In matters of poetry, black and white often turns grey.

In matters of poetry, black and white often turns gray.

“A book of poems,” the elderly woman asked the young gal behind the counter.

Last May, the mother of a lifelong friend searched for the perfect gift for her daughter on Mother’s Day. The object of her quest was a lovely, thoughtful book, highly recommended by a nationally syndicated-radio talk host out of Atlanta. During a show, he suggested to his female sidekick that it would be the perfect Mother’s Day gift. (more…)

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Graduating? Dirty up the piano keys mining the authentic you.

Last Sunday, our family spent part of the afternoon sitting in the comfy seats at Centennial Baptist Church. The occasion was June Wallace’s piano studio recital. At rehearsal the preceding Friday afternoon, my daughter made it through both songs – with a little stumbling.

Afterwards she came running down the aisle, head down as a baby chick suffering a bit of embarrassment might rush to mama hen. “See Hannah, you’ve got to practice a bit more,” I clucked.

“No Mama, that’s not it. I can’t play. That’s not like our piano. It’s too clean.” (more…)

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My column: Thank you to a friend. Remembering Rick Spence.

Forty-four is too young to leave this world.

But I am not God.

Sitting at my friend’s funeral (talk about a surreal experience), I decided to write something about him. Something from my heart. Something I wish I had the foresight to give to him before.

* * *

 

I lost a friend to heaven a week or so ago. And the more I’ve thought about him and our relationship, it occurred to me there was one thing I never thanked him for. So here goes,

 

Dear Rick,

 

Remember the day I stopped you and Karen after church? I had heard you were the athletic type and wanted to pick your brain about the sport of triathlon. Talking that day in the heat of June midday you offered, “There’s a great race at the beach end of August, you’ll be ready if you start training now.”

(more…)

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Musing on The Tale of the Not-So-Wise Wiseman

I’ve quit looking for him.

I’ve been around long enough to know when someone doesn’t want to be found. And with those types, I’m not going to bother.

A few weeks ago, we pulled out the Christmas decorations. This included our nativity. Mary, Joseph – the baby. Shepherds, sheep and camels. Then there were the Wisemen.

I suspected a problem with them.

We have a renegade and he’s AWOL this Christmas. I assume he’s hiding out in the attic amongst boxes containing ancient school books, baby clothes and one size 10, puffy-sleeved, gargantuan-skirted, Princess Diana era wedding dress.

I tried to fix him but I guess my mend wasn’t cosmetic enough to suit his highfalutin’ tastes — so he took off. (more…)

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The Corn’s as Low as an Ant’s Elbow

Blame it on Easter.

This year, I didn’t think about having the ground tilled for my garden until after the Bunny dropped off the children’s baskets. That put my seeds and transplants in the ground at the same time the rain dried up and the temperatures began to soar.

With the sun beating down, many of my transplants became as beetles torched by a malicious child wielding a magnifying glass. Those fledging baby vegetables vaporized into unrecognizable clumps of dust. Entire seeded sections of beans, sunflowers and peas thought it best to live their entire lives underground – undisturbed. (more…)

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Dear Diary, to experience one dog day of summer.

I came across this journal entry from January. I think it was a Friday, though not sure. Some days I write the day of the week along with the date, sometimes I don’t. On that day five months ago I wrote:

“Transport me in time to early June, when I can rise early to walk the dog surrounded by warm air as a fish swims through water. No need to roll out of bed in the black of night, pulling on jeans, shirt, sweatshirt, coat, hat, gloves – along with socks and shoes — while trying to stay square on the heating grate.

I wish for tea with crushed ice, lemon slice and two Sweet’N Lows. All served in a tumbler with sweat rolling down its sides sinking into the paper napkin on which it rests. Iced tea to drink instead of the coffee cup that stays within three inches of my right hand. 

 Did I mention not having to tug on sweatshirt, jeans and an overcoat to walk the dog in freezing black?

