life, Michigan

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

“I know great minds discuss ideas and small minds discuss people,” she said over her margherita flatbread and my fish tacos, “but I find people FASCINATING.”

Her eyes and her voice grew big.

Perhaps it was her fascination with people that caused her to notice what I completely missed earlier in the evening, or perhaps it was the fact that I was looking for a parking space.

I took my daughter out to celebrate the 17th anniversary of my wedding.

Shouldn’t your husband have taken you out to celebrate your anniversary?, you might be thinking.

Yes, that is what one would expect, but this year, this April 6th, he took me out to breakfast and then promptly headed up north to go fly fishing for the weekend.

Seventeen years ago he turned down an invitation to The Masters to marry me on April 6, big golfer that he was, his love for me was even bigger.

But now, seventeen years later….  No really, I’m okay with it.  Our brother-in-law invited him and I said, “Of course, go ahead.”

So I took my daughter out to dinner.

And though it might certainly be a memorable anniversary dinner, there was nothing romantic or magical about it.

We thought we’d take a chance on the Roadside B & G, even though they don’t take reservations.

45 – 60 minute wait.  Nope.

We headed south while we racked our brains for plan B.

“What about Mex?,” my daughter offered.  It was five miles straight down the road.  

I was hungry and it was close, so Mex it was going to be.

We hit a traffic jam two miles down. In the distance we saw the flashing lights of multiple emergency vehicles, just in time to bail and take the long way around.

Upon arriving at Mex, I circled around the back of the restaurant looking for a parking space.

My peripheral vision noticed two men talking near the “employee only” back door and assumed they were on a break.

We parked, walked around to the front door and were greeted by a friendly host and hostess.  The hostess picked up two menus, things looked promising.

For a second.

Just as she picked up the menus there was a LARGE, jolting bang.

My first thought was a gunshot.  In this day and age it’s probably everyone’s first thought.

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the spray of shattered glass, a stool tipped and crashed to the floor.  Oh no! Was someone sitting in it?

Looking up from the stool, draped only with a coat, I saw the mangled fender of a car ten feet from where my daughter and I were standing.

A woman came running from the back of the restaurant yelling, “Call an ambulance!,” as she ran out the front door.

She ran back in to make sure everyone inside the restaurant was okay.

No one seemed to be injured, not even the diners whose table was displaced by the car, not the diners at several tables near the window upon whose meals shattered glass rained.

The quick responding woman, perhaps she as the front of the house manager, ran back outside, by then several other employees were out there, too.

“We better leave,” I said to my daughter.

We headed out the chaotic front door just as the woman was yelling for someone to get towels.

We looked to our right.  The driver of the car was sitting against the wall of the restaurant with blood pouring out of both nostrils, agonized look on his face.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen, this wasn’t supposed to happen,” he kept repeating as attenders tried to calm him.

We sat in my car for a minute processing what we just saw.

“The driver was that young man who was arguing with the manager by the back door.”

“What, they were arguing?”

“Yes,” my daughter said, “I was watching them intently and I could see by their body language that they were arguing.  And then the young man walked away looking dissatisfied.”

“We better hurry and go before the emergency vehicles get here and block the driveways.”

As it was I had to wait to pull out of the parking lot while 4 firetrucks and 6 police cars pulled in.

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My daughter snapped a picture as we drove past. You can’t see anything but a couple of police cars, but this story needs a picture or two.

“Now where?,” I asked.

“Just head into Birmingham,” she said.

There are a lot of restaurants in Birmingham, and lots of long waits since B’ham is a popular date night destination. But what the heck.

Foiled again.

The hip restaurant we thought we might try is on Old Woodward, upon which I was going to turn left.  But the road was gone. Completely torn up in both directions.

“This is turning out to be the anniversary dinner from h-e-double-hockey sticks,” I sighed.

A little out of town is an upscale grocery store which has an upstairs bistro.  

“Do you have a reservation?,” the young, pleasant hostess asked.

“Do I need one?,” I asked in return.

“No, but it will be about a 15 minute wait, you can browse in the store and I’ll text you when a table is available.”

As we browsed the bakery section we spotted a wonderful selection of individual trifles.

“Let’s get a couple of those after we eat and take them home for dessert,” I said.

My daughter nodded enthusiastically.

After 30 minutes of browsing and still no text, I had my daughter climb the stairs to check our status.

“We’re next,” she reported back.

It was another 15 minutes before we were seated at a table next to a window with drafty plexiglass seams.  I wrapped my winter coat around my shoulders.

A long and hungry forty-five minutes later we were finally sharing her flatbread and my tacos.

The only truly enjoyable part of the evening was the conversation during our hungry forty-five minute wait.  She told me about her day, careful to guard the privacy of her patients, as she sipped a glass of wine and I sipped a cup of hot tea.

Dissociative identity disorder. Fascinating.

I looked out the window, it was blizzarding.

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“Snow is coming in,” I said.”  My daughter looked at me in disbelief.  “Feel” I said.

She hovered her hand over the seam. Sure enough.

“It’s better than a car coming in,” she quipped, putting my misery in perspective.

