07/29/16

Momma’s Gift

It seemed like an ordinary day, when Momma’s piano came to be a fixed piece of furniture in the living room. And isn’t that the way extraordinary things begin….in a quiet manner? I’ve come to understand those events that impact life the most, arrive without a lot of fanfare or drum rolls. They just quietly blend in like they belong.

If mom had many dreams in life, she kept them to herself. You had to be paying attention to read between the lines to know she had a big dream. A dream so big she never thought she deserved it. She struggled with believing she deserved anything special in life. Humble she was. Growing up in a home with little love and lots of discipline, she learned to not expect much and she wouldn’t be disappointed. It was wrong to think she deserved much in life, so she was led to believe.

My five year old self watched, as the old, used, upright piano was placed along one of the walls. I had seen pianos in church and knew what it was……I just didn’t know it was momma’s dream. I didn’t find that out until decades later.

She had six kids and a husband. She had a job at the local cotton mill. And her heart was telling her, there was time for more. There was time for a dream to come true. This was not for selfish reasons, nor for personal gain. It was a dream to serve others and to glorify God, whom she loved with all her heart.

Momma wanted to learned to play the piano. She wanted to be good enough to be the church pianist. A gift she wasn’t sure she was worthy of, but the desire was there. There weren’t too many pianist around and none in our family, on either side.

That may sound strange, but that was way before the electronic keyboards, that stay true  to their advertisements, “anybody can learn to play in a day.”

No…… learning to play that old upright would required many hours of practice. Hours Mom didn’t have.

I know this because, momma never learned to play, momma never became the church pianist but………. I did.

That old upright and I became very good friends. It wasn’t planned, there weren’t any lessons……..the piano was there and it seemed natural for me to sit down and begin the journey. It has spanned decades, many towns and many churches. I’ve heard the compliments and comments “what a gift you have.’’

As we were talking, shortly before mom passed away, I realized I was living the dream she had that day the upright piano came  to our house. Reading between the lines, I was sadden that it was too late for the gift to be hers. She had  watched as she was passed up, and what she wanted was given to her daughter. She never spoke a word of bitterness or self pity. If she ever questioned why, I never heard it.

Perhaps her dream had changed years before. Maybe all that mattered was for the seed in her heart to bloom and she didn’t mind that it was in her child’s life. Every time I play, it is my mom’s dream. Without her dream, there never would have been a piano in the house to catch a little girl’s fascination. Maybe she realized it that day those little fingers sounded out  “Twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder what you are.”

Mom’s dream didn’t die, it bloomed somewhere still connected to her heart.

07/27/16

Dog Days

Those hot, sultry dog days of summer are here and being true to the definition.

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The phrase “Dog Days of Summer” describes the most oppressive period of summer, between July 3rd and August 11th each year, says the old trusted farmer’s almanac.

Hot, Humid, scorching, dry, parched…….oppressive pretty much sums it up.

But dog days is not all bad news.

Need summer clothes…..Now is the time to get them at the lowest price you will see. Some are marked down to 80% off. And the stores are air conditioned. I spent hours in Steinmart last weekend and came away with a bag full of bargains.

Ready for the kids to be back in school? Start shopping for back to school supplies because ,momma, those  school bells will be ringing soon. See, not all bad.

The home décor stores have begun seriously transitioning their shelves and aisles….Summer be gone

Welcome Autumn and Christmas. Just looking at those trees with artificial snow gives temporary relief to the hot weather.

And it’s a good time to be thinking about transforming the house, putting away summer and bringing out the fall.

But before I can do that, I have to do this.

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Looking at lots of paint chips.

The move from the townhouse to the cottage is happening soon. That means, I will probably spend the last days of “dog days” with a paint brush in my hand…

Hope to post some “before” and “after” shots very soon.

07/25/16

It was a hot July night

It’s not unusual for July to be hot. and it’s not unusual for us to talk about it….sometimes even a complaint or two.

The weather doesn’t usually hinder our plans and we may  not give it much thought. It’s July and it’s hot……..to be expected.

A dear friend, with a July birthday, must be celebrated, no matter the temperature.

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With festive plans and a quick, but fail proof menu, the day arrived.

I had two hours after getting into town to get to the grocery store, get home, start the meal, decorate and freshen up the house and myself. After a 4 hour drive, I hit the ground running, not a second to waste.

I shopped at Dollar Tree earlier in the week for an Hawaiian theme party. It’s amazing what $13 will buy to create a little atmosphere.

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The menu involved a rotisserie chicken from the deli. Don’t judge me!  They are really delicious. And the birthday girl really loves them..wink wink….she really does.

And an all fresh Hawaiian fruit salad with a drizzle of honey, lemon juice and ginger. Recipe compliments of Trisha Yearwood.

Add baked potatoes, baked zucchini topped with parmesan cheese and hot rolls and you have a meal just right for a hot, July night. Oh yea, a turtle cream pie for dessert  was thawing to top off the meal.

Wine and cheese ready for a birthday toast and let the party begin. Watching the clock, Mr. Finely Done and I were frantically working to pull it all together. We saw we had thirty minutes left…….. Potatoes in the microwave, zucchini in the oven, fruit salad made, (thank you best husband ever) wine and cheese on the bar…rolls waiting their turn in the oven…….I’m decorating at an unheard of speed for me..check, check, check, check  and check.

 

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At about now, we’re almost patting our selves on the back. No one could pull this off, but us. We leave the rest of them in the dust. Mr. and Mrs. Finely Done are a team to be reckon with.  We are the best. Let’s hear it for our team.

 

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Until……………………………..you knew this was coming didn’t you??

Our of nowhere, the sky opened up and dumped buckets, buckets and more buckets of rain. It was thundering, it was lightening. There was wind, sideways rain and gully washing rain, covering the yard where thirty minutes ago the sprinklers were  giving the parched grass relief from the hot sun. The birthday girl called to get an update on the weather and as we were talking, the lights flickered and then just like that…….the power was off. No microwave, no oven no coffee pot to brew coffee to have with desert and…………………………………. no air conditioning.

Oh well, the lights will come back on any minute now. Right? Nope that’s not the way that hot, July night was meant to be.

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When the guest of honor and hubby arrived, the rain was still coming down and the electricity was not back on. I found candles to help with the lightening. She has to see the decorations. I hoped the potatoes and zucchini had cooked enough. The outdoor grill would warm the rolls ( and give the bottoms a nice black  brown toasty crunch)

 

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The meal by candlelight was perfect. It made her birthday celebration a never to be forgotten memory. Four hours later the party reluctantly ended. Watching our guests leave, a high five was in order. We pulled it off. The lights of their car faded and we closed the door to our still dark foyer. It’s not about what you did or didn’t do, it’s not about what went right or wrong….It’s about the warmth of the friendship shared that hot, July night.

 

PS. The electricity came back on at midnight.