Tag Archives: communication

Sweet Harvest

 As the garden grows into full production we are all putting in even more hours than before. This week we not only contend with broken sprinkler pipes, (so hoses again) and weeds, but we now must harvest daily for peak ripeness and to maintain maximum production.

Comically, we all work on different schedules, so for about a week we assumed much, but none of us actually knew what the others were doing. Izzy was giving away surplus at work and the livestock was enjoying some overgrowth.

And then I slowed down one morning this week. Yeah, you’d think I’d have learned to do that more often by now…

Unbeknownst to me Izzy and Cole had been harvesting in the cool of the morning before they leave for their jobs in town – while I’m either keying away or snoozing in my cottage. An hour or so later I’ll unknowingly check the same sections of the garden and then harvest what they didn’t get to. But that particular morning when I put the house dogs back in I noticed their harvest in a crate. Doof!

All this time I was bringing the day’s collection into the fridge in my cottage thinking Izzy knows to check there every day.

Error.

Ordinarily, over the weekend and some evenings we girls touch bases or simply chat over a relaxing beverage.  I suspect their week away at the Lake put a hitch in our giddy-up so we miss a keystroke here and there.

I had to notice the crate in the main house kitchen to realize we’d do well to tweak our system again.

Done.

Eventually this scenario brought to mind one with the apostle Paul and the new believers in Corinth. First, duh – everyone was a new believer in Paul’s day. Similarly this is our first co-op garden experience. We usually talk about what we want to do next and what we’re learning from our agri-expert friends. For a few days we seemed to have dropped our communication signal.

We’re caught up from the vacation now.

“I (Some of us) planted the seed, Apollos (the rest of us) watered it (and weeded), but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  1 Corinthinans 3:6 – 9 (NIV – added paraphrase mine 😉 )

 

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Experience

grandpas-hatchet

Helper, Captain Morgan at the helm.

Captain Morgan at the helm.

I laid awake most of the night, tormented over breaking Cole’s old Coleman hatchet. Yeah, the one I hammered into a wet, rather green log until the head broke – right at the notch (so handy for pulling nails from construction wood).

 

The upset tortured me while I should have been sleeping. All. Week. Long.

Cole was completely cool about it. I systematically timed telling him I’d broken the hatchet he’d given me on our first cold morning here. The moment arrived as I presented him with a fine, shiny-new, Estwick Sportsman hatchet with all the bells and whistles.

I rarely get to give Cole anything of value. I was initially giddy until I jokingly said the words, “the hatchet you gave me… …worn out…” and “…broke.” Instantly his entire demeanor changed dramatically – merriment abandoned my presentation. His words, “…my grand pa’s hatchet… he’d used it for years…” shot the loss and hurt straight through me too.

I get it: My siblings and I inherited very few, mostly valueless, common things from our parents. Those humble heirlooms are precious to each of us. Destroying something invaluable from Cole sickened me.

After weeping privately I texted him “I’ll make it right somehow,” (forgetting he was working in town). I’ll never forget his immediate reply: “Oh stop it-only made me sad for a min-it has done its job for a long time.” And then moments later he texted he’d gotten more wood to get me through while the grove is still snowed under.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” *

While I may annoy Cole with more words than he prefers, I learn from him. Things like his grandfather – who cut wood into his nineties with that old model, Coleman hatchet are important to us both. Had I known, I would have retired the Coleman and bought the new ones immediately.

The experience stung us both, but to me it revealed the character beneath Cole’s cast iron veneer. He is a treasure indeed. I hope for more, far less painful lessons.

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

*Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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Wake Up Call

be-still-know-godLate yesterday I wasn’t still. I’d been uneasy. With my lame arm I couldn’t pull my hatchet from a log. Cole didn’t get to the shop until early afternoon – he’d been working in town, so he and everyone else pushed hard to complete the day’s task list. I certainly wasn’t going to bother anyone with firewood.

By then my feet hurt, my back ached and my bad arm felt like it was on fire. Feeling my indisposition weighing on me, I resigned to wheel the log, hatchet firmly lodged in it back to the cottage and think the problem through.

Extraordinarily early this morning my phone rang. For years calls before daylight brought awful news. I bolted up, took a deep breath and answered, “What is it?”

Cole’s voice, “Wake up, Woman.”

Instantly relieved, I replied, “I’m awake Dude, I’m cold and slow…” I hadn’t heard it in a few years, but I’m pretty sure he was giggling before I heard him disconnect.

