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  • And Dingo Was His Name-Oh

    June 30, 2009

    There was a farmer, had a dog, and Buddy was his name-oh!

    Then one day a new family moved in up the road. Buddy paid the new family a visit to welcome them to the area, as is the custom in East Texas.  Buddy liked the new family. In fact, Buddy like the new family a whole lot. Buddy spent the night and the next day. And the next day.

    The new family did not know Buddy’s name and so they called him “That Dingo Dog”  because, in fact, Buddy looked like a Dingo.  Dingo fell in love with the children and the children fell in love with Dingo.

    Every couple of days, the new family would load Buddy into the car and take him back to his owner.  But the next day, or sometimes later the same day, Buddy would be back hanging around, trying to blend in.

    One day, Buddy’s owner came and got him. They were moving to a new farm, 10 or 15 miles up the road.  Buddy jumped into the truck and the children cried and waved goodbye to Dingo Buddy as they drove away knowing that they would never seem him again.

    But. The next morning Buddy-Dingo was sitting by the back door.   A call was made to Buddy’s family and they came and got him.  Once again, the children cried and waved goodbye to Dingo Buddy.

    The next morning, when the sun came up, Dingo was laying by the back door, thumping his tail and waiting for the children to come out and play.

    And that was the end of Buddy.  Buddy’s family never came after him again and no effort was made to return him.

    Buddy became Dingo and is now living happily ever after in the East Texas country side with three children who adore him.

    They say you can’t choose your family. Unless you are one lucky dog, then you can.

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    And Dingo was his name oh!

    Bubbles

    June 29, 2009

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    All Men Dream

    June 25, 2009

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    All men dream, but not equally.

    Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds, awake to the day to find that it was vanity.

    But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it reality.

    T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)

    * * * *

    The reflective effect on this photo was achieved with just a few clicks of the mouse. It is a Photoshop action for both PS and PSE from the good people at PanosFX which you can download here for free.

    Time Out Or Time In?

    June 24, 2009

    I keep this list of things that I want to write about.  Right now this list is about three pages long and four years old.  Like a good stew, I just keep adding new stuff to the top.

    This morning, I was looking at that list and decided to scroll to the very bottom to see what was on my mind four years ago and what I saw was this:  “Time Out or Time In?”

    If someone were to find this list after my death, it would lead to the only logical conclusion. She was nuts.

    I remember the day I typed that sentence. It was at the end of a long day with a very busy and very curious toddler.  He was at that stage where he was into everything and trying to dismantle my house and my life bit by bit.

    He was not quite two, but on that particular day he was being very two. I had a playpen set up in my breakfast room which functioned mainly as a toy bin or a temporary holding cell for the boy should something arise which desperately needed my attention.

    At some point in the day, it all became too much for me and I plopped his little butt down in the playpen.  And then I sat at the breakfast table with my head in my hands. I would have probably cried but that would have required more energy than I had.

    Clunk!

    “Wheeee!”

    Clink!

    “Weoeoeoooo!”

    Clounk!

    “Ooooohhhweee!”

    When I looked up, he was systematically dropping plastic toys over the edge of the playpen onto the tile floor one at a time. And having a fantastic time.

    I realized at that moment that he was in Time In. I was in Time Out.

    He clutched the sides of the playpen and bounced up and down with glee.  He looked at me with that goofy drooly smile and squealed the squeal of pure delight.

    “Mahmahmahmahmah” he cooed to me in baby baritone.

    He reached for me with his fat little hand. My heart melted.

    I leaned towards him with my elbows on my knees and my face in my hands and marveled at this exasperating, perplexing, intoxicating angel/devil child.  I breathed long and deep and I smiled back at him and tried not to cry.

    And then he threw a block at my head.

    Drop By Drop

    June 23, 2009

    Day by day, drop by drop, the world seeps in and crowds us out.

    His daddy and I are in a race against the clock to lay a firm and level foundation that will last him a lifetime and withstand any storm.

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    Because already, there is a storm gathering in the distance.

    We see it. We hear it. We know it is coming.

    He’s interacting with the world more and more these days, independent of us.

    He’s already heard the most corrupting lie ever told:  Everybody does it.

    We try to teach him to stand apart with confidence, to not be Everybody.

    We try to teach him that it’s better to be wise than smart.

    We try to teach him that it’s better to be kind than accepted.

    We try to teach him that good choices lead to goodness.

    And every day that passes is one less day we have to  shore up the foundation of his life.

    Our prayer for him is not wealth, health and happiness.

    Our prayer for him is that goodness and mercy follow him all the days of his life.

    Good Intentions

    June 22, 2009

    I love going to the store early in the morning because there are usually no lines and it’s clean and quiet, plenty of good parking spaces.  Early shoppers know how to grocery shop. They understand and adhere to aisle etiquette. They know what they are doing.  They are my people.

    But this is not about grocery store etiquette. This is about how good intentions wear off around 9am.

