Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Oldest Friend

A Sunday Scribblings Prompt

She’s ninety five, and because of a stroke, her limbs are of no more use than branches on a backwards tree. So every day someone dresses her, as if she were still going to her old job at the courthouse—soft knit dress, slip, hose worn like knee socks, and brown penny-loafers— then lifts her out of bed to the recliner, where she sits patiently, watching television in the dusky living room. The house is old around her, filled with the furniture of her grandparents and carrying the smells of two bygone centuries. This is her entire world, well almost. Every evening, her son pulls out the wheelchair and the two of them go down to Benny Jack’s to eat catfish and hushpuppies. It’s like an expedition to the carnival: lots of noise; loud, lively music; real people crowded into booths and tables so close the waitresses must take turns passing by. The gossip is delightful to her old ears—who’s getting married, whose son became a fighter pilot, and who’s having trouble with that bunch of amateurs up at the courthouse.

I met her this summer when her substitute caretaker ran into some problems and asked for my help. Imagine meeting someone the first time when they come into your room holding a bucket and asking if they can give you a wash.

“Are you a nurse,” she asked suspiciously. (Much can be forgiven nurses.)

“No. Just a friend of your friend here”

“I’m not going to let you do it.”

“I’m sorry.”

“This is one of those emergencies,” interjected the sitter, “You don’t really have a choice, because I can’t do this by myself.”

“What’s your name?”


“Mine’s Mim. You don’t hear a name like that much anymore.”

“It’s a pretty name, and it happens to be the name of my little grand-daughter.”

“Well imagine that! Her parents named her Mim, huh?”

“They did.”

“Well, if we’re going to do this, we’d better get started.”

So we did. It’s an odd way to meet someone, but it certainly does away with all the social airs and graces and lets one get on with just being friends.

That wasn't the last time I ever saw her, for life has a way of letting people meet again.

Three weeks ago, when I told her goodbye, she was sitting stiffly in the recliner, funny little hose still rolled at the knee, smiling in spite of her strait-cast life, ordering the sitter to sit over by the window and quit being so nervous and fluttery.

My old friend Mim.

Observations Through the Fence.

Hey look, Arnold, Visitors!

Look, Mommy, Goats!

See how they sit and stare, all alike.
Maybe they are from the same flock.

They look hungry. See how they stand and stare at us. They don't really like grass, though, maybe some weeds would be tasty.

I don't care what they look like. What's that in their hands. Weeds? Delicious.

Here little goat, have an iris leaf.

I've got the munchies for that dress. Who cares about the leaf?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Why Would Anyone Ever Want To Live in a Small Town Out in the Middle of Oklahoma?

Every morning I try to take a walk---before the heat of the day comes roaring up from the East. Today was rainy, so it wasn't so bad. As I walked along the streets in my neighborhood, I was--once again--glad I live in a small town. Here are a few reasons why.

1. The street in front of my house has a slow speed limit.
Even our main streets(both of them)
have sections at this speed and only ever get to 35.

2. The edge of town is only (at most) a mile from the center of town, so country seeps into town and mingles with the lawns of suburbia...which starts a block from the central courthouse.

3. People's lawns look like parks...and these aren't really rich people either...just hard-working folk, some retired, who are proud of their gardening ability.

4. In the early morning, it is quiet...not too many people rushing out to work or to find some kind of entertainment.

5. I think its interesting that the "wood shop"
is bigger than the house.

6. Even this little house, full of children's toys and not at all ostentatious, has its own charm... look at the room these children have to play--no apartment-smothered little cement patios or crowded sidewalks. Kids need trees.

7. Pets have room to run around.
In this field you can see goats, 2 llamas, and a dog.

8. Old work trucks don't really look out of place.

9. People sometimes keep horses in their backyards. No. I don't ride them,but they are lovely to look at, especially when you aren't the one having to clean the stables.

10.I hear lots of doves calling,
and some kind of bird that goes
twi-twi-tic-tic-tic-tic. There are squirrels too, running all over the trees, and a couple of years ago there was a skulk of little foxes living in the creek bed.

11. Old houses get fixed up and added to and added to again,
but they still retain that character.

12. People make lots of places to sit.
This one just faces the road
so you can see who is driving by.

13. I never have to spend gas for a drive in the country,
because I walk there every morning. It almost makes up
for the fact that we don't have Walmart or a mall.

The house across the street from me is for sale. Well?

For more Thursday Thirteen, check here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Props for Prisoners at Philippi

My hands are tired: painting and typing.
I'm writing the curriculum for our VBS this year, because we wanted to use the same setting as our last year's program, but the cycle for the company was three years and we wanted at least one more scenario. First we were in Jerusalem, then Bethlehem, then Capernaum, and now we are going to Philippi. Paul and Silas have to arrive and be introduced to Lydia's prayer meeting down by the river. (oops, we'll have to make a river) The slave girl has to be delivered--in the market place (At least we already have a market place from last year; we just have to drag all the pieces down from the church attic and set them up). We will need a jail this year, and an Olympic booth. (This is ancient Greece after all.) There are skits to write, and songs to plan and stories to tell. We need a costume for a huge Roman soldier and we need a project for the carpenter's shop. Today one of our board members brought over some chains and manacles that he had made for the prison scene. They are made of PVC pipe and chains. I painted them dull black. My fingernails look really grungy, but the typewriter keys don't care. I've typed and typed--four days worth of lessons.
Now I want to say: THANK YOU, Microsoft Word!
Well, I had an abnormal shut-down of the computer, but, thanks to their extreme courtesy in creating an instant save mechanism, I did NOT lose it all. Not any of it, actually.

Ah. I love technology.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Pottery Peddler

Claye, my senior art student, with a little prompting from me-a pushy mom-- has decided to post pictures of some of her works on the internet. We started a little blog for her, and, since she doesn't write, and has no desire to talk about anything, we will be posting only pictures of her stuff. Someday, maybe, when we can figure out how to do it, she might have a web site and sell stuff. For now, this site will be like a catalog... or a virtual file cabinet. I only wish they took up as little space in her room. Anyway, here is the link to a work--a whole lot of works eventually--in progress.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Chance Encounters

Our Sunday Scribblings Prompt was
Chance Encounters.

It was a humid, cricket-songed, moonless night in Houston, Texas, when I stood upon a grassy lawn and heard the stars cry. I had just finished reading a powerful book by the late Ayn Rand--a book which argued for elitism and sent the world to doom in the absence of any god but self, any virtue but Nietzsche's "will to power" and "survival of the self-actualized". It was a well-preached argument. My faith was tender and as yet relatively untested; it only made sense that I would question all I had ever known. Was there really a God out there--in the night, and if so, did he care enough to encounter mankind? or was everything I had ever experienced just an incredible chance. "There is no God", I thought, and the night was suddenly death still and squalid: dark-- tremulous with the thought of nothing; among the stars I was only a speck of dirt, ranting and squealing with agony against the inevitable extinguishing of my existence--a fly trembling before a swatter...and yet there was not even a swatter. The loneliness was so intense it seemed I could hear crying in the heavens, the weeping of stars, and I lost my balance as the earth seemed to spin away from beneath me. In the absence of faith, yet desperate for faith, I planted my feet in the soggy soil and looked up to the heavens: "I don't understand how it all makes sense, God, but you have to be there, and if my belief is all I stand upon in this suddenly-sobbing universe, so be it. I'll stand." And the crying stopped; the stars sang, and peace fell like a mist upon my face. As I stood upon that wobbly little island of faith, it solidified to granite. I felt the breath of God, breathed deeply, and let my soul dance.

That was almost forty years ago; I'm still standing.