Category Archives: History of little rhyme or reason

Texas or Bust!

The History of Texas

There is a strand of blue yarn, unwound from one of those first knit swatches, strung across a wall in my room.  From it, by paper clips, hang in vertical uniformity 3×5 index cards inscribed with dates and events from the Texas revolution.  Our first exam is next Thursday and will cover at least the first four or five chapters of the text (creatively titled “The History of Texas”).  I would like to make a good grade; testing makes me nervous, and the word “essay” makes me almost quake in my boots.  Or cute flats, rather.  I’m not exactly sure why– I can be wordy enough when I want to be.  However: first college course, first exam. 

I’ll keep you posted.


Labor

Yesterday I had the privilege of being with my friend, her husband and her midwives while she give birth to a little girl named Chavah. Watching her descend further and further into the deep place of labor was tremendously powerful. Her strength was amazing. Later in labor, she would lean in to the side of the labor tub, her head bowed onto her arms, and she would shake silently with the increasing pain of each contraction. As they became more and more intense, she would sometimes rock gently on her knees, side to side, and run her hands over her blond hair, again and again, her breath coming in quickening gasps. Finally, as the baby descended lower and lower, she couldn’t steel herself in stillness against the pressure, and she would cringe backward with a look of the closest thing to panic I saw on her face throughout. When the peak of the contraction had passed, her blue eyes would connect for a moment with someone in the room, then they would shift away again. Once when Eliazar had stepped out, she looked at me and mouthed an echo of what she had already said to him: “This is hard.” It said it all. It was hard. But she had taken hold and would see it through.
 
 Their daughter was born at 8:47 that morning, the first day of spring, a day that culminated in snow after a week of warm spring weather that had seemed to insist the past record-setting harsh winter was done. Her head full of dark hair, the midwife lifted her out of the water and handed her to Rene, who settled back in weak, yet happy, relief. The cord was short, but they lay together there for a few moments; and Eliazar (who had earlier insisted he wanted neither to catch the baby nor to sever the umbilical cord), asked if he might cut it. The midwives wrapped little Chavah in a warm red towel and handed her to her daddy, his face alight. While they settled Rene onto the bed and prepared to deliver the placenta, he said, “Almost a new year’s baby!”, explaining that according to the Hebrew calendar, the year was only a few days old.
 
She weighed in a little under eight pounds, and took at once with relish to the task of filling her little belly. Before I left, she had been cleaned and wrapped in the blanket which Rene had explained was the only one she and Chavah’s big sister Lydia could agree on; held by grandmothers, great grandmother and big sister, and settled in for a long rest with her mother in the darkened and empty bedroom, such a contrast to what it had been an hour before.
 
As I got in my car and pulled out of the apartment complex, my own exhaustion and numbness were overcome bywaves of powerful and complex emotions, which I spent the whole drive from the north side of Dallas to the south side of the metroplex sorting through and trying to make sense of. In retrospect I felt the profound power of watching my friend labor while I sat there against the wall, unsure of how to support her other than making contact through our eyes when she looked my direction; Rene, leaning on her shaking arms and fighting silently against and with that force driving her labor forward.
 
 
I had thought I wanted to be a midwife. Now, I know.

The Worst Snowstorm in Recorded History

Thursday morning, with freezing snow coming down, I called my friend Susan, a bit incredulous that the school district hadn’t already called off school in the face of the freezing rain coming down at 7 a.m.  She reassured me that they had not, that she was still going in to teach and her kids to school, so if I was brave the way was still clear to come over and clean house for her.  I put on my coat and headed out, and only saw two cars in the ditch on the way.  Around 11:00 I finished there and took a curcuitous route home, stopping by the bank first, and there was already a pile of snow on my car roof and in front of the headlights.  (You have to realize, where I live, its snows a maximum of a “few” times each year and generally doesn’t stick very long either.  Snow is an Event.)  There was another car in the ditch along the windy farm-to-market road.  I tried to slow down and take care.

