Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tell Your Love Story

Here's an idea for the Blog World. How about we all tell our love stories -- let's tell how we met the men we love. It might be a nice change from posts about our opinions, our housekeeping, our anxieties, even our gardens.

I met Adam in a literature class at Mississippi College in spring of 1988. I was working on my master's degree; he was finishing his undergraduate degree that May. I was a full-time church secretary taking a few classes here and there. Independent. Living a fun apartment life. Dating a lot. Shopping at McRae's. Driving my little Toyota Corolla. Life was grand, but there was a big ugly question mark in the middle of it: would I marry? Who would I marry? When would I marry? I was 24 years old.

Adam was still 21, quite young. I walked into that Milton class and sat next to him. I noticed his very handsome legs. (He'd had a cross-country scholarship.) He was quiet, intelligent. At least one other boy in the class was more flirtatious and chatty, and asked me on a very boring date. Adam, on the other hand, walked me to my car once after a class lecture late that spring. He noticed the bike rack on the back, and we talked about that mutual hobby. And that was it. He didn't ask me out. He graduated that May. I continued working and planned two mission trips that summer -- one to Mexico and one to Poland. And I forgot about the cute boy with the nice legs who sat beside me in one class.

I should admit an interesting twist, and that's the fact that I'd seen Adam at least three times before we ever met in Milton class.  A year or two before, I'd seen him one day in the public library in our small college town. I noticed his dark curly hair, his angular face, his serious mien. Later that day, I saw him again, walking on the sidewalk toward the college. Twice -- and he stuck in my mind. Sometime later, I saw him again in the basement of the college library where I worked in the bookstacks. Clearly, he was a bookish fellow, and I liked that. So when I walked into the Milton class and saw him there, although I'd never met him I felt I knew something of him.

I returned from the mission trip to Poland on Sunday, August 7, 1988. The local newspaper ran a story with a photograph of our team. Adam saw the photo, recognized me, and remembered I worked at the church. So on Monday afternoon, 8/8/'88, he came to my office and said hello. It was quite bold of him! I toured him around the church and we talked the afternoon away. He said, "I came here to ask you on a date." I replied, "Okay, go ahead and ask." Such a smart aleck I was! I'd been dating steadily for several years, was in my mid-20s, attractive, in excellent shape, well-courted by my male friends at church, and frankly did not take this young whipper-snapper seriously. He said he worked each evening waiting tables and only had one night off, that very night (unless I wanted to wait until the following Monday). I told him I'd just returned from three weeks overseas, was exhausted and had piles of laundry to do ... but, if he was willing to accompany me to my parents' home where I did my laundry, he could make me dinner. He agreed. That was our first date. My parents were, as usual, out of town.

My mother had a washing machine that rocked and rolled its way across the laundry room, so I sat on it to keep it under control. Most of our date, after Adam made grilled chicken sandwiches, was spent in the laundry room, trying to talk over the noise of the machine. Not as romantic as many well-planned dates I'd had with other guys, but I preferred the down-to-earth honesty of Adam's manner. He was no-frilled. I felt no pressure.

I never went on another date with another man.

Our second date was a picnic to a local park in Belhaven, the residential area of Jackson where we lived few blocks from each other. That fall and winter we saw each other several times each week. I would walk one block from the church for my lunch break at his apartment. He cooked for me. We went to movies, for long country drives in his VW convertible in rural Mississippi with the top down and the leaves swirling behind us. We rode bikes and took long walks in the country. I met his parents and he met mine. We were an odd mix: his dad was retired military; mine worked at a seminary. Adam went to public schools; I went to private. We were both Christians, but we argued endlessly (and quite aggressively) over theology. We listened to lots of music we loved. I was a musician. He was a photographer. I think that was the most romantic year of my life.
photo taken in a tunnel in the Vicksburg Military Park
When we'd been dating a few weeks, Adam wanted to kiss me. We were at my apartment; I was seated on the couch. He sat on the floor in front of me. "I want to kiss you," he said longingly. I smiled. "Okay. Go ahead," I replied. Clearly I was to a point in my dating life when I was unintimidated by boys and their attempted romances, and I was willing to make him work for it. But he did kiss me. As a young man, Adam enjoyed challenges, and I was one. Later in the fall, I remember a balmy evening at his apartment, which had a lovely Juliet balcony overlooking Gillespie Street. Adam played Tchaikovsky on the stereo -- the big kind with stacks of electronic boxes on the floor and waist-high speakers on either side -- and we sat on the balcony and talked.  From that same apartment the next spring I would drive away in a fury after we'd had The Biggest Fight Yet about religion. Adam was still rather liberal in his views, coming to his faith alone in a Juvenile Detention cell with the help of a Gideon Bible and little else. I, however, had enjoyed all the religious influence that a Southern Christian, Bible-believing, church-attending-three-times-a-week family can give. We were both crying that night. I was sobbing and angry. I got in my car and drove away, and I knew -- I knew -- that if I left then I would not return. I would lose him. I could not lose him. If I did not marry him, I knew I would wonder all my life where he was. I would pine for him. So I did a u-turn in the middle of Gillespie Street, went back, and held him tight.

