I’ll Be Seeing You.

April 6, 2010

Dear Buddo,

I heard the news that you finally went Home the other day. It was Good Friday. I was in a car with my Mom and my two boys…. down in Florida, on our way somewhere. Dad called and gave the report, and I passed the news to Mom.

Surprisingly, I was able to keep my composure. Maybe because the boys were there. Maybe because it was not an unexpected turn of events. Maybe because it was so good to know you weren’t suffering anymore. Certainly, there was no doubt about where you were going… where you are now… pain-free and in the company of Jesus!

[How many tissues will it take to get through this post? We’ll see.]

You celebrated 72 years of marriage just two months ago… and you would have turned 90 years old on Easter Sunday. Ninety years! I have yet to live half as long.

Even though we weren’t blood relations, you always made me feel as though we were. I have known you since I was born… ever since my parents first brought me up to Conneaut Lake on one of their yearly visits. Did you ever hold me and rock me to sleep in my favorite porch swing? I don’t know for sure, but I like to think so.

That old cottage was great, wasn’t it? I remember the spring house, and the little galley kitchen, and the living room with the piano. I remember the table that folded up onto the wall, out on the porch. You had a game of “Don’t Break the Ice” that I loved to play with. I remember a narrow staircase that went up to the bedrooms. I remember spending a night or two on a very squeaky cot on the other side of your room, while you and Graydon laughed and whispered to each other “our guest is a little restless.”

You were a wonderful cook! And yet, as a picky little girl, I was a bit fearful of eating at your house. Especially that time when I learned that a favorite motto of yours was EAT IT OR WEAR IT! Ha ha. I always smile when I think of you uttering those words. Your delivery was unique. I never wanted to find out whether you’d make good on that subtle threat.

When I was younger, we typically came to visit and stay with you about one week a year. Later, our family acquired the little cottage right behind yours, and so my lake visits were longer and more frequent. And even as your own house — rebuilt now, so that you could live there year ’round —  got more and more crowded with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, you still made a point of telling me that summer didn’t truly begin until I showed up at the lake. I’m sure you were just being nice, but I always treasured those words. I pretended that you never said them to anyone else.

So many lake mornings began with me knocking on your door in the early hours, stealing a bite of whatever you had handy to eat, and relieving you of any stale bread so that I could feed the fish off your dock. Then I’d usually come back up to the house (but not through the front door! …always around back where you had a washtub ready for dirty feet!) and spend a little more time chatting. You would try to feed me more breakfast. You were always very concerned with whether I was the slightest bit hungry.

It tickles me to recall listening to you and Graydon gently correct each other as you both would give me a report of the latest news from the lake area…  who was in town and who wasn’t, stories about docks being put in for the summer, tales of how high the creek had gotten with the last storm, and perhaps a wistful recounting of a delicious meal you’d had at some local restaurant. Important news, all! And I loved to hear it.

The last several years were more difficult. You couldn’t do all the things you wanted to do. Eventually you couldn’t live full-time at your beloved lake anymore. You made a point to visit as frequently as possible, especially when all the family and neighbors were around for the 4th. You made valiant efforts to hide it, but you began to be more and more limited by pain.

I am so thankful that I had the privilege of sitting with you one Sunday morning last July, to keep you company while Graydon attended church. I enjoyed a few hours with you in your bright little house while we waited for a man to bring communion. You asked me to help pull out a few photo albums from a closet. We talked about random things. Then Graydon came home and we had a little lunch. I marveled at how deftly he divided one meal between the two of you without speaking a word…knowing exactly which things you would eat and which of your portion of things he could take for himself. The lemon meringue pie was slightly frozen in the middle, but we all agreed it was very tasty.

And then I left, with a final hug and a kiss on the cheek from my Buddo. I think we both knew in the back of our heads that we might not see each other again. I would never have begun to broach the subject, though. The sun was so very bright that day.