My dad had turned around on his way to work rather than fight the weather and the traffic, so he was home, along with my brothers; Mom was out getting us provisioned-up at the grocery store and picking up a few movies from a friend to get us through the snow day.   She got stuck in the friends’ uphill driveway, got unstuck, and finally returned home.  By then the snow was coming down in big, earnest flakes.  I donned scarf and hat and boots and took the camera out for a long ramble in the neighbors’ horsepastures and woods; there were already several inches of accumulation to tramp through.

 

Along with all the snow, we were without electricity from Thursday evening until this morning, Sunday.  I’ll spare you all the details though.  Propane camp stoves and coolers in the snow, early bedtimes and lots of covers, tubing down the dam almost into the pond, 24-hour laundromats, and friends with open homes for hot showering and chilling out… they got us through.  😉

This was what we woke up to Friday morning!

And it really was a beautiful snow.  Now, of course, it’s melting.  I wonder what 14″ of melting snow will do for the water table, creeks, and ponds….


Updated Lessons from a Large Cappucinno:

Amongst all the strange effects of large doses of caffeinne late at night, be forewarned… your immune system is likely to be suppressed from lack of sleep, and a few days later, your head just might be full of stuff that ought not to be there are you might be cuddling up to the kleenex box and your voice just might be gone.

Just so you know.


Fall Seems to be the Season for Change!

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Well, summer has been giving way to fall in fits and starts here.  It rained steadily from Tuesday night until this morning, then the clouds broke and the sun came out, and by all accounts it should be a beautiful weekend.  There is a festival in the town where I work (now much less… see following…) at an antique mall, annually our single biggest day of the year, and we sure do need the nice weather.

More than the weather has been changing!  About a month ago, in a dizzying combination of converging happenings, I quit my job, began homeschooling my brother, and got started in a new from-home job.  Talk about change.  I was apprehensive at first, but on the whole, it has turned out very well.  I am enjoying being at home, enjoying learning along with my brother, and spending lots of time hanging out with him; I am struggling with adjusting to having a lot of time to manage.  The home buisiness has taken longer to get going than I anticipated– technological issues!– but that has been blessing in disguise, because it has meant less stress and more free time as the Bro and I get started with what is a new schedule for both of us.

God always knows what He is doing!


A Path for my Feet

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Have you ever been caught up in the movement of your life, something totally outside your control, yet working out in amazing ways?  The last week has been like that.  I thought my life this fall was going to go one way, but it has taken a slightly drastic change of direction… which has actually motivated me to make a few other changes I have been desiring to make for a long while.

The thing that amazes me is that none of those changes (mostly involving jobs) had been working out, causing me a lot of frustration.  And yet, now I see how it has all been working together as it needed to, in light of recent events I had not foreseen.  I am overwhelmed with the sense of God’s providential preparation for the way I would need to go, before I even knew I would be needing a way when the path I had been walking along suddenly caved in.

I think He is always doing that.  I’m just not always watching.


Laundry

We have an old septic system.  It may have been here before they built this house, before the house that was originally standing on this foundation burned.  That would have been quite a few years ago.  Apparently our septic is feeling its age, because it has recently begun leaking and stinking and taking up all manner of annoying habits; and until we are able to find a solution, we family of five have been scrambling to reduce the amount of water that goes down the drain.

That is why we were at the laundromat tonight, and many other nights recently.  Thankfully, the nearby town has a 24-hour self-service place, since Mama and I tend to finally be able to focus on the washing when all the menfolk are tucked away in their beds.  Call us crazy, but that’s when it works for us.  You do what you gotta do.  Besides, after about 11 p.m., the place mostly clears out and there are enough washers open to do all your loads at once.  That is important.

We usually have to start by picking up drinks from Wal-Mart.  The drinks are important, but what is really important is being able to get cash back in $5 denominations or less for the change machine, which cannot digest anything larger.  I succumb to the temptation of bottled frappucinos in the coolers up front, and tell myself I need the caffeine to keep me awake.  Which is very unhealthy, but actually usually true.  My mother opts for bottled water, no doubt a much wiser choice.

