Muscles get weaker and weaker until they give out when they are not used often enough. I have a few muscles, real and metaphorical, that are ready to give up on me.

I sometimes love without being loving. I forgive without being forgiving. I almost get there, or should I say I do get there, in my mind. However; when these muscles are called upon by a person close to me I suddenly feel bad because I have been caught unawares. I am not prepared to flex and extend and feel the burn of the lactic acid that comes from hard exercise. That good kind of hurt that happens when the tightness is coerced into loosening up, and the snapping and breaking down of cells makes us sore as we are reminded that there really is more to life than sitting and saving ourselves. What am I saving myself for? Or from?

Soft-hearted. Tender. Both words that fit this muscular, chemical metaphor. I live with this tenderness. My men here.

And I want a subtle mallet to tenderize me and my beating heart. Flexibility. Love. Forgiveness. I pray. I pray.

*Musical Monday is starting again next week, so I have included links to some past faves, as a refresher.

The Water Is Wide

she made me do it

Seven things about me:

one) I can crack and eat crab legs at the speed of light.

two) I am a March Madness junkie.

three) I can juggle.

four) I get wanderlust regularly and physically crave going somewhere.

five) I love doing algebra.

six) I am great at pulling splinters out of little boys' feet.

seven) I am a fiercely loyal friend.

Thanks to April for the tag. I would love to know stuff about:

and Margy

in full sun

I am not a gardener. If I can get one of my sons to mow the lawn, and if I remember to get the sprinklers turned on (yes, there is a timer, but that would be way too easy) then I consider it a success. However, in the past three days I have done more gardening than in the past three years.

On Monday night for our family time I led the troops as we planted a couple dozen flowers that a friend gave us in the front flower beds. Tuesday I went to this same friend's house where we rototilled the hard ground, threw in some peat moss and then planted twenty or so vegetables.

Hot sun.

Brown arms.

Tonight I got smarter and waited until the cool evening to go out and plant the cucumber, pepper, tomato, pumpkin, and watermelon plants that this same friend gave me as a thank you for my help.

I am grateful. I am grateful for the chance to put something in the dirt and pray that it grows. I am grateful to have a shot at the nurturing thing. I do okay with people, but plants are much harder for me. Weird, huh?

Faith. Hope that all of my best efforts will somehow pay me back. My new job in the Fall. Going back to school. My growing children, two of whom are adults. My attempts at buoying up my husband when his hands hang down with exhaustion. My little cub scouts.

It is all planting and crossing our spiritual fingers that things work. The worry and wondering are mud. The doubt, weeds. But I don't want to wear those frilly gloves that don't let me feel the soil. I want to dig deep and get messy. I want to harvest.

twisted up

Left foot on blue.
Right hand yellow.

A warm sunny day brings the neighborhood kids out like worms in a rainstorm. Spread out the plastic blanket with the dots. S t r e t c h. Put a little blond boy up in the locust tree to spin the dial and call out moves and then bend and laugh and call Mom to come and take pictures and laugh some more.

It is what we live for as mothers. The Huck Finn-life of walking along the creek and climbing trees. Today this mom is filled up to the brim.

musings from my dresser drawer

I was cleaning recently in my dressing room, and thought I would share some of the important things in the bottom drawer of my dresser.

On the left you will see a stack of old journals that I started writing in about 25 years ago. Also, there are a few wallets I change out here and there, including some cute beaded coin purses I got in London. I believe I have mentioned that I like sparkly things.

In the middle of the drawer is a stack of notes from my Geo. I know I have even more floating around here somewhere. I hope they haven't fallen into the wrong hands. Pretty heart-pumping love kinds of stuff.

On the right I have a few baubles, but most importantly I have an old Skipper doll given to me by my Vo (read about her here). It was my first Barbie-style doll, and she has laid naked amongst my things for years as I moved away to college, got married, moved again, etc. She is a plastic, strange symbol for me.

Sometimes things matter, but in an ironically intangible way. Reminders of places and people and everything else.

my tech love

The conversation went something like this:

me: so, the new iphone comes out early tomorrow morning.

him: (sigh) i know.

me: you should have one.

him: too hard to justify when we are getting ready to pay college expenses, etc.

me: let's camp out on the sidewalk and everything! like a young person would do!

him: ok :)

A little gadget therapy can go a very long way.

school of love

This post is not, in any way, meant to be full of bragging or boasting, but I am one of the lucky few who has a husband that adores me. I can admit it with my head held high, not in pride, but in security. And although I have a stack of love letters (sorry, but it's true) to prove it, the real proof has come nice and spread out over 22 years of feeling cherished and respected.

I wanted to post this today because I talked to a close friend this afternoon who was recently informed by her husband that things are at a dead end for him, as far as his interest in their marriage. This friend of mine, who is loving and kind and deserves gobs of affection, is going to have to rethink her future from today on out. New eyes. New expectations (which is sometimes a good thing).

I have had marriage on the brain during this past week as I was reunited with my husband after being gone for eleven days on a girls-only road trip. Also, there was a little marrieds' seminar held in our congregation concerning intimacy in marriage this past Sunday. Mostly young couples attended, but because Geo is the bishop we also attended as a kind of "we're a lot older than you so we may have some insight" kind of couple. We sat in the back and giggled a bit, almost like the back-row type, as we heard some of the complaints from these younger couples. We weren't the only ones laughing, by the way. It was a, well, intimate discussion full of some innocent questions and advice being flung around like rice at a wedding. And when we left that night I ended up realizing how much I value my spouse. We have our little roadblocks here and there, but the fundamental things are in place.

