Friday, July 31, 2009

There’s a Longing in My Heart

The pull of the tides. The migration of birds. My pull to be with Rosebud. They’re all on the same par.

Remember the fever of young love that fosters irrational behavior in the effort to spend endless hours together? When you just can’t get enough of that person and others worry that you’re being obsessive?

Those who have preceded me into the grandparent club had told me this would be a marvelous experience. I knew that would be true, but no one mentioned the fever. Who can explain this all-consuming desire to hold this heaven-sent bundle close to my heart and gently rock her as I whisper into her ear of all the wonderful things God has in store for her?

I left there last week and it will only be 2 more weeks until we make the 7 hour drive again and that’s just not working for me. My husband asked, “what do you want to do, move down there?” As a matter of fact I do! My feelings defy reason and logic, but that’s really nothing new.

I’ve wondered if there’s some primitive pull that‘s part of the tradition of verbally transmitting the knowledge of motherhood to the next generation. Mother to daughter, generation after generation. But I have a friend that has sons and I suspect she feels this way too, so that can’t be it.

We’ve hooked up Skype and a webcam on our computers and I do get to see her “live" everyday and talk to her. Uncommon Blonde says I can be a digital Nana when I’m not there and sing her to sleep. That’s cool, but doesn’t allow me to feel her soft baby skin and smell her fresh, sweet scent. Cupcake is still there helping and she’s as smitten as I am. There’s a longing in my heart…

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Squall Line

You haven’t seen the squall line in a long time. Maybe it’s the literal squall we had yesterday afternoon that prompted me to post this. We had almost 5 inches of rain in 5 hours, shingles off the roof and our yard turned into a pond. But water, water everywhere is a good thing. More expected today.

As a result of an interesting phone call yesterday, I‘ve been pondering the value of integrity. I truly feel sorry for those people who don’t get dressed with integrity. They look as foolish as people who go to work half-naked. And smell worse than those who don’t put on deodorant.

I got a letter a few weeks ago from the National Association of Professional Women. It informed me that I had been approved for membership in this association which profiles the country’s most accomplished professional women. Thank you, I’m flattered. It requested that I return the application and I noted the line “there is no fee to be included.”

A woman called yesterday to do a “brief interview and confirm my information.” Long story short, when she finished her scripted spiel, she wanted my credit card number. To charge me no less than $589 for inclusion. Yeah, right. This is such a big honor I’m totally not flattered, but insulted.

Moral of this story: If you have to pay someone to “honor” you, it’s not worth much. I’m richer for the reminder that true leadership is characterized by quality actions and integrity of intent.

On the lighter side, I’m reminded that you shouldn’t try to teach a pig to sing. It will frustrate you and annoy the pig. One well-known retailer says “We don’t train our people to be nice. We hire nice people.” Brilliant!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Finishing Well

Today is my Dad’s birthday. As I reflected on that this morning, I began to think on our last summer together. As he realized he was losing his 5 year battle with cancer, He squeezed every drop of life he could from his remaining days. We had so much fun it makes me grin.

In the summer of 1990, I earned an expense-paid trip to Vienna, Austria as a reward for exceptional sales performance with the company I was with. (I’ve mentioned I love to travel and every time they offered a trip, I made sure to be there.) Dad was a musician of the highest degree; he could play any and every instrument, as he had taught orchestra and band for many years. His two favorite genres were big band and classical. Vienna was his dream trip. Cupcake was just 6 weeks old and Dad was in pain and using a cain, but off we went to Europe. I remember standing in elevators and riding in taxis with the strains of classical music accompanying our adventures. To my delight, without fail he could name composer and movement (Okay, I have to say it since I know you are: "What Was I Wearing?!")

I had so much fun pulling out photos this morning with Dad’s handwritten notes on the back. We danced together at a grand ball at the Hofburg palace. How’s that for finishing well?

