Wednesday, May 29, 2013

10 Most Blessed Things

My post of Southern negatives nearly made Kris weep with despair.  Nearly.  And I even forgot a few things, like how the roads can get so thick with frogs or turtles that it is impossible to drive without becoming a murderess and you just have to grit your teeth and bawl your little head off because you have to get to where you are going (still very much traumatized by that one!).  Forget it.  Let's just take a peep at the bright side, shall we? It's pretty dang glorious!

SPANISH MOSS.  There is simply nothing in this world more simultaneously haunting, magical and romantic than silvery skeins of Spanish moss dripping from the tips of a live oak.  Poetry made flesh.

LET'S BE BEST FRIENDS AND TELL EACH OTHER EVERYTHING, says the behavior of your bus driver, the lady in the checkout line, the man at the library, the cop who pulled you over for speeding.  And (here's the best part): I'll do all of the talking, if you want me to!  Seriously, the South is an introvert's paradise.  All that's required is a friendly smile, a few "oh no he didn'ts," maybe a "mercy!" or two, and you've found your new bestie for life, regardless of whether or not you ever see each other again.  Perfection.
Spanish Moss Pink Flowers
FI'IN' 'A'.  Along with it's semi-formal variant "fittin' ta" and the formal "fixing to", this is just one of the many gems of Southernese.  I don't know what it is, but I absolutely adore the strange and wondrous things Southern dialects do to the English language.  I guess I just love the chance to let my English teacher hair down and gleefully murder the rules once in a while. 

THE WORLD IS ABLOOM.  So the South has a few smells you don't necessarily want to inhale.  Things like roadkilled opossum, paper factories (the absolute worst), and garbage that's dumped willy-nilly.  I think that's why God gave it a corresponding number of to-die-for perfumes.  There is simply nothing sweeter than taking a deep inspiration of gardenia, jasmine or magnolia, and on any given spring day you can often find all three.  Plus about a bajillionty other flowering plants and trees that I don't know the names of.  Welcome to the subtropics!

RAIN.  You know what they say: When it rains, it pours. As Wendy noted, this one could have made my previous list due to the accompanying and totally terrifying lightning.  I've included it here nonetheless because I am a daughter of drought.  A ranch in the West is so dependent on such miniscule quantities of rain (the difference between breaking even and total ruin) that I possess an inherent and physical need for precipitation. I literally become ill when too many days pass without rain.  Because of my Western calibration for appropriate rainfall, that NEVER happens to me in the South.  Ah, relief! 
BBQ, SEAFOOD BOIL, BANANA PUDDIN', OKRA, GUMBO, COLLARDS, GRITS, PRALINES, ETC. ET AL.  I do not expect these three years to treat my waist kindly.  Bring it on!

HUMIDITY.  I know, I know, you now think I've totally LOST IT and forgotten all about the perpetual shower mold and stale food.  But in the balance, I really like humidity (remind me of this fact when we arrive at our new home in July). Dry skin and cracked lips?  Kiss them goodbye!  Dryer sheets?  Who needs them!  Hair straightener?  Obsolete!  (which makes my vanity cry and my laziness whoop for joy...actually, come to think of it, either way may not be good for the content of my character...).         
blackberriesTHE GOOD LORD WILLIN' AN' THE CREEK DON' RISE. I get the biggest kick out of collecting idioms and the South is a veritable treasure trove of unique and colorful sayings.  I'm sure Louisiana has a few that are all her own, and I can't wait! 

BERRIES. Blue, black, rasp, straw, whatever. I've already located the pick-your-own farms in our area and plan on a bountiful jam season...if I don't just eat them all first.

Y'ALL HAVE A BLESSED DAY. Forget how our Louisiana realtor looked like I'd revealed myself as Satan when I told her that we are LDS.  And let go of the fact that a few parents will probably forbid their kids from playing with ours...Overall I love the religious fervor you find in the Bible Belt.  This is a place where people still believe that God is omnipotent and omnipresent, and they are not at all shy about saying so.  I like that.

Ok, so am I forgiven?  Perhaps not by the snake experts, but by the rest of you?  We completed our house hunting trip a little over a week ago and are more excited than ever to get ourselves down to God's country! :)     

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Awesome Adoption Profile

Serendipity: happy accident, pleasant surprise, something useful you didn't really look for but found anyway.  When Jenn Shugart of Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan, Canada walked into the dorm and became my very first missionary companion, it was nothing short of serendipitous.  I spent the entire week before entering the Missionary Training Center helping my dad move one bunch of sheep and lamb the other.  This means I went from sleeping about five hours a day and whiling away the other 19 hours covered in sheep poop and placenta, to this place of total cleanliness and 8 hours of mandatory sleep literally overnight.  Oh, and I now had to have another human being near my side every second of the day.  My head considered exploding.  Enter the farm girl who shared my love of open spaces and need for solitude.  Serendipity. 

I'm hoping for another happy accident and I'm hoping maybe you can help.  Shug and her husband Paul got married a few months after Kris and I did and they are still waiting for a baby to join them.  Still.  It breaks my heart.  So here's what I'm asking you (oh tiny, faithful little readership) to do: Click on this link https://itsaboutlove.org/ial/profiles/27896956/ourMessage.jsf to read their adoption profile.  Aren't they just the cutest, and won't they be wonderful parents?  If you happen to know anyone who might be considering placing a baby for adoption, can you send that person to Paul and Shug's profile? 

Thanks, friends.  You are gems!      

