VACATION

This week I’m sharing fun vacation spots, remembrances, and mishaps… Since this blog is about the Stories of Our Lives, email me with your funny/memorable vacation story. I will select one to ‘re-tell’ it in the month of July – come on now, share those stores. (parisrenae1@gmail.com)…

Favorite vacation spot: East Tennessee. The Smoky Mountains offer everything from the tourist trap fun of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to the pristine beauty of nature. There’s hiking, tubing down the river, blue grass festivals, biking, caving, river rafting, and my personal favorite: lightening bugs, also known as fireflies – I think it’s the last place in America where they are still in abundance.

My favorite vacation memories are with kids and camping. There’s nothing like being so far way from the city lights that you see a zillion stars at night. Kids, marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers go together like peanut butter and jelly. They can eat a ton of the gooey things and still go to bed without complaining because they were worn out from the fun of the day. Water has to be part of camping – either a lake, river, or campground pool – but it’s a must. The morning ritual of frying bacon on the camp stove is my favorite part, somehow it just smells yummier. Returning home everything we took with us smells like smoke, but that’s all part of it.

Since we’re on the subject of camping I’m reminded of the time my husband had a week long business meeting in Southern California, not too far from Santa Barbara. We lived in Northern California and thought it would be great for the three kids and I to drive down after the meeting and head to the coast to camp on the beach, something we had never done before. Everything was going great: the packing up, the drive, the potty breaks, the directions (long before gps). I was beaming when I picked up my husband.

Keep in mind we were tent campers during those days. Arriving mid-afternoon our first clue something might be wrong was when we pulled up to our assigned spot and ALL the other spots had RVs parked in them. We quickly discovered why: the wind was anything but mild. After several attempts to anchor the tent in the sand, we finally drug the heavy, wooden picnic table in to hold it down. I think we were the entertainment for the day as most watched from afar shaking their heads.

We made the best of it while playing on the beach before the sun set. Hungry now, we discovered it was too windy for the camp stove or a camp fire. That meant cold hot dogs, cold beans, and no smores. We told stories and went to bed early. Sometime in the wee hours I awoke hearing drip, drip, drip – apparently the dew at the coast was so heavy it was seeping through the tent – at least the wind had died down.

When morning arrived we surrendered, packed up, and headed home. Even so it was a memory we laughed about for years to come – too bad I didn’t get a picture of the picnic table in the tent!

ODE TO A HAIRDRESSER

Have you noticed all the fun names for hair salons: Shear Talent, The Mane Event, Hairpeace, The Tease, Tangles, Head Hunter, Cuttin’ Up, Hair Force, Off the Top, Sophisticuts, – and my personal favorite – Curl Up & Dye!

Hairdressers are a breed all their own. They even have their own lingo (layers, razoring, bob, leave-in, shag, highlights, weave, nape, etc.). In Steel Magnolias’ the salon was Truvy’s Beauty Spot and it was an awesome portrayal of the atmosphere in a small town salon.

In the 60’s a hairdresser went through rigorous training to get their license. They had to know the anatomy of the nerves and blood vessels in the scalp, how chemicals react with hair and skin, and even some counseling techniques. Back then they wore uniforms and uniform shoes – no short dresses or high heels. These women were on their feet eight hours or more a day. They went home and picked hair out of their pantyhose and sometimes out of their feet (hair can work its way into the skin). Varicose veins and carpal tunnel syndrome often plagued these women after twenty years of making others beautiful.

Keeping their continuing ed up by going to annual conventions and learning the latest styles, colors, cutting techniques, perms, etc. was always an exciting event. Hearing the entire town’s gossip, whether from their own client, or the ones in the chair next to theirs, made the day go fast. Being asked to work a miracle was a regular experience: how can I get rid of the bald spot, how come you can’t cover every white hair, I want a natural looking perm – to name a few.

Now I’m not a hairdresser – but my mother was. I was too young to remember her time in cosmetology school but over the years she would explain how hard it was back then. I remember the nights she came home and rubbed and soaked her feet. Her tips used to be in quarters when I was little. She would drop them in her uniform pockets and empty them for me to count when she came home. I just wanted hair that looked like everyone else’s when I was in school, but I often had the latest whether it was the latest someone my age wore or not.

She loved to have a good time, she loved going out with the other stylists, and she loved the conventions. She opened her own shop after I was grown; she called it Hair-Em, a play on words that went over well in the small town she lived in. Long after she retired her favorite smell was a salon. Sometimes she wouldn’t do her own hair just to go enjoy the salon experience – and then come back home and fix everything they did wrong.