Lord willing, we will all gather again in a few months… the whole clan of extended family and close-knit neighbors… for another July 4th at our favorite lake. Bonfires on the beach, fireworks at the park, plenty of good food. There will be lots of noise and lots of kids running around.

And I will steal a moment to sit on your porch swing, and look out over the water and remember you.

Love always,


“You rock.”

March 21, 2010

You know how there are those moments in your life… certain times when someone says or does something, or perhaps when some event happens, and it has an impact on you such that you always remember it? Like people who remember exactly what they were doing when they found out Kennedy was shot. Or when they heard about September 11. Or maybe you carry around a memory of a first date or a birth or a death or a big win in overtime. Whatever it is.

As we are in the process of saying goodbye to some very dear friends — our worship minister (Sean Rittenberry) and his family are leaving to take another ministry up in Indiana — in the midst of all the emotion and tears, a certain memory comes to the forefront for me. It’s one of those little moments that I cherish, that I pull out and recall from time to time when I am feeling a little down.

People who see me sing in church nowadays may not realize that I am a complete nervous wreck whenever I pick up a microphone. I’ve always had a self-confidence issue… meaning that I have none. I love to sing and always have, but I still have something like a panic attack every time I am supposed to do a solo or anything like that. I hyperventilate and my hands shake and my voice quivers and the whole bit. It’s always an adventure!

So why do I do it?

That’s a good question.

First of all, there’s the whole love of singing thing that I just mentioned. I have always loved to sing, especially to harmonize. As a little girl I would sing with Franki Valli and the Four Seasons on the record player in the family room. [I thought it was funny that a man could sing so high!] When I got older I would sing in my car, or in my room, or in the shower… basically anyplace that I was pretty sure no one could hear me. I sang all the parts and pretended I was famous. A legend in my own mind.

But the more compelling reason… the thing that got me to take my love of singing and be willing to go out on a limb and pick up a microphone and sing in front of actual people who might hear me… is Sean.

Sean has always been an encourager to me. But one evening about 4 or 5 years ago was the moment in my memory when things really “clicked” for the first time with me and the singing.

We were at praise band practice. Normally I didn’t go to band practice, but for some reason that particular week, I was supposed to be there helping out with a vocal team that Sean had put together. (This was before the use of praise teams at our church became a regular thing). I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember that there were supposed to be other vocalists besides me, but I was the only one who could make it to practice that night.

I hadn’t ever been on a praise team before. I was a bit nervous, because we were going to be practicing the songs for Sunday, but I was the only one there singing along with Sean and the band playing. So any mistakes I made would be right out there in the open for all to hear…

The band tuned up and started playing the first song in the lineup. Sean started singing.

I joined in. I didn’t really know anything else to do except sing harmony. That’s usually what I hear the best.

I remember thinking that it didn’t sound too bad. I thought that my voice blended in pretty well with Sean’s. I thought things sounded fairly smooth. I wondered if I was the only one who thought that. It might have been all in my head.

The band stopped playing after a minute. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong. Turns out they just needed to tweak something with the music… but before he gave them any further instruction, Sean quickly turned to me. First things first. He smiled and said

“You rock!”

And it was one of those moments. A moment of genuine, unsolicited, positive reinforcement about something I was doing.

It made me happy.

It made me grin.

It made me sing a little bit louder the next time.

Since that evening, I’ve gradually done more and more singing at church, especially helping to lead worship. I’ve enjoyed singing with Sean on praise team and I’ve really enjoyed the few times (not nearly enough) when we sang together as special music during the service.

I still have my panic attacks. I still have my doubts and my overly critical assessments of how I sound when I do a solo. I still wonder whether the audience can see me shaking up there.

But in the midst of it all, I also still have this moment in my memory… when I was trying something new, and a good friend turned to me and smiled and gave me all kinds of affirmation in just two words.

Thanks, Sean. Thanks for the years of service at our church, and for the years of friendship we’ve enjoyed with you and your family. Thanks for coming to our lame New Year’s Eve get-togethers. Thanks for playing “Open Arms” on the keyboard and letting me pretend to be Steve Perry (yeah, right!). Thanks for having confidence in me and pushing me to do more than just sit around.

