The Perfect Side of Boring

Yesterday was the reason people live in South Florida. The skies were a cloudless blue. Humidity was low and the temperature never got above a pleasant 80*. It was perfect. It’s January and this is our winter. 


My freshman English teacher assigned us to write how we envisioned the world. I don’t remember the words I wrote only her comments written in red on the top of my paper. I wrote my vision of a perfect world and she wrote “how boring” that would be.


She didn’t know my parents had divorced earlier that year and that my dad took my younger brother and moved to another state. She didn’t know mom and I also moved and were living far from family. She didn’t know my perfect world had been turned upside down.


How could there be a problem with perfect? If it were boring it wouldn’t be perfect. How did my teacher not get that?


In the years since I’ve learned a lot about perfection and perspective. I know that most of our days are average and ordinary. They are doing the mundane things that must be done. We’re buying groceries and preparing meals. We’re doing laundry and washing dishes, sitting in meetings and standing in lines. We’re fighting traffic in our daily commute while trying to remember everything on our to-do list for the day.


If we’re honest, on the days nothing breaks down they are perfect. And perhaps, some would say, boring. 


So what is perfect? Is it blue skies and 80* in winter? 

If I could, I’d live somewhere else July – September. The humidity is stifling and temperatures rarely get below 77. Heat + humidity = feels like in the 90’s. Every day, month after muggy month.


But we stay because we love palm trees and the close proximity to the ocean. We know the promise of winter. The same reasons some stay through snowy winters. They know the promise of summer.


Perfect is personal. That’s what my teacher didn’t understand.


When my parents divorced I still went to school, mom and I still went to church. We did all the same things but it wasn’t the same. What was ordinary before now looked perfect. Obviously it wasn’t for my parents but it was for my 13 year old self.

It would seem the route to perfection is through hard times. Through times that aren’t comfortable. The prettiest roses I’ve seen grow in climates with cold, snowy winters. 


The weather is simply an analogy for how it is in life. It helps me see that a day of doing all the things can be perfect, if not spectacular. 

What we learned in March {2015}

This month couldn’t have a more appropriate name as it has marched, leaving imprints both hard and light on our days.

This month my brother had surgery to remove cancer. Cancer doesn’t run in our family but no one told Cancer.

A dear man of God who came to pray with my brother before his surgery.

A dear man of God who came to pray with my brother before his surgery.

I hesitate from too many details but it’s the kind of cancer generally contained and as far as the surgery went, successful. The pathology report will let us know with certainty.

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It has been a loud, fast, hard month that has had us swept up in words of revival and brought tears of acknowledgement in the preciousness of life. How do I sum this up in bullet points of learning?

If one week could run the gamut of experience and emotions and taxing energy and resolve it was the one between March 13 – 20. With a spilling over to the next.

*I learned the Gate River Run in Jacksonville has more than 17,000 participants and finding our daughter in the mass of bodies wasn’t going to happen, even with her daughter perched on top of her Baba’s shoulders taking photo’s with our Nikon.
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We were gifted, again, with parental pride in watching a child accomplish a goal. And in seeing her joy at besting her previous years time. She continues to amaze.
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Apollo Beach Manatee viewing area

*Apollo Beach Manatee Viewing Area
This tip came from my sister-in-law. It’s a couple of miles off of I-75 south of Tampa. It’s free, even the parking, and includes a boardwalk with a docent to offer information and a small gift shop. With the water warmer now our sightings were glimpses. We learned that Manatee’s can live in both salt and fresh water. Very unusual.

*Searching for new apps for the granddaughter on our road trips I came across one that was fun for all of us: 4 Pictures 1 Word It’s challenging and creates engagement with both kids and parents (or grandparents!)

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*I learned 7-year olds pretend play includes paying with a swipe of their play phone rather than the age-old pretend hand full of money.

Spring in Augusta, GA

Spring in Augusta, GA

*These beautiful flowers full of bold purple are Hyacinth’s. I had to ask since they don’t grow in these parts and just maybe, you live someplace where you didn’t know either.

Linking up with Emily Freeman over at Chatting at the Sky for a monthly link up of what we’ve learned. Drop by to learn a new thing or two or to share what you’ve learned this month.

Photo highlights of May 2014

A week late, but here’s a look back at May through pictures.

breakfast at the Huddle House in Starke, FL

Breakfast selfie at Huddle House (a first for all of us) with the nieces near Camp Keystone, FL

b-day cake

A surprise celebration

Sunday

Had to stop to snap these wildflowers along the road in North Florida.

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This roadside honey stand (honor system – leave money in a jar) has been on US 100 in N. Florida for 40 years.

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Birthday tulips from my favorite guy.

Henry Debby

Mother’s Day lunch with this guy

start to Memorial weekend

Our Saturday morning beach (Deerfield)

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A couple of days in Jacksonville with the granddaughter and her parents.

kk in pool

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Too much fun in the sun wore both of them out.

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This must be why it’s called Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, GA

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Five-minute Friday {tree}

Every Friday hundred of bloggers join Lisa-Jo Baker for 5 minutes of free blogging. Lisa-Jo provides the word prompt and then we GO. Five minutes, no editing. Ready?

