8.31.19 | pros to hiking at 4 a.m.

  • It is pitchblack and you can see the constellations
  • The four-lane highway is empty and forgotten
  • The air is chilly and cool
  • The crickets are deafening
  • You never see another soul
  • Deer pass you
  • The entire walk you can untangle the knotted threads in your mind
  • At the top the valley is filled with twinkling lights of far-away cities.
  • You get to watch the sky wake up from your high perch
  • When everything lightens, you can pass the time watching the thick fog move through the hills and listening to roosters from a distant farm.
  • You can hike six miles and still get home in time for breakfast

 

surviving a book shopping spree 101

We had planned it three different times.

And every time something came up.

Like a fair.

Or a wedding.

Or school-preparing.

And/or we just plan forgot, because well… we’re us.

My friend (who, for the purpose of this post and future posts, shall be given her rightful name of Eeyore) and I on the last meeting of our homeschool co-op this spring had come up with the idea of a joint book shopping spree. We both went home that very afternoon and made an envelope toward the cause. And began adding to it.

Slowly but surely, we fattened our pets and by the end of the summer, they had grown into (slightly) plump little envelopes sitting and waiting.

So – finally –  this Monday we woke up to a brilliant blue sky, grabbed our bags, and headed out for a day of wandering around malls and antique shops.

In short: it was amazing.

Here’s what we did to survive and live to rant about the awesomeness tell the tale:

 

#1. Plan a season ahead to start on saving

Books are expensive. (Can I get an amen?)

I don’t think I have ever gone on a book shopping spree before. Yes, I’ve bought a book now and then, but I always feel guilty spending too much on myself and avoided it. I would walk through stores and simply make mental notes of titles to ask for my birthday.

And so while the trip itself felt a little last minute in timing, we were very prepared thanks to Eeyore’s grand thinking four months earlier.

Every penny counts after all.

 

#2. Dig deep in your closet for partially used Chick-fil-a or Starbucks gift cards

Ah yes. If you want to stay out long (which, is that even a question?) check your closet. Below the stack of books, boots, and bags, who knows what you can find?

Or maybe there’s one in your purse.

That’s a good place to check too.

 

#3. Visit a used book store first

Thank goodness for used book stores.

Digging through shelfs and shelfs of cracked, battered, and torn books can feel a little depressing or frustrating, but it really is worth all the little treasures you find. That book of poetry overlooked. That signed novel tucked behind a thick row of other books.

Don’t pass up the used book store in your shopping spree. It’s a good start and who knows? You might come out only having spent a eighty cents on a beautiful copy of The Book Thief!

 

#4. Walk through the store once to get a feel for it, then take a second round

To do it right, you must understand your surroundings. Take a quick stroll through the aisles, locate sections, skim titles, and note where you might find coffee if needed.

Once you feel familiar with the store and its layout, you are ready to begin the real work. Roll up your sleeves and grab a basket. This might take a while.

 

#5. Bring a shoulder angel (or devil depending on how you look at it…)

AKA a friend.

There’s no one like a friend to help fill in your knowledge about books, stick their favorites in your face and demand you buy them, or pat you on the head and slowly pry your fingers from that copy of the complete collection of Winnie the Pooh, when you already own two other versions.

I know I know, the golden hardback cover is gorgeous and I feel the temptation too, but not today, okay honey??

Double points if friend-brought is a writer and will understand your exclamations of needing to write down a name for a character, or listen to your critique of a cover.

 

#6. Bring a list for the books you don’t end up getting but might want to read another time

AAAh

sO mAnY CHOICES

Rows and rows of them.

What about putting a handy dandy notebook to use? Add to that growing list of to-be-reads. You don’t have enough books on that giant until the list itself could be packaged and sold.

And lastly, for those homeschoolers out there…

 

#7. Save money!

Did you know that educators can join the Books-A-Million membership club for free??

YEP.

That means, you homeschoolers, you get special membership sales just because you stay home to complete your algebra lessons. (Okay technically its your mom that gets it, but still…)

We only just stumbled upon this fact Monday and we immediately put it to use.

