Monthly Archives: May 2013

Inspiration 5.31.13 / Flower Power

Sunflower / Photo by Amy Watson Smith

Sunflowers. Who isn’t inspired by this sunshine on a stick? And while I am sure they would be cheerful and lovely in a smaller package, their lumbering giant-size makes them almost ridiculous and therefore, in my mind, even more fun.

Driving through a neighborhood not far from my house, I caught a glimpse of these bright golden-yellow flowers. I immediately pulled over to take a closer look. It turns out that they were planted in a little plot of land that was a community garden–something that I quite frankly was surprised to find in this upscale neighborhood. Not much else was in full bloom yet in this garden so these stars stole the show. Soon the tomatoes and squash and zinnias will be squeezing them out, but for now they are center stage.

Photograph by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

Summer 1974–Parkville

Screen door / Photo by Amy Watson Smith

A chair pushes back, side door opens and the screen door slams shut. The mother’s voice yells unheard to the girl bare feet, bed-messed hair, eyes minutes from sleep. The girl pauses on the steps and surveys the yard feeling the warmth of the sun on her cheeks and shoulders. Her head snaps to the right hair flying as the dog runs barking towards her. Slobbers and paws and too much fur greet her. Laughing she pushes the part collie, part cocker spaniel, part dachshund aside and races down the stairs jump-stepping onto the stones with grass creeping around the edges. Finally—bare feet already hardened sink into cool, soft, blue-green blades. The day stretches out before her for miles.

Grass / Photo by Amy Watson Smith

The phone has already rung. Secret plans have already been whispered. The girl moves to the back of the old house picking her way across the sharp gravel to the dark, cool basement dug into the hill. Quickly, to avoid the spiders and bugs and musty smell, she retrieves her bike: purple frame, glitter banana seat, name plate, tall fluorescent flag to catch the wind. Scrambling up the slope, she makes her way to the street and hops on. She pedals the flat stretch of road passing one, two, three, four Victorian houses. Then there is the hill. The hill where the car slammed into one of Dr. Donnelly’s Saint Bernards laying in the street smashing the front of the car while the huge monster lumbered across to its home. The hill that she flies down but dreads pushing the bike back up. The hill that the girl’s father walks daily down into the town and up onto the college campus.

fence covered / Photo by Amy Watson Smith

Pedaling faster and faster to gain speed, she sails down the hill trees and leaves and grass and houses all swooshing past. Finally hill turns flat and she pedals on to the house with white picket fence—the manse for the Presbyterian preacher and his family. The house with the quiet, serious, best friend. The house tidy and smelling of cooking and mother always home. The backyard a long slow slope covered in vinca vines sprinkled with purple flowers. The large bedroom on the second floor with two beds for sisters who read and play piano and study.

Slowly the group gathers at this house—white haired fairy-like girl, tough tom boy from two blocks away, smiling little sister of best friend, street-wise blond with the bad mouth and the parents divorced. An odd crew—best friends on street, strangers at school.

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Alliances form. Negotiations begin. A decision made. Whatever the outcome—riding bikes to the creek, picnic under the trees at the college’s playing fields, roller skating in the freshly paved parking lot of the church, walking down the next hill into town to Ernie’s pharmacy for candy or escaping the heat or rain in the basement of the house playing school or acting out plays—we are all in. No complaining, no do-overs, no crybabies.

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As the day draws to a close the group disperses and heads to their respective homes and dinner. The girl walks her bike up the hill with the white-haired girl whose house is in the middle of the incline. Bikes dropping on the sidewalk, the two run up the driveway to the back yard, through a hole in the fence, across the neighbor’s yard into the dainty garden next door. Crouching, crawling across still hot paving stones to the mounds of variegated, scalloped leaves with fingers gingerly reaching trying to grasp the small, sweet, dark red strawberries. Popping as many in their mouths as possible, they stuff pockets while always looking and watching for the old woman. One day, a few summers later, the girls were caught but the old woman invited them to take as many strawberries as they wanted. That was last summer of sneaking the berries. Now mouths and pockets full, the girls race back across the neighbor’s lawn with hearts pounding, down the driveway back to their tangle of bikes.

