Psalm 118:24

 day

This is the day the Lord has made.  I did my utmost to rejoice and be glad in it.  And I am glad now to climb into my bed and get a BRAND NEW day tomorrow.  Amen.

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Big Sisters, Little Brothers

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Me in my “dog ears/pig tails” with Hal in front of the gardenia bush.

I have a brother. His name is Hal. He is exactly 12 months and four days younger than me. We shared a room until I was ten years old. We also shared birthday cakes. Chocolate with chocolate icing. Momma would make one big sheet cake, and decorate half for Hal and half for me. (There was nothing better than licking chocolate icing off the back of those hard, royal icing decorations. . .the kind in the cellophane pack that you have to peel off the cardboard? You’d meticulously lick the icing, then go to town crunching on all the little letters and numbers.) I spent a large majority of our childhood bossing him around. I was, after all, older than him–and born with an innate bent toward bossiness.  Really, for all accounts and purposes, we were twins separated by a year.  There were times we were sworn enemies and times we were fast friends, but we ALWAYS had each others’ backs when push came to shove–and still do.

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Easter, 1986 or 1987. Momma made my pretty dress, and Hal was sporting the skinny tie.

Obviously, Victoria has a younger brother. They are very nearly three years apart. Thad arrived just six weeks before Victoria turned three years old. The first words out of her mouth upon seeing him were, “He’s so cccccuuuuuttttteeee!!!!!! Can we keep him?” Yes, baby. We can keep him. And thankfully we had her to help us raise him. I’ve talked before about how she can get him to do pretty much anything. She is especially gifted at making him laugh so hard I fear for his safety. They are, at times, like an old married couple. And since they are young and in the middle of it and still get on each others’ nerves, they don’t know it yet, but they are best friends.

Victoria making her brother laugh.

Victoria making her brother laugh.

I also grew up in a smallish town. I went to church with a group of kids. There were some a little older and some a little younger, and a nice bunch of us that were the same age. I cannot say that our relationships were always rosy or pleasant, but there we were all together in the nursery and cradle roll and Sunday school and VBS and on the youth pew until I left for college. Our parents had grown up together–and in some instances, even our grandparents had grown up together, or at the very least been newlyweds together.

Anyway, one of this group was a girl named Missie. Missie had a younger brother named Max. At the time he seemed SO MUCH younger than us. . .and he was. About four years worth of younger, which is an eternity as children. I would go to Missie’s house sometimes to spend the night–or on a Sunday afternoon between morning service and evening service. I remember Max as a bundle of energy–a live wire–a bouncing ball of jumping and running and noise. He grew into a tall, strapping, buck of a man, married with a son of his own. Max and his 13 year old son and my brother shot guns together–pistol matches–accuracy.

I haven’t seen Missie since my kids were very small, but I have seen Max. He is what you would describe as a Good Guy. As in, “You know, that Max is a Good Guy–just a good, Good Guy.” He led singing at church and spent a lot of time with his family, and on Thursday afternoon, the plane he was in fell out of the sky just four miles short of its destination. He and the pilot and two other men who were on the plane with him all perished.  They were coming home from a business trip.

Someone wrote on a condolence page, “Max, the world cannot afford to lose men like you.” And that is the truth. At Christmas when I was home, I was walking around doing my normal “hug as many as you can before church, and get the rest after” routine. On my “after” run, midway back, near where his mom and grandparents still sit (which is where my Granny and PawPaw used to sit), I ran into Max. We spent maybe twenty seconds just acknowledging each other–glad to see the others’ face. I had to reach up to “hug his neck.” He was as solid and strong and real a human being as anyone could find. And now he is gone from this earth and is in heaven. But I don’t want him to be in heaven. I want him to be here. He is a 40 year old man with a wife and son and family who need him. It is very, very sad. It is tragic beyond measure and our hearts are broken for the people he left behind.

I told my sister yesterday (during one of our three phone calls) that I feel useless all the way over here in Texas. She said, “Well, at least you have the excuse of being 7 hours away. We all feel useless too, and we’re right here in the same town.” At least they get to take over cake and paper goods and let his loved ones see their faces. My sister understood my frustration, and call today to give me Missie’s number. I called Missie this afternoon. We talked for just a few minutes as they had gotten a call to come to a meeting for the victims’ families. I told her it was good to hear her voice. I told her how sorry I was. I told her that there were no words.

But there are words. They are few and simple and the only ones that have any power. “God, please help them.”

On the night of Max’s death, his wife told my sister, “Please, tell everyone to pray for us and don’t stop praying.” I have not stopped. I fell asleep Thursday night praying. I dreamed all night long about the family. I woke up yesterday morning already praying. I pray now as I type and hear my son laughing hysterically over something funny his sister just said to him. I know most of you who read this are my friends. And I ask you to please pray for Max’s family–especially his wife and son. Then go call your own brother or sister–and tell them a few, simple words too.

