Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I was recently on the telephone with a friend relaying something that qualified as low key drama in my household. Nothing serious, and certainly nothing that needs to be elaborated on here, but it was enough for me to place a telephone call to a trusted friend who can always be counted on to give me some perspective. Between bouts of exhaustion, sinus trouble, disorganization and the dreaded "personal summers" I've been saddled with lately...I occasionally enter the realm of the irrational.

Because this friend has multiple daughters, she pretty much has the equivalent of a PhD in "drama." Plus, there's the added bonus that she can usually trump my mini-drama with whatever is going on in her world. She doesn't mind if I call and whine because she knows that she's welcome to return the favor. Besides, if I don't get comforted or reassured...I'll generally at least get entertained.

I have another friend who has a daughter three years ahead of mine. It is like having an early warning system for most everything. Occasionally, she calls and tells me of her daughter's latest escapade and reminds me to pay attention to her newest "lesson learned" so that I don't get blindsided somewhere down the highway of life. I've dodged numerous bullets that she's taken head-on because she warned me ahead of time to put on the vest, so to speak. I'm extraordinarily grateful for her role as a drama-minimizer in my life.

Drama is something that I have grown up with...well...literally. I was born into a family of performers and I have sat in the audience for a fair amount of time during my early years. While there's something a little bit cool about having a mother that is such a good actress that you forget that she's actually your mother while she's performing, it was also just a wee bit unusual and certainly made for an interesting upbringing. I suppose that's why some drama seems a little bit contrived to me. I guess I think I'm just watching another production.

Tonight's drama at my household involved the difficulty experienced in learning the first eighteen lines of "The Canterbury Tales" in middle English. There really are no words to describe this particular horror nor some of the strong objections to this exercise that I actually want to record or dwell on. But when I think that this child will be in college in less than a year, I'm laughing to myself a bit knowing that learning this junk is the least of his worries. He just doesn't know it yet. Can't wait until he gets his first "English-as-a-second-or-third-or-whatever-language" professor. Yeah, that's going to be fun (not).

Drama is one of those things that seems to follow some people for a season, and other people pretty much indefinitely. Some of my friends have the most hilarious things happen to them because they seem to just be living and breathing testimonies of the truth contained in "Murphy's Law." Oh, I know it is not funny WHILE it is happening, and I am very careful not to laugh. But afterward? Oh!...HILARIOUS. These folks are generally also gifted storytellers...which makes it even better.

I've avoided reality television (as much as Big Dave will allow me to escape it) because I honestly don't need any more drama in my life than is already present. Plus, a few years ago, I had the experience of dealing with a woman who "got all up in my business" and made me appreciate my normally mundane existence. She was a self-described "rebel" and seemed to think that I wasn't a very good mother because I was nice to her child. Believe me...being nice can easily be confused with trying to take them to raise if you are crazy enough. There are many more comments that I could make all these years later...but let's just say that I fired her a letter explaining my side of things after being mortified by a visit she made to my workplace. Yes, you read that workplace. TWICE.

Frankly, THAT was enough drama to last me awhile. Like...a long while. Possibly forever. Yeah, like THAT is going to happen. Part of being of a "certain age" is the knowledge that you can make hormonally induced mountains out of molehills. Big time.

I suppose that I believe a stable existence without all of the drama might be nice. But in my opinion, "stable" is sometimes synonymous with "boring." Not that I have any desire to conjure up any drama. It seems to find me without a GPS.

For better or worse...our moments of "drama" are part of the whole of living in this world. And, thankfully, we can sometimes be spectators on the sidelines of "drama-rama" without actually getting in the fray. If we're lucky...

On Cruelty

Last night, I went to see the movie "You Again" with Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Betty White, and a host of other actors that I know. The premise was that there was a girl who made one of the characters' life miserable in high school...and the rivalry never went completely away. The characters scrapped it out in funny and predictable ways...and most of us would recognize one or the other of the characters...the tormentor or the tormented.

I think that everyone at some point in time has encountered cruelty. Maybe it was an offhand comment that unintentionally took root in our hearts, a snubbing because we couldn't keep up, or obvious bullying. Maybe we just thought that someone was weird, had cooties, or was so out of the mainstream that we just couldn't accept them...not realizing that a few years later - in college - that there was a different lifestyle in every dorm room. Or maybe we were new to a school in a small town, had some label attached to us because of the behavior of someone related to us, or were so sure that everyone was out to get us that it eventually became a self fulfilling prophecy.

We've all encountered it, though. On one side or the other...or both.

I know that some people have a stronger need to be in the spotlight than others. Negative attention is better than no attention at all, and so they will play along with whatever other people are dishing out. I remember junior high and seeing one poor unfortunate soul getting the brunt of almost everyone's disdain. Some of it he brought on himself, but I have to say that I'm convinced that the majority of it...he did not. He was just very different and not particularly friendly. I don't know why one kid is picked out to be swallowed by the masses, and why perfectly nice children feel the need to pick on the weakest one. But they do...and this happens. What children don't know...but adults that for most of is a hidden shame that we carry around for having participated in such behavior. And there is rarely anything that you can do to make it better. Except teach your children well and hope that they don't participate when that test lies before them or stopping it when you see it.

Other times, there are people that stand out due to natural gifts, abilities, or just pure chance. The Homecoming Queens, star football players, and whiz kids who get scholarships to wherever they choose to go. Some of the time, these lucky few are such wonderful people that people love and respect because they are more star-struck than envious. But sadly, for most, they live a little isolated because their success means that the jealous souls who surround them feel free to try to knock them down a peg. Or two.

In the "girl world" the cruelty can be devastating. Cases have recently gone to court because a girl dared to have a boyfriend that someone else laid claim to or because she was so different that everyone felt it was fine to dump on her. Usually, these cases do not end well, and end up in the national spotlight. The pain that they cause is just unnecessarily cruel. Then, when something awful happens, it just keeps on coming because the ones who are participating in this behavior are so far in that they can't even see the error of their ways. And they think it is hilarious to see them get what they "deserve". As if they are adequate judge and jury.

Sadly, sometimes parents get on the bandwagon. Someone makes a mistake early or is just too much of a threat for their daughters...and she gets labeled. You want to knock a girl out of competition for anything? Call her a slut, and then attempt to back it up with a little bit of circumstantial evidence. Whether it is true or not true...nobody really cares. The deed is over. If the mistake is large is all that anybody really remembers about her.

Most people feel their hearts ripped out of their chests if they see an animal who is the victim of cruelty. Locally, a man went to prison for a very long time for pain he inflicted on a dog he owned. Everyone felt that the punishment fit the crime. And I'm not arguing that.

But what about the pain our words and deeds toward people causes? Are our hearts ripped out of our chest over that? What about the careless words that we speak because we are envious, angry, or just plain mean? Shouldn't we be punished for those as well?

Most of the time, we are not. And the recipient is told to suck it up, get over it, and that this is the way life is. And that's somewhat true. But how about the next time that we feel that familiar feeling that shows we might be headed toward saying or doing something that could hurt someone else...that we pray very hard that we will either turn away from it or fast forward twenty years to see if it is something that might turn into a huge regret later on? Because that would cut out a great deal of pain in this world.

