Sunday, February 20, 2011

02.20.2011 -- Lessons from Granny

Lessons I learned from my Granny.

Details are important, but people are more important. Details make a difference. If you can have cut flowers, have them. A hot entree is better served on warmed plates. Spending time cutting carrots in a precise julienne is not a waste of time. Yes, details are important. As good as she was at details, though, Gran was gracious and kind in the implementation of her designs.

Viewing people in their best light. Years ago as a kid, I was playing in Gran's room, just spending time with her. She started going through some snapshots and included me. We came across a few that she put into the garbage can, saying, "I don't think we need to keep pictures that aren't flattering to people, do you?" Honestly, the idea was completely new to me--that you could select and keep only good pictures. And why not? I like to think that those bad pictures in the trash may have been a microcosm of a world view which allowed little room for memories where loved ones were not at their best.

There, but for the grace of God, go I. Gran was not the first person to utter this axiom. I have heard it from others, yet, for some reason, I always associate this with her. As pulled-together and as blessed as she was on so many levels, I never, never got the impression that she thought she was better than any other person, or that she was more deserving.

Finding a way. As my grandparents grew older, my Granddad's hearing grew worse. He lost his ability to easily hear the naturally higher tones of Granny's voice. One of my favorite memories of Granny was the way she communicated with my Granddad when he was having trouble hearing her. If he didn't hear her, she would repeat herself, but with her voice lowered a few octaves so it sounded like she was imitating a man. Funny? Yes. She found the humor in it, too, milking it a little for an audience with a twinkle in her eye--but it worked. To me, it is a perfect example of her willingness to cooperate--to step outside herself. From this, I learned not to let pride or convention get in the way of something truly important, like talking with your spouse.

Making do. Granny had a collection of beautiful hand-painted dishes which she brought home from one of her trips abroad. These dishes were used for all kinds of meals. She loved them and she used them. Because they got used, they were sometimes broken. When I set the table for my Granny, we always used plates and bowls which had been carefully reconstructed by my grandfather. These broken-and-mended dishes were used indiscriminately along with the perfect dishes, and there were never any apologies about it. From this, I learned that there was no shame in using imperfect or rehabilitated things.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

02.17.2011 -- Big Sigh

About a year and a half ago (wow, time goes fast), I spent a few weeks in the east and got to spend some time with one of grand mothers. My grandmothers are phenomenal, AND grand. This wasn't the last time I got to spend time with my Granny. (Granny for her, is an especially ironic name, considering how perpetually youthful and modern she is in my eyes.) It wasn't the last time by far, but it was a really special time, and I will always think of it as my last "time" with her.

She died this week.


It didn't take me long to realize that my sadness was 100% selfish, though. If I could choose a way to die, I would happily sign up for a double helping of how she went: having lived a long, full life, surrounded by loved ones and with time to say goodbye.

She is definitely one of my heroes. Always. I've always loved her name, mostly because of who she was. I would have named Lucy after her, but the name wasn't on my and Brian's list of common loves.To me, the name Rosamond will always belong to a beautiful heroine, well-read and well-traveled, but even better loved. A woman with an eye and a heart for beauty in things and in people.

Love you, Gran.

Monday, February 14, 2011

02.14.2011 -- Khalil Gibran On Love

“When love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him, though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God." And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
and to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.”

I did this on my iPad, and it took way too much time. I also tried to add my own text after explaining why I posted what I did (above). That text is on my iPad, and I will add it later. That's probably the last time I try to post from my iPad.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

02.02.2011 -- Wheels That Come Off and Precious

Tonight, in an effort to promote literacy in my family, I had Lucy and Gabe sit down to write. Lucy started to write some of her high frequency words from school then drew a picture of herself. This turned into a note for her dad. Gabe scribbled. While they worked, I decided it wouldn't hurt for me to write something, too.

In this stream-of-consciousness writing, I began to realize why the "wheels have come off" of our little bus this week. There are a lot of reasons:

It's early-out week for SEP conferences. (I haven't figured out what SEP stands for: Student Educator Parent?) The schedule is early out each day, which means that our day begins earlier every day and Lucy is in school for only 2 hours every day. Now, I start to get ready to leave the house a minimum of 1 hour before I aim to leave, so early-out for a week ends up being pretty bad. (Add to this scheduling mess a two-year-old who is accustomed to taking his nap (conveniently) when I usually drop Lucy off for school, but who will not fall asleep when I drop her off during the short schedule, and you really add to the mess.) Gabe missed his nap completely on Monday, and boy, did everyone pay! I'm surprised he didn't lose his voice with all of the screaming and crying he did when we (mostly Brian) tried to get him to bed.

Another factor this week has been Brian--there have been huge changes at work and he's trying to get his normal work done in addition to accommodating all of the changes. This all translates into longer hours, which means longer hours for me... And did you know that "we" don't like to eat without Brian? We don't. I am willing to compromise once in a while, but Lucy always waits for her daddy. This means that, even though the kids get hungry at 5pm, we wait until their favorite person (Daddy) gets home at 6, 7 or even later. On one hand, it gives me more time to get dinner and the house together, on the other hand, it means more time being a single mother. All things considered, it's probably a wash, stress wise, but it adds to the general mess.

Where the disorder is most evident is the laundry room. I keep up with laundry sometimes, but most of the time, it's one of the first things to fail. Right now, for example, we have a lot of clean laundry, it's just all piled together. ..And I am blogging. See how I am?

This brings me to my next thought:

Lucy brought home a book from school today. It's just a little paperback copy of The Magic Treehouse. We've already read almost half of it. It was a gift from her classmate, Remy, in honor of their classmate, Eliza. (I think Remy is Eliza's cousin.) On the front of the book is a large red sticker that says "Eliza's Wish" on it. I've seen this sticker before--on a book in our pediatrician's office.

The first time I read the story behind Eliza's Wish in the doctor's office, Lucy asked me why I was crying. Today, I made a connection in my poor little brain, and Lucy asked again why I was crying. Eliza is in Lucy's kindergarten class. I knew Eliza and her family were special before, but I know more now.

Follow this link to learn more about Eliza and her AMAZING family. ( And that is my excuse for blogging instead of putting away laundry.) Life is short and precious.

Short and precious!