Minutes later with my latte and the smell of smoke from the stove I realized I was feeling cheerful, prospects abounded again. Even coughs in the pasture didn’t upset me (okay, that and checking with Kendra). Refreshed and fully awake by then I recalled Cole’s last text the evening before, “What are you worried about. Seriously.”

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again — my Savior and my God!*”

Later, in the morning light, with a cup of tea my concerns from the night before seemed silly. I began to remember scenarios from years long ago; the boy’s dad fussing into the phone after Pa woke him – at four a.m. I could hear The Old Man cackle delightedly just before hanging up. Hours later Ma also giggled describing how much Pa enjoyed waking all the brothers early that morning.

I may have mentioned before how my family tree is more like a tangled bramble bush. Love between us is wrapped in stained, stiff leather gloves. Those calls became a holiday tradition. I missed them after our marriage went south and the family distanced themselves from me for a season. Until this morning.

Today I’m glad I didn’t reply to Cole’s text the night before. Translated, it said, “Remember I have your back, Sister,” sub-text, “Being the only one here for days can feel lonely.” The call this morning confirmed what I already felt. Cole knowing I’m no slacker, my body is aging, but I’m far from lazy isn’t so important this morning. I must rest my arm and let it heal. He’ll get it eventually. Meanwhile God indeed knows.

Now I wonder; perhaps the way we’re all twisted together isn’t all that scary. No matter what, God’s got this.

It’s good to be home.

“But He knows where I am going. And when He tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” Job 23:10 (NLT)

*Psalm 43:5

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Options

img_1613  img_1614

My devoted brother, arriving for the lunch he’d more than earned, thought he’d pop in and out of the apartment in a few minutes. Instead he quickly noticed how the 54 degrees with all the rain the past week, the apartment felt cold. He fussed that I hadn’t started a fire in the wood stove. I’m fastidious about wearing layers so the chill hadn’t bothered me.

As his soup cooled he set about the same procedure I’d enacted the day before, only he included evicting the wasps that had nested in the chimney over the summer. He debated over the damper handle positions, ran to the shop next door for the hammer I’d asked to borrow days ago and for a wet stone to sharpen the hatchet. He sent me to the main house for newspaper while he chopped kindling (I’d burnt my week’s supply of paper and kindling the day before trying to start a fire myself in the newer, unfamiliar stove).

Thanking me for the soup and sandwich, he noticed the jacket laying over the back of the recliner sitting across from the wood stove. “What the…?” He said, “Why’s Derick’s jacket still here, and not already patched? Sheesh, Woman, you better get on that!”

“Brother,” I replied lasciviously, walking over to stroke my hand over the jacket, “You know how long and cold the nights have been since he brought it by for mending. I’ve enjoyed sitting with the jacket. Sometimes I imagine Derick wearing it – other clothing being optional…” my words trailed off as I gazed blankly into the void between us…

With that Brother predictably stomped out of the apartment, shaking his head and murmuring inaudibly.

Sure, I could have pointed out the jacket rested on top of a pile of mending and alterations – due three days later, as agreed. I could have explained that setting up the table, lights and my machine is a chore that leaves little space for anything else. I might have explained that the items sit there where they will annoy me into getting to the task sooner rather than later…

But Brother being more prudish lately than I’ve ever known him, that wouldn’t be nearly as fun or entertaining.

I wonder if I can expect him for lunch again soon…

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” Proverbs 15:1 (NLT)

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Notably Sound

2016jun10Manny PCL MIL JCLI talked more than usual with my grown men over the past few weeks. Nathan was hospitalized several times for migrating shrapnel – 13 years after the initial event

The second time I heard one of my sons patient, adorable sighs, I remembered previous conversations, especially one with Zoe: 

Notably Sound – Repost from 9/15/2014

phone convo pixabayZoe couldn’t talk yesterday, but this morning we caught up. Unlike many of my friends and family these days, Zoe and I occupy the same time zone. That’s kind of a big deal.

Fast forward 150 minutes; epic – even for us. We touched all bases; our families, work, health, mutual friends, political and social concerns. Then, for fun, we skimmed back over my notes from our past year’s conversations.

notebook-pixabayYes, I take notes – on everything, in chronological order with color coded highlights. Maybe it’s a mental health thing, but it’s often helpful.

The happiest benefit of this old habit is seeing conversation details are accurately recorded.

So… you may be thinking.

So, my assessment today addresses how my amazing, adult sons imply (but wouldn’t dare say), “Mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I recognize the tone more frequently than ever before. Even when they were teens – and learned to never say that to me again. “That’s odd, Son. I thought you said you like liver. Silly me. I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

Now they suggest I’m either confused about statements from previous talks or I really wasn’t listening – like that ever happens : } I confess I once found an old shopping list there – just once.

