Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My Summer Home

I frequented there often.  My visits would begin in the spring, not long after the temperatures started to rise ever so slightly.  The trees began to bud - leaves sprouting from long limbs that had slept all winter long.  They had had plenty of rest and were ready for action - so was I. 

It wasn't a large home, only one room but it was secluded and absolutely all mine - or so it seemed.  Plain, simple decor but that didn't matter. It's simplicity added to its charm. I'm not sure how long my summer home had been around before my visits began. Maybe 20-30 years.  I never bothered to ask - it didn't matter.  What did matter was that my summer home was a place where I spent hours playing, hidden away from the world - a place to pretend, dream, imagine.  All things that children do because they have absolutely not a care in the world - as it should be.  I miss it.

I especially miss it this time of year because when I look out my bedroom window and into my backyard, I'm reminded - reminded of my sweet summer home.  Reminded, but not saddened.  It brings a smile to my face and happy memories that warm my heart.  Memories of my summer home and special memories of the man the "built" it - James Clebborn or as all knew him, JC.

I'm not sure when he planted the weeping cherry tree, my summer home, that gave me hours of joy as a special hiding place to play.  He often worked in the yard and I can just imagine him standing there determining the exact perfect spot to plant the small tree.  I'm sure he evaluated all options carefully - I'm mean after all, this man got the string and stakes out when plotting a garden.  Those rows had to be straight.  I smile again.

He spent hours in his roses as well - trimming, pruning, powdering.  Too many times to count did we drive up to his house and I'd see him in the side yard where they were planted.  Garden tools and gloves on hand. I smile again.

I knew JC as my paternal grandfather, my papaw as we say in the South; however, he wore many hats.  Gardener, framer, furniture refinisher, father of three boys, insurance salesman who never met a stranger.  

This time of year when I look out my bedroom window and into my backyard at my own little weeping cherry trees, those pink buds remind me of him.  
They remind me of -

my summer home,
his rose garden,
the owl that hung in his garage to mark just the right spot for parking,
the $5 he would slip me and my cousin when she came to visit,
the tools I would play with as I watched him work in his shop,
his insatiable sweet tooth that I have inherited,
trips to the movie theater only to look over a see him snoozing,
his snores in the recliner with an old western playing on the TV,
trips to the mall and having him disappear while we all shop but spotting him later at the ice cream shop,
Louis L'Amour books,
traveling on summer trips and sitting in the front seat between him and my daddy,
the sticky mess he would later find in his pants pocket because he had stuffed jelly packets in there after our breakfast stop on those trips,
cardigan sweaters,
the long rock wall that lined his driveway that served as a balance beam at times - built by his own hands,
the matching fireplace in the backyard,
a family man,
I smile again, and again, and again...

Not more than probably 7 feet tall, my summer home was the perfect height for my vertically challenged stature. As I entered the one and only room, its long draping and skinny brown limbs and dark slender leaves became my walls that hid me away and left me to my imagination. It's funny, I don't really even remember the blooms - the very thing that now takes me back to those carefree days, but I'm sure they were there.  The blooms that remind me of him.

Happy memories that warm my heart. I'm reminded, but not saddened. He was a wonderful part of my carefree world - I miss him.  I smile, still.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Driving in the car a week or so ago, my eldest one-of-three says, "I just don't understand what it is with all English teachers and hyperbole!"  (Her pronunciation was hyper - bowl!)  The former English teacher in me took offense to this mispronunciation and said, "For the 10 millionth time, it's hi-per-bu-lee!"

Hyperbole, simile, metaphor, irony, pun, personification, and don't forget oxymoron! These all too familiar terms of an English teacher's vocabulary don't really excite others.  But to us word junkies...

Oxymoron - a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. 

This winter has to be the worst for winter weather that I can remember since leaving my Tennessee mountain home in 1992.  Just this week we were slammed, yet again, with another arctic blast that caused incredible destruction.  Power outages, entire trees toppled, large limbs from trees scattered.  

I left early Friday morning in the hail-like sleet to head for a conference about an hour east of my house. Thinking slick roads were my biggest concern showed that I clearly misunderstood the dangers of this winter weather. Upon returning home mid-afternoon, I was absolutely stunned by the sights during my drive. Stunned of course at the too-many-to-count trees that hadn't been able to bear the weight of the ice. But also, stunned at the terrible beauty of absolutely everything covered in ice. Oxymoron.  How could something so beautiful be so destructive?

I came home to no power, but everyone was safe in our comfortable misery.  So out came the camera.  I mean what's a photographer to do when faced with no power in an ice storm?  Take photos, charge her laptop with the AC converter in the car so she can edit, and post pics online using her phone hotspot if necessary! 

We spent an evening of melancholy merriment playing charades by candle and firelight.  Kiddo's laughed, logs popped, blankets were stacked high in our conspicuous absence of heat.   We slept in the deafening silence - no power, no white noise!  But we had a roof over our heads, no trees on our roof, and all were safe and healthy.  And that - that was awfully good! Oxymoron. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I wish that we had duck feet...

It's a carefree shopping day, maybe with a friend, maybe by myself.  I'm, of course, stopping by the shoe department because what shopping day would be complete without trying on a pair of shoes.  I can't resist - even though I already have two of the same color in my closet.  They are a great buy so I add them to my collection.  I arrive home, anxious to see how this newest pair will look with just the right outfit.  As I walk into the house and before I can put down my bags, I trip over a giant size 10 1/2 pair of Vans that belong to my 13 year old - my middle-one-of three.  I look down at my bags, I'm not carrying shoes at all! I'm carrying 15 grocery bags on each arm.  I was dreaming - dreaming of a shopping experience BK - before kids.

Now don't get the hangman's noose out yet.  I'm not at all saying that I would trade for one single solitary second my life with my three crazy kiddos for anything in the world, but I did have a ridiculous thought yesterday that completely took me by surprise. My thought - I wish we all had duck feet!

Seriously, I was standing with broom in hand thinking to myself that I wish no one in my house ever had to wear shoes!  The one fashion item that I really had always loved shopping for, even when I didn't need them - especially when I didn't need them!  These very same fashion items have become my nemesis!  I trip over them, I sweep around them when I don't feel like moving them, I harp to my children about picking them up!  Years ago I created a "solution" to house them in one spot to avoid the tripping, the dodging, and the harping.  It's not working!

The shoes spill over and out of the crates and out of the closet. Fights ensue because oldest one-of-three can't seem to keep her shoes out of middle one-of-three's crate!  Youngest one-of-three never seems to find her shoes in her crate because she forgets to put them there to begin with!  Then when the rule is enforced, socks seemed to get stripped off with the shoes and end up in the closet and not the laundry!  The problems just compound.

Shoes everywhere!  Tennis shoes, snow shoes, mocassins, sandals, Crocs, wedges, work boots, cleats, ballet shoes, flats...  They never end and they never find their homes.  As I type, middle one-of-three's slippers are at my feet.  I wish we all had duck feet!  How much easier would that be??  No shoes required means nothing to trip over, nothing to sweep around or pick up before sweeping.  Nothing to harp on with my kiddos.  Nothing to stink up the mud room. No fights that ensue.

But then, no shoes means no cute boots to go with that just right dress or great pair of jeans.  No polka dots to cheer me on the rainy days.  No red heels to make me feel great on date with the hubster.  No perfect wedges to go with that great summer dress.

Ok - maybe I don't wish we all had duck feet.  It took a few photos to help me remember how much fun shoes really still are.  Maybe, just maybe, I wish THEY all had duck feet.  Ok, so maybe not. :-)