Friday, March 29, 2013

"Your Table Awaits You...."

I cannot think of a more essential piece of furniture than the kitchen or dining room table. Families would cease to exist if home decor enthusiasts banished this simple furnishing. Perhaps you will agree.

I must say that for most of my child-rearing years, the dining room table was our gathering place. Oh, the furnishing started out as lovely wood and glass inlays, (what was I thinking of when I bought glass ), but soon took on the look of 'family'. Permanent marker became decoration as did water stains that soon became so familiar, I stopped hiding them with placemats. There were little patches of discolored wood where scotch tape held streamers for countless birthday parties.

This table was strong and noble. It held many folded loads of laundry, waiting for dispersement, and looked like a luggage carrier when all 4-5 book bags were lined up for Monday morning classes. Science fair projects came to life, homework was completed, and report cards discussed at this table.  Oh sure, we ate many meals at this 'port of call'. But our entire lives unfolded around this table.

We had discussions on topics we encountered along life's journey. When my oldest son survived being run over by a vehicle, I was helping him with grammar homework-- at of course, the dining room table--when he blurted out, "Mom, why didn't I die? People don't believe it when I tell them I was run over." Gee, I liked discussing interrogative sentences, but not when the questions were that difficult to answer. But that lone table never failed us. As we questioned, grieved, celebrated, filled out tax forms and grocery lists, wrapped Christmas gifts and served Easter dinners, this simple slab of wood, legs and chairs, served us.

The table always seemed to welcome visitors, travelers, and ordinary folk. But had the Queen or President knocked on my door,  I would have led them to this table, because it became a holy place. It held our dreams, disappointments, celebrations, and shortcomings; but kept every conversation private and sacred. How much advice and counseling did my mother give seated across from me at the table? Whether covered in sticky jelly fingerprints or finest linen cloth, that table was such a sentry to our stories. We brought our days to its surface and dealt them out like playing cards. My child's fate would rest at that table at 3:00a.m., waiting for the doctor to return my call, knowing another trip to the hospital was in the making. When tears splattered on that table, that simple furnishing remained strong and steady. Hmm...maybe it wasn't a water stain at all...for every family has its time of tears.

You may say that I am over-thinking this whole 'table' thing. And you may be right. But I was told of great news while sitting at the table: I was going to be the mother of the groom and then bride; my daughter revealed which college she would be attending; when the grand-babies were due. I 'ran lines' with my son so he could be prepared when the curtain opened. And I spread the atlas out on the table and studied it in earnest, when I knew L.A. would be my son's new residence. I wrote many stories at that table---indeed, I sit here at my round, oak dining room table to type this blog. All my life has revolved around a table...oblong, round, oval---and the stories of this soul have rested on a piece of furniture that the world usually ignores. Funny...most folks rave about a sports car or a boat; I am yammering about something that holds a bowl of cereal or a plate of chicken.

Of course, this table held many crazy moments! Competitive canasta card games, dogs who stole food, the odd boyfriend of my daughter who wanted to have a 'face to face' conversation at the table. When he asked me what it was I didn't like about him, I replied: "How much time do you have?" Sorting out and trading Halloween candy as if we were trading stocks on the NYSE. The brand new/very old 'knock knock jokes and school stories of the kids that kept us laughing until dessert. Hot chocolate after sledding on the neighboring golf course. The loose tooth that got swallowed with dinner.  Looking across the table at the Japanese exchange student, whom we came to love, and who would dazzle us by catching a pesky housefly with chopsticks! And then there was the time I reached over a burning candle, only to catch my sweater on fire. When my son yelled that my sweater was on fire I laughed. He is such a tease! Luckily, my firefighter son-in-law rushed into action and no harm was done. That table was a witness to so much laughter, joy, and memories. See what I mean? It wasn't just a piece of furniture; it was the furnishing which pieced our lives together.

In books, there is a 'Table of Contents' which leads the reader to the various chapters in the text. Well, if life is a book, my 'table of contents' is truly a table that sits ready for anything! Kids arguing or teens playing board games; signing divorce papers, paying bills, writing letters or grading papers, sharing coffee with a dear friend---my table has lived it all with me.

And this story has been pushed to the back of this heart and mind for many years. many tables, so little time.

But now I will set the table, hopefully, in a whole new light. Forever, I will set a place of honor at the head of the table...which is also the heart of this family. What about you? Do you have a table that owns your soul?