    On a recent early morning shopping trip, I passed through the bakery area where I saw a mom-type person reach into the doughnut case, snag one with the tissue paper and scarf it down in about two bites.  I do not judge her, because who among us has not been overcome with doughnut fumes and passed out in the self-serve case?  She had probably gotten out of bed an hour before with the best of intentions to make it a better day, to do better, to treat her body like the temple that it is.

    But by 9:30, the morning sun had scorched her good intentions. Resolve dissolved.  I get that.

    Two aisles before I even got to the photo department, I heard a voice – intense and purposeful and rising like a thermometer.  When I turned the corner I saw a harried mom with four kids hanging off the cart. She was trying to work the self-service photo print machine and her four kids were trying to work her last nerve.  And then she lost it.  She bellowed at the source of her exasperation and melted down into a puddle of what appeared to be good intentions.

    She had probably gone to bed the night before promising herself that today would be a better day, that today she would do better, today she would be the kind of calm and reasonable mom parenting books promise you can be.

    As I was heading towards the checkout with my few things, I met up with a man with sad eyes and a red bulbous drinker’s nose.  He wore a defeated expression.  He bowed awkwardly and kindly waved me into the line ahead of him, although I had several things in my cart whereas he only had a case of beer.

    “Thank you so much sir,” I said. I looked into his eyes and what I saw was the cruelest kind of sad – self disappointment.  Had he gotten up a couple of hours earlier with the best intentions to make it a better day, to do better? Yet here he was buying a case of beer at 9:30 in the morning.

    Beer is not my thing, but sometimes it’s the doughnut. Or the promise not to yell or be snippy and short with people I love. Or any number of short comings from a long list.

    Like those people, I wake up each morning telling myself that today I’ll make it a better day, today I’ll do better. And then the sun rises in the sky.

    The early shoppers, the ones with the good grocery store etiquette and a cart full of busted best intentions, they are my people.

    Daily, my good intentions fail, but His compassions for me don’t. And therein lies my hope.

    * * * *

    “Because of the Lord”s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” ~Lamentations 3:22-23

    The Swimming Pool

    June 18, 2009

    Recently Sean and I were at our neighborhood pool making the most of a late summer afternoon.  Sean is still not a confident swimmer.  Swimming is just one of those things that he is going to have to come to terms with at his own pace.  I have come to accept that.  I have learned and backed off.  The most I do now is  encourage him to experiment more, to be more adventurous.  To this he firmly says, “No danks!”  No. Way. And we leave it at that.

    After we had been at the pool for awhile, another family showed up with a little boy who is a full year younger than Sean, but a better swimmer.  He has a beefier build.  He’s more boisterous and aggressive; he’s one of those little guys who love to rough house and punch and karate kick and that kind of thing.  That’s all well and good, but it’s not our style.  Sean and his daddy rough house, but our policy is that you don’t put your hands on other people.

    The other boy wanted to play with Sean, and at first Sean was interested, but it wasn’t long before he grew weary of being punched.  A couple of times I saw Sean stiff arm him and say “Stop it!” but I figured it was a good opportunity for Sean to work it out for himself so I stayed out of it.  Although honestly?  I really wanted to go over and kick some four-year-old butt.  I’m not proud of that, but it’s true.

    At one point, I looked over at Sean and we locked eyes.  I could see he was looking for a rescue.  “Dude! Come here for a minute,” I called.  It gave him a dignified out and he came over to splash around with me on the steps of the big pool. For 38 seconds.

    Then the little guy followed.  He did cannon balls within inches of Sean.  He shoved Sean off the steps.  He continued to try to agitate him.  Sean tried to politely ignore him to no avail. Finally he resorted to going underwater to get some peace.  At this point, the little boy grabs Sean around the waist and holds him under water. Right in front of me.

    Big. Mistake.

    Sean thrashes and panics.

    I look over at the mother and she is reading a magazine and talking on her phone. She is oblivious.

    At that moment, the ire of every mother bear that ever existed rose in my chest and filled my throat.  It’s a feeling that I can’t really describe. I wasn’t mad so much as stirred by something primal. And frankly, that kind of scared me.

    I bent over and pulled the boy off of Sean, and as I am setting him on the edge of the pool, I whisper a warning in his ear — but the voice that rumbles out of my throat is not mine but Darth Vader’s.  “Keep. Your. Hands. Off. My. Boy.”

    “Or I will hurt you.” No, I didn’t say that part, but I was surely thinking it.

    I give him a look that makes it clear that I mean business.  He stares back at me with eyes as big as pancakes.  I narrow my eyes like Clint Eastwood to punctuate my point. He gets up and wanders over to his mother.

    And I wish I could say that was that. But that was not that.

    He continued to come back and pester us.  So we called it a day and went home.

    So then, no tidy moral of the story other than don’t mess with my kid and no happy ending other than I am not writing this from jail.

    Cuter

    June 16, 2009

    “He’s cuter than he used to be.”

    This was a comment that I overheard recently at a family gathering. When I realized the speaker was referring to my son, I laughed involuntarily. Not a belly laugh, but a sniff of disbelief as though I were trying to expel a gnat from my nose. Cuter than he used to be! Absurd.