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Waving goodbye to the friend, the girl pushes her bike up the steep hill past the house where she picked out her kitten-now-cat—a bribe from her parents to go to first grade without a fuss. To her right the narrow island of grass and trees calls to her to step inside its secrets. The woods with so many lost balls and the old woman who kept them. The gray clapboard house peeks over the hill and the girl picks up speed ready for dinner and questions about the day. The father stands in the garden—a small plot of land carved from the lawn—amidst the asparagus going to seed and squash and tomatoes. The girl joins him half-listening to the lessons of gardening and mulching skimming her hands over the tops of the riotous zinnias. Armed with their bounty, the girl and her father enter the kitchen to smells of chicken and rice and butter beans cooking. With the tomatoes sliced and the table set, the girl, her parents and brother settle in for the meal and talk. Later, plates cleared, the girl and her father load the dishwasher. Again the lessons half-heard on the proper way to rinse and load.

tomatoes / Photo by Amy Watson Smith

After the bath, the girl pulls a clean cotton gown over her head. Hair still wet and feet clean and prunish, the girl follows the voices of her parents out into the side yard. Fireflies flicker across the grass. Chasing a few, the girl finds herself at the hammock—the one purchased two summers ago on the island in South Carolina white ropes crisscrossing. Climbing in she pushes off from the ground gliding slowly back and forth, back and forth. Arms supporting her head, the girl looks into the dark sky that peeks between the two huge oak trees counting the stars. A breeze rustles the cotton gown body underneath all clean and scrubbed. Parents’ voices trail off, the girl closes her eyes.

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Photographs by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

One Thousand Gifts / #89-97

Much to be thankful for!

This week’s additions to my One Thousand Gifts list seem to have much to do with the coming of summer–which will be upon us in Charleston in about a week!

What are some of the things on your list that indicate a change in the seasons?

89. Night-time air filled with the bullfrogs’ ballads

tomatoes

90. Tomatoes ripening on kitchen counter

girls' night

91. Girls’ night in

fully open

92. The splendor of being fully open to His plans and His timing

Mike and George

93. Fully all there

magnolia

94. Milky white magnolias

girl and her dog

95. A girl and her dog

marry ur best friend

96. Marrying my best friend

being surprised

97. Being surprised after 24 years

Redesign and refocus

Preview of a Splash by Chris Willis

Preview of a Splash by Chris Willis

I have always been the sort of person who just jumps into things. Once I make a decision about something, I move forward. I don’t like to read instructions before I start something though I often have to resort to reading them after I have put the wrong thingy in the whatchmadoodle. As much as I like to plan and organize and coordinate, my natural inclination is to ‘fly by the seat of my pants.’

So it probably won’t surprise anyone who knows me that when I decided to start blogging, I got a quick tutorial from a friend and jumped in with both feet not really knowing what I was doing, how I was going to do it and why I wanted to do it. The first few months I encountered a very steep learning curve but I have been picking some things up. And yes, I did go back and begin to read about blogging. I will share more of this a bit later.

This post is to announce a few changes and to share with my readers why I have made them. When I first started this blog I knew I wanted to write and to get into a more regular habit of writing. I also knew that I was at a point in my life that I wanted to look ahead and discern what the next part of my journey would look like. I had some other pieces that I knew were part of this puzzle like cooking, design, fashion and creating but I couldn’t figure out how to blend it all.

I started the blog with the title of Open Doors / Closed Doors because I saw that this was a way of symbolizing my new season–seeing what doors were open to me and which were closed. I suppose it was a perfectly fine name but as I began to rethink things, it didn’t seem quite right–almost a bit negative or inactive and neither of these words describe me. So I changed the title of the blog (and the URL) to Making Lemonade. It seems a more fitting way to describe someone who is optimistic, a creative problem solver and likes to jump on in to things. I hope that you will agree.

I have also changed the design a bit to streamline and focus more on the words and images as these are the things that are most important to me. I’ve added a splash of color because that, again, reflects my personality a bit more. I have more closely focused what I will be writing about. I have copied it below but you will also find it on the “About” page.

I know that the design and focus of my blog will continue to change and grow as I do. Besides I think it’s good to mix things up a bit–and yes, I am the kind of person who moves the furniture around every now and then. So stay tuned, visit often and tell your friends about me!

Thanks for taking the time to read Making Lemonade!

Amy

Making Lemonade is a blog that focuses on appreciating the beauty of the people, places and things around me. My goal is to encourage a thankful attitude and thoughtful perspective through writing, creating and inspiration.

I believe that God has a unique plan for my life (and for yours) and I am on a journey to discover the life He has for me and to live into the person He created me to be.

On Making Lemonade I plan to blog weekly on several different things:

  1. I will be adding to my 1000 Gifts List
  2. I will be sharing something that I have been inspired by, created or am passionate about
  3. I will reflect on some aspect of my journey

I hope you will join me on this journey and perhaps even discover the plans He has for you!

Amy

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Photo by Chris Willis http://www.photographyblogger.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/4037920271_3fdcd639b8.jpg

Marriage of word and image

47. Storm clouds gathering

47. Storm clouds gathering

I am discovering that my list of One Thousand Things is becoming more and more visual. I guess that this shouldn’t surprise me as I have always been a visual person. But it took me a while to realize that a list could be both verbal and visual.

I pick up my camera and see the world in a different way. Snap shot by snap shot. When I sit and reflect on the images, words spill across the page. Words challenging me to find the image. Images looking for words. I laugh as I think how long it has taken me to put these two parts of myself together–the visual and the verbal–working in tandem perhaps for the first time. Working toward one goal: thanksgiving to God in all things.