I'm not talking about people who bring it on themselves by putting being different in our faces front and center and we are simply commenting on it. That's an entirely different ball of wax. I'm also not talking about matural competition when we are toe to toe in the heat of competition and doing a little bit of trash talking. We pretty much expect that kind of thing.

I think that most of us are good people at heart. We may see someone being left out or treated poorly and we'll step in to try to make it right. But the truly lucky people are those who stand in the gap for others against unfairness and ridicule...even if some of it tends to slosh out onto themselves. These are the ones who will live with fewer regrets and no baggage to unpack in a therapist's office one day. If you have one of these people in your are lucky indeed.

So, if you have been one of those people who has tried to overcome who you were...bravo. Or if you were on the other side of it and used it to propel you to greater heights to show "them" your worth...good for you. I personally believe that God doesn't allow our tears to be wasted. Whatever we endured will be used mightily. And whatever we dished out will be used to remind us to protect others in similar circumstances.

Or at least it should.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


The other day I was riding down the highway of life and heard the line from an old Joe Walsh song on the radio..."I can't complain but sometimes I still do..." and had to laugh to myself. And frankly...AT myself as well. Some days I can be as grateful for every blessing that God has bestowed upon me to the "nth" degree, and then the next moment...I really need some cheese with my whine.

I'm actually a really huge optimist. Okay, I hear those of you who know me really well laughing hysterically right now. Just hang with me for a minute while I clarify that statement just a tad. It's like this: I will always initially see the bright side...the glorious possibilities...the immense wonder of it all. I will see the best possible outcome, the Hallmark movie ending, and the memory that should last a lifetime in every circumstance.

Always. Without fail.

I do realize that this is not the Reality Express I'm on, but it is the way I'm wired. In fact, my mother used to brace herself for whatever I was about to get all enthusiastic about...because she knew that the likelihood of it ending well was equal to discovering calorie-free Ben & Jerry's that tastes as awesome as the real stuff. Possible (I hope)...but ridiculously unlikely.

Those of us who see the best possible outcome as a general rule also (at some point) spend a lot of time ticked off that the rest of the world doesn't share our view and isn't cooperating. We think that we know what will make us happy, what needs to change, and who needs to be doing what where and when. I had a coworker who once nicknamed me "Our Lady of Perpetual Disappointment"...because I always seemed to be mourning some colossal failure or another...most of it a result of wishing that things were different and being unappreciative of what was going well. I finally got enough of it, started turning it over to God, and realized that the only person that I have any control over at all is myself. And some days even that is iffy.

Eventually, if we are lucky, we will find that occasionally things work out far better than we think they will. We finally let go of our expectations and simply let things be what they are. After years of being buffeted around, my current modus operandi is hoping for the best...but preparing for the worst.

After a lot of life experience involving colossal "fails" and major disappointments I still allow myself to just get all excited for about two minutes. I love those two minutes. I mean...why not get all fired up about life?

Immediately following the elation, I launch into some "Sergeant Friday" mode that makes me want to ferret out what is likely to go wrong. Because in my personal experience...this isn't just's mandatory. I have a strong ability to make the most of whatever comes...but this is because I've already rehearsed a great deal of what could possibly go wrong already in my head. Based on this...I prepare. I'm often the one with the safety pins, Bandaids, Chapstick, extra toothbrush, camera, cash, or whatever. Yes, I do this primarily to make myself feel better. And I do it because it has kept me out of trouble and extended therapy.

Being the natural optimist that I am...any good news of YAY! - be it for me or someone else - is wonderful! I'm not one of those people who thinks that if something good happens to you then my life immediately begins to suck somehow proportionate to your good fortune. I mean, it MIGHT, but that's probably just coincidental. No, I believe that if something awesome is happening in your life...then there is probably room for something wonderful to happen in my own at some point in time. It gives me encouragement that good things are still out there happening to good people.

Looking for the silver lining is certainly a lot more fun than waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think that most people I know would agree. Just an optimist...if that other shoe does drop...there's a chance it will at least be cute. So there's that.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Tonight in the grocery store checkout line a woman turned to me and said "I know you. I don't know why I know you, but I know that I do." I started rattling off information to see if we could find the connection...and eventually we did. Our children are in school together, and she remembered me from the Graduation Reception last May.

Ah, we had a lot of fun that day. I mean, seriously, we did. So, she remembered me somewhat fondly. Which means that I made a good impression. Because often when people tell me that I look familiar, they say that I look like someone who "is a real heifer." Yeah, I so love that (not).

It got me to thinking, though, about those times when I'm not really even remotely concerned about the impression I'm making. You know, like when you run into the grocery store looking like you've just painted the exterior of your house and you run into about eight people that you know. How about all of those people who encounter you that don't know you? Ever wonder what they're thinking?

Oh, come on, you know you do the same thing. We are all snarky when we are people-watching.

Like today at work, someone was outside replacing the outside grill (or doing some kind of maintenance...I really didn't pay that much attention). I noticed that he was pretty inked up, had pierced ears, and a dab of chin hair just hanging on there like some little desperate fluff of nastiness. I'm sure that he could have been a nice guy, and obviously knew something about grills, but I honestly wouldn't know any of that because I was just observing all of this as I walked to and fro from the bathroom all morning.

Yeah, I started drinking a lot of water again.

I'm sure that the skinny little Asian lady I encountered while trying to stabilize my "personal summer" last week in Costco in the cooler had a few ideas about me. I was in the cooler taking my time looking at just about every item in there trying to cool off. She just looked at me like I was some kind of lettuce molester or something.

How about WalMart? I mean...there's even a website called "People of WalMart" because everyone pretty much abandons their personal dignity and turns into a universal set of Jerry Springer contestant wannabes when they go through the gates of Rollback. I know I have. Scary doesn't even begin to describe it. I mean, I think my day is horrible if I have to go in there in the first place. My face no doubt reflects this displeasure. I couldn't care less if my clothes match or my hair is brushed. I mean, WHY?

And then there's those places where you can only hope that you won't see anyone you know where they shouldn't be. I mean, we have an "adult" store of some kind on Highway 31 that we pass on our way to Tuscaloosa. Not that I recognize cars...I'm pretty hopeless actually...but I'd be appalled if I actually did see someone I knew there. I mean...who GOES there? Obviously someone does...because they have a Hummer advertising the store that I've seen from time to time around town. And there always seem to be vehicles parked outside when we pass. I've never seen anyone actually going in or out, though. And yes, I do look.

I suppose that we should live our lives so that we aren't embarrassed when people try to figure out how they know us. We should try to be the same person at home, at church, and in public. Sometimes, that's hard, though. We want to be perceived as the best version of ourselves...but life has a funny way of intervening.