Cause who doesn’t want to buy books for cheap??


 

Over all, after discussing our wonderful experience, Eeyore and I decided to try to make it a tradition in starting off our school year, but with one little change. In order to go? First make sure you have read every single book you already own.

Now excuse me while I go completely reorganize my bookshelf…

The Beauty of Words

Some people collect stamps. Others collect rocks or trinkets or magnets or keychains: things to remember places by or things to set on their shelf and admire.

I collect words.

But words aren’t quite as tangible as a rare rock or gold trophy, right? Words are almost abstract. Can you touch words? Can you taste words? Can you feel words?

Words are beautiful. I say them sometimes to simply taste them on my tongue. “Pomegranate” is a lovely example: It has an elegant, soft pop that slips back, like the edge a the tide, sliding up, sending a wave of chilly shock up your tingling limbs, and then pulling back.

Maybe not all words flow as smoothly as others, but with each I can taste a clear personality. Like the words, “lurid” or “dado.” The first begging to be sneered, the later to be stuck into a limerick.

Each word has a taste. Each word has it’s rhythm.

And that’s just the personality of it’s outside form.

What about it’s meaning?

It’s funny how specific words can be.

Have you ever wanted to know what to say when you throw someone out a window? Maybe it would be handy for throwing out insults?  Defenestration would be the word you’re looking for. What about describing your favorite activity? Curling up with a huge, thick book. Or curling up with a tome.

Or what about a sense of longing in your heart for something that is now gone. A wishful heart for the “good ole days.” A deep homesickness.

There’s a Welsh word for that. My favorite word in fact.

Hiraeth.

Even in its taste, the word whispers of deep longing.

It sounds like the kind of word you would stand on a distant moor in the middle of a misty morning and mummer to yourself.

One interesting thing I took away from reading the novel Watership Down earlier this year was the world building behind the rabbits’ language.

Different cultures, I realized, shape different words.

While we have no need for the word “silflay,” the rabbits need something to call the action of leaving their holes to go feed on grass.

That fascinates me.

But words are not only beautiful and interesting, they are powerful too.

I feel the glow of words shaped around love. I feel the sting of words shaped around hate and anger. In fact, as the Bible says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:24) That’s a huge power and, like from the quote in the old Spiderman movies: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Do you use words? How often do you use them? On a daily basis?

I do. A lot actually. And so, everyday I hold the power of life and death in my hands. Every minute, every second, I could explode. I could blow up in someone face and scream and yell and tear them down. Or I can take a deep breath. I can smile. And I can ask, “How can I help you today?”

You see, words are tools. Like a hammer, you can use it to build a house. You can shelter your family or bless a person in need. But also like a hammer, you can take words turn them into your weapon. They can be used to tear or build, to scream or laugh, to calm down or to stir up, and to dance or cry.

We all have heard the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We curl up in the night and whisper it ourselves, saying it shouldn’t hurt when it does. But it just isn’t true.

We see in Proverbs 12:18 that wise words heal while rash words harm: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Also Proverbs 15:4: “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

In fact, I could keep going. The power of the tongue is a recurring theme in the Proverbs as King Solomon emphasizes the value of a prudent man’s words and the iniquity of rash man’s.

Words are also powerful because they shape one of the ways we communicate. They help us express our pains and share our thoughts. Collecting them can be useful.

So what are some of your favorite words?

 

Traffic in the City

Like a flock of startled birds

flapping out their wings for flight

umbrellas in the crowd

 

open wide. They bob like

bottles in a stream, colors

catching eyes but secrets

 

corked inside. The taxi drivers

honk like geese & grab which

fish they can, pluck one

 

up then drag it off with

squeals and round the corners with

a calling screech.

Why Kermit Is My New Best Friend + Looking On the Bright Side

I have returned!

Hither from a magical land of falafels, wedding cake, and cousins.

