Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March Going Out Like A Lion

    April in Oklahoma = strong straight winds, thunder, lightning, hail, flooding and...(wait for it, wait for it, wait.).....TORNADOES. We are currently in the middle of just such a night. I am in the City, waiting to be on grandma duty. Tomorrow Audra is scheduled to have her third baby, another little boy, and it's ironic that Audra herself tried to be born on a night exactly like this. Here is the story, for posterity:
      We were staying over at Violette's house, across the creek, like we always did when the big rains came.  After lots of contractions and my trying to ignore them, I decided to speak up and suggested we might try to head to the hospital, unless Danny wanted to deliver this one on the kitchen table.
        We splashed our way through the blowing rain to the car and drove like maniacs toward Waukomis.  We were wanting to get to Okeene and my dad (my physician), but the roads were flooded both ways, so we started for Enid. 
     We were pulled over by the police in Waukomis, of course, and once he saw that I was in labor, he gave us a lights and siren escort to the hospital in Enid.  I know, who actually gets to do that??? We made our way to the elevator and rode it up to the delivery floor. When the door opened, there stood my good friend Gretchen Sweeney, an obstetric nurse.  Her first words were (and I quote): No. You get right back on that elevator; you are not having that baby tonight. 
    I informed her that I was pretty sure I was and waddled onto the floor.  It turns out they had already delivered 13 babies that afternoon and evening and were out of beds.  Ha!  They checked me out and told me to sit tight while they tried to find me a room. About that time, Gretchen stuck her head back around the corner and said: It's not happening. Don't get too cozy. I'm going home.
     Audra actually was due that day, May 12th, my Grandma Melton's birthday, but the labor stopped and we went back home. (I think it would have been wonderful for her to have been born that day, but no, we wouldn't have named her Harriet in any case, sorry, but Stormie might have worked. )  Audra repeated that false alarm drill twice more, to the point that I was certain I would be pregnant with her forever, but she was born and is now awaiting the birth of her last little boy, as I said.
    I think it's oddly hilarious that she is now going to have her own baby on a rainy, stormy night (or tomorrow, which is forecast to also be stormy); I'm sure she doesn't see any humor in it, especially since the lights are flickering and we may soon be on the lamp (her personal hell). What goes round, comes round, as they say.  Speaking of Deja Vu moments: the day before yesterday Audie and I found ourselves bent over a bathroom sink, washing blood out of Maggie's hair, trying to find the location of the injury (she'd been hit on the head by a board) and both of us realized we had been there before; when she was three and a half years young and had taken a header off the bridge abutment.  History just keeps repeating itself around here. "Ain't life grand!" 
      Marsha is at the farm, alone, during all this weather bluster and banging. That hardly seems fair, in that she isn't even from Oklahoma.  She sent me a text a while ago: The rain is blowing sideways, something glass broke on the porch and pieces of wood and a cat have flown past the window.  (Sounded pretty normal to me)  I advised her to get out of the room with all the windows, go to the center of the house and find a closet to hunker down in...preferable with a pillow or two and a bicycle helmet...if she could find one...and her phone. She'll be fine. For many years she worked Disaster Relief for the Red Cross so I'm pretty sure she knows what to do.
     Guess what?! (Why is there not a key for the Interrobang on the keyboard? You know it, the punctuation mark that is a combination between a question mark and an exclamation point. Ridiculous.)  My Wisteria was able to bloom this year, for the first time in four years. Hooray! Hurrah! Yippee! Huzzah!  Well done, good and faithful servant.
      This week I have been in the City a lot, helping Audra some, since she was in pain and terribly uncomfortable.  One evening we all went to our first Blue and Gold Banquet with Zane's Cub Scout troop.  He was a Lion this year and earned his Tiger badge for next year. A good time was had by all....for all three hours of the banquet. 

    We also experienced a plumbing problem or two at the Richards' house this week. Regrettably, one of them managed to leak into the...no, pour into, the cabinet where Abbey's scrapbooks were stored.  Ouch! M, E and I worked hard at setting up the drying station for the wettest pages, in the hopes of saving some of them.  (Brent, Abbey and B were off attending the end of the year banquet for B's swim team. ...'tis the season to have banquets, as you know.) Thank goodness this family is deeply invested in Legos of all stripes and probably has more Legos and Duplos than anywhere else, because we used all the Duplo blocks, people, circus animals and cars making these dandy drying stands and holding pages apart to dry.
Cool huh.