Sometime in January I got ill. My sore throat progressed to mononucleosis, and I was hospitalized with dehydration for four days. Adam was amazingly attentive. One anecdote here shows a facet of his personality: He told his boss at El Chico Mexican Restaurant that he needed to visit his girlfriend in the hospital. It was mid-February. The boss didn't believe him, and said he just wanted the day off to spend Valentine's with me. Adam said no -- I was really sick. The boss was willing to let him off, but Adam was so affronted at being accused of lying, that he quit his job (!!) Yes, he did. He was an idealist with high standards.

Sometime in March we were engaged. Unlike engagements today, the event was unfilmed, and we don't even remember the date. He attempted a proposal on a Sunday night. He was unusually quiet when we went back to my apartment. Normally we have no trouble with conversation. For almost 28 years now, we always have things to say. But that night, he was mum. Finally, the light dawned on me, and I said those fateful words a woman ought never to say: "I know what's wrong with you. You want to ask me to marry you, don't you?" (Oops!!) He nodded his head. Oh well, I made it easy for him! When we put the question to my daddy, however, we were not met fondly. I am his only daughter and the baby of the family; he was not willing to hand me over quite that easily! My mother had to win him over.

We married on July 29, 1989, less than a year after our first date.
We've been deeply in love ever since.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

North Topsail Again

Hi, all. For our third year, we market gals are at the beach together, having a wonderful time. Here are a few pics I've taken since we arrived yesterday morning.
 We cross over the ICW (Inter Coastal Waterway) just before reaching North Topsail Island.
 One of the first things Christine wanted to do was fly her kite. She bought a dragon kite and it sailed quite well.
 This year our dear friend Jan could not come -- she had work plus two doggies to care for. We miss her.
 This year it's sunny, gorgeous, and temperatures are in the 70s. I'm so glad! Two years ago freezing temps kept us wrapped in coats and gloves.
 The beach is fabulous -- not many interesting shells this year, however. I did write a little poem about shell-collecting here.
 Christine's dragon kite!
Here's where we stay: Pooh and Piglet's Place. It's for rent. Patti knows the owner, and we come "off-season." See the Pooh and Piglet banner?
 We've played a moderate amount of Mexican Train Dominoes. I won the first game!! :) But the phenomenal weather has kept us outside, either beachcombing or relaxing on the deck.
 Alright, I share these photos with permission! Christine brought along this crazy game called "Watch Ya Mouth!" Players insert bizarre mouth pieces that prevent them from pronouncing words with m's, p's, b's, and other sounds. Then they must say phrases that are impossible to say, and other players must guess what's being said.
 
 And this is how you look when you're playing.
 Christine is the breakfast chef, and Eggs Benedict is one of her signature dishes. Yummm.
 



 In a very uncharacteristic move, we decided to go get pedicures. Patti loves pedis and gets them regularly. I go once or twice a year. Christine hadn't had a pedi in five years. And Kip? Kip had never, ever, in nearly 60 years of life, had a pedicure. She'd never even had polish on her toes. I kid you not!
 