I was told I should write a story about falafels gone wrong, but unfortunately, I was absent from the kitchen when the woeful event occurred and only heard tale of it later when I was asked to step out of the way as the huge can of burning oil was run out of the house to be disposed of.

When the Falafel Flopped does sound like a best seller though, doesn’t it?

And everyone wants to read a story where Whole Foods is the hero, right?

Well, amidst the busy kitchen bustle, the fountains of flowers, the family get-togthers, the glorious flood of frisbee games (in the middle of thunderstorms no less…), gyros and falafels, and the mysterious mosquito bites that appeared the day after the wedding, I have made a new best friend.

Reader, meet Kermit, Kermit meet reader.

Kermit is my new role model. And he really is a frog-of-all-trades.

I have found his wisdom in moments to be absolutely priceless and breathtakingly insightful.

Kermit… Kermit is one of those crazy-talented friends that just gets you. One of those people you respect.

For example.

When your first sibling gets engaged.

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And then gets married a few months later.

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And then when you realize school is just a few days away.

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And then you realize you still haven’t finished your book’s first draft like you were hoping…

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And then you spontaneously decide to make a goal of writing 10k this month.

But then achieve half of that goal in two days.

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And then someone asks the name of your brother’s “wife.”

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And then you discover that your little brother is officially taller than you even when you wear your high heels.

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And then you realize you’re the oldest non-legal adult out of the siblings…. your turn is next.

 

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And then you get stuck on the subject school again and realize you’re only a few years away from graduating high school….

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And then realize that the next academic Mock Trial season is coming and you can’t wait and so you begin flailing your arms and screaming.

But, of course, first grab a legal pad and your favorite black pen and throw on a suit.

Then cue the flailing.

And you end up screaming the Rules of Evidence and Hearsay Objections, instead of random gibberish.

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(For those who don’t know Mock Trial is simply the best sport ever and the only sport you play in high heels and suits and the only sport you get to scribble notes on legal pads and pretend you know everything or pretend to cry or pretend you’re British and the only sport you get to interrogate people during and the reason I have a strange sense of being home when at a courthouse. See why I’m flailing??)

Well sitting here eating a fresh slice of homemade zucchini bread and sipping some Irish tea and trying to sit still (because my mind is still stuck on Mock Trial…), I’m realizing that I’m not sure where to take this post.

My (not-so-little) little brother said that he has never seen a random post from me.

…even though I literally had a post named random.

He says I should just randomly end the post with a random “bye” and shrug off any sense of satisfaction and unconcluded flailing, and no lesson learned.

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Confirmed fact: My little brother is Fozzie Bear. 😉

Not that I don’t like silliness, jokes, or such wonderful-ness, it just feels so inadequate to leave you hanging. Especially after flailing in your face and internal screaming in excitement and shock.

I remember one time chatting with some friends and one offered a template: Thanks to the family who birthed me, raised me, and taught me to _____.

I filled that blank in with “laughter.”

My family has a talent of being able to step back and laugh when everything goes wrong. Not in a mean or flippant way, but just in a fun, spunky, relieving-sort-of-way.

Like when the fire alarm goes off at a hotel in the middle of the night after a day running around at a rollercoaster park, even though it turned out there was no fire, and we end up standing in the middle of a parking lot for three hours, with no shoes and in our pajamas seven firetrucks blinking and flashing until our heads hurt.

Dad says: “Hey let’s see if someone will take a family picture of us in front of one!”

Or during a road trip when we are just chilling on top of a mountain in New Mexico and a huge thunderstorm suddenly covers the sky and pelts us in huge pieces of ice and freezing rain that drenches us to the bones until we can’t feel our limbs are sloshing down as fast as we can, crying so hard we’re laughing, and laughing so hard until we’re crying.

Dad says: “Hey this is a great time to take a video to send to our friends back home!”

