April 3, 2014

Moving Day . . . Again

Hey, it's been a whole year (almost) since I've switched blogging platforms! ; )

Yes, it's that time of year again:  I moved back to my old WP blog that I've kept open for the past year. I've been fighting with Blogger and it's layouts and it's image uploading and it's whimsical attitude far too long, and I've switched back to WP.

We just get along better.

I'm still keeping this one open for now, and have put a link back to this place on my new site. It just feels right to be moving back and having things work easier. I have far better things to do than spend two hours trying to write a simple blog post.

But then again, I'm a perfectionist and everything has to be Just Right. ;)

Anyhoo, the new address is (drumroll, please):

There are things I like about Blogger (it's FREE!! and it has unlimited storage, for heaven's sake!!), and I have met wonderful people here, and I will definitely be visiting your little interweb homes, but WP is bright and most of all, my images just upload easier and look better over there. Plain and simple. 

I'll be posting my first post over there later tonight (have to skedaddle here in a minute to go help Joey pick out his classes for 9th grade next year, gulp!) and don't be surprised if you see older posts already over there. I couldn't bear to delete nearly four years of memories, so I kept them. Anyway, hope to see y'all soon!

Over and out. 

April 1, 2014

Change of Plans

Spring Break was a bit of a bust this year. Remember our grand plans of going down to San Antonio and Sea World? We made the hotel reservations, planned our route, but guess what? Sea World is open only during the weekends this time of year.

We both just sat back on the couch after this little discovery and said a collective, "huh".

But our weekend trip to Oaklawn Racetrack was still a go, so we packed our bags, picked up the kids early from school Friday afternoon and hit the road south to Hot Springs. Let me tell ya, it was everything and then some that I thought it'd be. It was colorful, bright, noisy, rainy, muddy, delicious . . . well, you can read about it here.  I told my father-in-law that if I could photograph race horses and stable life every day for the rest of my life, I'd die a happy woman.

So that left us with a week of taking little adventures from our house. Unfortunately, the weather was somewhat uncooperative and Joey came down with a nasty little cold, so we just played it on a day-by-day basis, doing what we wanted to do, sleeping in every day, buying a motorcycle.

Yep, we bought our motorcycle, and David and I took it on a little adventure last Friday down to a small little town about 20 minutes south of Fayetteville. I will never get my motorcycle license, let's just get that out there right now: it is SO much more fun riding on the back and getting to look around everywhere as we tooled along old Highway 71 towards West Fork. The great thing about having a motorcycle built for off-roading is that you can really . . . go off road, off the tarmac and onto dirt roads and mud puddles and over rocks and up mountains and down mountains and through the rain and dodge lightning bolts and hear just how loud thunder really is when it claps directly over your helmet.

We got drenched in downpour after downpour that afternoon. I swear we looked at the weather forecast before we left and it said that bad storms were supposed to roll in late afternoon, early evening, so we left around noon time and planned on being back long before the weather was to move in. Just goes to show you can't trust the weather forecast. But we had a ball dodging rain drops and riding through all that mess. And warm, dry sweats never felt so good!

Saturday dawned beautiful and sunny and dry and Joey was healthy again, and at least one of our planned adventures was going to happen, and that was to float the Buffalo River in canoes.

Now mind you, I've never been canoeing, not that I can remember anyway, so I really had no idea what to expect or even how to maneuver the little boat, but I was going to be in with David, who really does seem to know how to do everything right the first time (and infuriating the rest of the family in the mean time. ; ) ), while the kids were going to be in command of their own little vessel.

Goodness, but we had fun. We saw a herd of elk before we got to the outfitters that we were going to rent from, and once we got to the tiny little town of Ponca (seriously, the population is a whopping 13!), there were colorful canoes, families with small children, kayaks . . .  and then we were off on our grand adventure.

