The Face

“You’re doing it, you’re making “the face” “…I have heard that at least a million times from my husband over the years, and have said it to him twice as much.

“The face” can’t be faked..we have tried, and failed every single time., and we laugh and laugh at our feeble attempts.

We call it “the face of love” and it happens when we are fully engaged with our Labs..you dog lovers know what I’m talking about…  not the “hey, what’s up Enzo” conversation..but the “oooooh, you are so goooood..you like those ears rubbed?? You like that belly scratched?? What a sweeeeet boy!”  It’s a mutual love fest, a slobbering love beast eating it up and his human’s stress fading fast…and out comes “the face”

We always say we need to get a picture of it, since neither of us know what we look like until now..well, at least one of us knows…me.

“The face” was captured  last year while I was enjoying having this sweet black Lab snout to nose.  She wanted my apple desperately, and might have gotten a little nibble or two.

The sweet creature went to mooch from the angels yesterday .  I bet they’re all making this face…it’s not pretty..but it feels beautiful.

lenore with tess

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Thank You, Dan

Whoa…I have heard about this stuff happening, but never experienced it myself until today.  This morning, a stranger reached in front of me with a twenty dollar bill and bought my milk, juice and newspaper while I stood, stunned, staring at the “out of order” sign taped to the credit card machine, my card still in my hand which was locked in the mid-air swipe position.

I had dashed to my local 7-11 before heading to work to grab the necessities that I promised my winter vacationing teen boys would be waiting for them, whenever they emerged from their hibernation.  They are lost without their morning, er, make that afternoon bowls of cereal..I swear I have purchased a Mercedes Benz worth of milk in the last fifteen years.

So, I stared blankly at the tall, 50-something man, and suddenly felt like an extra in  “Oliver Twist”…”for me Sir?”..I whispered.  The line was stacking up fast with folks with a single cup of coffee and places to go.  He stuck his hand out and said, “I’m Dan”, and off my angel went.

Now, I’m kicking myself..had my cognitive processing skills not been completely shut down by his generosity, I would have put the juice and newspaper back and replaced the milk with a smaller container…and maybe on my way to replace those things, I would have realized that the ATM, which I have used a zillion times, was in the back of the store, and I would have gotten my own twenty and paid for my own groceries.  Nope..none of that, I just stood there, feeling the tears starting to well from this kind gesture.

Thank you Dan, I will do this for someone else very soon, someone more deserving than myself , and if they thank me, I’ll tell them it was all you, good man.

People are good.

People are good.

Even The Holy Spirit Breaks A Wing Now And Then..

I’m not fond of New Year’s Eve from a celebratory standpoint.  I never really was, even when I could stay awake past 10:00 p.m..  I  think it’s because I have always rebelled against the clock as supreme ruler of my day, my week, my year, my entire life…I just don’t like being told what time I HAVE to do something or BE something, never have.  This aversion comes with a specific set of challenges that only the chronically tardy can relate to..work schedules and mass transportation immediately come to mind, but the more abstract, and in my opinion, more difficult, time- related obstacles, like…how does a Fifty year old woman dress or act..stuff like that..makes me hate that sadistic, Type “A” cave dweller who figured out it was “time” to do something.   I was soaking in a hot tub of lavender bath salts when the ball dropped, because wouldn’t you know it, I lost track of time, and shouted my “Happy New Year!!” through the door to my loved ones.  Anyway..you get it..the par-tay isn’t here.

What I am fond of is New Year’s Day, however.  A paid holiday. A day I dedicate to PJ’s and the afterglow of the holidays that I treasure more than the actual holiday.  My beautiful Christmas tree lit, providing me peace and beauty, not the reminder that I need to finish my shopping. Those days are behind me now..it’s all downhill to St. Patty’s Day.

I slept in late, awakened by the licks of two Labs who were fully three hours past their usual breakfast and morning constitutional time -bless them..they are flexible with the clock, probably why we get along so well- and I left a snoring Joe to attend to all things dog.

