Tag Archives: time

A Visit from Daddy

Daddy stopped by for a visit last night. He didn’t say much, but he did show me a few things.

We have three vehicles. Two are “real” vehicles, while the third is a bottom feeder that needs, and in will in no way pass, inspection. Which is due tomorrow. This is not open for discussion; we had the car checked out yesterday and the estimate to get the car past inspection THIS time (next time will require new brakes as well) is somewhere just shy of $1000. Car is worth about $250 as it sits. Daddy used to love to work on cars, trucks, boats, anything with an engine. In the past he could probably scrounge up some new tires, help with the engine work it needs, or find something suitable to replace the dead bottom feeder car without too much trouble or expense. But Daddy isn’t here anymore, so we need to make a decision about finding another bottom feeder car, and since I’m a bit testy with respect to encounters with folks on Craigslist right now-explain that one later-I’m not feeling all warm and fuzzy about seeking out another Craigslist bottom feeder.

Daddy was a master, a renaissance man, a genuine jack-of-all-trades. I have a friend that calls me the same thing occasionally, but she has no idea what a REAL renaissance (wo)man is in my estimation. Certainly not someone like me.  I wish Daddy was still here to help me with the car thing, but he had something more important on his mind.

So, in the wee hours this morning, Daddy stopped by. Or it may be more accurate than I went to visit him. I didn’t actually see him because the place I went looking for him is one that he stopped frequenting long before he left us.

When I was in middle and high school, my mom and dad purchased a cabin on the New River. It wasn’t an old rustic cabin; it was a newly constructed outer shell of a partial a-frame cabin, with a small living / dining area, kitchen, bath and one bedroom on the main level, plus a loft. That picture isn’t it, but it was the best example I could find on short notice. I was twelve years old when they bought it, and I hated it. We were there almost every weekend. Mama and Daddy were finishing the inside; I was pouting because I was the only person there under the age of 18. It was at the end of a dirt road that followed the river for a mile or so, then headed up the hill and overlooked the river for the rest of the way to the end of the road, where our cabin was. There were a very few other newly-constructed cabin shells for sale on that dirt road, and a few cabins that other folks had built themselves. One was an old split rail schoolhouse that the owner had moved from somewhere else and reconstructed. He and his wife became my parents best friends, and we all missed them terribly when they passed away. When Daddy first got sick, he tried to keep the cabin up to snuff, keep the grass mowed, the road passable…stuff like that. When his friend also became ill and eventually died, and Daddy got sicker, the work became too much and he and Mama decided to sell the cabin so they could concentrate on Daddy’s health, and just spending time together while they could. I’m pretty sure the cabin was overgrown for quite a while. (Next picture is only an example as well…..I do have real pictures, but they’re down two flights of stairs in a closet filled with hundreds, maybe thousands of pictures. Again, short notice.)

Hubby and I had been talking about the cabin a couple of days ago; I can’t even remember why now. There was a small community of landowners there, but it was just a dirt road with a farm gate across it, secured by a Master lock that was changed maybe every two years. Perhaps we found one of the old keys over the weekend; that may have started the conversation about the cabin. OH! I just remembered….Daddy and his friend used to go hunting, or wandering in the woods or whatever, and they found tons of Indian arrowheads and other artifacts. We were talking about that.

Anyway, this morning in my dreams, Hubby and I decided to drive to the river. Funny, we had a dependable car! I just wanted to see the cabin. None of the people we knew back then lived in any of the little cabins on the dirt road now. Actually, the dirt road was gone. We drove over the crest of a hill and came down the other side, toward the river.

What we saw was a upscale neighborhood, complete with golf course, several rows of 3000-4000+ square foot “cabins” with multiple hip roofs and three-car garages. Evidently it had been raining, a lot, because the water hazards on the golf course were all flooding into each other, running downhill toward the river. As we continued to drive down the hill, we reached what used to be the dirt road. It was a very nice four-lane paved road. More large houses, expensive cars, children playing in back yards. We turned right onto the dirt road highway, headed toward what used to be the end of the road where our cabin was. A new house had been built next to the site where our cabin had been, and the owner raised dogs. Big dogs. Big, angry dogs, like pit pulls and dobermans and such. The owner stopped us and wouldn’t let us drive past his house to see what had become of Mama and Daddy’s cabin. He said something about the dogs, and the neighbors not liking them, and his not wanting us to see anything about what his breeding operation really looked like. I could barely see through the trees past his house to the spot where the cabin had once stood. Another large house. Oh well.