I long to unhook the wire fence to the garden and rub a tomato vine between my fingers, inhaling deeply, becoming intoxicated on the scent of summer.

Dear God if a trip to the beach was only a few days away and not after enduring months of doom. To know that salt on my lips from a body of water rather than the rim of a glass was just a four hour drive. The car parked, I’d run toward the ocean picking my way through toddlers with purple sand scoops, teenage girls with wet braided hair wearing string bikinis and figures they will never have again in their lifetimes and mothers who occasionally look up from sandy, crumbing paperback copies of “Valley of the Dolls” unearthed from shelves in their rented condos to scan the ocean for a bobbing child’s head.

I could enter the water unnoticed…not like now, in the depth of gray cruel frozen January. When out on the windswept frigid beach, alone save the call of a few gulls – I’d appear as the climactic scene of some romance novel in which the heroine just found out everyone and everything she once thought true was false; a women in the throes of midlife who was holding it all together until they took Intercession from her.

If it was June instead of January, the children would chase fireflies late into the evening. And the crawl from the bed every morning would be greeted with the first rays of a sun that set only hours before, instead of the eternal night of January where no one cheers except for those remotely interested in watching the Flyers and Penguins whip about on ice. Ice, ice and more ice.

Each day would hold promise of something wonderful – and even if nothing special happened – I still could go outside early and walk the dog in flip flops, t-shirt and shorts.” 

After reading those thoughts again, no rain, 100 degrees and brown is the new green in lawn color doesn’t seem so bad.

Well, maybe it is. But I can still walk the dog….

           

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“I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat…Like Really Close.

 No matter how exasperated a back might be, how can one turn theirs on a baby?

Baby Blue entered my life on Friday night. My husband and I sat outside, enjoying the warm, haze of twilight. One minute calm and tranquility, the next screeches and a flash of blue feathers with our cat clutching a bird in his jaws.

I caught the cat and smacked him on the back as Granny making Sylvester spit out Tweety.

Holding Baby’s wee panicked heaving chest of gray and blue fluff, I broke the bad news that he showed up on the wrong lady’s doorstep.

I didn’t know the first thing about baby bird care. Then he looked at me with those “Are You My Mother?” eyes.

Good grief.

I knew it was alright to touch him without fear the mother would reject him. Birds can’t really smell – which obvious by the fact that they dine on worms reeking of dirt and slime.

But they have beaks, talons and mites. My mother said if you pick up a bird’s feather covered in tiny bug beasties, you might as well kiss that hand goodbye. I wasn’t exactly sure what a mite is, though I imagined they must be an infinitesimal result of crossbreeding between lice and vampire bats. (Vampire bats with rabies.)

What if I got mites? What if he pecked my eyes out? What if he flew into my hair? What if his huge claw slashed my face?

There went my anxiety free weekend.

The bearer of my worries was a tuft of blue jay. Not surprising. I bet Ms. Robin had already phoned the Department of Children and Family Services Aviary Division. “Listen…I think it best you know, there’s another Blue Jay down.”

 Finding a box, I placed him in it and found a crook of a tree. I herded the cats in. After Baby made it through the night, most of my Saturday was spent checking on him. I tried digging for worms in the cement that a few short months ago was Georgia clay. Baby was not interested in eating a little yellow wormy thing we found. The more time I spent with him…my fears of bugs and talons subsided. The only remaining fear was that Baby wasn’t going to make it to fully grown annoying Blue Jay status.

I finally stumbled on a web site that explained the difference between nestlings and fledglings. Nestlings are your typical ugly-as-a-skinned-squirrel baby birds. Fledglings are juveniles who have been intentionally pushed from the nest by mom and dad. They can flutter, but not soar. They spend a week or so hopping about the ground learning to eat on their own and fly. All within earshot of mom, this period is a natural and important part of their development.

Normal until you insert gargantuan Homo sapien helicopter mom.