GO

You don’t notice much the scenery in your life until a word prompt is thrown in front of you: tree.

There was the tree meant to live inside in a pretty basket and we were just keeping it while she was away for the summer but we’re not good with plants. It’s leaves started to fall and no matter my watering it looked brittle so we put it outside. Planted it far in the back of the yard because we know its kind has roots that grow deep and wide and it needed to be away from the house.

For 14 years it thrived and grew and became shade for our children and they climbed and it marked the time we lived in that house. Our family home, the one our children know the longest, the one we owned.

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Now there are trees our son takes pictures of and sends me because they have color and are the only sign of fall I see. From his phone in Memphis he’ll circle the block to get that shot of a tree ablaze to send this mama and we both celebrate in natures beauty.

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royal palms line the streets in our neighborhood

 

Deerfield Beach

 

rainy day

 

It might be the palm tree that really would be claimed by my son and me. Both of us having that need to sink our roots in a place to call home and it is Florida, for him by birth and me, roots transplanted but deep.

The palms have their own majesty but I think I most like how they sway when the high winds come. They don’t face the storms with fear, but with a graceful bow and they remain.

STOP

Linking up again with Lisa-Jo Baker and the community of bloggers at Five-Minute Friday. To join or read other of this weeks posts click here.

 

Sinking in Grace

6:30 a.m., 75* with a feels like of 90. Summer is not over.

By 10:30 humidity still clings to the bottom of our sliding glass doors and this long weekend, the one that ushers a change of seasons to so many, just means an extra day at the beach for us locals.

view from inside Panera Bread

view from inside Panera Bread

Today's water temp even warmer.

Today’s water temp even warmer than back in May.

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Beach side parking was taken by 9AM and we had to go further south to a smaller stretch of shore where the outgoing tide licks against the boulders placed there to hold against erosion. This is my calming place. Though today less so as I wrestle with allergy issues and, really, this humidity was kicking my live-in-a/c spoiled body! I was tempted to forget it. We were there Saturday, really, maybe let it go this time.

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Labor Day

We walked. Walked to where the crowds were, the ones who got to the parking before us, the ones with lots of kiddies enjoying the bath water temperature of the ocean. We walked my photographer walk which is stopping a lot along the way. The sun beating harder today and no wind. None!

We decided a lot of people go to the beach like people go to church. In church, you have Christmas and Easter folks and with the beach, you have Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. Church needs to come up with one more holiday!

I seldom go in the water. Salt water sticks to you and who knows what’s down there around your feet. No, I don’t care much to go all the way in, just to let it lap at my feet like today as it rolled out. A few times it caught me with a bigger spray and I was surprised to find sand on the back of my shoulders when I got home. It felt good, those splashes. And all the while we were there these words soothed my tender heart:

If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking!

Goodbye Summer

The calendar may change and many places will start to see and feel a change of season approaching. We won’t.

Our summers feel endless but the calendar still changes as do schedules. Before summer seems like a distant memory here’s a look back at our summer of 2013.

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend

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The White Coat Ceremony for our son-in-law as he enters his second year of the doctorate program for physical therapy.

White Coat Ceremony

A visit with the panhandle clan and a quick top in the little town of Seaside.

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A tropical storm was brewing and brought mostly cloudy skies and high surf.

rough water

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Celebrating the 4th at the beach, of course.

Celebrating the 4th

A weekend trip to see our two princesses.

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kk MeMe

August got us out of Florida for less humidity and heat and mountain views.

The youngest niece and our granddaughter

The youngest niece and our granddaughter

Both of these girls took turns at being behind the camera lens and both have a good eye. Chloe got some good shots of the family, including this one of her mom.

the sister-in-law

the sister-in-law

And of me…she was little close for the zoom lens

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And you wouldn’t believe how many pictures the granddaughter can get with my iPhone. And video!

taken by Christabel

My favorite is now my profile picture and was taken by a friend who is an exceptional amateur photographer. He captures most of the river rafting pictures and manages to get pictures when we least expect it.

Taken by our friend, Jim.

Taken by our friend, Jim.

My turn to get a shot of Jim.

Smile Jim!

Smile Jim!

Big camera, little girl

2013 Rafting

Big camera, little girl

And where do we spend the last weekend of summer? The beach of course. Happy Labor Day!

Sat morning at Deerfield Beach

Deerfield Beach

Deerfield Beach

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New Routines

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I’ve never known anyone so bound by routine and clock than my father-in-law. They spent their summers in the mountains of western Carolina in a small travel trailer that would have given me claustrophobia by end of the first month. The papers he had strewn about in orderly fashion, calendars, mail, financials, were merely relocated from one state to another.

He sent letters written on the yellow mini-legal pads using every bit of space for his scrawl as he relayed their routine even telling, time noted, when he took the dog for walks. He often included temperatures (this was merely for effect as we were sucking air through a straw in the humid Florida summer) and generally the time of day he was writing the letter.

