Wednesday, November 5, 2014

That's the kind of Wood I want to be

 Autumn came and I got to see it this year! The mountains put on a show just for me. 

Me, my mom and my sister (left to right)

Well, this is awkward. I decided to post some update pics of myself to help you remember who I was in case you forgot... who I was. Not to mention, it's been a while since I posted any pics of me or my family on here. 

Also, I'm posting pictures of our Halloween costumes, because we didn't get to show off our costumes to too many peoples. And the people that did see us, were very boring. No interesting responses were garnered, except the fact that people I met didn't know who I was, and thought I was a boy. It was the first time ever I've been so disguised, that my identity was indiscernible. So I feel, in a way, my costume was, a success.

We had a party for my sister's kids, and that was fun. But deep down the dressing up is what I like most about Halloween. 
 I am worried that there may come a time when such needless things will cease to exist, and no one will remember the days in which we all dressed up for pure illogical reasons.
No matter how old I get, I always have a delicious desire to dress up. And judging by how many grown ups I see dressed up during Halloween, I think there's a lot of other people with the same great pleasure. Maybe it's the league of the creatives, or the Mad-hatter's club, where we all wish to be something far more interesting than what we are.

First off, my sister Bessie dressed up as a bird. She went through great lengths to stick feathers on her eyelashes, hair face, and costume.

 Next, my brother let us dress him up in a costume my mom and sister made for the play, Sleeping beauty. He even let me paint his face.

This was a balloon my mom put out, with a glow stick in it. It shrunk in the cold, and everywhere we touched it, it shrunk even more. I thought it had a lot of personality.

This was my costume. A plastic army man. I saw this awesome idea on the internet, and I had to see if I could duplicate it. I made the hand grenade out of a balloon, then spray painted it. I made the binoculars out a paper towel roll, and some old purse straps. I used some old netting for the top of the army hat. I got plastic gloves and spray painted those. Then I bought a green shirt at the thrift store. I spray painted some baggy pants. I cut out some cardboard for the bottoms of my boots, and spray painted those. I got a squirt gun, and spray painted that. Overall, I used almost four cans of green spray paint for everything. It's the first year I've actually dressed up in something non feminine. Nobody recognized me.

So, I'll state the obvious.
I have been so along away from this blog, and even writing, that returning gives me that painful sort of twinge of both guilt, and relief.  Guilt for having been so long away. And relief to be at my writing canvas again. Life has been going by so fast, and I've been living it so much so, I've hardly had time to write about it. 

Sometimes, when I'd think of writing, even more life would happen. And life has a way of meshing you into it.
Things like....a clogged sink, that clogs somehow everything else.....

 A sink you try to unclog, only to discover that now the toilet is clogged. And then you try to unclog the toilet, and the sink floods over with water. Then you try to unclog that, and the tub fills up with stuff from the netherworld. And then the toilet joins in the fun.

All about you reeks with poo, and stink, and water, and blackened leaves that somehow have found their way into the pipes. And there you are, holding a plunger as water bubbles up out of the sink. 

 These are the things that keep me awake at night. The nightmare bathroom from heck. Where spiders, scorpions and beetles, and crickets lurk. 

This bathroom=scariest thing on earth. I should seriously put up a sign, (Bathroom spook ally for Halloween) I'd open the door, shove em in, and turn off the light.  Booooo.....

 I'd make a fortune. 

You wouldn't believe the trouble we went through to get that bathroom's colon working again. Three people holding plungers over the tub, the sink and the toilet later, and my brother doing some sort of rain dance on the roof with a hose pushing water down a pipe, (the mysterious blow hole on top of the roof) And us, with water all over the floor, so deep you could go scuba diving, and every towel in the house mucking the floor, and there you stand amid the wreckage, wondering deep ponderful things....

Thins like...Do things like this only happen to me? Who has such an old house that you can only unplug the pipes from the roof, with a hose? Who has a house where the toilet-bowl, is connected to the tub, and the sink? 

Seriously? I don't know. This is one of my life's mysteries I will never have an answer to.

Sigh. Someday. In the great by and by. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll have all my questioned answered.  
So, before I go on, be warned. This is a very random, very long post. And spending so much time with me may cause you to start being as random as I am. Maybe your own sinks will start to clog. Maybe your toilet will bubble over. Maybe your tub start to fill with black liquid, bearing a very similar resemblance to a witches cauldron.

