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  • A Quiet House

    September 28, 2008

    Saturday afternoon, Antique Daddy and Sean left to go to Tuna to visit Memaw and Papa George. Normally I go with them, but I was sorely in need of a long stretch of quiet time to work on a couple of writing projects.

    I am not wired to be with people all the time. I like to be alone. I like quiet. I like order. Being a wife and a mother has been an adjustment for me. A joy to be sure, but an adjustment.

    I waved goodbye as the car pulled out of the driveway. When they were out of sight I went back in the house and shut the door behind me. It was the first time in years that I had the house all to myself and I was ready to embrace my solitude.

    Although they had been gone for less than five minutes, the house already felt different to me. Rather than a peaceful respite, it felt empty.

    My Godparents lived across the street from me when I was growing up. They moved to Florida when I was ten. I remember going into their house after the new family moved in. It felt odd and unnatural. It didn’t smell the same.  It was the same house, but not. My Grandpa Joe died that same year. When I saw him in his casket, it looked liked him, but the warmth and being that made him who he was, was gone. That’s how my godparent’s house felt to me after they moved, like a corpse that another soul with nicer furniture had taken over.

    * * * * *

    Before I could begin working on my writing projects, I had to first make all the beds, pick up all the toys, fold and put away all the laundry, empty and reload the dishwasher, scour the sink, pay all the bills, file all the statements and straighten up my desk.

    And then I sat on the sofa and enjoyed the absolute quiet and the certain knowledge that everything was in its place for the first time in more than four years.  My soul rejoiced.  I sat there for a full fifteen minutes enjoying it just in case it was another four and half years before it happened again.

    I drank pot after pot of coffee and typed and deleted words all weekend. I occasionally looked up and marveled at the order that I so love. I delighted that everything was in its place, that I could open my desk drawer and my scissors would be there.

    The quiet and order gave me great joy because I know that it’s just for a weekend. Temporary solitude and order is a sweet and healing blessing. Permanent solitude and order is a curse that I never want to know again.

    Now I’m ready for those two boys to bring some disorder and life back into this corpse of a house.


    September 27, 2008

    “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.”

    ~ Tommy Lasorda

    * * * * *

    “You are only as good as your attitude.”

    ~ Antique Mommy

    A Flaw

    September 25, 2008

    When Papa George mentions his oldest son George Bryant, he always tells how at age three, he could sing How Great Thou Art word for word. As he proudly tells this story, his eyes twinkle and his face fills with light.

    In his far away look, I can tell it is George Bryant’s face that he sees. But in the next second, his eyes grow moist and his voice cracks with an ancient sorrow that is never put to rest. Papa George lost his little boy to leukemia before he was four-years-old. Fifty three years later, he still misses and grieves his little boy.

    Last year, Memaw and Antique Daddy and Sean and I were all going somewhere in the car. Memaw and Sean were in the backseat. We were talking about how Sean loves seeing the garbage truck come pick up the trash. Memaw recalled how her oldest son, Billy Wayne, loved garbage trucks.

    Her face filled with light and her voice sparkled as she recalled how he used to tell her that when he grew up, he wanted to be a garbage truck driver. “I told him that if he wanted to be garbage truck driver, I wanted him to be the best garbage truck driver he could be.” And in the next second, she began to softly weep. Memaw buried her oldest son in 1975. He was 27-years-old. Thirty-three years later, she still misses and grieves her little boy.

    Yesterday I went to the funeral of my dear friend, Margaret. She was 58-years-old. I sat in the pew of this beautiful tiny Catholic church and watched her 87-year-old father, tired and hunched over with the burden of grief, walk slowly up the center aisle as the organ droned and the church ladies sang. I thought of how for all the remaining days of his life, he will miss and grieve his little girl.

    I know that death teaches us about life, but what is to be learned when a parent buries a child?

    There is a flaw in God’s divinely created universe. Parents ought not to have to bury their children.