Live well, my friend. Make every moment count.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Love you to the Moon and Back Again

I’ve just returned home from helping Uncommon Blonde with newborn Rosebud. Sleep deficiency is an interesting phenomenon… it’s a good reminder for me that all new moms need help. How could I have forgotten that one little 7 pound bundle can keep 3 adults hopping and sleepless?

My grandmother name has been the subject of much discussion over the last few months. I believe it will be Nana, as in rhymes with Sauna. (Not Nana that rhymes with Banana… that name has been claimed.) Of course, she may come up with her very own name but we have to start somewhere. Builderman will be Papa. Nana and Papa love this little girl so much our hearts are overflowing.

We celebrated my Mom’s 80th birthday on Monday with a small dinner party at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. If you’ve never eaten there, it’s a wonderful treat on a special occasion. They serve the best steak I’ve ever had, not to mention the spinach au gratin, sweet potato casserole, chop salad... well, everything they serve is exceptional.

It was a special night with tributes from friends and family that made us laugh and made us cry. (Photos are forthcoming) Some of you might remember we had originally planned a big party. My mother got wind of our plans and firmly cancelled them. She insisted that we’d all be busy with the birth of her first great-grandchild (who was due on the 21st but arrived the 11th) and she didn’t want a birthday party. Mom has a lot of wisdom and my boast is that I’m smart enough to listen to her. It would have been very stressful to be staging a wing-ding of a party in the midst of all that’s involved in caring for a newborn.

I’m looking forward to catching up on everything… including visiting my blog friends.
I have photos of our Rosebud everywhere…

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Where Did you Come From?

Our Rosebud - 5 days old.

The outpouring of love at the annoucement of Rosebud's birth moves me deeply. It's hard to find the words to express how rich the blessing of this little life is, but a poet has done it it for me.
Proceed with caution if you're not in a private place. This poem is likely to cause leaking eyes.

Where Did you Come From?

Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into the here.

Where did you get those eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.

What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.

Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.

What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand strok’d it as I went by.

What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than any one knows.

Whence that three-corner’d smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.

Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.

Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into bonds and bands.

Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherubs’ wings.

How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.

But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here.

- George McDonald

P.S. Uncommon Blonde has been polishing her photography skills in the last year. I'm impressed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Rosebud that Weighs 7 lbs. 8 oz.

Addison Rose, the firstborn of my firstborn is here. She came 10 days early on Sat. July 11 at 7:53 a.m.

Uncommon Blonde called at 2:30 am on Sat. morning to let us know she was in labor and headed to the hospital. It's a 7 hour drive from our house to hers, so my plan was to be packed and hopefully hit the road when I got the call. I wasn't exactly packed. LOL. Addison arrived in less than 5 hours from start to finish. Really fast, especially for a firstborn. Isn't that awesome?! She was just a few hours old when I got here and I have had a grin on my face since this photo was taken on Saturday.

They came home from the hospital yesterday and everyone is doing well, lack of sleep notwithstanding. I'm going to be here for at least 10 days helping in every way I can. I feel like heaven has smiled on us big time. My heart is full.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hospitality in the Rainforest

Today I’m taking you back to the Rainforest in Panama for a day like no other. I left off in my narrative after we had a refreshing break in this swimming pool and hiked back to the canoes. That’s when the rains began. (The average annual rainfall is 100 inches). That’s our Emberan Indian guides in the waterfall. We were taken to their village for lunch. We climbed a ladder to enter their gathering hut which was built entirely from a palm tree. The floor was very springy and looked as if it wouldn’t hold all of us. Thankfully it did. They build up off the ground for three main reasons: snakes, insects and rain. Our first course for lunch was large platters of watermelon, pineapple and papaya.

The main course was fried plantains and fish (Talapia fresh from the Chagres river)Served in beautiful disposable leaves. : )
After lunch, we went to a covered hut with a dirt floor for the dancing.
We all got in the act before it was said and done. For your information, the women now wear tops, but it has not always been so. A few older women were a la natural. The men have always worn one long loin cloth. As a concession to visitors, they now wear a beaded, decorative piece that covers their buns.
I was cold at this point because I was wet and the wind was blowing hard. So I asked through our interpreter what they do when they get cold. They have a blanket made of plant fiber for night time. They showed it to me and it was nothing like what I'd call a blanket.
I was ready for a hammock by this time too.
What a memorable day! Have I mentioned I love adventure?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Night of Terror

I don’t want to mislead you into thinking I was terrorized on Friday night. No, it wasn’t me. It was the peeps.

