Driving home from Wal-Mart this week on one of the county roads I saw a new sign hand lettered on a stake and pounded into the ground beside the road.  It said:  Mud Wrestling, September 19, Elks Lodge.  Apparently bingo and fish fries, standard entertainment at the Elks Lodge, is out and mud wrestling is in.  It has taken a lot of self discipline since I saw that sign to not call the Elks Lodge to inquire just who will be getting down and dirty in the mud pit.  Because the picture in my head of aging men in thongs with various size paunches mud wrestling while extremely amusing, isnít exactly pretty. 

Would you pay money to see him mud wrestle? 

Iím growing garlic in my kitchen.  Last year I went through a fresh garlic phase and I bought and used it almost every day.  One day I stopped using the fresh and went back to shaking powder from the little spice jar.  The poor little garlic cloves languished in my refrigerator produce drawer.  I donít know why I stopped, I just did.  Every time I cleaned out the refrigerator (which I do regularly, really) the garlic cloves looked fine and just having them in the produce drawer made me feel healthy, so I left them in there.  A couple weeks ago I noticed that they didnít look fine anymore because green sprouts were forming on the ends.  I figured if they lasted a whole year in my frig before they started reproducing they must possess hardy veggie souls and perhaps they could survive even my bumbling green/black thumb if I stuck them in some dirt.  Well, they seem to be taking root and sprouting but now I have a slight snag.  While I like that theyíre growing, healthy and I didnít kill them, the problem is they smell.  Strong.  When I cook, the smell blends in with the dinner smells and itís an acceptable ambiance, but after I clean up I donít want to inhale garlic anymore.  I am not capable of pulling them and throwing them away as my success with indoor plants is dismal.  On the other hand, they stink.  I think Iím going to have to transplant them to the side of the house in the backyard where we have some free space along the fence and see what happens there.  What if it turns into a giant garlic tree and takes over the whole backyard?  Oh well, I read the neighborhood bylaws and we can own up to 3 dogs and storage sheds must not be visible from the street but thereís no rule against stinking out the neighbors.

Itís alive! 

Last Friday I hosted a party for two and invited Ms. Clairol to come over.  I washed the gray out of my hair and turned it a dark brownish red.  Remember Carlyís hair on GH when she first went brunette?  Thatís the color my hair came out.  At least thatís what I told myself all afternoon while I turned my head this way and that trying to adjust my eyes to the reddish glow emanating off my head.  My daughter arrived home from school, took one look at me and asked, ďMom, why is your hair purple?Ē  I said, ďItís not purple, itís reddish brown.Ē  KaCee looked me over again and said with 9 year old wisdom, ďNo, itís purple.Ē  Two days and several shampoos later, Iím really a brownish red and the glow has been muted.  It explodes into red in the sunlight but I donít think it will blind anybody.  The box says the dye will wear off in approximately 28 shampoos.  Only 24 to go.

Last weekend I attended the wedding of my neighborís son.  Weíve been neighbors for almost 9 years so I watched him grow from a gangly junior high teen, into high schooler and now almost a college graduate.  An amazing kid, heís one of those you meet and know that heíll be successful in his endeavors.  Not only that, heís nice from the inside out.  I watched him recite his vows and teared up like he and I were somehow connected and I was more than the lady who lives two doors down from his mom and dad.  But when I thought about it, maybe I am more than the lady two doors down.  I didnít raise him or have meaningful conversations with him.  I didnít worry when he first received his driverís license and stayed out late.  I didnít sweat his grades or help him study.  What I did do was live two doors down, smile and wave at him as he walked or drove by, I spoke with him on the telephone asking for his mom, occasionally I asked how he was doing, I watched and interacted with his younger brothers and sisters because they play at my house.  He grew into a kind, college educated, Godly man and Iím sure a small part of his growth came from the security of living on a street filled with caring neighbors.  In ten years, as his life progresses into career and family, he may not remember my name, but the security net provided by kind, caring steady people around him as he muddled through his teenage years will always be a part of him.  Iím happy to be a link in that netÖmaybe we are connected in a tiny way.

My favorite part was when the pastor intoned solemnly, ďAs long as you both shall live.Ē

And T.J. solemnly repeated, ďAs both as we long shall live.Ē

Laughter erupted and a wedding memory was made. 

Several weeks have passed since our Las Vegas trip and Iím still cleaning and sorting boxes that we hauled back from storage.  Preparing for a garage sale I upped my efforts and finally sorted through the boxes of books.  Iíd put those boxes off Ďtil last knowing that despite my best efforts to efficiently make piles of books to take to the used book store, books for the garage sale, and books that I couldnít bear to part with Iíd slow down and have to visit with each book.  Guess which pile grew the fastest?  Of course it was the pile of books I couldnít bear to part with.  I love books.  They represent trips to new and exotic places with characters I can love.  To this day, I can quote lines from books I read as a young girl.  Dialogue that moved me runs through my head at odd moments while characters and good stories kick my imagination into overtime.  I am rarely bored and I credit my ability to run scenes through my head with the imagination that grew through reading, reading and more reading since 4th grade when I fell in love with books.  There arenít many books in the stack for the used book store and even less in the garage sale pile, but my, oh my, a ton of great stories are waiting for me to reread and appreciate in the box of books (old friends) that I am keeping. 

ďIf you think youíre flyingÖyou are.Ē

Summer at Worldís End by Monica Dickens  


Treading through Emotional Quicksand

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