    September 23, 2008

    I find car horns to be totally useless. I have never once honked a horn and achieved the desired result.

    On the rare occasion when I want to use my horn, say when someone is about to back into me in a parking lot, I can’t find it. I’m slamming my fists into the steering wheel hard enough to activate the airbag, but the horn makes not a peep. But the upside is that people tend to not mess with a crazy lady banging her fists on the steering wheel.

    The other problem with car horns, at least in my car, is that it is basically a one size fits all noise – angry. I suspect the standard car horn was made by a New York cabbie that got up on the wrong side of the bed.

    What we need are car horns with some nuances, some southern charm. Car horns that are all “Hey y’all” and “Bless your heart”. Just think, instead of road rage and drive by shootings, we’d have drive by blessings.

    For example, you know when you are behind someone at a stop light and the light turns green and the person ahead of you has obviously zoned out – and really, who among us has not zoned out at a stop light a time or two? You don’t really want to jump their case and blast them with the angry horn, you just want to give them a nudge.

    So then, wouldn’t it be nice to have the option of giving them a lyrical little toot toot that said, “Yo! Sistah! The light! It’s green! Bless your heart! Have a nice day!”

    However, there are times when something slightly stronger and less lyrical is required, but you still don’t want to use the angry horn. Like on those occasions when you need the guy in the pickup truck in front of you to pull up juuuuust enough so that you could slide over into the turn lane and make that right on red and you know in your heart that he’s not letting you by because he’s got a point to make and he’s going to make it when really, he’s driving a gimonguous pickup truck (in the cityburbs) which says I’m small it all. Anyway — a horn that said, “Dude! Mr. Big Pickup driver! Any chance I could slide past? Bless your heart! Have a nice day!!” That would be ideal, don’t you think?

    Of course, it would also be nice to have a horn that conveyed, “It’s that time of the month buster, don’t mess with me, ah am on mah way to BRAUMS!! Bless your heart! Have a nice day! Now get outta the passin’ lane.”

    Or how about an “Ooops!” horn? Like when I accidentally honk the horn and then the person in front of me thinks I’m trying to make some sort of point and they give me the smoldery fish eye in the rearview mirror. And then I have to pantomime “Whoops! I’m a horn honking dork! My bad! Silly me! Bless your heart! Have a nice day!”

    The upside to that is people tend to get out of the way pantomiming crazy ladies on their way to Braums.

    The Paisley Dress

    September 22, 2008

    I love paisley and I always have. I think paisley adds a touch of class to nearly anything.

    Once, when I was a young girl, I was looking through our family photographs when my eye was drawn to one of the few color photographs in the box. I pulled the picture from the box and studied it closely for a long time.

    It is a picture of my mother. She is a young woman. She is wearing a paisley dress, cyan blue, the color of a shallow tropical sea. She is seated deep in a chair with her long athletic legs crossed. She is wearing high heels. Her thick wavy auburn hair contrasts with the vibrant blue green dress in the most resplendent way, in a way that makes you want to look from the dress to her hair and back to the dress again. She is looking confidently into the camera with a sultry “I dare you” expression.

    The sexy young woman in the picture is clearly my mother. But not. It seemed implausible to me that this paisley wearing woman was the same woman who nightly rescued me from the dark, pulling me into the safety of her bed, curling me into the soft warm curve of her tummy. My mother never wore high heels or fancy clothes, let alone paisley, and she certainly never sat around looking sultry!

    At that moment, I realized that my mother had a life before me and beyond me. It was an odd and uncomfortable thought, almost inconceivable, but at the same time… thrilling. And I think it was then, in that moment, that I fell in love with paisley.

    My mother is a smart lady. She could have been anything she wanted to be, she could have worn paisley every day. But she chose to have children instead and through us correct the hurts and injustices of her own childhood.

    I don’t actually remember seeing my mother wear that paisley dress, but I remember seeing it hang in the back of her closet year after year.