    Her words seeped into the spongy part of my brain that processes and analyzes. I was surprised when I started to feel a little indignant. What exactly did she mean by that? That Sean wasn’t cute to start with but was just now approaching entry level cute? She was obviously unaware that the nurse in the delivery room had pronounced him “too cute” at birth. Too cute — too, as in unbearably cute, a level of cuteness that could not be tolerated, criminally cute. A professional nurse would not lie about something as serious as that.

    It was the first time that it had ever occurred to me that there might be someone on the earth who didn’t see Sean as I do – that someone might actually think that he is not cute, but just average, just so-so. I was astonished.

    As conversations about cousins, weather and jobs rose and fell and floated around the room, I held the expression of someone who was listening intently. I nodded and said things like “Is that right? You don’t say” all while diagramming those six words in my head. Cuter than he used to be.

    What if she were right? What if I was mistaken and Sean wasn’t catalogue cover cute? I kneaded this idea like a cat atop a velvet pillow. Silently, purposefully, obsessively pushing, pushing. Would it be so bad if my kid wasn’t cute or would it just be bad that I was so blind?

    As I pondered these things, I recalled that it was just the other day that Antique Daddy and I were looking through some early photos of Sean and we both agreed, and even laughed about how deluded we were. We didn’t remember him looking so goofy. We didn’t remember that his head looked like a big bald happy toothless bowling ball attached to drunken rag doll body. We thought he was too cute.  And in our eyes,  he was too cute – so stunningly and unbearably cute that we could do little else but sit around and look at him and sigh.

    It turns out that he is cuter than he used to be. And I am even more blindly in love with him than I used to be.

    * * * *

    This post was originally published in June of 2006.  Every season Sean is cuter than he used to be and his daddy and I are astonished at how much more in love with this child we are than we used to be. We didn’t think it was possible.

    The Post Office

    June 14, 2009

    One day last week, Sean and I had to make a stop at the post office.

    It was mid-morning, mid-week – a not very busy time for our little local post office. Yet there was a line.  There is always a line.  We know this. We accept it as a part of life.  If the sun comes up, there will be a line at the post office.

    But not everyone is as wise and knowing about the post office as we.

    As Sean and I are walking from the car towards the post office, a man comes sprinting towards us from behind like a linebacker.  He has his arms full of mail and packages.  He nearly knocks us down so that he can get through the door before we do.  He cuts in front of us and goes in as though we are invisible.

    We step aside and let him blow by.  Sean looks at the man and then looks at me and shakes his head. He gives me a look that says, “Whatever dude. Go first if it means that much to you.”

    The man runs into the post office and gets in line.  He wins an iPod Shuffle for beating us.

    So we leisurely stroll up to the line and stand behind him.  Instead of being 4th in the line, we are 5th. No prize for 5th.

    We have come to the post office to mail a small paperback book and to buy some stamps, nothing complicated or urgent.  We are enjoying the loveliness that is the post office and the merriment that is the postal personnel.  We are having a delightful morning running our errands and we don’t care whether we are standing in front of crazy postal patron or behind him.

    Crazy postal patron taps his foot and plays a drum solo on the mail he is holding in his arms.  He concludes his concert with a loud sigh.  He has telegraphed to all that he is in a hurry and we have received the message.

    Finally he is next in line. It is almost his turn.  His anticipation is palpable.  I can hear his pulse quicken.  He reaches around and pats his back pocket. “Oh &%$#!” he says. “My wallet is in the car.”

    NOW he turns around to acknowledge me as a human being and fellow postal patron.

    He smiles at me with pleading eyes.

    I smile back at him with my fake smile.

    Crazy postal patron runs from the post office likes he’s just robbed the place.

    Sean and I step up to take the pole position in the line.

    Before we are called, crazy guy comes sheepishly back into the post office, ostensibly with his wallet.

    I look at Sean and Sean looks at me and without words we agree.

    “Would you like your place back in line?” I ask.

    “Yeah, that would be great,” he says, “Thanks.”

    “No problem,” I offer.

    And that was that.

    I considered for a brief moment ignoring him, the way he did us as we were going into the building.  I also considered playing a round of Turn About Is Fair Play.  But, it didn’t cost me anything to let crazy guy back in line.  With my impressionable five-year-old looking on, it would have cost me a lot if I hadn’t.

    Grace.

    We all need it, none of us deserve it.

    Vintage Farm House

    June 12, 2009

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    I was going through a box of old photographs and came across this picture of my grandmother’s house.  I used to play on her front porch when I was a little girl and help her tend the big garden she had in the back.  Sometimes she would make a big pitcher of lemonade and I would sit on the steps and work on my cross stitch sampler.

    No. Not really. I just totally made that up.

    The  house in the aged photo is actually the one you see below.  Photos lie.  Whereas I only yank your chain.

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    This house is one of the original farmsteads in the town in which I live.  Long before there were neighborhoods with HOAs and The Gap and Chili’s around here, there was this farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere. Now it’s a museum of sorts.  Sean and I like to stop by and take pictures and pretend we live there.

    The vintage affect was achieved with a Photoshop action which you can download here for free.