Thursday, October 24, 2013

"But his hat seemed to me like an old halo."

You're right; his barn looks like him.
And not just in a "those holiday socks and thin-lipped coffee mugs look like Liza" sort of way. 
No, it is more than reification of personal taste, something more significant than color preferences and quirk appeal actualized.
His barn feels like him...

His menagerie of tools, part and parcel of gifts made and chores done;
his organized chaos, a reflection of jack-of-all-trades inclinations and wildly varied interests.
I see his handwriting on random truck maintenance receipts and horse racing paraphernalia.
I read the labels of medicines used on animals he loved.
I stack hay in the stalls once home to bottle-fed calves, stud horses, and tobacco striping boxes.
I walk a few steps outside and talk to the man buried by the barn he built.

But, it is the tools that remind me most of my father.
Holding them, I see Dad in the thick of some project, a walking advertisement for perfectly-dirty and broken in, feed-mill baseball caps and button-down, denim shirts,
(the lightweight, short-sleeve kind if July, tucked-in and under a puffy red vest if November).
I hear the sound of hammer on nail head...and a funny, strewn-together combination of cuss words.
I watch old wire and fence posts turn into an outdoor play area for Lucy and Willie in a matter of hours.
I smirk in the same way he would when "encouraged" by Mom to sit on the back porch and take off his manure-caked cowboy boots.

So, these tools, tools held by a man I loved deeply and whose death I cannot accept;
tools housed in a barn that looked like him when I was a little tomboy girl "helping" her dad and forevermore will;
tools that have a legacy that should breathe beyond the four walls of that 12X8' feed room-turned-workshop,
today I give to a man who also understands devotion to animals, land, work, and family.
I wrote the above in response to a poem penned by the best writer I personally know. 
A few weeks ago, I decided that the tool room in Dad's barn needed to be cleaned and organized. If any of you have seen the inside of my car and also knew CLT, you know that I get it honestly.  Dad wasn't really a stickler for organization. And the fact that the rest of us have pulled and grabbed random tools and supplies as we've needed them over the past three years has only contributed to the mess. It thus goes without saying that the tool room made my car look like Pottery Barn. Anyway, when I did finish cleaning, I sent Lee some of the "after" pictures. 
Here is what he sent to me the next day:
"A mans barn is his barn after the wheat and chaff lie side by side,
himself to become something growing.
It is his office and workshop, his life and his meaning,
a place that looks like him.
He liked orange power tools,
this I know.
A desk he made into an antique unknowingly,
and he would scoff at such a line.
A daughter who would smile, knowingly,
that all good things come in time.
A daughter that would know him, be him,
conversations in a glance.
A joke the others don’t quite get,
a father and daughter dance…
To say we are alike, the similarities are far and few,
but one thing that old farmer and I know is that
August is proud of you."
I will probably never be able to write something for someone else that means as much to them as these words did/do to me.  I hate that I lost my Dad for purely selfish reasons; he was my friend and my hero; I always felt like he understood me in a way no one else in my life did; I wanted to work harder and be better so I would do him proud.
At the same time, however, I hate that I lost Dad for everyone else who won't have a chance to know him, whether it be new friends that come into my life or children I hope to have one day.  They are missing out.  So, to read Lee's words, words that suggest that maybe others see or understand him because they know me, was a wonderful gift. 

I'm certain this is how his grand kids and great-grand kids would have seen their "Pa." I know I did.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Always remember there was nothing worth sharing...

I love that Adrienne and I both have Avett Brothers tattoos, want Jess and Rory to be together in real life, and could wear a different pair of whimsical socks every day for two weeks and still have a few pairs left over.  I love that Adrienne knows what she deserves, expects it, and will call others out if they're slacking.  I love that Adrienne and I have the same sense of humor and that we are both hilarious.  I love that Adrienne is one of my favorite people to go to concerts, travel, and drink with. I love that if I had said, "with whom to go to concerts..." Adrienne would've rolled her eyes even though she knew it was grammatically correct. I love that Adrienne can make the most god awful faces a beautiful person could possibly make.  I love that Adrienne realizes she is everyone's favorite and doesn't fake humility or offer ridiculous disclaimers like "we're all special in different ways." I love that Adrienne can be blunt, selfish, and halfway mean at times...but in the back of my mind, I'm always thinking "dammit, I can't help but like her though." I love that Adrienne is the type of teacher to whom both kids and parents write letters of adoration. I love that Adrienne doesn't do selfies with any seriousness.  I love that Adrienne married my former advisee and student.  I love that Adrienne is happy.

Happy birthday, little sis.  I think you're awesome.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

And my life is but a coin, pulled from an empty pocket.

Earlier this week, a friend posted a link to this April blog post primarily because of the author's wise, wise conclusion that leggings are not pants (as I have adamantly purported since the unfortunate day black leggings, tiny t-shirts, and those furry boots suddenly became trendy).  I immediately laughed and took solace in an actual writer agreeing with me on this most important of social issues. I then continued reading and was struck by how many of the other "25 Things Every Woman Needs to Know" resonated with me.  I have condensed the list to the ones I found most stirring and pertinent.

*You'll be sad to see it go if you live it right. This reminds me of the line "If I live the life I'm given, I won't be scared to die." in the Avett Brothers, Once and Future Carpenter.

*You should resolve to be awesome for the rest of your life.

*Leggings, no matter how much we wish, will never one day magically transform into pants. Exception: Leigh Ann, Isabella, and Danielle can pull this off. The rest of you need to quit trying.

*I hope he buys you flowers...and holds your hands...and takes you to parties if you like to dance. You deserve that. Always. You are worthy beyond words, gal. Seriously, ladies, remember this.

*Your spirit will never benefit from shallow people.

*Gossip is shallow and stupid. Hobbies are better.

*If you make mean comments, and you talk about people behind their MIGHT be the toxic one. Don't forget, we have all been the toxic one at some point in our lives. Don't put yourself on a pedestal. Realize that the more likely you are to be defensive, the more you probably need to look at yourself.

*If you don't like what that is, have the courage to change it. Always realize that you are not stuck and that life does go on.  You can live through anything.

*Regret is a real thing. It's going to happen.

*You are worth so much more than second string in relationships.

*The victim song is never going to fit you.
Late Summer/Early Fall Recipes

Recommend: slice apples and put in baking pan. Top with brown sugar, cinnamon, butter. Put pork chops on top.  Cover with foil. Bake for around 1 hour.
Butternut Squash Burritos
Saute thinly-sliced onions in butter and olive oil.  Add butternut squash (already baked) and stir to combine. Remove from skillet and add salt/pepper to taste, cumin, cinnamon, and parsley.
Put a healthy dollop in the center of your tortilla shell, top with cheese, and fold like a burrito.  Crisp in olive oil in skillet.

Recommend: Top with homemade relish! 
Piddle Project: Stained Glass Window
Find old window. Clean. Sand and paint color of choice.
Use razor blade to get paint off glass.
Take a cute cat picture.
Find some stained glass paint, decide on a design, and wing it. On one pane, I did the color first, the leading, second and vice versa on the other panes.
Let it dry for days and days.
Hold it in front of natural light and be pretty impressed with your little stained glass set.