A Mountain Trip, Or How I Crashed a Funeral

We have been enjoying a couple of nice sunny days recently. Yesterday, I took advantage of that to pry the kids away from their electronics and take a trip into nature. We headed north toward the Great Smoky Mountains and Cades Cove. moutian

Cades Cove was settled by Europeans in the 1800’s but had long been roamed by Native Americans before then. Now it is a national park with a scenic drive, white tail deer, and restored rural dwellings and churches. The views are breathtaking and inspirational. Walking the trails, it is easy to see why settlers came to the area and decided to go no further.

deerMy kids complained a little about the lack of their usual entertainments, but my son soon forgot about mine craft when he handled actual quartz found in a cold mountain stream. We marveled at the height of the trees and stood just a few feet away from deer grazing in a field. Then we found a little twisting dirt road with a sign that announced a rural Baptist Church so we decided to follow it.

The road was a narrow bumpy ride through the trees and ended in a gravel parking lot with a little white wooden box of a church. My son remarked that: “It looks just like that Church in that show Nanny always watches.” (That show is The Waltons, and Nanny being what he calls my mom.) I agreed the two did look similar.

The gravel lot was crowded with cars. Other visitors were snapping pictures of the church set among the trees and some wandered the old fenced-in graveyard. I thought the graveyard would be a good way to encourage my daughter out of her no wifi/phone signal funk. (She is a teenager.) She likes slightly creepy things.

That was when I noticed several people exiting the church dressed in black. I was a little confused at first because, while it was Sunday, it was a bit late in the day for a church service. We were near to the little gate that lead to the graveyard when I heard one of the women who had come down the steps say, “I wish they would stay away at least until we close the casket…” It all suddenly clicked into place. The freshly dug grave and the huge pile of dirt next to it helped to tip me off.

There was something the little white hand-painted sign hadn’t told us. Not only was the Baptist Church still in current use but the graveyard behind it was as well. Realizing that we were trespassers at an emotional time, I quickly herded the kids back to the car. The other tourists snapping pictures; were still oblivious to the intrusion we all represented.

As we made our retreat as discreetly as possible, I heard the lady address two teenagers also dressed in black. She asked them if they were visitors to which they replied yes with wide-eyed confusion. I don’t know if they were visitors to the park, or for the deceased. I left before finding out.

We passed two more churches on our scenic drive. They didn’t appear to be in session. The parking lots held only a few cars and there were no fresh graves that I could see, but we didn’t take any chances. stream

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Gifts

paper-933661_640A few minutes ago I was standing at the kitchen table re-wrapping Christmas presents for my ex-husband and his wife. I needed to mail them out and the original wrapping job wasn’t going to fit in the box. In the background my mom was watching the world news.

I wasn’t really paying attention until she started complaining about how many shots were fired during something. I still don’t know what happened, but I do know that was the moment I started to hear the words echoing from my television rather than just enjoying it as background buzz.

I was wrapping Christmas presents while the world was falling apart. There were shootings, bombings, deaths, and babies being born addicted to drugs. My hands paused on the brightly colored paper. I didn’t reach for the tape. I just listened and it saddened my heart. It hurt.

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There is so much pain in the world. I stood still thinking about how I would heal it if I could. But what could I do? One single mom on the edge of welfare. The world is so big and there is so much hurt, what could my two hands do to help?

That was when I realized that I was already doing it. I was wrapping presents to my Ex and his wife. I was planning on taking some of money I try to stretch like elastic, and mail their presents across the country to where they now live.

With brightly colored paper and clear tape I was wishing them joy. I was wishing them happiness. Even as I wrapped their gifts I was hoping that they were things they would enjoy.a toast

They don’t even live in the same state as me any more. It would be too easy to just not worry about it. To say it is just too expensive to mail the package. Out of sight out of mind. But I didn’t.

I can’t touch the entire world but I can touch little parts of it. I can do what I can to forgive the hurts that touch me and to heal the ones that I come in contact with. I can’t fix everything but I can do little things. Maybe if we all try to do what little things we can, then they will add up to big things.

I can’t fix the world. But maybe if the world tried hard enough, it could fix itself. At the very least it would be a little brighter. hot-air-ballooning-436442_640

Bits of thoughts

A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_wordsI don’t know if it is because I am a writer or just because I am naturally curious, but I tend to pick up a lot of useless information. I kind of seek it out. Saddly, it isn’t organized in my brain at all, but kind of shoved together like an over full closet that you try to fit just one more thing into.

Right now there is a show on talking about Oracles of the dead. Just that thought is fascinating and will probably have to have a story at some point. I also learn about psychometry and animals in Australia. I am sure it will come in handy some day.

Psychometry actually solves the small pause I just came up against in a current work in progress. The problem is that I can’t read about it right now to see if I can tweak it to work with my main character. I’ve tried but my eyes just glaze over the words.

I see the letters but the words aren’t making it through and my brain isn’t really paying attention. It is days like this I need someone to sit and read stuff to me. My ears are working fine but my eyes and brain are refusing to work together.

I guess I will go work on that scarf I have been crocheting for my son, then try it again. If that doesn’t work, I may just take a nap. Naps are like rebooting a computer, only you are rebooting the person.

Mooch-in-the-Morning…Yeah, a nap sounds good.

A memorial

My grandfather was a soldier. He fought in WWII. He was also an airplane mechanic and kept the planes running for others to go out and face the enemy. He didn’t like to talk about it though.