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Hal and Me, July, 2010

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Holding the deer’s ear in Grandaddy’s “Hustler.”

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Hal 4, Me 5

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Hal 5, Me 6

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Hal 6, Me 7

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Puppies in the house–one dressed up with a Dixie Cup on its head. The back of the photo said “Tom Boy” and “Angie.” Names we’d given them.

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I am sporting a Wonder Woman nightgown and am opening my “Bionic Woman” doll.

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I think this was the trip where Momma barely slept for fear that Hal was going to roll out the back of the camper.

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Show off Daddy’s big bass.

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More bass–and a pretty good crop of corn in the garden.

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This is included, because it’s the best soft serve anywhere, and also because my brother pulled over and took the photo for me when I didn’t have my camera. He also bought my ice cream–and Diet Coke. He’s a Good Guy too.

That First Step is a Doozy

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Thad bridged from Webelos into Boy Scouts in December.  That means that Cub Scouts is long gone, and he’s off the porch and playin’ with the big boys now.  This weekend was his first official Boy Scout campout–and what a first campout it was–rock climbing and rappelling.  One of the former Scoutmasters is now a Venture Crew Leader–and his kids do NOTHING but rock climb and rappel.   Because he loves me, Thad’s Daddy went for my sake more than Thad’s.  He–being an Eagle Scout–didn’t mind.  He also got some great shots of our Boy doing something he had NO IDEA he could do.  Now he knows he can!

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George

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Yesterday morning was hard for The Boy.  His tummy hurt, but he wasn’t really sick.  Who knows what it was–this year has been tough.    I had a rough 5th grade year too.  Anyway–he walked around with his best friend, George.  The Boy is 11 1/2, he is 5’1″ tall and weighs more than his sister, but his heart is tender, and George made him feel better.

Being a Momma, I’m in no hurry for him to set George aside.  I don’t want to baby him or for him to stop growing and changing, but I also don’t want him to cast off his childhood. There is time yet.

As he and I were leaving after Tony and Victoria had gone in the other car, I said, “Buddy?  Do you want to take George in the car today?”  He shook his head no and said, “I don’t want to leave him in the car.”  I asked, “Because he’d be lonely?” (I already knew the answer.)  Thad nodded.  So, I promised to take George into school with me so he’d be warm and not lonely.  And I did just that.  And each time I saw his little worn head sticking out of my bag, I thought of my Boy.

Last night before Scouts, Thad put George on the chair near the door.  (It was a chair that belonged to my Granny.)  And when Thad got back home, George was waiting to climb into bed with  him.

Thad is mature for his age, responsible, thoughtful.  He’s not super athletic.  He likes sci-fi and has a big vocabulary.  All of that makes a great student and will make for an even GREATER man, but currently he is NOT the coolest kid in 5th grade.  As is the way of things, many of the kids in his class make no bones about that fact.  So when Thad climbed into the car today telling me about a new friend he’d made, I innocently asked “What’s his name?”  Turns out HER name is Zoe, and she was the tall, long-haired brunette that was talking to him in the car rider line today.  They “met” because she was wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt.  (My children are Doctor Who fans of the first order.) I found all of that out when he handed me a piece of paper that had her name and e-mail address on it.

*Sigh*

George has been steeped in the waters of Thad’s babyhood and childhood–to be quite honest, George has at times been dampened by other liquids BESIDES the “waters of Thad’s childhood”–which then necessitated him being immersed in the waters of the washing machine.  But George is still here.  The letters are worn from his shirt, and only the faintest amount of a “g” remains.  His fur is flattened, and his neck (where Thad used to carry him in his baby hands) is a little wiggly and floppy.  When I hold George, I am tender and careful.  I treat him gently, just like The Boy who still loves him.  I know that when I hold George, I am holding something very, very precious.

HPIM0490George when he still had 98% of his letters.  Thad, aged 5 years.

Hanging Around

Over the course of the last few years, I have taken photos of our house so I could do a “four seasons” kind of wall hanging/grouping thing.

This was the first one taken on a misty-moisty morning when the fog was so heavy that it collected on the leaves of the trees then fell like rain.  It was odd to walk down the driveway and not get wet as I listened to a very nice rain shower taking place in the trees all around me. (Click house photos to see B-I-G.)

Through the Mist

This one was February, 2011.  We had a hard freeze in 2010, but this “freeze” was just enough snow and ice collection to  excite the children but not close school.

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June, 2011–I wanted a “summer” photo–and you can see how much the trees block the view of the house once they are all leafed out and green.  The drought last year did a number on the rest of our woods–and even some of the trees around our house.  They will grow back, though.  I ended up using this for my “spring” spot–the only difference in the spring is that we have azaleas blooming, but you can’t see them from this spot where I take the pictures.