If so, gather now. Your table awaits you.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Simpler Parade

I think that I kind of sleep-walk through life. I know there are world events happening as I eat my bowl of Cocoa Krispies, but I just don't feel that pull to get all....involved.

Maybe it's my age. Or my laziness. Or the fact that I used to be on the cutting edge of pop music, fashion, political news, and now I am just like an old movie: the best scenes are laying on the cutting room floor. Sigh.

But that's okay. My little old brain and body just can't take the strain of the excitement life has to offer. For example...I will bake a cake for my son's friends as they gather for 'March Madness' and cheer on their favorite teams. I love their annual get-togethers! As I sat down to type this, I caught a bit of ticker tape news that IU beat the Owls. Hmmm. I have a degree from IU but I really like studying owls. The basketball game is no real news to me. See how much high blood pressure I am saving not watching that nail-biter?  Yeah...I think I used up all of my cheers and whistles at my kids' little league games. And that was for me getting four kids to the field on time with the proper uniform and equipment. And if I grabbed dirty uniform pants from the pile of laundry, I would just comment to other moms at the field: "Look at that. He just put those pants on and they have grass stains on them already!" I'm thinking they knew the game I was playing; they were playing it too! Too much laundry, too little time. Fake it until you make it.

I have already shared my take on weather and the daily news. By the time it gets to me it is just a blip on the screen and I have escaped all the hype. I have serious work to grading papers, planning lessons for children's sermons and youth group, and figuring out which dog chewed up the mail. I worry over serious issues such as: which shoes will I wear today that won't make my feet hurt. Or, if my butt looks too big to wear that sweater. And if I can find that book in time for my grandkid to use it in a research report.

There comes a time in most folks' lives where it is fine to step out of the dance,  climb down off the float, and just watch the parade go by. I am content with sitting on the sidelines and cheering. I have been on the float, and it is great fun! And no, I did not fall off. But, being  the spectator instead of the participant is just as gratifying for this soul.

While I have returned to the classroom for the rest of this school year, it is good to know that I have not lost all the sparkle of being an educator. But I find the tug to be a bit different. Instead of just wallowing in self defeat over test scores and quizzes, I hunger to listen to the boy's conversation over his parents' divorce, or to put words to the tears of a young gal enduring foster care. It is far more important to me to create a climate of calm and acceptance when these 7th and 8th graders walk into my room. They have enough on their heads and hearts. Oh sure, I still cram curriculum into their day, but allowing them to use my hand lotion or loan them a buck for lunch money is just as important. My philosophy in the classroom was always this: to teach other peoples' kids the way I wanted my own to be taught and treated. Compassion and forgiveness goes a long way in public education. As does a good laugh in the classroom. Giggles are part of my educational standards.

So if you call me and say, "Did you hear about....???" don't think I am being globally ignorant or have lost my international savvy. It is not that I don't is just that I don't care as much. I DO want my Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to be funded, and I do thrive on listening to my NPR, and I will sneak a peek at YouTube videos to see a Katie Couric interview with Hugh Jackman or Jon Bon Jovi. I will serve my local community in a soup kitchen or buy Christmas gifts for the kids of strangers; but I can live without the mainstream of the world flowing into my kitchen. Oh wait! I think that is my leaky faucet.

But you get my focus. I have chosen a simpler life and I am content to find joy in those everyday blessings which surround me. If I don't jump up to send a text, tweet, tin can message to Congress, that is just fine. I still vote, so there. My mission may be to help a stranger, even though I thought my purpose in life would end if I did not run a mission on the space shuttle.

I am happy that you meet me here on these pages and you look over my shoulder while I ponder life. I have lived many lives in the fifty-seven years I have wandered this planet. And sitting back and watching from the curb is just as rewarding.

But if I do get bored, you know where I'll be. Wearing an ugly red dress, white hat and gloves and waving from that float in the Parade of Life.

Until then....I am not letting life interfere with my nap. Yeah; I have arrived.

Friday, March 15, 2013


The faculty lounge came alive! The lunch discussion was concerts and such. We laughed at the 'youngsters' among the staff who had attended Jonas Brothers concerts in high school, the Jimmy Buffet attendees, who had blown out their flip-flops many years over, and those who had journeyed to Journey, time and time again. Myself included.

