Wednesday, May 16, 2018

When the Girls Come Home

Adam and I were living our peaceful couple life, enjoying productive days and quiet evenings. You know ... the "empty nest." Also known as the sweet life, haha!

Then the girls came home!

Anna has been doing wedding shopping, wedding fun.
At Michael's looking at craft stuff for the wedding

Carrying a huge bag of rice ... hmmm ... What could that be for?

A delightful planning session with the pianist for the wedding, our dear friend Claudia.
 Anna took me out to eat for Mother's Day at a very yummy spot, Silo's in Oriental

 Here's another shot of me, Anna, and Tammy on our day at the beach. This was in the Royal James Cafe.
 Back to wedding thoughts. I found the guest book from my parents' wedding reception in 1955.
 So many names of people now gone from this Earth, so many dear friends. Here's the first page. The name at the top, Margaret Beck, was my great-grandmother, my mother's mother's mother.
 Tim Birthisel was my daddy's oldest, dearest friend. Juanita Doby was my great-aunt. Lois Robinson, my aunt, is still living, but this signature was given when she was a young wife and mother, so full of beauty and energy! Dixie Simpson was (I think?) her mother. 

Tucked inside the book I found a report card of my daddy's from his time at Ohio University, where he got his degree in Architecture on the GI Bill.
 Speaking of college students ...
 Julia is home. She survived her first crazy year at the university, and soon she'll travel to Boston for a 2-month internship at Harvard where her brother works. She's been excited for two days because she ended up (after much suffering and travail) with a 4.0 GPA this semester! She's on the Chancellor's List. I am beyond proud of this girl. She worked so hard, and made so many sacrifices, to accomplish that.

Julia and I painted a bit yesterday, like old times.
 We shared some watercolors. She hadn't watercolor painted in a long time.
 This little critter is a sugar glider. She painted him because her nickname among her friends is sugar glider.
 She started a small painting of Atlas. She's messing around with color saturation techniques (way over my head). We got distracted before she finished.
 I worked on the last picture in my Thanksgiving Mice book. Mrs. Mouse is drifting off to sleep while looking at the farm wife's earring dangling in front of the moon.
 The three tomato plants that I dug from the ground last fall, and overwintered on my front porch, and returned to the garden, have finally recovered.
 Saving the last morsel of beauty for last! At the thrift store on Monday (Granny Marigold, I always think of you when I show things like this!), I found a box of cups and saucers. They are Mikasa, a very fine brand.
They're lovely blue and white, so delicate! And a sweet, short cup. I had to have one or two cups, but the box held a dozen cups and a dozen saucers. The saucers are inexplicably ugly. However, the entire box was labeled $2.00, and it was half off! So for only a dollar, I could take it all home, decide how many cups to keep, and give the saucers (ugh) back :) 

I decided to keep all the cups, haha. I got rid of quite a few ugly mugs that don't hold a candle to these beauties. And I'll give a couple of the blue-and-whites to my mother when she comes in June. I have an inkling she'll love them too.

That's it from here. Who knew that two girls could wear us old people out so much? After the wedding, when all the hoopla is over, Adam and I are going to have a nice long break.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Glamour Gene

Here's some photos for you. I'll label each person for you. JoAnn is my mother, and Julia is my daughter.
JoAnn, around 20 years old

Julia, 18 years old

JoAnn in her late teens
 My mother lived in a Glamour Generation. She adored movies and movie stars. You can see that make-up was quite the fad. Julia also is living in a generation that loves make-up and fashion. I, on the other hand, grew up in the '70s, the time of tree-hugging and long hair. Young women were burning their undergarments, not shopping for fancy ones. However, I have a couple of photos of me with make-up. This one was taken by a friend in college when I was in Madrigals.
M.K., 20 years old
You can see the genetic connections here!
This was taken for our church's directory:

M.K., about 24 years old
Not a stitch of make-up here, but even at 29 you can still see the resemblance:
M.K., 29 years old
My mother was asked by a modeling photographer to come to his studio when she was in her late teens, so he could photograph her -- she was that kind of pretty -- and pretty mattered then. Now we think of that as objectifying girls/women, valuing them for their faces or bodies instead of who they are. However, it had no adverse effects on my mother; rather, she's quite confident, dresses as she pleases, and cares more for the insides of people than the outsides. All that attention to her physical beauty made her neither shallow nor insecure.

I don't like men to objectify women, to view them as objects of desire (and especially to say so - ugh!). But I do think it's good for humans to recognize beauty. We acknowledge it readily in nature, and in humans we don't personally know (like models), even in animals. But we're now cautious about telling a 20-something woman, "You're beautiful." We've been told that's a bad thing to say.

Well, my mother was drop-dead gorgeous. She laughs when I mention it now. And Julia has that same stunning, classic look. I might have worked up some of that too, if only the '70s had been a make-up era, haha! I spent too much time worried about my nose, which had a significant hump. How can a girl be pretty if she has a bump in her nose? I, who was never objectified by a fellow, lacked the confidence my mother had. As we know, today's young women suffer with even lower self-esteem.