Once when my children were young, we were at the airport waiting for my mom to get off the plane. My seven-year old piped up and said “Mom, what color will grandma’s hair be this time?” I cracked up, but it was so true. You never know if you’ll recognize your hairdresser the next time you see her!

So to my mom and all the hairdressers out there I say “Thank You”, thanks for trying your best to make us look presentable, thanks for listening to all our troubles, thanks for standing behind us (literally) without complaining. Remember: old hairdressers never pass away, they just ‘Curl Up & Dye’ : )

 

Six Hours One Tuesday…

It started out being ‘let’s meet for lunch’ … it turned into a memorable day…

She’s 25, I’m 55. She’s full of big plans; I’m wondering what’s the plan?

Conversation goes from mundane to hysterical laughter and everything in between in a matter of minutes. The ebb and flow of two women a generation apart sharing their hearts.

Youth says ‘I’ve got forever’, wisdom (also known as age) says ‘Our days are numbered, live them fully’.

We finish lunch and wander through an antique store. We each marvel at the generations before and how things have changed – some for the better, some not so much.

Not yet wanting to part, we run errands together. Two women sharing soul to soul, gleaning from each other. At times the words flow easily, other times it takes a moment to form the thought.

Sitting on a bench in the park the older asks the younger ‘So what about God – where are you with Him?’ The younger sighs and says ‘I know I need to give the time it takes, I’m just at a loss as to how right now.’ Ideas are explored, silent prayers sent up.

The day grows late as the sun begins to dip low. The older wants to linger indefinitely, but knows she must let go. The younger is meeting a friend to while away a few more hours.

Hugs and kisses, memories made, six hours one Tuesday, the best hours ever…

What Do You See?

Life goes on all around us, do we see it?

Do you see the sun rise and blue sky or only the reflection in the mirror as you apply mascara?

Do you see the beautiful Asian girl with hair down to her hips and her painted parasol taking a walk on the dock while you busily enjoy lunch at the restaurant?

Do you see the fish enjoying flipping up and out and up and out of the water in the sparkly sunshine?

Do you see the two year old stare in wonder at the butterfly while his mother is busy on her cell phone and depositing into the ATM?

Do you see the storm clouds roll in as you finish up the day’s emails or laundry?

Do you see the breeze rustle the trees as you fuss over what’s for dinner?

Do you see the hurt on your daughter’s face when you half-listen to her story as your mind wanders to the to-do list?

Do you see the older person in front of you moving s-l-o-w-l-y or do you press on by the obstacle impeding your progress?

Life is a ‘dash’ between two dates – we must take time now to notice it before its gone…

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Til the Violas Return

?????????? Summer is early in Florida this year – yes we typically warm up in May, but we are talking the heat is here! That means humidity is on the way in quick order…

People joke and say we only have two seasons: early summer and late summer. I say we have Viola season and Mosquito season. Truth be told, we have six to seven wonderful months, and five or so where we breathe water and swat pests.

My flower garden is hanging in there. Morning glories are still trumpeting the morning. Petunias are still falling over the edge of the pot. Little violas are still holding their heads high when I go out in the morning. They greet me with their smiling faces and eyelashes. Yes, I did say eyelashes. Look at the face of a viola: it looks like someone took a mascara wand and perfectly brushed their little faces.

It’s only a matter of days now and blooms will give way to the heat leaving behind scraggly stems. Then my pots and my garden will look forlorn. So I’ll rake up what’s left and turn over the dirt. Store the pots and put away the watering can. But I know what’s coming and its fun too – afternoon thunderstorms striking awe in my heart, steam rising off the roads, coming out of restaurants with the a/c set to freezing into the thawing heat of good old Florida. So for now I say: Welcome summer, til the Violas return…

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Snakes…

Lying in wait he surprises every time…

As I reached to open the mailbox, there he was coiled and waiting. He was harmless, a black racer, but to continue to reach for the mailbox door was out of the question. Backing away, I decided to check the mail later.

Reaching for the pool’s skimmer basked lid just isn’t the same harmless activity it once was. Never again can I stick my finger in the hole to lift the lid. The coral snake resting happily just below in the basket took my breath away. Thank goodness for my brave teenage boy who came out and took care of him.

How about my friend who opened the door to her workshop out back? The snake fell from the door frame and onto her shoulder. I can’t believe she lived from the fright to tell about it.

That’s how it is with snakes, there when you least expect them. Guess that’s why satan is compared to a snake in the Bible. Lying in wait, ready to strike, frightening whenever encountered. Yet I rest in One more powerful, and in His Name I am safe from all the snakes of this world…

WRINKLES

This is not my favorite word… I like wrinkles on everyone…but me!