I think most of the pictures and pages could be saved. 
    I'm off to beddybye. I have to be up by 3:45 to go over and watch Audie's other kids and get them to school tomorrow while she does all the hard work.  Hopefully we can greet little baby T.....ooops  ....that's her news.  I'll let you know.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Just The News

      Work continues on the kitchen, although this seems to be dragging on, for some reason.  Cabinets are in, primed and painted....almost; maybe they will be finished by the end of this day. It isn't that I miss my kitchen so much, I have 'made do' with boards placed here and there; and I DO have a stove and a refrigerator after all. I miss the order in the other rooms as well, the rooms which are full of the furniture from the dining room and the 'stuff' from the kitchen. (How did I come to own so much kitchen stuff, for heaven's sake? Ridiculous. I am not putting all of that back into these new cabinets.)
     I have already reclaimed the living room from the clutches of Chaos. The library is back in its spot, although completely without any rational (or irrational) order to the books. That means the Starry bedroom is beginning to show itself again.
     I am sitting  on the porch swing to write because out here everything is in its proper place, as always.  Greening wheat fields roll toward the horizon, now that people have taken their cattle off the wheat pasture for the year.  What we need now is rain to bring it into the head and ripen it for harvest.  It will soon be April and May, the tornado months. Let the games begin.
       Oh! Did I tell you the tulips and daffodils were nodding their lovely heads above green grass and all the trees (except the old Mulberry) are bearing seeds or leaf buds? The peach has bloomed and faded and so far has avoided the frost. We'll see what happens in the next month. The Red Buds are smudging the air pink in the tree-row. It is 84 degrees today, March 20th. I can't decide whether to be happy or alarmed about that.
     It would be a short hop from 84 degrees in March to 102 on Memorial Day. I've seen it happen more than once and have no wish to go back there. Well, if it's another searing summer, at least I'll have a nice kitchen to putter around in while I hide from the sun. All winter we have waited for the rains that haven't come; same song on repeat. The re-mulch has begun in the prayer garden in an attempt to restore the paths to their 'pre-chicken' levels. The chickens managed to dig holes everywhere last year, gobbling up every bug that had been hiding under the mulch and fabric and making the paths rough as a cob, not somewhere you could wander through and relax.
    Why do I blog about this stuff? There is no reason in the world anyone should or would care to know this blather. I'm finished.

      That was a few days ago. I forgot I had written anything and went about my business.  In baby news: No, Audra has not delivered her little boy yet. If she doesn't go into labor before then, she will have it on Wednesday, March 29th.  She is more than ready to have her body back and to have this little boy in her arms.  Soon.
     Able and Alice, Audra and Rowan, and I got to have lunch with Cousin Jessie today. Hooray! Jess was beautiful and bubbly, as always, and we talked about her many travels and my trip to Hawaii. She is a delight. I need to go over to Dad's while she is there visiting and give her Jingleboy so he can go with her on her trip to Japan in a couple of weeks. His worldwide travels continue. I need to slip him into a suitcase the next time Rachael and Dan go to Romania.
    I have no news, sadly; no chicken massacres, no ice storms, no skunk adventures...nothing except Springtime on the prairie, gorgeous sunsets and starry nights, cat-fights on the front porch in the dead of night, and the howling of coyotes as they hunt up and down the creek.
      My friend Marsha is staying at the farm for a bit and I think the noise of the wildlife along the creek and in the fields unnerves her a little; that and the quiet.  For most people who come to the farm from large cities the solitude and the silence is a big adjustment...and then the owls will begin hooting and the coyotes will call and yip as they move about, and some wild thing will scream out its last cry for help.  It's different but you get used to it.  She is on retreat, needing time alone in a safe place. Danny and I always wished our place to be such a space; a place of sanctuary and peace.  (That being said, the presence of the carpenters during the daytime is not so restful.  SURELY they will soon be done. From my mouth to God's ears, as they say.)
     That is enough news for one post. I'm off to hear the symphony with Maril, a dear friend from my high school days. TTFN

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Poem: For John Matousek

A chance meeting:
he changed course and
came to my table, leaned in,
and spoke gentle words to my heart.
He placed the gift of his care
in my hands, with a quiet smile.

With the breath of time on my neck
I reached with open hands to receive
his gift of kindness and concern.

Here was a man of honor, intellect and faith
who poured compassion into aching hearts,
and seized opportunities to show love,
who provided tireless support.
Now he is no more.

We do not know the hour.
Carry on.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Poem: Perspective

If you knew,
   having tossed the bones,
      read the swirling leaves
         and consulted the wise-ones,

that before another winter had
     dusted the windowsills with snow,
          your life would end,
              how would your life change?

Would you be more generous
    or more honest,
        more loving and forgiving?
            Only once more round our burning sun... .

 Would you seek those whom you had lost?
      Would you pay any price
          to lay your open hand upon
              the dark back of the whale?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Poem: A Prayer

Blue-castled-with-white sky
pour into me through open space,
flow through limbs and spirit,
cleansing and clearing me,
loosen these binding wraps and
ropes of frustration, this suffocating
fog of tension...I can hardly breathe.

Creator of the universe,
Love that gives life,
fill me full of star-shine
until I glow and sing again.
Let this above-the-cloud glory
heal, and calm all that is
frazzled and pressed within me.
Wrap me in your compassion
and hold me close in sleep.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Vacation: Part II

                   JB photobombing the Tongan Choir concert.

Our accommodations in Laie, Oahu were....oh, lets just say they were not exactly what we had pictured in our minds, and leave it at that. We bunked a stone's throw from the LDS Temple and walked there to wander the grounds on Sunday. This group of Banyan trees grows behind the temple. These trees send roots down from the branches to root into the earth and then extra trunks grow from those new connections. Here is a picture of the front of the temple with its beautiful water features. 
      Sunday evening we attended a choral concert by the Tongan Choir. The director was a man of beautiful, peaceful spirit who has lead this choir for the past thirty years. The music was lovely, with tight harmony. It had been a long day and a stressful one for me. Monday would be better.

