Sunday, July 30, 2006

Back in the Water -- Relapse

It's very frustrating, and downright scary, the depth of my son's problem. He knows the power of the grip his addiction has on him, and he is hopeless right now. He cannot believe that there is a way through this for him. He wants to lay down and give up.

He is in Houston right now, where he knows no one but family, at an aunt's house, away from the tempation, at least, for the moment. My aunt has been talking to a church that has a ministry to help addicts. We are hoping/praying that my son will at least talk to this man who has been through these waters and has made it out to the other side.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


The top photo was altered in Photoshop. The bottom photo was attacked with a bleach pen (thus explaining the white spot), a Sharpie and a ten penny nail. Now, looking at these photos, I have this brilliant idea that it would have been good to take away my head and put something weird in its place! Hmm, I may have to try that.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sunshine and Chocolate...

(Two things that are not necessarily good in excess.)

Sunshine on my shoulders felt good back when I was a teenager who occasionally slathered herself in baby oil and iodine in search of a deeper tan. I was already tan enough. My grandparents on my mother’s side used to tease me about my olive skin making me look like a little brown bug in the summertime.
Recently I have been indulging in a little anti-oxidant therapy, also known to the ordinary layman as chocolate therapy. It may be too little too late, but a little chocolate never hurt anyone, right? (Unless we count the time I ate my entire chocolate Easter bunny on the way to my grandparents’ house Easter morning. I think I was told I could only eat the ears.) They did a biopsy to be sent away to a lab while I went home and tried to think of other things as I waited for the week to pass. Turns out, one of the spots was a pimple-like thing. The other, well, it was a simple basal cell carcinoma, the kind of cancer you’d want to have, if you just had to have a type of cancer.

I made a collage and had a little talk with Jesus (as Anne Lamott might say), well, several talks, actually, and I wrote a little bit about the initial shock of it all. I thought of the incredible privilege in being able to cry out to Jesus. I reminded myself to remember to anchor deep and lean on God.

I believe the collages and the journaling are powerful forms of prayer. I think that while I am occupied with arranging images on the page, or in simply reporting what has been happening, the Spirit enters in and all the other voices of my fears and turmoil are shushed, and I am very grateful.

I go on the 1st of August to have the spot excised (don’t you just love medical euphemisms?) People say they will burn it out. I am not sure how he will do it, but the doctor (who I think just turned fourteen, that is how you know you are getting old, by the way, the doctors all look like children) will remove the offending spot and will somehow stitch everything back together. I have not had stitches since the third grade, when I ran smack-dab into Lou Ellen Lyons on the sidewalk at school.

There are worse things that could have happened.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wish You Were Here

Wish you were here to enjoy a large slice of ice cold yellow-meated watermelon, and a spontaneous dip in the creek....
Nope, neither of these pairs of legs are mine. I was not adventurous enough to go into the water.

I guess any state that has watermelons has one place that supposedly grows the best melons, and every little watermelon stand you see claims their melons come from that place. Around here, that place is Sugartown, which is where I bought this melon and others, at a jacked-up price, only to arrive at my uncle's house for him to tell me this guy did not get those melons from Sugartown! Lucky for the watermelon peddler, the melons were delicious. We still have two more, one red and one yellow, waiting to be cut.

I was also looking for pink-eyed purple hull peas and did not find any. Uncle said I should have been there last week. Talking about fresh peas makes me nostalgic, makes me wish I could sit at my grandparents' table one more time....

Still Life

Grandmother cooked on a wood stove:
peas, butterbeans, cornbread, biscuits.
For desert, we ate canned peaches.
When everyone left the table,

Grandfather winked and smiled at me
as we divided what was left
of the peach juice into our bowls
and drank life’s syrupy sweetness.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ringing Cracked Bells

It doesn't matter how cool you are, when you work with a group of college students, and you are old enough to be the mother of any one of them, there are bound to be a few generational gaps that leave you scratching your head in befuddlement. It didn't happen that often to me, but occasionally it would, and for a short time, I worked with a cute little Cajun student who loved to clue me in when I had left the conversation and my mind was wandering off in left field. She would say "Ding, ding, ding, earth calling Mrs. Annie" and I would snap back to attention. She loved to ring the bell at my inattentiveness.

At summer camp, the ringing of the bell orders our entire day. We always have a designated "bell-ringer" who is responsible for ringing the bell on time for each event. Otherwise, we would have teachers letting their girls go five minutes early and disrupting another class as they gallop by on their way to being first in line for lunch. Oddly enough, that inequity does not sit well with hot and sweaty girls who are stuck with the teacher who keeps them sitting still for the entire 35 minutes of class. So we ring the bell, and life proceeds in a (somewhat) orderly procession.

