I have seen a lot of things: I have seen people discriminated against for no reason; I have seen people treated like freaks simply because they were different. Unfortunately, I have not seen a lot of compassion and understanding between highly differing ideologies. I have no earthly idea about the two men on whom I am about to write but I shall attempt to convey what I know. My little one and I frequent a certain grocery store because it carries organic, gluten free, etc. I will confess though that my husband, a very staid, cradle Episcopalian, refers to their help as “hippy granola”. There is whom I believe to be a transgendered individual working there who is a white man but with long, flowing green hair. I do NOT wish to speak for him; this is simply what I have observed. On the polar opposite end of the spectrum is a man from West Africa who is clearly an evangelical Christian. I think he makes people uncomfortable with his continual singing, whether he is in line bagging or simply walking around. Even if I were not Christian I find him infectious and uplifting. But I notice a lot of people — from workers to customers — simply do not know what to do with him. How sad it is indeed that someone cannot recognize joy when they see it; even if it does not come from their own particular ideology. The neat thing is I have witnessed an incredible comradery between these two men. How unexpected; and how lovely. While I have watched people shrink away from both men I have seen this incongruous pair joke and comfortably chat with each other — and it has made my heart soar. They could not be more divergent; and yet each is GENUINELY accepting of the other. What a lesson I find we can all learn from these two. Stop staring at the person with the green hair scanning your groceries and stop staring at the man who is openly singing “Allelujah!” as he bags your groceries. Just take them as they are. Were they kind to you during your check-out? Well then, there you go. No one is trying to push their agenda on you — whether it is the gay guy or the highly evangelical guy; they are simply trying to lead their own lives. Israeli leader Golda Meir once said, “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” I believe both men are doing that; and my little one is happy with each of them. Live and let live. Pray if you choose but allow people to be who they are and just accept them. God created each one of us and I believe we should respect that. Can I get an “Amen”?
Well everyone is just going to have to forgive me for being so proud on this one. My karate kid girl is, at 4 1/2, now a brown belt and she broke her first board on her first try! I AM SO PROUD OF HER! And I know my father would be as well. I confess I have always had an interest in the martial arts and, as noted in a past post, I have at least earned my yellow belt thus far in my journey. When I wandered into that studio a year and a half ago I had no idea about the different types of martial arts and assumed it was Japanese (karate). To my complete surprise and utter shock I discovered it was South Korean. My father served eight years in Korea and was awarded the Greek Medal of Honor for his efforts. Being half Choctaw, he had superlative tracking skills and never lost a man on night patrol. But I believe his acquired knowledge of South Korean martial arts served him just as well. He had a wicked bayonet scar down his left leg (which means he saw very close hand to hand combat) as well as having his feet frozen during a particularly harsh snow storm. He was lucky a Norwegian hospital let him keep his feet but they would always turn blue in the winter. Mark Ringler never bragged about anything he did, but men came from all over to attend his funeral with tears in their eyes telling me of my father’s bravery and how they owed their life to him. Mama and I had no idea. My Daddy died when I was just 28 years old. He never lived to meet my husband and of course did not get to see our little girl. But God was gracious in that my child shares his birthday. I knew in that moment when I discovered what their program was my father would have approved. I knew he would be so proud, as he reared me no differently than a boy, and I am much better because of it. So I don’t consider her achievements or mine “cool” or cute; I consider them an honor to my father — following in his footsteps just like his men did on night patrol all those years ago. English poet and hymnodist William Cowper wrote:
“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.”
My father followed in our heavenly Father’s footsteps; I intend to do the same and I wish that path for my family as well. Achukma hoke.