 The salon is in Sneads Ferry and is called B.A.P., and it's extremely good. We will return there next year for sure. And how did Kip take to her spa treatment? She snuggled into that massage chair like a pro and is quite proud of her pink toes :)
I chose a purply polish for the first time ever.

 Tomorrow is our last full day at the beach, and I plan to make the most of it.
Today, that included taking a one-hour nap and finishing watching Brideshead Revisited on youtube, a show I would highly recommend.
Cheerio from the beach, y'all!!!

Beachcombing

Is a pilfering of the graveyard.
We, unashamed to disturb their peace,
Robbers who leave meandering tracks
Until the grim reaper's rumbling sloth
Washes them away.
This time I find only pathetic broken remains.
I am an angel harvesting in Auschwitz
Instead of Paris.

Tiniest ones are still perfect,
But full-grown specimens retain
Just a core of old beauty,
a cracked swirl.
A wizened old woman with beautiful eyes.
One, sheer as a desiccated leaf,
Golden ginko,
Fragile as feathers
Hard as rock,
Tumbled miles before resting in my hand.

Topsail NC
March 9, 2017
copyright by the author

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Serendipity

Our local thrift store (a hospice thrift store -- all proceeds provide free hospice care to anybody living in this county!) is having its end of the season sale. All clothes 50 cents. Everything else 75% off. I've been eyeing these plates for many months, and yesterday I snagged them for a quarter each!
 I love the old French farmhouse drawings.
 I admit the real reason I bought them: they are microwave safe. So many of my old blue-and-white plates cannot be used in the microwave.
 I always buy these Pyrex ramekins when I see them, especially these larger ones. They were also a quarter each.
 This is Julia's latest art, a German Shepherd. After she left for school this morning, I found this leaning against the dresser in the back bedroom. I'm sure she'll give it away to some person I don't even know at school, so before it goes away forever at least I got a photo of him.
Isn't he handsome?
Over on the farm blog, I mentioned the free -- quite serendipitous! -- wood chip mulch that is coming our way. Adam has been moving it to the garden via the wheelbarrow. He says it is simultaneously a LOT of mulch (as he's wheeling it) and not very MUCH mulch (as he's spreading it to see how far it goes). Isn't that the truth?
 Perhaps the biggest serendipitous blessing on the planet is simple plant reproduction. You have a plant. It multiplies all by itself. Then you have three plants, and you did absolutely nothing to get them. Meet my aloe:
 I took it to the hoop house plant hospital and nursery, and voila!!, two baby aloes were born.
 I've always felt that people who make money simply by helping plants reproduce are some of the cleverest humans on earth.
Today I begin a new weaving project: long panels for our front porch.This end of the porch faces east and gets so much sun in the morning. I want long woven panels there to give shade.
I like beachy colors -- green, blue, white. All these yarns are cheap leftovers in my yarn stash. So these panels will cost me next-to-nothing and clear some room in my yarn bags.
Ignore that Lorna Doone cookie. She has nothing to do with weaving.
I started warping up. Here are the colors. I was slowed considerably by some very knotty and naughty white yarn. Argh.
 Because this is a long panel, I'm warping from one side of the dining room to the other. See?
So Adam and I are doing a little bit of the Limbo Stick today. We are no longer limber, that's for sure. Rolling all that yarn up on the loom was a huge task. It's by far the biggest weaving I've done. I'll let you know how it comes along.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

At War with Your Bathtub?

When Adam put in the new bathroom, and I got a sparkling new tub and shower unit, I told myself I would not ever, ever, ever let it get gross and dirty. Are you fighting with your tub? Do you hate cleaning it? Do you wish there were a way to keep it always fresh and clean? Well ... Tada!!!
You've seen these in the store. They sell them for dish scrubbing, but a facebook friend recommended this as the brilliant tool to keep a clean shower. That was several months ago (honestly, considering my memory, it was probably September), and I'm here to tell you that it works! It works for me, anyway.
Screw off the white end of the wand and put 1/2 Dawn dish detergent and 1/2 white vinegar inside.
or the knock-off brand ...
I sometimes have trouble with the bubbles. Wait for them to die down if you want to fill it all the way up.
I keep this scrubber in the shower and I scrub away at the walls or tub whenever I think of it -- before a soak in the tub, while I'm in the shower, etc. In other words, it gets a little bit of good cleaning nearly every day. And I never, ever have to look at my shower/tub and think, "Ugh! That's nasty! Now I must go to battle!"  No reaching for some spray cleanser.No harsh chemicals.  No nasty little cleaning rag draped over a handle. Give it a try!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Visit to White Oak

