Floral Friday Fotos

As I walked out my front door this morning, I was inspired by all the bright blooms surrounding me – so I thought I’d snap a couple of photos and share my views with you. 🙂  Hope you have a fabulous Friday!

Milling around the Mailbox

As my daffodils depleted, my daylilies were ready to steal the show (along with my ground covering of petunias). The calla lilies & lantana are preparing to finalize the festival as summer continues to progress.

 

hive basket

This hive basket & heart shaped plant hanger highlight the sunshiny floral mix that greets front porch visitors.

 

The very best part is that I’ve found a new site to share my end-of-the-week photos & to enjoy so many more from photographers much more versed than myself:

FFF

Follow the link by left-clicking on the logo.

 

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Donkey Tails

The WordPress Creative Writing Challenge for this week was: Metamorphosis, with the following explanation:

You can’t move for were-creatures these days. If it’s not werewolves falling in love with vampires, it’s were-rabbits, erm, doing what were-rabbits do (terrifying carrots by the full moon, perhaps?). But fantastic animal metamorphoses are as old as the hills, at least in the world of fiction, so who are we to be dissuaded by the vicissitudes of popular fiction trends when delivering creative writing prompts? Come, take a turn for the worst.

Indeed.

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“Kids, please come in here and sit down. We need to have a serious conversation – one that probably should’ve happened well before you both left for college. Since you’re home for the summer, and Jill’s been talking about getting married after graduation, I don’t think this can wait any longer.”

“What’s this about, Mom?”

“Your father…”

“Dad? Is everything…okay?”

“Well, I don’t mean to panic you or anything, but this family charade can’t go on any longer. Let me just get right to the point. Your father’s a jackass.”

“Mom!”

“No, I’m serious. He is…a jackass. And after living with him all these years, if you never figured it out, I hate to be the one to deliver the bad news so late. It’s probably coming as quite a blow.”

“Well, I mean, he could be a real jerk sometimes – and stubborn on a few occasions, but…well, that’s no reason to get into name calling, Mom.”

“Name call…??? Oh! No, you don’t understand, kids. I meant literally. Your father can literally turn into a jackass – only at certain times though. He’s not always one. That’s probably why you never realized it. He was good at hiding his times of metamorphosis around you two.”

“Not that good at it all the time…”

“Really? So you suspected it already? I thought we’d been rather creative at disguising it – me telling you he was working late, stopping off to watch a game at your uncle’s, hanging out down at the neighborhood pub…”

“Mom, is there a point in getting into all this? I mean, now? Now that Jill and I are out of the house and likely not going to ever move back in here again?”

“Absolutely, there’s a need. More than ever. Jill’s thinking about marriage. Don’t you see what this means?”

“Er, that we could become jackasses too?”

“No, of course not. You won’t ever see yourself as a jackass. That’s because the gene is most often x-linked, but sometimes it shows up at random. In either case, it’s not going to affect you personally. These things tend to skip a generation.”

“So Jill and I won’t ever be the jackasses? Well, that’s a relief, I guess.”

“Maybe. But just you wait. If your father was a jackass, there’s a strong likelihood that your children will become jackasses too! How do you plan to deal with that news, mister?”

“Hmm, guess I’ll have to pack that mule when I go on that journey.”

“Hee, haw. You won’t think it’s so amusing, Mr. Funny Guy, when you have your own herd of stubborn little jackasses to corral. You should hear the stories your grandmother tells. Do you know she…??”

“Wait, I don’t wanna’ hear anymore. Well, actually, I guess I do have just one more question about this, Mom – before we maybe NEVER talk about this again…”

“What’s that, dear?”

“Do you have this, er, genetic anomaly, too?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, son. Just because I chose to spend my entire life married to a jackass certainly doesn’t make me one too!”

A Guilt Trip to the Beach

The guilt was too much to bear, she’d said, just before heading off across the hardened sand, splashing her feet through the sloshing tide without a word to us, without ever looking back. She’d said it to our aunt while shaking her head, making it obvious that she’d never believe otherwise.

Aunt Deidre stood as if to go after her, then glanced back at us in resignation. I watched the big sigh escape her chest, saw her bite her lip as lines creased between her eyes. I wanted to ask what my mom meant; I wanted to know what guilt was. But I never got the chance to find out.

“Come on, Jeremy. Let me help you work on that sand castle.”

I stared out at my sister who’d already abandoned our project, now searching for some unnamed, yet to be claimed object beneath the water’s glistening surface. She teetered back and forth on a loose rock, singing some silly girl song. I’d considered joining her over there before that.