I love brunch. Primarily I eat the “br” part of it as opposed to the “unch”; I suppose just because I enjoy a good breakfast. My husband really got me started on wanting big breakfasts when we began traveling. Then we’d eat a very light lunch and a little more at dinner. I have also noticed it is the only time in which it is really acceptable to have an alcoholic drink early in the day. Pictured here is simply a healthy smoothy — mango, pineapple and orange juice. I don’t really love fruit so I find smoothies are a good way to sneak them in. Of course seated across from said smoothy is my very handsome husband. And you can just see the bow of our little one next to him. The restaurant we were in recently opened a second location close to our house. When I was in college I used to deliver food for them at their first location. How’s that for full circle? The company I worked for was called Entrees on Trays and I was the only girl driver. I loved meeting the working people of that job and found the kitchens fascinating. Delivering to some of the people was not the most pleasant but that was a learning experience as well. If you live in a two million dollar plus home and your delivery driver does a good job I think you should tip more than $2 … particularly given you saved the mandatory 20% gratuity by getting it to go. But I digress. Sunday brunch is still a treat: whether on vacation, for a special occasion, on a holiday or just for no reason at all. I am reminded of American nutritionist Adelle Davis’ words, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” Sometimes that is not always possible and I think dinner is very important as well, but I like the sentiment. Wherever you are reading this and whatever it is you enjoy eating I wish you a happy, leisurely time spent with family and friends.
Growing up I remember coloring with my mother. I loved it so and would spend hours at it. I have noticed the new trend for “adult coloring books” and how it has been said they promote calmness. I read somewhere that literally just by smelling crayons one can reduce stress. I believe it. For me it’s a scent that takes me back to my childhood; a time when things were slower, softer, kinder, easier. I remember whenever I was sick I got a new coloring book! And I had the big deluxe box of 64 Crayolas with the sharpener in the back. Of course I loved coloring the animals especially. For some reason though I always colored the cats green. I did it every time in every coloring book. I have always wondered if someone did some type of psychological assessment on me what it might mean. My friend is an art therapist and I am curious as to what she would think about my little one’s coloring. The thing I find so fascinating about it is that she doesn’t color a whole part with one shade; every piece has at least five colors to it. I have never thought to do that in my life and she has given me an entire new way of thinking about how to color. I love it and personally I think it’s very creative (says her mother, I know). She colors with bold strokes and in different directions. I always stayed in the lines, stuck with one color for each part, and colored all going the same way. I am truly delighted every time she shows me something she has done. American artist Georgia O’Keeffe once said:
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
I have never had a talent for drawing but my daughter has inspired me to color again. Her efforts have encouraged me to live a little, take more chances, be bolder; to slow down and enjoy the quietness of time more, to stray outside the lines, that it’s OK to change directions, and to use all of the colors in the box. My little one has definitely made my life more colorful. And I am so thankful. Later on I think I shall join her; keep calm and color on.
I love cars. I have always loved them. I also love cigars. My husband, on the other hand, could not care less about either. Our marriage has always been great in terms of chores because he has a thing about not having dishes in the sink so he always loads and unloads the dishwasher. I am the “techie” who handles all our electronics and the handy woman who just generally knows how to do stuff. It works out well for us and we are happy. My car needed repairs and was JUST out of warranty. When our trusted guy at the dealership said he could make that sizable bill go away and, due to my low driving mileage, it would be cheaper if I considered leasing, the first thing I did was head for the Lincoln MKX’s. As I have said, I love cars; pictured here is what I chose and it’s a real beauty. The ride is noticeably smoother, the tires better, and the sound system like a private concert hall. This is the second nicest car I have ever driven. When I met my husband I had a Land Rover but it was a terrible gas guzzler and I felt environmentally arrogant and irresponsible driving it. So it has been a long time since I have driven a “luxury” car. And OH how I have missed it! I have missed the lumbar, all the controls, and the incredible pick up when you need to get on the highway. Despite the fact that we’re in Texas my black on black car is not even hot. It has air conditioned front seats! I’ve had heated seats before but never air conditioned. I spend a lot of time in my car and it brings me great pleasure to be driving such a sweet piece of engineering again. I still have my beloved panoramic sunroof and cool dark blue ambient lighting. Of course it is keyless but now I can even program it to start from my iPhone! My app tells me how many miles I have driven, oil life, tire pressure, and all sorts of other stuff. The dashboard gives me the speed limit (VERY helpful) and I officially love my back up camera. At night when I click the key a lit Lincoln “welcome mat” is projected on both sides of the car. It is pitiful how much I love it. American actress Alexandra Paul said, “The cars we drive say a lot about us.” I hope mine says I love the outdoors, care about the environment, and enjoy using the latest technology. Some women love clothes, shoes, and handbags. Just give me a hot car and a good cigar.
