Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year - 2011!

What a year it has been! A real roller coaster ride for this household. Lots of sad sprinkled with glad throughout to bring a bit of balance and tease us forward.

I've been so remiss about keeping up with my blog and I hope I can find the time to back it up and maybe do a "time capsule" of sorts for all the days I've missed. We do so much and move so fast that I need to put it down for myself or I forget too much of the good stuff! We'll see ...

I wish for you all only the very best of good things in this coming year.

...excerpt from:

The Passing Of The Year

" ....My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that's true,
For we've been comrades, you and I --
I thank God for each day of you;
There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye! "

Robert W. Service

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tutu Mania

Tutu Mania, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.
Today we made tutus. And outrageous hairstyles. And in between waged ferocious sword battles. Barks, shrieks, giggles, bumps, tears, chases, catches, debates, court, judgements. Bike rides. Lemonaid. Maddie's Always goodie-bag for that long, long 20 minute ride home ...

A brief "recovery" period and thirty minutes later in the midst of preparing dinner I burst into laughter at a mental image of a particular moment of the day -- Oh, wow, how I wish I'd had that one on time lapse!

Of course you will be inflicted with more pics later. Especially of the tutu events. ;-)

Just this one!

I did get this one pic of Kenzie against my bathroom wall -- no lights, no nuthin' special ... just wanted to play around with it for practice and fun.

Kenzie is 10 and loves the photo fuss ... but 5yr old Maddie peeled her tutu off before I could make a move for a camera (oh, the girrrrl knows me!) and was back to the sword fight. ;-)
Oh ... and note the watermark of Sassafras Photos ... More on that later. ;-)


Cousins, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.
What a day ... a Ranger, a Blue-jay and a Thunder Pony...

How to Eat A Spiderman Bar 101 ...
How to eat a Spiderman Bar 101:

Bye, bye, Birdie ....

Bye, bye, Birdie ...., originally uploaded by Sparky2*.


The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light



Nanatime!!, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

Nana-time with two of my girls!!

Quiggly's Clayhouse ... ballgames ... then home for cupcakes, snuggled up movies and sleeping on the couch. They are so cool and so much fun ...

Near and Far

NEAR ...

... and FAR ...

I know I've been away an eternity ...

... such a busy summer and now it's already well into fall. It's safe to say that I probably immersed myself completely in too many "doins'" in order to not allow myself time for thinking and feeling the loss of my mom in February.

I believe in some ways it helped and in others only postponed the inevetable. Summer being such a "kidfull" time around here left me some space - some distance - with little time for dwelling or processing and I took advantage.

Now I'm back to up close and personal; I've just looked "Mom Time" of Thanksgiving and Christmas in the face -- and as my heroine
Junie B. Jones would say ...

"... I did a gulp."
I'll post a few "event markers" from my time away for myself - as well as for curious concerned and caring friends. (Thank you!) I'm thinking of it as good therapy ... to remind myself that life did continue and it has been good. I'm finding that up close life is just as beautiful if it has a lovely background behind it and a Mom who raised you to see it that way.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"... from blossom to blossom to sweet impossible blossom"

View Large On Black

[Excerpt from "Blossoms"]

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

by Li-Young Lee

Well, I did survive another marker without my mom - my birthday last week. And as the poem says, I did it by flying headlong from one joy to the next and drinking as deeply from each one as I could. Memorial Day weekend visits from family members, cookouts and making homeade ice cream, graduations (from our kindergarten Maddie to our high school senior neighbor, Maddi!) - sports events for each of four grands ---

The rush of life continues to catch me in its wake and it pulls me forward when I let it ... if I don't overthink the moments. That hole of dark sadness is deep, but God placed me in a lovely place and surrounded me with beautiful, sweet children .. and when they tempt me out I know that is the way He planned it and Mom would want it. What an amazing thing - this human spirit - what wonderful gifts of grace our creator gave us to help us heal! I see it in nature at every turn.

This is the butterfly bush that nearly fried to a crisp a couple of years ago when I first planted it at about 1.5 ft tall! Everyone thought it was truly gone ... so dry, brittle and burnt it was. Instead I attacked it with a small pair of snips -- two solid hours of cutting away each branch and twig until I saw "green". And the healing began! That first blooming was such a thrill for me to see ... and it's been a constant delight to me in every season.

I was "out of commission" this fall when it should have been cut back ... and as you can see it's now taking over the entire corner of the yard (which is fine, because otherwise it's just a wasted slope!).

And now it's giving me hours of entertainment between the bees, butterflies, dragonflies feasting there. And I'm still trying to get a shot of the amazing site of the brilliant cardinals or jays that perch there at times. And ohhhh, the fragrance! Wish I could bottle the combination of sage, butterfly bush and honeysuckle in my yard at the moment - and save it for a cold winter day!

