Monday, October 29, 2007

The Wind Is Passing By

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I love the sky. As we were headed for school one morning, we saw these interesting clouds to our northwest, filled with wind and looking like wispy white cyclones against the October-blue sky. I would've loved to pull over and get a better shot of them, but as we were running late I handed the camera to my son who shot these out the car window.

Now I'm wishing we would've stopped. Sometimes it's worth it to be a bit late...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Festival Time

This has been an especially busy October with the arrival of my baby niece, Berklee, and many obligations at school, due to being a senior parent. With our football team on the cusp of becoming top in their class and preparations for the school play, there's been precious little time to devote to writing.

One of the highlights of our community during this time has also been a large fall festival. The entire county, as well as alumni from far away, gather to celebrate the open doors of Autumn. This photograph was taken early in the day, when chairs are set up hours before the parade starts to ensure the best seat in town. Once it begins, people sit or stand five deep for a two-mile stretch along the sidewalks as colorful floats, flashy bands and pretty girls make their way down the street.

Five girls from the community college vie for Queen of the festival, where one is crowned at a coronation, and girls from the surrounding communities are chosen to represent their towns during the entire celebration. It is a time for laughter and long hours, banquets and dances, and lots of smiling and waving!
I could've chosen a demure photograph where the girls are in their sparkling gowns and posed smiles, but to me this captures the essence of
fun at the festival: foamy hot chocolate on noses on a crisp fall morning before the parade begins. I love that my daughter doesn't take herself too seriously, and though she knows when it's 'proper to be proper', she also recognizes when it's OK to wrap herself in laughter and embrace all those around her.

So here's to queens and tiaras...and feeling comfortable in an evening gown, but being at home in a sweatshirt...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Theatre Crazy

Last night some of the members from our play cast boarded a mini-bus, along with their director, her husband and myself. We traveled to a nearby college that was presenting a colorful play filled with wonderful costumes, sets and music. Being from a tiny, rural community, this was the first of this type of art form for some of them. They were thrilled, to say the least and it was such a joy to watch their eyes light up as the curtain rose on the stage.

Though sometimes dealing with a handful of teenagers can be a bit much, they were wonderful. Not a sound was made during the production as they watched the characters dance to the wonderful music of Gershwin, and an energy filled them as they took home memories of tap shoes on wood, charming young men and pretty girls.

My friend, Shelly drove the bus and as we both are big fans of musicals and the theatre, we were excited to have a night to revel in an all-too-rare moment of magic.

Here's to friends, music and laughter...and to our own debut in the weeks ahead.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Birthday Memory

In October of 1982 during a break in my college schedule, my family and I traveled to Missouri and Arkansas for a short vacation. I spent my birthday in the car on our way back home; not the best way to celebrate, especially when I was prone to car sickness!

On a lonesome highway, out in the middle of nowhere, we noticed a sign at the top of an old abandoned shed. As we got closer, much to our surprise, we saw that the sign bore my name: Lori Lynn. We promptly pulled over and my sister shot this photograph on an overcast October 17th - my 21st birthday.

We're always told to watch for signs in life. I just never realized they could be so obvious!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bringing up Baby

In 1981 when I was a sophomore in college, my first niece was born. In the days before email and digital cameras, I first saw her in a blurry Polaroid snapshot sent to me from the mountains of Colorado. And it was love at first sight.

When she was still a baby her parents divorced and my sister brought her back to Kansas. Though sad about the situation, I was thrilled to have this darling brown-eyed baby close by. And thus began our journey.

She was a tiny little girl, petite and seemingly fragile. But she had a large spirit, a sparkling laugh and filled a nurturing part of my heart. For awhile she was the only niece, the only grandchild and she bathed in the "first" glow with our attention and love. She was like my own in ways as we flew kites, went trick-or-treating and spent time together. I was her "Ya-Ya"; the only one she'd let comb her hair, the quiet aunt who held her close and brought her comfort.

And time moved on. I got married and started a family, and though my focus shifted to my own little girl and boy, there was always a soft spot in my heart for my Lyndsee.

Last October she was married on a beautiful Autumn day. It was one of the loveliest days I've had in awhile as our family came together to celebrate with her. Though many weddings are harried and stressful, this was a day of great joy where we were able to spend a lot of time with one another, relishing our close ties of being in a large family and having enough love to go around.

Early last spring she and her husband announced that they would be new parents just before their first wedding anniversary. We learned early on that it would be a girl and my mind flashed back to those twenty-five years ago when another little girl was born. The time has moved so quickly and it hardly seemed possible that she would be a mother herself.

Yesterday my sister called with the news: Berklee Kathleen came into this world at 10:09 a.m. At 6 lbs 1 oz. she will also be a tiny girl....and I'm anxious to see those familiar brown eyes when I hold her for the first time tomorrow. And so it begins again. A new cycle of life, a wonderful beginning.

Welcome to the world, Berklee. What love awaits you!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


One morning last week I awoke with a terrible headache. I'd already fought a rare migraine a few days before and not wanting to do battle again, opted to stay in bed awhile before going to work later that morning.

I didn't feel like going at all. Though I always consider myself blessed with wonderful gifts in this life, sometimes the inevitable trials gather like dark clouds on the horizon, threatening to shroud my sunny days in gray.

I headed out the driveway, my mind wrapped around all the things that have been causing stress, and though the day was lovely....I barely noticed. As I pulled up to the stop sign at the end of our gravel road, I saw a bright butterfly dancing merrily alongside of me. It swooped and flitted in and out and turned west with me as I pulled out onto the highway. And then I began to see them everywhere; dancing in the blue October sky like a winged ballet.

All the way to town I saw them and each turn brought one or two new butterflies, flying beside me, leading me, carrying me towards my destination. Once there, I walked towards the school accompanied again by a fluttering wisp of yellow.