But what of the hard things, the ugly things? The hard eucharisteo as Ann Voskamp calls it. Will I have the courage to include these in my list of gifts? The tiny heart ill-formed? The gut-wrenching absence of the boy-turned man who took his own life? The dark, shame-filled hidden history? The huge chasm between nothingness and pain that feeds the addiction, the loneliness, the depression? The “you aren’t good enough, thin enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, worth enough,…” lies that seep into the mind, into the heart, into the soul?

I believe–no know–that God is present in all things. Even the hard things. He is transfiguring it all. Will I have the courage to glimpse even the smallest of gifts–transfigurations–in these hard, ugly things? Will I be brave enough to offer thanksgiving in heart break? Will I be alert enough to see the light breaking through the darkness? “Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle” (Voskamp).

Lord, make me brave. Give me courage and strength. Increase my faith. And open my eyes to the miraculous. Amen

St. George and the dragon

My take on the St. George flag.

My take on the St. George flag.

I know that we all have our own dragons to slay throughout our lives, but I can’t help but be frustrated and sad that my precious godson, George, has to slay his dragon at only 18 months.

Though he was born with a heart defect, George has done remarkably well with relatively little medical intervention. He and his parents went to Boston to the Children’s Hospital for a procedure a little over a week ago but unfortunately the doctor’s have decided that he needs open heart surgery. This is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7th. Will you join me in praying for George and for his parents?

I have ordered bumper stickers (see above) to help raise awareness and to encourage people to pray for George. If you would like one, please contact me at stmwoministry@gmail.com.

My list of one thousand gifts

ONE THOUSAND GIFTS

1. English Breakfast tea

2. Being able smell again

3 .Earthy smell of my favorite candle

4. Slow mornings

5. Sounds of teenager getting ready for school in the morning-the stomping and dropping and slamming-while I lie silently in bed encouraging her independence

6. Teenager’s growing independence manifested in preparing her own breakfast and unprompted three-hour  study sessions followed by a moment of hunkering down and resting into my side as if she is regenerating–drawing strength and courage from me for her next step into adulthood.

7. Words. Words flowing from somewhere deep inside of me–not my mind but my heart, my soul. Words that feel right, that satisfy, that flow onto the page not pushed but leaking out.

8. Sleepy, early morning telephone conversations with husband away from home.

9. Teenager’s long, sleek hair with each stroke of the brush a love letter to her from  me

10. Grandmother humming as she works

11. Girl springer trying to get other dogs and cat to play

12. Laughing with friends

13. Godson’s crushing blue eyes the color of Robin’s eggs

14. Boston Children’s Hospital

15. Medical professionals

16. Medical innovation and technology

17. Healthy hearts

18. Quiet mornings

19. Goofy springers

20. Chocolate bear dogs

21. Firm, plump, juicy blueberries surrounded by milk in a nest of granola

22. Early morning sounds of the world waking up

23. The sound  of husband’s car as it pulls up to our home after day’s away

24. Cat stretched out behind my neck on top of chair

25. Allergy medicine

26. Cat waiting expectantly for the last few drops of milk from my morning cereal

27. Girl spaniel tricking other dogs to go outside so she can claim me as her own

Dogs concentrating on bones

28. Dogs concentrating on bones

29. The moment in an argument when the teenager’s heart begins to open and she reveals to me the hard thing, the secret feeling that she had buried deep within.

30. When this dark thing loses it’s power over us because we bring it into the light and share the weight of it with another.

31. Footsteps above announcing that the day has begun

32. The filling up of bed space when he lies asleep beside me

33.The surprised smile i feel when I utter an unmanipulated, split-second cleverness

34. The parade of bones

35. Friends praying faithfully for people you love that they do not know

36. Husband being here to do the hard stuff

37. Hot water

38. Birthdays

39. Hot water heaters that do not leak

40. Having the option of not going into the office today

41. Connecting with old friends

42. Sweet daughter using her creativity to make me a precious birthday gift

43. Getting the call from husband that he has finally reached his far-off destination safely

44. Planning meals with teenager

45. The acrid smell of pluff mud

46. Seagulls cawing

47. Storm clouds gathering

48. Color popping against the darkening sky

49. Springtime with its chartreuse marsh grass

50. Boat trails in water

Rain on windshield

51. Raindrops heavy and full

Jack Rogers

52. Painted toenails in Jack Rogers

53. Blanketed by sleeping puppies

54. Teenager cleaning up after herself without being told

55. Dog-tired dog eyes

56. Surprising love words followed by long, lanky, teenage arms encircling

57. Wanting to share something I love with someone I love

58. Swirling, leaping, barking invitation to play from girl springer

59. Funny words from a friend in a text

60. Heart-filled lattes

60. Heart-filled lattes

Wind

61. Windows down hair whipping around face