Dear Daughters

I have a new post up at my new blog and I invite you to review it at Ugly Pies and Crooked Hats.  Here’s an excerpt: “As I raked, cursing at the leaves and at my own guilt that propelled me out to help your father, I was overrun with the beauty of our simple, simple life. Is it the life I dreamed of when I was your ages? Not hardly. But that life I dreamed of? It sparkled and shined and had hard edges I would have cut myself on. This life? It is the place of soft landings and gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) reminders.”

Posted in Family, Grace, Gratitude, Life, Parenting | Leave a comment

New Blog! New Blog!

I’m so grateful to those of you who have followed this blog in the past.  I’m leaving this blog up, but all of my new stuff will be on my new site.  Please feel free to subscribe to that site when you do, so you can receive email notices when I post new stuff. And guess what?  I’m posting new stuff daily this month, so don’t miss out.  Already I’ve posted about Selfies and my Cat.  And music.  So please join me here, at Ugly Pies and Crooked Hats.  And thank you again.  You all are the best!

Posted in writing

Emergency Music: Or, How I got out of “The Game”

Yesterday I posted this on my Facebook page:

So, there’s this thing going on where people want to know when it is okay to play Christmas music. And I have decided, in the spirit of all things not within my realm, that today marks the opening day of ” Josh Groban Season.” So, y’all, feel comfortable belting out that Ava Maria or, Heaven forbid, Little Drummer Boy. But for *&^%’s sake, enjoy what you enjoy when you enjoy it and don’t let anyone tell you it is too early, too late, too almost or whatever. Enjoy your dang life, y’all. (So I’m enjoying life so much I decided to go Texan on all y’all.)

And I have to admit that I am the one who may have actually started this thing, earlier in the week when I posted on a friend’s wall:

6:58 am, October 28. I’m officially out of the game.

Which referred to a “game” last year where you try to avoid hearing The Little Drummer Boy as long as  you can.  I didn’t last long last year, either.

After that post, many people chimed in and another friend (who is also now out of the game) asked for people to take a poll on when it is appropriate to start listening to Christmas music.  And that’s when I went all Texan.

In the post where I outted myself from the game, I told people who were incredulous that I was already out that I would blog the circumstances because I didn’t have time to write it all then.  So here is my really boring yet true accounting of how I came to be listening to The Little Drummer Boy at 6:58 in the morning on October 28:

I have had the same 6 CDs in my car’s player for the last two years, I think. Maybe longer. Two of them are holiday-themed CDs.  One is Peter Mayer’s Midwinter, and the other is Josh Groban’s Noel. The other four CDs are your every-day kind of music. Lately, when I drive, I am either listening to NPR or my iPhone. I keep the CD player loaded up with emergency music–music that has accompanied me through most of my adult life and will follow me to my grave: REM, Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt.

Somehow, over the last two years, Josh Groban’s Noel was added to the Emergency Music rotation. Maybe out of sheer slothfulness on my part (it’ll be Christmas music time in another 10 months, I might as well leave it in), or maybe out of the fact that I just love his voice. It soothes me. It’s like audible chocolate.

And so, there it was, in the CD player, in the rotation. I got in my car at 7:15 pm on October 27th, after 2+ hours on the commuter bus that takes me from Chicago to my home town. It is a 4-minute drive from the bus to my home, and when I got in the car, the CD-player kicked over to the Josh Groban CD, having just finished up the REM greatest hits CD.

My first instinct was to skip the disc and get to the next one.  But there it was, “Silent Night” and I had had a long day and had just a short drive home and I thought, “this is really pretty,” and so I let it go.  I got home, parked my car, went in to spend what was left of the evening with my family and The Blacklist and didn’t think another thing of it.

Next morning, I get in my car, turn it on and Silent Night ends and … Little Drummer Boy begins.  And you know what?  I laughed.  I thought of my friend who doesn’t ever want to hear it and I thought of my daughters who had, I was quite certain, already started listening to Christmas music, and I thought to myself, dang it all if it ain’t time for a little bit of Christmas.

And so, that’s my story of sound and sloth. And joy.

I don’t ask you to listen to music if you don’t want to, I just ask you not to poop on my party in the meantime.

Blessings to you–and Merry Christmas music season (whenever that starts for you).

Posted in Holidays, Music, Religion | 1 Comment

My parents, my heroes

TinaLBPorter:

After spending a week with my mother and my sister, this post came back to me today. My father was with us this week; in our hearts and on our minds. As he has been since and always.

Originally posted on Long thoughts:

This week is over for me. Tomorrow I get on a plane back home to my kids, my cats, my husband and the snow–most of which I am thrilled about.  And yet, I leave my hometown, and in doing so, must say goodbye to my father. 

My father taught for many years at a community college and in his courses he used what he called student facilitators who helped him teach.  Over the years he had many and in December, they gathered together for a reunion here at my parents’ house.  One of those facilitators called the other day while my mother was otherwise occupied and I took the call.  “He’s my hero,” she said of my dad, “and she’s my other hero,” she said of my mom.

Mine, too, I said.  Today, it is actually true—despite teenage years shouting just the opposite.  This is hard stuff they are going…

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Posted in Grace

Happy. Wealthy. Awed.