I wish you weren’t going. I really do. Tears are coming as I type this. But I know you are going where God is leading you, and who can argue with that?

So good luck and God bless, and don’t ever forget how much we will all miss you.

And just so you know… the feeling is likewise:



… I’d like to thank the Academy…

March 9, 2010

Well, looky here.

A little while ago I received a comment on a recent blog post. It arrived in my email box, all wrapped up in brown paper and clearly marked FRAJEELAY.  Someone had sent me a Major Award!

Oh, look at it. Isn’t it beautiful? I’m running my hands lovingly up and down the edges and I’m setting it in my window for all to see.:)

No really. My good friend, fellow tall girl, Milligan alum, and Feb. 7 birthday sharer, Sylvie bestowed this great honor upon me and my little blog today. Thanks, Sylvie! Sylvie (whose name for some reason is hard for me to type correctly) is an artist of a different kind… she makes fabulous glass beads and sells them online, you can view her bead website here or look for more photos of some of her work in some facebook photo albums, here and here

So, apparently with this great honor comes great responsibility. I now have to pass the award on to other blog friends. The official rules say 12 friends, but I don’t have that many friends. What??!?! I’ll just do the best I can with the friends I have.

The rules for accepting the Sunshine Award are: (if you are a recipient, take note)

  • Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
  • Pass the award onto 12 bloggers. [I’m making an executive decision here and saying, pass it on to as many friends as you like.]
  • Link the nominees within your post.
  • Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
  • Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.
  • Oh, and also post these rules, so people know what to do.
Without any further ado, the winners (from me) of the Sunshine Award are:
  1. SmallWorld at Home A blog about family, daily life, memories, etc. by another college friend, Sarah. Sarah is a great writer… don’t miss it when she posts a memory or a poem!
  2. This is My “Real” Blog written by Angie, yet another college friend (I loved college). She writes about cooking, crafts, NASCAR, and the joys and challenges of raising her children. Since I can’t have a cup of tea with Angie on a regular basis, I like to sit down and read her blog. It’s like having a nice chat.
  3. Clan McIntire is a blog by Chris, another friend from Milligan (hey! What’s up with all these college friends! Enough already!) He has some family stuff on there but the biggest thing that I enjoy following are his running endeavors. I am a novice jogger myself and it’s good to read from the annals of a more experienced runner on his crazy workouts with his friends in Oklahoma.
  4. 900 miles is written by Randy, the husband of Sarah (from #1) and also my most competitive Word Twist opponent on facebook. His blog recounts his journey toward hiking all 900 miles of trails in Smoky Mountain National Park. Oh and guess what? I met Randy at Milligan, too. 🙂

That’s all for now. I could come up with a few more, but I have acceptance speeches to give and awards night parties to attend…


Signs that the children have had enough.

February 25, 2010

It’s a snow day in Fayette County (again!). And this is the best the neighborhood kids could come up with when they went outside today [click for larger view]…

Writing in the snow.

Not sledding. Not building snowmen.

I see it as a cry for help. It’s their way of saying “This? This snow is pathetic! All we can do with it is practice our writing skills. That’s because the layer of snow is so thin that just walking on it goes right through to the grass below. Please, oh please send us to school.”

I know that’s not a direct quote, but I have a special ability to read between the lines.



February 24, 2010

Dear Smart People Who Know How to Bake Things,

Please help me to not have this happen to my sourdough bread:

I am sure that there is some little something I am doing that causes this to happen… letting something rise too long, or not long enough, or maybe the oven temperature is all wrong, or the starter is flawed somehow… or maybe I am just incapable of baking a nice loaf of bread.  I could probably figure it out myself, but frankly? I just want someone to tell me what causes this. I’ve been through a lot of trial and error (lots of error) with sourdough, and I don’t feel like doing online research on the topic anymore.

Help me help me help me.

A Good Cook, But Not So Much With the Baking