Things Men Talk About

a man to man discussion
a man to man discussion

This morning  I asked my dad to tell me some things about his dad, my grandfather.  I had been thinking about how much I remembered my grandmother smiling, talking, laughing, working, but very little about my grandfather.  I wanted to know what his sense of humor was like, what his frustrations were, what mattered to him.  Strangely, my dad could not think of anything specific to tell me, but he was willing to think about it and get back to me.

As I retreated to a chair in the corner to empty my inbox (groan, 3000 emails 20 at a time…) dad and my husband started talking.  This has happened before because the two of them have some things in common that they like to discuss.  Of course I am not saying that these are the only things men talk about – I am not privy to much of that, nor do I want to be.  Here are some things that they love to talk about:

– it starts with my husbands plans to fix my daughter’s situation getting hay for her horses, talk turns to trailers to haul things

– machinery, specifically things that have been used in the past and abandoned out in machinery graveyard

– machinery, how it was transported to far away farms

– machinery, at what age they learned to use it

– machinery, near accidents that people had with it

– hay, machinery used to make it

– hay, how much faster it could be made as machinery improved

– combines (as if you could not guess, a combine is a machine)

– straw, and what they used it for

– machinery, how a tractor was made from a truck and what it was used for

– rocks (?) and how you get them out of fields, presumably with a machine

This conversation lasted at least an hour and they both enjoyed having a chance to talk and share stories.  And I realized as I listened from my hidden vantage point that I was witnessing something important about men, and their differences from women.  I’m not sure exactly what that was but it has something to do with machines… just sayin’.

Change, bring it on…

I have to say that things have begun to change for me already, but  that will continue.  Since last August I have been following an inner directive to be free for helping  my immediate family should they need it.  There are extended times in the ordinary progression of life when everyone  is on the young side, fairly healthy, moving forward and enjoying independence.  And then there are those other times that are not all those same things.  If the family is like a wagon train heading across the plain, there are times when they need  to circle the wagons.  That’s a bit of what I feel.

Time is not a limitless commodity. I want to make conscious decisions where I spend my time and who I spend it with.  As much as I love and appreciate my present friends and my community, I kind of arrived here out of financial necessity.  And time spent here has been good, but I am also blessed that I love to spend time with my family, every one of them.  They are all people  I would choose to spend time with, lots of time. Instead, it’s  been limited to a week here and there while on vacation, a reunion every few years, sometimes a holiday celebrated together.  I am ready to choose a closer connection.

That being said, I don’t really know where I’ll be a year from now.  Hey, but until I’m ready to do it, I don’t have to worry about where I’m going.  I just have to get ready to go somewhere.  The husband and I have made great progress toward this – at least I’m proud of us. Every week we get rid of some of our “stuff” that would not be worth taking with us.  We are both thinking about our present jobs and how our work would continue in a different place.  I jumped the hurdle of signing up for my social security benefits yesterday (believe me, it was a mental/emotional HURDLE).  I am scaling back on commitments I make and not jumping into new ones.  I am waiting to see what God will do with my readiness.  And there is a peace in not knowing the timing but just doing one thing at a time as the possibilities become apparent.

steps toward change
steps toward change

 

F for Fingers

fingers that play (to the beat)
fingers that play (to the beat)
fingers that work (and take a beating)
fingers that work (and take a beating)
adjusting and healing
adjusting and healing
steering in the right direction
steering in the right direction
keeping the truck on the road
keeping the truck on the road
um... oh well, you know
um… oh well, you know
learning
learning
providing diversion and entertainment
providing diversion and entertainment
keeping up with events on the news
keeping up with events on the news
etching an award for a deserving teacher
etching an award for a deserving teacher
ready to type the next post
ready to type the next post

Fingers – think of all they do. Think of what life would be like without them… Think of how awesome it is that they obey orders that start way up in your head without you even having to think about it.  We are wonderfully made!  Have you ever really looked at the hands and fingers of the people you love? These are fingers from my family and friends doing what they do for fun and for making a living.

