Posted in everyday musings

Carrying the star

This year there was no snow to make the truck slide but there was mud so the star was walked up the hill, instead of driven, to the end of the field and edge of the woods, by the father and son while the grandfather prepared to make the Star bright. This year there were new light strands on the same wood, the same star he built many years before, replacing the old lights that had burned out.

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They carried it up the steep hill and then the pulley was looped around the trunk of the tree and the ladder was climbed. Down below I took on the role of Grandma (Mom), since she can’t walk the hill, by saying things like:

“Someone hold the ladder.”

“Be careful.”

“Don’t lean out too far.”

“Don’t go up there on your own. Someone should be here to hold the ladder.”

“The ladder is tied to the tree,” Dad said, looking down at me with the expression parents give children when they know more than them.

“Oh. Well… still…”

So they pulled the star up to a place on the tree where drivers from the main road can see it, where people who need a sign of hope can find it.

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DSC_0711I thought of the post I wrote about this annual tradition last year and thought I’d share it again:

The star

They carried the star up the steep, snow-covered hill because the truck’s tires spun and sent the hunk of metal skittering sideways toward the old dirt road. In the end they left the truck in the field and slid the star, made of wood and strands of Christmas lights off the roof. Their breath steamed patterns out in front of them as they walked and the sun, a misleading sign of the outside temperature, cast long shadows onto the untouched surface of the snow that fell the day before.

Ropes were looped and tied and hooked on a pulley, the ladder was climbed and the star was hoisted with a couple reminders from father-in-law to son-in-law to “be careful of the lights! You’re hitting the lights on the tree!” But finally it was high enough and nails were hammered in to hold it in place.

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Dad built the star several years ago and put it at the edge of the woods, at the top of the field and where people driving by on Route 220, across the Valley could see it. It has become a beacon, you could say. A beacon of good will, or peace, or joy or whatever it represents for each person who sees it.

It can mean a lot of things for a lot of people but for Dad it is a sign of hope and the real reason behind Christmas. After all – isn’t that what the birth of Jesus was all about? Bringing hope to a hurting, fallen world?

So on this little hill, in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania my dad hangs his homemade, 50-some pound star, and with it hangs a little bit of hope – hope for health, for peace, for love for all, hope for the broken, the weary, the shattered souls.

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Posted in authentic, honest stuff, keeping it real

The Garden

Rain fell steady just like the weather app said it would and I felt a twinge of disappointment. I knew it would mean a couple more days of waiting to plant the garden my son and I have wanted for a couple of years now.

I had always dismissed the idea of a garden because we live in town on a busy, noisy street and somehow, for this country girl, gardens are meant for quiet, out of the way yards where they can be admired on a warm summer evening in golden hour light. 

I had wanted to wait until we actually moved to the country to create a garden but since that doesn’t seem to be remotely close to reality at the moment, we started planning what we wanted to plant and where, early in the spring.

Pumpkins, squash and various herbs for him.

Cucumbers, carrots, green beans, peas, and potatoes for me.

Strawberries and watermelon for her.

What makes this year different is that for the first time in 13 years we don’t have a dog to consider and worry about digging up the plants. This lack of a puppy has me fairly heartbroken and I sat next to the garden space one day this week and cried from the grief of missing our Copper.

My dad brought his rototiller up to “the big city” and made the space for our garden. My son helped to break up the dirt and smooth it out and his sister worked next to him, most likely negating all the work he had already done.

Dad was only supposed to drop the rototiller off but instead he broke the ground for us. He then gave advice on what to plant and where.

There are days that living in town has its advantages, like when an old friend is driving to her daughter’s band concert at the school across the street and sees you standing outside. The friend, who I have barely seen in several years walked across the lawn with a sun-infused smile (or some might say Son-infused), her hair as blond now at 39 as I remember it at 19. Looking at her has always made me think of the “got milk” commercials, partly because of her sparkling white teeth and smooth skin but also because her family are diary farmers about ten miles from us.

Standing out with the sun pouring across the lawn and the kids, and Dad and potential, catching up on our families made a busy week seem less busy and more manageable. 

It was dark by the time the garden was done and Dad reminded my son that when the dirt crumbles in your hand it’s the best time to plant.

