Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Tanka or Why I Love my Dogs

I was awakened rudely by my favorite Border Collies last night. They had one of their frequent mid-morning meetings with the neighbor dogs, though it was more likely a party since it was Friday night after all. They barked and barked, then took a break. In the pre-dawn quiet, I heard owls hooting. A pleasant sound! Calming. Soothing. Lulling me back to sleep... when the barking began again. Drats! (Not what I really thought). I was awake. So, being wide awake and not wanting to confront or contemplate the usual mixed bag of my rambling mind I did what any rational human does in a cold, dark room when they should be and wished they were sleeping. I began counting syllables.

3:50 a.m.
Incessant barking disturbs
a peaceful slumber.
Hooting owls soothe my brain but
I count syllables, not sheep.

This tanka (5/7/5/7/7 syllables per line) began life as a haiku (5/7/5 syllables per line). I had three or four third lines but only now remember one which is definitely not Vegan. I apologize, Mary. I offer it here to show that I was not pleased at having been awoken for the third time in a week by my partying pets. The line was "dog chops, anyone?"

Know that I truly love our dogs, but after these two lovely mutts pass on one day to the great Dog Farm in the Sky, I will never again have another dog as a pet. I feel strongly about it, can you tell? My boys are nearly grown (and getting older every day!), so I can confidently assure you that there will be no tugs of the heart to convince me to get another dog as a pet, nor will I feel like I'm a bad Mom if I don't get the boys a doggy replacement when the time comes, as more than likely neither boy will live at home.

Cats, fine. I occasionally have my sleep interrupted by an errant cat who escaped the mudroom and forgot where it was, but she's 17 years old now and her days are limited. It's not a weekly thing, thank heavens. And honestly, she's not that loud. Our really lovey, favorite cat, Hobbes (don't tell me I shouldn't have a favorite--I already know this and do anyway), will be with us until the end of his days--for another dozen years or so. Cats are so easy compared to dogs. My post, my opinion.

Friday, January 08, 2010

It's a New Year, Right?

Okay, so here I am, in case you were wondering. I'm baaack. Just please don't count on me hanging around long and writing regularly. I have a bad habit of showing up to write a marvelous personal essay, only to duck and cover for the next few (few? several?!) months.

By now we're all aware that this is 2010. Is that 20-10 or 2,010? Does it matter? Nope.

My 'big' news that isn't, I returned to school online last fall. I committed to taking six classes within a year. I took two last semester and have started on the next two for this semester. You see, my life wasn't busy enough. I needed a challenge.

Seriously, I had thought of returning to school on & off for a dozen+ years. With a major birthday milestone looming (in three years to be precise), I figured it shouldn't be put off any longer. Kind of like now or never.

I began volunteering last summer for PLENTY!, a non-profit in Floyd County that gathers food (produce, day-old bread, assorted other good stuff) from various sources and distributes it to shut-ins and single moms. This is one of the best things I've ever done (other than marrying Scott and having kids, that is). I love it. Scott joined me soon after I became involved. Our live-in individual (and sometimes Emerson) goes with us to deliver food to the folks on our list once a week. It's been a highlight of the week to 'check-in' on new friends who are grateful to receive whatever it is that we bring them. I'm telling you, it's a complete do-good, feel-good experience. By next summer, I'd like to be more involved in one or two of the sister off-shoots of the non-profit. But we'll see if it fits in with my schedule and my life. A lessons we've learned in recent years is to not over schedule ourselves--even with good stuff!

Our sons are getting older (Spencer's pushing 20 & Emerson is 14 1/2!), as they are wont to do. It's time for Scott and I to work towards What's Next. We have lists in our heads and in a chunky little notebook that we go over occasionally. We have dates where we talk about which place we intend to travel to first and should it be by RV, by car, or should we just pull up stakes and live in Europe for a little while? Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. Meanwhile, it's so much fun to make plans that we're reading a travel-related book together.

Speaking of plans, we're definitely planting more potatoes next year and sweet potatoes as well (like we did a few years ago). I really don't need any seeds, though I'm sure I can find something I want. Looking at a seed catalog is, for me, about as good reading as the newest best seller. And often more hopeful.

Until then, our everyday lives in Floyd County go on. This time of year that means an occasional snow & ice storm (better known as 'wintry mix'!), accompanied by the requisite power outage. Scott gives guitar lessons 5 days a week (from home on Mondays) and performs regularly, I complete paperwork, read & take tests, and dabble in the forex market for some real excitement, and together we are Service Providers to a live-in individual (4 years this June!). Emerson is still home schooling and in 9th grade (this task is accomplished mainly by Scott, I just teach Biology). Spencer has a very nice girlfriend, Amanda from Indiana, they take turns living in our 'rustic' cabin (no running water!) or in a nice home (not far from us) where he routinely has a long-term, on-again, off-again house sitting job. He still works at The Harvest Moon and he's a part-time college student.