TinaLBPorter:

leavesThis. This is what I love about blogging. This is a re-run inside a re-run, the bulk of which was written nearly 9 years ago for a column I wrote for the Post-Tribune. I remember that day, watching those leaves, like it was yesterday. But I don’t remember what I wore to work just yesterday. What matters doesn’t always need to be written down, but when you do, it not only matters … it lasts.

Originally posted on Long thoughts:

Today is a work-at-home day, so I was allowed to watch my youngest as she waited for the bus.  I stood on the other side of the window, in my bathrobe, holding a less than steaming but terrificly delicious cup of fresh-roasted Highlander Grogg, watching her.  The trees in the front yard were/are shedding their leaves rapidly this morning, a steady shower of orange, red and gold.  The big ginger cat sat at my feet, his tail twitching as he, too, watched the leaves drop from the sky.  Oh, he wanted to wrestle them, I saw it in his tail.

This scene reminded me of a column I wrote two years ago.  I found it and share it with you now.  I continue to be awed (and odd).  Enjoy your fall day.

October 30, 2005 

There is something about the fall that just awes me. I usually feel odd…

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Posted in Grace

Today, a prayer, I think

Originally posted on Long thoughts:

Okay, God.  I’m listening.I sat in the sun and ate dumplings yesterday and the wind blew over and through me, much as it did that day I stood on a ridge near an old, old battlefield.

They are all old battlefieds, aren’t they God?  All the spaces we inhabit hold the old and new battles, the seen and the unseen. Those battles between classes, between races, between lovers, between parents and children, bosses and workers, even between friends. Those interior battles, too, I see, within the shifting, temporary walls that hold me in and in place.

The wind is the same and it holds that which binds us one to another, when we look, when we listen, when we feel. The sun warm on my face, the wind lifting my hair, the taste of plum sauce sweet on my tongue–you have my attention. And I thank you for offering me…

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Posted in Grace

A god of lesser things?

TinaLBPorter:

So, my sister saw my earlier re-blogged post about God and noted that she’d had a dream that God was named Margaret. Then I see that I’d already given God the name Eugene. In any event, lots of things have changed since this post, including I now have 3 daughters who know how to make a bed.

Originally posted on Long thoughts:

Can it be that I have a 12-year-old child who does not know how to make a bed?  Oh, yeah, she is my child.  A Gemini, too.  Bed-making has never been an issue for me–and yet, when I do make the bed, when the sheets are all clean and cozy, well, there’s just nothing better, right?

So, we washed her sheets and I left it to her to make the bed and she comes out and asks, “Do you have to be a mom to figure out how to put these things on the bed?” She indicated she was having more trouble with the mattress cover than the sheet.  So I go in to help her, and I’m showing her how to ease it over one end, pull toward the other then, well, you know the drill, I’m sure.  So I’m in the midst of showing her and I say…

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Posted in Grace

“Can I Pray for You?”

TinaLBPorter:

More from the vault …

Originally posted on Long thoughts:

So, I noted in my last post that I’ve been under a black cloud the last few days.  It’s been a rough patch here, and, as if the death of a friend/mentor/church leader and my father’s illness weren’t enough, I had an old wound rend open without notice.  You know, when you are vulnerable anyway and then a past grief finds its way into your heart all over again?  I think my grief immunities are super, super low right now.

And then, this morning, as I worked at home, the phone rang. It was my neighbor, wanting to invite me to an event.  In declining the invitation, I spilled it all out all over the place on her.  Here’s where I am, here’s what hurts, here’s what happened all those years ago, blah, blah, blah.  We shared similar tales of similar woes, and then she felt moved to say…

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Posted in Grace

The mess of righteousness

TinaLBPorter:

I spent the day reviewing old blog posts–feeling a bit melancholic, perhaps–and am reblogging some to remind myself of where I’ve been.

Originally posted on Long thoughts:

Yesterday was a mess in so many ways and I won’t detail them all here.  But the day’s messes left me wondering: What are we owed?  When we choose a church community, when we live in a neighborhood, when we live as a family—what are we owed?

At one point in this day that seemed chock full of mess, I had two kids in the car who were angry with each other.  One because she is the middle child and she did, quite frankly, get the short end of the stick when it came to birthdays this year.  The other was the oldest child, whose birthday it was, but who has never quite figured out how to be inobtrusive on other people’s birthdays. They were bickering back and forth because one was upset because she got hosed on her birthday, and the other because the other one was making her feel…

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Posted in Grace

On doubt, faith, and God’s cell number

TinaLBPorter:

I just came across this post today, lying in my sick bed with that same fluffy cat across my lap and remembered that the house phone rang this morning and it WAS a four-digit number, but the phone I grabbed died in my hand before I could hear anything.

Originally posted on Long thoughts:

We planned on sleeping in a little on Saturday.  We silly humans who make plans.  And the cats say “ha!”  My big fluffy tiger cat sat by my closed door and whined loudly for attention at the crack of 7:00 a.m.  I grabbed my pillow and then him and went downstairs to the couch to try to find a few more minutes of sleep there, with a cat purring upon me.

When I fell back to sleep, I had the weirdest dream.  I was out, at a party or something, and my cell phone rang.  I looked down to see who would be calling and all I saw was four digits … 2 7 7 9 (I think).  I answered tentatively, “hello?”

“Hi Tina, it’s dad,” came my father’s voice through my ear.  Distinctly my father’s voice. Not his timid, little-boy, end-of-life voice, as we came to call it. No…

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