I've made some less than stellar impressions lately. Just ask the girl who works in the deli at Publix. She and I aren't on the best of terms. Or the person at Best Buy in Tuscaloosa who charged us $40 for no reason. The pregnant lady who works at Kirkland's with the huge attitude. The entire staff at Jill's old apartment complex who will hopefully think twice about jerking around tenants. The guy at Comcast who couldn't hear and apply the words "basic cable" when signing us up. These folks have seen a side of me that is not consistent with my best self. But sometimes you just have to go redneck to get your point across.

(Oh, that's a long list...August was a brutal month.)

But I have hope. The people at Chick-fil-A try really hard to offer good service. Likewise with a teller at the bank who just goes out of her way to be nice. The folks at my local Publix (other than Deli Girl) who are friendly and helpful. And there are kids I've known since they were little people who actually act like they are pleased to see me when they do.

So, go out there tomorrow and show the world your best self. You never know who is watching. And if you are headed to WalMart...a little mascara and an outfit purchased sometime in this decade probably wouldn't hurt.

Friday, September 24, 2010


A friend sent me a message that said that someone had dropped something on their kitchen floor, wiped it up, followed it by a good mopping, and then marveled at how clean the floor was. I love that. Don't we often sit and see things the way that they are instead of the way that they could or should be? I know I do. Every morning while I'm getting dressed.

Now I don't suggest replacing your Mr. Clean with sour cream, but I do suggest looking for those little things in life that you could easily improve with just a little bit of effort. Do you wince when you pass your closet? Well, take everything out of it and only put back what you love. At best, you'll be excited and exhilarated about finding items that were lost in the bowels of your closet. You'll also have a nice pile of stuff to bless the local Goodwill or charity of your choice with and have the opportunity to get a receipt for your 2010 taxes (Score!) At worst, you'll bag everything up and have to go shopping. Yeah, THAT would suck (not).

Those little things in life sometimes keep us motivated to press on. The problem is...we procrastinate because we'd rather be sitting in front of the television set watching "American Chopper" "Dancing With the Stars" or something equally heinous.

We often dodge what is right in front of us because we don't want to expend the effort to correct whatever it is. The piles of junk on the counter...the form that needs to be returned...the light on the dashboard of the car...the patio furniture that is changing colors. We just avoid it, ignore it, or just whine about it...instead of fixing it.

Maybe this weekend we can take a few minutes and just look at the possibilities. Face head on those dragons that steal our joy and make us fail to appreciate everything that we have. Because if we don't face them...God has a funny way of making us face them. An overdue bill...being stranded on the side of the road...being mortified when we have unexpected company...or upsetting a carton of sour cream on our kitchen floor so we'll have to clean it.

I have a friend with the opposite problem. She sends memos to her staff about which way the toilet paper is supposed to be put on the roll in the communal bathroom, and dust knows better than to land anywhere near her home or workspace. She deals with things before they happen. I would find that exhausting. I suppose somewhere between the two extremes is probably something representing normal.

So, today, head on out and find something you want to make better. Deal with something that has sat on your mind (or your counter) far too long. Pick the stuff up and just set fire to it if you have to. Just get it gone.

(Well, don't set the house on fire just because you can't clean out your me first. I'm so serious.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yard Sale

This weekend is going to be busy. Normally, my definition of "busy" involves me sitting around a television set watching SEC Football or hanging around the quad in Tuscaloosa watching Alabama fans. But this Saturday, I'll be attending a baby shower in the afternoon (thank heavens for DVR) and I'll be investing my morning in helping with a yard sale.

The yard sale is going to be at my friend Bonnie's house, and this will be the second one I've participated with her in our twenty plus years of friendship. She is a seasoned yard saler, and is pretty ruthless about getting her "stuff" gone and at a decent price. At the end of the day, she will have rid herself of a ridiculous amount of items and will have made enough money for it to have been worth her time. She is a professional.

And then there's me. I will show up with a few scanty items which I will handily dispose of and make...I suspect...about $4.95. The veteran yard salers will smell blood in the water and will get me down from a dollar to a quarter on most everything. I will have spent all morning there, will be looking like I've run a half marathon, and will swear not to ever do it again. And for another ten years or so...I won't.

I have items in this house that I'd like to get rid of. The problem is, I comb through my items so often that I rarely get enough together to make it worth my while. I don't have any problem decluttering (except for my bedroom for some inexplicable reason). Anything that I could possibly eBay...has been eBayed. Anything that I could pass to someone who could use it (clothes, furniture, books) has already been passed. Most of the big, bulky items were unloaded at the church yard sale last April. So, although I could use some extra cash, I have no great expectations and am trying to focus on the fellowship, and on helping Bonnie get rid of her stuff. Because the latter totally needs to happen.

A few months ago, after months of begging (on my part), she finally allowed me to come in and help her deal with it. Now, we are getting to the final stage of that journey...expulsion of sixteen years of "I'll get to that later." I'm sure for the yard saler who knows a bargain when they see it, this is a treasure trove. Plus, I want to see her raise enough money to possibly join me on a trip to Europe next year. I'm already on a mission to start raising funds for that. My $4.95 will buy me a croissant, possibly. But I do have enough American Express "points" for the ticket right now. Which totally rocks.

I have been to numerous yard sales in my life and I rarely am able to find anything that I just have to bring home. It may be the fact that I am more a junk expeller than a junk aquirer by nature that throws off my mojo. I have no idea. I'm not prissy about it or anything. I just can't seem to find that needle in a haystack item that makes sorting through stuff in someone's front yard at 6 a.m. a good use of my time.

But today I will go through the house again and will probably find a load of things that need to go. I always do. And I'll still be up $4.95 for the day. So there's that.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


This morning in church I heard a message about redemption. To say that this message was powerful is to say that it is hot in the South in the summer. You can see the temperatures on the weather map, and you can even look outside and see that the sun is shining. But until you get out in it...and live and breathe and don't understand the full scope of it. Such is the power of redemption.

Life is messy. We come into this world messy, and it never really gets a whole lot better. I mean, we clean up well...and these are the moments that fill our photo albums and are displayed proudly on the walls of our homes. Times when we celebrated, succeeded, or simply got dressed up because it was incumbent on our mothers to have us photographed.

These weddings, proms, graduations, births, reunions, recitals and presentations all live in our memories and are reflections of our best...or at least represent various points in time. These highlights are the ones that we don't mind sharing with other people...well, except for any photo taken during the 1970s...a particularly heinous era for fashion, hairstyles, and photo quality. These are the days that we would like to define they glory days, red-letter days, or times when we were in the spotlight. But these are just glimpses of who we were or who we are. They show our potential for beauty, or talent, or achievement. We don't particularly mind reliving these days in our minds. Not at all.

Of course, the majority of our days are the busy days. The ones that we wake up in and make the best of with whatever is flying madly at us from dusk to dawn. We schedule ourselves so tightly that nothing actually gets enjoyed. We've taken multitasking to new levels and our shattered nerves reflect our lack of downtime. The ones - that when we are in the throes of - we wish for relief for a few precious moments. The endless diaper changes and crying of a colicky newborn. The hours of homework that the third grader endures. The workdays that are identical except for slight differentiations in which person has been the most annoying during that eight hour period. The cleaning of toilets, dusting, and mopping that looks good for about ten minutes before someone messes it all up again.