It's 2010. And just like the company... Life is Good.

Photos courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Petals Like Snowflakes

We are blessed to have many fruit trees on our farm (we're fruit rich!), but I refer to the old, yet still graceful, Stayman Winesap tree as "the" apple tree. The smaller, younger apple trees don't make me swoon when in full bloom. They don't hold a special place in my heart--and won't live in my memory the rest of my life.

The last two nights, I stood on the porch in the dark and took in several deep breaths of apple blossom perfume.

Our peach tree blooms before the apple tree and holds its cotton candy-pink blossoms for ten days to almost two weeks. Not so with apple trees. It is a brief, gorgeous show that lasts 48 hours, at most, before petals begin to fall, like large snowflakes slowly tumbling down from the tree to the ground.

This morning I awoke to see that petal drop had begun.
Scattered about the new green grass are petals lying everywhere, from afar they resemble large snowflakes that refuse to melt as they lay next to fresh yellow dandelions.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Apple Tree Splendor

This is my humble paean to the hundred-year-old Stayman Winesap apple tree that graces our farm, and thus, our lives.

We moved to our farm in Check (northeastern Floyd County) in October 2000. We've been privileged to witness the tree's blossoming to full glorious bloom nine times.

I wait for this day and when it arrives, it nearly moves me to tears.

I stand close to the end of a low-hanging branch and hold the tip so I may examine the delicate petals of the pale pink blossoms. I sit or lay underneath and gaze up, taking in its full splendor. I desire to be one with the tree when it is in full bloom.

I walk to the top of our long driveway/hill away from the tree, so that I can slowly walk back down and fully appreciate the beauty and magnitude of this stately tree.

Last Spring, the tree was covered with blossoms but one-quarter of the branches did not fully leaf out and held only a smattering of new leaves. Bare charcoal branch were revealed, like it was still winter.

I sought answers to my questions about the health of the tree, but failed to search hard or soon enough. I'm ashamed to say the tree's health became a back-burner issue, I had too much going on and other issues were deemed more pressing. It was summer before we realized that something was truly wrong with the tree.

It was autumn before I thought to track down Tom Burford, an apple tree expert in Virginia. He suggested that we take a leaf sample to a chem lab for analysis, but by then the leaves had fallen and it was too late.

This spring we observed the blossoms developing, but from a glance we could see that those bare branches of last year would not bear blossoms and were dying or dead. As sad as that was, I was thankful that the rest of the limbs appeared healthy.

Today is the day. The one I've looked forward to every spring since moving here: the apple tree is in full majestic bloom. And though, this year, every limb is not covered with blossoms, the tree lives on. The humming buzz of happy bees is heard from the front porch. I hope that you have the chance to experience an apple tree in full bloom, it's a moment to hold in your heart and memory. (Bottom photo was taken in 2008.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Country Friday in Floyd

Friday late afternoon I checked online for a credit card payment. Yes, I had paid it. I had a vague memory and wanted to double-check, but something else caught my eye. We have two Chase cards, one with a small balance and the other with a zero balance. Except the second card didn't show a zero balance. It showed that we owed $2,187.40 and six purchases had been made to in the last four weeks. What?!? We didn't make any purchases. The payment was due that day.

I called Chase and explained that we didn't make any purchases. To their credit, they were very good about it. I was concerned about making a payment so we wouldn't have a late pay on our account while this was sorted out; but they said to not worry, they would remove all charges. That was a huge relief. They cancelled the card and issued a new one. They would launch an investigation.

Wait, it gets better.

At 7 p.m. our live-in resident announced, "Hey Lisa, there are two cops outside on the porch." Scott, back from work, had retreated to the basement to practice until dinner was ready. I hollered for him to come upstairs ASAP. He didn't hear me.

Oldest son walks in the door. He asks why the Deputies are here. I'm just thankful it doesn't involve him since he's asking, which I'm not proud to say was my first thought. I tell him that I have no flippin' idea.

I stood there, surrounded by my sons, and opened the door to Floyd County's finest. They stated, with one hand on their guns, "We're responding to a 911 call from your house."

I must have had a stupid, blank look on my face when they tell me they received a 911 call from our house. I can imagine what they must have thought. My face was completely flushed--bright pink--I had soaked in a hot bath for my left knee and hip (not to mention the credit card fraud!) and had been out for 10 minutes. I was wearing my pink bathrobe over sweats and a t-shirt.