And I thought the Blue Jay mom was the slacker.

“LADY, just step away from the baby,” yelled Mama peering down from a branch in the fig tree. “You dingbat, quit messing with Junior. Busy yourself with keeping the whiskered black Satan inside and things will be fine.”

How was I to know Blue Jay parents can invest up to three months watching over their children once they leave the nest? Guess I’ve got a lot to learn about my feathered friends.

And all God’s Blue Jays screeched, “Amen.”

 

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Dorothy, What Have They Got That I Ain’t Got?

Way back when Gutenberg laid out the letters “G” “e” “n” on his press, a lesser known printer tirelessly bound together another volume of historical importance — my high school yearbook.

Looking through the latest annual from Morgan County High, seniors had opportunity to cite favorite a quote. I didn’t get the chance to share a heartfelt mantra with my class in our book. This has lead to lifetime of fantasizing what witticism I would have used.

 A philosophical thought? Something humorous? A stirring lyric from a 1970s Bread song?

(more…)

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My Pace or Yours? Run for Anaiah.

There’s no better way to spend a beautiful weekend day than running a footrace. You might disagree but a promise of a post-event ice cream bash, usually has most children (and husbands) eagerly pinning on bib and number.

Last Saturday, Madison hosted two races both benefiting worthy causes. In the morning, the 10th Annual Madison in May supported Young Life. That afternoon, the Chick-fil-A Series 5K and Fun Run held its event for Hand-in-Hand Ministries. (more…)

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Lost in Desperation or the Case of the Missing Dress Sock.

It was a Wednesday evening and family members started trickling home after church. It was also the night the bed broke – well, for the first time. My husband and I began wrestling with the mattress. Soon after, our daughter appeared in the doorway to the bedroom. “Mrs. Page brought me home.”

“That’s nice dear,” I replied while doing a backbend trying to right the mattress.

“Daddy left me at church.”

Our child was M.I.A. for 30 minutes and we didn’t know it. That’s our preferred way to roll.

Mini Me.

Dress socks, athletics socks, underwear – all disappear from our house quicker than a WWII squadron in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. My husband bought a pair of khakis. He brought them home never to lay eyes on them again. I bought a pair of black tights at Amelia’s.  I loved them; they hid a multitude of sins that only women who reach a certain age appreciate. They were my saviors and I have torn the house apart board by board looking for them. 

I highly suspect the Khakis and the tights ran off together and might be doing naughty things in the bottom of a neighbor’s laundry basket.

I’ll let you in on another dirty secret. When I can’t find things, I just buy more. When a super-organization day miraculously erupts, it’s amazing what surfaces and in what quantity. The volume of products found usually corresponds to the level of anxiety felt at the time we were unable lay our hands on whatever necessity.

A recent cleaning of our cabinets resulted in 10 bottles of suntan lotion,  six boxes of confectionary sugar, 20 cans of Raid, eight rolls of Glide dental floss (mint flavor) and countless canisters of orange-flavored insoluble fiber. 

In response to all this chaos, my husband thinks he has a hidden drawer to stash all the things he can’t live without. A recent inspection of his trove revealed fingernail clippers, cords to recharge electronic products, one white tapered candle, a bottle of water, a pack of M&Ms, a mini roll of Tums, a half roll of quarters, dental floss and a 5-inch Phillips head screwdriver. Aha!

After getting locked out so many times with the only remaining key to our back door in Atlanta with my husband, I considered moving the only option. Thankfully, in a moment of clarity, I bought a new set of locks and then paid a nice gentleman to install them.

While bemoaning the most recent disappearance of a child, contact lens and my mind to a friend, she suggested St. Anthony — the patron saint of lost things. Wonder if he would consider a wayward Methodist? I wouldn’t be the best Catholic if keeping track of beads and such was a requirement of the faith. But I can say a really heartfelt, tearful prayer when desperate. Better yet, who is the patron saint of desperation?

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