“Um, okay,” I shrugged. I didn’t notice later whenever the breeze rose as the sun began to set. I only noticed the swirling sand that blew up into my face from it. Other than losing its top layer, our castle was looking pretty impressive – especially since it’d been constructed via exchange of very few words and with my aunt obviously distracted, periodically glimpsing down the beach.

“Where’s Mom?” Cindy finally asked, pulling her spindly legs in beneath her ganglier-looking arms, a pronounced chill traveling down her spine.

Aunt Deidre stood and brushed the loose sand from her legs. “Let’s get up to the condo. She’ll be along shortly.” She tried adding a smile to be more convincing.

If shortly was three days later, then Aunt Deidre was telling the truth. Mom showed up in different clothes than the ones she’d been wearing on the beach. I peeked through the curtain, watching her long uncovered legs swing from a convertible car door. Her shorts looked like they’d lost 4 inches from any we’d ever seen her wearing. I didn’t miss her eyes nervously shifting from beneath her large sunglasses or the scarf covering her head. The man who had given her a ride back to our place from wherever she’d been didn’t look like he cared all that much about saying good-bye. But when Aunt Deidre stepped out on the porch with a phone in one hand, her other hand over the receiver and a frantic look on her face, I noticed Mom get in a big hurry to get back to us all. Cindy and I barely got to say a quick hi to Dad before she hung up from his call.

Mom seemed a lot happier that night than she’d been in a long time, especially when she whispered in a sing-song voice to Aunt Deidre at the dinner table that Dad had been held up at work for another week. What was it with girls and singing, anyway? Whatever it was, Mom’s added wink told me that apparently, whatever guilt was, she’d found a new way to bear it.

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The Speakeasy is getting ready to go on summer vacation.

But before it does, there’s one Final (get it, Final…exam?) challenge to take – #111:

It includes a creative writing assignment prompted by the image included above, along with the 1st line provided by Karen: “The guilt was too much to bear.” Oh, and a 600-word limit.

Come join in the fun by writing, reading, voting…or heck, why not all 3 for extra credit?!

Eclipsed

Eclipse Anular

Eclipse Anular (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That day in September would appear shadowed by a solar eclipse…a massive one…probably the longest on record, maybe lasting an entire year or more. You likely don’t remember that event though. That’s because it probably only took place in my world. It specifically coincided with my mother’s death. You see, she was my sunshine; and my world revolved around her.

That same year, I was enlisted as a soldier. It’s true. I remember my basic training well. There I stood at attention, in the funeral home, over my mother’s coffin.  My sergeant hovered over me, offering specific directives for our upcoming battle and my survival tactics. I felt so unprepared for my mission – palms sweaty, knees knocking. Despite any lack of experience or stature on my part, Sgt. Joe took his job to prepare me very seriously.

Directives for my mission?

Smile when people speak to you. Let them tell you their memories of your mother. They don’t want to see you cry.

Stand tall and be brave. You’re my little soldier now.

One clasp of a heavy hand on my shoulder with a quick squeeze of reassurance, and I was unwillingly recruited into my new role. One big swallow to push back the tears that were burning in my eyes and throat, and I picked up my assigned weapon and wielded it. Most soldiers give their weapon a nickname. I’d give one to mine later in life – I’d call it denial.

I smiled. I listened. I nodded. I went numb. People told me things about my mother – like she was the prettiest corpse they’d ever seen; she was going to be an angel watching over me. ‘That’s just ridiculous,’ I thought bitterly (to myself, of course, since I was obediently smiling and nodding at them on the outside). Still, even today – as I come upon her age of death – I wonder if people will think I appear that pretty when I’m in my coffin. Oh, the vanity of life!

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Another week, another Trifecta challenge (only different, as always). During the week, we’re allotted up to 333 words, so I was greedy – I used every last one of them.  I found a couple of different places to use the prompt (at the alpha and omega points – the beginning and the end), and I decided to do a little creative non-fiction writing this week – with this added thought:

Most especially in the dark hours,
when our lives appear so greatly eclipsed –
that’s when we can become most aware
of the slivers of abiding light
reaching out to touch us.

The challenge word also appears above, in my final quote – still in the Trifecta-mandated 3rd definition. So there are your clues to this week’s word (and usage). Did you get it?

