Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Hurry Up, Please. It's Time!"

I've been pondering time and hurry.

In summer, we think life will be slower. We'll have time for leisure, for resting, for dozing in dappled sunlight while our days pass at a snail's pace. Yeah ... don't we wish!

Most days feel hurried, and the more I plan and schedule and micro-manage, the more hurried they are. You can pack a lot in a day, if you force it hard enough -- days that start at 5:30 with a frantic rush for breakfast, dashing to work and school, forgetting lunches and sports equipment, shoveling down lunch without thinking, checking all the necessities off the to-do-list, running rudely into the grocery store, throwing some food on the table, screaming over homework, trying to unwind with a movie, staying up too late to finish it, crashing into bed. Starting it again.

No thank you.

So you quit your job and stay home and cram your day with different crammables, but it's no better. Tell me: how do you get one of those rare days that feel so good, the day when hours pass at their proper ticking slowness, when you do accomplish some things, but even those feel deliciously meaningful? Days that keep their cohesion and wholeness, and thus their beauty?

I asked some wise friends. Here's what they said:

"Long ago I stopped volunteer work that took time out of each week which freed a lot of time .... I take care of me and mine and don't apologize. I have plenty of work to keep me busy and don't get caught up in a lot of drama. I think it's "drama" that sucks time and energy; having a routine keeps me better focused .... Experience has taught me when I don't have morning devotions, my day goes awry and I don't respond/react well to stress."

Another friend: "For me time goes much slower when I stay home without any plans. Piddling around slows time down a lot. So, I think the key is in the 'unplanning'. When I'm bound by a clock telling me what to do, when to go, when to eat, etc., then time seems like an enemy. Personality also plays a large part in how we perceive time. I like lots of introspection and quiet. My daughter likes to always be on the go with noise. A quiet day at home is a nightmare to her as is a day full of shopping and running around to me."

Another friend: "I am fascinated with time, starting with the theology of it. It annoys me when people say that time is something we made up, or that it's a human construct, because God is eternal. He may be outside of time but he put us in it and this is where He wants us to live, so it's good for us. As for slowing it down, good luck on that! ... Hurrying does seem to speed things up, doesn't it? I had a lovely day on Saturday getting ready for [a] party on Sunday. I had given myself plenty of time to accomplish the baking and cleaning, so it seemed like a happy and calm day and time was just part of it, not my enemy."

I hope they don't mind my quoting them. For many introverts, staying home, attending to family duties, not over-committing, starting the day with a calm, meditative activity like Scripture-reading, and doing some things but not too much -- this works well. If I 'unplan,' as one friend recommends though, my day seems to unravel, and I'm open to all kinds of mischief and temptations. I need a loose plan (not dictated by a clock) that keeps me generally at home. This is certainly not some type of anti-feminist mantra I'm spouting; it's simply an observation that introverts often prefer their private space (home) to being with strangers in crowds (work or culture). 

That small handful of activities at home need to be enjoyable, creative, pleasurable. We call them hobbies, but they can be lucrative too. Artistic pursuits, which smack so wonderfully of the New Earth and eternity, don't pay very well, but they give more satisfaction and pleasure in the soul. 

I like that one friend mentioned the theology of time, because this is the heart of the issue. Some say that time is only for this fallen Earth, that in eternity there will be no time. What in the world does that mean? Is there no cause-and-effect relationship to events in Heaven? Are events jumbled in a chaotic mass that is not linear? That concept makes no sense to me, I find no support at all for it in Scripture, and I flatly reject it. God made us human, always. God designed us to live on an Earth, always. Being creatures that live in TIME is essential to that design. We will always have yesterday, today, tomorrow.

Perhaps what people mean is that there's no ticking clock on that New Earth ... no end ... no death. How would your life be different if you knew there were no end to it? (Everyone should stop and answer that question practically.) If you had forever? Would that take the rush out of things? Would it restore peace and calm to your efforts? Would you enjoy the process of each activity instead of the tyranny of a deadline? How would you function without any DEADlines? (haha!) 

There's a theology of time. In God's perfect design, there's no death, and thus no hurry. On the New Earth, if you don't get around to it this century, you can do it in the next. Oh, we avoid thinking about the pervasive effect of that final hour on our everyday actions, don't we? But it taints every moment. We squeeze too much into our days because have a limited number. That's the effect of death.

Perhaps the people who seem most content, most unruffled in this life, are the ones who see the unity between this world and the next. They see that the death-moment is not an end -- as Jesus says repeatedly, we don't perish. There is much we can do here in this life that affects the next life. It is truly just one, single life. Begin relationships here, continue them there. Work on collecting meaningful treasures here, enjoy them there. Be born spiritually here, live eternally there. It's not two lives; it's one single life, in two locations. Perhaps if we lived as if we weren't going to die, we would find that beautiful daily existence we desire.