“I’m still thinking about that young man,” I said. “He probably didn’t make a lot of money working there, and his car didn’t look that nice, I doubt he can afford to get it fixed.”

“He was wearing street clothes,” she said, a detail I completely missed, “so he probably wasn’t working that day.”

“Maybe he was there to pick up his check,” I guessed, “and got fired…”

My daughter wondered whether he had driven into the restaurant intentionally.

I didn’t think so, since he kept saying, “This wasn’t supposed to happen…”  I thought maybe he was upset and distracted and wasn’t paying attention.  Or perhaps he meant to angrily squeal his tires in front of the restaurant and lost control.  Or perhaps he was looking in the window as he drove past and his steering followed his gaze.

All we knew for sure was that his bad day got really bad.  And we hoped he’s going to be okay.

I asked for the check as soon as our plates were cleared.  We had been there two hours and I was ready to go home.

As we descended the stairs to the store I said, “Let’s go get those trifles before we go…”

There was a large, thick black curtain blocking the entrance to the store.

“Oh shoot, are they closed?”

“It’s 9:10,” my daughter said, “they probably closed at 9.”

Missed our desserts by ten minutes, of course we did.

“It’s just as well, I want to get home” I said, as I pulled onto the main road, “I’ve had to pee since we arrived two hours ago.”

“This really isn’t your night,” my daughter chuckled.

“I hope Maxy* hasn’t pooped on the floor.”

This morning I received a text from the hub:

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Happy Spring!!??!! from Pere Marquette Rod and Gun Club, 12” in spots

Guessing his will be a memorable, but not magical, fishing trip.

*Maxy is our fifteen-year-old, incontinent hound dog

 

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life, Light

My Heart Melts Like Butter

“Nobody’s ideals form them like their loves form them.” – Ann Voskamp

I paused on page 117 of The Broken Way, the morning sun streaming through my bedroom window and across my bed, putting a spotlight on my slumbering, gently snoring beagle.

I thought of an old friend, who turned down open-hearted friendship in favor of fellowship with close-minded ideals.

I felt something stir.

Hope.

Longing.

Love.

Maybe Love would one day draw him.

Maybe, in the end, Love would form.

I read on to a new chapter.  Mean girls and devouring women.

Unexpected tears rolled.

Not sobs, not even a cry, just a few stray tears churned up by a benign sorrow.

p. 189: “I’ve made wide berths around women for years and skirted the communion of community because who knew when smiles could turn into fangs if you turned your back?”

You and me both, Ann.

I closed the book and put in a load of laundry. Socks and underwear.

I love any piece of writing that churns a memory, an emotion, a “me, too.” I love writing that keeps me pondering long after I’ve put it down.

I’ve had far more male friends than female friends in my life.

I thought about my friendships in general, about how I was able to keep my heart wide open, how I was able to turn the other cheek and expect good things as a non-Christian child, yet watched my heart increasingly close as a Christian adult.

We Christians often think that our children’s hearts are in danger of being corrupted, wooed, enticed away from God by the world, but I think it’s much more likely that they will be pushed, shoved away from Him by members of His church.

Waiting for the dryer to dry I jot down that thought.

I love writing that inspires a thought, even a post.

It’s what God called “worthwhile, not worthless words.”

It’s what I hope to someday write.

Good job, Ann.

#churn

 

 

 

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life

The Beauty of Blogging

When I was a kid I read Jelly Side Down by Erma Bombeck every whatever-day-of-the-week her column appeared in the Detroit Free Press.

Somewhere in my subconscious I wanted to write a column, too.

And that, right there, is the beauty of blogging.

You don’t have to wait until you’re invited to write a column. You don’t have to work your way up, or know someone; you don’t have to hope and pray someone will publish your words.

For that matter, flashing back to today’s earlier post*, you don’t have to blow anything or anyone up in order to be heard. We may not have even had a unabomber had blogging been available back then (except that Ted hated technology).

All you have to do is click the Publish button in the upper right hand corner of your post.

So what if you don’t get paid.

So what if only a handful of people read it.

Or is it that you didn’t want to write a column so much as you wanted to be a rich and famous columnist?

“Do what you love and the money will come,” Dr. Morris said.

And I say do what you love even if the money has no intention of coming.

If you’ve always wanted to be a coach, coach little league.

If you’ve always wanted to be a counselor, volunteer – the non-profit will train you.

If you’ve always wanted to be a mom, be a foster mom.

You get my drift.

I’ll never get to be Perry Mason without first going to law school, however, and knowing what I know about how the legal system works, I’ll never get to be Perry Mason even if I do go to law school.

But I got to kind of live out my desire to be Perry Mason and my desire to be a counselor all in one during my juvenile court days as a social worker.

And now I get to kind of be Erma Bombeck, sans her humor and her audience.

What have you always wanted to do that you are kind of doing?

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and I could say, “I used everything you gave me.” – Erma Bombeck (one of my heroes)

*Forgive me for breaking my no-more-than-one-post-per-day rule.

 

 

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life

Bring it on home to me.

When my phone starts playing Bring It On Home, I know the Hub is calling.

