Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Keeping Focus

It's not my habit to cross post, or to post much about writing here at Blackwater Tales, but this has been on my mind. Many of us at Blackwater -- and Blackwater extended -- are creative types who are easily affected by the atmosphere around us. Many of us write. So, I'm posting this here as well as on my blogs that pertain more to writing. I think it's important enough.


Is anyone else having trouble keeping focus right now?

It's not just the holidays. That's a nice distraction; but most of us have learned over the years how to closet ourselves with our muses and keep working.

No, now it's all the other things: the wars and attacks around the world, the economy -- or lack thereof, the overall animosity amongst people -- whether it be religious differences, political losses, or flatout hatespeak bred of fear and suspicion. I'm telling you, the atmosphere is downright oppressive.

Yet, and yet, as writers our first instinct is to put something down on paper (or pixels) about it. We can blog about it (self-reference there), or we can spread our words and our wings wider.

We who write have a gift that is meant to be shared. We who are citizens of the planet have a responsibility to use our gifts to protect and further our planet. We who write and are citizens are generally opinionated and completely capable of fomenting discussion and thought about the problems of the world.

Essentially, the distractions of today are the fodder for our writing, be it blog, article, editorial. or fiction. If we can help to find a solution, we should. And if writing is our talent, then that is what we contribute to the solution.

So, I say, in the words of way too many writers who get a kick out of saying it, Write on! Tidy up those distractions and put them to work for yourself and all the other citizens of the planet. Someday, somebody will get around to thanking you.

Well, I'll do it here. Thank you.

rjm

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey Day madness

Those of you needing basic Turkey Day preparation tips, see my article at notecook.com by clicking on the title to this blog. There may be another article tomorrow for repairing and rescuing food on Thanksgiving.

Have a good holiday!

rjm

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Moveable Feast








At our house, Thanksgiving has been the moveable feast for many years.

It started even before we were married. His sister was joining us for the holiday, staying with me at my apartment and visiting us both while he was in the Army. I’d gotten as far as baking the apple pie, when I realized I was feeling entirely too sick to prepare a meal, or even eat one. So, Thanksgiving feast was the next day.

Later in our marriage was the year I varnished the dining room table and it didn’t dry in time for us to eat – 3 days later! There was the year we moved, and so we ate at our friends’ house. They chose that year to buy the dinner at the grocery store. When we tried the same thing a few years later, the grocery store didn’t cook the meal. They prepped a few dishes, but I still had to cook! Followed by the year I broke my ankle only two weeks before the holiday. Luckily another set of friends included us in that year.
Then there was the first year our daughter lived in Boston. She went to my sister’s that year, and they had a wonderful time. It was reassuring for us to know she was at least with family. Now that she’s married, she plans on taking most Thanksgivings with her in-laws. That’s fine, because it clears Christmas for us.

Now comes this year.

Two daughters will not be home. And one son. Besides the married daughter, our second is working a job over 15 hours away and can’t get home. Our son is only 12 hours away (only!), but his girlfriend lives across country, so neither of them are going home. Instead they are staying in town; perhaps her parents will fly in for the holiday. So, we’re down 3, and steady at 3 here. It’s okay, because we’re really all looking forward to Christmas when everyone will be able to get in for at least a day.

Yet, it feels so weird.

It’s partly this year. We’re still scrambling. Our lives are busy, and the economy is the pits, and everything is continuing to change. Thanksgiving is usually a time when everything kind of halts, a big breath before Christmas. This year it will be a holiday for catching up, cleaning up, and preparing for the Holiday season when the others will at last be home. It’s enough to make me glad we did make this the moveable feast. We can be comfortable, if a little sad, spending it apart. For at least, wherever we are, we know we are together in our hearts, and we are thankful for the adventures we’re having and the love we share.

We are lucky, in our family. May yours be so also.

Happy Thanksgiving!
2008

rjm

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Getting Out My Vote

(warning: this is lengthy)


I voted today. It took about an hour, which wasn't bad, considering how volatile this year's election is.