And to my friend I say, "Hold your head up high. You are worthy of being loved and cherished." Relationships might end, but the other person only takes away the parts of you that you allow him/her to take.

doan be cuh-razy

What does it mean to be crazy? We use that word in so many positive different circumstances, like crazy about someone, crazy in love. But then we can feel crazy when something takes over our emotions to the point where we feel a loss of control, in a negative way.

I get crazy with anxiety over some stuff, like money, or my kids' self-esteem, or what to wear each morning (seriously).

But what do we do when someone we are crazy about feels crazy, even for a short period of time? How do we uncrazy someone?

road trip day 11

We got up and ate and left the hotel. We drove. That is all.
I love those ladies!

road trip day 10

We woke up yesterday and headed right out to the Carthage Jail in IL. We joined others in the jail as we heard about the Prophet Joseph's last few hours in that reverent place. Bullet holes in the door. Bars. Wavy glass. Sacrifice. Very tangible.

Some wandering through country roads in Winterset, Iowa so we could get some dusky shots of the Roseman Covered Bridge. Very quiet and rural. It was the perfect meditation spot before the huge drive still ahead of us to North Platte, NE.

road trip day 9

Today may have ended with 12 hours of driving from Kirtland, Ohio to Keokuk, IA, but it began with a spirit-filled tour of the John Johnson farm in Hiram, Ohio. I felt close to Joseph as I walked through the house where he once lived and where important things were revealed. And when we stood on the front porch where preaching happened I could imagine him there talking to the people, including men that probably were involved in tarring and feathering him. It was a great way to start the day.

road trip day 8

rushing water then rushing feelings

niagara falls to kirtland, ohio

road trip day 7

Beautiful, thick spirit in Palmyra, NY as we walked where Joseph had walked. We attended church at 9 and then put on some comfortable shoes before heading out to the sites. The Grandin Press, where the first Book of Mormon was published

Next we went to the log and frame home and learned about the sacred experiences of the Smith family. The Sacred Grove was as incredible as I remembered and as amazing as you might imagine. Silent, with only the sound of little critters running around under all of the ground cover. Understated and beautiful. Last we went to the Hill Cumorah and felt the spirit again as we prepared to head out to Niagara Falls and then Kirtland, OH.

road trip day 6

Today we drove the garden-of-eden route from Northern Virginia to Upstate New York. Green, rolling hills and beautiful bridges over the Susquehana River. We are now in the outskirts of Palmyra, NY which is, for us as Mormons, a place of pilgrimage and peace.
Tomorrow we will go to the historical sites after we attend church at the local stake center. I look forward to a quiet reflecting time in the grove of trees where a miracle occurred, and to a printing business where a book that has changed my life was published.

road trip day 5

Rainy and gray and still fun. We drove into Washington DC for the day, stopping first at the Arlington Cemetery where we visited JFK and Jackie O's (who is referred to as a Kennedy on her tombstone) memorial, where you can see the eternal flame. My friend, Cherranne, asked permission and then put flowers on each stone. It was very sweet, since she is such a big fan.

After that, we meandered around the beautiful and extremely reverent grounds until we got to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We arrived just in time and were able to see the changing of the guard and the placement of the wreath, which is a daily occurrence. It was a spiritual kind of experience to see the exactness with which these men performed their duties. I was moved.

The rest of the day was spent walking around the monuments and Smithsonian, and seeing the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Accidental flashes went off on cameras and a menacing guard had to give a warning to one of my traveling companions (no names will be revealed), but no real damage done, so we celebrated with dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was yummy and loud and rock-and-rolly. Very very fun.

Tomorrow we are off to Palmyra, NY.

road trip day 4

A wet (yeah, you guessed it), but unbelievably gorgioso drive from Columbus, Ohio to Warrenton, Virginia today. I sometimes come back to my heartland having forgotten how beautiful and lush it is here. We stopped for an hour with my equally beautiful sister and her children before heading to my mom and dad's house for a 36-hour layover. The folks were heading out of town for a cousin's wedding but we did manage to get a nice visit with them first. They are cream-of-the-crop kinds of people and I am nuts for them.

road trip day 3

We left the hotel later than planned and then had to wind around foreverland to find a gas station in the outskirts of St. Louis. Then off to the temple grounds for some rainy photos (yup more rain) before going downtown to hang out at the arch. 630' of metallic, shiney, archiness which my traveling companions chose to go up into while I dutifully stayed on the wet green grass and held the bags from the gift shopping they had done.

Then, at about midnight we pulled up to a waffle house where we laughed our heads off from sleep deprivation. Charles the waffle master, and Rita the fab waitress were kind and midwestern as they served us. Yummy food and then off to the hotel another 30 miles away. A guard walking the premises and beer-bellied guests hanging out near their cars around the bend made us even more giddy as we checked in and laughed until we passed out around 2 am.

road trip day 2

As we passed through Kansas City today, heading east, we decided to go to Independence and Liberty, MO to see church history sites.

Liberty Jail was thick with the spirit, with stone walls, kind missionaries. Questions answered, hymns sung.

Good day. More tomorrow. Need to take a hot shower and get some Missouri sleep. Off to St. Louis tomorrow for a stop on our way to Columbus, Ohio for the night. Go Buckeyes.

road trip day 1

Sitting in North Platte, Nebraska at a taco shop so I can use the wifi. Great day today, made good time, and laughed a lot. Pounding, bruising rain once we hit Nebraska, but we were all surprised at how green Wyoming was.
The Motel 6 leaves a bit to be desired, but all is well. On the road again in the morning as we head to Missouri.
Great ladies.