Tuesday, September 29, 2009
"So your husband is home from a deployment to Iraq. How do you feel?"
The reporter stood in front of me with his pencil poised over his spiral notepad, waiting expectantly for a take-away quote for his article. I glanced over at my newly-returned husband as the din of the soldiers, families, and community members reverberated around the gym.
How did I feel? Desperately tired after several nights short of sleep. We had been up late the night before decorating the armory in an explosion of red, white, and blue, followed by writing a paper for my class that morning. Sleep was as elusive as it had been on Christmas Eve as a child with my mind running in a thousand directions, trying to gather the loose ends of a thousand trailing thoughts and to-dos.
How did I feel? Relieved that after all the errands had been run, the chairs and tables had been set up, the balloons blown and tied, the food set up and the house cleaned, the time had finally come to allow my thoughts and worries to relax. My husband was safely home after one last plane ride, one last over-the-road haul.
How did I feel? Nostalgic for this armory, where we had spent so much time over the last several years. During the commander's address I ran my eyes over the flags hung to recognize battles long won, the foreign names as familiar as those of the towns all around. I wouldn't miss the separations, but I might miss the camaraderie, the feeling of belonging to something important, the feeling of a place and time in history.
How did I feel? Anxious to find out how much we had grown together and how much we had grown apart as a couple and as a family. Four hundred days is a long time to pass without each other, and facing the unknown together again was as new as a first date and as old hat as a worn, comfy sweatshirt.
How did I feel? Disappointed that things hadn't all gone to plan, that we hadn't been able to gather more of the community to welcome our soldiers, that there had been delays, that some things had gone undone. Even when the largest and most important things were taken care of, the voice of perfection whispered that it hadn't been just so.
How did I feel?
I glanced from my newly-returned husband back to the reporter as the excited, weary, aching grin on my face stretched even wider with the recognition. "I am thrilled to death," I drawled as I reached to slip under my husband's arm.
And I still am. My husband, my hero, is home!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
If you haven't clicked on my list of friends' blogs, you might not be aware of Divulge with Dani, a blog written by...you guessed it...my friend, Dani!
We met online several years ago through a military-related forum, and I've enjoyed getting to know Dani through many changes in both our lives. Although she lives in Canada and I in the U.S., we still share many of the same interests and viewpoints. When we don't, we broaden each other with new thoughts and perspectives. I respect Dani and count her as a true friend.
She has given me one more reason to admire her, though: from now through November 11th, Dani is celebrating an extended salute to military members. Her blog is dedicated to sharing the military experience with those who haven't been there, as well as to show respect and honor to those who have. I think it's a wonderful project she's embarking on, and I hope you'll join me in following Dani's thoughts in the next month and a half. Please feel free to link and pass her posts on to any military members or family members you know, as I'm sure Dani will share many things they'll appreciate. If you have any suggestions or would like something featured on her blog, contact Dani. She is open to all suggestions!
Friday, September 18, 2009
Instead of buying the "artisan" breads at the store on Fridays, I took up a new tradition: making my own. At first I was just hoping to make something close to the same heavenly tasting loaf as the congregation's favored baker, but along the way I fell in love with the process.
Baking isn't something that can be done in the microwave, and although many people enjoy using breadmakers, for me they leave something to be desired. Bread takes time, it takes energy, and to a point it takes skill. Ask anyone who's over-kneaded, or over-heated or under-sugared their yeast. The perfect loaf really is a work of art.
Like any artist, half the fun (or more than half) is the process. I have made bread before in my life, and the most I remembered was aching hands and tired arms from wrestling with that dough. Knowing what awaits, I sometimes sigh at the thought of making bread. Once I begin, though, the artist takes over. As I mix the flour, yeast, eggs, sugar, salt, and warm water, I focus on this bowl, stirring ingredients together into a foamy mush that transforms into a thickened mass. Finally, a slightly crumbly mound forms and I take it from the bowl.
This is my favorite part of breadmaking. One hand sprinkles and spreads flour across the smooth surface as the other sets the mound down and presses it. Then hand-over-hand I fold and press, turn and push, flattening a ball into a platter and doubling it into a sandwich before rolling it into a ball again. As my hands work an almost mechanical dance across and around the surface of the dough, my mind does the same. Thoughts from the day are pressed and squeezed, flattened and smoothed. I think about worries, I think about cares, I think about joys, and I think about God.
Then the extra flour has been soaked up into the dough and it sits, an elastic ball. I can't rush it into the oven yet, because like me, the dough needs time to rest. So I put it aside and rest as well. In time I wrestle with it again, and finally it will be ready for baking. There is a rhythm to breakmaking that is soothing and therapeutic. Much like the wisdom of Solomon, there is a time to knead and a time to rest. A time to bake and a time to eat.
Baking bread reminds me that we all need that rise and fall, ebb and flow in our lives. Sometimes we must work, sometimes we worry...but there are also times we must rest and times we must release the worries. Making bread is an excellent way to prepare for rest and peace. Hopefully, between the stretching and the growing, something edifying comes of all that work. Then the cycle is finished until next time, when I'll solve more problems while working the dough.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Today is Helen at Random Musing's birthday, so Happy Birthday, Helen!