I hadn't been going to vote early, but then I realized two things. 1) Somehow it would probably be quicker -- better 1 hour than 4, and 2) if I voted early I could spend Election Day at home with my kids (who actually will probably be busy working on projects for school, but at least I can sleep late).

Overall, it was an interesting introduction to the civic side of life here in Fayetteville, NC.

I drove up to the voting place -- note: I learned today that this Early Voting is being classified as Absentee Voting here, so that, my official told me, they could be counted at the same time as the Absentee Ballots rather than in some other group. Okay. Anyway, I spotted the place easily because there were cars parked all along the roadside, political signs were clustered around the end of the sidewalk, sufficiently far away from the entrance, and there was already a line outside the building. And it had only been open 8 minutes.

I found a parking place in a grove of trees near the back of the property and walked across the playing field to the building, a local recreational center. It was sunny and breezy, thankfully. My spot in line began about 100 feet back, and the line wasn't moving yet. It wasn't encouraging that people were disputing whether or not the line had started to move, and some were talking about having been shut out of another polling place when time ran out. For a while I simply stood in line, then I pulled out a book I'd brought along to read. But athat was camouflage for my eavesdropping.

The couple in front of me, older, white, were quiet. He shifted from foot to foot; she ate an energy bar. Behind me were three or four young black women, and interspersed in the line were soldiers from the nearby bases, many of them in camo and berets. Cell phones rang and people reported on how long they'd been in line and whether or not they could pick up the kids later. I was glad to hear one young woman tell her friend he -- she? -- needed to come out and vote.

Some people behind me talked about what voting was like in other places, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Baltimore. One of the young women said she'd never voted before. She seemed dubious about the process even as she stood there. I never was clear on why she was voting now; she said that she wouldn't be surprised if 'they' said Obama didn't win whether he did or not. If that happened, she said, there'd be riots. Not that she' would, but a lot of people were born that way, she said, 'programmed' to react that way in that sort of situation. Her friend hoped that it wouldn't happen like that. She talked about what happened to Al Gore in Florida. Judging from her words and tone, she still believed in the value of the vote.

Soon a tall man came down the line with a small sheet of paper telling about himself and what he was running for. I didn't think it applied to me -- not my precinct -- but I took his paper anyway, even as I wondered if he was supposed to do that. I'm pretty sure he wasn't; later I saw an official talking to him and he didn't approach the line again. A few minutes later a woman with a petition attached to a clipboard came along. The couple in front of me listened attentively as the woman asked for their signatures on a petition to the Governor to explore creating alternative energy jobs, green jobs in the state. They listened but declined to sign. It sounded like a good idea to me, North Carolina needs jobs, and I've already seen signs of 'caring about the green' in Fayetteville. Besides, exploring a concept can never hurt, so I signed.

Another official worked her way down the line handing out slips of paper reminding us all that the 'Party Line' button didn't include the Presidential candidates. You had to vote for them separately, so be sure to press the ir button!

Once inside the building, the line was steered to the left. We'd been here long enough now that the first voters were coming back out. Some were young, some old, some black, some white, some male, some female. But every one of them looked satisfied. They had done their bit.

I was still alternating between watching what was going on around me and reading, but I started thinking about who we were. Some of these people had young children. Some were young adults, maybe working, maybe in college, several in the armed services. Some were older, maybe retirees, or workers on a late lunch break. No doubt all of us in line had some kind of problem or crisis going on in our lives. Right now that seems inevitable. But we were all here.

We proceeded to the room where the actual voting was. A young soldier was at the table ahead of us, waiting on his voting slip. The woman in the couple ahead of me passed by him to the next worker, glancing around as she did. Her husband waited just in front of me, alternating his attention between his wife and watching when he should move forward. Where were the paper ballots? they wanted to know. Why were the touchscreens in here?

