny triangular pieces.

March is the blush-beginning of
Being covered up.
~
Covered up.
Around here, when people say they are
Covered up, they mean they are
Busy,
Behind,
Overwhelmed;
Their production line isn’t meeting
Incoming orders and sirens are going off
All over the factory floor.

I get covered up like that,
Flat covered up. Oh, me.

And when I do,
I do the Adam-and-Eve thing –
Worry
And sew up a fig-leaf.
As a spider’s web is made of
Spider, so my skirt is woven of my
Panic and pride and dyed with a
Peacock’s palate of self-righteousness.

I wear my skirt to Sunday
Worship and there sing,
“Cover my defenseless head
In the shadow of thy wing.”
Tucked up there, He lets me hear
His heart beat the calming rhythm of
“It is finished.”
He removes my scrappy fig leaf,
And covers me up
With Himself.
He whispers over my head that
The production line is not my job.
~
I am covered up, oh, me.

We Went To A Cottage In Paradise

We have come to a cottage in paradise.

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February is an icy-hearted Miss Havisham, all human warmth dormant, and we had become her victims. I mean, look at us!
img_1132Then we drove 13 hours south on cold, dark, inland roads, shivering in our sweaters, and woke up to this:

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Even if I had only one day to look at this, the trek is worth it.

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Of course we had our road adventures. In Troy, Alabama we needed to swing in and have the tires balanced. But we found beauty there. And the mechanic, while devoid of humor, got us back on the road in 20 minutes. We couldn’t ask for more than that from a Trojan mechanic.

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And we had to stop and make coffee behind a Circle K. Because priorities.

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Our early morning view from paradise cottage. This is also the church we were married in. So how is that for God’s loving answer to the February doldrums??

dscn6811Everything is different here: the New York accents, the odors of garlic and cigars and finest perfume, the Lamborghinis, the Euro clothing unlike my mid-America khaki shorts and mom sandals, the hues of skin whether by sun or by exotic birth. So different from our hard-working, stick-to-the-essentials Cullman.

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Day 2 we set our chairs up facing the sun, not like our bumpkin day 1 set-up facing the ocean. By day 2 it’s not about marveling at the majesty of it all. It’s about getting with the program.
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Day 2 also reveals that people and their multitude of body parts come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and combos. Everyone walks around barely clothed, and we aren’t supposed to think a thing of it. But who can help it? All-over tats, body parts that nylon doesn’t begin to hide, rolls, rashes, body parts that age and gravity cause to dangle beneath the hemline – all fairly traumatizing.

Babies on the beach. Oh my. They laugh overwhelmed laughs at the magnitude of this water thing and at brother shrieking in the cold, strong waves. And they toddle and waddle and no one tells them ‘no’ about anything, not digging, not flinging, not smearing. Dumplings in bathing suits and bonnets, they look like candy and happiness.
img_1188-2Redheads. Bless their hearts. Unlike the rest of us, they have a hostile relationship with the sun and can’t unclothe and sprawl out for hours in sweet, blank beach sleep. They’re beaching, but only after negotiating a cease-fire with the sun by conceding umbrella, hat, wet suit, 70 sunscreen, lip screen, towel, sand.

Deep thoughts. God’s handiwork is everywhere, and yet many of the millions of people here seem instead to be guided by absolute materialism. Florida is both ultra-modern and forever in the 1950s; I wonder why the millions come here. Why do they come to the edge of the land and lie beside the vast ocean? Just to escape February?
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Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!” Ps 57:5

Bikes. On Lake Trail along the Palm Beach intracoastal, nannies in scrubs push scions’ strollers. Yachts and sailboats lie at anchor. Tourists like me twist their necks left and right goggling rare glimpses of one of the super-wealthy doing something otherworldly like gazing at his yard or walking to the pool house.
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What I thought I looked like. . . .Words fail.

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Birds. Paradise cottage rests on a grassy hill jeweled with every bird that flew south last November. This morning one gent praised his bird-wife: ‘Sweet, sweet, purty, purty, purty, purty.’ She chickered back her satisfaction.
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Sabbath. God rides creation to commune with me. And there in His house, Andrew and I stand where we stood almost 29 years ago to say ‘I do!’ To our precious young friends in Wednesday night Covenant Group: God is faithful and spouses can still be each other’s favorite person on the planet.

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We pack early and journey north loaded with exotic cheeses and chocolates and tropical fruit from The Boys and with warmth from Andrew’s parents, back to responsibility and away from paradise. Somewhere in the 13 hours, maybe around Atlanta, our thoughts will turn toward Cullman and work and we will be glad.
img_1219“I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.  For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” Psalm 57: 9, 10

A Perfect Valentine’s Evening At Barre

I give you
A sketch of a perfect
Valentine’s evening:

Right hip at the barre,
Heels together, feet in a V,
Up on tiptoe, perched like a
Stork in mid-air,
Deep knee bend, hips tucked up
And staying in ‘the work zone’,
Big old thigh muscles
Parallel to the floor
(Or at least they should be)
And screaming like my Fiat when
I’m on the phone and can’t
Shift gears,

Following verbal cues
From our Pink Rose of an instructor
Who prompts in the gentle, reasonable
Voice of a
Prison guard
Saying, Pull the shank out yourself and
Get back to busting rocks.
And pulse it out to tempo.

Poised here on the brink of
Peanut Brittle of the spine,
My friend Tina Hulse,
Who asked that her
Name not be used,
While doing the extra leg lift
For the challenge,
Turns around
With the look all our faces
Share,
That slack but pin-pointy look of
One who is ultra-focused on
Making the body obey the brain,
And making the brain obey
Christopher Walken,
And says:

You know you need to blog about this.

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W
e sort of look like this.  Sort of.

A Thousand Mirrors

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Some days God answers, ‘Not today.
Trust Me here; this is My love.’
A rainy answer, a cross-shaped hug,
Planned when my days were not yet one.

Some days His glory spills like sun
Through limbs of February trees,
Anoints my face, salves my disease,
Brushes soft my shook anxieties.

He wraps up suffering in the sun
And bathes me with the latter first
Before the pain clouds crack and burst
And jagged pieces are dispersed.

But here’s the thing with jagged rain,
Its facets form a thousand mirrors
To reflect the sun just that much clearer,
Than round drops ever could deliver.

I cannot love the jagged rain,
But, oh, I love the Sun it rides.
Like childbirth turns out our insides,
Rain magnifies what first it hides.

My Warrior

I would not have chosen this
Particular fire.  Or any fire. But
Here it is, licking my toes and
Eyeing my legs for a good shank
Of meat. I am done for. And then . . .
In a flicker, I see into the air,
Or through it, to the
Other side of its translucence.

A Warrior there fights for me
Against arrows aflame.
Tireless, frontline, He shields my soul.
How He must value my soul that He,
War-clad and wielding, would
Condescend to rally for the smallness of me!

David’s shouts of deliverance
From ever-attackers suddenly speak for me
As his war songs never have before.
My enemy lives for my foot to slip,
My walking feet of joy, of peace, of faith!

But my Warrior is my salvation;
He explains to me with His arms and His strokes,
That I could never love to
Watch Him save me from
The fire if there was no fire.

Psalm 37 and 38

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