But then again, these normal days are so often taken for granted that we cannot believe it when we move to a new phase of life. The children leave for college or in a limo from the wedding reception. Somehow in all of that busyness, we thought that we would be sitting in the bleachers forever...and then we aren't.

And then there are the other days. The days we try to forget. The ones where we messed up in the eyes of the world...but more the eyes of God. Where we are mortified at our behavior and cannot possibly explain our mindset. Where we were either too stupid, stubborn, uninformed, or lost to take any other path than the one we chose. Those moments that make us wince in disgust to think about. Yeah, those.

For many of us, those moments took place in our youth, in mid-life, or in a moment or season of rashness. We didn't think, didn't know, or didn't care about who we hurt or what message we sent. We just messed up. And we can go years believing that we will never be forgiven or understood as a result.

There are some bad decisions that cannot be undone and we have to live with the consequences. Others did not change the course of anyone's life but our own. But it matters not, because the really important thing is that God knows. And we know He knows. Therein lies the problem.

We may come to church, do good works, and become the person that He intended for us to be, but we miss out on the relationship because we somehow believe that He cannot or will not use the broken pieces. We don't really want to think about that brokenness after all...we want to believe that we've moved on...learned...changed. But not sweeping up the shards of brokenness from the floors of our hearts can eventually create an abscess. And we wonder why we don't feel close to God, good enough, or anything but a fraud.

For those days...there is redemption. We can get a deep cleaning...and let God use the tiny pieces of our brokenness to create something beautiful and pleasing to him. Like little tiny seeds He can use from the awful bits of us that we'd rather forget and bring fruit out of that to nourish others or give us assurance that we are worthy in His eyes. That's powerful.

That does not necessarily mean that you have to admit every mistake you've ever made publicly, or relive a season in your life that was less than stellar. It just means that you have to allow God to make something beautiful from your brokenness. You have to believe that freedom from the pain is possible.

Tonight I am thinking about those days in my life that I'd rather not think about and wishing that there were fewer of them to note. But what would have been worse would have been to wallow in that pit of despair instead of simply getting out. I'm sure that there will be other days that I will regret...after all...I'm far from perfect. I'll let people down, speak careless words, and fall short of all that He has planned for me. I'd like to believe otherwise, but the fact is...I'm still breathing. That fact alone pretty much assures me that I'm not out of the regrets business yet.

But I have hope. I know that failure is not unique to me...nor is the incredible ability to get on the wrong track. It happens. I'm not flippant about that, nor am I taking it lightly. Sin is serious business. Yet I don't doubt the power of God to turn my weaknesses into strengths and my darkness into light.

Remember that Jesus did the work for you to have peace, love, and joy in abundance. When you are in the darkest valley or believe that you are so far gone that you can never come have to hold onto the truth that it is never too late. If you are drawing breath on this still have a purpose and a destiny to fulfill.

No matter how bad some of those days might have been...God has the ability to clean the slate and make beauty out of ashes and purpose out of chaos. He can do powerful things when we get out of our own way. Including giving us back the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).

Praise the Lord for that.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Today I am in my happy place. At home...with SEC Football on the big screen sitting in front of my computer with a relatively clean house. I use the term "relatively" rather loosely, but whatever. Jill is in Tuscaloosa, Brian is sitting here with headphones on glancing at the game and at some YouTube video because he knows better than to interfere with the sound quality of the game, and the dogs are napping somewhere after being bathed earlier today. It is Saturday at Casa Mixon.

Big Dave is on his lawnmower...which is - quite frankly - HIS happy place. I think that he enjoys mowing our five acres because it gives him time to reflect on life and be by himself. Either that or he needs some peace from the rest of us. I don't care, though, because I've never had to complain about the yard getting mowed and there is a lot to be said for that. He lets me cut it once a year and the whines the entire time that I'm not mowing my rows straight. What he doesn't know is that I'm doing my best to stay on the thing, keep my iPod going and some fluids handy because he expects me to fly along like he does. I consider my mowing to be more of a service project...and those who know me understand that I don't do those really well at all.

As I look outside to check his progress, it is difficult to overlook the fact that the pool is guacamole green right now. Pools aren't supposed to sport that color, and I'm sure that sometime later today, Big Dave will see to that as well. We are getting a new pool liner before next summer so it isn't the end of the world...but I'd really rather not become some temporary Disney World for mosquitoes. Life with crickets, ladybugs, and spiders is about as much of the animal kingdom as I'm prepared to suffer through on a daily basis.

I am pleased to note that our new patio umbrella purchased on clearance last week looks good and somewhat impressive. Ah, we just got lucky. We only buy items like the umbrella off-season because neither of us can stomach paying full price for anything. This one was on sale for 75% off. But it does make me smile just seeing it out there.

We'll be "tailgating" in the backyard sometime this afternoon on this football Saturday. After heading to Tuscaloosa for two weeks...I'm enjoying sitting here in my gown with no makeup on in the air conditioning like I did every Fall weekend last year. We've been blessed to be invited to join some friends who have a tailgate spot on the Quad. It has been so much fun just to be up there in the middle of everything.

I think that most of us appreciate our weekends. Maybe we wish for them all week because we need additional rest than our normal routine allows. Maybe we are disciplined beyond belief during the weeks, and we let our guard down a little on the weekend. Perhaps we just love the freedom to explore our interests or the time to entertain ourselves without guilt that make it all so fantastic.

I just know that it is.

In this economy, most of us are grateful for the jobs we have. However, we find that most are doing more with less and some have new challenges that weren't present just a few short years ago. And while we obviously aren't in Kansas anymore, and the weeks can be long and fraught with stress...we still have our weekends.

For THAT, I am immensely grateful.

Maybe you are grilling out with friends, sleeping in, cleaning out the garage, or at a social function today. Or you may be shopping while everyone else is glued to the games, participating in a walk-run, or doing a service project of some kind. At least you got to choose how you'd spend these hours...and there's a lot to be said for that.

So, cheer, rest, relax and get it done today. Mow it, move it, or grill it. Just be sure that you enjoy it. I know I am.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To My Future Daughter-In-Law

I don't know your name, what you look like, or what it is that you are investing your time in tonight. You may be laughing hysterically to YouTube videos, studing for your English test, or talking with your Mom about the dress you plan to wear to Homecoming. For all I know, you may be in junior high school and wondering if this will be the month that you finally get your braces off or your folks agree to let you go to the movies with a group of your friends.

It is a Wednesday night as I sit here writing this, and I suppose I hope that you have been to your Youth Group somewhere tonight and that you sang praise songs and bowed your head and asked God to help you make wise choices. That you had a good friend sitting beside you who has your back and isn't afraid to tell you when you are getting too close to the edge of the pit. I hope that you have a beautiful voice and that you sing like an angel...but it isn't that important to me if you don't. What I care about most is that the words that come from your mouth are words of life...full of wisdom, honesty, and encouragement.