The official explained that touchscreens were used for early voting; if they wanted the paper ballots, they had to go to their designated polling place on Election Day. Thus began a lengthy, not-too-noisy complaint from the couple about how the paper ballots were superior and how improper and inefficient it was that the facts about the use of touchscreens hadn't been publicized in advance. By this time the woman had been joined by her husband. The worker who was waiting on the soldier waved him on and me forward, keeping an eye on this couple at the same time. I also wondered if she'd have to intervene. The couple moved on; I think they chose not to vote today. I received my voting slip -- actually an application for Absentee Voting, so that my early vote would be counted -- and moved on myself. In just a couple minutes a worker was escorting me to and instructing me on the touchscreen.

I actually prefer the touchscreens over the paper ballot. The primary was the first time I'd ever used a paper ballot. In other states where I've voted, they used the old mechanical voting booths with curtains and levers. Tennessee had a variation on them. They had lighted buttons instead of little levers. However, all these other models had privacy curtains, something touchscreens could use.

I voted, trolling through the screens rather than using the 'Party Line' button -- I do prefer to make my own choices. Then I picked up my 'I Voted' sticker, and I left. People outside -- you'd almost think they were hired 'specially for this -- thanked me for voting as I walked around the building to go to my car.

I'd said to my daughter before I left the house that at least going out to vote was something I could do that wasn't going to cost me anything. Well, gas, but we'll discount that. For so many people right now, money is not only tight, it's choking the spirit out of them. Others have lost loved ones overseas, or they're facing separation in the near future because they're going overseas themselves. But here we all were, in line to vote. To do the only thing we could at the moment for ourselves and for our country.

We had various reasons for why we voted the ways we did. Some people weren't voting 'for' a candidate but 'against' another. Some people I'm sure did vote 'Party Line' else why would that be such a big deal on the ballot? I know my mother-in-law tended to vote that way. I'm sure some people voted for a candidate because they were a 'first' or because they were a match gender-wise or racially. Some people studied up on candidates and their positions. Probably all of us either watched the debates or heard the reports on them. And, because I know I did it myself for a few races, some of us voted for names we recognized or whose sound we liked. Ideally everyone should make an intelligent choice, but the fact that so many people are concerned enough to make a choice, and that we can... these are facts that matter.

We're trying to take control of our lives and our country. We are trying to act responsibly as best we know how. The simple act of voting, using our brains and making a choice about how we want to live, costs us nothing, yet it can be one of the most important things we do for ourselves, our community, and our country.


'ta
rjm

Monday, October 20, 2008

On Wisdom





My husband and I were walking down by the creek when we were summoned by one of our daughters ringing the bell by the back door. This is an iron bell with a clapper that you pull on and bang against the bell to ring it. We purchased it years ago to use for exactly this purpose, but it has taken until Blackwater to make effective use of it.

As we were walking up to the house, I told Dave that I thought it was cool that something we bought so long ago is finally being used the way we intended, ie, the ‘right way’.

“That’s how wisdom’s supposed to work,” he said.

Wow. That about bowled me over.

Yet I started to laugh, because how often is it NOT the way things are? We are supposed to grow wiser with age, and trot that wisdom out and put it to use. But, do we? Or do we continue to muddle through life making up answers as we go along?

I’d love to be thought of as wise, but I don’t feel wise. I feel as na├»ve as a newborn. Any etiquette more complicated than making sure the other person feels comfortable stumps me. Financial choices frighten me. New concepts, art, movies, music, and styles overwhelm me. Sometimes I think wisdom is a tag put on our thoughts by people younger than us who simply haven’t encountered them before. Someone says wise, and I say, “Who, me?”

I guess I’ll have to go along with it, though. Let them think I ‘m wise if they want. Just so long as I remember not to believe it, too.


'ta
rjm


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm beginning to understand how the pyramid builders felt....



If you’ve read any of my Twitter posts lately, you’ve seen reference to the digging we’ve been doing to fill in the mighty crevasse by our causeway. And if you’ve read any of this blog, you’ll know that said crevasse was a product of heavy rains and a swollen stream eroding out the area where creek bank meets concrete causeway.