From my trusty notebooks, our typical conversations appear compressed into time restraints and are multi-directional. Though the subjects get jumbled among various subjects; jobs, rapidly growing kids, classes, fitness, etc., reviewing my notes serve me well. Though days or weeks may have lapsed, I am indelibly assured in my grasp of the conversations.

On this down slope of mid-life, this too is kind of a big deal. Modern medicine has forced us to minor in self-diagnosis so that especially the savvy peri-senior is watchful for symptoms of dementia, senility and a host of distresses and diseases.

I am happy to report that according to my notes, Zoe and I are in good shape; at least between our ears!

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NLT)

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Techno-kids

My new friend Victo Dolore’s recent post Wormholes at Behind the White Coat… sent my mind rummaging through old memories. I’d been bumbling through technology, again wishing Quinn could help me out – again.

kid phone pixabayI’ll be the first to say I wasn’t the world’s best mom – but I wasn’t among the worst either. Far too young when I started, with barely a clue about life, I’m now an authority on how not to parent.

My grandparents being my rocks, I now take being a grand parent seriously. Experience and not bearing the full burden of responsibility for young humans makes an immense difference.

My guys grew up technologically savvy and passed their skills on to their kids early. Clearly they didn’t get their skills from me, but I’m glad they have them.

On an outing to the zoo with the grand kids I met strong resistance collecting cell phones (from the 8-10 year olds!). “It’s just us today, gang,” I explained as their connections to the world disappeared inside Roo’s magic bag. I heard Ten-Year-Old mumble barely beneath her breath, “Yeah, us and hundreds of other people.”

Toward the end of the visit Eight-Year-Old asked to have one device – any one. He wanted a photo of us all enjoying each another.

Point taken.

Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.” Proverbs 17:6 (NLT)

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Throwdown

To those who have been following the journal of my latest relocation, integrating my life into the home of my oldest, best friend, I submit this latest recount of the process. To new, readers I present an object lesson, and to those who’ve figured life out, my apologies for the rant.

Throwing the Gauntlet

My presence in our new home brought change for Erin as much as for me. For many readers change is no big deal, but as we age – the longer we age – especially while working through mental health issues, we want to wrestle it, pin it to the mat. I understand this and had assumed Erin did too.

We had always stayed in touch, but we hadn’t lived together in over thirty years. A lot of water flowed beneath these two bridges. She lived alone for the past three years while I often longed to. I mostly enjoyed the three years I lived in my beautiful apartment – alone and lonely for my friends and family (who lived at least an hour away – too far for young families or my old truck to drive every week).

So, here’s these two old broads, best friends for over half a century, experiencing our first upset with each other in over thirty years.

gauntlet pinterest

* Old Lady Gauntlets

For three months I had collected little straws, petty little things that bothered me and sometimes disrupted my routine. Thinking they were too insignificant to mention, before I realized it I began to feel like the haystack was going to break this camel’s back.

Now y’alls probably never do that, or if you did it happened once – just once. Doing it more than once is just stupid. As if three years of counselor training hadn’t taught me better, I had surrendered weeks of joy to frustration, and still I was reluctant to talk to Erin about it.

Growing up in a violent, dysfunctional family ingrains a reluctance to confront, or it encourages emotional bullies. I’m intimated by how easily I pivot toward both. So, I didn’t want to offend her – and then have to live with the repercussions.

I grew up with Erin’s family. Now as adults I recognize how she and her siblings bear crosses between them they have no business shouldering. I’m not gonna lie, this isn’t the first time I found some degree of comfort seeing her family is not perfect either. Now I realize they too sometimes transfer their feelings to each other or overlook their responsibilities for their choices occasionally. So, I held it all in, keeping my concerns to myself and carrying my burden alone.

Once I realized it was a big deal I started worrying the next straw would blow the roof off our home sweet home. I’d begun ranting to the cats when Erin was out of the house. Coco’s blinking at me dispassionately made me feel resentful (we’ll blame her – she doesn’t care). I was angry from ignoring all those sore little straw scrapes. That left me feeling frustrated, hopeless and ultimately fearful.

My moods weren’t lost on Erin either. Several evenings she came to my doorway asking, Do you feel any better yet? Are you angry at me? Are you still happy here? Because that was usually late for me I was tired (so not entirely approachable) and I can be bitchy, I’d tell her everything’s fine. I lied.