I hope that you have a family that has nurtured you, protected you, and is involved in everything that you do. Perhaps you are a go-getter who is headstrong and driven or maybe you are a quiet young woman who thinks before she speaks. Somehow, I honestly believe that you will be both.

I would be willing to bet that you are organized and tidy, and that you appreciate your possessions. Perhaps it is because you worked for them, or maybe it is because you understand the sacrifices that your parents made on your behalf. I suppose that I know my son well enough to know that he won't be interested in a young woman who is careless with her resources. He will be looking for someone who is not looking for someone to give her everything she wants...but instead will be looking for someone who values everything she has. Talents, gifts, and of course...him.

I know that life is difficult for girls these days. There is so much jealousy, drama, and careless words being tossed around. I hope that you have learned that people aren't perfect...and just because they say something negative to or about you...doesn't make it so. Even if those people are adult women who think that running you down will elevate them or their daughters. I hope that you stay strong, believe what God says about you, and that you keep believing that my son is out here waiting for you...and that you'll wait for him instead of trying to make everything fall into place prematurely.

Because he is waiting. And as his mother...I assure you, he's worth it. Some of what he has taken with grace and patience in this life has prepared him for something amazing later on. I believe that he will do great things, and that God will bless his efforts. He has friends, but he also knows what it is like to be on the outside looking in. Since God wastes nothing that he allows in our lives, I know that what we see as hurdles, He saw as preparation.

Oh, I'm sure that one day when you two meet...he will be smitten with your sweet face and beautiful smile. For all I know, you may already have met. But one day, you will see in him everything that I do, and will pick up where I will have to leave off. He is an amazing young man, and will cherish you with everything that he has when the time is right. That's the legacy of this family, and he will want to continue the tradition. He just isn't ready for you yet...which is why I suppose that you are wherever you are...and he is here playing on the computer that he bought with money he worked for and getting ready to do his AP Calculus homework.

I have no idea what you look like, what your interests will be, or where you grew up. I do know that you will have an inner spiritual strength that is beautiful and inviting. You are probably bright and hopefully are even a little bit of a nerd. Yes, I want smart grandchildren...but he will want a life partner who can keep him on his toes. He is interested in I'm pretty sure you probably are as well.

I hope that wherever you are tonight that you know that there is a family in Alabama that has been praying for you for years. We have loved you forward by cherishing the idea of you. We feel like we'll know you when we meet you, and until then...we are happy to know that you are out there somewhere. Waiting...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


On my television right now is some heinous television show about river monsters hosted by some guy with an Australian accent. The river looks muddy and mirky and awful. Kind of like my pool right now, but I digress. It has that serious music playing in the background that is in all of the dramatic shows...a non-melodic march...interwoven with the sounds of Big Dave snoring on the couch.

I am SO stealing the remote.

Ah, little good that did me. There is truly nothing on. River Monsters it is...

I was so hoping that there was something decent to watch. If SEC football or "Pride and Prejudice" (the one with Keira Knightly in it) isn't on, I really love finding something that makes me laugh. That's pretty hard to find these days in the world of reality TV. Frankly, I get enough reality in my daily life. I'd really like to escape some of that instead of adopting other people's drama.

I've never been a fan of corny humor, though. I grew up listening to Jerry Clower records that my grandmother thought were hilarious and watching the Carol Burnett Show. We also watched a lot of Lawrence Welk, but I don't think that I've been permanently scarred except for a serious aversion to polyester durable knit and beehive hairdos. I never liked the obvious physical humor of the Three Stooges...although I have certainly watched my share of that as well.

I loved watching "I Love Lucy" because I could almost count on Lucy doing something boneheaded and yet being forgiven and overlooked as just "having some 'splainin' to do." I watched enough "Brady Bunch" to start noticing that their world was just a little too perfect and that the laughter was just a little too contrived. But did it stop me from watching? Hardly. And every afternoon after was "Gilligan's Island." Such was life in the world when we had the big three networks, PBS, and Channel 17 (WTBS) out of Atlanta...Ted Turner's contribution to the world...cable television.

What I really like is humor that hits you a couple of seconds later...and you think..."Man, that was clever!" Even as campy as "The Nanny" have to love the butler in that one. He totally cracks me up. Occasionally, Sponge Bob even makes me laugh. When I forget to focus on how annoying he is.

I think that most of us love the opportunity to laugh. We share jokes or funny videos with our friends because we want to pass it on. We post old pictures so that we can laugh at our fashion sense...or apparent lack thereof. We get together and reminisce and remember being young and stupid. Or older and stupid. Whatever.

The people that we enjoy spending time with are the people that make us laugh. They seem to have a way of taking a day that is just heinous...and turning it around for us. We all need that, you know. Life is hard. I mean, it is good...but we need the ability to lighten up or we'll get all sucked into the vortex of being a grownup.


I have friends that have the most remarkably funny things happen to them. One in particular is hysterical just in the way that she relays whatever it was. She looks at life as a series of "I Love Lucy" shows that she stars in. She sees the humor in almost everything...and in so doing...she attracts me like this persistent gnat is to this laptop screen to her misadventures.

(Well, that gnat WAS attracted. Moving on.)

I love to find the light side in just about everything as well. Why sit around being all depressed and serious when nobody really wants to hear it anyway? I mean, that's been my experience anyway. Why be the epitome of efficiency if you can't have fun doing it?

That's what the ladies from last year's graduation reception learned. We just had a good time. Oh, it all got done, but we actually had a blast doing it. Might as well...

Oh, there are times when humor is inappropriate. Like at funerals, in the middle of church, or standing at an altar. But for just about everything else, life is far richer with tears of joy running down your face...even if you are laughing at yourself.

Like my friend, Bette, whose son's birth pictures in his baby book have the caption "photo not available" because of a camera (or husband...can't remember) malfunction.

Or a friend's diatribe about God's cruel joke...chin hair coupled with failing eyesight.

The fact that I busted it classically a week or so ago in front of Bryant-Denny stadium in Tuscaloosa in front of Tide Nation.

The granny who stood up at a kid's little league game and got thrown out because she went all Jerry Springer on my friend.

The lady who walked up Commerce Street with her skirt tucked into the back of her pantyhose that we saw from the 2nd floor window of the bank.

The couple who had to deal with the amorous affection of their two dogs outside the window where their company was gathered.

The birthday cake that was positioned in the middle of a table until someone decided to put the leaf in...but forgot to move the cake.

Hey, that's life. Stuff happens. And for that...and for laughter...I'm very grateful. Now, if I can just find "The Nanny" on Nick at Nite...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Flirting With Disaster

Tonight a friend posted a link to Molly Hatchet's song "Flirting With Disaster" on Facebook. I loved the music then and still do...and I watched it just to see it performed. I mean, it's been awhile, and I thought it was a good use of three minutes of my life. I mean, I'm doing three other things while I'm listening as it is, so it was something I could do while I multitasked. Such is my life.