The Deputies say that they tried to call back, but couldn't get through--hence why they showed up. I explain that our phones weren't working (left uncharged for too long), so they couldn't get through. I apologize for wasting their time and tell them that I have no idea how or why they received a call from our house. I don't know if they believed me, but we didn't make a call. It's a mystery.

The Deputies ask if we're okay. I nod and tell them "We're all fine." Though I must look half-loony standing there in my pink bathrobe with a dumb look on my magenta face at 7 p.m. on Friday night, they must have ascertained that 'all was okay' because they turn around and leave.

Thank heavens.

At which point, I go downstairs and tell my husband what he just missed and decide I'd enjoy a barley pop with my dinner.

This has not been your average, run of the mill month: a car wreck, a birthday, a used car purchase, credit card fraud and Deputies showing up for a 911 call we didn't make.

And people that don't live in the country tend to think country livin' is slow and simple. Maybe even dull at times. Ha!

It can be. It has potential.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Starting again... and again!

This is embarrassing. Last Friday I ran into a friend from my mortgage broker life (it surfaces as I bump into former clients/friends). He asked when I would write again, pointing out my last post--three months ago--with Shock! Outrage! No, neither.

Then, today, at a food order pick-up, less than a week later, one of my food group 'co-workers' told me she was #7. Two of my now seven (SEVEN!) fans have spoken! Seven is lucky, right?! It is for me.

Naturally, I heroically thought, "I must start AGAIN!" Because, heck, starting is what I do best. Follow-through not so much, but if you need something, anything, started then I'm your gal. I can start anything. I may not finish, but does that matter?! Well, yes, sometimes it does.

I should start a business where I do nothing but start various projects for people. I get it up and rolling and then my client takes over. What a great idea. I'm full of them (ask Scott--he can vouch for me).

Lest you think I never finish a darn thing and my life is endless incompletes, this gal writes a two-page Christmas letter every year and has for nearly a dozen years. Wow! How's that for an accomplishment?! How does she do it? It isn't easy, people. It must certainly count.

And while it isn't finished (this is a good thing), I'm making good on the 'follow-through' of being married. I could add, "It isn't easy, people. It must certainly count." But that's not true, it's way easier than it looks. [He could say the same about me. But he hasn't. Today on Facebook (where I've been since January--I'll be your friend!), he wrote that I was the Best Wife Ever. He's right. What a guy.]

I've had at least lucky #7 different types of careers, er, jobs in my vast work experience. Finished every job but my current one. I've worked retail, in restaurants, for an airline, for law firms, doing personal care and another one that escapes me, but I'm sure it was divine.

I'm not finished raising sons though I've (we've) made great progress, which is one of my favorite things to say.

Isn't all of life a work in-progress? If you're making 'great progress', you must be moving forward and doing okay, even if you haven't finished. Don't you agree?

I've rationalized that not finishing something isn't so awful. (I'm pretty good at rationalizing, too.) And you can't ever finish if you don't ever start. So here's to starting again... and again. C'est finis.
[Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fact or Fiction?

To the five of you that read this forlorn and forgotten blog, bless you. In the last ten days, I ran into two of you I seldom see and you both mentioned that you've read my blog. I was humbled, appreciative--and embarrassed--I haven't published since July.

Truth is, this falls under the 'fact' category, I have been distraught on & off (not constant, so don't worry), by the news of Fannie & Freddie in late July. That followed by four birthdays, picking 3+ bushels of peaches (the deer easily ate another three) and trying to sell Scott's store in August, and the financial economic Meltdown in September and since.

I followed the financial mess with great interest (and often complete dismay), in part because of my former profession as a Mortgage Broker, but also because I am a home owner and a tax payer like many of you.

I made my first batch of peach wine in late August and racked it in September. Learned a new skill. Wahoo! Emerson gave public school a whirl for three weeks before stating he would not return, "It was not an efficient use of my time." Back to home schooling.

We hosted a field trip to Sinkland Farms for Providers and our live-in individuals in October and went to LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival) in Black Mountain, NC. While at LEAF, Scott taught a blues class to a group of third graders, performed solo, and opened for Leon Redbone. What a great fest!

In November, after some anticipation, we voted! And even better, we liked the result! Not that I believe President-elect Obama can affect change overnight, sorry to say, but it will be a breath of fresh air to have a person in the highest office who speaks in complete, intelligent sentences and does not smirk. We drove to GA to visit family the weekend before Thanksgiving. Fact(s).