Well, we’ve been making progress. It was with a great deal of satisfaction that I tamped down soil this morning on what is the first completed section stretching from bank to causeway. It was a significant section, too, because it was the deepest – ranging from top to bottom of the 5-foot structure, and about 3 feet from bank to concrete. Unfortunately, it’s only about 18 inches wide, and the whole thing is more like 10 feet wide. Still, it is definitely progress. At least the rest of it isn’t that deep.

I like working with dirt. Provided it’s loose enough to dig. It’s good exercise, and there’s empowerment in altering your environment that permanently. ‘Course, you may say that anything that can be dug back out by racing waterpower just isn’t that permanent. Sigh.


'ta
rjm

Friday, October 10, 2008

Community



I've been given pause, this week, to think about 'community'.

There's community service, the community we live in, the school community, the community of believers, the writing community....ad infinitum.

We've had evidence of global and national community in the headlines as the price of a commodity here affects the sale of another there. and the whole economic community shifts about in a writhing mass of interconnectedness.

We've seen national community portrayed as town meeting in Presidential debates, where we try to fathom how one group can do a better job of connecting and protecting us than another. For regardless of the side we take, or who wins, our actions will (please note usage) have an impact upon others.

We live in specific geographic areas, which we help along by serving others who live there: neighbors, people down the street, people nearby. By supporting one another, fewer falter, and the whole is strengthened.

But, what's been my personal community experience this week?

I've had people whose help I've sought assist me, sympathizing, empathizing. Rather than belittle me, they've helped me see where I can help and support them in return.

I've had people reach out to me to help with their cause, thereby making me part of a group, seeking to reach a common goal, and providing companionship in the process.

I've laughed with others who share some of my goals, people who -- knowing the same enemies that I do: boredom and lackluster performance -- shared ways to outwit those enemies. They've shared freely, congenially, and without excessive use of adverbs.

Okay, some of these people have been in the writing community I find online. Others have been people at my children's school, or people in business I've dealt with and hope to befriend.

What it all has meant, tho', is a chance to communicate, to share, to become friends -- and as someone who still feels a bit of a newcomer in a strange place, that is the world to me. It is too easy to fall into a mode of isolation. Such isolation comes first of necessity then remains out of a sort of perverse, proud independence. If left too long, it becomes a cancer of its own, eating away at the social spirit we all have to some degree.

These last couple weeks have brought home to me that my social self needs feeding, and therefore, it is now PARTY TIME!



'ta
rjm

Friday, October 03, 2008

HOPE



hope is the

Honor of all things good and righteous that come our way regardless of our deservedness.


hope is the
Opportunity to return the good favor to others who cross our path each day.


hope is the
Presence of the Spirit of Goodness about us, planning delights for us and waiting for us to notice.


hope is the
Eternal well-spring, which, despite a dry spell or two, will come back to draw us into, through, and beyond our human existence.


---- rjm
August 2004

Monday, September 29, 2008

Appreciation





It is amazing how place can affect a person. I’d call our house a ranch, but with a craftsman-like interior. We hope to add to the aptness of that description as time goes on. But, to walk into our home, even though we are what might be called traditional Bohemian in design preference, is to feel the comfort of openness, wood, stone, ceramic.

The house wraps around you. Its layout is at once familiar and unexpected. And with its three open fireplaces, it welcomes visitors and family with open arms.

Okay, I’m getting too poetic here. It’s just that we feel lucky to have found this place. Lucky enough that working on it or with it doesn’t seem like the chore it could.

I remember apartment living, and how I would gaze at houses as we drove by them, windows lit and people moving about behind them. I was so jealous. And when we’d pass someone mowing their lawn on a twilit evening, I’d feel despair that we would ever know what that was like. Perhaps that is a reminder to us all to be patient; eventually things will happen.

By now in my life, I know that to be true. Equally so, I am aware that we never know how much time we have left. So I am still impatient for things to happen, to work out. I still get jealous when I see others already having what I think I want.