One of the lines of the song that always got my attention was "flirting with disaster every day...and you are too..." Oh, those are true words if I've ever heard them.

Most days of my life start out the same way. I get up (late), drink decaffeinated coffee (for what purpose I don't know), check Facebook (my window to the world) and try to figure out what to wear (whatever's clean). But occasionally, there is potential for disaster.

Take the "gift" I found in the living room floor this morning compliments of my canine children... Yeah, that was fun.

Or getting in the car on a Monday morning (already late) and realizing that filling the gas tank before work is not's mandatory?

Or perhaps realizing that the "to do" list was left on my desk as I was pulling out of the parking lot at 5:00? And then attempting to remember everything on it except the one thing that was time critical?

Some of you are probably thinking..."These are disasters? Obviously this woman knows nothing of my life."

Oh, please. I'm just getting warmed up.

My favorite near-miss was on my wedding day when Big Dave opened his shoebox and found white dress shoes (instead of black) contained therein...on a Sunday...with a 2:00 Thomaston, Georgia. (Mr. Billy Daniel has crowns in heaven for fixing this.)

Or the weather during the first four days of a trip to London and Paris in 2006. Cold, rainy, MAY of all months. At some point in Paris, I looked up and asked God for just one decent day. (He gave me five.)

Or a memorable meal prepared sometime during my first year of marriage when I was just learning how to cook. I was not exactly well informed on things that could or should not be substituted, or how to effectively time a meal. So, I learned (simultaneously, I might add) that ketchup does not substitute well for tomato paste in sloppy joes, that one cannot cook French fries on low (even if it makes the meal come out right time-wise if you do), and that oregano in green beans tastes yucky (like what I imagine cooked grass clippings would). Needless to say, after my meltdown (which involved sackcloth, wailing and gnashing of teeth), Big Dave took me to Country's Barbecue. (Frankly, that first year...we ate at Country's a LOT.)

Or the "shag" haircut that my mother thought would be "cute" on me when I was in the 5th grade. It is one of the only instances in 47 years where I ever doubted my mother's love for me. To call it heinous...would be extraordinarily kind. (Oh, I love my mother and forgave her long ago. At least she didn't give me a home perm or a pixie. So, there's that.)

I suppose that everyday we all do flirt with disaster in one form or another. We ask our college children for the truth...and we get it. We try on something under the glare of the fitting room that is chic and trendy...and we look ridiculous. Or we try a new recipe that is so bad that even the people that love us the best won't touch it.

Like the recipe for curried fruit that my grandmother made sometime in the mid-1980s. She misread teaspoons for tablespoons with the curry. Let's just say that we were helping ourselves to curried fruit...and creatively disposing of it for close to a week. She never did understand why we were not complimentary when we almost always were. (Hard to pay compliments when your face is puckered up from the curry.)

I suppose the reason that I remember the near-misses (and sadly, the direct hits) so vividly is that in retrospect these teach us something about life that we normally never forget.

Like washing red items with whites.

Roller skating after the age of 40.

Planning any outdoor ever.

You know...pretty much every family story that any of us have repeated ad nauseum.

I guess ol' Molly Hatchet was right...we do all flirt with disaster every day. And I suppose that's what makes life what it is...unexpected, unpredictable, and amazing.

Except for that shag haircut. I'm so serious.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Last night, I had dinner with a friend. We had one of those waiters that really gets into the whole experience of being a server at this particular restaurant...complete with an Australian accent and pieces of "flair" that he wears on his shirt like medals of valor bestowed upon him for past customer service excellence. I always like to see someone all gung-ho about their job...because I know I've had my fill of the trolls who hate theirs that I seem to encounter more frequently than the general population. He will be getting more flair somewhere down the road, because I certainly intend to send in the customer service survey online later today. Oh, I'm not totally doing it to be nice...they are offering a free Bloomin' Onion for doing it, and heaven knows...we can't leave that on the table.

Even if I have absolutely no business eating said Bloomin' Onion in this lifetime. I like free stuff.

My friend started discussing her life in general right now...job woes, blood pressure that refuses to come down, and her concern about one of her sons and who he is dating. Standard fare for Moms as we gather. Sadly, her first two problems seem she is trying to deal with a boss who gives the term "overbearing" new meaning. One of those people who is more concerned about money than he is the people he has employed. Who goes to church, but somehow misses the message. Who suspects his employees of everything instead of assuming that they have his best interests at heart. Who wants total loyalty, but does absolutely nothing to engender it.

I know that everyone has difficult people that they encounter in life. I know that I have run up on more than my share - especially lately. We know that life isn't fair from the time we are in kindergarten...but we don't understand why some people go out of their way to be Philistines just because they can.

Wouldn't life be a lot easier if our commitment to excellent service of others was reflected in wearing pieces of flair so that people would know what they are getting into right off the bat? I mean, I knew that I had an excellent waiter, because he was "highly decorated." In the military, there's a chain of command and they have a pattern of rewarding particular acts of valor, commitment, and bravery. But for the general population, we are left to figure out what we are dealing with as we encounter it on our own.

And sometimes we are way off base.

We look at the kid with the piercings and tattoos and automatically make an assessment. We see a mother with biracial children and we draw a conclusion. We look at the people in the big houses and fancy cars and assume something else. We are trained to avoid certain things in life...and to consider other things better or worse than ourselves or our situation. And in so doing...we are closing our eyes to the potential that we don't have the entire story.

That the kid with the piercings and tattoos is an engineering student that plays in a band on the weekends to make his way debt free through college. That the mother we saw adopted her baby from a friend who died prematurely as an act of love or couldn't conceive on her own. That the big house is one month from repossession and the car isn't far behind.

Wouldn't it be nice to know that you could go to work and be excited to be part of an organization that you know values you personally, and doesn't send your blood pressure through the roof? I know my friend would.

Truth be told...we are all walking around advertising something. It might be that we love our bodies, or that we don't. It may be that we are conservative...or not so much. It may be that our sense of style is evident...or our lack thereof is center stage. That we aren't afraid of aging...or that we are going down fighting. I often laugh when I see a particularly outdated or unusual presentation of self and I think...apparently they passed a mirror today and said, "Yep, I'm good with that look." I mean, I gave up "wings" in 1980, but that doesn't mean that everyone got the memo. And frankly, that's really okay.

So, if you are a boss today, assume that the people who are working for you aren't trying to take advantage of you, and do something radical like find something to compliment about their performance. If you see someone out there that you find you are judging, take a moment and try to imagine that what you are seeing might not be the entire picture. I mean, this economy has been a great equalizer. And if you are headed to work...imagine that everything you do might result in getting a piece of flair for you to display proudly.

After all, you can never have too much flair. My waiter friend taught me that.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Sometime yesterday, I walked by the big green trashcan outside and had a moment of "what died in there?" You put something in the trash, it gets baked outside all bagged up in the heat for about three days and's gagworthy. We have pinpointed it to part of the chicken wings that were discarded when Big Dave grilled them Friday night. All I know is that it smells spoiled and icky and awful.