(Oh -- brownie points to anybody who can tell me where that quote in the title comes from!)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Twenty-five Years Is a Very Short Time

That's how long it's been -- a quarter century since Adam and I stood in a church and before God and all those witnesses, and said, "We do."
Lovely invitation, but Adam's name is misspelled. For years he thought his middle name had two r's in it!
Digging through old photo albums, I found the one I used as our "wedding album." I was one organized girl, back in those days.
I kept lots of things. Adam was a waiter at a trendy, old-mill restaurant downtown. He was a very good waiter.
Adam's mother wrote a weekly column for the county newspaper, and I kept all her articles from during this time. It's a nice blow-by-blow account as we approached the wedding.
It was a lovely wedding. Here's our cake. We kept the top layer for that one-year-anniversary treat, but the power went out several times that year, and our freezer thawed, and the cake was ... well, yeah. We threw it out.
Late July in Mississippi is HOT. Three of my bridesmaids kept us entertained at the rehearsal dinner. What fun they all are! Don't we miss being in our 20s, girls?
Our honeymoon was rather involved. We drove two solid days from Jackson, Mississippi to Ocracoke Island, NC. We barely made the ferry that second night! Here I am, sitting on the Cedar Island Ferry, a bit bedraggled.
One of my favorite shots of Adam. He was slim with great features and fabulous curly, dark hair. Sigh.
We stayed at a little B-and-B for a few nights. I recently emailed the still-owner to see if we could return for a night or two, but she quickly told me that she mostly only books for full weeks now. Oh well.
Our first Halloween in our little seminary apartment. Clearly I had started cutting my husband's lovely locks, and he has a cropped look. Why did I do that?
Our first Christmas.
These are such poor quality photos -- sorry. We were so poor in seminary. The red  union suits were Adam's before we got married. The apartment didn't have overhead lighting in the living room, and I had no lamps at first, so you see the little clamp light I have attached to the window sill. And I hung baskets from the ceiling! Never much of a decorator, I'm afraid! Thankfully, Adam isn't picky.
Less than a year later, you see Adam is pudging up just slightly from all my spaghetti and meatloaf, plus a few of his bratwurst. I'm plumper too, but that's because I'm about 3-4 months pregnant with our first baby, Philip. The diploma I'm holding is mine -- my master's degree in English. Good thing I finished it then, because there was no time for it later!
Soon we started having several of these ~
And I won't go on and on. Twenty-five years. So much change, to be honest. We hardly resemble the people we were then. We were so stubborn, so argumentative, so grumpy, so quick to take offense. But we were young, and we assumed there were years ahead to change and learn, and there were. We had so many heart-aches, so many troubled years. But in the end, it's the relationship, the marriage itself, that comes out of the fire glistening and a bit more purified. I'm so thankful we've both stayed the course. When each spouse reaches out to the other, hoping to find a sympathetic hand, and repeatedly finds it, a bond of trust and delight is formed that is like no other. May it continue another twenty-five years.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Somebody Had a Birthday ...

This young lady had a birthday this past week. She's pretty seriously introverted, and doesn't enjoy crowds of people. Parties wear her out. So we had a low-key birthday, which she enjoyed. We dropped by the local thrift store and she picked up this cute top and shorts, plus an adorable pair of lime-green sandals. $6 total, which was nice on my pocketbook.
We also got her all her favorite facial supplies at Walmart, which might not sound like much of a birthday present, but it's what she wanted. "No cheap junk from Dollar General, Mom," she said. So we went to Wally's. Haha! The rest of her birthday cash she's saving carefully, planning on a laptop in the fall. Well ... she's not saving it. I'm hiding it for her in my bedroom, so she won't spend it.
Okay, and instead of a cake, she wanted a batch of homemade donuts.  Here's the recipe. It's Martha Stewart's recipe.
Julia wanted to do the cutting.
Don't turn your oil up too hot. Other times I've done that, and you end up with over-cooked donuts. It was about perfect this time on a low-medium heat.

They are truly fabulous. Only 1/2 cup of sugar in the actual dough. Six egg yolks, so the dough is lovely yellow.
Adam made a pot of fresh coffee, and we called it dinner. Donuts are rather naughty ... and filling.
Later Julia and I biked over to the Bean for a treat. I wanted to round out the fun on her special day.
She got a chocolate shake and I got a mango/vegetable smoothie, trying to be healthy. She hates when I do selfies together, but she can't turn me down when it's her birthday. I just put on that Sad Mommy Face and remind her how lonely I'll be when she leaves home and I have only her old photos to keep me company. Sniff.
This cracked us up -- a clever way to increase tipping at the coffee shop! Just appeal to the natural competition between the genders!
I was standing there, dissatisfied because the women were losing by a few bucks. So I did what any good woman would do. I took a few bills from the men's jar and put them into the women's jar. The gregarious teenaged boy behind the counter smiled and told me that men will take a five out of the men's jar and replace it with five one-dollar-bills, to fill out their jar. But the women? They do what I did. Haha!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Little Cottage Progresses