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And THIS is my “summer” photo.  It’s actually from December, 2012–you can see the leaves turning on the elm.

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I always imagined them really large and on the wall in the living room, but for now, they are matted 5×7’s on a wall in the dining room.  You can see them when you come into our foyer–or, as Victoria called it when we first moved in, the lobby.

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Really. I DON’T collect chickens.

Truly, I am not a collector of poultry themed items.  Although it APPEARS that I collect them.  My friend, Becky, recorded a post long ago of a conversation between her twin daughters and her husband.  It was one twin telling a story that bore a STRIKING resemblance to “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”  They were about 4 at the time and called each other “Sissy.”  They have four siblings who also call both of them Sissy.  It’s a good thing they know which is which.  ANYWAY–each time her twin would point out the obvious, “Um, Sissy.  This sounds like the Three Bears,” the authoress/story telling twin would say, “Sissy!  It is NOT the THREE BEARS!!!!!”

I feel her pain.  No one seems to understand the fine nuances of texture when it comes to such things.

I only have this jaunty cockerel holding the door open in the study.  He is an antiqued cast iron, and we bought him the summer we were building our house.  Really, he’s Tony’s since he’s in the study and all.

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Then there is this fellow atop the bookshelves in the game room.  I originally bought him as a Christmas gift for someone, then found something else and kept him for myself.  He has a “war wound” on his back where something got dropped on him and so chipped his resin plumage (part of the whole me keeping him thing), but you can’t tell when he’s that high up in the air.January, 2013 018blog

Here he served as part of the autumnal decor two Thanksgivings ago.

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These are my “girls” who sit in my line of sight in the kitchen.  The multi-colored gal is a set of measuring spoons–a gift–so she doesn’t count.  And next to HER is one of my most recent acquisitions.  A little “nesting hen” that I bought on my trip in October (that I have yet to REALLY post.)  My Nanny had a nesting hen candy dish when I was a girl.  It was amber colored glass.  I’d never seen one this color OR this small, so THIS is just nostalgia.  And also a gorgeous shade of cobalt blue.

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This fellow is Jean Luc (pronounced Zhawn Luke).  If you watch TNG, you know the reference.  Although Americana-ish in coloring, he struck me as very, very French.  I found him in the course of looking ALL OVER HOUSTON for a solid WHITE version of him.  He sat in the middle of our kitchen table while our house was on the market and has graced the top of the kitchen hutch since we moved in.  I recently flanked him with the breakfast buffet plates I got from The Big Texan this summer when we were in Amarillo.  A VERY NICE waitress helped me procure those plates.  Her name was Rachel.  I need to take a close-up photo of them–they are lovely.  So Jean Luc is not part of a collection as he was just a VERY lucky and reasonably priced find/proxy for the large white poulet I’ve yet to locate.

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If you are a VERY important part of the non-collection, you get a name see.  Up until Christmas, this pretty lady had no name–but I loved her anyway.  I bought her the same summer we bought Mr. Study Door Holder.  She’s BLUE &WHITE, so she IS part of the blue and white collection.  And she has this filigree thing going on and she is fluffy (though not soft in the least.)  Here she presided over a Mother Daughter Luncheon table.

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Alas–she was alone–and not too unhappy about it as hens are content to muck about without a rooster anywhere near them.   Then, my sweet family located her Filigreed Ceramic Soul Mate and gifted me with him for Christmas.  He HAD to have a name.  I chose Hank.  And Thad immediately named our maiden chicken, Henrietta.  So now Hank and Henrietta live in what I call my “Chickenscape.”   They are atop of the “school supply” cabinet (yet ANOTHER tardy post)–which faces the kitchen hutch.  (The window is from my paternal grandparents’ home in Louisiana. )

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(You’ll also notice the lovely portrait that Stephanie painted for us from our old house, and we have Victoria’s little farm house table at the ready for visits from Heather.)

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There is  a VERY tall rooster weather vane on the ridge of our roof.  But that’s traditional, and therefore doesn’t count toward the non-collection. (Tony proudly putting the rooster on the roof circa January, 2009.  This was a Sunday afternoon right after we moved in.  It was VERY COLD,  I was somewhat cranky that I was missing my nap as (A) I didn’t want him to fall off the roof and die without me knowing because I was sleep and (B) he insisted I take pictures.)

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So you see?  It’s not so much a collection of POULTRY decor as it is just stuff I/we like.  Is there anything you find you have a lot of that you don’t really collect?  (Please, say yes. . .or just make something up.)

Rainy

There has been a lot of rain in the Houston area today.  Like HOURS of rain with no break.  And with this being the first week back at school, we are all a bit sleepy anyway.  So after an early dinner, when I found myself falling asleep on the couch, I surrendered to my bed.  And I took a nap.  It was WONDERFUL.  I’m about to go see if I can find some more sleep.