    If she had any regrets about the choices she made for her life, she kept them stashed away in the back of her closet along with the paisley dress. And we never knew it.

    Christmas 1961.

    Bread Pudding

    September 20, 2008

    Earlier in the week I mentioned on Twitter that I was making bread pudding and a number of y’all asked for the recipe, so here it is. If you are on a diet or diabetic, never mind, move along, nothing to see here…

    Antique Mommy’s Bread Pudding

    My bread pudding is a lot like my meatloaf – I never make it the same way twice, I use pretty much whatever I have on hand and I consider measurements only a suggestion. Here’s the basic recipe I use, but a lot of times I add in other stuff like coconut, pecans, sometimes pears.

    About four or five cups of bread, cubed – I like to use left over cinnamon raisin bread

    ½ stick of butter, melted

    1 cup or more of raisins

    ¾ cup of sugar

    1 tablespoon of cinnamon

    4 Eggs

    2 Cups of Half and Half or whole milk

    2 tsp. of vanilla

    Cube bread and put in a large mixing bowl.

    Pour melted butter over cubed bread and toss.

    Add in sugar, cinnamon and raisins and toss.

    Mix eggs, milk and vanilla and pour over cubed bread mixture, toss gently.

    Pour in a glass baking dish and mush down a lightly so that all the bread is soaked.

    Bake at 350 for 45 minutes

    Vanilla Sauce (makes way more than enough)

    2 cups of white sugar

    2 cups of brown sugar

    2 cups of Half and Half or whole milk

    1 stick of butter (you can get away with less)

    2 tsp of vanilla

    Put all in a sauce pan and cook over low heat until it boils, stirring occasionally. Pour over warm bread pudding.

    I have a whole new appreciation for food photographers. Trust me, it was much yummier and a lot less gloppy than it looks here.

    Standing On The Oven

    September 19, 2008

    One day, when Sean was somewhere beyond a year old but not yet two, I was walking by the oven and unexpectedly, he reached out and grabbed the handle to the oven door. He grabbed so tightly that it yanked me backwards and backed me up a few steps. And he wouldn’t let go.

    So being an irresponsible but fun-loving parent who often uses her child solely for her own amusement, I set his teeny tiny feet on the door of the lower oven and removed my hands from him (about an inch). He let out a squeal of joy that was heard in the heavens.

    Thereafter, anytime I would walk past the oven, he would grab onto it and I would let him stand on it removing my hands from him a little further each time. Eventually it got to the point where he would crawl in front of the oven, pull himself up and point upwards and grunt. I know. The weirdness, it is genetic and it comes from my side of the family, my mother’s people. He is also an amazingly strong, sure-footed little fella, a trait that also comes from my side of the family.

    All that to say, in the picture in yesterday’s post, Sean is actually standing on the oven and I am barely out of the frame spotting him. So I may have overstated the creativity of the cropping. It wasn’t all that creative. However, In the 45,000 times he stood on the oven, he never once came close to falling.

    Here’s a picture of him post-oven standing so you can see the joy and why I was unable to say “No my child, you may not stand on the oven.”

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    This picture was not taken in 2002. However it was taken before we figured out how to change the date on the camera. I guess I could have Photoshopped that out.

    Are The Cookies Done Yet?

    September 18, 2008

    I thought I’d show y’all this picture of Sean when he was about a year old so that you might realize that letting him ride his bike on the front lawn without a helmet is not even close to the most questionable of my parenting practices.

    And now you can say, “Well at least I never let my baby hang off the front of the oven!” and go away feeling better about your own parenting. I am here to serve. My gift to you.

    * * * * *

    Note: Creative cropping people, creative cropping. And, the oven is not ON because, Hello!? Safety first.

    In Motherhood, Forgiveness Trumps Failure

    September 17, 2008

    The other day I was trying to make dinner while Sean was in the kitchen working on an art project that involved paper, scissors, stickers, tape, feathers, glitter, glue and a hole punch.

