Saturday, July 28, 2012

I'm slow, but I can go

After staying up later than normal after last night's Olympic Opening Ceremony, I slept in later than my usual five o'clock-ish waking time. Saturdays seem to be a good day to let things be a little looser as far as my routine goes. When my body needs rest, I try to listen to it.

Off the subject: Did last night's celebration get you into the Olympic mood? Seeing Mr. Bean run with the Chariots of Fire guys got me laughing out loud. Still unsure what to think about Mary Poppins fighting off Voldemort, those odd blue bird bicyclists, and what looked like E.T. (on his bike scene), flying over the stadium.  (Did anyone else think that, or was that just me?) I Stood up and cheered out loud for teams Finland, Portugal, the good 'ol U.S.A. And of course, my beloved Great Britain. And Lucy (our paranoid dog) got really worried, rushing over to the bed when she saw me rocking out with Paul's awesome Hey Jude. That was so fun.

So back to this morning.

I set off on my usual route; noticing and a little apprehensive that the sun was higher than I'd like it to be. Lots of folks out on the road at this later time. Upon reaching the top of the hill, I became aware of this trail of constant runners-- speedy is the word here-- all heading in the same direction and I found myself merging into their half marathon.

These people are serious. The home stretch vibe is in the air. Most of them young, fast, and almost all passing me by as they make their way down the hill and onto the finish line at the high school.

I had a moment of humble pie asking myself, "Why didn't you sign up for this race?" And "Why do you seem to be trailing behind, not fast enough, not good enough?" Self doubt rearing its ugly head. Then I remembered one of the lessons I've learned these last couple of years:

"Slow" is often better than "fast".

Since I ran that marathon two years ago, I just don't feel that competitive drive or "edge" like I used to. That may come back, but for now I don't feel like I need to prove anything. Especially to myself. That I'm good enough, or capable enough, or fast enough or tough enough. For me, it's just running for the joy of it.

And that's good enough for me.

I've learned a lot about life, my life, with this running thing. That I can do hard things. Things in me that I thought were unattainable or unfathomable. Miracle things.

But I think the most important lesson I've learned through it all is to just keep moving forward. One foot in front of the other.

Like today. Even if I'm slower than I used to be. Even if I need to take a breather and walk for awhile. Even if my mouth is parched dry. Even if this pesky bone spur won't let up. Even though the sun is shining hot in my face. Even though I'm sweating buckets with this shirt soaked through. Even though I feel like I'm "running out of gas".

I had this mental block for so long. I hadn't run more than my almost daily 6 miles for some time now. Really didn't feel the need, as I'm not in training mode.

So wouldn't you know it, I surprised myself today. I decided, impromptu style, just for the heck of it, to just keep on 'a goin. My own little half marathon just for the fun of it. 11 miles give or take. Two hours of these feet pounding the pavement.

Today's motto: Slow and steady win the my race.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

away to the cabin

In honor of Pioneer Day--a celebration day here in our state-- and inasmuch as my sister and nephew are in town, we all were invited to gather down at what's known as the cabin. My sister and brother-in-law have been so generous, sharing this special place with so many.

A place that we all cherish.
A place that in recent years, has bonded our family.
A place which holds so many happy memories. 

The cabin sits perched on a mountain side overlooking a small farming community. And what a view.

The first time Isaac stepped out on that deck, he wondrously exclaimed what everyone of us feel:
"This is a kingdom!"

There were sixteen of us there this time, with plenty of room to spread out.  And enough food brought up to last for weeks, it seemed.

We ate good. Really good. As always.

To have this time to just get away for a few days.
Plenty of time... explore,

 to look at the wildflowers,

to go on little walking excursions,

to take naps,

to watch movies,

to play all-day game tournaments; even until all hours of the night,

to laugh so much,
(We do a lot of this in my family.)

to tell stories,

to seclude ourselves with books,

to watch and listen for birds,

to enjoy all four of these dog's personalities.
(Yes, four dogs in one cabin.)

to be nourished with this stillness,

to see the change and nuances of the light,

to marvel at the clouds,
(I love clouds.)

to stay in our pajamas all day if we feel like it,

to see these beautiful, smiling faces we love,

to share one-on-one talks,

to even take in a small town U.S.A. demolition derby at the rodeo grounds,
(Think real life bumper cars. The whole town must have been there.)

