Almost There at Pope House

Every day it’s looking better at our future office. The hallway is empty.

It’s all clean! And the American flag is ready to go up.

The front reception room just needs two more blinds. And the bling hung on the chandelier.

The big blind will keep it cooler!

We have a snazzy cover over the breaker box.

Classy breaker box.

The upstairs ceiling is textured.

Hmm. It will look better soon.

My office awaits floor repairs.

I brought in a plant.

I see stair rails in the very near future. I celebrated by building the little bistro tables for the break area.

We hope we have space for two of these. They are small!

Yes, that’s a leftover screw I had trouble with. The second set came out better. I just need a stronger hand with the Allen wrench!

Book Report: Poetry E-book Edition

You may know that I am very fond of books, the physical objects. I like to hold books, feel the paper of the pages, smell that inky new-book smell, etc. But, some books aren’t available physically, including self-published books. I’ve always liked the idea of making one’s work available for friends and family, and don’t expect perfect copy editing, formatting and all that (what I DO mind is being charged a lot of money for a printed book, only to find it was not copy edited AT ALL, has eight random fonts, and is randomly justified).

Today I’m not talking about one of those! Instead, I’d like to briefly share a book of poems I just read, which I know I’ll re-read many times. Past Life: Poems is a collection of poems by my long-time online friend Ida Bettis Fogle. She’s always been a word person, as shown by her thoughtful posts that I’ve enjoyed for many years and her career as a librarian.

She published this collection of her favorite poems from the past 25 years to share with her friends. A lot of gushing has ensued, as members of our long-time group of mothers pointed out their favorites. Why were they so enthusiastic?

Well, Ida has captured the experience many women of my generation had, both in childhood and as mothers. Many of her poems brought images back to my mind of similar events I’d been through…it’s like I continued her poems in my own head.

One of my favorites, “Three Minus One,” talks about the third child you never had but always wanted. The longing you feel for a child who almost seems real mirrors my own experience exactly.

There are poems about birth, vacation, scary things, and beautiful things, all the kinds of small but memorable things many of us have experienced as we go through life. Ida celebrates moments and captures them for the rest of us to share. And it is formatted normally with only one typo (that I didn’t notice).

If you need something to take your mind off the present and take you back to a past that is real, but not all bad, you might really enjoy Past Life. I found it worth much more than the four dollars and odd membership process in Smashbooks that was required to obtain my PDF. (And if you are a poet or other kind of writer, this may be a way for you to share YOUR work with others.)

Nature Heals: Five Vitamin Bs

After a long day of working through my mental paralysis, I came home to do the usual chicken and horse chores. I decided to really look hard at what I saw on the path and just live in the moment.

Beautiful crow poison blossom

It helped more than I thought it would to immerse myself in the life on the ranch. There were so many bees in the blooming clover and so many butterflies on the flowers and so many birds and so many bugs! The 5 Vitamin Bs: Blossoms, bees, butterflies, birds, and bugs.

The most common butterflies were Buckeyes, checkered whites, and sulphurs. I also saw a hairstreak.

And in the bird department, I was extra excited to hear a familiar call. The dickcissels are back! They’re one of those birds whose numbers are dwindling, so it makes me happy to know they like it here.

I also enjoyed the sounds of sparrows rushing out of the grass and the red winged blackbirds calling and flying around. They’re everywhere right now.

I enjoyed a lot of interesting bugs, but my favorite is this Texas flower scarab. It was vigorously digging away in this thistle.

Thistles have friends

Just enjoying the light on the grass, along with my friends the butterflies, bees, birds, and bugs got me in a better frame of mind. Thanks, Mother Nature!

Just grass, mostly speargrass.

Perhaps Grace Is What We Need Right Now

What was not an example of grace?
Me trying to get the varnish off between these grooves.