The various tours unfolded...and it reminded me of a euchre game. My John Mellencamp jack trumps your Billy Joel. His partner leads with two queens: Tina Turner, Madonna, and don't even think about playing Taylor Swift in this mix. Guns n' Roses may be buried, so think I'll take my chance on laying down Bon Jovi. It was a lively game, and soon I decided to show my hand. "I have the King right here; yep, saw Elvis in the seventies." They all got quiet. All eyes were on me, so it was time for the real ace: "Yep, and the greatest concert ever was Michael Jackson---the 'Thriller' tour." I threw down my 'loner' and knew I had won the game. Take that, you New Kids on the Block. Picture this...a bunch of teachers trading in their lesson plans for Rock n Roll 101. About time we laughed and acted like our students!

But for me, it made me think of another band, 'My Hidden Track' which I must admit, was this concert goer's favorite. I spent a lot of time at their shows, listening to their cd's, watching their videos on YouTube, and still have their merchandise scattered around my house like old memories. My youngest boy played in this band, following his passion to make music. Some folks criticized my support for such lofty goals; college should come first. But dreams need immediate attention sometimes, and I told him to do this now. The band bought the van, the trailer, did the tour, sold the 'merch', recorded cd's, screen printed the shirts, gave out autographs, and refined their sound. I could not have been prouder.

I was often asked if the band was good. I answered by saying that I did not know, that I was not their audience. However, I would watch the kids peer up at the stage, and rock out to every song--- dance, jump, and smile from ear to ear, and I knew this was a valid gig. I'm the mom. Of course I loved it! But more, I loved the fact that my child is (and was) as committed to music as I am to writing. Indeed, I told him once that if he ever walked away from music it was his decision not mine. I had not written my first book until I was fifty; his music should not wait. I am and was as proud of his commitment to 'My Hidden Track' as I am to the songwriting he continues doing today. On one of his visits home from L.A., we were riding in his car and he popped in a cd. I listened to the  guitar intro, and wondered if this was a new John Mayer cd. Soon, I heard the voice and smiled. In secret, he had written this song, had it recorded, and watched as it melted this mother's heart. It was really good. But then, doesn't every mother say that? Yet, I heard the pain and growth in every lyric and knew how far this musician had come.

I treasure the concerts that featured my son and his friends, and how it became a time for the whole family to gather  and cheer them on. And it was pretty cool to get in free as my name was on 'The List' at the door. Motherhood has its privileges, I suppose. I think that Mrs. Presley and Mrs. Jackson would agree.

Whether on stage or in his room with the guitar, my son, the musician, trumps all others.

I should know: I'm with the band.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sick Day

Have you missed me? I caught the "ItsGoin'Around." You know, the crud that puts the 'A' in achy, the 'H' in headache and the gratitude for indoor plumbing. I didn't have the, "Take me now, Sweet Jesus "ItsGoin'Around." I was crummy but I have been a lot worse. This was a teaser. I felt like I had it licked, then the stomach would misfire and the proverbial truck would run over my back and I was back to pity city.

But I was well taken care of with the luxurious fare of saltines, toast, ibuprofen, and pediatric electrolyte solution. Nothing makes you feel like a kid again until you take a swig of that stuff. It is awful! Like the glucose tolerance tests of pregnancy without the viscosity. I am sure my wonderful daughter had my electrolytes in mind when she dropped it off. But was that a devilish smirk on her face as she drove off? What'd I ever do to her? Oh yeah. Probably made her drink that same stuff with the stamp of motherhood: "Drink it. It's good for you." And to think I have done the same thing to grandchildren. I so apologize.

I made good use of that one hour I felt decent each day. I graded papers, caught up with some correspondence, and saved money and gas by being laid up. The dogs are ready for me to get out of their space, I am sure. But I did watch some movies on my Kindle Fire. Yeah....about thirty.

Oh, not really. What I did watch were the movie trailers. I tell ya...Hollywood had ADD adults like me in mind. tap on the screen, invest about 60 seconds in the story line, characters, setting, conflict, resolution and voi` have seen the film. Kinda like reading the blurb on some books. The stuff in between is just....stuff. I know, pretty low blow coming from an author.

But I've gotta tell ya...after watching all of those movie trailers, I got hooked on the graphics and filming of the studio stuff. You know...the part where the lion opens his mouth and growls, or the lady stands there like a movie star Statue of Liberty. Well, I found a lot of those to be pretty cool. Like the films from 'LionsGate'. A grinding of gears and movie reels which morphs into a big key and portal which unfolds to mysterious worlds and such. Or the Universal tag which starts out like a huge sunrise and engulfs the planet. Then, there's Warner Brothers. Just not feeling it.

