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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Just Try

Remember when you were a kid and your mom would tell you to go use the restroom and you would protest? Usually, this nagging preceded a long car trip or a visit to a place without facilities. Usually, if you were like me, you whined something akin to "But I don't have to go."

My mother would end the ordeal by commanding, "Just try." And most times I would. And behold, my mama would be proved right. I did have to go.

And on the occasions that I resisted successfully and made the trip without the old school try, my mama was also proved right. I did have to go. Only, it was too late. 

Failure to learn from natural consequences showed my age. It wasn't until my thirties, when I had children of my own to harangue, that I saw the wisdom in my mother's words, "just try." 

Now, I'm slipping deep into my forties. Per my mother's example, I frequent bathrooms, not because I feel the urge, not because of a pending road trip, but simply because the opportunity presents itself. On advice of my mama, my motto is never miss a chance to make water. 

On a recent visit to my parents' place at the beach, I got a horrifying glimpse into my future, however. I questioned whether I was blindly following my mother's admonitions.

I think it really shows a person's age when she doesn't regard an unnecessary shower chair in the bathroom as an unusual accessory. My parents are robust and spry. The superfluous shower chair resides under a layer of towels. 

Nonetheless, my mother's comfort with its presence is entirely disconcerting. I've acknowledged her indisputable wisdom about just trying and taking the opportunity to go when chance presents it, but I think I'm going to have to whine about the shower chair, if for no other reason than to re-establish boundaries and steadfast resistance. I refuse to "just try" on this one.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

School's Out Just in Time

If it's not the locusts, it's a teenage boy. Teenage boys eat voraciously without discrimination. Which makes them grow like Jack's magic seeds. Pants that fit them in the morning are capris by afternoon.

It's a good thing school is out for summer, because this specimen has outgrown his thinking cap.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fragile but Fearless

First, let me say that I think I have died and gone to summer camp . . . The luxury  kind . . . For adults. 

Second, let me tell you that my "camp counselors" are so patient with this neophyte. Last night the Wine Snob forgave me for my inability to talk vino. The golf pro didn't say a foul word that I could hear when I knocked a 3-foot putt 10 feet past the hole. 

No one freaked when I got tangled in my own fly rod line. And My horse, Anne, and I bonded  onthe trail ride. The canteen filled with lemonade, sweet tea and vodka certainly gave me warm feelings toward her.

My fantasy trip to Barnsley Gardens Resort in the foothills of North Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains has taken me back to my childhood when I spent summers living in a cabin and honing my riflery skills. I love having a similar experience, but in an all grown up way.

Though, when our sporting clays instructor, Skip, strapped a shoulder pad on me this morning, I asked him, "You must think I'm fragile?" He hadn't harnessed any of the other lady "campers" in such a contraption. Maybe it was a compliment to my femininity. Perhaps. I couldn't be sure, however.

I channeled my presumed frailty into inspiration. Bam! Bam-bam! I broke those sporting clays fearlessly. "Whoop!" I triumphantly yelled. 

He still didn't let me take ithe protective shoulder pad off. I believe it was a chivalrous move and that's where I plan to hang my hat. On chivalry. Because I'm far too young for frailty. And hell-bent on fearless. And I know Skip gets that about me.

At leat, that's how I choose to comfort myself in this glorious retreat from reality.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Confess and Repent

As you can see, I found something that passes for business casual (at least the Barnsley Gardens Resort Wine Snob, Greg Tieague, approved of it). Unfortunately, he didn't approve of my wine tastes.

He went around to each media person present and asked her what wines she normally enjoys. Each one replied with a lot of words I didn't understand, which made me fade to the back of the classroom.

Eagle-eyed, he spied me slipping behind another guest. "And what kind of wine do you drink?" he asked me. 

Ugh! My heart fell. Everyone would know the truth about me now. They would know I was faking the business casual.

"I was trying to fade to the back of the classroom," I said, ashamed of getting caught.

"You drink Chardonnay, right?" He knowingly accused.

That's when I let the truth fall out of mouth like marbles I could no longer contain. "Yes! With an ice cube in it. Three dollar wine from Walmart!" I took a deep   breath. "I'm so sorry."

