I Don’t Like Spiders and Snakes

Jim_Stafford We may be stuck in a 70s time warp here at JSI. Last week Laura Hile quoted from The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun” writing about Robin Helm’s daughter’s wedding. This week, I’ll be going with the top ten hit, “Spiders and Snakes” by Jim Stafford. Because moving from the sublime to the ridiculous is a specialty of mine.

I live in Oregon and we’ve been having a heat wave. I’m not asking for sympathy. We haven’t had a hot summer since 2012 so we are due. On Tuesday, I got up while it was still dark so I could open all the doors and windows, flush out the warm air left over from Monday–who doesn’t want to flush away Mondays?–trapping as much cool air inside before battening down the hatches. My mission was accomplished by eight so I decided to take a shower while everyone was still asleep. (Everyone in the house is on swing shift and everyone but me can sleep until ten or so.)

I gathered my clothes, turned the shower on, and got in. I caught a glimpse of something in the corner of the shower moving.

It’s not odd to have bugs in the tub. This is a rickety farmhouse and wildlife, inside and out is part of the deal. But I draw the line at showering with them.

I got close enough to see what was strolling through and it was a katydid.


Graphic from: fcps.edu

Graphic from: fcps.edu

There is actually a window in the shower so I am pretty skilled at shufflin’ crits out. But this one was big. BIG. There was no choice. Time to hunt up some tools.

I ended up covering Katy with a large yogurt container my granddaughter plays with in the tub and sliding a piece of construction paper underneath–also my grandgirl’s–to trap him/her inside.

Success in the first try. No small feat as my hands were wet and construction paper is not as tough as it used to be. Out the window he/she went.

Blessed solitude in the shower once more.

The 70s are gone, but they still seem to speak to the everyday. If you squint really hard.

Has a song ever encapsulated the mundane in your life? Does it ever feel as if a popular artist is playing the background music of your life? Or do you just want to spill about a quirky event and its tenuous tie to music? Let us know.

White Lace and Promises

Photo Credit: JD Hancock  (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo Credit: JD Hancock (Creative Commons Flickr)

My first album as a teen, and I almost wore it out.

Remember this? My first “real” LP album (I was twelve), and I almost wore it out. In 1970, We’ve Only Just Begun was every 7th grade girl’s favorite song.

“White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we’re on our way
We’ve only just begun…”

Robin’s daughter (who is also Gayle’s niece) is getting married today, and we’re celebrating. Even from a distance I’ve come to love Melanie and Dylan, and it’s exciting to see them begin a new life together. We have spent the week praying not only for Robin’s stamina, but also for the weather. Scattered thunderstorms are a problem for a lovely garden reception. From what I can see on weather.com’s hourly report, the rain should hold off just long enough.

We also love weddings because we’re authors. Hey, a wedding marks the ending of the Romance novel, right? Courtship drama is resolved, separate residences are done away with, and dependence on parents is over, well…or so the couple thinks. With a happy sigh and promises of Happily Ever After ringing in our ears, we devour the final page. (I probably should have ended my third Mercy’s Embrace book with the wedding. Ah well. Someday, another book?)

Melanie's beautiful dress

Just posted by Robin, Melanie’s beautiful wedding gown

“So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
And yes, we’ve just begun…”

Where the Romance novel ends, Women’s Lit begins. That after-the-honeymoon stuff. The struggle between expectations and how real life plays out. Adjusting to jobs (long hours and stress) and a new residence (which might be less than ideal) and in-laws and family dynamics. Learning that oh-so-delicate dance of compromise and selflessness. In other words, the stuff of life and growth.

Melanie and Dylan Thompson

Melanie and Dylan Thompson. “So much of life ahead…”

Here’s an article about Dylan and what the future holds for the new Mr and Mrs Thompson. A new job and a new life in the San Francisco Bay area. Exciting times, exciting challenges. They’ve only just begun.