We turned around and headed back to the intersection where we’d come down the hill past the golf course. There was a community center building there, a very nice one. There were also lots of cars in the parking lot. Across the street from the center was a pier that extended out into the river, and on the pier was a glass-enclosed observation area that you had to walk through to get out onto the pier. Think “worms and coffee” at your favorite fishing pier, only with no worms, no coffee…just tourists. And they were all crammed inside the observation area, because the river was raging, flooding, completely covering the pier. We looked through the glass, then turned back to the community center and decided to find out what everyone was discussing there, for there were many more cars than there were tourists in the observation center.

As we entered the community center, we noticed that yes, indeed there were a great many people in very heated discussion about something. We sat down in the back and listened, and the subject soon became very clear. The dog breeder was being evicted from the community. He was a little rough around the edges; his dogs were potentially dangerous. They were a threat to the citizens of Cabin-town, particularly to the children. He had to go. Period.

My mind started to wander and then glaze over. I glanced around the community center and saw that, above the main floor, there was an “historical” display of artifacts from the early days of the cabins on the dirt road. Most of the artifacts consisted of intricately carved wooden chairs, tables, lecterns. They were behind red velvet ropes. They were special, not to be touched or used. Only to be admired from the other side of the velvet ropes.

And I knew my Daddy have carved every single one of them.

The thoughts started coming together in my head. This community was supposed to be an escape from what it had become, a bureaucratic mish-mash of rules and regulations and prejudices. I was furious.

But the thing that I was most furious about was the historical display. Those chairs, sitting empty and untouchable, were what finally pushed me to the breaking point. I stood up and introduced myself as the daughter of the master craftsman who had made those beautiful objects that no one was allowed to use or even touch. And the words started coming out of my mouth, and they didn’t stop: “What happened to you people? Don’t you see that you’ve created exactly what the original owners of the little cabins you’ve torn down so you could build your mansions were trying to ESCAPE from? They were looking for a respite from the daily ins and outs of life in the late 20th century, and you’ve created a 21st century nightmare? Look at the river-it’s angry, it’s out of its banks. You can’t enjoy it. You have to look at it through glass. Is that working for you? And your flooded golf course. Doesn’t that frustrate you to no end? You can’t use it, only look at it.

“But what angers me more than anything is that ‘historical’ display up there. Don’t you know who made those things? MY DADDY. And he made them to be USED, not to be admired from a distance.”

And before anyone could say another word, we left, my heart broken for what had been, and was no longer. I woke up.


Sometimes when God speaks, when the universe acknowledges the seemingly insignificant feelings we have, we hear whispers.

Other times we’re being shouted at, and we are too occupied to stop and listening. Or we outright refuse to listen.

Either way, the message is important and if we don’t listen to it now, it’s just going to come around again, and again, and again….

So, here’s what I’m hearing. It might be right; it might be completely off the mark. Either way, it’s important.

First and most importantly, Love Never Dies. No matter how badly I mess things up, make mistakes, hurt the ones I love the most-intentionally or accidentally-the ones who truly love me, still love me. I have value in this world, because I am a child of God, of the universe, of creation. And I was created for a purpose.

The cabin shell: the structure of who I am is sound. It is most definitely overgrown. There are weeds that need to be pulled, and quickly, because time is fleeting.

The ostentatious mansion: Sometimes I think I’m supposed to be that kind of person. This whole music business thing, for instance. I’m supposed to be Juliard-stamped and approved. But what I think is not what is true.

Here’s what is true: I have a purpose, and it’s high time I get to it. It may be music; it may be something hovering on the outskirts of music, or it may be something totally unrelated. But it’s there, currently placed behind the red velvet ropes, untouchable. It’s probably going to be difficult to get my hands on it until I STOP trying to. It’s like the blind spot we all have. Try to see it, right now. Hard to find? But just wait until you’re driving in traffic this afternoon. That blind spot will be camouflaged, but the minute you try to change lanes it will became glaringly obvious, as will the horn honking at you from the car you just jumped in front of because….it was in your blind spot.

The universe didn’t just whisper; it screamed.

But the blind spot isn’t a good example. I have a better one. Yes, the blind spot is there and we don’t notice it when we want to because, duh, it’s a blind spot. But when we stop looking for it, sometimes it will appear, seemingly out of nowhere, and we will be stunned by the beauty of it, the “right-ness” of it. And we’ll know that it was there all the time. We were just looking for it a bit too hard.

So, I’m going to stick with the cabin metaphor and show you what I think I’ll find, just as soon as I stop looking for it.

Now that I think about it, I’ll bet that’s what the cabin in my dream, the one that I couldn’t see because of the angry dog breeder and his dangerous pets wouldn’t let me,  REALLY looks like. Slightly camouflaged, because it was designed to fit effortlessly into its surroundings.

I’m not saying that the construction of Falling Water was effortless, because I’m married to a Frank Lloyd Wright aficionado, and I know better. What I am saying is that the amount of effort it took to make Falling Water look like it magically appeared out of the earth was worth it.