Then I stop and wonder how much it will take to make me appreciate what I have.

'ta
rjm

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Can Ya' Dig it?


School year begins anew here at Blackwater.

Katelyn has graduated college and has a new job in St. Louis. We miss her, but she has now begun her great adventure.

Meaghan and Jared are purchasing a new home. Yay for them.

Michael, after a miserable summer caused by no transportation and a host of plans falling through, plus 16 days helping us get our old house ready for sale – which, by the way, IS on the market – is reunited with his beloved school, his beloved jobs and – most importantly – his beloved girl friend.

Kacey and Kelsey are beginning their whirlwind Senior year, including the all-important college applications. Remember, ‘sometimes it’s not about me’? Trying to encourage them to apply to whatever colleges they want to attend regardless of expense because it’s right for them is not easy. We do that because you never know what scholarships might be out there, but it does seem odd to some people that we reach for Neptune when we can’t even budget the moon. But, it’s about them, not me, or us.

Mackenzie has put in a good start for his freshman year, jumping into some activities that he’s really interested in.

Me? I’m glad that for the first time in 17 years I’m driving to just one school twice a day. So I have more time to put in writing, and I may even take on a part time job.

Dave? He’s working hard as always – come on, have you ever known him not to? At least he’s enjoying what he does. And, he’s even enjoying working around here at Blackwater.

Welllll, I might have to qualify that. You see, those storms this summer, including Hurricane Hannah, had what you might want to call an effect on us. Nothing disastrous, for the most part. The land on the other side of the causeway kind of sorta got washed away. Some of it. Okay, a lot of it, just not all of it.

There is a crevasse between the edge of the concrete surface of the causeway and where the land on the other side starts up. It’s about eight inches away from the concrete, and it has dropped a couple feet. This has revealed two things: some breaches in the brick dam holding the water back, about three leaks in all; and the fact that the fill which was on this side wasn’t solid. Too much of it was natural debris that left openings for water to flow through, which, because of the aforementioned leaks, it did. And with the storms, it did it big time. So, having tried a couple methods of plugging the leaks, we are going to have to locate underwater concrete to put in from the upstream side. Meantime we are digging out the hill beyond to put solid dirt into the hole. (it’s our hill!) We are using larger debris, too, but we’re making sure we fill in the gaps. Plus we’ll maintain it better.

Now, a few of you might be asking yourselves, why don’t we get the city to fix it, since this waterway is part of the water that serves the city. After all, we have a utility easement so they can reach the sewer access points there. Turns out that’s ALL they do. We did ask the city about it, and a very nice man came and looked, and they researched it, and then they told us it wasn’t their responsibility. Seems they aren’t the ones who put the dam and causeway in. Back when private residents could do such things, a previous owner did. So, it’s ALL OURS. For good or bad.

Since we think we may have figured out how to handle this problem, it might not be such a bad deal. As long as we don’t try to create another dam, we ought to be able to modify this any way we please, all in the name of maintenance. Ohhhhhh BOY!

And I can hear the kids groaning now.

Let you know more later.


rjm

Monday, July 21, 2008

Kinky Dragonfly Sex


WHAATT!??

Okay, I know some of my family is saying that, and at least one other person. Made you look, didn't I?

In a land of swift change and intermittent catastrophes, my world with its tilts and wobbles seems to fit right in. We've had Katelyn graduate college -- yay, Katie! and prepare to move into the working world and carry on with the film project she helped with last year. People started summer vacation. And on the very first night of vacation (actually it was graduation night and we were on our way back home after the twins marshalled the event) our van broke down -- big time! -- and is just now repaired. That would be nearly 4 weeks without independent wheels. Which also messed royally with the plans for putting our old house up for sale and letting Michael carry out his summer plans and having the twins work on summer projects. If it couldn't be done here at home, it wasn't going to be done!

Le sigh, le sigh.

Life at the homestead has been bleak.