      Monday we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center. This is made up of villages made to represent several of the islands in the Pacific. The performers demonstrated the music, dances and arts of that particular island. We walked from one to the next all afternoon and then sat and viewed a barge parade of all of them.  There were shops outside the main area, but inside, guess what I found...A QUILT SHOP. I thought of you, Randa. Students from all over the world can go to BYU Hawaii for free if they work in the cultural center while they are there. What a great idea: they don't have to pay for staffing the center and the students get a free education. Barter at its best.

     Ann and I attended the Luau in the evening (yes, there was a pig and Tahitian dancers. Wow. ) After the Luau we would have been happy to go home and fall into our beds, sleeping the sleep of the dead, but no, there was more to come.  We had tickets to a theatrical/musical show about the legend of the Ha, The Breath of Life.  I liked it and probably would have liked it more if we hadn't been so beat.
      Notice I did not include a picture of myself here, at the end of the day after spending a long, sweaty afternoon wandering through the tropical islands. When they placed the leis on our necks at the luau, I was so hoping they would be the fragrant ones made of Plumeria blossoms because I was one stinking girl by that time. It was hot, guys! But, alas, no scent on the flowers, but thankfully the place smelled of slow-roasted pork and pineapple smoothie drinks, so I was okay. My thanks to Ann for not saying what she certainly could have said: My gosh, Deb, you smell like a harvest hand.  Right.


      Wednesday we hitched a ride with our neighbors, Ann and ....I never really caught the other lady's name. It might have been something like Cloa, but I wouldn't bet the farm on that. Both of these ladies were wonderful to us and drove us and our baggage to Honolulu, made sure we were checked into our hotel, and then took us out to lunch at a Korean cafe and on to Pearl Harbor where we met up with Laura again. There are saints among us.
    The Arizona Memorial was very moving and peaceful, looking down into the harbor and seeing the ship not far beneath the surface, with all hands still aboard.  There were some survivors of the bombing on the Arizona and so far 41 of those have asked to be cremated after they died, and to have their ashes lowered into the sunken ship so they could rest with their fallen brothers below.  (The Arizona burned for three days after she was hit because the ammunition she had on-board exploded after she was bombed. The only survivors were blown off the ship and rescued from the sea.) Below: Some mementos from the USS Oklahoma which, along with the USS Missouri and the USS Arizona, was sunk and was not able to be repaired. Many of the other battleships were able to be put back into service after repairs.

    The following morning we climbed aboard a plane and flew to Big Island (Hawaii) to spend three days with some friends of Ann. This couple is originally from India and were wonderful hosts, driving us all over the island, explaining everything about the history of the place and letting us relax in their beautiful home.  The houses in the islands are always open to the air and everything seems a little musty. Moss grows everywhere and anything painted soon loses its color, rusting away in the sea air.
   This is Sheila, our hostess, sitting beside the sea at our afternoon picnic.  Sadly, not too long after this, Sheila became ill and was sick the rest of the time, poor thing. I absolutely loved getting to know this woman who is a writer and an illustrator.  She was amazing.
 We saw fields of lava, a black sand beach, and the magnificent botanical gardens on this lovely island.  Jingle Boy was a trouper and gladly posed with everyone all over the place. This lovely red-with-white blossom is flower of the red ginger plant. Oh my.

 The second day we went to this black beach and saw two black sea turtles lounging on the sand. We also got to watch a local man teaching his grandson how to fish in the waves with a thrown, weighted circle net.
And lest I forget: Palm trees. I admit that I have grown used to seeing them everywhere and find myself wondering where they are, now that I'm home. Nowhere, Deb, that's where they are. I love the way they move with the breezes, staying flexible and beautiful, with their hearts open to the sun and the sea.  (A moment of honesty, folks: I am weary of the prairie.)

     This is Kataka waterfall, the first one we saw on Hawaii. We hiked down through a tropical rainforest to finally reach a spot where we could see the entire thing. In this case the journey was as wondrous as the destination. There is a small fish that matures in the ocean near this point. When it is an adult it swims back upstream to this waterfall and climbs (yes! with little suction cups on its belly and its tail fin) the rocks behind the waterfall and then swims up over the top and lays its eggs behind the rocks up there. When the babies hatch, they are washed to the sea; survival of the strongest.

By Saturday morning Ann was sick too. We decided to get on the plane anyway (sure, why not spread the germs around) and fly back to our hotel on Waikiki beach. She rested all day and Laura and I donned our swim capris and took on the ocean waves. I was not going to let it be said that I went to Hawaii and never got into the ocean. We dove into and through waves, were washed up onto the beach, floated over some waves, scraped our knees on the rocks and finally stumbled out onto the sand, our legs so weak we could barely stand up. Old ladies! The people on the beach must have laughed themselves silly watching our antics.  I loved it.
     Ann got better. We all flew home and parted ways in San Fran again.
That was a great game.