We use the word "spoiled" pretty liberally in the South to describe someone who has been indulged (mostly by parents) and is oblivious that the world does not revolve around them. This means that sometimes we find them quite unbearable as a result. The children...AND the parents.

Oh, we all love being spoiled in a good way...pedicures, a day at the spa...or flowers for no reason. But the reason that we think that this is good is because we are accustomed to having this be the exception and not the rule. But when we are dealing with someone who has everything that they want when they want is about as pleasant as the aroma that my trash can is rocking right now.

Foul would be an understatement.

A friend of mine was relaying her experience in dealing with spoiled children in elementary school. She is frustrated because they listen to their teachers about as well as they listen to their parents...which is pretty much...not at all. My thoughts? If they are that unresponsive when they are little guys...what in the world is going to happen when those hormones kick in?


I know that all of us are guilty of spoiling our children...myself included. I used to think that I did a pretty fair job of teaching them to be self-reliant and down to earth...but in comparison with the level of independence I was expected to attain growing up? Hardly. I have great faith that they will be okay, though, because both of them have worked...and both have shocked me with their generosity of spirit and their ability to think things through very well.

Spoiled children can't really do that, you know. They want you to be generous to them (on their terms) and want you to solve all of their problems for them. Including dealing with mean, awful authority figures that just want them to sit down, shut up and be teachable. Too bad that this interferes with their self-esteem in the short run...because teachers are far more concerned about the long haul. They are trying to build endurance for those super-heinous - but necessary - educational wonders like Beowulf and photosynthesis that are coming somewhere down the line.

When Jill was in first grade, we were called in to have a conference with the elementary principal because Jill had exerted her independence. She was told to leave something unfinished, and she was unhappy about it. So, when the children lined up to go to their next activity, she doubled back to the library to finish her project. They found her there. Needless to say, this was considered unacceptable behavior. And no, we didn't sue the school over any damage to her self esteem that giving her a conduct check might have caused.

I am guilty of wanting to protect my children from people's negativity, from bullies, and from people who thought it was more important to knock them down than build them up...but I think that's rational. Wanting to provide them no means of building up any emotional and spiritual muscle that often comes only from dealing with adversity is like trying to help a butterfly out of the cocoon because it is struggling. We end up only doing more harm than good. Because the ultimate goal is for them to fly away and be productive and beautiful someday. Not to lie floundering around because they can't handle the weight of their wings...because they built up no muscle in the struggle to earn them.

I know that we have all dealt with spoiled people in our lives. Those people who hold grudges because their child didn't get special treatment from us. Folks that thought the rules didn't apply to them. People who acted as if other people's time was less valuable than their own. You know...the line breakers, gossip-mongers, pouters, drama-causers, and manipulators.

The people we'd like to not have to deal with in our daily lives...but we do. The people that we'd like to tell off...but it would do no good.

So, why is it that we are so anxious to create little mini-versions of these people inadvertently? Why do we not flinch at purchasing something for our daughters (beauty treatments, clothing, etc.) that we would have no more asked our mothers for than the man in the moon? We went to work instead...and bought it...or did without. Why are our sons not pursuing young women as men of honor? They are waiting for the girls to call them instead. And where does this actually originate? Oh, I think we know.

Sometimes we have to realize that our jobs are to prepare them for what the world is going to deal them in spades once they leave the nest. And as tempting as it is to let them stay with us...we aren't doing them any favors. They were created to go out there and do something wonderful in this world. I suppose that's it is hard to muster up a whole lot of enthusiasm changing the world when the parents are providing spending money, a place to live, homecooked meals, and clean laundry.

Just like the chicken outside (that is thankfully headed to a landfill not soon enough to suit me)...spoiled is spoiled. We may think that we are being good parents, investing in their individuality, or just making it easier on ourselves. Truth be told...we are denying them the opportunity to learn discipline when what is at stake is a "worm" on their "apple" in preschool. The alternative, I suppose is letting them learn it sitting in rehab or prison someday. Heaven forbid.

So, quit getting your affirmation from what everyone else is doing, and follow your own instincts. Keep the goal in mind - independence - and don't take the easy way out. But be kind as well...remember...they are picking out our nursing homes someday.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Rolling With It

Yesterday, we went to Tuscaloosa and had a wonderful time along with about a gazillion other members of Tide Nation. We went to a tailgate that we were invited to and had a shockingly beautiful day after the heat-choking existence we'd come to acknowledge and whine incessantly about otherwise known as the month of August. We visited the Phi Mu house, saw folks we knew, and spent twenty minutes with Jill, her boyfriend, and his two roommates. You know, one of those really great days that has nothing particularly special about it, but was overall certainly worth repeating. We'll be doing that again this weekend. Yay us!

While walking back from the Phi Mu house to the Quad to pick up our "stuff", I saw these barriers outside of Bryant-Denny Stadium that were used to keep traffic off of Colonial Drive. Apparently, I was so fixated on making sure that I didn't walk into one, that I failed to note a change in the pavement. However, my feet certainly found it, and I was - in an instant - transported into the air involuntarily. Let's just say that it was a pretty long ten second journey, but I hopped up, looked around, and kept walking. The only casualties were the cup of water I was carrying...and my pride.

It was water. I promise.

It made me laugh (later, after the bruised pride settled down and I realized that ESPN did not film it for the "Tailgating in the South" highlight reel) that I took "tailgating" and "Roll Tide" far too literally for one afternoon.

Life is like that, isn't it? One day, you are walking around enjoying the sunshine, the spirit of fun and the wonder of life, and the next minute you are sprawled out on your rear end in front of hundreds of strangers. I've learned that this is pretty much the way that it is meant to be for me. I have serious highs and terrible lows like everyone else...but I also appreciate the mundane stretches of my life. I used to grumble...but got tired of expending the energy. For the most part, that's pretty much the way I roll.

We didn't have tickets to the game when we drove two hours to walk around campus for six hours to then drive two hours home. We would love to be able to go to a game now and then, but we just haven't mustered up the courage to even attempt to find that in our budget...and so we do what we can. Sometimes we are fortunate that we score some tickets because of someone's generosity, but the likelihood of that happening this year (reigning National Champions)is about as likely as someone from Publishers' Clearinghouse showing up at my door with balloons and an oversized check. But that's fine. I can dream, can't I?

I think that a lot of people don't really enjoy their lives because there is always someone who has more, always something they don't have that they want, or something that refuses to fall into place the way that they would like it. They get stuck because they just refuse to accept that every single one of us has far more than we need and definitely far more than we deserve.

Life rolls on at a pace that is alarmingly fast. I see people all of the time who cannot believe that my children are as old as they are. I open the hometown paper every week and most of the time I know - or at least have heard of - the folks being feted at engagement parties or featured in the wedding writeups. In fact, it won't be long before those writeups will be featuring the friends of my children. Time rolls on...

I suppose that my tumble yesterday made me realize how fast something can change. A diagnosis. A telephone call in the middle of the night. A job relocation. We are on one trajectory with our lives without a care in the world...and the next we are flailing through the air.