As I entered the building they disappeared like a favorite dream, lost in the arrival of day. But their moments of merriment as they escorted me that morning stayed with me and set the tone for the rest of my day. And when I walked into the classroom I realized with delight that my headache was gone, and in its place the memory of a dalliance with the butterflies....

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Without A Home

I can't get him off my mind...

I felt his presence before I saw him, sitting behind us in the last pew at church this morning. I didn't hear as he silently slipped in, yet I knew he was there.

He was the epitome of a homeless man; disheveled hair and his beard, long..gray..matted. He wore a dirty coat, unnecessary in the lingering Kansas heat and he was bent as if he hadn't the strength or hope to hold him up. I turned slightly and met his eyes. They were tired, lifeless, distant...and he seemed lost in a way that no human should ever be lost. I smiled, mouthing the word, "Welcome" and in return saw the corners of his own raise, his eyes softening. And though the service continued, I could concentrate on little else.

I felt him bow his head in prayer and noticed he sat quietly during the reading of the scripture. He listened as the pianist played during the sharing of special music and at one point, he made his way to the set of pews past the back aisle of the church.

We had to leave before the service was over, due to an engagement in another town. The sermon over, I signaled to the children and we quietly slipped from the pew and out of the sanctuary. I stopped briefly in front of this man and whispered a few words. He partially rose, paying respect to a lady; a gesture he must have learned from someone at some time.

As we left the church my son asked, "Do you know that man, Mom?"
"No, I don't," I told him. In a small community one knows everyone, and homeless people are nonexistent in our safe little world.

We proceeded to the school to pick up some things, then to the gas station up on the highway before making a quick trip home before we had to leave. And all the time I thought of him. My daughter must have been thinking also because on the way home she asked, "What did you say to that man, Mom?"
"I told him that it was nice to have him at church, and thanked him for coming."

It was....and I meant it.

The past few days I have been feeling low because of an opportunity I cannot take. I've been feeling cheated, sullen and on the verge of tears because of things I have to do and things I am unable to do.

Then there was this man...

I was lying in bed tonight, writing letters when my son came in to kiss me good-night. My husband took him back into town this evening for an open gym.
"You know that man from church? Well, we saw him tonight on our way into practice. He was walking south, out of town."

Where did he spend the day? Did someone take him home and feed him dinner, or did he continue to wander aimlessly, searching? And now all I can do is think of him, walking down that highway at night where semi-trucks rush dangerously between the white lines and there are no lights to lead the way.

I pray that he is safe and that somehow, someway his brief stay in a small Methodist church showed him that wherever he is, and wherever he is going, Someone does walk beside him. May he see that light and follow it to higher ground because no one, no where deserves to be without a home.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Valued Friendship

How quickly fly the days...

Back in 1995 my son was enchanted with this little girl. She was the same age as my daughter and came home from kindergarten with us each day to a world of stuffed animals, art and Barbies. She was like our own; another child to fill our home with laughter and our hearts with love. A friendship developed instantly, not just between the girls but with this little boy and his second 'sister'. Having no brothers of her own, she adopted him without question and so began a journey through the years.

Twelve years later they are different.....they are the same, with a bond that has endured despite a separation of miles. Where once they shared each day, now months slip by without a meeting. Still, there is connection. Though apart, they've continued to grow together in mind and spirit as they share such a similarity in intelligence and sense of humor.

How rich they are today. Not only do they have a history of childhood days filled with sweetness and laughter, but they've spun golden threads to create a friendship that has lasted - and will last - throughout the years.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Many days after the final school bell rings at 3:20, I change my shoes, pull on a T-shirt and clock-in for cleaning duty. Though it isn't my favorite way to pass those after school hours, it helps to bring in some much needed extra money.

Since we only have one family vehicle, we have to be creative and juggle our schedules so that everyone is where they need to be at any given time. Sometimes when I have to stay late, the kids take the car home so they can catch up on homework and do some chores. When I finish at the school, they either return to pick me up or I wait for my husband to come by on his way home from work.

Yesterday my daughter stayed after school for play practice and my son opted to drive home. I told him I would call the house after thirty minutes or so to make sure he had arrived safely. As is usual for most moms, I got busy with the routine.....and forgot to make the call. An hour later, I remembered and made my way down to the classroom for my cell phone. Noticing there was a voice mail from home, I listened to this message:

"Hey Mom... this is Dylan and I was just calling because you said you were going to call... and I guess you forgot or something...But I made it home all right and I was just letting you know. Bye."

He is 15 and still on a driver's permit so I do worry as his driving experience is limited and he has to go home to an empty house in the country. He knows this about me and was checking in to give his old Mom reassurance that everything was OK.

Consideration is an important thing and it takes just a moment to reassure someone you love - and who loves you - that all is well. Though I let the ball slip on my end this time, I'm glad that my son was caring enough to pick up the slack. Chances are I won't be the only woman in his life and he is well on his way to making sure that any heart close to him will always be safe in the harbor of his love.

Monday, October 01, 2007


October is my favorite month of the year. Perhaps it's because my birthday falls in the middle of the month and I equate this time with cherished celebrations. But there are so many reasons to love October.

It's a time for pumpkins and leaves, crisp weather and blue skies. It's scarecrows and corn stalks, haybales and milo fields. It's football games and hot chocolate, sweaters and brilliant sunsets. And it's memories of rosy-cheeked days, hooded jackets and warm little hands in mine.

This photo from 13 Octobers ago lives in my heart as laughter echoes from a wooden eagle's nest and soars through golden leaves. How fleeting were those childhood days and how very precious. Yet in my mind's eye they are still 5 and 2 with nary a care, a backyard of fun and a day filled with Octobering.