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Post for the Childless Mother

I was just in our kitchen making biscuits while Eden ate crayons when something I think I've wanted to say for a long time hit me.  So now the biscuits are baking and I am writing and maybe also crying.  Eden may still be eating crayons. 

It's Mother's Day in a few days.  I won't let Kris make a fuss about it.  I love making a fuss over my mother and his mother and every other mother in my life, but there's just a little something there I can't celebrate for myself.  Make no mistake, I AM a mother and that is something I revel in each time Eden breathes.  Still.  I just can't do it on Mother's Day.  Survivor's guilt? 

I guess I'm thinking about it because I stumbled on a blog post today about why men and children should step up their recognition of what their wives and mothers do.  It was all about the sacrifice and servitude mothers are required to give.  The laundry-folding, three-meal-cooking, poop-wiping, dish-doing, aching hours of sacrifice. Two years have taught me that everything in that post is real.  I wish in no way to take away from what women who raise children do.  Today I suppose I just want to celebrate and appreciate the sacrifices of every childless mother (those woman whose circumstances and not choices leave their arms empty). 

To every Mother who doesn't have children (yet):

Thank you for enduring every week-long, once-monthly, makes-you-want-to-die disappointment.

Thank you for having the heart to become the extra special aunt/neighbor/primary teacher in my child's life, loving her in a way that no one but you can because you love her in place of what isn't yet yours.

Thank you for having the courage to sit in that fertility doctor's waiting room and for not punching him when he delivers the bad news again.

Thank you for wanting a child so much.

Thank you for going about your daily life while suffering one of the hardest waits the world will ever know.

Thank you for not tackling the pregnant lady who is complaining about how hard it is to be pregnant, because you know that you would complain too if you were in her boat, just as she would sink in yours.

Thank you for having the courage to try.

Thank you for staying married to your trying-to-understand-but-missing-it husband.

Thank you for having the faith to adopt, if that's where your journey leads you.

Thank you for passing through immense sadness with your fists clutched tightly around such slender bits of hope just to arrive already nearly spent at the beginning of the years of sacrifice and hardship every mother gives. 

Thank you for making it through another empty-armed Mother's Day.

Thank you for being important, contributing, beautiful women whose worth is in no way diminished by the opportunities you still await. 

I won't bother to wish you a happy Mother's Day.  But I do hope you know that you are not unheard or unappreciated. I hope you know that you are loved and your sacrifices understood.  And I do, from every part of my heart, wish you a few small moments of peace.     

Friday, May 3, 2013

Top 10 Most Loathesome Things

I know, I know, my last post waxed rhapsodical about the southland.  I stand by those statements and will make more in the future, but it's not all twelve layer caramel cakes and peaches.  When we were making the decision to move to Louisiana, I felt obliged to point out some of the negatives for Kris.  If there's one thing I believe in, it's preparing for the worst!  So here goes:

1) SLOW TALKERS. Here's something I can't reconcile about the South.  All y'all drop whole syllables like hot potatoes and yet somehow speak 80% slower than those of us who go ahead and finish our words.  How can this be? Tell you what, I'll finish your sentences and stories for you, just to save time.  Nope? Won't work.  Even after it is abundantly clear that I know what you're about to say, you're gonna say it anyway and take your sweet time.  Imonna try not to choke ya.

2) THE FUTILITY OF AN OPEN WINDOW. I think that about sums itself up.

3) SNAKES.  I occasionally feel stupid for my nearly paralyzing fear of snakes.  But in my defense, what isn't creepy about a set of sharp teeth attached to the end of little more than a writhing muscle?  Besides, if it's good enough to scare Indiana Jones, it's good enough for me.  There are seven venomous varieties in Louisiana.  Oh, goody.
4) STALE, STALE, ALL IS STALE. Flour, chips, crackers sitting out for half a day, cookies, bread, air.

5) BUGS-- With the sole exception of the whimsical firefly, what is really to be gained by so very many creepy crawlies of ridiculous size and prominence?  And palmetto bugs?  Please.  A roach by any other name...

6) FIRE ANTS.  This only seems redundant to item #5.  Trust me, though, an ant that causes open weeping sores that last weeks deserves its own item.  Death to the infidels!

7) SWEET TEA.  I don't drink it.  So sue me, Southern Lady, for not offering you any or accepting yours in return.  Mmkay?  Can we just bless my heart and agree to disagree here? 

8) THE CREATOR'S ONE BIG DESIGN FLAW.  Really?  I'm sorry but 536 feet does not a mountain make.  In moving to Louisiana I am eschewing the possibility of ever again seeing a sunset or a horizon of any distance, and forget about my life-long schema for navigation. Thanks.

9) THE OPPRESSIVE NATURE OF TREES.  Yeah, yeah, deforestation is an ecological nightmare, blah, blah, blah.  Look, I recycle, ok?  I even reuse, and yes, on occasion, reduce.  So can't I please have just a tiny little three thousand acre clear cut so I can see a little bit of what's around me and hear myself think?  I give so much to you, Mother Earth, when are you going to start giving a little back? 

10) CHIGGERS. I don't actually know if these are a big deal or not.  What I do know is that I spent nineteen months in Georgia avoiding the mere feel of grass, just in case.  No laying on my back with a grassy pillow to watch the clouds pass by.  No sir, not me! 

Pretty bad, huh?  Well though this post has likely offended all of my future friends and neighbors, some environmentalists, most ophiologists, God, and fire ants, you may well suppose that I'll redeem myself with a list of the best things about the South.  Coming soon...