Hmm. Grace has always been a hard concept for me, at least the Biblical kind. As a person whose spirituality didn’t fit in with the Father God concept, I never felt the “grace” in the “Amazing Grace” song. I was more of the “chasing grace” kind, I guess, as in one of my favorite songs, “One Good Year,” which I listen to often:

Just give me one good year
To get my feet back on the ground
I’ve been chasing grace, but grace ain’t so easily found…
by Slaid Cleaves and Steve Brooks

Maybe you would like to listen to it. I just happen to be able to show you both of the writers’ versions. I guess if I don’t know what grace actually is, I can graciously share some music about it. Um. Okay.

Here’s the brilliant Slaid Cleaves singing this. Well worth a listen in these times.
And here’s my friend Steve playing it. Hey, listen to it. He needs the royalties.

Being Graceful

I do have a clue what physical grace is, and that’s what I put in my Instagram of the day. I was really impressed that Chris made a routing table out of stuff there was around the Pope Residence project, then got Randy set up making beautiful curved edges for all the trim. Next we have to mass paint it all, before installing.

Also, I stripped all the varnish off those trim pieces in the foreground. See, I can help!

I’ve been thinking harder and harder about what the heck grace actually is, because I think I’d like to both send and receive it. It seems to have to do with love, acceptance, and kindness, I think. I finally broke down and looked at Google to see what it was about. I still am not real sure about Divine Grace, but I did see a list of ways to exhibit grace, which is shortened from a blog post with a lot of helpful Bible verses, if you would like to see them.

How to Show Grace to Others

  1. Words. Be kind and gentle in what you say and how you say it.
  2. Look for Needs and Opportunities; simple everyday kindnesses and actions often help in great ways.
  3. Let it Go. Letting it go is one of the easiest ways to extend grace to others.
  4. Be There.
  5. Forgive.
  6. Learn to Ask for Forgiveness.
  7. Watch the Way You Speak.
  8. Gratitude.

That all sounds like good stuff to me. I am right now concentrating on 7 and 8. I’m trying to speak kindly to people who think getting infected with a scary virus is a joke. And I am remembering to be very grateful to still have work, be able to see at least some of my family, and live in a place concerned with safety.

Safety?

Some more grace. Here’s Randy rolling sealant on our brick. The brick stuff is actually nearly complete!

Our county judge has echoed the governor’s state of emergency recommendations and told everyone in the county to stay the heck home unless you have a workplace to go to, need food, or have to do something urgent. People had been being a bit jerky around here, apparently not grasping the concept of invisibly carrying a disease and passing it on to someone else, the fact that diseases have incubation periods, and that sort of thing.

I’m one of the people glad he did this, even though I had to go to the auto parts store today, because my windshield wiper broke. I didn’t want to die driving in the rain with no wipers. So, I was careful. Mainly I was VERY impressed that the store had my car’s wiper blades!

Look at those lovely edges. Wow.

What else is there…I’m ready for a virtual meeting this evening, and hope to hang out on Zoom with online friends a bit, like I did last night! What fun that was. I’m grateful that the pandemic came when we have lots of online tools for connecting. Is that something you can actually be grateful for?

Postscript

I’m glad I asked for guidance on this topic. My friend from high school, Vickie Dixon, kindly shared her definition, which was helpful to me, and may be to you!

Grace is one of my favorite words. And it doesn’t have to have anything to do with religion. Although, for me, it’s a lot easier to give grace to others when I remember God’s grace given to me. It’s basically just treating each other with love even if they don’t seem to warrant it. It can’t be earned and none of us truly deserve it. We all hurt each other. It’s part of being human. Grace comes in when the person we hurt still treats us with love. A beautiful, and very difficult, way to live.

Vickie in North Carolina

Still Sunset Sounds

Panting of dogs

Moo

Cicadas get loud then stop

Repeat

Lawn mower in front field

Toenails on concrete

Dog door slaps

Football left on television

Panting

Cars far in the distance

Loud mooing

Cicadas cicadas cicadas

Dog barks, another property

Different cows

Egret squawk

Cardinal chirps

Big dog barks on front porch

Crickets start up

Thunder? Plane.

Dove wings

Cicadas

Distant dog chasing a car

Lawn mower returning to garage

Crickets and cows