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APPEAR
1a : to be or come in sight <the sun appears on the horizon>
b : to show up <appears promptly at eight each day>
2: to come formally before an authoritative body <must appear in court today>
3: to have an outward aspect : seem <appears happy enough>

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RELATED ARTICLE:

I Salute You for Your Service (humanTriumphant.wordpress.com)

I Salute You for Your Service

In honor of our Veterans & service men and women on Memorial Day – but most especially in memory of those who sacrificed their lives while serving…

just a few quick pics from our Veterans Park on a cloudy day in early Spring this year:

My father left high school to enter WWII at the age of 17. (I was a late life child, yes.)

I can remember a series of medals arriving when I was a child. He framed them and placed them in his room, but spoke few words about them. He never spoke to me of his time in the Navy, as a matter of fact, except to briefly let me know he had lost a best buddy in a fire on that ship. I never pushed for more information. That seemed like enough for a very young girl to take in. With my mother’s death, we both understood together the impact of such loss and the difficulty in always expressing it – or reliving it.

The war must’ve ended soon after the 17-year-old boy became a man. He returned home, finished high school and went on to college on a football scholarship. By the time I would’ve been old enough to ask the right questions and learn more about his experiences, about his life, it was over too soon. He was killed in a boating accident, along with my uncle (who also left for WWII at the ripe age of 18) before I got to know much more about either of these important men in my life.

Over the years, I have come to know other men and women who have served in various wars and conflicts, and I’ve come to recognize that, even among those who have survived, one thing is for certain. War is hell. Service people all sacrifice a part of themselves, a part of their lives, to perform a work in which its word otherwise sounds so simple – “serve.”

Thank you for your service. Let us not take your sacrifices for granted.

The Game of Life

Humanity is a marvelous thing – when we’re being humane. Unfortunately, as humans, we don’t always meet that mark. And as much as we celebrate the goodness that can come from our humanity, we aren’t often as quick to celebrate its synonym, mortality. Mortality has the tendency to remind us of the weakness of our humanness. Strangely and beatifically, the human spirit still has the ability to cause our souls to shine during mortality’s dark hours.

Yesterday didn’t seem like a dark day. On the contrary. Despite the cloud cover and the chilly breeze that had caused me to choose blue jeans and a jacket over shorts for my spectator apparel, it had begun with every reason for a celebratory mood. My son’s baseball team had battled back the day before (after playing their hearts out all week; all season, in fact) to earn their very first chance to play for their State title. I had what I considered to be the perfect seat – a chair-back centered at the beginning of the second level behind home plate (chosen for its spacious leg room as much as my views – one for the panoramic field, the other for seeing peripherally into our dug-out, and the last for directly observing & greeting joyful passers-by from both sides).

State_game

My focal field of view on this fantastic field of dreams

As the game progressed, the stats showed the story – still fairly manageable. We were down by 2 runs, but it came down to us not being as successful at getting our hits synchronized – we had simply stranded more runners. They had 6 hits; we had 5. No official errors were recorded for either team (though, in truth, there were some early adjustments that needed to be made for this larger field that could’ve been considered ‘unrecorded’ ones). We were home team, and unfortunately, by the time we had only 2 at-bats remaining, we were down by 4 runs with a costly error recorded. We continued to hit for the next 2 innings, and continued to strand runners. I won’t leave you in suspense. 4-0 was the final score, leaving us as runners-up in the State. For a first-ever run at State (a first Division title, a first Region title), I wasn’t at all disappointed. But I knew there were 18 players and a few coaches who were feeling a little differently about matters at the moment. I also knew that, one day, while cheering on their own kids, they would understand how very little importance this outcome would actually hold.

When we left the field that day, my son’s smile wasn’t as bright as it had been the night before. (Maybe it was even a little non-existent at the moment.)

All Smiles – my son (left) and his teammate (fabulous freshmen at State)

All Smiles – my son (left) and his best bud teammate (fab freshmen at State)

But here’s the story I was able to share with him and I want to share today with you.