He may have been the very person who inspired the phrase “you can set a watch by him”. Perhaps the most predictable and, without a doubt the most generous, man I’ve ever known.

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Routine was a sacred thing for me when our babies were babies. It was a battle I lost in the early months, particularly with our daughter, as she didn’t seem to enjoy sleeping as many hours at one time as I did. In the end, I was victorious! (hardly ever)

Is there anyone who doesn’t find comfort in some form of routine? And when that is broken?

My routine has been broken many times over this summer. From a normal motion that caused a lingering back pain and broke my reestablishment of using free weights to travel that broke my routine of the treadmill and coming home and developing a cold that went into a sinus infection and created a routine of waking to make hot tea and come out to our noisy back porch to sip through the steam and try to breathe. It’s been a tough start.

Perhaps the real issue is in the should be routines and the want to routines. When our should-be gets broken I turn to my want to and that’s where the real comfort is.

I am sitting on this porch again, telling myself I need more recovery time before I get on that treadmill again. I can feel the breath not where it needs to be and that sounds good. Good enough to allow me more time to look out at this thick green carpet of grass that I could probably see growing with all the rain we’ve had. I can block out the traffic sounds enough to see time in those blades of grass. Time when our children were growing like weeds and summers were around our pool with our water babies diving in by 10 at the latest. That was our routine and little disturbed it.

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morning sky

morning sky

I don’t want to think of the should be routine just yet. I really don’t. I use to despise the treadmill. I ran and then walked through the neighborhood preferring the out doors. The sunlight and aliveness of it all. Until I didn’t.

So maybe just a few more mornings out here, gazing on this bed of deep green, lighter where the sun is hitting it.  Maybe this routine will awaken another.

 

When I Need a Break

It hasn’t been my best week. I thought it was just the Worst Cold EVER but a trip to the doctors showed it to be a sinus infection. To have the diagnosis validated my misery and helped me feel less like a wimp. It did not, however, lessen the whining. Or the way my body just feels sapped. Of energy, of ideas, of humanness. I didn’t make it into the office most of last week yet I feel like I need a break. A break from all of this YUCK.

So let’s take a photo break. I’ll pull out some pictures from a recent visit to Seaside, FL. If you remember the movie, The Truman Show, you might recognize the “look” as it was filmed in Seaside. Although the little community has grown, in a planned kind of way.

on and around the town square

 

Seaside Neighborhood School

Seaside Neighborhood School

on and around the town square

Seaside Transit Authority

Seaside Transit Authority

on and around the town square

It’s along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s panhandle and just over 20 miles from family in Panama City. It was a gray, overcast day as a tropical was brewing in the Gulf.

rough water

 

beach chairs sit empty

beach chairs sit empty

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rough water

The side streets are brick and made for more walking than driving. The styles range from coastal to styles reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orléans. Shops are preparing to open for the day and food trucks getting ready to serve up a variety of goodies in the City Center.

on and around the town square

 

on and around the town square

 

on and around the town square

 

on and around the town square

on and around the town square

 

on and around the town square  food trucks in the city center

 

on and around the town square  food trucks in the city center

 

on and around the town square  food trucks in the city center

It was a quiet walk around this small, but oh so pretty town. And nice to have pictures to remind myself that gray days can still be good days and the sun will shine again.

 

New Roads

We Americans like to take to the roads in the summer. Our best summers were ones of loading up the mini-van and driving cross-country from Florida to Washington state trying to see all we could along the way. Our last family road trip was a drive up the East Coast from South Florida to Maine. A minivan, two parents, a newly graduated high school senior, college sophomore and a surfboard. The best of times.

In the Dakotas

In the Dakotas

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The years since have seen an emptier minivan and shorter road trips. We’ve had the granddaughter with us a couple of times. There’s nothing quite like hearing those words “I feel sick” as you’re winding your way through the North Carolina mountains. It’s amazing how fast Henry can find a pull off spot.

East Coast vacation - Virginia Beach (no waves)

East Coast vacation – Virginia Beach (no waves)

one of our camp sites along the way

one of our camp sites along the way

we finally made it to Maine

we finally made it to Maine (son and daughter, 1998)

Our plans are slower at coming together with our children long out of the house. There is no school or summer camps to schedule around. We’ve found great pleasure in the stay-cations.

This summer I’m taking a couple of brand new roads. Roads that will take me destinations uncharted and unknown, all while facing my computer screen.

I’m working through some disciplines I may write more about. An internal journey of sorts and still the road is unknown.

Then the writing class I referenced in Tuesday’s post. Another uncharted road for me. Both journey’s I’m giving the map to someone else. I’m not charting the path or deciding the best route but my hands will have to take the wheel at times. Directions will be given then I must steer, decide to accelerate or step on the brakes. I wonder if I’ll need the emergency flashers? 😉

I use to beat myself up if I forgot to take one little thing on a trip. Then a wise friend told me there was very little she couldn’t get at her destination. For this journey, I’m trying to leave all my baggage at home.  I’m open and even hopeful this journey will lead me to a new destination. One where I’ll want to settle in and make myself at home. It’s just the beginning.