Now that I've cleared that up, and you know the ricks, as you may have noticed, I've changed my blog a bit. I'm still planning on moving stuff around and organizing the page better. I'm also thinking about re-editing the first book in my fantasy series, and updating its cover as well. So betwixt all my writing projects, things are in the flux as usual. 

Tonight we have a music program to put on. Tomorrow my sister and I are going to look at a Marimba someone is selling for a lot cheaper than what they normally cost. Before, the thought of ever buying one was always just a distant dream. But because of the crazy reduced price, and because we are die hard creatives, we're probably going to buy it. Why? Because we want to make music with it. You could call it a bucket list item. Something we've always wanted. Next on the list, someday, soon, I'm hoping to save my pennies to create a home recording studio.
Telling you all this seems kind of odd. Like I'm bearing my thoughts to the whole of cyberspace. Like showing off the bubbling caldron of our bathroom. It's like I'm letting you into a small part of my soul or something, clogs, caldron and all.

And here I stand. Very human. Living in a old house with "crappy" plumbing. And me telling you my woes. Oh well. I let my armor fall the time, revealing some gaping hole in my being. In hopes that it may bring us closer together, that my human-ness may connect to the "clogged plumbing" of your "own house." 
Most of the time I'm glad I share these stories. Sometimes, "the other times" when I share, and instead of getting the "me too," response. The person pokes their finger in the soft spot, and says, "yeah, you do seem to have a very apparent flaw, you should really fix that. I never have that problem." 

That's where sharing sometimes causing me to twinge. Being vulnerable is well, freighting. But being alone is far more freighting, so I continue to share.

Here I am. In the raw. Vulnerable, human. Cloggs and all. Very me, whatever I am. Not perfect in any way. My fingers are cold, so I'm having to retype many words as they come out just because I keep on hitting the wrong keys. Outside, the trees cling to the few golden leaves left on them, backbit by the sun, made vivid by the contrasting blue sky.

I have taken nearly a month off of writing anything. I've probably already said that. But it's true. And it's really weird. The approaching cold and the reality of winter coming once again, gave me new motivation to take advantage of the mild fall weather, and enjoy as much of being outside as I possibly could. 

The thought of coming cold really caused a shift in the goings on at my house. There's a lot to think about. Winterizing the animals. Clearing off and burning the tumble weeds that have taken over. Widening our ice skating rink, (that is a story unto itself) and a dozen other things.

 Last year my sister and I installed a wood burning stove into our front room, not fully realizing the reality of work that would be involved with such a venture. Who knew that such a quaint little stove, so lovely in the winter, could be such a tyrant as well. I now have a love hate relationship with it. The cast iron beast sits ready, always waiting, always hungry, and never full. And us, a slave to its hunger.

Last year we made a big family wood chopping event. We had three strong men running chainsaws, five or six girls, and lots of extra hands to make the lifting light. We got most of our wood hauled in one day, along with another families.

This year was not the same at all. *shakes head, sadly* Instead of a big family outing, it was more like a foursome trek of struggle and spartan endurance. Instead of one day of chopping wood, it was many days of chopping, gathering, hauling, unloading, resting, and doing it over again.

We had my brother. 
My sister and myself. 
And my mom to referee, and help carry what wood she could.
That was it. No one else. 
 Some logs were so heavy I thought I couldn't take another step.
Some days we would come home utterly exhausted, and black from head to toe with from the charcoal covered wood. I thought it strange that we were harvesting wood from the same canyon whose forests had been stripped by fire only several summers ago. From the ashes, and the blackened bark, oak trees grew around their dead trunks.
Nature was still triumphant. Its renewed life, was resilient proof that no fire, no matter how big, no matter how devastating could destroy the roots, the seeds, the mountain, or even the trees. 

Standing amid a forest of ancient, blackened pillars, silent, and massive, I knew that life, like the untapped energy inside the wood, existed still. Their outstretched branches outlined the sky, like jagged lightning. Even in death, these trees would bring warmth, and comfort into our home. The smoke from their fire would float out from our chimney, and remind passersby of the mountains, of camping, of warmth. No, I do not believe trees ever truly die. Even their dead wood lives on to speak of the forest.