    Normally I let him go crazy with that kind of thing. I love to stimulate his creative energies. But at that particular point in the day, I didn’t have the patience for it. It was one of those occasions where he was making messes faster than I could clean them up or step over them. At every turn, he needed me to stop what I was doing and help him with some aspect of the project and it was wearing me out.

    At one point, he stood on my chair and reached into the cabinet over my desk and grabbed a roll of my sacred tape that no one is allowed to touch except under threat of death or mortal sin. He knew better than to get into that cabinet and he took advantage of the fact that I was distracted to do it.

    In trying to dispense the tape, he worried it into one unending hunk. The tail end of the tape disappeared into itself Ouroboros-style never to be free from itself ever again. And then he handed it to me to fix. At the same time he is offering me a useless hunk of tape to fix, a pot on the stove threatens to boil over and the timer on the oven goes off and steam comes shooting out of both of my ears.

    Using my last good nerve, I snatch the roll of tape from him. Huffing and sighing, I spin it around and around and around, feverishly searching for the end with my badly manicured fingernail while what I really feel like doing is throwing it across the room. But I don’t. Instead I more than firmly tell Sean that I don’t have TIME for this right now and how aggravated I am that he took MY TAPE without asking ME first and now the TAPE is no longer good and I will probably have to THROW the TAPE away and it was MY TAPE and he didn’t ask to TAKE my TAPE and what am I going to DO with a hunk of TAPE? And I probably used the word tape another 10 or 15 times so that he might be clear about my feelings on the topic of tape.

    He dropped his head to his chest and then just like a little baby, he brought his fists to his eyes and began to quietly cry.

    “You make me feel like you don’t love me,” he squeaked.

    As I looked at him sitting on the floor on his knees with his hands covering his face, I saw that blond curly-headed two-year-old boy again. And in that moment the world abruptly stopped spinning and slammed my heart into my throat.

    Dinner would have to wait.

    I sat down on the rug and pulled him into my lap. I hugged him as he sobbed into my neck.

    As I held him and rocked him, the western sun glinted off the tile signaling the close of another day, a day I didn’t want marked by failure.

    “Sean,” I whispered into his hair, “I am so sorry that I made you feel that way. I never want you to feel that way. I love you more than anything in the entire world. Please forgive me.” He nodded yes under my chin.

    I explained to him that I was feeling tired and cranky but I shouldn’t have spoken to him so harshly. I gently admonished him to please stay out of my tape without asking first. He nodded yes under my chin.

    I sat on the floor in the midst of tape and feathers and glitter and glue rocking my not-two-year-old boy as the day faded away and dinner grew cold.  I told him that I loved him more than anything ever 10 or 15 times so that he might be clear about my feelings on the topic of him.

    In motherhood, forgiveness trumps failure.

    What A Difference A Day Makes

    September 16, 2008

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    Dear Antique Mommy-

    A suggestion on how to learn to ride a bike. Take training wheels and the peddles off the bike. Lower seat all the way. Put child on bike making sure feet touch the ground. Let child move bike with feet on ground to catch himself. Get balanced, let child feel balanced, ride bike with feet off of ground and get balanced. Do this for as long as it take to get the balance. Put peddles back on bike. Child should be riding within minutes. (My sister found this in a newspaper and it has been tried on about 10 kids that we know and it works every time.) From what I can tell they are too busy trying to pedal that they cant feel the balance.

    ~ Keary

    * * * * *

    Dear Keary –

    You are all kinds of awesome. Thank you for caring enough to leave the comment on yesterday’s post. As you can see we gave it a try and it worked like a charm, and just as you said, in a matter of minutes. I think we’ll be putting the pedals back on his bike before the end of the week. Joy abounds at the House of Antique. What a difference a day makes. Thank you, thank you!

    ~ Antique Mommy