I took this picture to remind me of how fervently I prayed for a child; how much I needed to love and hold and care for a little one of my own. As adults, we seem to lose the joy in the mundane, everyday things that need to be done. I have vague memories when I was little of Mr. Bubble and letting my imagination take me someplace other than the bath. It was a world of endless possibilities. I am trying to be careful not to always rush my little one through this time. As adults it seems we always need to hurry. I don’t want to rob her of that dream time … of mermaids and spaceships and hidden treasure. She has way more squeaky animals than you see pictured here; they just wouldn’t all fit on the windowsill. The Scooby Doo and Hello Kitty used to hold soap. Arctic animals frolic with jungle animals, barnyard animals romp with sea creatures, and carnivores are best friends with herbivores. It is a sort of bath time utopia. As she has grown, her delight in watching them simply bobble has turned into her verbalizing what each of them are and now to her creating stories about what they do and where they are going. We made the alligator a dentist, the sheep a clothing designer, the dinosaur is sometimes lonely and looks for a friend to play with, the turtle talks about how important it is to be good to our planet, the sea otter just loves to play and the elephant pours tea for everybody from her trunk. Whether you have children in your home or not, I think we all need to try and recapture some of the wonder and magic of our childhood. Dare to dream; to be silly; to slow down. Legendary American dream maker Walt Disney once said,
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
I know my dreams came true when God granted me this child. What are your dreams? Pray for them; pursue them. Mine seemed impossible … having someone to see mermaids with, to discover hidden treasure with, and to fly to the moon and back with. I have gotten to do all of those things and I am looking forward to the myriad of adventures that await.
Asthma. Fortunately I’ve never had it. I was STUNNED to find out our four year old has “respiratory airway disease” which, to me, is the equivalent of childhood asthma — something she will hopefully outgrow. At the time my child had at least five belts in karate and NEVER complained she couldn’t breathe. It was absolutely unnerving. Then my husband of almost nine years calmly said, “Oh yeah, I had that as a kid but I grew out of it.” And I just sat in this doctor’s office with my eyes bulging from their sockets trying to digest it all. I didn’t really know about inhalers and I had certainly had never heard of a nebulizer. It was like my world had been turned upside down and I was having to learn a foreign language. HOW could my child POSSIBLY have this when she never said ONE WORD about not being able to breathe?? It was so serious the doctor very nearly told us we could not take our spring vacation! So I am now acquainted with Nasonex, Singulair, and Zyrtec in addition to the two vials of liquid I mix in her breathing machine twice a day. When we started off we had a mask that my brave girl just freaked out over. She never flinched at a blood draw, going under during an endoscopy and colonoscopy, ALL the horrible prep work that goes into that, or having shots. But I think I can understand this as I am claustrophobic as well. The “pipe” isn’t supposed to be used until five or older but thank heaven they let her try it and we were able to switch! Now she falls asleep with it in her mouth. I have often looked at my little one and wondered what my pipe smoking great grandmother would have thought. Of course the two are completely disparate. The great English playwright William Shakespeare said, “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.” With a sigh I pray that she will outgrow this just as my husband, her daddy, did. In the meantime, at least she has her pipe.
I have owned and operated a petsitting business for 16 years now. It has brought me a tremendous amount of joy and, I confess, has sometimes been very, very stressful. Growing up everyone said with my love of animals I should be a vet. I knew I didn’t have the stomach for it and I was already seriously writing way back then. Achieving my degree from SMU with a degree in journalism left me floundering between print and broadcast. I never wanted to be on TV, but I felt print was on its way out — even as early as the mid ’90’s. So I stumbled into petsitting which allowed me freedom, the ability to stay close to my recently widowed mother, and I was doing something I loved independently. I have received many, many notes from clients over the years. Some leave detailed instructions, some say NOT to call because they’ll assume something is wrong, etc. But I wanted to post a picture of this note because it made me laugh. It doesn’t seem like much but it is such a tremendous responsibility to care for someone’s beloved pets in addition to their home. Combine crammed schedules, medicines, special feeding regimens, and the dreaded alarm codes and it proves to be a lot. When I was single I took my mother around and, especially during the holidays, it gave us places to be when we had none. I remember looking into other people’s shiny, happy homes as we drove by and wishing it were more than just the two of us. Now I am married and have a child of my own. I have written before she is my very best helper and she has said that she wants to be “a doctor for animals”. She is just 4 1/2 and has the whole wide world ahead of her. But of one thing I am certain: my daughter will always have an innate love for all animals. The French novelist Colette once said, “Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.” Poochas gracias and meowci for allowing me into your homes to care for your beloved companions.