My. First. Conviction.

With that I began to actually think. By not talking to Erin had I been packing casings with my issues, loading them into the .45, and then pointing it toward my foot?

bullets-on-wood-table-5305x3537_25636** bullseye**

At the peak of this madness sister Ellie called me, casually asking as she always does, “how you doin’.” It was a surface level, polite question. In my state of mind, I ass-umed she and Erin must have talked about my moods. But because I won’t talk to Ellie about Erin, I couldn’t honestly answer her. Instead, my dam broke and I cried. I told her I’ve been depressed and it had me worried.

After saying the “D” word aloud, I realized I had to buck up and somehow talk with Erin about what was troubling me. That started my second conviction: years of misdiagnosis and medication gorking me out unnecessarily proved I don’t suffer from depression. I know this, but each body ages differently. I lamely reasoned being sick seemed much more palatable than accepting I’d been cowardly. That bird didn’t fly far.

I was glad Erin spent the next few days at Keira’s, so I could think, play positive, encouraging music 24/7 pray (aloud) and fast. The cats disapproved, but quickly got over all the noise.

The night Erin returned home she came to my doorway (yeah, around ten p.m.). I’d just started to drift off to sleep, so I don’t remember what she asked me. Hopefully I mumbled something to the affect of Goodnight, but I heard her say as she walked away, “You didn’t answer me.” Exhausted and still reluctant, I let it go for the night.

The next morning I made Erin’s coffee, my double espresso latte and woke her early. I read to her from The Love Chapter” of the Bible***. Then locking eyes with hers said, “I don’t have to remind you I love you. I’m not running. I’m not depressed, but I am sad and a little scared. We must hunt the elephants.”

We talked back and forth for hours, continuing the conversation on-and-off all day during my breaks. Sure it was a short work day. My writing probably took a few hits with the weeks of distractions, but today we’re both talking and feeling much better.

As we age changes, confusion, and some hard feelings are natural. This is particularly so for unmarried people, these feelings can escalate astoundingly quickly and easily develop into withdrawal, isolation and despondency. As we diligently invest in our relationships, the odds for problems decline significantly. In our house we chose to invest and accept deposits as well.

A fool would throw away a fifty-something-year-old friendship. I can be silly sometimes, but I’m no fool – not yet.

puppy-on-beach-4435x2939_53724**

Erin has my six and I’m on her nine.  To this she says, “Sure, point out my side’s bigger than your skinny, old side.” We enjoy the pun, even if nobody else does.

*** “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

 

Images courtesy of *Pinterest and **ABSFreePics

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Multilingual

crowd

A big part of my life is a fondness for languages. Fellow bloggers around the world employing Spanish and French phrases captivate me. I like to comment likewise, however I noticed lately how often I check and cross-check translations.

Entering high school I wanted to become a translator, work for humanity to promote world peace. With my family’s church upbringing, I had a decent grasp of Latin by then, so I methodically set out to conquer the Romance languages. I remember learning quickly with remarkable retention and I just knew everything would simply fall into place.

Come enrollment I elected advanced Spanish, French 101 and German 101 classes. All. At. Once. I thought it would be a cakewalk. My cake however turned to mush in the first quarter.

I put my formal education on hold and became fluent in toddler and preschooler instead. Over the years as we moved from neighborhood to neighborhood, region to region, I liked to try out what I remembered from school, but my Spanish and French were likely more entertaining than understandable – my neighbors quickly chose to begin most of our conversations in English.

Fast forward a few years, at a highway rest stop I struck up a conversation in Spanish with another traveler. Isn’t it funny how candor comes easily with a familiar stranger? I confessed being a little apprehensive about returning to the City after living in the country for several years. She responded, “Chica, simplemente ser uno mismo y todo estará bien!” (You’ll be fine, You just do you Boo-Boo).

And she was right.

I’ve forgotten far more about languages than I’ll ever learn again. I’m humbled to have accepted being multilingual slid down my priority list. Still, everywhere I go people clearly understand kindness, humility and respect.

I still believe communication is the cornerstone to peace. As is kindness and good manners. I also believe while it should not be mandated, people do themselves a disservice not learning the languages of at least their bordering countries – preferably when they are quite young. And I’ve experienced, as with much of life, if we don’t hone our skills, we get dull.

Today I can greet in about four languages, but without my backup devices I initiate conversation in English. I won’t be applying anywhere as a translator any time soon but I’ll never stop working toward world peace.

 

“… be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)

 

Image courtesy ABSFreePic

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