Of course, we did discover that the fauna here at Blackwater is as entertaining as the kaleidescope of flora that keeps blooming. It seems that we have a very healthy eco-system in the creek and lagoon in our back yard. We've been told this is evident from the number and variety of dragonflies we have zipping about. According to my husband, these beautiful 'bugs' spend only a couple weeks of their lives in the air and on the land. Most of their lifespan is underwater where, as nymphs, their diet includes fish. Pre-justice, I suppose, for the fly version that is later prey to those same fish. Anway, being normal healthy creatures of nature with biological clocks ticking furiously away, dragonflies seem to spend an inordinate amount of time making more dragonflies -- or eggs anyway. Hence the title of today's blog.

We have also found other prolific species doing their best at Blackwater to be, well, prolific. Sunfish, butterflies, bees, turtles, even the lizards. (My husband has a charming array of lizard porn!) We have hummingbirds, previously mentioned owls, and have discovered the presence -- from abandoned skins -- of a rather large dark-colored snake which we are hoping is of the non-venomous variety! We're afraid she's busy guarding eggs under our terrace. And I saw a squirrel making a nest the other day.

We've spent a lot of time with cameras in the back yard, documenting all this. Michael says he can only spend so much time out there, but it was he who went out in the dead of night to photograph the rushing waters. When it rains heavily, our creek rises, even floods. That is normal. However, this was the most dramatic we've seen, and getting a tour of it from our kids at midnight was admittedly awesome.

Some of Mike's photos follow:






At the edge of our Witch's Woods














Here the water is flowing OVER the causeway instead of through it.















That 'island' is a crape myrtle which is actually supposed to be on our shore.















The water is bubbling through a grate that usually lies 3 to 5 above the level of the water where it cascades to the so-called lower level.













Michael's feet underwater in what's supposed to be the backyard.















Honestly? I'm not even sure which part of the yard this is!













That's grass, not seaweed! And I'm not sayin' whose legs are whose!













One last view.













Amazingly, by next day, the water was back within the creekbanks, but there was debris all over. A willow oak on our 'island' that had been growing out over the lagoon finally gave it up and dropped into the water. Mike had to saw it off to pull it out, though. The grate over the causeway was filled up with leaves, pine needles, branches, and guck (that's a scientific word for black gooey stuff you'd really rather not know the name of). We even found a dozen dead fish, mostly sunfish, who'd been washed out of the creek then left high and dry when the waters receded.

The whole thing was fascinating in a scary sort of way. I kept thinking of people who endure real floods, who lose belongings, pictures, pets, loved ones, lives. The power of the water -- even in our microcosm -- was phenomenal. We who think we control events, that we can move mountains, build cranes to hoist buildings skyward, we who think we can do anything -- we are not really in control. We bide by the mercy of Nature, events, tides, and times. We live at the grace of everything that surrounds us. If we are believers, we feel we live by the grace of God.

Not, perhaps, terribly profound, but undeniably stirring.

rjm

dragonfly photo courtesy dk minnick
flood photos courtesy michael minnick

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Oh, I just can't help myself...

Here's more photos and video of Blackwater in the spring.



video





Here's some close-ups of individual flowers and bushes.








































































































































































A new sort of 'flower'.


























And one more, a close-up of the azaleas.





















photos and footage courtesy of dkminnick.

rjm

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I know I'm probably going on and on and on...

but I just can't help it. This place is beautiful!

I wish I could count just the number of different flowers/flowering shrubs we have in bloom right now. If I were to count the actual flowers, it would be in the thousands (( well, ever take a close look at an azalea or rhododendren?) I look out at our backyard, and right now it is a fairyland!

I've always loved flowers -- who doesn't? -- and I always was especially envious of those people lucky enough to have flowering shrubs and trees around their houses. From hanging around the elementary school on Memorial Day waiting for the parade to start to driving through the suburbs around Washington DC on my way to work, the houses with flowers always seemed a little more attractive, a little more special to me than houses where only green grew.