Oh and another thing. They trick you. my weakened and ill state they took unfair advantage of me. I really thought I could be on the cutting edge of cinema discussions as I read the words: "New Release" See it Before it Comes Out" or "In Theaters in June" and this is March. And then I see the years...2005, 2009, 2011. Umm, yeah. I think someone needs to get out a bit more.
Guess I won't be spoiling the ending to any of those new releases.

Now you may be thinking that I squandered my sick days with Hollywood. Not true. I slept, checked out FB, avoided phone calls, and munched on tea and toast. I finally took a first intentional act into entering the world of the recovered. And that was just because the dogs insisted on it. When they start bringing you clean underwear and socks instead of running off and burying it, that is a sure sign they mean action.

Well, I must end this blog and think about tomorrow and drag myself back to the real world. Wonder if that LionsGate promo will  blast me into the cinematic screen we call life.

I know. Too much electrolyte solution can have some bad effects. Be careful out there. "It'sGoin'Around."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

'Current Events'....Remember That Assignment?

Back in the day, when I was a bored eighth grader, enduring History class, someone decided that students should be saved from the past. To prevent us from languishing away with boredom while we read about the Trans-Continental Railroad, Pony Express, Lewis and Clark Expedition, our knowledge was infused with a new topic: current events.

At least once a week, we shared articles from the newspaper (you can google that if you don't know what it is...) reporting on the happenings around our city, state, and nation. Umm yeah. We were not thinking too globally. Plus, most of us from the Brightwood area did not have passports. Nope. We were scrounging up bus fare, gas money, and pop bottles to trade for refunds. But I digress.

So...'Current Events' was the new cool thing in education--along with an overhead projector-- which I loathe to this day. So, I was thinking about the 'current events' in our world today and decided I would highlight these here and offer some of my solutions and thoughts to these issues.

Sequestering of our government: This is easy. If my kids did not get their homework done, after several chances at the dining room table, they were sent to their rooms until it was done. No T.V., snacks, or discussion. That being said, each of my four kids developed a work ethic and personal sense of accountability. Yet, they also learned the power of compromise and the benefit of being open-minded. I always taught my kids that no matter if it is a preacher or a president, each one brings a gift to their podium. may have to look hard in some cases, but it is there. And somehow this government must complete the work we have chosen them to do. Even if we have to send them to their rooms. But I would like to think that adults can pull the rope in the same direction to move us to a better place. Game over. Get it done. Listen to the one in charge.

Gun Control: I have my opinion on this one, but thankfully, I don't get to vote. I believe that only individuals who have buried a family member gets to have the final say on this one. Let those folks who have lost a loved one, due to a firearm, decide on how guns should be controlled. Let this group of individuals legislate if assault rifles/ammunition should be available on the internet. They are the ones who have 'victim's family' tattooed on their souls and walk around with a sense of loss and hopelessness. Let us listen to their stories. My son is a cop. He is armed. And knowing he is both the hunter and the hunted, haunts this mother. I pray I never get the right to vote, based on my thinking here.

Weather: I live in Indiana. Need I say more? We could call it the 'diaper state' as it changes constantly. But I thrive on the change of seasons. I also thrive on the change of stations, selecting the newscast that does not create such fear and trepidation in the hearts of Hoosiers. Oh wait! I don't have a television and there are no newscasts which don't sensationalize the weather forecasts. Here is how I play it: I look out my window. If there is snow, I think: BS. Bundle up and shovel. If it rains and storms, my radar indicates: Up Yours. That means....your umbrella needs to be up. And mine, too. If it is sunny and hot, I had better: Get Naked. Oh not really. I just wanted to see if you were still reading. But these hot flashes can be wicked, so maybe...Okay. I'll just stay in the AC. But my point is this: it is just weather. Use some common sense, start out early or stay inside. And if the weather gets really bad hang onto this cool quote: "Sometimes God quiets the storm; sometimes He lets the storm rage on and quiets the child."

Most Other World Problems: I may not have solutions, but I can almost guarantee it is caused by one word: greed. Fix that one, and it will be amazing how stable this planet will become.

Okay....this is my meager offering of 'Current Events According to Debbie'. Blame it on my 8th grade teacher, Mr. Ayres. He also forced me to spell 'Czechoslovakia' which now goes by the 'Czech Republic' and is so much easier to say and spell. Teachers!

Oh....and those old, outdated historical events I mentioned in the first section? Those became just a few of my favorite topics to teach in U. S. History.

And don't you dare say that is because those were MY current events! Or you will be sequestered in your room with no weather reports!