to take in this local, small town flavor,

to look at my sisters' faces when we hear that announcer pause over the intercom to let Candace know that her ribs were ready at the concession stand,
(I'm still laughing out loud at that one.)

to wake up and walk out on that deck, joining my sisters and my parents to watch the sunrise,

to witness that breathtaking sunset at day's end,

to share this with those I love,

to keep it all tucked in my heart until the next time.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

season for a game of croquet

After all the Cub Scouts left happy with their homemade pizzas,
After Sam went off to his own scout activity,
After Eliza gathered with her church young women's group
and off again later to play night games with the neighborhood pals,
After Dad got to work on the sprinklers,
(our sorry lawn.)
looked like it was just me and him left.
Thursday's are like that.

He asked if I'd go out and play a game of croquet with him.
How could I say no to that sweet, inquiring freckled face of his?
We play games.
It's what we do.
So I chose red and he was blue.
He gives me pointers all throughout.
(You got to hold it with both hands, Mom.)
So I strike hard with that mallet,
and go too far,
and all the while these forgotten memories start to trickle back of my own childhood summer's past.
Long ago days playing croquet at Momo's house
where we'd set up the most challenging course
on that sloping backyard hillside of hers.
Us and the cousins.
Seems like yesterday.

And then he laughs
and I'm back with him,
here, again.
And he's in the lead
with these spread out wickets he's placed.
Naturally, and no surprise,
his blue ball reaches the end post before my own.
So we gather everything up
and he smiles big 
and speaks the words from my own heart,
That was fun, Mom.
And I sigh and remember that
it's out of simple things,
that happy childhoods
are made.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

right now

Seeing: So surprised, when walking out to the garden this morning, to find that the two towering sunflowers had bloomed. Like overnight. Putting a smile on this face, an outloud outburst of joy, seeing those happy, glorious faces smiling down over all.

Eating: a nice big bowl of brown rice topped with yesterday's lunch leftovers of garlicky, soy braised bok choy, along with a peeled grapefruit.

Listening: I can't get enough of this. Jane Eyre soundtrack (most recent film) by Dario Marianelli on Grooveshark. So utterly beautiful, haunting, and romantic. Oh my heart.

Loving: With Saturday's maple syrup fiasco, new sandals were pretty much in order. So happy with these wear-anywhere Merrell ones.

Reading: Yesterday, I finished Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose (moving, gripping). Now, I'm onto The Starch Solution by John McDougall (bring on the carbs!), as well as The Diary of Mattie Spencer (Colorado frontier)  by Sandra Dallas.

Around here: Haircut for Isaac. The normal home routines: a little bit of cleaning, cooking, reading, weeding, croquet playing with the kids. Keith's home again today. Yet more truck problems, resulting in him staying home yesterday to work on repairs where he could, as well as his work on the ongoing sprinkler issues. And with him being up all night with a terrible itching rash that only Benadryl could relieve, he's now back to bed, zonked, with me too pooped to head out on my morning run. I think I'll add a nap to that to-do list.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

let's review the week

:: excitement beyond words around here Monday to be able to talk to Gary as he was en route (Dallas airport) to Finland. Had him on speaker phone with all of us listening in and adding to the numerous questions and joy-filled oohs, and ahhs, and wows, and that's so neats. That phone call was so good for all of us. Just to hear his voice. For him to hear ours. So many emotions. So happy for his happiness, this wonder at his tremendous spiritual growth, along with his already amazing ability to learn this difficult language, the tears shed and compassion we felt for the challenges he's faced, the excitement and joy for this new adventure in a new land and culture, the longing and realization of the great sea that separates us. As you can imagine, that evening my heart was feeling a little more tender with emotions and tears at the surface.

:: and what a surprise on Tuesday afternoon to already get a follow up email saying that he and his companions had made it to Finland.
Reading these words of his: "...Finland is home. I belong here. I’m made for this."

This mother-heart nearly bursting.

:: enjoying the edification of the Veganpalooza tele-summit. Informative and encouragement from a wide range presenters covering a variety of subjects regarding vegetarianism. Leaving me feeling so excited and proud of this path I'm on.