Stop looking and start making some effort. And let the magic of Falling Water appear.


Remembering is the hardest part…and the best

Before we officially move, I need to pack up some stuff that didn’t make it to Mom’s new home in the mountains. Lots of bric-a-brac, “frou-frou” in the Interior Design profession. Some clothes, linens…stuff like that.

And things sneak up on me, just like that photo of my dad at the river did on Thanksgiving at my brother-in-law’s house.

I found the rehearsal schedule for the only ballet recital I was ever in. I was in second grade.

There was a skirt / blouse ensemble that my mom purchased over twenty years ago from an exclusive dress shop in Roanoke. She wore it to work. Then I wore it to work. Then it went back to her closet, so she must have worn it to work some more.

Mom made a smocked dress for me when I was about six. Found that. And a yellow dress I wore for a portrait when I was a little younger.

Her high school yearbook from her sophomore year was in a box in a closet. I look at those pictures now and think it looks like they were taken a hundred years ago. Then I look at my own yearbooks, stacked in the floor in my living room, waiting to be boxed up, and think the same thing.

During high school, then again in college, my piano teachers would pull out some old nasty-looking piece of sheet music they’d played in college and give it to me. The pages were always brown, torn, held together by pieces of dried Scotch tape. My own music from college looks just the same.

I stumbled upon a pink dress box, lined with tissue paper, containing a few Christmas ornaments left from the ones we used when I was little. Always on a cedar tree from a farm somewhere. And,  in the same box, genuine icicles. The long stringy tinsel things we used to put on the tree after it was all decorated to make everything sparkle. Then a cat or dog would pull a few off the tree, chow down, and make the yard sparkle all year long!

Dress patterns for dresses my mom make for me to wear to school. Some of them are hilarious; others could be made and worn today and no one would know they were 30-year-old patterns.

Other craft patterns: for a red sweater mom knitted for my son when he was a toddler. It has owls on the yoke; for slouch bags she sewed, and taught Domincan women how to sew. Doilies. Lots of doilies.

Cassette tapes, from Country to Classical. All outsourced now, to CDs and MP3s. Even a few LPs, being revived by new gadgets w/ USB connections so you can record your old LPs onto your computer, scratches and all, I guess.

Picture frames, bowling balls, carnival glass my Grandmother won at fairs over the years.

Stuff. Individually, all these things are just stuff. The neat thing is that I can pick something up, hold it in my hands, and remember. “Oh, that was real! I thought I’d dreamed it, or imagined it. But here’s proof!”

Individual pieces of my history, boxed and stacked and spread out all over the place.

But when I add them all up, they amount to, well, LIFE.

Or lives actualy.

My grandparents; my parents; me; my children.

And one day, their children.

And their children.

Today I’ll wander back into the past, remember, reconcile and take another step into tomorrow.

in the crowd

Wubby is graduated, and lived to tell about it. He almost didn’t because his grandma and mom and dad just about cleaned his clock before we left home Saturday morning. For some reason he just wasn’t in a hurry, even though he was supposed to be at the church auditorium where the ceremony was held AT LEAST 1 HOUR before things started. We left 90 minutes early, to make a 15 minute drive that took almost 30 minutes because of traffic (everyone else going to graduation), arrived to find an almost full parking lot and a line of parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. wrapped around the building. We headed for the crowd as Wubby joined his classmates inside.

As we stood in the crowd waiting for the doors to be opened, I noticed an old acquaintance of mine in the crowd ahead of us. Actually, he and I used to work together. Our sons were born about three months apart. Later in my career I worked FOR him. Then I left and went to work for another company two blocks over. He’s still at the same place; his job went from programming to managing to outsourcing. I guess he’s one of the few, maybe only, people left in the systems area. I wasn’t surprised to see him there. I knew his son was in Wubby’s class; they just didn’t run in the same crowds. But I was really surprised to see how he had aged since I’d seen him last. I like to think I don’t look my age (don’t burst my bubble here, please!), but he and his wife both seem to have aged way past their late-40s / early-50s actual age. I suppose outsourcing your friend’s and co-worker’s jobs could have that effect on you. Thank heavens I don’t know about that.

Once the actual ceremony began the teachers all came filing into the auditorium wearing their black robes and graduate hoods (those that have advanced degrees…) and another face in the crowd caught my eye. Another co-worker, from the same company and systems team, now teaches math at the high school. Again, I knew this. But seeing him, wearing the robe (no hood) on the faculty of the school where my daughter will be starting in August, threw me. He and I, how to say…….well, we worked together. Our families were friendly for a while. The working relationship, the family relationship, both, ended badly in that, hubby and I will not allow our daughter to be in any of his classes. He looked old too, and I’m older that he is.