my daddy and mother
 The quiet country lane where my some of my West Virginia kin live, used to be a tiny community called White Oak. When I strolled down the road, looking back I could see my parents' home at the top of the hill, around the curve ...
 ... and peering far across the fields I could see my brother's house and farm too. Can you see it on the hill through the trees?
 In between is White Oak Cemetery, a minuscule country burying ground with names like Burr and Spencer.
 My parents hope to be buried there.
 Walking the quarter mile to Max and Anne's house, this is my favorite view of their farm from across a little valley. The blueberry rows stretch in front of the house, and a red barn shed sits below. White Oak Berry Farm is a pick-your-own blueberry farm in just about the prettiest spot on the planet.
 I was so happy that Marshall came down to see me from his home an hour or so away. He's semi-retired now from many years of very hard work building a successful company. Isn't that amazing? I'm very proud of him, and he is a good and kind man. He and Max discussed all things farming. I didn't get a good photo of them together because I do get tired of bugging people for smiling photographs, and I bet they get tired of it too!
 Max and Anne have a lovely red barn.
 Max added on a open machinery shed on the side of his barn. He was finishing it that day. Marshall helped.
 I find inordinate delight in watching my brothers do anything. I love to watch them work. I love seeing their personalities, which I've studied so much over the decades, still come out as they relate to each other, as they converse and discuss, laugh and commiserate, work and relax. I absolutely love being with my family.
 There's the shed. Here are some sheep, but I think they are a neighbor's. Max has about six sheep this year, I think. He lost quite a few to coyotes a couple of years ago, and was down to only one ewe.
 This is his milk cow, and he has two others. All three should have calves this spring.
 I enjoyed lots of time chatting with my dear sister-in-law Anne, and she cooked a lovely meal for us Wednesday evening. She has such beautiful personal taste and always has.
 My brother Mark is working on his farmhouse, which is an on-going project. I love the blue paint he chose for the top under the eaves. There's still so much to do.

 One of the house's biggest problems is that it sits right on the ground. The dirt is literally about an inch below the kitchen floorboards, and because it's so old (120 years), there aren't all those sub-floors, etc. that are so handy in modern houses.
 It's a huge house, and Mark has wanted to raise the house from the dirt for the three years they've lived there. Finally now he is able to do it. It's a huge task, especially doing it alone. And as he raises it, because the sills and lower boards have been so close to the dirt for so long, there's much deterioration and repair work to be done.
 I wouldn't even want to begin to figure out how do to all that!
As he raises the house, Mark also needs to level it. Just as an indication ... he raised the middle of the floor 3" so far, but raised the perimeter of the house 8". The house was sagging that much, at the exterior walls! In addition, the utilities will have to be adjusted as the house goes up. Some of the repairs that have been done will have to be redone, I think. He wanted to raise the house first, and do those other things second, but at least it is being addressed now.
Mark drove me over to White Sulphur Springs to see the little Presbyterian church where he preaches every other week. We stopped in at the Episcopal church too, where they gave me a bowl of chili for lunch. They're still feeding dozens of people every day who are in White Sulphur to help rebuild the community after the devastating floods of last year.
 We took the most gorgeous "scenic route" from Frankford, winding through hills and across rivers and wiggling beside streams. It was breath-taking. This is one thing I've always loved about my brothers: they enjoy and value the outdoors, the rural, the landscape where others wouldn't bother to go. We are all non-urban folk in our family. My parents were too early to be hippies, and we children were all too late, but somehow we all got that rather rustic gene, and we just can't seem to get the dirt out of our blood.
I stopped on the drive home in the Shenandoah Valley for this shot near Waynesboro.
I'm back home now. It hardly feels like February -- it's about 80 degrees today! There's lots going on around the house and farm, but I'll post that over on the Red Robin Farm blog. You all have a lovely day, and be sure to get outside!