Then it is on to the laundromat itself.  I noticed again tonight, the smell that hits you when you walk in the door.  It must be a particular fabric softener, or maybe a combination of all of them, but it is always familiar and brings back the summer I was 16 and babysat for a friend who was single-parenting his three kids in an apartment complex.  They always had copious amounts of laundry hanging around, and one of my assignments was to wash for them in the little on-site laundromat just off the pool.  I remember thinking with frustration that I could have had any given load dry in a much shorter time if I could hang it out on the line like we did at home, where acres and acres of unbroken pasture let the wind blow unhindered.

Our clothesline poles were the same ones my grandma had used when Mama was growing up.  They still stood, in a line parallel with the cement walkway that split my grandparents’ backyard, when the house was finally cleared out and sold.  My grandparents had lived there for over 50 years, all my mother’s lifetime.  The yard actually belonged to two houses, but when the childless neighbors died during Mama’s teens and the house was deeded over to my grandma, they took down the fence between them and it became one big expanse.  There was a grapevine behind the garage, an old one that had been there as long as the clothesline; underneath its short, rectangular trelis was an area just big enough for a couple of cousins to play house in with old pans and camp stools we ferretted out of the garage.

Mama talks about when she was growing up and they would buy chickens from the egg lady, Grandma wringing their necks and hanging them up to bleed out from the clothesline.

I was twelve when we cleared out Grandma and Grandad’s house.  Mama, myself and a friend of mine made one trip up there to clean out the garage and the house next door.  We slept on air mattresses and played marathon games of Monopoly after days of hard work and dug up my grandma’s peace roses from the front flowerbed and discovered a stash of babyfood from the early 80’s in a can pantry behind a hooked-back kitchen door.  We dug up the clothesline poles one night– it must have been the night before we left– and brought them back from West Texas to use in our own yard.

A couple years later, just after Grandad died, we moved into the house we had designed and built on 7 acres in the country.  It had a seperate apartment for Grandma, and a screened porch and lots of big windows.  The clothesline was finally reunited with the earth there, several yards off the back porch, and I learned what Mama already knew, that hanging out the washing is a peaceful time of a woman’s day, a time when she can think and breathe.

I was babysitting that summer when Mama called and told me something had happened that rocked our family and still hangs around in the back corners of our minds.  It turned out to be one of the most difficult and frightening summers we’ve ever faced.

It’s funny what all is wrapped up in the smell of fabric softener.

We did four large loads tonight, assembly-line fashion, me loading washers while Mama went down the line pouring in detergent, then again with quarters.  After the washers are all started, we have about 25 minutes to rest, so we usually retreat to the car instead of hanging around inside with the other folks and whatever absurd sitcom is blaring from the television.  Whether it’s in Spanish or English depends on who else is doing their laundry.

Tonight, Mama curled up under a blanket in the driver’s seat and took a nap.  It’s been a very long, at times dramatic, day.  I pulled out my notebook and pen, and proceeded to write a letter, while the satellite radio which came with the car several months ago (when we actually have to pay the bill I’m sure that little luxury will go by-the-by) played French music.  Mama almost had a double major, journalism and French, when she graduate college.  She even named me in French, although she knew from the get-go that no one else would ever pronounce it that way.  She doesn’t have much opportunity to speak or hear her second language, so when she found the French-language stations on her fancy-schmancy satellite radio, she was hooked.  And while she doesn’t usually subject my brothers to non-stop French pop, it has become tradition along with my frappucino that we will listen to her French music on laundry nights.  I even have my own favorite song now, which I think sounds like a French Simon and Garfunkle, and as near as I can tell, is called “I’m Not Listenin to You”….  Which makes me picture myself plugging my ears in front of someone and singing the chorus defiantly.

It was playing as the washers stopped, so Mama went in and began moving the laundry over while I finished the song.  Then I went in myself and fed quarters to the dryers.  She went back to sleep after that, and was sleeping so hard she didn’t wake when I finished my letter around 12:30, got out and went inside to unload the dryers and fold the laundry.  I was almost done when she finally came in– Daddy had called and woken her.  We loaded up the car and drove home, chatting a little on the way, she half-awake and exhaustion hitting me  as I sat quiet in the dark.