I woke up in the dead of night, as is my custom, prepared to lay there in the dark until sleep claimed me again. But I kept thinking I heard cheeping noises. I'm familiar with the normal night sounds of crickets and frogs, but as I strained my ears I felt pretty certain this was cheeps. I got out of bed and opened the back porch door to listen and then I was sure it was the peeps. So I shook Builderman awake and said, “Your peeps are cheeping when their supposed to be sleeping. You’d better check on them.”

I won’t give you the blow by blow details since I didn’t even want to know. But when Builderman came back in more than an hour later, the report was of massive casualties. Something had torn through the chicken wire and 12 of 15 chicks were dead or missing. Our first thought was that it was the coyotes that have been really close to the house recently. Here is the line-up of three perps. Which do you think is guilty of this crime?

A. Annie the Lab

B. Rocky Racoon

C. Wiley Coyote

We finally got back to bed and had almost drifted back to sleep when there was a clatter. Builderman jumped to his feet and grabbed the flashlight and ran outside to see red eyes glinting back at him from within the pen. He had placed boards over the torn chicken wire for a temporary repair at 2:30 in the morning and that sweet black lab pictured was busted… she was IN the coop. AGAIN. Our own dogs are guilty, guilty, guilty and have been in the dog house for days. Granted, they have a proclivity to hunt birds. Our expectations for their obedience exceeded the temptation that was before them. Hmmm. Sound oddly familiar?

All of this predatory activity around here really had me thinking, “what am I supposed to learn from this?”

preda•tory (pred′ə tôr′ē) adjective
1. of, living by, or characterized by plundering, robbing, or exploiting others

Does that definition bring to mind a scripture? Maybe John 10:10, which are some of those words in red letters?

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”

I’ve seriously pondered this whole thing for a few days and what I’ve learned is that we must be alert and vigilant. We have been given authority over the enemy but we have to speak it and enforce it. We will be safe as long as we don’t cower in fear, but we musn’t ignore the danger either.

The good news is the second part of the verse above! The warning is followed by encouragement,
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

So there you have it. Our 3 remaining chickens are blissfully carrying on. They’ll have company soon as Builderman is not easily deterred. And we've embraced the spiritual lesson and are armed and vigilant.

So forget the terror. We're not chickens.
May you prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

I interrupt the regularly scheduled account of my trip to Central America to update you on some events at home.

First, the good news. Lou-Lou had surgery on her broken hip 10 days ago and is bouncing back. We’re astounded. When the doctors ordered tests to be sure that her 102 year old heart could withstand surgery, they declared with astonishment that it was strong and healthy. I understand she’s in a wheelchair and going to the dining room for meals. I’ll be going to see for myself this week. Amazing.

My other news pertains to predators. We seem to have them around our property right now.

When I returned from my trip, Builderman informed me that our cat is gone. Seems a coyote took him out. Tigger was born in June 1999 to unknown parentage. Died June 2009. He was adopted from the animal shelter in fulfillment of a long-held dream of Cupcake's when we moved to a new area. Her dad was vehement about never owning a cat. She prayed. He let her get a cat. Tigger considered himself to be a cat-dog since he had lived outside since being banned from the house years ago. Among other misdeeds, he shredded a large portion of carpet when he was accidentally shut in a bedroom. I am happy now for all the cold mornings last winter when I would go out with towels from the dryer and create him a nest of warmth. He will be missed and is mourned most of all by Cupcake. (Excuse the photo- the dogs love centerstage & Tigger was content with backstage.)