:: dealing with one broken down thing after another this week. First it was Keith's truck needing a major repair last week. Then, the washing machine breaking down. My new-ish car sounding a little funny. The sprinklers needing a new line trenched and connected. (and that means no sprinklers for the next few weeks. Hot temps = dry, sad looking lawn.) Ugh. I guess when it rains, it pours.

:: welcoming Mama and Papa home from their trip to Wisconsin.

::  getting a call late Wednesday night after we had all gone to bed from Sam, who, while on his scout adventure trip down in Moab, wrecked on a mountain bike and was in the ER needing stitches on his arm. Not only him, but another boy who fared worse with terrible gravel embedded road rash and stitches as well. Poor boys. Grateful it wasn't worse.

:: baked pretzels with the cub scouts on Thursday afternoon. Just imagine seven (eight year old) boys in my kitchen. Combine that with lots of flour and doughy-sticky hands. The power going out on and off throughout. A little chaotic and noisy, but you should have seen the look of satisfaction on each their faces, the aroma that filled this house when those treats came out of the oven. (Too bad my camera battery was dead.)

:: sending Keith off for the weekend (and the following weekend) while he goes up to help take care of Grandpa.

:: the delight Jane and I had this afternoon in going to lunch with my adopted sister Cathy and her daughter Grace as they were visiting here from California. She's a kindred spirit, I've decided. So grateful for opportunities like these for renewing these eternal ties and relationships from my own missionary experience in Portugal those many years ago.

:: spending my post- run mornings out in the garden trying to get a grip on the onslaught of weeds. I don't think I've ever let it go like this. Those poor plants hidden among the knee high field of weeds. I loved having Lucy be my constant companion; even when I had to constantly keep an eye on her mischief making. Her joyful exuberance in digging holes in that glorious dirt. Letting the robins know she's boss. Silly doggie. (see above) I'm almost there and it feels really nice.

:: tonight coming home with a car full of groceries and the sprinkler trench guy was already at work (he came really late) and while standing with my arms laden and making small talk, having the glass jug of maple syrup drop spontaneously out of the bag and shatter on the driveway. All over my sandaled feet. The utter embarrassment. Glass and sticky everywhere. Grateful and amazed these feet weren't cut to smithereens. The subsequent walking around barefoot with those sticky feet, picking up a mess of grass clippings and leaves; maneuvering his piles of dirt shoveled on that driveway as I tried to unload the groceries and bring them up to the house. Deciding that that wasn't the brightest idea and stopping for a hose spray off of me and the driveway. All of this while this guy looks on, amused. I just had to laugh so he could. Sad that my two year old beloved leather sandals truly seem to be unsalvageable. Even after spraying them off.

Friday, July 13, 2012

season for raspberry picking

Summer means raspberries. Always has and always will.

I've never eaten a raspberry without thinking of Grandma. That raspberry patch was her pride and joy. She'd rise and dress early in the morning while we were all asleep and head out to that quiet, calm coolness; braving the briars and endless scratches, and set to the work. She was very protective of that space. I think those rows and that time were sort of a sanctuary for her, despite the labor involved.

With all that bounty, there was more than enough to share with everyone; extended family and friends alike. We'd look forward to endless freezer jam (There's nothing like it. The kids remind me of that often.), homemade raspberry ice cream, and the scoops of berries to top off our cereal bowls. And, oh. There was just nothing like those summer stay-overs at Grandma and Grandpa's where we'd sit down at the breakfast table to a simple treat of cream or half-and-half poured over a bowl full; always with a sprinkling of sugar for extra sweetness.

Ahhh. Those were the days.

Now, we continue the tradition on a much smaller scale. Delighted when Mama lets us help her pick from her own patch. Going out in our own yard and popping a perfectly ripened, sun- warmed jewel into an open and eager mouth when the urge strikes. Lucky when there's even enough, some mornings, to bring in a handful for own breakfast bowls.

Monday, July 9, 2012

and so he flies

there he was
so safe in this nest,
protected and nurtured
cared for and trained

then little by little
he ventured
and little by little
more confidence gained

wings eagerly tested,
his limits,
those possibilities
reaching ever higher
all to fly back
once again

but then came the day,
that glorious day
when the true soaring comes 

and so he ascends,
these feathers take flight,
joining the formation
to lead and to follow,
chasing the storm clouds
and into the

Sunday, July 8, 2012