He forgave me :-)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Business Casual in the Eye of the Beholder

I am off to the lovely Barnsley Gardens Resort in North Georgia for a media event as the representative for Lake Oconee Living Magazine. With a storied past, it is the perfect place for a writer to sojourn. The 3-day itinerary includes a trail ride, sporting clays, a wine tasting, a spa visit, a lesson in casting a fly rod, dining, entertainment and serenity.

(Serenity might only be on my itinerary. It's May and the school year is drawing to a close and chaos has crept into every corner of my house. I'm glad for this fine excuse to escape the May-hem.)

But I digress from the real reason I MUST post today. Tomorrow, I make the three hour drive from here to there. Today, I pack. The coordinator kindly sent a few suggestions about what to bring. For dinner, it is advised to dress "business casual."

Being a freelance writer, I work in a home office sans coworkers and water cooler. No one meets me at the kitchen faucet to chat about how a project is going. As I write, three squirrels are running up and down the dogwood tree outside my window. This is the view from my desk:

I enjoy it in relative solitude.

My social networking for the day will include scrolling FaceBook, typing this blog and fielding whines from my progeny.

On "casual" day at my "office" when I'm doing my "business" I wear pajamas and don't answer the front door. My general wardrobe includes denim and duck boots, because I often clear my mind by retreating out to the garden to pull a few weeds. I may live a sheltered life, but I doubt this is the business casual attire to which my gracious hostess refers.

Lo, I am a professional writer without a professional wardrobe. I hide behind my computer monitor and only video skype on days that I have brushed my hair and put some color on my face. Even then, I might be lounging about in my PJs.

Panic that I own the proverbial "nothing to wear" (but pajamas and jeans) is setting in. I'm headed upstairs to remove everything from my closet, toss it about on my husband's side of the bed, and examine every piece of clothing, carefully analyzing whether the words "business" and "casual" could both be used - by someone other than myself - to describe it.

Perhaps the Barnsley Gardens Fairy Godmother might help!

Or maybe you could give me some insight into what counts for business casual?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Three Lines from My WIP

Keeping one eye open during the patriarch’s thirty minute blessing, we watch the children’s tables in the hall.  Gramps gives the annual prayer-speech about how he and “mother” started all this, mentioning each of the Lord’s blessings (big, small and questionable) and all relatives deceased, absent or unwelcome. The irreverent among us let their minds wander and arrive at a singular thought: Where’d that Wild Turkey get off to?

--Excerpted from Thanksmas, a memoir of the most wondered-at time of the year

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Country Living, City Style

I've just about done all the farming local laws and space will allow me to do on my half acre. As I'm not at liberty to use all of it because I live in a neighborhood where appearances must be kept up, I'm cramming my urban oasis into a tiny plot of land.

It's almost like my house has a split personality. Porchaven in the front,

and garden plot in the rear. 

My small orchard consists of a pear tree, a plum tree, a fig tree, a pecan tree and three thornless blackberry bushes. They aren't really organized into an orchard the way one would think. They just occupy any old square footage of earth that was available on planting day. Each fights for its life.

I've slipped an herb plot right under the neighbors' noses, putting it in a corner of a front flower bed.
And because every farm needs animals in order to be a real farm, I have set up a hive for the package of bees that will arrive in about two weeks.

Bees are not the kind of animal I pictured myself herding when I started designing my urban homestead. Honestly, I think it isn't very farmer-like to fear one's flock. But a cow grazing in my front yard wouldn't go over very well with the authorities or those who own homes adjacent to mine.

So I've been talking to my husband about selling Porchaven and purchasing acreage outside of town. He seems to be warming to the idea and to help get him over the land divide, I took him out to a farm on Sunday. He petted the horses. He helped round up the donkeys that stubbornly refused to be rounded. He called to the belligerent cows and he cuddled the barn cats.

It looked certain that I was making a real breakthrough with him, thus I went in the feed room and scooped a container of cracked corn to cast to the chickens. My soul mate was taken in by the throaty coos of the delighted hens.

But suddenly something in his brain snapped. He impulsively snatched a fish net from a nail and said, "What's this for? Catching roosters?" And he went all city-kid at the petting zoo on me, chasing panicked chickens that clucked and flapped and kicked up dust and escaped via any route they could out into coyote territory.