I began by asking my son what he thought about the other team’s pitcher, to which he replied he thought this was the best pitcher they’d faced at State. I nodded and said, “I’d like to tell you a little something I learned about him today.” (I’ve also learned to wait for his permission before we discuss anything after games. You’ll have to read the quick back-story on my post, Your Child’s Confession, if you’d like to understand why.) After getting his nod of approval, this is what I shared:

“As the bottom of the 6th was starting today, I could see the concern on the faces in your dugout, since time to get your runs back was becoming limited. I thought back to comments I’d heard from some of the moms the night before – about doing prayer walks and even cheering with ‘Holy Spirit fingers.’ I couldn’t help but grin over their enthusiasm and it caused me to have my own private little conversation with God. My words weren’t about winning, though. They went more like this: ‘Lord, I don’t even know if you care about ballgames…but I do know that you care about your children. And you know things going on in personal lives out there on that field – on both sides – that I couldn’t possibly know. I ask, more than anything, that each of these boys feels your presence in their lives and feels your peace out there on that field – so they can enjoy the time they’ve been blessed to be here – blessed by the support of all these family and friends surrounding them and cheering them on.’ And, honestly, I prayed it for every young man out on that field. I figured if God doesn’t show favoritism, I shouldn’t either. (Okay, as my son, you’re still my favorite player!) After that, I didn’t expect to hear anymore about it. What would be, would be.

“After your game was over, after the fans had stood and cheered you all on and given you more of their support and their love, I was standing on the walkway waiting for you to come out. As a fan from the other team passed, I smiled at her and offered my congratulations. She stopped and walked close to me and threw her arm around my waist. She looked directly in my eyes and said, ‘I know you’re disappointed about the loss today, but I’d like to tell you something. That pitcher you came up against today is my grandson.’

‘He did a great job,’ I nodded.

‘Oh, honey, that’s not why I’m telling you this. I wanted to let you know that he was diagnosed with invasive cancer in March and has had to undergo chemotherapy. He had to be cleared to be able to play here at State.’

I’m sure my mouth dropped open. Of course, by the time I’d told her how sorry I was to hear this news and had gotten his name and assured her I’d be praying for him, I hugged her and thanked her for entrusting me with this information.

‘I just thought that might help your boys understand…’ She smiled the brightest, most beautiful smile in that moment of darkness, as though the sunshine had burst through the clouds. Then she told me he was supposed to be playing ball for the college in our town next year – and she wanted me to come and see him there. And I believe that I will. I believe he’ll be there.

I found a way to pass this news to our coach through our athletic director; but I don’t believe the boys, as a team, had this information as they walked out of the stadium that afternoon. I felt blessed to be able to personally relay this testimony to my own son. As I shared this other young man’s story with him, about how the opposing player on the mound was undergoing a different sort of battle, not only did my son’s countenance immediately change as he expressed feeling differently about the game’s outcome (especially its importance in the grand scheme of life), he caught on to my little secret.

“God answered your prayer.”

“He did, didn’t He?”

“He let you in on what was going on in somebody’s personal life that did make this game important to Him.”

I just love it when we’re paying close enough attention for God to give us a glimpse of Himself and His heart. Don’t you?

What a precious moment – when we stop to realize those specific times when God has dipped, yet again, into our humanity.

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An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Your Child’s Confession

childs confession

Trifecta’s weekend challenge of 33 words (please pardon the inclusion of my 3-word title at the bottom when checking the count) was to write a confession – truth or dare. I think it actually said fiction or non-fiction. My idea for this confession stemmed from this week’s theme in my life – 100% non-fiction: Take me out to the ballgame…

I just got back into town from my son’s State ball tournament (and although we didn’t take the State, we did come back as runners-up on our first trip there – not too shabby. I also hope to have another story to blog soon that touched my heart there…but that’s for another day.) While there, I wondered how much time I’ve spent on bleachers (football, baseball, wrestling, basketball) over the years. Of course, I’m not complaining. I’m doing my time. I know my kids will eventually do their time because my dad did his time for me.  (It’s a vicious cycle! haha!) I used to wonder if the play-by-play feedback with suggestions were really necessary after each of my games. A simple “good job” would’ve been sufficient through my young eyes (and ears). I forgot that my dad was a teacher & a coach – and an athlete before that who had learned to critique himself to become better. How could he have helped himself, if he was truly wanting to help me? Nevertheless, my son and I have struck a deal between us. No one is allowed to critique immediately after a game or match – period. If it was a win, we can celebrate the awesome plays or moves. But everything else waits until either the glory or the sting has had some time to dissipate. Then we’ll “talk shop” again. 🙂

As far as Trifextra goes, this weekend’s challenge is community judged – so come & join in! 🙂

  • For the 14 hours following the close of the challenge, voting will be enabled on links.
  • In order to vote, return to this post where stars will appear next to each link.  To vote, simply click the star that corresponds with your favorite post.
  • You can vote for your top three favorite posts.
  • Voting is open to everyone. Encourage your friends to vote for you, if you wish.
  • You have 14 hours to vote.  It’s not much time, so be diligent! We’ll send out reminders on Twitter and Facebook.