I want to be a bell ringer. Not necessarily the kind of bell ringer who sounds her bell to make pretty music and spread joy. I want to be the more practical kind of bell ringer, one who calls attention to things that might be missed, the one whose tolls signify transition, or movement to a different activity. I want to be the kind of bell ringer who stays in the background, the kind who rings the bell like an alarm, calling others to look at this, or to stop and think.

But lately it seems this bell ringer has gotten caught up in the fact that she does not make beautiful music like some bell ringers do, that she is practical and (maybe) useful, but not exactly melodious. She feels imperfect. She feels broken. And sometimes, when that happens, she falls silent. There are bells that call her to silence, and bells that call her to stop and pray. There are bells that call her to action. And then there are bells that call her to stop and think. Can't you hear them?...Ding, ding, ding...

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
It's how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen
-from "Anthem" (1992)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Little Things Like This Bug Me

David at Gallimaufery pointed out a common mispronunciation of the word forte and that reminded me of this sign that is grammatically incorrect, so I rushed right out and snapped a photo.

This is a local hair salon, celebrating ten years of hair-dos. They have dropped the word hair, so the apostrophe holds its place, right? But then again, a decade of 'dos does not look quite right either. Hmmm, anybody got any better ideas? I might have taken liberty with the spelling and said, a decade of 'doos. Yeah, that's what I would have done.

It does seem like it ought to be Friday night already.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Random Ramblings From A Reptilian Brain

My son is home! It's a bit of an awkward transition, which I suppose is normal. It's like none of us knows what to do with each other.

On other subjects, Regina Clare Jane of I Still See A Spark In You told about why she named her blog that, and tagged me to answer where I got my blog name. So, Regina Clare Jane (I love using all three of her names!), here is the story:

When I started the blog, I felt like I was coming out of a fog of sorts in my life, and I had been doing some personal growing. I felt like that was exactly what was happening, that new life was rising. I always wished I could have come up with a more clever and unusual and unique name, but that what was I came up with at the time. Now? I might call it something like Lessons From the Dung Heap! In all actuality though, that is the same thing isn't it? New life often rises from the Dung Heap, doesn't it?

Also, when I started this blog, I thought it would be a creative outlet for me. I never imagined, or planned, to reveal such personal things as my struggles with my son. I never imagined, or planned, that so much of my spiritual side would emerge on this blog. I honestly intended to keep things neat and pretty (and light), with no hint of the pains that growl in the background. I never, ever wanted to come off as whiny (and I hope I haven't). The thing I am slowly learning is that we all have some kind of pain that growls in our background. We all have our problems. Life ain't always easy, brothers and sisters.

Of course, the thing is, if one is honest, and says, out loud, "I've got this pain growling back here, and it hurts", there is usually someone who will reach out and offer comfort in whatever way they know how. And there are others who will say, "I have been there too, and this is what helped me...." Or there will be one who says, "I am just beginning to hear that growl, what am I going to do?" and you can offer them a steadying hand.

And I am grateful that so many of you have reached out to me. I greatly appreciate the thoughts, the encouragement and the prayers.

And another thing-- There is a blog on my sideroll that I do not know if many of you have checked out. It's called Maced With Grace. I want to point you in the specific direction of one of her posts, but I would also like to encourage you to look around her site and see what other nuggets of brightness you can find. Jules has been on a journey for the last year or so and I have really enjoyed reading about it. She writes in such a joyful and exhuberant style. Often, her stories will just reach out and smack me between the eyes. And often, I never even see it coming! Go check this one out, What Love Was, and if you have time check out one in a few posts before this one, called Monologue (I believe).

And, speaking of getting smacked between the eyes, this one also did it for me: Teacher/Treasure, a post that speaks of loss in many layers. It reminds me of this quote, in reverse--

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt. Frederick Buechner

The decision to let this woman go was a budgetary decision. It affects her personally, and it affects the people she has worked with for so many years. But, because of her "touch" on the lives of all these "others", the loss also extends way beyond the personal level that Mindy writes about.

Who knows how many prospective students will be affected by the "trembling" that has been stopped by whatever budget committee made this decision to close up this one teacher's shop?

And yes, I am a realist, the money can't be there to help every single need, especially in cases where the odds are probably so far against these kinds of programs being successful. But still, being the mother of a son who could desperately benefit from the help of such a teacher, my heart mourns the loss for all those who will now not know the touch of this "kind and gentle" teacher.

Somehow, I do not believe this will stop her from touching others. Teacher, I pray that those around you will touch you as you seek to regroup and prepare for the next phase in your journey. Blessings on you as you step off the path that was previously known to you.