I had originally planned a pond for this corner with seating around it ... but now I can't bear to lose the bush!

View Large On Black

View Large On Black

I'm so loving this poem ... it seems to fit me these days as I lift out of grief and look around to find that I have moved forward -- I've walked sometimes with a bounce in my step; I've looked and actually seen - and touched and smelled -- and lived.
Looking Around, Believing
by Gary Soto

How strange that we can begin at any time.
With two feet we get down the street.
With a hand we undo the rose.
With an eye we lift up the peach tree
And hold it up to the wind — white blossoms
At our feet. Like today. I started
In the yard with my daughter,
With my wife poking at a potted geranium,
And now I am walking down the street,
Amazed that the sun is only so high,
Just over the roof, and a child
Is singing through a rolled newspaper
And a terrier is leaping like a flea
And at the bakery I pass, a palm,
Like a suctioning starfish, is pressed
To the window. We're keeping busy —
This way, that way, we're making shadows
Where sunlight was, making words
Where there was only noise in the trees.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Time Enough

View Large On Black

I wonder how she does it? How she manages to live such an exquisite life in so little time? I have so much "stuff" undone and unaddressed at the end of my days! Well, most days anyhow.

Lately I've noticed that my hours seem to shrink and stretch according to the purpose I put in them. If I have three small chores on my list it seems to take me the entire day to do them ... yet if I have fifteen life-or-death chores and situations that must be attended to within the same twenty-four hour time frame I'll have almost the exact amount of "left-overs" at the end of the day. Go figure!!

I suppose a lot of my "frayed ends" have to do with the time of the year. So much crammed into this in-between season! Summer sports and practices have already begun ... kids are exhausted from a full day of school and being rushed off to baseball and/or football. Weekend errands, yardwork and family time are all squished in among games (we have four this Saturday!) Teachers, kids and parents (and grandparents) are all tired and grumpy ... counting grades and counting minutes until that last program - that final dismissal bell that promises lazier days ahead.

And I'm really missing Mom through all of this season. She was my lifeline to sanity -- gently helping me balance my overfull cup when it threatened to spill into a mess. She would calmly listen to me rant without judgement and somehow without saying much at all would bring me back around full circle to a full-blown sense of "grateful" for it all!
Yet even more than the moral support I find myself missing the joy in her voice when I would call her with happy news; it made it somehow more real and fulfilling and I still catch myself reaching for the phone. Every day seems to be yet another of many firsts yet to live through without her ... Mother's Day ... my birthday next week .... So even when school is out the hard work of learning life goes on.
"The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough."

~Rabindranath Tagore

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Like the child saw ...

View Large On Black

The Happy Child
~ by William Henry Davies

I saw this day sweet flowers grow thick --
But not one like the child did pick.

I heard the packhounds in green park --
But no dog like the child heard bark.

I heard this day bird after bird --
But not one like the child has heard.

A hundred butterflies saw I --
But not one like the child saw fly.

I saw the horses roll in grass --
But no horse like the child saw pass.

My world this day has lovely been --
But not like what the child has seen.
Posted by Picasa

"Every child is born a naturalist. His eyes are, by nature, open to the glories of the stars, the beauty of the flowers, and the mystery of life. "

Professor Search

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Flowers and sunlight to greet me this morning ...

My "little" brother brought me both with his short but sweet visit on Monday evening! What a boost!

Nicer to View Large On Black
The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.
Thich Nhat Hanh ~

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reverberating Peace ...

Best to View Large On Black


The remembrance of
the potential of the universe
before the Holy One created it–
the harmony of opposites,
the awareness of the void.
I recreate this original peace in you
with my presence.
I release this peace by my
constant inner forgiveness and letting go.
I surround you with this peace,
and you feel a fire of love kindled in
your hearts.

The thing-world–the universe of
levels, planes, particles, and separation–
cannot give peace the way I do.
Diversity gives the gift of
forms fulfilling their purpose
then passing away:
a peace of separation.
I give peace with the awareness of
the whole story of sacred unity,
an ongoing creation
moving ahead of, with, and behind us
like a caravan.
Let your heartbeat
carry this remembrance.
When you feel this peace,
the center of your passion
can never be forced or limited,
neither inflated nor deflated.
You cannot be carried away by fear
nor hemmed in by grief.
You are always coming to standing
at the beginning,
reverberating peace
around you
without limit.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hi, Mom ... I love you.

Sorry to be so long between postings, but I'm sure you'll understand ...
((( hugs to you, Liz )))
Two days after Christmas my mother was admitted to the hospital with severe abdominal pain which was thought at first to be the recurrence of ulcers. After ten days of "hospital shuffle" and testing she was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer. Surgery removed all but a stubborn 1% left behind and clinging to an aortic vessel.