The kids had dirt in their finger nails like I had at their age. My legs and arms were bit up by mosquitoes because apparently they love my blood. My head was full of ideas but also of thoughts the Father, Son and Holy Spirit after Dad brought me a file of thoughts he had gathered about healing, Christ, and souls on fire.

He stood there as the sun set and pondered people who have prophetic dreams and people who are filled with the Holy Spirit, but don’t understand it. Pondering God and  how He works and why He works the way he does is something he’s done all my life. Though not a big reader of fiction, he’d often sit at his desk (now his computer) and pour over books on theology, blessing, curses, and God’s role in our lives.

I called Mom when he pulled out, a tradition, and told her he was on his way home, since he often is out late helping others, or if not, wandering aimlessly in Lowe’s admiring planks of wood and nuts and bolts to add to his collection, and forgets to update her on where he is.

Baths were late.

Bedtime was late.

But lungs were filled with fresh air, bonding time was spent, hard work was done, and deep, well earned slumber followed.

Posted in Creek Sessions, honest stuff

Waiting for Spring

Spring is finally showing up and it’s welcome in this family, even though our entire family deals with the allergies that come with it, my son the worst. This year we seem to be doing well as the trees and flowers bloom, however. And the nice weather helps make it all better.

Winter seemed long in some ways, and not in others. Some health issues for me, the passing of our 13 year old dog, and the normal depression I seem to deal with each year when we receive less sunlight made the last part of winter a blur.  Then  there was that winter snow storm that came just when we thought spring was about to arrive.

Miss G is growing fast physically and mentally. She’s full of spunk and makes us laugh and pull our hair out at the same time most days. 

During a trip to the playground the other day she pushed me out of her way to get to the ladder for the slide and shouted “Get out of my way!”

I corrected her and said “we say, excuse me, not, ‘get out of my way.'”

She didn’t look at me but instead shoved at me again, gently, and said “excuse me, get out of my way!!”

 

J.G. is growing more mentally than physically, as he’s still small for his age, just like I was and his grandfather was. We’re not a family of giants, on either side.

 

We added a family member to the house before our Copper passed away, but she and he didn’t get a long and we had to return her to where she’d been living, outside my friend’s house, where someone had dropped her off.

After Copper passed away we welcomed her back to try to fill some of the void from Copper’s loss. It worked in some ways, and didn’t in many others. The first week here she followed us to bed each night, just as Copper had, and curled up at the foot of my son’s bed, just as Copper had, as we listened to a comedian before bed.

She’s a crazy addition and spends part of the night knocking my son’s Legos, pen lids, and pretty much anything she can find across our laminate.

Her tendency to try to crawl all over me and eat my hair at night has led me to close our bedroom door at night and then listen to her scream outside in the morning to be let in.

Despite some of her annoying behavior, it’s nice to listen to Pixel (the name we bestowed on the rescue kitten) purr when she curls up next to us on the rare occasions she lays down or stops trying to tackle our 18 year old cat, who has been glaring at us since we brought Pixel home.

Pixel likes to sit on the edge of the tub when the kids' bathe, but one day she's going to end up in there when Miss G pulls her in.
Pixel likes to sit on the edge of the tub when the kids’ bathe, but one day she’s going to end up in there when Miss G pulls her in.

Some day we will probably add another dog to this chaos that is our life, but for now, the house is Ok without one. It’s quiet. The old cat is enjoying her golden years, the kitten is getting used to life in a home with a family, and our hearts are still warm with the memories of our little Copper.

 

 

Posted in 100 days of Summer, 99 days of blogging, Motherhood in Action

Exploring the ‘cricks’ of New York

I took the kids to a local park last week and we were disappointed when we got there to see the waterfall was only trickling, which is how it usually looks when we visit there. I’ve heard water actually pours from it at other times, but I’ve only seen that once in the 14 years I’ve lived in the area. Apparently I just have horrible timing.

Because there was hardly any water in the waterfall, this also meant there was almost no water in the creek, or as I call it, for some reason, “the crick.”

No matter how “creek”  is said, the children enjoyed playing in the little bit of water that was in the creek bed, looking for minnows, throwing rocks, throwing and digging in dirt and looking at fossils of creatures that had been left in the rocks. They loved simply getting dirty and playing the same way I did as a child – exploring nature without direction and more importantly, without technology.