We only had one little mishap, and I claim full responsibility.  I looked back at David after we had conquered some rather fast rapids and told him that we were not going to tip over any on this trip. Well, about ten minutes later, the canoe was upside down, I was clinging to the bottom of it while desperately hanging on to the dry bag that had our cameras, phones, wallets and car keys, the whole time trying to catch my breath and not be swept away. David was clinging to a near by tree branch before he let go to be carried over to me where we finally caught our breath and he held onto my hand as I slipped and slid over to the bank. another ten minutes passed (at least it seemed that long to me) before the kids come sailing around the bend and saw what happened and immediately steered over to help. No one was hurt, luckily, and all the electronics worked like a charm once we got home and unpacked everything. The only thing "bad" was just how cold I was, and Meghan too, bless her heart, was soaked up to her waist from going through the rapids along the course. But later, after dry clothes were put on and a hot dinner was being devoured, we all got slap happy and laughed ourselves silly over the day's adventures and misadventures.

Oh my, never a dull moment around here.

And to round off the week's festivities, I ran and completed my seventh half-marathon Sunday morning.  I almost bagged it this year because of lack of training (thank you very much, Old Man Winter!) but then my stubborn streak kicked in and I decided to run it anyway, treating it as a normal, everyday run, and it turned out that that was a much better way of looking at it. I never had so much fun during a race. Seventeen hundred runners all congregated on our little town square for the start, our mayor up on a milk crate taking pictures on his iPhone, little kids kissing their running parent (s) good luck, David there to cheer me on, beautiful blue skies and brilliant sunshine, breath fogging out of runners mouths backlit by the rising sun. Signs. The signs were wonderful:

"This is the worst parade ever."
"Just another 5K before your first beer" 
"Free high 5's right here!"

And then I reached the top of the hill, looked down and saw the finish line and put the pedal to the metal, finishing in 2:08 and 13th in my age group out of 54. 

Not a bad way to end the week, I'd say. 

Oink! Oink!

March 27, 2014

In Celebration

I see her kneeling in the grass along the stone fence that runs by the dirt road, sitting back on her heels, her face dirt smudged from wiping the hair out of her eyes.
It’s the first real warm day in March, after a long grey Ozark Mountain winter.  Little spears of green grass are thrusting up through the dirt, so happy to greet the sun’s rays again.
She looks up at the sky, so, so blue overhead, and spots one lonely hawk soaring over the trees that grow across the road from the farm house.  She looks a bit longer, wondering what it would be like to be such a bird and fly so high, always near the sun. So many places he must’ve seen, she thinks.
She thinks of her husband, plowing up the ground to get ready for the spring planting, and softly smiles as thoughts of his courtship flicker through her mind. Such a handsome devil he was, still is. He’s such a rascal.
She spots her two girls playing by the creek in the woods. Such good girls, and such sisters they are.  They look out for themselves, help around the house so nicely. She smiles proudly over at them.
She returns to her gardening. She scoops up a little pocket-size scoop of dirt, lays it aside, then pops in a daffodil bulb. She looks at it a minute—maybe she whispers a few encouraging words to it—then she slides the loose dirt back on top and gives it a little pat.
She continues this process until all the bulbs are planted and softly encouraged to grow. She waters them, then goes back inside the little farm house to wash up and begin supper.
The flowers listen, and they grow and grow and grow until they cover the entire front yard, and spill out into the lane in front of the house.
The flowers bloom all spring, every spring, bringing such joy to her that she can’t wait for Spring to arrive. They are her promise of brightness, of cheerfulness, of renewal and hope after Grey Winter.
The flowers bloom during the four years her rascal of a husband is off fighting in the Pacific.
They bloom during two more pregnancies and two little boyhoods.
The flowers continue to bloom even after she and her husband move those two boys into town, and the two girls have moved away to start their own life.
The flowers bloom long after she and her beloved husband have passed away.
I come to the old place with one of those boys years later on another warm March day.
He shows me where she had planted them, and tells me how she had delighted in them every spring.
Together we carefully dig them up, and divide them between us and take them home.
I think I hear the words she spoke to those daffodils if I listen hard enough. They paint a picture for me each spring, and I can see her kneeling in the grass along the stone fence that borders the dirt road, sun shining down on her, gentle breezes playing in her dark hair, and a radiant smile across her face.

 This is a re-post from my previous blog. Because it's finally Spring and daffodils are spilling across lawns and pastures everywhere here in Arkansas, I thought I'd post this again. It's one of my favorite stories I've written, and I truly do think of Grandma whenever I see her daffodils blooming in my garden. Only one bloomed this year, but that's enough to fill my heart with warm, yet shady memories of her. I do hope Spring is coming your way wherever you live in the world.