I like the wrinkles lined into a businessman’s face showing his years of success won through hard work.

Wrinkles gracing the sweet elderly lady talking to me in the line at the grocery store, more wisdom shared in those few moments than hours of research can yield.

Newborn ‘wrinkles’ are sweet, the folds in soft skin ready to stretch and smooth as they grow.

The thirty-something beauty getting her first forehead line who smiles at life and lives for the days and years ahead.

I love the wrinkles around my husband’s eyes – everything is tan except the wrinkles that are white from squinting into the sun.

Wrinkles on hands as they show me how to bake or how to crochet – the same hands that take my hands and say how lovely they are.

If there were a potion that guaranteed to do no harm, cost less than $50, and actually wiped out wrinkles wherever you rubbed it on, would I buy it? YES! But there isn’t and so I sigh when I see a new wrinkle, a new sag… Could it be that those who love me think “I love her wrinkles that came through her worry for me”, “Her years spent with me”, “Her smiles and laughter throughout each day”…….

Easter

There’s something about the air when spring is in full bloom, when cold winds have turned to calm breezes, when little girls turn up in frilly dresses.

There’s something about pastel colors adorning decorations, when flowers show off, when butterflies dance on wings so dainty.

A little boy with a bow tie and grandfather with the same. Grandmothers with wide brim hats hugging old friends.

The table set so all can sit around together even if ‘all’ is a few more than it can hold. The smell of baking ham and buttery rolls. Mom pushing back her hair as she ties on her apron.

What is all the fuss about? What is all the tradition about? Yet the question actually is: Who is the fuss all about and does the tradition remind all about Who?

There is great reason for celebration – though the events and the reasons put us all to shame. New life… New life not just in the hope of spring and all it brings, new life in the hope of Eternity and all it promises. A Roman cross symbolizes just part of the price paid for our selfishness, but oh that hope still offered – that is the ‘something’ about this day…

The Job

A young man set out one morning – to make his way in the world. He had a family and they needed him to make his mark.

His car was old, but his shirt was clean and pressed. He had tried so hard so many times, but he had to try again.

He asked a man in a suit with a power tie to give him a chance, the man told him he would keep his resume on file, maybe something would come up.

He asked a woman whose hair and accessories, matching shoes and purse certainly gave her an air of importance. She said she would speak to H.R. on his behalf.

Tired, he sat on a bench with head in hands. An elderly gentleman sat down next to him. “Son, you look worried. I have an extra sandwich with me and a soda, why don’t you share it with me.” Lifting his head he met wrinkled blue eyes, bright with a twinkle. Something about him made the young man swallow his pride “Thank you, I’m really hungry but can’t afford to spend what little we have on my lunch today.”

The old guy gently said “I’ve been where you are. No savings, no job, kids…” “How do you know all this?” the young man stopped chewing and asked. “Well, I don’t ‘know’ but something told me you needed someone to talk to and since it’s the middle of the day and you aren’t at work, I could guess what your troubles are.” The young man laughed and said “Yes, I guess that does make it obvious. I feel like I’m the only one who can’t seem to keep a good job and get ahead.”

“Are you healthy? Do your kids have shoes? Did your wife cook a meal last night?” The young man answered “Yes” to all those. “Do you have a sound mind? Strong hands? A desire to work?” Again he answered “Yes” to all. “Well, son, I can tell you this… Life throws us lots of curve balls, times we feel like giving in and giving up. But I have one last question for you and how you answer it is what sets a man apart from the world: If God was good the day before you lost your job, is He still good when you are out here getting turned down?”

The young man took a long drink of the soda. Before he could answer, the old guy stood and patted him on the back and said “Don’t tell me, tell Him…”

HANDS

jsf baby hand ???????????????? JSF hand ray old hand hand It’s been said that hands are the most difficult part of the body for an artist to master…perhaps it’s because our hands are used for everything from the everyday ordinary brushing our hair to the truly tender touch only a hand can convey.

A baby’s hands are precious – I’ve kissed each little finger of my babies and wondered at their perfection.

A child’s hands tell stories – like the little girl patting her daddy’s back as they stood singing in church or the little boy painted handprints.

A young woman’s hands convey hope – that of tasks still ahead that only her woman’s touch can accomplish and wonders that will fill her hands as the years go by.

Hard working calloused hands show man’s determination – to work each day to provide and to make a difference.

Gnarled old hands remind us that time is not kind – but those same hands folded in prayer speak wisdom gathered through the years.

There’s a pair of hands whose great purpose still amazes us all – those are the nail pierced hands that were stretched out and scarred so that you and I could look forward to an eternity of discovery with our hands….

 

 

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