The Bright shores of Heaven”

I may be the only person awake in the whole world just now, for all I know.  It is pitch dark out now. The moon lights up patches of earth, here and there.  The world is silent and almost cold in these hours before day.  With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, I am off today.  I had planned to write this morning, all along, for I am a “morning writer “. 
I had many thoughts in my head, for I had visited with Ryan and then at long last, had a weekend with Lyla and Brynn.  What bright days.  The leaves here have finally turned golden and scarlet – and apricot and the sweet gum has splashes of plum!  Some days the sky is as blue as a morning in May and other days it is a soft pewter.  I can not say, which days are loveliest, for I love them all.  I had intended to write my accounts of strolling with the grandchildren on a sidewalk under crimson maples -and later by an indigo river.  . . but something happened that changed everything. 
My dearest friend, Julie died yesterday.
I have written about Julie before  and she was always pleased, when I did.  The first time, I wrote about her, she was sure, that she was famous, at long last.  She read every comment.  Each one thrilled her and so I let Julie bask in her glory, with delight
I met Julie in that awful season of middle school.  My cousin “Cookie” was Julies’ friend and that is how I came to know her.  Julie had a coolness about her and it took years for me to know her.  By chance, we became neighbors later on, and we were soon “as thick as molasses in January.”  Our children were young then (and so were we).  Our lives were so entwined that the children seemed a joint commodity.  I worried over her daughter Haley, when she was having trouble with math and  I was distraught when little Katelyn had headaches.  Julies’ daughters attended a private school for a while, run by very religious Dutch folks.  Each year, the school celebrated their heritage with a festival.  Parents were to  make dishes from ancient recipes.  One year, Julie was to make an apple bread.  She handed me the recipe, for it was as much my problem as it was hers’ after all.  I read the thing and said”we will need a bushel  of apples and an entire day!  When I went back to help her bake, there was a case of some sort of “instant apple bread mixes” on the counter.  I felt guilty about her plan, but Julie did not in the least.  I will not tattle on the year she made fudge, for the whole school -and in an hour or so, of her time.  I could only hope, that it was eaten fast.   Julie doted on my children. . . and did so, up until her last hour.
Our friendship did not end, when the children grew up, nor when I moved to the rabbitpatch.  Julie spent many weekends here and loved the country, as much as I did.  We canned tomatoes together and peeled apples.  We ate beets and split pea soup .We discussed books . . many books.  In the winter, Julie and I would study subjects together.  We studied native American culture, religions of the world and all sorts of philosophies.  Julie was always an avid student of all things, and her brain was quick as lightening.  She was a firm believer in speaking her truth and did so every single chance she got.  Julie did not let me get by with poor judgement , whether I wanted to hear it or not.  . . and was quick to call me out on matters.  Oh what a craft, she had of  easing into something . .and then “BOOM!” she would spew out the truth like an exploding water pipe . . then she would tenderly wipe your tears.  Really, Julie was always right, when it came down to it.  She always accused me of being too soft hearted and I accused her of being  “salty” and “down right sassy” . . in this case we were both right.
We used to love thrift stores and some Saturdays we took off with about twenty dollars between us and came home with old china and books, somehow.  It was not uncommon, for us to show up at the check out with something for each other, for we knew each others’ taste, thoroughly.  One year we traded Christmas gifts wrapped in the same paper with the same fine soap inside. 
Can you believe that sometimes, as we drank coffee and ate cookies, that we would pretend entire scenarios ? -like children. It would start something like, “what if . . we lived in an old house of stone, in Vermont” . . and off we went on an adventure.  After we had invented grumpy  neighbors and a flock of orphaned children, we’d taken in and snow and  a warm hearth and a horse and sleigh . . well, we would burst into laughter at our childishness.  I don’t suppose that I know any other all grown up person, who would do that. 
When the grand children came along, Julie and I were as different as night and day, at grand mothering.  I was putting carrots in pancakes and Julie tossed hers a bag  of candy . . for lunch!  I was choosing poems for Lyla to memorize, while her parents were out and in Julies own words, she ‘was just trying to keep hers’ alive till their parents got back.” Make no mistake about it, Julie loved her grandchildren and declared them, her reason to live , often.
I could never keep any secret from Julie.  It seemed unnatural and somehow unholy.  Besides, Julie loved  me no matter what and I was confident of that.  In one of my worst tantrums, Julie asked me what was wrong  . . and I said with hot tears  “I hate everybody!” Julie said, “me, too, . . now what is wrong?”   
Julie suffered a lot in the last decade.  She had one heartbreak after another.  She had blood pressure problems which led to a stroke and blinded her temporarily.  Then she had kidney problems and ended up on dialysis.  She had her legs amputated a few years back, several more strokes- and was recovering  from a recent one. . .til at last, she did-fully and whole now , on she went.
Julie never complained.  It is still shocking to me, to consider that.  She may have been  a wild card ,  and she may have wielded truth with a heavy hammer, but she trusted God with her whole heart .   I  was constantly in awe of that and rendered speechless with her courage.  Julie was an “an act of valor”    Her battlefield was in her own backyard.
I wished I could say that I am so happy, that Julie and Daddy were in Heaven with great joy, . . . And yes, for goodness sakes, I know that I can still talk to them.  I will always be thankful, I had them and “they are still “with me” and “time heals all’ . . .but right this minute . . .  I am but a mere human.  Not enough time has passed. . . . and that “bright shore of Heaven” . . . seems so very far away.