I was thinking, wouldn't it be interesting if trees burned a year for each tree ring they had? If we could harness the energy of each tree ring, for each year, and the amount of sun fused inside their bark, one tree would be enough to keep a household warm for thousands of years. An ancient tree would never stop burning.
 Such muses are mine to ponder.  Truly, chopping wood, was an earthy, exhausting experience. Both pleasant, and painful. But there was something fulfilling about it. Chopping wood was something so basic, that even though it was hard, and sometimes miserable, it made me feel like a tree myself, like I was apart of nature. I had to dig my feet deep into the ground, to hold the wood up. Working so hard, I learned to breathe in and out. I had no thought except the task in front of me. In the mountains we had no phones, no thought of anything really, but breathing, lifting, surviving the next log thrown at our feet. It's almost as if we were part of nature itself.

And sometimes, it's kind of nice. Nice, not to think too much. Nice, not to worry too much.

Ah, but....but....when we finally finished harvesting the wood, I was glad. There comes a time when one is tired of feeling like a tree, and glad to be back home. Glad to be back to being a discernible person. Glad to wash off the dirt, grime, and become one with the tub.
My sister


My dirty toes. (The socks have holes because I chopped them to fit into my toe shoes)

But the funny thing is, even when you do get the wood home, you still have to unload it, chop it some more, and then load it back in the truck to stack elsewhere. All in all, I can't believe that our fore-bearers ever settled in such a woodless desert place as where we live. I can't even imagine chopping enough wood, much less hauling enough wood back from the mountains to cook with, and keep yourself warm through the winter.  All in all I'm proud of ourselves. Proud that were still alive. 
Contrasting last year's wood chopping event with this year was a stark reminder that nothing is ever the same twice, even if you wish it was.

Nope. Nothing is ever the same. The first day we went out to chop wood, my brother started out with the intention of going to the same place we went to chop wood last year. But the road had changed since we had been there last. It was washed out in several places. It was one of those roads you just hold your breath on, and close your eyes, and wait for the agony to be over. There was such an awful rut in part of the road, we had to get out and stack rocks in it for about 15-20 minutes just to make sure we could get back over the fissure.  Eventually, we came to a point where there was such a terrible lake in the middle of the road, we had no choice but to go back down the mountain to a totally new place.

It was a good reminder that nothing can be the same twice. If it is, it's probably fake, or stale, or bad, or plastic. One cool-shaded mountain path may be pleasant in the summer sun, but come back a few weeks later, when the shadows are different, and the weather has changed, and that same beautiful path may be cast in frigid shadows, and you have no choice but to move on to different paths. 
True story. :) 

It's a good reminder to Carpe Diem--to seize the day. In life, such pleasant paths may only be beautiful in the moment we are walking on them, while the sun is shining. We cannot always walk the same path again, and expect the same warm feelings we once had. Seasons go, and come, and we do to. Living on a farm has taught me that life is fragile, and that the line that separates us from life and death is very thin.

Whether we are chopping wood, or just trying to recapture the past. Trying to hold onto what was is not a pleasant path to go down. It's full of ruts, and pot, holes, and washed out places that keep you from going forward. 

Live in the now.
Right now. 
Be it cold or hot. Live and feel the earthy, nowness of each passing day, each new season, and the pain, and pleasure it brings. Sink your feet deeply into the earth, and lift your hands to the sky to embrace the day.

As the seasons change, we drop the leaves of yesterday, and welcome, with naked branches, outstretched to the season of today.
We gather our friends about us in summer or winter, they are the fuel that keeps us warm. And the love we give is what keeps truly keeps us alive. 
No one can foresee all the winter storms of tomorrow, or close all their windows to the cold winds that may someday blow in. No one can pile enough wood on their hearth to keep them from freezing from loneliness, or buy a big enough coat to keep the isolating temperatures of indifference from chilling their souls. 

Yet, still we humans worry about keeping ourselves warm in the winter, and all the time, the frost that truly freezes us is something of our own creation, the things we say and do, or don't do.

How do you prepare for a arctic storm where real human compassion is in short supply? Where we ice each other in by our lack of humanity? 

In our preparing for the winters of life, maybe we are forgetting the most important thing of all---to ignite the good we see in ourselves, and others. To fan the sparks of light and truth all around us with encouragement, and love. With such warmth surrounding us, we need not fear the winter. With each new year, with each season, let us soak up the sun of laughter, of love, of beauty, and let that be the energy by which our lives are fueled with. If one log can burn on the fire and keep us warm for many hours, how much more could a single kind word keep a lonely soul lit with purpose, and hope? We carry with us the potential and power to light up the whole world by a word, by a idea, by our lives, by our touch. 

