Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fledging My Birds

a home of his own

This nest was knocked out of my crepe myrtle tree during the storms this weekend. When I saw it, I lifted it carefully, fearing that it had turned out eggs or sweet baby birds, but it was completely empty. The babies were gone - already fledged. I hope they were okay.

That process of fledging is such a quick one for birds - it takes only a few short weeks to go from hatchling to fledgling. The process for humans is decidedly more complex.

My babies aren't babies any more, but it can be so difficult to remember that when they fall asleep on the couch after a hard day of play, or when they wake up in the morning with their hair all mussed from a good night's sleep. I think it is less obvious in their transitional times between sleeping and waking.

Why is it so hard to let them grow up? I spend all my time teaching them to fly and wishing they would just stay in the nest. No one ever tells you, when you first become a parent, that the entire time your children are growing up you are teaching them to leave you.

But that really is our only task. As much as we would like to shelter them in our nests until the day WE die, that is not our calling. We (and by that I mean "I") often miss that point by coddling and protecting and keeping them from doing things they are fully capable of doing.

Like laundry.

And then I spend a weekend watching them play tennis in a tournament. I watch them deal with frustration and anger and conflict resolution with the other player in an incredibly mature way. I watch them lose big and not fall apart. I watch them almost win, and then lose graciously in the face of their opponents celebration. I watch them shake hands across the net and walk off chatting amiably with the guy that just beat them. I listen to them plan how they are going to work on this thing or that with their coach the next week and I realize something.

I realize how amazing these little people are. I realize that they've reached a place where my parenting is little more than a gentle nudge in the right direction occasionally. I realize that they are steering their own ships with rudders much larger than me and that somehow they know how to do that. Somehow, miraculously, they understand how to do things that I've really never taught them.

Now - those of you with older children will laugh at me and tell me to get ready for the teen years, and I completely understand that my job is not finished. I know that. Teens are a whole different story and we'll deal with many NEW! and EXCITING! ISSUES!

I know that. I know that. I know that. We'll just call those years the flight lesson years.

Right now, my little chirpers are testing their wings - stretching them to see how big they are and how well they will hold them up when they do leave the nest. And I'm going to let them - even though it is hard to watch them grow away from me - even though they may fall and get hurt - even though it may break my heart.

I'll be there to help them up, dust them off a bit - help them reset their goals. And maybe feed them a worm or two.

Or a taco.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day


For all you wonderful men out there - fathers, uncles, grandfathers, mentors, teachers, coaches, good neighbors - who so positively impact the lives of children...

I wish you a wonderful day full of the things and the people that you love.

I know the papa in this house is getting lots of extra kisses and hugs today!

xoxo to you all!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Too Soon Gone...

Stalk II

I recently joined in a Facebook discussion about real and virtual friends, and if one could be friends with someone you've never actually met. I took the side of "absolutely," and today I feel it even more.

A great light has gone out in our little blogging community. Char was a one-of-a-kind soul. Her photography and writing were both so poetic and dreamlike. She was kind and thoughtful and she will be missed tremendously by any who were privileged enough to know her, in real life or in this virtual one, as I did.

Any of the wonderful compilation of posts here can tell you what you should know about Char. Take a few minutes to read them, look back at the lovely images she shared so freely with us.

Godspeed, Char. And thank you.

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday

With a nod to own Flashback Friday...

This is what five years looks like. The photo on the left was taken in July, 2006. The photo on the right was taken last weekend.

My baby is not such a baby anymore.

I'll just be over here in the corner, rocking and weeping.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Utopia of Temperance

Utopia of Temperance

The Smarty and I went riding around last weekend, looking at houses in the country with huge tracts of land. This is not because we are selling our house and buying anything out in the country with huge tracts of land, but because for some reason we like to dream about having a house out in the country with huge tracts of land.

Usually, we go out and see how much land 34 acres really is and then laugh ourselves silly at the thought of actually taking care of so much land and then we drive around and just enjoy the scenery around here in east Tennessee. Then we say things like, "But Father...I don't want the land...I only siiiiing!!"

Bonus points for knowing what the heck I'm talking about.

Anyway, on our travels about the rurality of our region, we stumbled across Harriman, TN. We had, of course, heard of Harriman, but hadn't ever had reason to visit there. On this day, though, they were having a car show right on the main drag, and Dr. SmartyPants can't pass up an unexpected car show any more than I can pass up an unexpected art show.

Harriman's downtown is just as cute as a button, people. It has everything that makes small town Americana so sweet and quaint, including a half-restored theater and a couple of antique shops and a group of grannies line-dancing to "Boot Scootin' Boogie."

But the most interesting thing to me was the historical marker I spotted in the middle of the town. While there have been other towns established in Tennessee as utopias, this one takes the prize for being the most high-falutin'. Can you read it?

Harriman: Utopia of Temperance
Incorporated in 1891, this was to be an ideal industrial city, an object lesson for thrift, sobriety, superior intelligence and exalted moral character, where workers would be uncorrupted by Demon Rum. Named for Union General Walter Harriman, former governor of New Hampshire. Leader of movement was Union General Clinton B. Fisk, founder of Fisk University and Prohibition candidate for president in 1888.

Love it. It actually remained liquor free until 1993, although I'm not too sure how they did with the superior intelligence and exalted moral character thing. Such interesting places all around can read more about Harriman, TN here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Monday. Except that it is Tuesday.

Wilson Ad III

So, yeah. I was going to post yesterday, and somehow I realized it was like 10 pm and I had nothing to say except Holy Smokes, I'm Tired, and that just didn't seem like it was something worthwhile, so I kept it to myself.