I'm not sure what the answer is. I have a brother (who shall remain nameless) who once told me I could not tell his toddler daughter that she was pretty. He wanted to start early training her not to value her looks -- her body -- hoping instead that she'd value the inner girl. I think those ideas backfire, and I hope I don't get yelled at for saying so. I don't have the answers to this complicated issue, but I do think it's a good thing for us to tell our daughters the obvious -- that they are pretty in their bows and dresses (and jeans and camo). Because they are.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Manna -- the Normative Situation

This morning I read this passage, regarding God's care of the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness forty years, "Thy manna Thou didst not withhold from their mouth." (Neh. 9:20)

Isn't that a funny way to say it? Wouldn't it make more sense to say, "Thy manna Thou didst give to their mouths"? The passage made me pause because it vaguely sounds as if Nehemiah is saying that the reason we don't have manna every day is because God withholds it. As if manna would like to fall, manna should fall, in the world's normal state manna would fall, but God withholds it.
Image result for manna
It's not really strange to think of food this way. We think of water this way, our other sustenance. God lets it fall, and when He withholds it, we long for it.

This is the kind of idea that Adam and I talk about privately in our spare moments, all the time. These ideas -- especially about what the unfallen Earth might be like (and therefore what the New Earth might be like) occupy our minds and conversations almost every day at some point.  Is it wrong to be so fixed on eternity? I don't think so; it's just another way of saying that our minds are fixed on God's kingdom, and that's always good.

So, when you think of your eternal life on the New Earth and you imagine all the details of that life, just for fun, add in an early morning event: falling manna. That would be cool.

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Weekendful O' Fun!

On Friday, I picked up my cousin and life-long dear friend Tammy, at the local airport. Thus began a delightful weekend, the kind with an old cherished friend when you feel like you've never been apart. She is family.
 We toodled around Oriental and went to The Bean. She did some fun shopping. The weather's been lovely. Adam planned menus, and he's been cooking up a storm: Mexican dinner, cream biscuits, Alfredo, focaccia bread ... and more to come.

Twenty-nine years ago, around this time of year, Tammy came to Jackson, Mississippi to take my bridal portraits. It rained. We abandoned our plans to shoot in Mynelle Gardens, instead using my parents' living room.

No such weather impediments bothered us on Saturday, about two hours before sunset. She did a lovely job photographing Anna in her dress, in a pasture cloaked in buttercups and clover.
 I took photos of her taking photos :)  Of course, since Gramm can't see Anna's dress yet, I must be careful what pictures I share here ... sorry.

(OOPS -- I had to remove a photo of Anna and Tammy doing the photo shoot, even though it was from  V  E  R  Y    F  A  R    A  W  A  Y   , because Anna said you could zoom in and still see the dress. Sigh. Sorry.)

As she did 29 years ago, Tammy lovingly made a flower arrangement for Anna to use, since she obviously doesn't have her wedding flowers yet. Aren't they gorgeous?
 I knew just where my arrangement was still, in my closet. So Anna and I snapped a photo of us with our two Bridal Shoot Arrangements by Tammy.
Anna did her hair.
She hardly needs to do anything to it.
Anna's hair generally does itself.

 Since big farm dogs and wedding dresses don't mix, Adam and the puppies watched from the safety of the garden gate, poor things. They got bored.
 The chickens watched too.
(Maybe I should write a children's story about a Chicken Wedding? I can just see Punkin in a long veil trailing behind her, and the other hens eating all the rice that's supposed to be thrown ....)

Yesterday we went to church. Quite a few people were gone for various reasons, but we had some visitors, and it was a lovely service and fellowship. It was one of those worship services that somehow spiritually congeals, by the Holy Spirit's gentle work, and the sermon (about how Moses and Israel's leaders ascended the mountain, saw God, and then sat down and ate and drank -- they had probably the first "communion" with God), the music (which I chose without knowing about the sermon, but which God coordinated Himself: "Come ye thirsty, come and welcome, God's free bounty glorify"), and then the communion we took afterward ... they all came together to bring me nearly to tears. In such moments I become nearly desperate to be on the New Earth, having started my eternity with Jesus and with all of you on a perfect, peaceful planet. I become emotionally grateful for what Jesus endured for me -- a cruel, brutal death -- so I could look forward in eager anticipation to such a life. Would I ever have sacrificed in such a way for someone I didn't know? Ah, but He did know me, and loved me. There's the miracle.

Today Tammy, Anna, and I go to the beach! We'll eat lunch at the Royal James Cafe, look through the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, and then lay on the beach like slugs until we return for Adam's yummy Indian dinner this evening.  I'll post about all that later!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

"To Sleep or Not to Sleep. That Is the Question."

When I was pregnant with my last baby, and 35 years old, I told my doctor that I couldn't sleep well because my hips and knees hurt. She had a simple solution.

"Take 50 mg of Tylenol PM each night before bed. It will take care of the pain, and it will help you sleep. It's perfectly safe; it's non-habit-forming." She told me I could take it as long as I wanted.

That was 19 years ago.

