Friday, May 29, 2009

The Pleasure Was Mine

I've not read a book that moved me as much as this one has in ages. It is written beautifully, and I regret that I'm finished with it, I just picked it up from the library on Thursday, and I'm writing this Friday night.

The author is Tommy Hays, a writer in Asheville, NC. He has written 2 other books, I hope they are as good, I'll be looking for them soon.

The characters and the issues were so real to me - the painter, the artist, the gardener, the reader, dementia, long term care & nursing home frustrations and guilt - I truly felt I was there, that I recognized Prate, Newell, and Jackson as well as Irene and even Billie. I'm not sure if it was just the descriptive words of the writer or if I just felt connected to the characters so easily by their familiar roles.

Trying to write now about it seems really pathetic but I felt the need to record how touching this book was. I'm glad I hadn't read any reviews and just grabbed the book off the shelf at the last minute - my library time was running out and I hadn't found anything. Everything in the fiction area seemed to involve vampires, murder, or some other predictable topic...and so what did I grab? I unknowningly grabbed a book about a family dealing with alzheimers...yeah that sounds pretty depressing I know, but it wasn't.

I thought I might regret it when I first realized what it was about. It surprised me how much it didn't depress me - it inspired me and moved me very deeply. I cried at several parts in the book, but it wasn't a depressing sort of cry, it was because it was so beautiful and I felt I was right there with these people. It showed just how ugly and hard and unfair life can be, but in the midst of it, we have been given love and hope (it doesn't touch on Christianity really, but from my perspective I feel that God is the source of love and hope) and the combination of those two things is so powerful that even in facing such a sad part of life, there is still goodness and beauty and even humor.

If you get a chance to read this book, I so highly recommend it, well that's obvious if you've read this far! I almost want to go buy a copy to have it on hand, it was that good.

Some specific excerpts from the book:

"For weeks, Irene thought she was in a fancy hotel, that is when she didn't think she was on a cruise ship." -- this just struck me as funny, the individual rooms, activities, and dining "rules" just made me think of how perfect the analogy.

"...I had begun to see that the older we became, the smaller the victories, and if we didn't glory in the little ones, then likely as not, we gloried in nothing." -- it is true, some people can just glory only in their tragedies (no matter how big or small) and some people have learned to choose to continue to glory in life, in finding goodness and love and choosing to be happy no matter the circumstance.

"And the next thought, a terrible one, was that in a way, by being the best mother a mother could be to her son and the best wife a wife could be to her husband, Irene had inadvertantly kept Newell and me at a distance from one another. She had done all our work for us." -- this one really struck me - I read it and stopped and literally said "oh wow" - it just jumped off the page at me. All through the book I was almost jealous of how Irene seemed like the best wife and mother, how beautiful she was to so many and how she lived like she knew what was important and her life reflected it - I was thinking how much I wished I was more like her. I'm definitely not the best mother or best wife one can be, but I feel like that is always my goal, and I am continually disappointed in myself for not reaching it. I'm often trying to be better to be the most needed, to have my husband and child feel I'm the best and can take care of everything and be everything they need. How selfish is that? Perhaps being the best shouldn't be the goal, perhaps imperfection and acceptance and letting go allows for more happiness and enjoyment in life, and makes more room for others to step up and be their best. It is a difficult realization for me in some ways, and one I have to really think about more.

There are more quotes I want to add from the book, but I have to go to bed, it is 1:25 am now...sigh...and my little boog will be up by 7 am I'm sure!

Monday, May 25, 2009

From Easter to Memorial Day (in other words, I'm caught up finally!)

I have a hard time editing down I just post oodles, sorry.

This was back near Easter when the azaleas were blooming, and the trees were just leafing out
Gordon has reclaimed the sandbox after a long winter without sand in his toes...ah joy!
It was a wild spring with temperatures up one day and down the next, this day it was really warm and my little man loved running around with no shirt or shoes - and no mosquitoes yet either...wish I could say that now - we've got swarms right now!These are the first real iris blossoms I've had - my elderly gardening loving neighbor gave me a whole bunch two years ago, it took them that long to get adjusted to their new home I guess, last year I think only 3 bloomedMy little boy is a tree hugger...or a flower hugger...or a shrub hugger - every time something blooms he tells me "awwww, I have to hug it" and I remind him not to hug it too much that he hurts it, so he gently wraps his arms around it and pats it gently...a whole azalea like this, or a single tulip...what a sweetheart.
These are parrot tulips - they are just gorgeous, I wish I had more, the blue/purple really stands out I think
This is a viburnum with snowball blossoms - big puffs that start out a pretty shade of light green and turn snow white, they bloom a long time. Ahh I'm so thankful for that old pick up truck, we've really put it to work this spring hauling garden soil in and load after load of mulch too!We have rejoined the Children's Museum - what a fabulous place. I couldn't resist buying the annual membership again - it is such a great place to go, especially on a rainy weekday. Now they have expanded the train section - the biggest selling feature for us as you can imagine. Here Gordon is shoveling "coal" (black foam pieces that are cut up like coal chunks) into the steam engine, with each addition the light flares brighter, as if it were really working. Then steam actually comes out of the train funnel on top, the bell can clang, the kids can dress up in costumes like engineers & conductors, they can put luggage in the luggage car or pretend eat dinner in the dining car - Gordon just loves this! Plus they have 2 train tables with the wooden Thomas the Train sets. He can easily spend several hours with that alone. But he also loves the rock climbing wall and physical fitness toys, the bubbles area, the real race car, police car, and firetruck, oh - and the airplane where he can sit in the pilots seat and use all the controls and then exit by sliding down a luggage chute. And I almost forgot the giant indoor sandbox...we go once a week now - and it is directly across the street which keeps me supplied with new books in the same trip! So here's Gordon in action at the museum:

Stoking the coal... and so intently too - he takes this train business very very seriously.
checking out the view from the dining car windowhere's the front of the engineyou can also make the train whistle and the bell clang, the station is that building behind Gordon in the picture
Here you can see the whole train section, with the water tower and station
The train was named the Gate City Express, Greensboro was nicknamed the Gate City in the 1800's because it was considered the transportation hub of North Carolina - one of the great things about the location of the children's museum? If I time it right we get to see either the Amtrak or a CSX freight train go right by when we arrive or leave - you haven't seen excitement until you've seen Gordon's face when he hears that train rumbling towards us! I LOVE seeing him so happy and excited about it!
Here we've moved on to the train tables...where we spend most of our time
you can see the airplane behind him (kind of hard to miss...)
Here's a picture of our little Virginia Tech Hokie playing the other side...wearing a University of Virginia shirt supplied by the MIL... Now on to Memorial Weekend...a wonderful weekend spent in the back yard with lots of sand and water and even a tent...we just stayed home and enjoyed it all and cooked out here.
You can see our raised vegetable beds next to the house, I can't wait to have home grown tomatoes this year - we have several varieties plus peppers (bell and jalapeno), beans, peas, corn, potatoes, cucumber, and zucchini. I've got pumpkin, squash, onions & melons in the far far back part of the yard. Oh and blueberries along the other side of the fence and also some lettuce and tons of strawberries (in pots)...oh and also mint, thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary and parsley too, here on the deck...we've gone a bit overboard maybe? And to think we might have to move...oh my.
Gordon loved the time in the water and the sand...he plays hard and wears out nicely on days like this!
The day was so perfect, not too hot or cold, and not rainy - it wasn't all fun and games though, at least not for me...
While my "helper" played with the sand and water, I had this to unload and spread...a full truck bed of garden soil for the 2nd raised bed...ah my achin' back! Of course every load of dirt shoveled and wheeled and dumped and spread into the beds was followed up with a free ride for Gordon in the wheel long as he had fun...I'll just need a heating pad and some advil, but I'm sure I'll recover...Here's a closer up picture of the two raised beds (after I got the dirt and seeds put in the 2nd bed). We have them covered with bird netting...little twerps go after the seeds & seedlings if we don't.
The blueberries are on the other side of this fence, next year (if we're still here!) we should have a huge crop, this year, maybe enough for one bowl.
here's the hostas and hydrangeas and a camellia around the bird feeder pole...they have a lot of growing to do to fill in.
...the azaleas, up closeand the spirea...
the bumble bees enjoyed the day too
It was a beautiful Memorial Day Weekend 2009, hope yours was too!
I believe this means I'm FINALLY caught up with my pictures!!! Yay! Now spring has sprung and we'll be celebrating summertime in June with a yard sale and lots more time outside I hope, and maybe a few other adventures too...stay tuned!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spring Sprang...

Spring was gorgeous, and I thought I'd better post these early photos of it before it was technically over. These pictures were before the azaleas popped open and the pink tulips bloomed. Spring here in NC starts in mid March when the quince, forsythia, tulips, and daffodils are popping open, Then into late March & April when the dogwoods and creeping phlox open up, and finally on to the later blooms of alliums, iris, viburnums, peonies, and even roses are blooming. It is a wonderfully colorful and almost surreal time of year when it seems more trees are white, pink, and purple than green!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Easter...I'm catching up...slooooowly

Easter party - G was invited back to his school to join in an Easter party/egg hunt at a classmates house. Here's the group with Ms. Sharron and Ms. Kris:It was G's turn to hop like a bunny (he's in the mid-hop)The fire department showed up and the kids LOVED it!G was totally fascinated by all the equipmentespecially the ax...and where it was hung on the truckand tapping on the poor fireman's mask...over and over againthe whole crew ready for actionWhile they were learning about firemen and the truck, the Easter bunny visited the back yard, so it was time to start hunting for eggs:Then it was time to eat...and boy did G eat...and eat...he was the last one to leave the table and go back to playing!Playing T-ball with Daddy & his little buddy T from school