 

A to Z Challenge: The B word

Birthday (not what you were expecting?). The one day of the year when a person should do something bold, rejuvenating, uncharacteristic of normal activity, all in an effort to offset the fact that another year has come and gone.  I have no idea what to do this year, except I’d like to avoid eating being the focus.  I’d prefer activity at little or no cost – the perfect combination – with a token of remembrance of some sort. Other years it’s been kayaking, or an epic hike or bike ride.  So far there is nothing on my schedule for that day except semi-annual AC tune up by the Cool-It Man. I don’t know what I was thinking when they called.

one more memorable birthday NOT
one more memorable birthday NOT

I was doing something memorable on April 2 thirty-two years ago. It had to do with “birthday” as well, but not my own. On that day our family went from three to four in number. As much as we could, we were trying to keep you (you know who you are) from life-long April Fools jokes, and there you were a few minutes after midnight, cooperative as usual. Today my heart celebrates you and EVERYTHING you have added to my life. All my love and Happy Birthday (!!), Mom

While it is day…

I’ve heard this phrase used in various settings to show that every minute of life is unique. Every opportunity comes once, and there never is another quite like it. And some things must be done while it is day because the night is coming when you won’t be able to do it anymore.

I think along these lines every time I am together with family, as I am now. My parents are with me at my home in Florida and I am very aware of the limited time for the special project I’m working on with my mom. I am finding out who she is in different ways than I have used before. I am interviewing her. I am writing her memories of being a child, a teen, a young married woman.  I am realizing that just because I have known her all my life, doesn’t mean that I know her. She had a life before me that figured heavily in the formation of who she is now. As I hear of those years, those events, I see a story that is more compelling and inspiring than I knew. I became a part of that story and I feel a strong connection to it.

As mom and I sit and talk there are times when the details of the story aren’t clear any more and we wish for someone else who might have been there.  My mom has a brother who came down to visit us one day. He was closer to her in age than her other siblings and he knew many of her stories, having lived them with her.  His perspective was different and added extra color and depth to the family narrative. Another of her brothers passed away a week ago and I can’t help but wonder what he would have added. Did anyone ask him to tell about his life? Did he leave any of those details for others to know?

Our experiences make us who we are. There are reasons we think the way we do and react to life in certain characteristic ways. Many times I have had friends or acquaintances who I considered to be difficult people, until I heard their story. I’ve known some very remarkable people and wondered where they got their courage or their ambition, until I heard their story. Knowing the story is so helpful in loving and having compassion on others.  The stories need to be told if we are to become peacemakers, helpers of each other.

Do you have a living parent that you think you know? Or a husband/wife? Or even a child? As we look at life’s experiences through our own mental window, it is possible to entirely miss what is happening in someone else’s inner world.  Don’t be too sure you know them.  Don’t think it doesn’t matter. Don’t be slow to ask. Do it while it is day. 

They Left

Crying lately, sometimes outwardly, mostly inwardly. I think it helps. Crying maybe leaves room for hope because I have never been able to cry forever.

Today my so ordinary life has been putting the furniture back in place. The air mattresses are deflated and rolled up. The sheets and towels are washed. The extra dishes are back in the cupboard. All my secrets have been exposed, like the rolls of cat hair under the sofa, the disorder of my physical, mental and emotional worlds.

I love to have family visiting in my home, so why didn’t I end up with a home that had room for visitors? Didn’t God know? That’s silly. He knew we needed a few things to be inconvenient/gross/dangerous in order to bond. In order to make memories. I hope they remember how much I love them. How good it was to know I could still put the kayaks in the water and paddle a ways. How good it was to know I could still survive a little sleep deprivation. How good it was to become more familiar with their ways, their sayings, their pastimes, their clothing, They were easy keepers and I loved every minute. Maybe they will come again if I don’t make them sleep outside in a tent, and if the dog next door doesn’t bark all night. But we would have figured all that out if they had stayed longer than three nights. We would have.

A small inward cry as I miss them.

Till Death Do Us Part

Forty-one years ago we said those words, the husband and I.  I think we had a better than average understanding of what that meant, and here we are, still not parted by death or anything else. I cannot speak for both of us, but for myself, I have learned many useful things about marriage. And about men. And about the husband in particular.  

