Fireflies or Lightning Bugs?

I suppose it depends on where you grew up.. Fireflies? Lightning Bugs? Either name is so much fun. The minute you hear one or the other you have visions of children chasing through the night air with jars at the ready…

Once, at an out of the way but very awesome Inn in the eastern Tennessee mountains, I sat in the dining room for dinner. This was my first trip to Tennessee and I hadn’t seen lightning bugs since I was a kid. As we sat and talked I looked out the window and said to my husband “They have that whole tree lit up with lights, that’s so pretty.” I continued to talk and eat and when I looked next I noticed the lights were off. No they were on again. No they were off… The whole tree was full of lightning bugs. That night I fell in love with the Tennessee mountains.

Not too many months later as I sat on a porch swing the little night lights began to appear. One blinked here, another there. Soon more joined in. Kind of like a silent symphony. Mesmerized I swung back and forth in the quiet watching the show. One flew right up where I was sitting. he landed on the arm of the swing, little light going on and off, on and off. In the dusky evening I could make out his whole form every time his little light came on. They do look like a fly with a green light on their rear.

Then I found out that in June every year up in the Smoky Mountains there is, believe it or not, a festival to watch the synchronized lightening bugs. They even play music while you watch. And apparently there is only one other part of the world where they appear to be synchronized. Fascinating… God’s creation is something to behold. Doesn’t it seem like some of it was put here just to entertain us, whom He loves so much?

One more reason to say ‘Thank You’ for all He bestows on us…

A Friend Loves…At All Times

Do you have a friend? I hope you do. There are people who go through life and don’t have that friend – the one who knows them almost as well as their mother. Friendship is a lot of work. You give, they take. You take, they give. Sometimes the giving can seem lopsided, other times you know they are going above and beyond.

Friendship is about a lot of things. It’s about laughter – the good times. It’s about tears – the hard times. It’s about finishing each other’s sentences – it’s about discovering something you never knew before. Most of all friendship is knowing in your heart that life is better because of your friend.

God tells us much about friendship including the sweet reminder “…the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” Proverbs 27:9 I have a Best Friend – twenty-seven years in the making. The friendship we share is heartfelt, it takes time and it takes prayer to have this kind of friend. A life long friendship means many stories to share of the experiences you’ve enjoyed and grown through, from the hilarious to the heart wrenching.

Here’s a suggestion…Dive into life with someone, forgive when you need to, knowing you’ll need forgiveness along the way. Give all of yourself, share fun, be there. You may just find yourself, twenty-seven years from now, savoring the bliss of having a B.F.F. (Best Friend Forever)

Happy 4th of July!

flag   Today is my favorite holiday – I’ve often been asked why…

Could be that I love summertime and it’s the true summer holiday. Could be that it usually means barbeques and our children. Could be I love fireworks…

I was blessed with great history teachers in grade school and high school. They made history come alive. American history was my favorite. Aren’t we all intrigued by a people with courage, a cause worth fighting for, and the sacrifice they made for their stand?

Have you ever studied The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers? Such insight these men had – their clarity of thought has stretched 200 plus years into the future. Only now are the protections they tried to afford us being destroyed. Abraham Lincoln rightly predicted “Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”

Let us never say lightly ‘God Bless America’. Say it with conviction. If He withholds blessing, those who enjoy our freedoms yet are not proud Americans, will succeed in tearing down this great country… God Bless America and Happy 4th of July!

Pedal Pushers, Puddle Jumpers, and other funny ‘P’ words…

P is a funny letter – literally. Once an author, known for her humorous style, said that she purposely used funny sounding words to get the reader’s attention.

Pedal pushers are today’s capris. Not so long ago it wasn’t acceptable for a girl or woman to wear anything other than a dress or skirt. An exception that came along in the 50’s were pedal pushers – invented so girls could ride bikes and not have their skirts get caught in the spokes. Also from the 50’s were poodle skirts  – the ‘thing’ to wear to dances – soon they were a teen’s everyday fashion.

Puddle jumpers doesn’t refer to clothing but to small planes making short trips. Ponytail is a fun ‘p’ word – little girls with one pulled up on each side or a teen beauty with one bouncing as she walks. Price Pfister is fun with the silent ‘P’ in Pfister – in the 90’s they made a series of commercials playing off ‘f’ words by putting a ‘p’ in front  – “The Pfabulous Pfaucet With The Pfunny Name”.

How can you help but smile when hearing ‘patty pan pie crust’ or moms playing ‘patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man’ with their babies? Gotta love pickles, but steer clear of prickly pears 🙂

Lots of cartoon characters have ‘P’ names: Popeye, Power Puff Girls, Porky Pig, Pebbles, Peter Pan, Pink Panther, Pinocchio, Piglet, Pepe lePew – to name a few! Mary Poppins was practically perfect in every way!

So why this post about the letter ‘p’? Perhaps it’s because plenty of us need to pause in our busyness, ponder the funny, and project a little humor into another’s path.

Thru the Window…

Clouds swirl, turning from white to gray to almost black. One large drop splatters, followed by scattered pelts of drops here and there. Drooping heads and wilted petals need relief. Suddenly – with a whoosh – the rain begins to soak thirsty ground. Winds become still, puddles form, leaves glisten. Once again what was needed for tree and flower, grass and herb has been provided.

Thru the window I see it, I watch it, I come to know it.

It is much like our souls. Clouds gather and darken. We look for the quenching our thirsty hearts need. We try fixing things ourselves, little relief arrives. We enlist others to lighten the load, maybe a little relief is found. But still the clouds linger, the knowing that all is not well. Yet if we’ll bow, if we’ll call on Him – then whoosh – like life giving rain the peace we need descends. Calm restores us, rest finds us. Once again what was needed for today has been provided.

Thru the window of His Word I see it, I feel it, I know Him…

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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