Sunday, February 27, 2011

Where are you going, my little one, little one?

 See her? Like any number of little one year olds on their birthdays, she's sick. Big old runny eyes, a temp, and probably an ear ache. But she's sweet, all dressed up, with a brand new push button blue phone. She has her very own cake, too; I don't remember what kind it is, but, just guessing from the picture, it looks like an applesauce cake with caramel frosting. There's a lot of foreshadowing there!

There's self same little girl in her back yard, pulling dandelions with a great deal of concentration, then lifting her arms for a pick me up and a hug. This is a girl who has always been free with hugs, whether giving or receiving. Generous with smiles, generous with phone minutes, generous with cakes, cookies, pies, pop and chocolate. Need a pick me up? I know where you can find one...

Skip several years, and there's a mop of hair blowing out some candles. Oh, no, on second thought, that's what you saw first thing in the morning in the Hurst household. No talking allowed, even for the morning people, until chores were done, cereal consumed and the hair pulled away from
the face. In this picture, the smoking candles issue in the teens: fourteen candles mean high school, big hair, big glasses giving way to contacts, FFA, a driver's license, a butt ugly white pickup, a wreck, or two, or three....

Off to college. The home body grits her teeth and becomes a Tiger. She meets the love of her life..

....well, OK he usually doesn't wear this expression

There, that's much better. 
 Here's the lovely bride to be; the little girl a lovely gracious young woman now. ...

..And now, like the old song goes, turn around, and she's a young wife, with babes of her own.

Uh oh, better set Abbie aright

Enjoy your birthday candles, Lee. God bless you as you've blessed us!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Girl who Loves Duckies.....

Years and years ago, now, a lovely young girl flirted with a unusually tongue tied young boy at a Christmas party. There was a mom nearby, quietly amused by the first signs of anything but far away puppy adoration.

Time passed, friendship and romance grew and the lovely young lady became more than just a visitor to our big house. There was agony over Valentine gifts, and piles of Hershey kisses. There was a giant map of the world hand painted and carried up three flights of stairs. There were innumerable plates of treats left for everyone in the family.

There were growing pains, separations, the ups and downs that every growing relationship experiences. There were trips together and months apart. I'm sure there were lots of plans and dreams. Finally, there was an engagement and the lovely young woman donned her gorgeous white dress and the young man wore his fancy tails and two toned shoes. People danced, people sang and we were all happy as clams to welcome wonderful Kenzie as a sister, auntie and daughter.

I am tremendously spoiled to have so many of my children and grandchildren right here where seeing them is a normal occurrence. To say that is to admit I miss the far away children and use my chances to visit them as an opportunity to memorize their routines and surroundings so I can picture them at home and play while we're apart. I love getting notes in the mail addressed in little tiny pencil scratches; I always smile when I get a text at odd, usually very early, hours because I know these communications are from Kenzie.

When holidays come around, packages arrive for the little people full of imaginative and invariably fun gifts and gimmicks gleaned from goodness knows where. Kenzie gives often and half the fun is figuring out where on earth she gathered her presents. When we travel to Virginia, there are brochures and plans for restaurants, wineries, and, wonders of wonders, the Noon Whistle! I am appreciative of the consideration, but am happy as can be just drinking coffee and feeling comfortable in their home.

Kenzie is a most fun auntie to all the kids; it took a while for Aaron to forgive her for marrying Ben. She is upbeat and sympathetic when necessary; she is hard working and flexible. We love her because she loves Ben, because she loves life, and because she loves and puts up with us.

Hope you'll forgive me for writing about you, Kenz! After all, you helped me set up this blog in the first place! Miss you, other daughter, and wish you the happiest of birthdays and pray all the wishes on your giant cake come true. .....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Fine Romance

Two whisper thin young women were offering Valentine's advice this morning on the news talk show I watch while I crunch my cereal and gulp that first cup of coffee.
In their defense, their suggestions did not lean too heavily on commerce and cash. Sure, anyone desperately seeking a date or a mate was going to fork over cash: these ladies advocated dinner, flowers, the whole shebang. But for those "already committed", Valentine's day could culminate in an evening of board games, or a home cooked gourmet meal, or a movie, or a candle and massage, or any number of fairly unimaginative and trite notions of romance.

Am I bitter? Cynical? I don't love Valentine's day as an event or a cause celebre'. Yes, it was fun in grade school to make Valentine's mailboxes; but then I was the kind of kid that liked art projects. I even liked the little folded Valentines and divvying them up among my classmates. I'm part of the baby boom, so my grade school classes way exceeded the current fetish for small numbers. Which Valentine was appropriate for the girls in the class and which would not be too silly for the boys? We had solid notions about the difference between the sexes even in the lower grades, so any hint of sentiment was verboten for the males. Some kids signed their Valentines; some didn't. It was ritual after the exchange of cards to attempt to decipher the scratches on the backs of the card or fronts of the envelopes. I never sent candy, but adored getting the little conversation hearts. Inedible, yes; full of signs and intimations, you bet.

Perhaps I would have been more impressed by a duo of blue haired matrons or balding geezers with hearing aids. Let's ask them about romance and longevity. What do you name the relationship that exists for a half century? After work and children and leisure and pain and loss, after routine and habit is the rule and youth and energy a memory, what do you call the partnership, the bond that remains? Bubble bath and candles seem trivial, if not ridiculous. Is the idea of Valentine's day even viable or appealing? Should it be?

Outside of flowers, outside of steak, I suspect this old house will have to come up with a different construct for romance. Don't get me wrong; I love a good romantic setting! A table for two, a grand piano, a chanteuse? Two glasses, two chairs, a view? A long night on the road with the ball game on the radio? The Pacific from the Cliff House, Irish music at O'Malley's, an open air supper in Hawaii, a starry evening in the combine: there's a hint of conspiracy, separation, distinctiveness, contrariness in the notion of romance. 'Birds do it, bees do it; even educated fleas do it', but we humans want to be one and onlies, even if we're heading to a romantic resort dreamt up by a focus group. Romance is in the eyes of the beholders. Whether its a lukewarm mocha from Starbucks in May, a melted Dairy Queen Blizzard in August, or taking the trash out without being asked, a heart warming gift is the one that says 'This I did just for you'. Does anyone really get a Lexus with a big red bow? Or a diamond something in a remote snowy cottage? In the long run, I'd rather have the sidewalks scooped and the socks put in laundry basket. Flowers will never be a cliche' in this house; an occasional juicy steak out will build up brownie points.....

So, let's cede the Valentines Day battleground to the folks still on the front lines. There is such a thing as too much chocolate. There is life between PajamaGrams and Kay Jewelers....lots and lots of life. Nothing wrong with hearts and flowers, but spread 'em out through the year. Why limit it to a single day? Same goes for Victoria's Secret and Vermont Teddy, never mind, its never time for a Vermont Teddy Bear.. ...

Before I even saw the sweet things hawking the perfect Valentines, I awoke to the strains of Trisha Yearwood in my head:

'There's nothin' at the five and dime that I really need..
Your love is the only thing that means a thing to me....
Give me all your loving, throw the presents in the creek,
Give me all your loving, and I'll be tickled pink...'

Now there's a romantic notion!!