“Every Which Way . . . . but Loose”

What a lovely Sunday morning, that I woke to.  The sun rose with a gentle light.  Birds were singing, happily.  They did not sing songs of revolution, nor for their rights, nor chaos.  They sang because they could.  Peace washed over me like a fountain and I  wished,  every living soul on this planet could partake in it.  I think it impossible, to witness a morning, full of a soothing splendor, and not feel grateful and hopeful.   It is very humbling to know the grandness of nature and it neednt’ be an ocean , nor a mountain top, a patch of sunlight will do nicely.   “Joy does come in the morning”.
I do not know the last time, that I was home for two week ends in a row.  I was not sitting here void of something to do, at least.  I never am.  I started washing the windows, a task that I abhor.  Of course, I wait til my view of the garden and the cherry tree is obscured entirely.. before I wash them.  There are eighteen windows in this old house, not counting  the sun room nor the laundry room!  Then and almost foremost, is the territory, full of fallen leaves hemmed up in every corner and about knee deep .  Gone are the days, when I accomplished such things in a single day.  I would rather cook a full meal for twenty four people and wash curtains than attempt windows and leaves. . .and besides, I am just not good at washing windows.  That beloved sun tattles on me every time.  

I decided to cook a “Sunday Dinner”.  A roast could cook slowly and so could a pot of beans.  Kyle is supposed to stop by today and I will share with Mama.  It will be a delightful diversion from my tainted windows.  I sorely miss those Sundays, a few years  back, when Mama and Daddy came.  I always find it amusing, that we will go to such great lengths to orchestrate an event, we are sure is destined to become a golden memory.  . . when the reality is, we are much more likely, to remember the “way” of life,  mostly. 
The Sundays of my childhood meant Church and Church clothes.  Hard pinching patent leathers, itchy lace, sashes and if Mama got lucky, my hair would hold curl, til we got there.  I did love Sunday school and it wasn’t just because of the cookies.  I had the sweetest teachers . . .Miss Nellie, Miss Catherine, Miss Jo and later the dear Miss Tillie.  These women made me want to be good.  I learned my verses faithfully and still hum the sweet songs, I learned. These ladies,  did not look mighty or powerful, but they were, for  their love was sufficient and enough to last a lifetime.
Now, in those days, children attended the service, afterwards.  The pianist, Miss Arahbelle , was like a quiet light.  She did not bang out the old hymns, but played them reverently.  The preachers were not quiet-and they always seemed mad about something.  I was always sure that we were all an awful lot . . . but if you caught them on a Tuesday, they were friendly, regular folks and I loved everyone of them. 
Mama tells a funny story about how one preacher saved her life.  I do not know why, Mama was in Grandmamas’ china cabinet, in the first place.  The doors were difficult to open, but Mama just snatched as hard as she could, til at last the whole cabinet tumbled over, shattering  the cups and plates, with dainty flowers on them.  The racket sent folks running and at that very moment, the preacher walked in!  Wisely, he stayed long enough, for Grandmama to regain her good sense. . .and so Mama lived to tell about it.  I suppose some memories are made in that kind of way.

I spend a lot of time remembering.  I do not want to forget the people that loved me as a child.  I do not want to forget the way of my life.  It seems like an extravagant  gift that is too grand not to talk about.  . . and  it feels selfish, not to remember.  As I washed those dirty windows I recalled all sorts of details  about my elders, my cousins and the little farm .  I do not embellish their stories, the truth is good enough.  Besides, these people in some way, belong to  my children and to Lyla, Brynn and Ryan -and the ones yet to come.  In a world ablaze with change, it does me good to remember, for it makes me  keenly aware of what really matters, what lasts – and somehow  it preserves my stamina to “act right”.
I do not only remember, when I work.  I dream too.  I do a lot of “wishful thinking”.  I can’t help but take note of what I do have right at the moment, too.  A small flock of red finches broke my trance, once.  The sunshine, at a certain hour, lit up one of the old oaks til it was a spectacular blaze of scarlet.  My boxer slept  as peacefully in the sun as the vast field in front of the rabbitpatch.  When the ladder moved, so did the boxer.  I was glad to have such a faithful dog. What a comfort, he is to me.  He is a handsome  dog , as well and earns his keep in a lot of ways.  
It didn’t matter to me which way I looked, or the direction of my gaze, this current day, I realised that God, has turned me  “every which way . . .but loose”.  -all of my life.   
By the end of the day, I had given the windows, my best shot and a few piles of leaves , now burned cheerfully. I also cleaned up my potting and planting station and took note of other tasks that loomed ahead.   
Supper was ready, when I walked in which was a good thing, for I was weary to the bone.   . . but so restored in spirit.
Since, I have been away . . all this happened.