The most interesting thing is that we are still changing, and there is more new stuff to learn as that happens.  For our anniversary we are going to start a program called Prepare/Enrich (prepare-enrich.com) and our first task is to answer online questions about ourselves.  After all these years of living with the husband there are still things about his early years that I probably don’t know. And there are things about my early years that have formed my ways and views that I might not be aware of either. I am warned that there are about two hours worth of this questioning to wade through before we start the next part of the program. 

The next part is called “dating”, something we haven’t done regularly since being married.  Actually, it’s going to be double dating with a mentoring couple, and it’s supposed to be fun.  This whole concept is intriguing to me because it sounds very personal and potentially helpful.  It’s not a roomful of people at a marriage conference where no one knows what you’re thinking, it’s just the husband and I with two other people kind of like us but capable of objectivity and insight into our natures (because they get to see our two hours worth of answers from the online portion). We’ve never worked on our relationship intentionally like this before (yeah, it’s about time…) but like I said, forty-one years and we still haven’t killed each other.  Isn’t that what it means when you say until death do us part? 

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A Christmas Conversation

Image

The neighbor girl, age 8, came past today as I was mowing the lawn and since I hadn’t seen her for a couple of weeks I stopped the tractor for a chat.  I asked her how she was and it led to a conversation that went something like this…

“So how have you been lately?”

“Great, my school had a “one”derful Christmas thing and my mom gave me $20 to spend. I got all my shopping done for my whole family. Everything was one dollar.” She named off her five family members that she had bought for and confessed that she had spent most of the remaining money on herself.

“What do you think this whole Christmas thing is about?” I asked.

After a bit of thinking she explained that it was the birthday of Jesus.

“So isn’t it kind of weird that we give presents to everybody else on Jesus’ birthday?”

“Well, not really,” she said. “ It’s Jesus’ birthday but lots of people just don’t care and they want presents because it’s fun to get them. I really believe in Santa.”

“Oh yeah? You mean he’s a real person? What does he do?”

“He gives presents to kids when their parents can’t get them anything, so they can have fun too.”

“And he wears the red suit and the cap and all?”

“Yes, and he comes down the chimney.  I saw the reindeer too once.”

“What do you think about all the other people who dress up like him and say they’re Santa?”

“They’re fake.”

“So, he must be pretty skinny if he fits down peoples’ chimneys?”

“No, he eat cookies at everybody’s house.”

“Oh, so he’s fat. Isn’t that a problem?”

She wasn’t used to being grilled on her Santa knowledge and by this time she was getting at a loss for words and frustrated with me.  “Santa is magic, that’s how he gets in.”  This was followed by an expose about her dad who had played a trick on her a couple years ago, saying he was teleported into their house, when really he had snuck around through the back door.  “Now he tells me!” she says, rolling her eyes and explaining that Santa is different, magic.

“And does Santa get stuff for you?”

“Yes, three or four things and he puts them under the tree.  My dad said he quit getting presents when he was four, and I said, why would you quit getting presents?! But his family didn’t keep Christmas after that and they didn’t have a tree.”

“What? If you don’t have a tree he doesn’t leave any presents?”

“Well, he has to have a tree. I have a friend who has little Christmas trees  in three different rooms and Santa left presents under every tree.  My mom tells him what she’s getting me so he knows to get different stuff. “

“How does she tell him?”

“She has his number. She calls him.”

“Well, I have to get back to mowing the lawn, and you probably have something to do too.”

“Yeah, see ya.”

And so ended our conversation.  I was so fascinated at the intricacy of the fabrication she had constructed that I didn’t even attempt to address the reality of Santa.  Her parents had put some time and trouble into reinforcing  the story and although I had started a relationship with her, I didn’t feel it was my place to break the news.  Perhaps I should have given her more to think about, and maybe I will the next time I see her.  How does one begin to tell the real, deeper story?