That’s not all though. The lastest news on the chickens is not so good. First, an update on their living quarters. Builderman has constructed a movable chicken coop (called a tractor) that the peeps moved to. Here's what it looks like. This will be their vacation home for them to take turns using after the Cackle House is complete. When Builderman undertakes a project, he does it right. : )
Friday night we didn't get much sleep because of these little rascals. But since I try not to do long posts and my friend ADHD Me has put cliff-hangers into my mind today, you’ll have to come back tomorrow to read the rest of the story... titled "Night of Terror".

Hasta mañana.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Survivor- Rainforest Style

There’s nothing like being seen at your worst with a group of business compadres to cement friendships. I’m not referring to a display of unbecoming behavior. I’m talking about being physically challenged to the point where you look like you’ve been used up, run over and then drowned. An unforgettable experience that I eagerly signed up for and would do so again in a heartbeat.

The most amazing day of my trip to Panama began early in the morning with a hike into the Rainforest. I was spellbound by the vivid lessons on parasites, pathogens, the life cycle, fungigation, competition and principles that are clearly applied to business and life. Prolific author, Michael Pink, shared awesome revelations that he continues to see and write about. (Click Here for a free copy of The Rainforest Strategy.) You'll be hearing more about this as I have affiliated with the Rainforest Business Institute as a success coach.

Being a Floridian, I was acclimated to the heat and humidity but still drank several bottles of water during the excursion. We’d been advised to wear clothes that dry quickly and I had erroneously assumed that was because of expected rain. I was soaked long before the downpour. All the same, it was an exhilarating adventure.

Next, we piled into a van to venture to another rainforest in the country’s interior (Panama is about the size of S. Carolina but is only 115 miles across at its widest point.) We were met by a small group of indigenous Embera Indians and slid down the bank clambered into their dugout canoes for a trip up the Chagres river.

We hiked along a creek bed, sometimes needing to be in the creek itself, because the rainforest itself is literally an impenetrable barrier right down to the rivers and creeks. You’d have to have a machete to venture even 3 feet into the bush and that is prohibited since the Rainforests are now protected in Panama.I didn’t see much more than my feet and the river rocks during that hike since it took all of my concentration to stay ON my feet. It was slippery and uneven all the way back to a beautiful cold pool with a waterfall. I didn’t have to think twice about jumping right in. We all acted like a bunch of children in that beautiful spot. Talk about the break that refreshes!As we headed back, the rains began. Sheets of rain. I’m talking a torrential downpour that lasted for hours. I found out why they’d recommended a hat as we made our way along in the boat. I used my cap to keep the water out of my eyes so I could see the sharp lightning popping in the sky. The Indian guides seemed unconcerned and I determined that since I’d lived through many similar events on the Econfina Creek at home (in an aluminum canoe at that) that I’d be fine.

Next installment is lunch at the Embera village…
P.S. I'm staying close to home for the 4th as my quota for adventure has been met this week. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ola, Amigas!

A mind that has been stretched by a new idea (experience) will never return to the same shape again. That fact is one of the main reasons I love to travel.

Freshly returned from a rich adventure in the Republic of Panama, I am brimming with impressions and aware that I could write a book about what I learned. Since you will be getting chapter installments once I have time to write them, I’ll simply start today with some sensory impressions; samples of some of the flavors of the trip.

Awakening before dawn and climbing into the hammock on my balcony to listen to the rainforest come alive. (I took this photo from my balcony my first morning there)
The sharp, rich taste of fresh Columbian coffee awakening the taste buds.

The sound of many languages; primarily Spanish but Portuguese, French, the dialect of the Amberan Indian and many which were unidentifiable to me.

The suffocating humidity that turned to steam in the afternoons when the torrents of rain fell in sheets from the low-hanging clouds.

The smell of decaying organic matter in the rainforest; not an unpleasant smell but the fragrance of accelerated cycles of life.

The holy hush of the deep forest that imparted the sense of being in a magnificent cathedral.

New friends, overflowing with the character of God and walking in grace and integrity. Not an ordinary person among them.

There’s another great thing about traveling; coming home! Life is good.