That’s right about when the Holy Spirit showed up.

I should explain.

After I let the dogs outside I saw them run urgently to something flopping around in the yard.  A dove.  A wounded dove.  It was cold, and I wasn’t dressed, but I ran to the scene, shouting “No,no,no!!”  Oh, the poor dove..it’s wing was broken, and with two hundred plus pounds of Lab up it’s rear, it lamely hopped away, and all I could see was my Black Lab, three hours past breakfast ,dining on his first dove breast..his prey drive has taken us by surprise in the past..I wish I could erase the memory of my perfect, gentle boy chomping into the baby bunny..sigh.

Not on my watch, not today.  I raced back to my bedroom and shouted Joe awake..”I NEED HELP!” (note to self for future emergencies..very efficient way to get him up..no questions asked, he looked like a young fire cadet in training , dressed in less than 3 seconds, slid down the pole, and was in the yard with me in less than 5 seconds).  We stood in the yard, where the lame dove had been pitifully struggling…had.  She was gone.  In the quiet of the morning, I heard the gentle “coos” of  the doves calling to each other, as they most always have a mate.  Impossible, this recovery…I couldn’t imagine how the dove took flight…even the dogs look confused as I inspected their snouts for feathers.

We went back into the house and brewed coffee while I retold the tale of the injured dove to a skeptical Joe.  Suddenly, while sipping and chatting, Joe exclaimed, “a bird!”  Probably not a huge deal for most everyone, but we have had a birdhouse, made from a beer can, (I know, classy.. Natty Boh and O’s Hon.it’s a local thing)  hanging outside our door for a year ,and neither of us have ever seen a bird in it…we just figured even the birds have more taste than us.

Hey, hon...our first visitor to the beer can house.

Hey, hon…our first visitor to the beer can house.

What was with the birds today, I pondered..then I remembered that last New Year’s Day I had an encounter with Prince, a white deer, who became a source of spiritual strength for me..he died shortly afterwards, taking a little bit of that strength with him, I think.  Today, I think the dove returned some of that.

In Christianity, the dove is considered a symbol of the Holy Spirit, whose visit brings a message of hope. The Bible tells us that when Noah released his dove to search for land and the bird returned with the olive leaf, mankind was saved.  It is also believed that a visit from a dove  is a message to go within and release emotional disharmony.  I like that the injured dove led me to a theme of hope today, of all days.  I want be full of it, all year long, yes I do.

Not my injured dove, but I am hoping this was how her ordeal ended today..

Not my injured dove, but I am hoping this was how her ordeal ended today..

A Christmas Kick To The Badonkadonk

Throw another log on the fire and gather the young ‘uns..I’d like to tell y’all a story of the night a modern day Scrooge was slayed by the country music star.

It all started back in October when I received a series of excited texts from Joe..”I won tickets to a concert!”  He had never heard of the singer, and neither had I…but he was going to the concert, by gosh, because in his 50 years of life this was the first contest he had ever won and he was going to see “Trace” whatever his name is, and sweetly said we could have a real date night, just us two.  Yee-haw.

A quick “Trace Adkins” google  revealed that ..get ready..he was touring a Christmas concert.  A Christmas concert in November.  Have I mentioned lately that Christmas music before December 24th generally makes me anxious and depending on my level of holiday preparedness could provoke any number of personality disorders that are lying dormant in a charred part of my soul?  A quick survey of friends and strangers revealed that everyone in the universe has heard of Trace Adkins, the man who is famous for singing about that “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”..a song that is dedicated to the adoration of the firm fannies of country gals in teeny- tiny shorts.  Now, imagining a concert of epic hillbilly proportions,  I encouraged Joe to give the tickets to someone who loved the man..what a nice gesture it would be..a thoughtful surprise for a deserving friend.  Nope..he was going.  Sell the tickets, I urged..to the highest bidder!  He flinched, but ultimately didn’t budge.  Dang it, looked like my badonkadonk was headed to the big show.