My grandfather did not die in battle but there were many who did. Somehow he made it through, along with his best friend Jake, who went on to marry my grandfather’s sister. I did not know them when they were young, but I have seen the pictures of them posing in front of planes, usually with a pretty girl or two.

My memories of Uncle Jake are mostly the scent of his and Nana’s house. It was a comforting smell and Nana always had candy on the coffee table and hugs ready when we stepped through the door. Uncle Jake was a teasing voice dressed in blue coveralls, seated in a recliner.

My grandfather was, to me, a quiet serious man. (Boy was I mistaken about that one, but hey I was a kid at the time and he was really tall.) He always worn dark work pants and white t-shirts. When I was a kid, I never saw my Uncle Jake or my grandfather in anything else than those work pants,t-shirts, and blue coveralls.  It was like they got used to uniforms and kept it up when they returned to civilian life. My grandfather also made the best barbecue chicken in the entire world.

Uncle Jake passed away from some sort of cancer. My grandfather died in a V.A. hospital after I was out of high school. WWII did not take their lives but they carried the things they saw with them when they finally returned home. However, even with those shadows, they built lives and families and a legacy of love that was passed down all the way to me.

They were soldiers.

 

Happy Memorial Day.

 

Stars and Cats

Good Morning Everyone.

I had my alarm set for 4am this morning. The plan was to get up an hour early and get some writing work done before I had to start the get-the-kids-ready-for-school-Samba. I only pushed the snooze button three times. Then Panda came into my room, sat on my chest and proceeded to give me sandpaper purring kitty kisses until I got up to feed her.

Panda
Panda

She was being sweet this morning. Usually she sits on the night stand and knocks everything off, one item at a time, until I get up. It goes something like: swipe, thump. Book falls in floor and Panda glances over for a reaction from the human. Swipe, thump. Second book and a hair tie meet the ground. Still no reaction from the human feeding unit. Swipe, rattle-rattle, glasses get close to the edge and the human jumps up…

 Anyway, I got up early to write and feed the cats. So, after feeding the cats, I sat down at my computer with a cup of coffee and stared at the screen for awhile. My eyes roamed over the bookmarks toolbar at the top of my screen, looking for inspiration, and found a link to something about the Night Sky.  I remembered there was supposed to be a meteor shower this month. I couldn’t remember the dates but since I had time and it was still dark, I decided to go spend some quality time star gazing.

The thing is I live in a suburb. When I was a kid and lived in the country the sky stretched spaceout in every direction, a dark cloak scattered with fiery diamonds and imagination. Now, once I turned off all the lights in the house, there is like a scrap of real night above my house that fades at the edges as the light pollution from other houses and street lights reach out to blur the beauty. If the night sky of my childhood was a diamond studded cloak, then the one I have now is a stained version in a second hand shop made with cheep rhinestones that have mostly fallen off.

Still, I laid down on the back porch and gazed up at what I could see. I opened all of my senses and took in the smell of recently cut grass and the sound of a train whistle. I felt the chill from the boards under my back seeping past my shirt and I watched my small window patch of sky. I felt recharged and more awake than the coffee could account for. Then my neighbor’s air conditioning unit kicked on at the same time one of the cats stuck his nose in my ear and I managed to levitate off of the porch.

I had left the back door cracked open so that if the kids woke up I would hear them. The cats had apparently saw that as an invitation to follow me.  Even the blind one, Max. I had three furry faces gathered around me on the porch, trying to figure out just what I thought I was doing. Laughing at myself, I gathered up Max and went back inside. I sat back down on the computer and I wrote.  Good Morning…

A Delay due to too much fun

Well, it is Monday. There should have been a post here this morning but it hasn’t been written yet. This isn’t the post either. This is a public service announcement to tell everyone that there will be a post forth coming, but at the moment I am recovering from Con-lag.

This weekend the kids and I took a trip up to Wizard World Comic Con in Raleigh, North Carolina. We had a really good trip. More details with be forth coming but at the moment I have to find a cup of coffee and then take my son to the doctor.  Con-lag is taking the form of a fever with him and I am hoping it isn’t Con-crud instead.

You’re Not My Friend

mcdonalds-playplace-5When my son was around three or four, I took him and his sister to McDonald’s for lunch. Some friends of mine were meeting us and we agreed to sit at a table in the play place to let the kids play while we talked. Lunch was quickly consumed.

My daughter, being more out going, disappeared into the maze of tunnels that wound above our heads. My son on the other hand, crawled through the plastic lion’s head to play with metal keyboard on the wall. Soon, my daughter had made friends with some of the other kids, while my son happily plunked out tunes by himself.

After a while another little boy wandered through the lion’s head and over to where my son was playing. He also began pushing buttons playing the toddler version of music. With a frown on his little face my son looked up at the new boy and very clearly stated, “You aren’t my friend.”

From the tone in his voice it was obvious he wasn’t trying to be mean. He sounded a littleconfused sonic confused and as if he were trying to clarify something for someone. It was like the preschool version of I think you have mistaken me for someone else.

My friends all heard him too since we were sitting at the table closest to the plastic lion’s mouth. Since then there have been quite a few times when those words have echoed through my mind. My friend Jessi has said she has experience the same thing.

When faced with a cheerful stranger who insists on speaking to me as if we are best friends, or when someone speaks to me while we are standing in a silent line. Often I will be pulled from wherever I was inside my own head. During that moment of confusion while I am still trying to adjust to the regular world, my brain offers up the words “You’re not my friend.”   I never say it of course, but for that small bit of time I  completely empathize with that puzzled blonde haired little boy playing music to himself in the McDonald’s play place.