I couldn’t help but think, as I rode around on the mower, how much effort we put into various distractions on the Christmas theme – time to decorate, time to bake, shop, party. It has to leave the birthday boy feeling a little left out, if it’s really his birthday.  Something to think about.,,

photo credit: laursifer via photopin cc

  • Cleaners and Neaters

    For me, one of the nicest things about travel is that eventually I get to come home. Home, after two weeks away, is almost like someplace I’ve never been. It is a familiar, but still strange sort of place.

    I get to use a full size tube of tooth paste.

    My friends and family say they missed me.

    There is an abundance of meaningful work to do.

    I don’t have to wear dirty clothes unless I want to.

    And oddly enough, instead of responding to unusual circumstances that present themselves only on rare occasions, I have to think about and be who I need to be for the long haul, the majority of day to day living. More about that later.

    As I reacquaint myself with the house where I live with the husband, I am suddenly able to figure something out that I have wondered about for years.  We are different, the husband and I, and that’s good and serves a purpose. Here is my newest definition of a particular difference.

    Some people are neat and tidy but not necessarily cleaners.

    Other people makes lots of messes when they work but they are cleaners when it’s done.

    Neaters and cleaners, that’s it.  I can think of so many examples of how this works out – like our paperwork and files.  Everything is stacked or filed (kept) meticulously, but usually it is only one of us who cleans and throws out the outdated and unnecessary.  Bathroom stuff is on its shelf or drawer, but only one of us wipes out the drawer and cleans the shelf. The dishwasher is loaded and run, but only one of us clears and cleans the counters and puts stuff away.  

    Now unless you begin to think that the cleaner is in some way superior to the neater, let me say that it’s not true.  I am the cleaner (in case you haven’t figured it out) and I am capable of what I call “creative mess” at any moment.  I am following a trail and can’t be bothered with neatness along the way. Besides, I know I’m going to have to clean it up eventually, so I get to choose when. There is evidence of my creative side all over the house but the husband doesn’t often mind (or notice) as long as his stuff is in the pile where he put it (neatly). We were meant to coexist.

    Those of us who love our homes will probably admit that the cleaning and organizing that we do is part of the “love”.  The satisfaction of making a difference, even if it’s only to clean a counter or rearrange a corner of the living room, is like getting to catch up with an old friend.  Yep, that’s what I’m doing today and it’s good to be home… I’m just sayin’.

    Here we go again…

    ???????????????Here we go again…

    I am excited.  It is only hours before a season of travel begins, and instead of getting ready I’m sitting here writing about how I’m not ready.  Thoughts about traveling are fighting to get out of my head.

    I am going to my first, original home to be with family and friends, celebrating Thanksgiving.  I love everyone I am going to be with. Even before that, I love talking to strangers in the airport and on the plane.  I love being free to watch what is going on around me and observe people.  There is such freedom in not having a job to do other than keeping bombs from being planted in my luggage. Almost every routine of my daily life is changed to something new.

    Flight attendants bring me the beverage of my choice – this happens never at home.

    I get to sit in/drive a nearly new car.

    I can eat fast food without feeling guilty because it’s about the only choice.

    And at my destination I have that unique position of half guest, half helper.  It allows me to work alongside others and see what is going on in their lives.  It means I can stay up late visiting if there’s an opportunity, or get up early and have that first cup of coffee with someone special.  It means I can probably take a nap if I’m tired, or take a couple hours off to write or read.  There’s time to think about living while I’m doing it.

    And even while the excitement builds, there’s a conflict. I feel it every time.  I am a split personality when it comes to travel.  There is so much to like about being away, and yet I am as much a home body as anyone could be.  I love my home, the husband, the cats, the yard, the old car, the commitments, the friends, even the job (sort of) (don’t spread that around).  To be happy and involved in one place, you have to lose touch with where you’re not.  And even when I know I’m coming back, there is a bit of sadness in stepping away from the familiar.

    Will the husband be able to find food in the refrigerator?

    Will my strawberry plants die if we get a freeze?

    Will my cat forgive me for being gone?

    Will I come back to a mountainous pile of junk mail? Laundry?

    Will I be the same person that I was?  Probably not.

    I’m just sayin’, here we go again…