We arrived to the grand old Lyric Opera House in Baltimore City and were immediately struck by the sight of Trace’s humongous tour buses taking up two blocks. Just pull over boys.. like they were at a road-side bar.  I was already chuckling and preparing myself for a yuk-yuk fest.

The yuk-yuk was on me, apparently.  When I took my seat in the balcony overlooking the stage and under a beautiful, harp carrying angel I began to have a stirring of emotion that I now recognize as a good sign.  Something good was happening…I could feel it.lyric angel

A string quartet, four gorgeous young women opened for Trace, combining amazingly beautiful music with humor and warmth, and explained the Celtic twist to the Christmas music that would be played in the show.  Have I mentioned that Saint Patrick’s Day is my favorite holiday and we start playing Irish music on December 26th around here?  When Alyth McCormack, a singer from Ireland, who performs with The Chieftains came out and floored us with her traditional Celtic songs, I’m fairly certain that was when my mouth fell open for the remainder of the show.

By the time the six-foot-six, hunka burning love Trace Adkins, who I had no idea existed a week earlier but was now a God to me, strolled onto the stage,I was floating outside my body feeling more in tune with the topless angel above me. Perhaps, I thought, the angel had already seen his show, and had thrown her bra at him, as I’m sure he is not unaccustomed to such behavior, Christmas or not.   But, seriously, when he started singing in his impossibly deep, reverent and beautiful voice, and telling the ancient stories that accompany the carols that we all know so well..the tears began to fall.

It was a beautiful thing to be reminded of the Christmas Truce of 1914..when German and British soldiers during WWI, who had been killing each other all day , began singing “Silent Night” or “Stille Nacht” in their trenches, and joined together in song, meeting each other in the middle, shared personal items and goodwill, and then went back to battle the next day.  I wept and squeezed Joe’s hand, he leaned over and whispered “you’re glad you came, aren’t you?”  He had no idea.  trace adkins

I had no idea, until today, Black Friday, how glad I was that I went to a Christmas show in November against my will.  I had to go out..I actually needed to go out.  I never, ever go shopping on Black Friday..but there I was..in a store with Christmas music blaring.  Look, I won’t lie..I almost lost it during what seemed like a twenty minute version of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”.  Torture.  All I want for Christmas is for YOU TO SHUT UP, was all I was thinking.  But, some Christmas decorations caught my eye, a sparkly  pillow that said “Joy” and some glittery candles..and I didn’t turn away..I actually purchased them. Wow..you just don’t know.  When I returned to my car, shiny, happy items in hand, and the radio was playing  Pachelbel Canon in D by the Trans Siberian Orchestra..I turned it up, not off.  Who am I?

I’m ready to put a tree up.

My family is confused.

Beau uncertain about my new found Christmas Spirit.

Beau uncertain about my new found Christmas Spirit.

The Thin Mint…The Right Cookie At The Right Time.

I will be honest with you, my fellow Americans… and let me be perfectly clear..this election season saw my patriotism and faith in my country’s political process at an all time low.

Frankly, Scarlett..I didn’t give a rat’s ass.

I used to eat and sleep the news, and relished watching people blather and foam at the mouth, while having political shouting matches that chased my family from the TV room, leaving me alone in my caffeine-fueled, psycho world.  It doesn’t get any better than election year for a cable news junkie.

That was the old me.  Cable news watching, newspaper toting girl tore up her Republican voter ID, and re-registered Independent.  It was my way of sending a message to our leaders..I’m sure they all lost several seconds of sleep over my exodus. See, in my fantasy world, everyone in America abandons the “Left” and the “Right”, forcing everyone to the “Center”.  I sure do love the “Center” and all it’s glorious gray areas.  Heck, even the word “gray” is gray..’cause sometimes it’s “grey”..we gray folks don’t care how you spell it.  Like my Dad always said..there’s two sides to every story kiddo.