Until now, that is. So there you go.

Mondays are just going to be those kinds of days this summer, I can tell. We start early and go late, and every moment in between is completely full of non-stop tennis. Last night, when we finally got home and started cooking supper, near eight o'clock, Joshua lay down on the couch and promptly fell asleep. Joshua never just falls asleep. Joshua lays in bed, reading for hours after lights out.

I love tennis.

Babolat Ad

Tuesdays involve tennis, though not to the same degree. I'm thinking of having them run laps around the lake in order to compensate for the lack of activity. Would that be wrong?


Friday, June 10, 2011



Going here tomorrow.

Getting one of these and one of these. Because I am a crazy bird lady.

Watching this and this on Sunday, at least when we aren't playing here.

Hoping to finish cleaning my house this afternoon, so I don't have to do anything domestic over the weekend. Wishing I had a housekeeper. Realizing I do! But it's me.


What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, June 09, 2011



It's a typical summer morning. The temperature is mild, but rising. I've been up a couple of hours and have already made my way through a couple cups of coffee, a bit of morning news, the kitchen clean-up, the tennis match water and oranges prep, and a watering can or two on the tomatoes.

My boys sleep. They are still snoozing that childlike summertime way that seems to last for days.

And I'm torn. Torn between the reality that we have school work to accomplish and laundry to do and beds to make and bathrooms to clean and tennis matches to prepare for, and the luxury of letting my kids sleep in - not just for themselves...

...but for the quiet that envelops the house when they are asleep. I love that quiet, for a little while. If it goes on too long, it gets a little oppressive and I start longing for the sound of elephants running up and down my stairs and across the upper floor.

But for now, I think I'll savor it. Maybe I'll fix another cup of coffee and sit on the deck and breathe in the still of the morning and the aroma of growing tomatoes. Maybe I'll close my eyes and pretend I'm at the beach. Maybe I'll crawl back into the bed and take a 15 minute power nap.

Or maybe I'll just sit here.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Happy Accidents

Doubly Exposed

I love unexpected surprises, don't you? This photo, from the end of the film, yielded a lovely little double exposure, and I couldn't have planned it any better. The church is one of three in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's a lovely clapboard structure, seated on a foundation of stacked stones culled from the valley. Inside are hard wooden pews, aligned in rigid rows, and a pulpit at the front topped by a heavy bible.

I don't remember which shot came first, but I took a photo of both the outside of the church, and of the open bible, and somehow they melded together into this shot. It looks almost as if the very walls of the church are constructed of scripture.

Seems apropos, doesn't it?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Lazy, Hazy

Summer Retreat

I shot some black and white film in our Canon AE-1 a while back, where a while back equals last summer. I just got the film developed this week. I'm always on top of things around here.

This is the corner of my front porch next to my gigantic oak leaf hydrangea, and it's one of the nicest places to sit and watch the cul-de-sac go by while sipping a cool beverage. The hydrangea provides shade and perfume, made all the more sweet by the unrelenting heat. I'm half-hidden when I sit there, so I can listen in on conversations and squabbles, territorial disputes and sibling battles, unseen and unnoticed.

It's kind of an eavesdropper's heaven.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Monday Listings


My tomatoes are doing well.
  1. I only have to water them three times a day in this heat.
  2. I also fill soda bottles with water and poke tiny holes in the bottom and let them sit in the soil around the tomato plants to constantly drip drip drip water to the roots.
It's hot.
  1. I'm not complaining. 
  2. I'll take the unrelenting 90+ degrees over winter, any day.
  1. It's my whole life. 
  2. The boys have practice Monday and Tuesday, matches on Wednesday and Thursday, and we usually play as a family on the weekends.
  3. It's a good thing I like tennis.
I had some black and white film developed.
  1. It's very expensive.
  2. I love digital.
My Sketchbook Project sketchbook is available to view, now. 
  1. Just click here.
I have two dogs.
  1. They both dribble. 
  2. Mostly water. 
  3. Dogs are gross.
  4. My other dog is a cat. 
  5. That isn't true. 
  6. He's a dog. 
  7. He just acts like a cat.
  8. He's very confused.
  9. So am I.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Where I Intend to Spend My Summer

Patio Time

Some of it will be spent here, with my sad little plant that either receives too much sun or not enough or maybe I water it too much or not enough. In any case - it's living, and exactly the same size as it was when I planted it. I have other plants that are growing just fine, although not this particular type. I'm thinking it needs replacing.

Pretty much the rest of it will be spent here, where the boys will play team tennis and they have matches or practice every day, Monday through Thursday. Today is Derek's first match, and he's nervous.

But not as nervous as I am. He really has no idea.

Ah - what we mothers (and fathers) go through...

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I Love Maters

My Maters #crossprocess

I love maters.
Do you?
I plan to spend the entire summer eating maters every day.

My favorite recipe?
Pick a tomato.
Wash it.
Cut it into wedges.
Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
Place a wedge in mouth. Chew. Swallow. Repeat.

My second favorite recipe?
Pick a tomato.
Wash it.
Slice it.
Spread mayonnaise (never Miracle Whip, people. that would just be crazy) on two slices of WonderBread.
Place tomato slices on top of one slice of bread. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Place the other slice of bread on top.
Cut at an angle (not straight across - come one...what's wrong with you?)
Take first bite.
Scrape WonderBread from back of teeth.
Repeat last two steps.
Make another mater sammich and do it all over again.

I'm telling you - it makes me want to bolt a wood-frame screen door to my back door and install the spring a little too tightly so that it slams shut when I go in and out.

Because then it would definitely be summer.