And now we are at Blackwater, with flowers on steroids, totally unplanned, totally by surprise -- honestly, I don't think I'll ever get over it. So, I'll just post a few pictures and try not to bore you with more raves.












and these are only the SMALL azaleas! We have at least 6 colors:
white, pink, raspberry, red, variegated pink, and salmon

across all kinds of flowers out, we have those colors listed above, plus yellow, purple, crimson, and blue. and many of them are very fragrant, too.




pictures courtesy dkminnick












We've met some very nice people here. I hadn't realized how snobbish I'd become about Nashville. The people there are very special, and of course, some of them we've known for years now. But I hadn't meant to reach the point where I couldn't imagine people somewhere else not being AS nice as Nashvillians. Especially when I had my husband and my daughters telling me how nice people were in Boston or Hawaii or Oregon. I think it comes from being afraid of change -- and I'm as afraid of change as the next person. Of course, if it's change I control, well, that's a different story.

As for those nice people -- there's the lady in church who encouraged us to sing along with the choir's Hallelujah chorus, by singing along herself! When I thanked her for it, she said that if you couldn't sing the Hallelujah chorus in church, what could you sing? and then she gave me a big hug.

There's the mom of our daughters' classmate who also stays at home (and also has a large family) while her husband serves overseas. We shared stories of teenagers and projects and new schools in the school parking lot at night.

There's the people in the local Lowe's and WalMart who are getting to know me WAY too well as I pick up stuff to work on our house and yard. They seem to love to help me load my car -- or even my cart (and I really hope it's not because of how old I look). But they are so sweet about it!

And our neighbors who talk to the kids, wave across the way, and even offer to help keep an eye on things when we're not around.

I am tentatively putting down roots. I'm not ready to be like the army families, some of whom have moved about so much they don't feel like they have a home state. I'm trying to get into the frame of mind that I need to BE HERE for as long as we are here, be it short or long. Home is wherever our family is. And just as my heart expanded to include each of our children as they came along, my personal world must expand to encompass all the places our family members live. I have to try to copy my mother who, when talking about how far-flung her own children had become, would smile broadly and say, "Isn't it wonderful!"

rjm


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Great Gatsby!

As a final project to reading the Great Gatsby, Kacey and Kelsey's class held a 1920's Gala or Speakeasy. Dave took pictures for the group. Here's a few.


Youse can come in.









Nobody touch nothin' 'til da cops get here!



















Looks like da usual suspects. Maybe we better close dis joint down!
















2 molls!

( Say, which is which?)































da dame in black

















dese images was all courtesy of dkminnick, a regular joe.



rjm

Spring is Springing, and so are Traps

IT’S SPRING and the ducks are nesting, the owls are hooting, the frogs are leaping, the lizards are scurrying, the turtles are swimming--- but I haven’t seen the heron lately.

Anyway, spring has come to Blackwater, bringing beauty and trials and tribulations, and it’s really hard to appreciate the first fully when the latter keeps interrupting. On the other hand, it’s hard to find the solutions for the latter when the former keeps distracting. Oh well.

We brought the last truckload from Nashville to Fayetteville last month. Unfortunately, the people who were interested in the house no longer are. Not their fault; their own plans sort of fell through. Anyway, now we must go back not only to clean, but to finish fixing up the house.

We have rather a long list of things to do, but we try to draw comfort from the fact that this means we’ll get more money out of it as well. But, the work is daunting, if only because first we have to get there.

It’s still weird, living with one foot back in Nashville. I had figured that by now we ‘d be settled in and savoring the new experiences and new friends. Instead, we are in a jumble of trying to keep up with all the things going on around us, moving forward yet harkening back to what is still behind. We call old friends; we make trips back. We – or rather the kids – get involved in activities here, inevitably to compare them to old events. Sometimes the comparison is favorable, sometimes not.

Funny how, no matter how many different places you live, you forget that people live a little differently elsewhere. Those differences loom large when you are afraid, afraid the way you are when you are pushed into doing something new. That fear can be a trap that prevents you from growing in your life.

An old maxim urges, “bloom where you are planted”.