It’s such a great marriage-as-it-should-be song.

And it’s great blogging advice.

Sometimes I miss the start of my blog – back when I was completely anonymous. When I could take to my keyboard and type furiously until I got it all off my chest.

Now that I am out of the closet and can no longer say what I really think, I bring it on home to the hub.

Or to my daughter. Except she is conflict averse and gets a stomach ache.

The hub is old enough and wise enough to just listen and say something soothing. Or say nothing at all.

Anyway, today Suzy Speaks posted about self-censoring one’s blog and she made an excellent suggestion.

Something I had never considered.

She wrote, “Remember that you don’t have to publish more personal posts on your own blog – talk to a trusted blog friend about posting on their blog anonymously. You get to write what you want, they get the views. Everybody wins.”

So fellow bloggers (who trust me), if you have something to get off your chest, feel free to bring it on home to me.

 

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life

Goodnight Friend.

My daughter discovered Delilah when she was nine, while visiting her grandparents in Florida.

She fell asleep to her smooth, nurturing, hopeful voice every night until sometime in high school.

At the end of the day, Delilah supplied the perfect song for whatever her callers were living through and all was right with the world.

When I was nine, until sometime in high school, I watched Marcus Welby, M.D. every Tuesday night.  His kind and caring manner, paired with the kindness and caring of his nurse and office manager, Consuelo Lopez, sent me to bed knowing that caring, competent people were out there in the world.

And if the ABC Movie of the Week was a scary one, my sisters and I ALWAYS watched Dr. Welby afterward.

To take our minds off the scary before bed.

It worked most weeks – unless Dr. Welby was the scary.  Unless we went to bed convinced we were afflicted with that episode’s malady.

Why am I telling you this?

Last week WordPress notified me that I have been blogging with them (with anyone) for three years.

And I started thinking why?

What, three years in, is the purpose of my blog?

And then Delilah and Dr. Welby came to mind.

And I think I’d like my blog to sorta’ be that.

At the end of a day – if you are anxious, scared, lonely or just tired – you can read about my ordinary day, my ordinary life and go to sleep to a familiar voice.

 

 

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life

Gardener. Priest. Stranger. Friend.

The hub had a garage sale the other day.

A table full of fishing tackle.

Lots and lots of tackle.

A table of woodworking tools.

From when he had a shop.

Two tables were covered in framed Red Wings posters and photos.

Some of them autographed.

From when they won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

A woman – a stranger – walked up the driveway, breezed right past the garage’s offerings and headed for the arbor that leads to the backyard.

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I intercepted just before she entered.

“I want to see your beautiful flowers,” she said.

“There’s not much to see,” I said, puzzled.

She brushed her hand over a plant in one of my trugs.

“What’s this?”

“Cilantro.”

She took a whiff.

She wanted to see my garden.

“It’s pretty wild this year, I haven’t been out here much.”

I pointed to where the garlic and raspberries grow.

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“See those Lamb’s Ears? I didn’t plant them and yet there they are.  Just appeared out of nowhere a couple of years ago and now they’re spreading everywhere.  This is the first time they’ve flowered.”

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“I’ve got lots of large, overgrowing yellow flowers that my mother gave me,” she said.

She described her house a few streets away – with two big white swans in the front yard.

Invited me to come by and dig some up if I want.

Before she moves.

“I bought a small house with a big patch in the middle of the backyard.  It’s all overgrown – used to be a vegetable garden.  I don’t know what to do with it.”

“Turn it back into a vegetable garden!,” I suggested.

Enthusiastically.

“It’s a lot of work,” she sighed.

“Do you have any brawn?,” I asked.

“Brawn?”

I pointed to my husband. “Yeah, you know, someone who can till the soil for you?”

“No,” she said, “I just divorced a sense of direction.”

There are ant hills in all the cracks in her patio at the new house.  Biting her ankles.  A gardening blog suggested pouring boiling water over them.

So she did.

“This is my confession,” she said.

She looked me in the eye and implored, “I’m giving you my confession.”

I gave absolution.

“Killing them with chemicals probably wouldn’t have been any easier on them.  At least the water isn’t toxic to you.”

“Or my neighbors,” she quickly added.

There it was. Absolution. She had already come up with her own.

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“Is that basil?” – she pointed to two healthy plants in the near trug.

“Yes, we’re having pizza tonight. Margarita pizza.”

“What time should I come over?,” she laughed.

I pointed out my black krim tomatoes.  “They make the best pasta sauce – such a great depth of flavor.”

She admired my trugs some more.

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“My husband built them for me,” I said.

“He builds and you make your own pasta sauce. A match made in heaven,” she chirped.

“Turn that patch back into a vegetable garden,” I insisted.

“It’s a lot of work,” she sighed.

“Make friends with some brawn. Do you cook?”

“Yes,” she looked puzzled.

“Make friends with some brawn – maybe a few – and then make a deal.  They prepare your soil and you cook them great meals from the bounty.”

The sun rose on her face.

She high-fived me.

“I have to go pack.”

She said as she breezed back down my driveway.

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And I felt strangely sad.

 

 

 

 

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