Each day is one more ring to our lives, each year, another cycle, and another coating gets added to our trunks. We are the solar panels of Gods creation, taking in the good and the bad making our life experience into whatever we choose to make of it. And we, the growing trees of now, will someday be dead and gone, fuel for someone else fire, the light we absorbed will be apparent in the years to come. Like the masters of old, the light they took in still burns in our homes, Beethoven, Handel, Edison, Gorge Washington, their warmth burns on igniting other sparks, keeping a cold world from freezing over.

Harvesting wood, I've learned that not all wood burns the same. Some wood gives off much more smoke than heat.
Other wood burns cold. 
Some wood burns fast, and hot.
Other wood is rotten, and spongy, and very light, this wood is often cast aside.  
Other wood, the good wood worth keeping, is very heavy, dense, and strong. It is the wood that keeps you warm the longest, it burns for hours, and gives off the most heat, and warmth.

That's the kind of wood that's worth working for. That's the kind of wood that's worth keeping. It takes longer to chop, and it's a lot heavier to carry. But it's worth it because it keeps you warm the very longest.

That's the kind of wood I want to be. 

These videos below were some inspirational videos that spoke to me, and moved me. I hope you will get just as much enjoyment out of them as I did.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Updating my blog


I've decided that my blog needs a facelift, so I've been tweaking the layout, and the design. So if you stop by for a visit, please don't be confused.This is still the same blog. And I'm still the same Steph. I'm just wanting a fresh look. I've been rearranging everything, and moving pages around. So until then, sit tight.

If the layout looks jumbled for a time, just know I'm working on it.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A random train of thought in the middle of the night.

I'm just sitting here. Not thinking too much.
Not doing too much.
The house is quiet.
It's dark outside. 
I can hear a lone dog barking, only suddenly go silent, then suddenly start up barking again, perhaps chatting with the neighbors dog, about the moon, or some strange smell he caught on the wind, or perhaps planning some escapade with his friends once he gets off his chain. 
The moths are trolling outside my window trying to get in. I think they know their days are numbered, and are trying to prolong the inevitable.  I look at them, and smile, happy that they are outside, and can't get in. I'm happy that I am in, and they are out.
Happy that soon they will freeze, and they will no longer torment me.

I know it's late. It's my bedtime. What is my bedtime you ask? Well, it's when I feel tired. 

I am tired. My eyes are droopy. But still something nocturnal keeps me clinging to wakefulness. Something that makes me want to linger longer, and sift through random books, facebooks, random bits of paper I have littering my desk, I search through the fridge, delve into the pantry, looking, searching, hunting, for what?

I don't know. Maybe I'm looking for sleep. Or looking to avoid it. I don't know which. Why is it so hard to go to bed? And why is it so hard to wake?
Maybe its the transition that is hard. Maybe deep down, I like to keep going on the track I'm on, whatever track it is, and switching gears just doesn't come easy for me.
Brush my teeth?
Get into my pajamas? 
That is hard. Very hard.
Oh, unloading that truck full of wood, wrestling a goat, folding stinky, dirty, silage tarps, that was easy. That was day.
But bed. 
Oh that's hard. That's changing tracks.
Tracks. Yes. There are many, especially along my road.
A train hoots six times as it rumbles past my house, shaking my room, and waking up all the light sleepers in the neighborhood.  But, maybe there are no light sleepers. Maybe everyone but me is used to the noise. Maybe I am the only soul along this road who has thought mean and nasty thoughts about the iron beast that wakes me up. Our house is not so terribly close to the tracks. Not like the hotels, and houses that were built practically on the railroad itself years ago. 
Thankfully not. But my house is close enough to the tracks. Too close.
In the daytime, I hardly notice that the trains exist. But when night comes, it's a different story. I will be sound asleep in my bed, when suddenly one comes, and lo, it doesn't cometh quietly, nor does it use stealth in the dead of night. No.
It surges on, rumbling like a tsunami, blaring the matrix theme song on its morbid horn, sometimes honking twelve or more times, depending on what kind of demon is at the helm. Sometimes there are mild toot, toots, or kinder ice cream truck blurbs, other times, there are dramatic phantom of the opera, Na, Naa, naaa, naaaa, NAaa, Na Naaaa's.  