Love your life. Embrace what God has given you. It may not be the package you asked for or what you worked so diligently for, but it is what it is. Change what you can, accept what will never be, and appreciate all that is. Because what "is" rolls along pretty quickly too...morphs into something else before you know it...and then you are just frantically trying to figure out where all of the time went. In my case, a lot of it was wished away...which is really sad to me now.

Today I am none the worse for wear. A little sore...a skinned knee and some road scratches, but nothing ER-worthy, thankfully. This was a minute detail compared to what a family in Florida dealt with last week when they buried a daughter who was a sophomore Phi Mu at University of Alabama. Flowers from every Greek organization on campus and Phi Mus on other campuses were all over the house...sent as an expression of love and concern for the girls who were grieving. Those are the kind of tumbles that have to be put in much larger hands for cradling before you can roll again. Time will pass, and the clouds will roll away, and the sunshine will eventually begin to shine for them again. That's my prayer for them and for the family anyway.

Roll with whatever life brings you today...I know I'm trying. A little banged up...but ready to Roll with the Tide again this Saturday. Just hopefully a little less literally.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On Taste (or Lack Thereof)

I have a friend who likes to frequent a local flea market to see what she can discover. Her latest find was a $59 very comfortable chair that was quite excellent except for the two steps away from heinous fabric covering said piece. I haven't actually laid eyes on it, but I know her well enough to know that the only thing standing between her and bringing it home is the future upholstery bill. Lucky for me, and for others I know, I don't have that problem. I just bring it home anyway...ultimo tacky upholstery doesn't even remotely frighten the Hotel California of home furnishings.

Our home is an eclectic mix of antiques, hand-me downs, and furniture that we actually went out and chose during some point in time before private school tuition and college bills laid waste to any semblance of discretionary income. While I know some people who are meticulous about decorating their homes and do not allow anything through the door that they do not absolutely, positively love, I am apparently living in an alternate universe. If I did that, I'd be sleeping on the floor and sitting on patio furniture.

I'm not alone in this, actually. I go to other people's homes and if I know them well enough, I'll hear something like, "Do NOT look at my curtains too hard or they might disintegrate under the weight of your stare." or "Let me show you what my mother-in-law blessed us with last Christmas...I swear...that woman truly hates me." I smile to myself, because until fairly recently...I thought it was just me.

As I mentioned, our home is the Hotel California of home furnishings. It can come freely in the door, but it will never leave. Like ever. Anything given to us may be recovered, assigned to a job other than its original intent, or painted....but it is ours...for better or worse. Primarily worse.

Case in point: somewhere in our early marriage, we accepted a beautiful intricately carved Victorian-ish sofa with horsehair stuffing that lives in our living room. It belonged to David's grandparents where it was rescued from obliteration at the curb of a Palm Beach mansion. Basically, that's a fancy way of saying that they picked it up on the side of the road. I assume that this rescue took place sometime in the 1930s or 1940s. Needless to say, seventy years from its brush with obscurity, "The Albatross" is in our living room reminding me every day that it needs recovering and just daring anyone to sit on it and even think about being remotely comfortable because that, my friends, is simply not happening. But getting rid of furniture that you've named isn't happening either. Not in this generation.

I have also inherited a lot of beautiful furniture, truth be told. Some of it was rescued from a storage building that had been paid on for close to forty years and from the garage. These antique pieces were used by grandparents and great-grandparents and who knows how many generations before them. I just know that we are enjoying them now. Oh, they aren't worth a lot, but they are beautiful and flawed in a good way and well...old. Sometimes, I just run my hand across them (I call this dusting) and I am glad to know that they lived in the same space as the people who made it possible for me to draw breath today.

Some families pass down silver, linens, and property. I used to be jealous of this, but realized that this is not exactly my destiny. My blessing (or curse) is to be the manager of those items that have passed through the family...the good, the bad, and the ugly. I just wish sometimes that there was far less ugly.

I mean, who can resist an everyday china pattern nicknamed "Dead Cherries" because that's what it unfortunately brings to mind when viewed? And an even bigger question...which one of us is going to draw the short straw on welcoming that particular abomnination into our china rotation?

Or a collection of thermal cups that hold about 8 fluid ounces. I have a set of sixteen. I'm sure you're jealous.

There are a few things that I would like to change if given the a relative's penchant for French provential furniture and using color combinations like bright orange, chocolate brown and pale yellow in the same afghan. I'd love to display it, but it matches nothing I own. Frankly, it matches nothing that anyone that I know owns either.

I'd also like to rethink my china patterns from 1985 when I was apparently young and completely lacking in any discernment of what I might like to eat off of twenty-five years down the road (because it certainly isn't what I chose). What was up with the flowers? Or there are more, but I'm keeping those to myself...for the time being at least.

But all-in-all, it could have been worse. I had a friend who decorated her entire house in "country blue" and geese circa 1983. Another one painted stripes in every conceivable room because she was excited about her newfound ability to do "faux painting". Or the friends who collected pigs, Precious Moments figurines, roosters, and Coca-Cola memorabilia. I never did any of that. I limited my obsessions to photography and scrapbooking. And Beanie Babies. But enough about me.

Thankfully, I never bought into the whole "Home Interiors" concept, and remained either too clueless or to broke to actually decorate much of anything. Because - no offense intended to those matrons of all things Home Interiors - for me, that could have ended badly. I would have probably chosen something that looked like early single-wide with a touch of married your cousin...and it would still be hanging on my wall. At least judging by my spectacularly bad taste with some of the home furnishings that I actually purchased of my own accord and haven't yard-saled yet. Thankfully, most of these are only dragged out during Christmas. Let's just say that they involve cutesy bears in cowboy boots and leave that one alone.

Oh, and for the record, I am not bashing mobile homes. The ones today are amazing, quite frankly. But if you think back...really'll remember the decor that was pretty much standard fare in the early models. Yeah, I've tried to drown out those images, too. And if you married your cousin and are reading this, well, I am going to try to drown that out too.

Each of us knows that our home represents something sacred and special and unique. Some of us try to channel Pottery Barn, and others of us seem to have a whimsical knack reminiscent of Southern Living magazine. My home, however, is simply a collection of items that reflect the people who originally chose them. People whose hands I've held and who taught me well. People who may never have laid eyes on me, but who I remain aware of because my grandmother saw to it that I was. People who made do with what they had and tried to create something beautiful despite some serious limitations with regard to personal taste. Apparently (and sadly) this is an inherited trait.

As I glance around the room, I see two oil lamps from David's grandparents, my grandmother's mahogany dining room set, and four bronze stars that I purchased for $7.99 each from Michael's (before the coupons). There are plates on the wall that were my grandmother's, a visual record of our travels to Europe in 2006 on another, and the wedding picture of my in-laws on yet another. The rocking chair from my grandmother's family room is here along with the big leather sectional sofa that Big Dave and I purchased because - quite frankly - nothing else would fit in the space and make sense. And what are tax refunds for anyway?

And this is home. And it is fine. It really is.