“As for me and my house . . .”

Since, I wrote last, every window at the rabbitpatch, has been shut.  I was caught completely off guard by the remnants of “Zeta” and so the thing showed up like unexpected company.  Friday morning, before light, strong winds woke me.  I was startled by their force and had not “battened down the hatches” nor stored a drop of water!  I have got to do better about the weather reports.  I have avoided the news for a long while. Sadly, I have lost faith in the accuracy of the headlines, but I did used to get a decent weather forecast. 
Thankfully, the terrible wind was gone in a short while. At sunrise, those first long slanted rays, were born in stillness and revealed   branches and pumpkins and porch rockers, strewn about the yard.  The air was almost cold.  That is why, I shut the windows.  Since then, the air has stayed cool and a friendlier wind, blows constantly.  I have washed every blanket in the house and taken advantage of my dear clothes line. 
Since, I was home this weekend, and in the absence of my grandchildren,  Halloween passed like any other day.  . .unless you consider the moon.  It was as bright as I have ever seen it.  It drenched the territory in moonshine and transformed everything in to a thing of beauty.  The cotton field behind me, seemed to glow.  Saturn and Mercury were beautiful colors and always Venus shines.   . . as does Mars.  There was the big dipper right where I expected it to be, over the oldest barn.  I stood there a while til the cares of this world dimmed.   
With the clocks having been tinkered with, I was up extra early on Tuesday.  I left for work and had traveled about a mile, when the car just faded !  The motor was purring, but the motion just left til at last it stopped, stranding me  -and on such a lovely morning.  Thankfully, I live on a rural road, but it is also “a cut through road” and like everywhere else I go, folks seem to be running late.  The only way the car would go, was reverse and so I backed all the way back to the sanctuary of the rabbitpatch.  Though, I didn’t have a single close call . . .I came in shattered and startled the boxer.
I called the school . . and then I called Tres.  Tres is very mechanical.  His personality is a carbon copy of my own dad.  I knew he would guide me on my next move and what to expect.  Daddy was an expert mechanic, but though I favor him and have many of his traits, I did not inherit a single bit of any mechanical ability.  I did know it was the transmission. 
I have always driven older cars and lawn mowers.  I used to tell the boys, “there is trash in the carburetor” or “it could be the alternator” but I had no idea where such things were located. I asked Christian if he had  any friend, who was a mechanic . . .any one at all?  Of course, he did not, for his friends are all artists, chefs or glass blowers!  Christian is a carbon copy of me. 
To make this long story short, I spent all day trying to find a mechanic.  Apparently, no one around here fixes a transmission, instead they just  replace it.  I had thought to put an old white towel under the car, and as it turned out, there was a leak.  The fluid from the transmission on that towel,   left me convinced of that.  “Lord willing” . . .at the end of the day, I had found a mechanic, considered an expert, with Toyotas, willing to repair the transmission or replace it at half the cost of any one else. 
Christian and I were both mentally exhausted, for we had spent the day way out of our comfort zone, weighing the  costly decision, with little to go on. “Money does not grow on trees” at the rabbitpatch.   It washes through like water and just like water, you just can’t hold it in your hands.  I admit, that money has bothered me on many occasions and it sure did on this day.  But, a few years ago, at the height of ” a storm” -It suddenly dawned on me, that no matter what came up, we did always come through it.   . .even when it seemed impossible. . . and it was not due to the odds, or human logic, even.  God does not care about the odds, it seems. nor the fallacy  of human reasoning.   I reminded myself of this  every time a  repair quote came in, that was at least a months’ wages. -and quite feebly at first, whimpering like a child. How awful it was to step into familiar traps, I thought. I reminded myself of all the earthly battles people are facing, fiercer than mine, til at last I felt ashamed and vowed to do better,  As the light faded, Christian asked me  if I was okay and I was able to say . . “yes, it is just a car repair, after all.”    

I have never had too much interest in politics.  I have little patience for the “double talking”  .  I do not tolerate  “Silver tongues” amongst ordinary folks  and I am sure politicians are born with them.   . .but this is a different season.  I have been an avid student  for months, now of how the government works, the folks in office and those who want to be.  As it turns out, just like my transmission, something is broken.  Finding the truth, is like looking for that needle in the haystack.  It is no wonder to me that folks are angry, for we are all feeling desperate, which is a terrible thing.  We have become a suspicious nation, with good reason.  The seeds of fear were planted with precision and grow as wildly as those thorned vines on the rabbitpatch.  Frankly, I am bewildered at “the state of the union”. 
I do not find pleasure in writing about anything ugly, but we have a “huge elephant in the house” and I can not ignore the dark shadow, he casts.  “Time will tell” as it always does, what the next part of the journey holds.   . .“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.