Who chooses these horns, I cannot say? Why some honk incessantly and others just a few? I cannot say either. Only one thing I know for certain, that these nameless souls, these conductors of a thankless job, pass by us too fast to talk, to be seen, yet deeply yearn to be heard. They desperately want the world to know they exist, that they are awake while we slumber. Like a wild coyote they call out to the lonely pack, and the dogs in the neighborhood howl in return.
I know I yowl plenty of times too, especially when my window is open, and the horn slices the night in a thousand tiny shards, honking more than a dozen times, yanking me out of my sleep. Oftentimes my bed shakes as the train passes. Is it a an earthquake? No.

 It sounds as if the train is coming right through my room. I groan, then my sister groans, and then, in my half-wakeness, half-sleepness, I utter exclamations and curses upon the vial train, like I was some sorceress that could cast a spell upon the entire railroad company and turn their trains into silent puffs of smoke.  It always amazes me that I can utter so much, and can complain so much, and still be somewhat asleep. 
           Then, as it passes we both fall back asleep, and the room grows quiet again. Then fifteen or twenty minutes later, it comes again. Even before I hear its horn, I shoot up, and slam the window down.
The sound of the train is still there, but the closed glass masks the churning, bubbling, brew of steel, horn, steam, smoke, fire, engine, wheels, and speed, just enough to smooth out all the hard edges that prod me from my slumber.
Trains. How did they get here I wonder? All that track, all that train? All those miles? Who put them there? People? I did not see it happen. But it is here. And it got here somehow, like electricity, like computers, like the internet, like cars, and roads, and telephone poles.

Like magic, it was here before I was. It happened. I did not see it. We are the benefactors of a time before, we inherit what we did not plant, what I can hardly comprehend, or grasp---phones, coolers, skyscrapers, malls, TVs, even simple things like toasters, and blow-dryers, blow my mind. 
A train I did not grow.
A track I did not help build. 
I did not put it there. And given the chance, I would not try to grow one either.
Especially since now we do not ride in trains anymore. (not the ones by my house, anyway)  I would like them much better if they were more bustling with humanity, with comings and going like before. 
But now, they're always going. Never stopping. And when they do stop its usually to block the road because they've run out of fuel, or their load is to heavy for their engine. 

I had no intention of giving them so much attention in this post. But one went past the house, and got my attention. And it asked me to write about it. And I said to myself, yes, I will write about you, you noisy pesky thing. You have invaded my thoughts more times than I can count. I might as well put those thoughts to paper. Or...cyber paper.

 The trains run through the land, why not invade cyberspace? Churning, tumbling, rumbling, tooting, hooting they come.
Tonight. Yes. The trains run. Always. They are one of the constants in my life. So many things change, people, friends, even family.
But the trains, they come, always, without even asking for them.
They are always there, constantly running, constantly chugging. If they were to stop chugging, who knows, maybe the clocks would stop, and everything would sound very empty. 
Maybe deep down, I like their sound, in a windblown-sort of way. Like I like the taste of hot sauce, because it has spice. But I won't hesitate to complain and wash out the heat with milk.
The train. It's a sound that reminds me of home, of the house by the tracks, the road that I walk along, and more often than not, cover my ears as the trains surge past, and I feel the ground shake, as something more powerful than I pushes through, then leaves.

The howl of the train reaches even your ears, tonight, subconsciously, in your mind, they honk.
Maybe you know some people who honk too, people who have been planted just outside your house along the road, that came there without you asking, lonely people wanting to be heard, running, always running, moving, chugging, too busy to stop, to afraid to. 
But wanting to be heard, desperately.

What do I learn from them? To fear their power? To submit to their noise? Not to park myself where they might run me over? To accept what I cannot change?
Or to simply plug my ears and shut the window when they come?
I cannot stand in their way.
I can not change them.
Maybe they too are searching for something, like me, going in circles, from one thing to the next, wanting to sleep, but not yet ready to stop. Endlessly, running on their track, unable to switch gears for fear they might fall off. 

Trains, they shake our houses, wake us when we want to be sleeping. They are inevitable. Things that come without you asking.
Things that toot, their own horn, over and over again.
 Maybe all we can do is listen gently for a time, smile, and wave as they pass on by. Then walk on, and remember, it's good to sometimes run out of steam.
Then, we can finally sleep.
And dream.
Then wake up. Renewed. Refueled. Full of life.
Ready to find new tracks, old tracks, and run side by side, slow or fast, opening our doors to life wherever it leads us.