I'm taking it as a sign that he may not be ready for the farm.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Always on the Verge of Impulsive Behavior

Have you ever stood at the edge of a ravine and had the disturbing thought, "What if I jumped?" Or been sitting in a quiet theater and right as the lights are dimming dawdled with the wicked urge to shout, "Fire!"?

Occasionally, I feel the impulse to slowly slide down my stairs, pressing my body to the cold plaster wall, like the next hapless lamb in a black and white horror film. Fingers scrambling to grip the smooth surface, knuckles white from the effort, eyes wide and wildly watchful, I - the heroine - creep closer and closer to a dark destiny at the foot of the stairs.

The audience yells, "Noooooo! Stop! Don't go! Turn around! Ruuuuuunnnnnnnn!" But the screen writer of this, my B-movie plot, dictates in the stage directions that I must place the knuckles of my right hand between my teeth and proceed, shakily. My white gown billows in a mysterious indoor wind sweeping across the steps.

Of course, just as I seriously consider indulging in this ridiculousness, a voice calls up from below, "Mama, what are you doing? I can't find my other pink Espadrille. Can you look in my closet and bring it down?" Immediately, my gown ceases to billow and I straighten up and go look for the shoe.

I tell myself that other people experience these moments of odd disconnect, in which reason wrestles with recklessness. But I'm not sure. The ones who would admit to it have probably all jumped, which leaves me standing on the cliff alone.

Don't worry, though. I'm not taking the leap. I'm a victim of an overactive imagination, not insanity.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

God Loves a Garden

God loves a garden. He’s done some of His best works in gardens. Ever since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, He has been calling us back. He called us back to the Garden of Gethsemane and to Jesus’ tomb in the garden near Golgotha. He had things to teach us and tell us in those gardens.
He gives us the same care and hope in the gardens we make and tend in our own backyards. He wants us on our knees. From that position we pull out weeds, pluck off pests and get a close-up view of His creation through our labors.
In the garden, God develops my faith. I drop into the soil tiny seeds that barely hint at the life they hold, cover them and wait. I have to believe that even though I can’t see them, they are still there. I trust that the sun will shine on them when they need it and the sky will rain on them when they thirst. Day in and day out, I’m forced to believe that something is happening down there in the dark. Then, one day, I walk out to the garden to discover that seedlings have pushed their way to the surface, rewarding my trust and strengthening my fragile conviction.
A garden has rhythm and timing. I have learned that the seasons matter. Regard for them while sewing impacts the bounty when harvesting. The pace is deliberate. Efforts to push or delay rarely result in more corn, bigger tomatoes or booming butterbeans. In the end, I surrender to the set tempo. It teaches me patience and enlivens desire for what is to come and gratefulness for what has passed. More than that, it keeps my attention focused on the here and now of getting my plants to prosper.
 I am fed. My family is fed. On vegetables and herbs washed by the dew.  Real food.
God is there with me in my humble backyard garden. When my hands are busy and my spirit is quiet, He speaks to me. He shows the wonders of His design. I am awed at the rows of green, leafy plants boasting colorful yields and robust flavors. I look at my hands, very small, and accept that I have not done this myself. No one is on her own in the garden.
Row upon row, the beauty of forgiveness quilts the black earth. Seeds planted too deep or too shallow find a way. Leaves wilted from soil drying around their roots promptly perk as the sprinkler sends droplets cascading over them. Despite my amateur skills, the plants in my care almost always find a way. I am absolved of my blunders and I receive second chances, so that I am continually molded into the best gardener I can be.
The toil tones my muscles. The fresh air cleanses my lungs. Moving, bending, squatting, stretching, hoeing, shoveling, tilling, digging keeps my body conditioned and my mind sharp. The exercise teaches me to love the weeds as much as anything else. Long live the weeds. It is here in the safety and tranquility of the garden that He prepares me for what He has planned. I will be ready when my purpose unfolds.
God loves a garden, no matter how big or how small, no matter how productive, no matter how well-kept or weedy. He has a history of working miracles in gardens. All that is asked of us is that we meet Him there and give our labors over to Him. He will help us grow.            

copyright 2013 Lucy Adams
(Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. She lives in Thomson, GA. Email Lucy at