In honor of Helen's birthday, I'm posting a meme I found on her blog. Like her blog, it is random and may incur musing...most frequently musing over whether I've lost my mind, but that's not the point of Helen's blog.
USING ONLY ONE WORD! It's not as easy as you might think! Copy and change the answers to suit you and pass it on. It's really hard to only use one word answers.
1. Where is your cell phone? time-out
2. Birth order? first
3. Last thing you ate? words
4. Your mother? beautiful
5. Your father? impressive
6. Your favorite? books
7. Your dream last night? nah
8. Your favorite drink? cocoa
9. Your dream/goal? off-the-wall
10. What room you are in? living
11. Your hobby? obsession
12. Your fear? crazy
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? dunno
14. Where were you last night? Mosul
15. Something that you aren't? brunette
16. Muffins? blueberry
17. Wish list item? peace
18. Where you grew up? hometown
19. Last thing you did? comment
20. What are you wearing? lunch
21. Your TV? off
22. Your pets? barking
23. Friends? crazier
24. Your life? fantasy
25. Your mood? cantankerous
26. Missing someone? Hubby
27. Car? loud
28. Something you're not wearing? CrownJewels
29. Your favorite store? Walmart
30. Your favorite color? cerulean
33. When is the last time you laughed? yesterday
34. Last time you cried? yestereve
35. Who will resend this? None
36. One place that I go to over and over? restroom
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
When I was in elementary school the local skating rink would host school nights once a month. I was so excited when my mom would drive me into town and give me two dollar bills...one for my entrance fee, the other for my skate rental. I'd walk in the door, smell the stale odor of popcorn, pizza, and leather, and breathe deeply. Then I would head over to the counter, stand on tippy toe to see over the ledge, and after removing a shoe to give to the employee I would receive a set of leather rollerskates, my prized possession.
I scuffed my way along the dirty carpet, worn thin from years of wheels clicking and clacking over it, to an alcove where the mom of one of my friends was guarding jackets and shoes. Once I dropped off my own pair of sneakers and shoved my feet into those unforgivingly hard skates, I jerked on the laces and painstakingly tightened each loop until I had reached the top and tied off both sets. Then straightening my pants back over the hightops, I would push to my feet and feel a slight rush in my head as I adjusted to being a wheeled creature instead of a sure-footed one.
Clumsily I pushed one foot and then the other, holding onto the rink wall for dear life until I was swinging myself up the ramp and out onto the varnished wood surface, trying to find my way into the swirl of skaters as the music beat into my brain. Eventually I let go of the wall and began to roll around the circuit in earnest, swaying my arms out for momentum and keeping an eye out for the students I envied most: the speed-skaters.
Most of us were mediocre or decent skaters, but a special few had an aptitude for taking flight like a duck low over water, and these were the ones that would create a breeze as they flashed past me. They were also the ones I had to be careful to avoid while trying to get out one of the many exit ramps so I could hobble over to the snack counter for a drink. But I loved their special, personal skates made of blue or pink or black leather, the in-line wheels instead of the traditional four rollers. I begged for and received a set of skates to practice with on the ten-foot-long sidewalk at home...the metal slip-over-the-shoes kind, not permitted on the skating rink surface because of the possibility of scratching. But I worked for hours at home, skating back and forth, trying to become a speed-skater, too.
Then one skate night I was sure I was ready. The DJ called for a break in order to clear the rink for the speed-skate competition, but I pushed my way onto the floor and managed to keep up for a good five feet...before the DJ requested that "the little girl in pink please leave the skate floor."
It broke my seven-year-old heart with a rush of shame and anger. Why wouldn't they let me try? I could do it! And that other small voice saying "you knew you weren't in their league. What were you thinking?" I had a hard time enjoying the rest of the skate that night, but I did go on to more skate events. I made sure to take a snack break when the speed-skate competition came up so I wouldn't embarass myself again, even years after.
Sometimes I still feel that way. I may be an adult, but the seven-year-old with the wild blonde hair escaping its braid whispers to me "what are you thinking? You know you're out of your league." She tells me that one day soon some adult will tap me on the shoulder and say "get off the floor...this competition is for real adults. Real mommies and wives, not little kids play-acting."
My adult self knows better than to listen for long, because there is so much to be done and so little time. But maybe it's time to listen to the little girl and allow her to be heard. Like an ignored child, she continually returns, repeating her complaint. Maybe it's time to take a break and allow the kid out of the box for a bit. A cry for attention will only get more insistent if it isn't answered.
No, I won't be trying on my skates. The last time I did I was unknowingly a month pregnant, and banged and bruised myself well and good. But maybe it's time for a walk in the park to feed the ducks, a bike ride with the wind in my ponytail, or a roll down a hill in the grass. Hopefully the little girl will know that the woman hasn't forgotten her...but she's no longer out of her league.