 And I think I will do that too. My steam is all run out.
It's past two in the morning. My eyes are droopier.
My throat is dryer. 
My fingers feel clumsier. 
My brain is feeling clumsy too.
My head feels heavy.
My nocturnal self has prowled around long enough, clunking out all the random thoughts in my head, growling, and yawning, and roaming back and forth on this not so inky page. I have nothing else to say.

Yes...I think....I'm going to...sleep.
But wait....


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Little green apples

I'm finally here.
Sort of. I kind of feel shell shocked from the crazy months that have been spinning by me at lightning speed. 
This summer has been full of kids. Lots of kids of all shapes and sizes. It's been full of mud pies, squirt guns, water fights, marbles, games, blocks, and did I mention, kids? 

Our house seems to be a hotel, bed in breakfast, kid entertaining station, the hub where all things  meet in our family. There's always something going on, going inbetween, going after.

Right now at this moment, there is a pause. And I will relish it. I know all to well that pauses, if left too long on their own will by the excess empty space bring into itself derbies, people, events, and stuff, always. 

Empty spaces have strong gravity pulls. If you don't believe me go clean your kitchen, and wait. 

Some kitchens have longer waiting periods before the inevitable happens. But it always does, sooner than later.

At our house, in our kitchen, with someone always cooking, with someone always making something, it's always sooner. Always. 

Besides being a place where my nieces and nephews like to take  summer vacation, our house is also the house where there will always be someone to rescue someone from something.

Be it someone's lost goat stuck in a irrigation ditch, (which did happen one summer and it was a stinkin billy goat) or someone's stranded at their house, someone needs an ear, someone needs someone to fill in---somehow if we can, and if it's truly needed, we are usually there, especially when it comes to family---they just get first dubs by default. 

The last rescue mission we just completed.  And now our house is uncommonly quiet. But this too is the pull of gravity, just like the silent last hush of summer, waiting for winter to rush in. 

Something is brewing, waiting to descend, some family event, something...

My sister in law's father recently died, so we had five extra kids, and a baby that's never been away from her mom to juggle for a while. I honestly don't ever remember taking care of a baby crying, and carrying on that much for her mum. It was enough to make me reconsider ever having kids. Seriously. 

I hope nobody in my family reads this or I'm in the dog house. 
Oh well. But honestly. It was tough. All night, all day she cried, and cried. I'm sure the neighbors thought that we were terrible people. We tried everything to sooth and comfort her. But she would not be comforted. Nothing worked. That kid was bound and determined to cry her lungs out, and then some. At night I'd lay in bed, and the ringing sounds of her crying would echo in my ears even though she had finally fallen asleep. 
Not until the last day we had her, did she finally start to warm up. 
I don't know what changed. Why she stopped crying. Why she began to giggle and smile, and do normal things that babies do? 

The only thing I did differently was tear up bits of paper to try to make her laugh. And it worked. It wasn't moment later that all her crying stopped. And there was this happy child in her place. It was such a switch I was baffled. That day I witnessed a miracle. Seriously. 

After that, my mom had this notion to put up corn.
This was not any corn, mind you, this was non gmo corn. So we had to put a lot of it up, because who knows if we could get this kind of corn again. 
               So thus ensued a corn fest.
                 Picking corn.
                    Shelling corn.
                       Cooking corn.
                        Chopping corn.
                         Bagging corn.
                              Cleaning corn out of the cracks of the table, and decorning the floors, pans, tables, chairs.
                       Disposing of the corn husks and cobs. Not to mention the people who had to grow the corn, and water it.
                            Why do people do corn anyway? Who thought of it in the first place? It's crazy.

By the time we were done putting the corn up, I was sick of corn. And can safely say that I won't be wanting any for a very...very long time. 

Then my mom's been harvesting cucumbers, turning them into hot yummy pickles. Those I can never get enough of. Yum.

Oh, and let's not forget the onions. Got to chop the tops off them and let them dry.

And don't forget the apples....the picking of the apples, the chopping of the apples, the peeling of the apples, the coring of the apples, the apple pies, apple sauce, and the bottled apples. And these weren't normal sized apples, mind you. These are small, golf ball, sized apples, that no one would be crazy enough to do anything with. 
But because we so happen to love the flavor....because they were so crisp, so sweet, guess what.

And more APPLES!