This was our last day in Antigua and I was somewhat sad to go home. The hotel itself was a sheltered haven from the outside world. I found myself looking forward to each evening as the myriad of lit candles lent the place an air filled with history, holiness and mystery. My favorite was the hotel’s religious history. As if the place could not get any better, it houses several museums. The Colonial Museum contains works produced during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries into the beginning of the 19th century. Among the displays are religious paintings, wooden sculptures in the form of angels, saints, and more and also silver pieces such as lecterns, chalices, and monstrances. My second favorite was their Archeology Museum. It contains an ancient treasure trove of ceramic and stone objects in the form of vessels, thuribles, and other ceremonial items found from the Classic Period of the Mayan Culture, from 200 to 900 AD. An oft overlooked small Pharmacy Museum was fascinating, with porcelain, glass, marble, and bronze pieces that were once part of private collections and of course were used to store medicinal products. Once again I will confess I absolutely detest modern art, so I cannot write anything about the contemporary “artist” halls other than I found them incongruous — much like I. M. Pei’s glass pyramid that decimates the old beauty of the Louvre. Fortunately my husband feels the same way so we did not spend any time on it. Lastly, we visited their Silver Museum which contains samples of the Sacatepequez arts and old handcrafted traditions of the region’s people. The picture I chose is a simple one. But it is how the whole place looked every night; old stone basins full of rose petals in water that glistened from the candlelight. American Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edith Wharton once said:
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
Antiqua, Guatemala for me was both.
Most of all the thing that struck me about Guatemala was the people. I may have read a similar sentiment somewhere about somplace before and I remember thinking it was trite. But for me, in this country, it was true. In my past travel experience I have encountered half-hearted welcome, apathy, and animosity — even right within my own borders. What struck me most about the Guatemalans was a genuineness that simply cannot be feigned. They carried no animosity and it showed in their gentle, smiling eyes. The beautiful little girl pictured here shyly presented her mother’s craftsmanship and I am quite sure she knew she’d melted my heart. I asked if I could please take her picture and, smiling proudly, her mother said yes. They both seemed surprised when I pressed some quetzals into her tiny little hands as a thank you. This was another occasion where my resolution for us to carry cash would prove to be a good thing. There was also a young boy, perhaps nine, who asked if he could shine my husband’s shoes. Burk was wearing brown Cole Haans and blue jeans; not some business suit. I was sort of appalled because I remember black shoe shines from when I was a kid and knew they deserved better. My father always walked the road between two worlds being bi-racial and I witnessed it growing up; he was half German and half Choctaw. So here this little boy was looking up at my husband all hopeful in the parking lot and my heart cracked in two. We were so glad we had some money, but when Burk tried to just give it to him he vehemently shook his head “no”. Not understanding, my husband kept trying to put some money into his shirt pocket. The boy became more and more upset; to the point where tears were glistening in his eyes and threatening to spill over. And then, in that moment, I got it. I told the boy my husband’s shoes DEFINITELY needed a shine and could he please do so? Burk just looked at me somewhat agitated until he saw me begging with my eyes to keep quiet. The boy proudly set down to work on a little wooden planked stool, where he had my standing husband propped up on one foot. I just shrugged and told Burk in English to read his paper (ironically in Spanish) and so he did. And I watched that boy grow in stature as he vigorously rubbed my husband’s scruffy walking shoes until they actually looked presentable. I know Burk felt uncomfortable but the boy most definitely did NOT want a handout. He wanted to work and earn his money, which he most certainly did. When he had finally finished my husband handed him the quetzals and the boy accepted them with a nod. It was a nod of respect that hurt me coming from one so young. But I was so thankful from lessons learned on our previous trips — ALWAYS CARRY LOCAL CURRENCY! Canadian businessman Kevin O’Leary has said, “Money equals freedom.” I agree with him and it is my fervent hope that hard workers like this little boy and little girl will gain it. Achukma hoke.