Truthfully, I nearly missed voting.  It required some serious extra effort on my part to make it the polls and my apathy was about to win out, until my son asked me if I was going to vote.  I thought about lying to him for a second, or just telling him that I was fed up with the whole shooting match..but I stopped short.  I didn’t want to buzz-kill a thirteen year old’s awakening to the process..and I want him to learn to think for himself..not repeat his mother’s jaded views, as so many children will do. Anyway, I have already convinced them to hate the New York Yankees..my work is done.

So, I voted…and I am so glad I did.

When I arrived to the polls, there was the usual assortment of politicians and  their supporters, shaking hands and shoving their pamphlets into my hands.  I like to brush past them, tossing remarks like “well, if I haven’t decided who I am voting for yet, I probably shouldn’t even be here”… smug stuff like that. I have to have some fun.  Pushing past the faithful, I came upon a loud, giggling band of Girl Scouts who were set up at a table, selling their delicious, evil little cookies which I am powerless at resisting.  All of them talking at once..excitedly asking me to vote for my favorite cookie while they kept a running tally on their poster board.

No one tried to pressure me or bad mouth any of the cookies.  A sweet girl with glasses and a serious expression waited patiently, marker poised at her poster, to record my vote.  When I exclaimed “Thin Mint!”, she beamed and made her slash mark and then reaching up to my shoulder, placed her hand there, looked me dead in the eyes, and said “thank you”.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  What  a joy these Girl Scouts were..and even something more important…faith restorers.

The Girl Scouts reminded why I should vote.  Their excitement about the process was contagious, I went into the booth smiling, voting proudly.

I’m so glad I voted.  Now, that half a box of cookies I had for breakfast..not so much…sigh.

girl scoutsgirl scouts cookie box

Seeing The Light through The Garbage

You must be kidding me.  THAT’S where the sun rises?

Each morning as I climb  up on my minivan and jockey through the neighborhood for school drop-offs, I look to the sky and I say the same thing..just ask my kids.

“I wish we could see that sunrise..see that pink (or red, or orange, or yellow, depends) sky?  Oh, I betcha it’s gorgeous!  Somewhere, there’s a view of a spectacular sunrise around here!  Isn’t it beautiful, guys?!  LOOK AT THAT SKY!!” “I SAID LOOK AT THE SKY!”

My poor teens are tired of this routine, I am fairly certain.  My semi-comatose 15 year old, who has a sensitive soul, will at least humor me with a “nice”.  Sweet kid.

But this morning was different.  As I thundered towards the finish line to the middle school , galloping down the same side street that I have for 18 years….THERE IT WAS.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Through the empty parking lot, behind the dumpsters of the neighborhood seafood restaurant.

MY SUN RISE.

I squealed in my son’s left ear, which I am sure is still ringing.

“Keep going Mom, we’re going to be late..you can go back..Mom..it’s the sun..it’s been here for millions of years..the earth revolves around it..”

Smart ass.

With seconds to spare, I raced back to the dumpsters, after a record  school drop off time..slowed down to fifteen, yelling “MOVE, MOVE, GO!” like the guy who pushes our Airborne troops out of the plane.

Sitting in the empty parking lot this morning, I photographed the sunrise with my cellphone.  It’s not even a good picture, and I’m sure there will be more spectacular sunrises to come..but that’s not the point.

It was beautiful, and deeply moving..to me. All these years of yearning for the perfect view, lamenting and scheming to pull up stakes, and it was right in my backyard, behind the dumpsters..could there be a more fitting cliche?

If I go missing before sunrise these days, you’ll know where to find me.sunrise behind the dumpster

The Lawn Man Cometh

First he came for Mary.

Then he came for Jean.

Now, he comes for Carol.

After the angels come for the husbands of Locust Drive,

And before they come for their widows,

the Lawn Man cometh.

lawn man tools

A weed whacker his scythe,

A hoodie his cloak.

A nod and a slight smile when I pass by,

even my friendly Labs cut a wide path,

his presence more unnerving than the skeletons and tombstones

poking playfully from the ground.

I step up my pace, a slight jog even

Oh, who am I fooling,

Lawn Man visits all of us,

sooner or later.

skeleton in ground