As each of the 400+ graduates crossed the stage, he or she had an opportunity to “smile for the camera”, as the entire event was being professionally videotaped. Wubby was his somber, serious self. Other students gave various thumbs-up signals, etc. It was entertaining. More so were the various cheers offerred by parents, siblings, friends, etc. of the graduates. Individual applause was not allowed, but shouts of “Hallelujah!” et. al. were present in large numbers. The crowd favorite was a father who shouted “I love you!” as his son crossed the stage, then shouted even louder “Get a job!!!” as his son received his diploma. There were also families with kazoos and rehearsed cheers. The video should be a hoot.

So, for now, wubby is officially allowed to wear his cell phone on his belt if he chooses, go to the bathroom when he wants, without a hall pass, and various other things he couldn’t do in school. The class valedictorian recited an exhaustive list of these little jewels; I stole two of them. In addition, wubby has a job at the church, which means he’s getting paid to do something he would do for free. Except he did call me at home this morning to ask me something and prefaced his question with “I’m not trying to get you to do my job, you just know more about this than I do….” and then asked me to help him do part of his job, sort of.

At least he still asks.

Next week we’re heading to the Grand Canyon for a few days. Then it’s another 10 days and it’s off to teen camp in the mountains. Another three weeks or so and he’s off to college. And before we know it, his sister will be following right behind him.

But I can’t be this old!


Thank God it’s Friday!

Thank God it’s February!!

Thank God it’s FINISHED!!!

Pick one; they all work for me.

FINISHED: I am officially disabled, according to the Social Security Administration. It took 3+ years, 2 lawyers and 300+ pieces of paper, but my case has finally been decided. I’m not exactly sure what this will mean for the family, but for now it means that I can concentrate on getting better and learning to live well (w/ or w/out fibromyalgia) with less. Less money, less stuff, less stress. Funny thing, the first doctor the SSA sent me to, in May 2005, found that I was severely disabled. Severely. And the claim was denied, twice. That’s not really funny, is it?

FEBRUARY: I hate January. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It’s cold, dark, the after-the-holidays slump time. I haven’t been able to read, or write, or concentrate on much of anything. My birthday is in January and is always a non-event because it comes on the heels of my son’s birthday. From 2004-2007 I at least had a week in Santo Domingo to break up the January slump, but not this year. I did receive quite a few notes from the Dominican ladies this year, all sending get well wishes. As Eyeore says, “Thanks for noticing me.” Anyway, January is gone, thank goodness. Spring is coming.

FRIDAY: Friday is my favorite day of the week. Period.

I’ve been thinking about time, and timing, the past week or two. Since my SSD case has been decided, a 3-year waiting period ended and a 3-month waiting period begins. Those 3 months of waiting for income to be established will seem as long as the 3 years of waiting for a decision. It’s weird how time expands and contracts. When we’re children it seems like Christmas takes forever to come. As adults we turn around and Bam! it’s Christmas again. My son turned 18 last month. He can’t be 18! It’s not possible that it’s been 18 years since he was born, but it is so. Time moves, and we either race to catch up with it, or turn around to try and slow it down before it runs us over.

And timing….well, let me tell you. There was an article in the local paper last week about a 29-year-old who plead quilty to a sexual assault that occurred about 4 years ago. This man was already in prison, convicted of another sexual assault that occurred around the same time. Here’s the thing: this 29-year-old man was a member of our church as a child and early teenager. He has some diminished mental capacity, but attended middle and high school and graduated. When he was 12 or 13, I can’t remember exactly, he made very inappropriate sexual overtures toward me, at church. He was almost grown physically and could possibly have overpowered me. I was able to talk him into leaving me alone. Seeing his name in the paper, convicted of a second sexual assault, made me realize how close I came to being a victim myself.

Then there’s the murder case. I testified as a witness in a murder trial back in 1994. A local woman was kidnapped and murdered, her bank cards stolen and used to track the culprits’ movements until they were apprehended. I was behind the two men who kidnapped her, in a line at an ATM, during the first 24-hour period after her disappearance. I have a knack for being behind people who don’t know how to use an ATM and I remember thinking “Here we go again…” but something was different. These guys were trying to figure out her PIN. One kept trying the card while the other stood a distance away and was looking all around, very suspiciously. They gave up and left, I got my money and ran back to the car where my husband was waiting for me. I told him to leave, quickly, because something bad was happening. It was like I was super-aware of what they were doing and that there was bad karma in the air. I found out why a year later, when the police called me to look at a photo line-up.

Timing. I could have been attacked, if the timing had been just a little different. OR kidnapped, or worse, if the timing had been a little different. The letter from SSA came at the exact moment in time when I needed it most, when I was thinking that I couldn’t stand one more day of not knowing what was going on with my case, or my life.

Things are going to change, again.

And it’s about time.