Oh, and in-between all this, my sister was in a play as the lead role--Sleeping beauty. My mom was helping out with costumes, and our house was littered with bits of cloth, costumes, and random bits of clothes. 
My sister, sleeping beauty in a dress my mom so artfully redesigned

 The play.
Now I must make a confession.

I tried out for the play as well, and was cast as one of the good fairies. But then, after reading the script, and going through the schedule, and comparing it to what my summer would be like if I followed through, I had to face the fact that by being in the play, a lot of more important things would end up not done.  So, again, I had to be brave and say no. Had I known the play schedule before I tried out, I would have not been so bold.

That no was really hard no to say. It made me look yellow, made me feel terrible to bale out after the first practice. 
But it would have made me feel worse to be indentured to a play---to spend my entire summer learning someone elses words, saying someone elses lines, while I forsook writing my own words.
  That was a really hard no because I have always liked acting, music, and the connection that comes with creating art with a group of people. My ego really didn't like saying no to that one. Nope.  But I knew it was a lot more polite to drop out sooner than later so that the directer could find someone else to fit my shoes. And believe it or not. He did. He found someone that did a great, fantastic job as the fairy. Watching the play at the end of this summer, I didn't feel bad either. It was really excellent. And I was again reminded that it's okay to say no.

It's humbling as well as relief to know that I am not irreplaceable in all aspects----that saying no sometimes will not cause the cosmos to stop in their orbit, and spin into oblivion. 

I just wish no got easier to say.  
Then betwixt everything I had a job I was looking into, interviewing for, but I finally decided that it would eat away too much of my time.  I had to weigh in everything else I would have to say no to if I said yes to this.  
Plus in light of our rescue mission, watching kids, and after giving it good consideration, again I had to say no.


I must be the queen of no. But I find myself saying that word a lot these days, even sometimes to my family. It sure makes me feel mean. Maybe I am? 

But, by golly, sometimes it's just the only right thing to do. Yes, it may be viewed as selfish. But more important than hoards of friends that like to use you, is having integrity, and a few close friends who can count on you, and who you can count on. For me, no has been more oftentimes coupled with integrity---and saying yes, more coupled with my ego.
But that's just my experience. 

I'm just sitting here I wondering what No's I will have to say in the future. And how much more courage I will have to require before I can say it with conviction. 

What no's await me? And coupled with that no, what yeses am I saying yes to when I say no?
Will I be strong? 
Do I have the courage to live what I believe regardless of my ego, and what the world thinks, whatever no's or yeses await me.

At harvest time, when all my no's, and yeses have been gleaned, the things that mattered, things I did, or didn't do gathered into a bunch, what will fly away, like chaff, what will be solid?

Will my harvest of no's be more than that of the yeses because of the greater yesses they led me to? 
Did I make the right decisions? 
Will I make the right decisions?

Will my harvest be like those bunches of small golf-ball sized apples, loading the tree, weighing the branches down, small, simple, but abundant, not particularity wanted by everyone, but full of flavor, and when diced and sliced add up to more than a bunch of large apples.

Gathered into my kitchen, at first, when I started chopping the apples and coring them, I was afraid that we wouldn't get very many jars of apples. I was afraid that all our effort picking them was a waste waste.
Then, as time went on, and my sister, and mom came to help, jar after jar became filled. More jars were needed. More jars were filled. What looked like a measly harvest turned into quarts and quarts.  At the end of canning, my mom said something like, "Maybe the small apples make more, after all."

Maybe that's what most of life is like---moment by moment, they come. Those small, sweet, delicious little things, that yield the most flavor, and greater harvest.  Little green apples, loaded with flavor. It doesn't take much to enjoy them, only a little thought and some action, picking them one at a time until the barrels are full. Oh yes, the larger apples at the top of the tree are nice. You shake them off too. They come in one's or twos. Some, the birds have eaten, some the worms have got to. They looked much more prettier from far off, out of reach. And now that they are on the ground, you see that those large apples you tried so hard to get aren't as grand as you thought.

So maybe, decisions are like that to, some small, some large, some wormy, some bruised, some sour, some tart, some green, some ripe, some sweet, some juicy, some full of flavor, others not so much.
But maybe at the end, it won't matter so much how big your apples are, or how long it took you to pick them, what you picked, but how you picked them, who you picked them with, and what you did with them once you had them. Maybe it's the quality of flavor that counts, and the sweetness that makes apples worth keeping in the end.


Translate this blog