Do you recall when I posted about the little cottage in the heart of Oriental that someone had decided to redo? I showed you the domicile after they'd stripped the ugly siding.
They hoisted it up and rolled it around.
It was rather pitiful. The building seems hardly worth saving, but the location? Ahh -- to die for. If one small lot could be considered the heart-of-the-heart of the old village, this small pie-wedge would be it.
It's not on the water, but hardly any houses in old Oriental village are. Only a handful -- say, five or six houses -- are actually directly on the water. They are large and old. And not all of them have docks; can you believe it? When I speak of the old Oriental village however, I'm not referring to all the houses in the city limits. The old village is about twenty or thirty blocks clustered near the river, near the town dock, near the Bean and the Oriental Yacht Club.
Well, lately much has been happening to this cottage. As you see above, they've hiked it off the ground.
And they've brought in cement block.
They're building nice brick columns around the foundation, indicating plenty of porch on at least two sides.
And I'm so happy to tell you that they've decided to turn the house the right way -- it will face this point, toward us as we look at this shot below. So the view from the front porch will be the long front lawn, looking at that lovely clump of live oak trees there.
During Hurricane Arthur, precautions had to be taken for the "precautionary room" (as my mother calls it), on the job site. You don't want to be flown off by a wind while having a private moment! You could end up like Dorothy in Oz!
The most recent photo of the cottage shows an addition atop. When in a floody area, build up! Perhaps you can also see that the inside has been gutted now. I'm eager to see how this home finishes up.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What I've Missed ~

Flipping through my Iphoto pics, there are so many little things I've meant to share with you, dear readers. So ... in no particular order ... here goes:
A teacup and two saucers that I picked up in Lewisburg, WV at an antique market. The set was originally $12.50, but it was marked down 70%. What a steal!
 Beautiful blue-and-white, which I love,
 I love the shape of the cup,
 And Japanese!
Next up, a little cousin fun. I took the available older cousins to Bear Town while I was in West Virginia. Bear Town is a massive array of large rock formations in rural WV near Droop Mountain.

 My nephew Honor ~

 And Katie ~
 And Hannah ~
 They had fun, and so did I.
I also picked blueberries, of course, at Max and Anne's farm. That's the look of yummy-and-healthy.
 I tied a bucket around my waist. It was late afternoon when the berry rows were empty of customers.
 I slipped under the protective nets and found a quiet row waiting for me.

 Tonight we'll enjoy blueberry scones and blueberry muffins, thanks to my time there.
What's next? How about lunch with some family before I left town? Here I am with my oldest brother Max. 7 years apart, but close in heart.
 My brother Mark and his darling wife ~
 My folks with Julia ~
 We ate at Stella's in Lewisburg. The food was very good, a little froo-froo, but I prefer that to greasy! It was pretty on the plate and tasted light and healthy. I think this was my plate (I've rather forgotten ...), but I had something with shrimp and grits, and I swapped with Mother and got some of her crab and avocado.
Are you still reading? How about a few random photos of humans? Not just any humans ....
Here are my parents with an assortment of grandchildren. That's Clark, Ben, Nathan, Hannah, Julia, Abraham, and Katie.
 I got to meet Hannah's boyfriend, Michael. They look good together.
 When you tell a group of teenaged nieces-and-nephews you want their picture, you get this:
 When you tell a younger crowd, you get something lovely like this:
 My brother Marshall relaxing in his parents' living room ~
 My brother Mark's definition of relaxation ~ You can see that we "kids" have made ourselves right at home before our parents have even settled in! No, seriously, it is lovely to have them there, and they do always make us so welcome. Mark has been working on their house, so he has good reason for napping.
 These three munchkins showed us all that they learned in a week-long kids' workshop in Lewisburg. Pretty neat! They learned to weave!
 My mother and I visited the quiet bakery in Lewisburg. We were only a little naughty. I must admit, going to Lewisburg with her is just about as pleasant as going to Brevard! Next time, we must stop at the library.
 JoAnn in a selfie! Who would have thought? Isn't she a doll?
Do I have anything else I must show you? Is anybody still there?
Here is a candle that my sister-in-law DeVona gave me:
I'm sorry I forgot to take its photo until after I'd lit the three wicks, then quickly blown them out, so the wicks are black. But they are the most beautiful things -- you want to eat them rather badly, and they smell edible too. Mine is cherry, Julia's was raspberry, and Mother's blueberry. DeVona has a lovely candle workshop and sells her goods and ships them. She does such perfect work.
Oh, I'm adding this photo of the house Philip is living in with a few other post-college friends -- just because, 20 years from now, we'll wish we had a picture of this place! His first residence away from home! It's in a rather sad part of Chattanooga. He says they let the weeds grow out front to discourage thieves.
Oh, how 'bout a little antique store humor?
I must show you my favorite aspect of my parents' new house -- the heat vent that goes from the kids' bedroom down to the living room.
 I know it's silly, but I love this! You can be a little kid (as I once was) and quietly kneel next to this grill in your room (as I did years ago in my uncle's upstairs bathroom) and listen to conversations the grown-ups are having below in the living room (or in the kitchen, in my uncle's house). It's delicious.
My uncle and aunt stayed in an old, historic home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, decades ago, called Federal Hill. It had many secrets. I think they were caretakers of the property, but with seven children and various pets, and visiting family like us, we probably wore away more layers of history than we preserved! You can read a little about Federal Hill at the bottom of this page, with its resident ghost.
What else? Here's a sweet shot of my mother's kitties, asking for breakfast.
If you made it to the end, you're a trooper :)