Eventually I didn't need the Tylenol, so I switched to a cheaper brand of "sleep aid tablet," with 50 mg of just Benadryl, which is the sleep agent in Tylenol PM. And for years and years, I took one every night.
Sleep AIDE Liquid  Gel Capsules 96t. USA Equate Brand
I've never slept well or deeply since I started having babies. Hormones at work? Nervous mother? Who knows?

Medicine has changed, and it seems now they don't recommend taking Benadryl every night. They strongly warn against it, saying there are serious connections with Alzheimer's. This is quite alarming, considering I'm finding this out after having taken it so long! But the science hasn't been absolutely conclusive ... and, if the alternative is not sleeping ... I mean, that's not good for one's brain either, right? So I kept taking it, reluctantly.

Recent conversations with new friends in Mississippi prompted me to try ridding myself of the nightly Benadryl once again. Its warning flags are getting "redder." And now that I'm not working and have no kids at home, who cares if I sleep in until 7:00 or 8:00? And if I can't go to sleep until 1:00 (or 3:00), I'll read or paint or spin yarn. I decided to try being Benadryl-free again.

It's been five nights so far. If I'm exhausted beforehand, I sleep well. One night I wasn't exhausted at 10:30, and I didn't go to sleep until 2:00. Last night I simply stayed up -- why lie in bed until I realize I'm not sleepy? But I did go to sleep before midnight and slept until 5:30, without any medication. That may not sound like a good night's sleep to some, but for me it's very good. 

Some "rules" I have might help. No chocolate before bed. Absolutely no coffee or caffeine after about 4:00 p.m. No sweets or carbs in the evening -- acid reflux can keep me up too. I drink water with a little lemon juice to combat the acid reflux. And a firm rule of no screens after 10:00 or so. They say screen-watching makes it hard to drift off.

I'm relieved to make this change. Menopause has changed my system subtly, and I wasn't convinced Benadryl was doing anything for me recently anyway. Do any of you take Benadryl or some other sleep aid, as I did? Many take Melatonin. It doesn't help me much and gives me dreams that wake me up ... so that's no good. But lots of folks are helped by it. Perhaps this little post will help someone else who's wanting to break that Benadryl habit. Here's to a good night's sleep!

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Tender Things of Life.

Remember how I told you I had baby chicks coming?
Sweet little yellow chick peeking through!
Sylvie (hen on the left) went broody first. I had 7 eggs under her. Later her sister, Lady Grey (hen on the right) joined her in sympathetic broodiness. Those two fluffy mamas fill up a nesting box!
Of the seven eggs, I got four chicks. A fifth one died, and two of the eggs were not fertilized, and I threw them out at last.
I have one yellow, one brown, and two black chicks, although their color will likely change a lot over time.
Today I helped Anna alter her wedding dress. It was too long by about 6 inches. She'd already hemmed the main skirt bottom, but I helped with the organza overlay. I ran two thin hand-stitched seams up from the bottom lace elements, and pulled it taut to make a shirring, thus raising the lacy hem. It only needed raising on the front.
In the kitchen, Adam was baking Wedding Cake Tester #3. Anna was quite excited by this.
Then she and I watched the Julia Child episode where this cake is presented in 1996.  It's Martha Stewart's recipe. Anna saw it as a little girl and asked her daddy for it, for her wedding. And he's keeping his long-ago promise.

If you want to watch the episode, here it is:
Over the weekend in Mississippi, Anna's engagement ring and mine were together for the first time. They are both Belcher settings; the stone does not extend above the shank of the ring. I've loved mine. She wanted one in this setting too.
Philip and Kara made themselves a very fine hammock, a place for rest in the shade after a long day of work. Isn't it fine and sturdy? I'd like to see one of these in my future :)
One of my regrets from my decades in Mississippi is that I never visited Oxford, home of William Faulkner. It's a lovely old town with a square (and a university). I studied Faulkner extensively and read his novels with deep interest. Returning from Clarksdale, I finally had my chance to step foot on its square!
I particularly wanted to visit Square Books and buy ... a book ... anything (well, maybe not anything).
But we'd left early, and they weren't open yet, and we didn't want to delay our drive. So we left --- another time, I hope!

When my daddy died in January, I had time to sort through old photos at their house. I came across this baby photo of Anna.
My old copy of it was water-damaged. I was thrilled to find this good one! She's wearing a Christmas dress, so I guess she's about 6 months old.
A tender age. A dear little girl. So many years, so many adventures, heart-aches, changes, joys, accomplishments, travels. And now she is to be married. A very tender time. Perhaps that's why we dress it in lace and organza. A wedding dress is a most delicate garment, but the relationship it symbolizes will strengthen and toughen with the years.

But now? It's the most tender little sprout of love, and we celebrate its beginning!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Sunset on Raccoon Mountain

 I'm on my way back home by way of Chattanooga. Anna and I took a day of rest before driving the remainder of our trip. Today we had fun with Kara and Philip, who took us out to lunch, made delicious pizza for dinner, and showed us the beautiful sites atop Raccoon Mountain.

The Tennessee River






 Philip photographed Anna for Gramm.
 The reservoir belongs to the TVA, used for making electric power.

 I loved being with Philip and Kara. They took the day off to host us.