 

 

Or the week of a huge move, when a hurricane decides to have in on the fun. Our power goes out for days straight (and we were on a well so that means no water. Period.) while we were hosting my brother and his co-worker for furniture market. (no showers…) and then a friend comes over to help us take apart furniture only to get stranded when our favorite tree (and one of our thickest, largest trees) throws a fit about our abandoning him and tries to smash the first moving trailer that shows up, but barely misses and barricades our driveway instead. And trying to pack everything into the moving trucks (which get stuck in the mud in our yard and are there for many hours) until we are loading in the pitch dark with fifty people in our house (remember no water. Which means no toilet flushing) tripping over each other with boxes of books and bed railing and big fat heavy dressers.

Bright side? I will never forget my last week in my childhood house. It seemed so fitting too and I wouldn’t want it to have ended any other way.

Of course I struggle.

Being stuck in a house with a handful of other people for a week with literally nothing to do or even to sit on but the hard cold floor, can get tense and chaotic. Dramatic. Crazy. Without books (except your Latin textbooks) and no furniture (but sleeping bags) suddenly everyone’s personal bubbles are a bit easier to rub against.

Between the glares, strange new character voices bubble to the surface and are added to our repertoire. The strangest pieces of art work splatter out of our brains and the weirdest inside jokes or newest sarcastic comebacks.

I still find myself worrying over things going-wrong too, which is probably why movies like Father of the Bride and Meet the Parents are just plain… painful.

Views which just make my family laugh harder, as I cringe and groan and consider hiding under a blanket and covering my eyes and ears.

Kermit nervous
me when watching those types of romcoms ^^
Kermit laughing
^^ my siblings

 

I guess when I sit down for entertainment I’m not looking to cringe and laugh and wince at how everything goes wrong in everyone else’s lives.

Too close to home maybe.

Kermit not this humor

Or maybe its the fact that the characters never seem to get it. Instead of making a fool out of yourself and trying to make it look like you’re brilliant and nothing goes wrong under your watch, why not laugh it off and just clean the spilled (chocolate) milk up with a cheap roll of paper towels from Dollar Tree?

After spending a whole week surrounded on all side with siblings, working all together, our super-duper superpower has come out even more. Even when the falafel-mission failed and all we had left were some strange form of hushpuppies and a can of burning oil, everything was fine because my siblings focused on what mattered.

The food didn’t need to be perfect. The décor didn’t need to be exact. We definitely worked hard to make it beautiful and special, but if something small popped or cracked, we went with Plan B. Pulled out the super glue and paint supplies. Trimmed the bushes with leaves brown and dying from the power wash.

Why?

Because it was all about family and love and laughter and fellowship, not about being perfect.

Some things just aren’t worth getting upset over. Fretting about. In the end it’s the people and what you make out of what you have. And come on… it is kinda funny that the couple decided to have Greek food for their wedding and cook it all themselves the afternoon before even though they have never tried it before. Even sounds a little cliched ha.

Well, a thing about life: When it gets crazy, it only means you can make it crazy fun.

I even think part of my training in becoming a poet has greatly stemmed from the laughter my family has taught me.

Kermit Shocked

(I know you were wondering if I would make it through a post without a single mention of poetry… 😉 )

Being a poet is being someone who sees through surface things. As written in the song that Andrew Peterson sings, To All the Poets, they see “beauty in the common place, saw incarnation in a Baby’s face, and in a drop of rain the stars.”

My family has taught me how to see things. How to see the funny side to being stuck camping in a teepee with a gaping hole designed in the roof for a couple days of thunderstorms.

How to see the fun side of a literal 22 hour road trip (yes… we drove 22 hours straight. Yes, 22 hours in the car driving) or being able to have a conversation about how the kudzu in the dark makes it look like there’s a giant elephant sitting in our backyard. Either that or an old man wearing a hat.

Much of my playful limerick-type of playful poetry comes from true stories. But in a way don’t all fictional stories stem from a true story?

You just have to decide what type of genre you are living in. 😉

 

So, in closing, remember:

When your falafels flop, Whole Foods is always there.

Kermit Smiles

Love you fam.<3

 

**all gifs hunted and trapped by my personal internet minion squad via giphy**