Blackwater is so nurturing to the plants and wildlife around here; will it be so for our family too?

rjm

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Here and There


It has been w – a – y too long since I’ve written here. Way too long. We’ve packed up from Christmas, installed new attic stairs, begun putting in an attic floor and a window between the girls’ rooms, and now we find ourselves on the road again.

Okay, that sums it up, bye now.

All right, let me do better.




You may have noticed that I didn't mention our final moving trip. Well, that's because we didn't make the trip due to Mack's getting sick. We have rescheduled everything for February. We should be going over on February 15th. If nothing else happens.

The fact it is, now that we are establishing our new retreat here in the interior of Fayetteville, North Carolina -- our family together, able to enjoy one another’s company, trying new hobbies, getting into new routines, -- now that we are finally back together, the US government is seeing fit to take us apart AGAIN.

Not that we didn’t see it coming. You see, Dave’s assignment is to Fort Bragg only primarily. He is actually considered to be Army-wide. That means world-wide. He can be sent anyplace. Now there’s new software coming out that people will need to be trained on. So, he is getting his training now, and then he will be sent to train others. The only difference from the situation when we were in Nashville is that when he is home he has a job at Bragg to go to, and he probably won’t be gone so much or for so long. Okay, definitely an advantage over being a soldier, so we won’t gripe, too much.

Speaking of soldiers, when they are practicing what used to be called maneuvers (I don’t know what they call them today) we get a lot of mortar-fire around here. Not actually shelling, of course, but we can hear what they’re doing on base. Lots of big booms and an occasional rat-a-tat-tat. Typical for an Army town, I guess.

In Nashville it was honky-tonk music out in front of Legends on Broadway, here it’s boom-booms in our back yard.

Comparisons are funny things.

In Nashville they cut – no, desecrate trees to keep them from hitting power lines. In Fayetteville they vacuum up leaves that you rake to the curb to help keep the city beautiful.

In Nashville you might find traffic re-routed so that NBC’s Today Show can broadcast from Broadway in front of the arena (whatever flavor it’s named after this month). In Fayetteville you might find traffic backed up for an Army convoy.

In Nashville you might find roadblocks set up so they can film a country music video. In Fayetteville you might find streets closed for the Dickens Festival in November, or one of the many other festivals they hold other months.

In Nashville you find people manning the phone banks to raise money for NPT. In Fayetteville you find people quilting all year long to donate lap quilts to veterans who are inpatients in the Veterans Medical Center.

In Nashville you have the Red Cross holding events and taking care of disasters. In Fayetteville you have the Red Cross taking care of disasters and holding events.

Hmm.

rjm

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Whew.


Yes, whew!

that quaking picture of the penguin 'singing' on our balcony just about describes things! -->

Christmas is done; Michael has just been taken to the airport by his dad. Katelyn returned to Webster last week. I finally have to take down our decorations.

And next weekend, next weekend we make what should be the last truck-move from Nashville. We will also meet with a potential buyer for the property. I hope they like it, partly because then it would be sold, but also because it seems like a good 'fit' -- they know our neighbors already.

So, our move is nearly complete, and everyone has -- hopefully -- learned that life did not end after Nashville. We're all making plans, and I think that helps. Mack will go on to high school -- we hope he'll be in the same IB program as the older girls. They will be college hunting. Michael is making big plans for the summer. Katelyn will be graduating college and continuing working on the video from this summer. And Meaghan and Jared will soon be celebrating their first anniversary. And I will be working on Blackwater and on my writing projects.

Returning to my work is exciting. I find one story is playing harder in my mind, asking to be finished. I don't know if I could say the characters are clamoring, but the story itself wants out. I have to plan my time, though. Besides the family needing me, the house will need both routine upkeep and our new building projects. And, we have company coming in the spring.

We actually had extra people here for a whole month. It's been fun, too. Something that hasn't happened in my life since before I was a teenager. It stirs things up, makes things happen.

So we'll get things in order, then comes the final push to .... move on. Next blog... the FINAL push.

rjm