Article: For Dylan Thompson, wedding and honeymoon come first, then 49ers training camp

The wedding party, wow!  Ten bridesmaids and groomsmen. A smiling happy day for all.

The wedding party, wow! Ten bridesmaids and groomsmen, and those sweet junior bridesmaids and ring bearer. A smiling, happy day for all.

Front porch friends

Cokes 5 I’m still in the midst of running around, finishing up with wedding details. There is light at the end of that tunnel. I’m finally making some headway on my (second) list after finishing the first.

Dylan & Mel meet

However, friends should always find time to sit down together and visit. Gayle and Barbara, I’m still looking for you, and Pamela, please accept my apologies for calling you “Pam.” There was no “Pamela.”

I’ll post a few wedding pictures next week! Maybe then I’ll even have time to drink the Coke.

Here’s a picture of the very first time Melanie met Dylan. They were both at the Passion Conference in Atlanta.  Three-and-a-half years later, they’re getting married. #PassionSincePassion

My dad: provider, protector, encourager

Chief Petty Officer Joseph Stevenson hugs his daughters goodbye.   Photo Credit: Tyler Wilson, Navy Visual News Service (Creative Commons Flickr)

Chief Petty Officer Joseph Stevenson hugs his daughters goodbye before he deploys aboard the USS Mason. Photo Credit: Seaman Apprentice Tyler Wilson, Navy Visual News Service (Creative Commons Flickr)

My dad was the quiet type, the classic aerospace engineer. A man who was hardworking, competent, and kindly helpful. He did not call attention to what he did, like mowing the lawn and fixing stuff and guiding a tearful 7th grade me through the horrors of algebra homework. I seldom heard him complain. I’m afraid I took who Dad was for granted.

But every once in a while I am struck with how his kind support and patience have formed my life. Most recently, the lightbulb moment came from an unlikely source, A & E’s reality television series Married at First Sight. You’ve probably seen the commercials. A panel of experts matches a man and a woman, who then meet for the first time at the altar. Not that this is a good idea, but it demonstrates how desperate people are to find love and commitment.

Okay, so reality television is often more scripted than real, with elements of something called “creative artifice.” Even so, the drama of Married at First Sight has been a fascinating look at human nature.

With Mom aboard our first boat, the Flicka.

With Mom aboard our first boat, the Flicka, anchored at Emerald Bay, Catalina. Dad, being Dad, is taking the picture.

So what does Married at First Sight show have to do with my dad? A man from Season Two named Ryan De Nino, Mr. My-way-or-the-highway. If you’ve been watching the series, you can’t have missed his growing impatience with his bride. His selfishness showed itself in the early days of the honeymoon. When given the chance to ride a jet ski Ryan took off, leaving his new wife trembling at the dock. Yes, he was living the high life all right, grabbing the gusto while he could (since the producers were paying for the rental). Never mind that Jessica was afraid of the ocean, what was that to him? And when she overcame her fear enough to trustfully sit behind him, what did he do but gun the engine? All of America gasped when we saw her fall off.

My brother, Dad, and me

Dad loved to tinker. Here he takes my brother and me for a spin in his classic car, a 1952 Alvis.

I grew up in a sailing family, and I know how scary falling overboard can be. My dad would never have treated me—or any fearful person—with such callousness. I remember, for instance, my surprise at learning that our dingy also had a sail. How patient Dad was in teaching me. I was maybe eleven, frightened even to sail under the bridge, but he showed me how. “Atta girl,” he’d say, as I gained skill and confidence. Soon I was master of the tiller, sailing solo back and forth in the marina. I learned to love solitude sailing like this.

It was from Dad that I learned to love reading. In fact, it was he who suggested that I become a writer. I was in high school when he said this, how did he know? I like to think he’d be pleased that I have books published. And wouldn’t he be laugh-out-loud astonished to learn that I teach 7th grade algebra?

And so we celebrate Father’s Day. How I miss my dad, the kind and patient man who did his best to protect and encourage me.