I stayed with her in her hospital room every day/night except nights in ICU - when I would drive the hour back from Shreveport to Ruston - and if I couldn't be there my wonderful brothers were.

Between the hurtings were some good times for talks ... laughs even. A few times she had to tell me, "Stop making me laugh; I'll burst the proverbial stitch!"

Together we mourned the Cowboys' elimination from the Super Bowl and then celebrated the Saints win with the nursing staff; we agreed on our choice for the new Miss America and pouted together when she didn't win. We hooted over "What Not to Wear"; she beat me at every turn of Jeopardy and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" and after one HGTV episode she completely redesigned her bathroom and was hoping for my son-in-law Richie to put in new tile. We visited with family via "Skype" on the little netbook we had recently purchased together and she finally was able to "meet" 3 mo great-granddaughter, Lena, see the squiggling 9mo old Lukas and admire his new toofs, giggles and songs from Kenzie, Zach & Madi ... shy smiles from Trey. After one call she told the nurses that she had the most beautiful granddaughters ... "they just couldn't get any prettier!", she testified.

She loved my large red apple on the windowsill "such a pretty spot of color in this dull place". I couldn't bring myself to eat it and took it with us to the next room ... and the next.

Finally, after more than six weeks in the hospital we returned home for her post surgery recovery and to begin a "wellness" regime to prepare her for upcoming treatments. While I had been studying and taking notes in the hospital I learned much more "hands on" about cleaning drainage tubes and changing dressings and medication/meal schedules/testing/injections - because of the complications wrt to her diabetic condition. I also learned how it could be necessary to be aggressive - even downright fierce with insurance companies when vital meds were denied, with medical admin when appointments were "unavailable" or needed test results were missing from a file, etc., etc.
Most of all I learned to be humble and amazed and proud as I watched my sweet mom fight pain to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion. I saw this modest, little woman endure countless and repeated indignities of her illness - with more concern toward her caregivers than to herself and always with a "thank you" and even a joke if she was able.
After we established a workable routine of shared care between family and home health I was persuaded to return home for a brief rest and visit with my own family. I created a large tabbed binder and filled it with every iota of info regarding "the care and feeding of a Dottie" as she joked. I went shopping: baby monitors, portable extension phone, a large whiteboard to note contacts, apts & schedules, fave easy-prep foods & snacks to entice her to eat. I wracked my brain trying to think of every little thing that must/should/could be done to ease her days, offer some security - and I know that really what I was doing was in effort to postpone my leave taking.
Ice and snow were in the weather forecast and the push was on for me to get on the road and home safely. I prepared lunch for mom and my step dad, Baker, and loaded the car. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, this goodbye - that turned out to be my last to my mom. But what an exquisite hug ... it said so much between us and I feel it even now. If not for the worries wrt family situations at home I simply could not have torn myself away. I think she knew and feared ... and yet she still insisted I go.
The promised snow came in a big way ... such a rare event for us in this part of Texas - even knocked out our power for nearly two days. The week was filled to overflowing with family "stuffs" ... sledding & snowmen, Valentine-making, catching up on bills, grocery shopping, housework -- and of course my daily talks with mom.
The evening of the 15th we talked for over an hour ... she sounded a little tired, but more animated and "her old self" as she recounted the special Valentine box she got in the mail - cookies and artwork from my daughter, Kelly and her great grands, McKenzie, Madison & Trey. She was so pleased and was glad she had seen them via the "Skype chats" so that she could picture them better in her mind as they were right then and was plotting to use it to view my niece's upcoming wedding together and having our own "reception" along with them in their honor. I heard a wistfulness in her voice that alarmed me and asked her if she was ok - if she wanted me to come back in the morning ...
... "I can and I will", I told her. She insisted no, no. She wanted me to wait for Madi's 6th birthday on Sunday ... come back on Monday. So it was decided - "Monday, then, but only if you'll promise to call me if you change your mind and need me sooner."
We talked until 9:30 p.m. ... at 11:50 p.m. we were awakened by my ringing cell phone. Few people have my cell number or would call at this hour; it was my sweet brother, Greg, bless his broken heart to whom fell the task of confirming what I already knew.
Instantly, in my mind's eye I saw her ... as this way ... the last photo taken with my brother's cell phone.

We were in a waiting room at LSUS Oncology. She wore a soft, grey velour jogging suit and I commented to her that she looked too beautiful to be sick ... my brother agreed and she smiled and graciously accepted her children's adoration.
No goodbyes for me. Just "Hi, Mom, I love you" in every rainbow, new buds, sounds of a laughing child, with every Maltese puppy I see, with every crowning of a new Miss America and every red apple.