This month has been crazy busy, as it usually is in December. I learned to can venison, thus getting some manner of revenge on the deer. We went caroling at Skyline Manor (nursing home in Floyd) with a group from Wall Residences and were a hit in the Alzheimer's wing, despite some of us singing off-key (namely me). That moment made Christmas for me. It was so much fun that we're going back for a command performance of sorts, Scott decided to bring several of his guitar students (and his family!) to play Christmas music and we'll sing a song between instrumentals.

My annual Christmas letter was just finished and my cards are going out late. But better late than never; though with Christmas cards, the correlation seems to be the later you send them, the fewer you receive. No matter that you've faithfully mailed cards the last 20 years and written a two-page letter for 12. [Yes, it's two pages. I have a brevity problem. The first step is to admit it.]

All of the above blurbs are fact-based, not a lick of fiction in there. We truly were a hit in the Alzheimer's wing, that's not hopeful exaggeration. Emerson really stated public school was not efficient, though home schooling isn't much better. Some days it drags on until dark.

You're asking yourself (the five of you), what's the fiction?

My dear husband called from town an hour ago with a story to tell me. A woman he had never met before came up to him in a store and asked if he was Scott Perry. He admitted he was. She said "I'm so sorry," followed by "I've heard you're very sick and your wife has left you." Wow. I did?! Holy buckets, that's not good. If you read below, you'll learn that I don't even like to pack. So he set her straight. Scott asked where she heard such a thing, it turned out this ugly rumor came from a place in the heart of town, though there was no heart or truth to it.

This stuff has been ongoing for months, but has increased with intensity since September, the month The Pickin' Porch came this close (thumb and forefinger a hair apart) to being sold. I won't go into why it didn't sell, but it had nothing to do with us nor with the Buyer. Ever since, the rumors have been flying fast and furious.

The fiction has been entertaining. Did you know we're selling The Pickin' Porch and moving to _______ ? Some rumors say Ireland, which would be my fantasy come true, I have to admit, but is still not a fact. We are getting passports so Scott can gig in Europe and because one day I hope to live overseas for a year or two, but we'll begin with a vacation. People go 'on holiday' now and then. Moving to Europe--or even to Asheville--is another ball game and we're not playing now.

The very thought of moving makes me say "Ugh." We moved 42 cartons of books when we moved to Floyd. I don't like to say the "H word" but I hate packing. Fact.

Selling in this market? It can be done, but we have fruit, fresh air & clean water, and hold your horses, a 1984 John Deere 750 tractor bought after Thanksgiving. Scott won't bush hog the fields with a push mower anymore. Fact. Two days ago, Spencer installed a mail box purposely so he would receive a package he had ordered sent to our physical address (not the PO Box in town). How's that for motivation for a nearly 19 year old son? Fact.

Between a new, used tractor and a new mail box, after 8 years of living here on our farm, it looks like we're staying put a while longer. B'gosh and begorrah!

Another: we're selling the store because Scott will quit teaching guitar students. Fiction. He has a roster of 43 students each week and when one occasionally stops taking lessons, he replaces the empty slot within two weeks. He usually has a waiting list. Fact. He loves teaching his students and finds it to be rewarding. (He also happens to be a great guitar teacher, though I may be partial). Fact.

Another: Scott is sick. Well, it's true he had a cold two days ago. And we each experienced a lovely 24-hour stomach virus before Thanksgiving, but no, gratefully, he is not truly sick. Though he likes to say, "I'm sick and tired," and shared as much with the poor woman who was a tad embarrassed after she commented on the rumor.

This rumor has variations: we're selling because we're broke, we're bankrupt or we can't pay the mortgage. Fiction. We aren't rich, we don't have a trust fund, nor do we have wealthy parents who regularly donate to our cause. Fact. We earn our money the old-fashioned way (hey, not that old-fashioned!), we earn it. Fact. We pay the mortgage and are not bankrupt. Fact, thank heavens.

Believe it or not, The Pickin' Porch is doing well. Store sales have been consistent with last year. Fact. We guess that people want to have a new banjo or guitar (picks, strings, and a music book) to play while sitting at home during the Greater Depression. [Okay, I hope I'm wrong about that last bit. I probably am, after all 'they' just announced the Recession, er, slow down.]

What's left? Oh yeah, that one. We are very happily married, as I say, 98.5% of the time. No one's perfect. There is that little issue of the 1.5% when we bug the living heck out of each other and have our annual argument. By and large, we're pretty dang lucky to be married to each other and to have got it right the first time. Our 20th wedding anniversary is on May 27. Fact.