Day 6: Taking the Back Roads

I made a trip to the South Carolina coast today for the funeral of a dear friend’s father. She’s the kind of person who makes my life better just by being in it, in a thousand beautiful ways, so it was important to me that I be there. What made the long journey even more meaningful was the fact that I went alone–no Tim, no Little Bit–and the route I took from Lexington to Pawley’s Island wound my car and me along gorgeous, unfamiliar backroads and tiny crossroads like Lynchburg, Brown’s Ferry, Indiantown.

I loved passing through on this hot, sunny, South Carolina summer day.

 

Indiantown Presbyterian
Indiantown Presbyterian

 

On my way home, at the “insistence” of my thoughtful friend, I made a quick whip through The Hammock Shops of Pawleys Island. “You’ve got to stop in,” she said. “You’ve driven all this way.”

And so I did.

 

a nice place to walk around
a nice place to walk around

 

I happened upon a fun summer dress at a boutique there. (Yay!) When I stepped to the register to pay, I overheard one of the two cute young women working there (summer jobs from college? OMG that brings back memories) make a joking comment about being confused because her “rotators” were not functioning properly.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Did you just say you have wheels in your head and you call them rotators?”

“Yes, she did!” said the other girl, laughing. And this brought about a most delightful conversation about the interesting expressions this young woman regularly throws about.

“It wouldn’t be noticed on a trottin’ horse.”

“‘Bout like a Murphy’s Baby Carriage–you just gotta keep pushing it.”

“Good as snuff and not half as dusty.”

She learned them from her grandmother, I believe she said, a woman from Eastern North Carolina. How I love the fact this cute little coed is keeping that heritage alive by embracing–and actually using–such colorful language.

 

for miles and miles and miles
miles and miles and miles

 

It was a beautiful day, all in all, filled with love, discovery, and surprise. It was also a wonderful reminder that it can be so much fun to simply get in a car and drive.

 

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

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Day 5: Bunco? Seriously?

We’ve lived in our neighborhood for eight years. And finally this Summer, I’m getting to know my neighbors.

It’s been a blast.  But more than that, it’s been a wonderful reminder the good Lord showers our world with blessings, and many of them are (quite literally) right around the corner.

 

dice

 

Here’s how it happened. Late in the Spring, a newly formed social committee tossed out the idea that the ladies of Sterling Lake might enjoy gathering for cocktails, snacks and Bunco.

Can’t we just gather? I wondered. Games are not my thing, and I’m just enough of an introvert to think game-playing with strangers would be even worse. Nevertheless I came along.

 

throw

 

It took about two rounds of throwing those dice for me to be all caught up in the action. Bunco is fast, requires no skill, and by design it creates interaction among all players. So by the end of the first night, I’d had the chance to chat with every woman there.

This is what I discovered:

These women are fabulous!

They are people I genuinely want as friends.

They all live just down the street!

(Do you think that is as cool as I do?)

 

winner
a good night at the Bunco table

 

Just last night we gathered again for monthly Bunco, we ladies of Sterling Lake. As always, it was a blast. And when the game was over and we’d said our goodbyes, it took about 30 seconds to get home.

I really love that.

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!


 

Day 4: dance of the …

 

butterfly-2

I sat outside

butterfly4

watching

butterfly1

the butterflies.

 

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!


 

Day 3: Return of the Purple Martins (!)

Two years ago I had my first (and only) experience with the Purple Martins on Lake Murray. Its Bomb Island is the largest Purple Martin sanctuary in North America, after all, so when the birds return for a few weeks each July/August, boaters circle ’round each evening at dusk to watch them come in to roost for the night.

It is something to see. A half million of the gorgeous creatures come flying in, many right over your head.

~~~~~

Then last year, something very strange happened. We watched and waited, waited and watched, but the birds didn’t come. Thus was launched The Great Summer 2014 Mystery: What Happened To The Bomb Island Purple Martins? It was a topic so big, so epic NPR’s Adam Cole came to investigate and shot this really fun,  really fascinating video.

~~~~~~

You can see why I was overjoyed to open Instagram today to find this photo by my dear friend, Cindy, hashtagged #30DaysOfFunTDG.

 

@cinsmith1105
@cinsmith1105

 

They’re  baacckk! Purple Martins gone wild! said her caption.

(She and I happened to be together–in the rain, fools–for my one and only sighting in 2013.)

 

fools, in the rain
fools, in the rain

 

It’s such great news.

THE PURPLE MARTINS ARE BACK!

Thank you, Cindy!

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!


 

Day 2: Road Trip! (with a view)

At the very last minute–and by that I mean I didn’t even shower first–we hopped in the car for a quick trip to the mountains. We grabbed our things, our dog, three Lexington County peaches that were at risk of getting overly ripe, and off we went.

 

#InstaSize
See? Even Little Bit is jacked.

 

We spent the afternoon looking at gorgeous views like this.

 

http://instagram.com/thedailygrace

 

Then we made the drive to Clemson, where tomorrow we’re moving sweet Eliza from her house on Hillcrest Avenue. She’s about to graduate from college for real, her Recreation Therapy summer work at Camp Twin Lakes nearly over.

We made a quick stop at the Esso Club,

 

http://instagram.com/thedailygrace

 

where we enjoyed a beer with Little Bit.

 

http://instagram.com/thedailygrace
Just kidding. LB’s not a beer drinker.

 

Then we up and called our friends, the Maibergers, who live just around the corner, who just happened to be home, who just happened to invite us over.

It was the perfect summer day–full of whimsy, impulse, joy and friends.

I do love summer.

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!


 

Day 1: Paddleboarding. Yes, we did.

Labor Day rolls around every year and I find myself thinking: Dagnapit! Summer’s over and I never got around to having any fun! Not this year. I’m committed to the simple act of consciously adding something to each day just for the fun of it. #30DaysOfFun. Join me!

~~~~~

Do you want to try Paddleboarding? she said, my sweet friend Jan, the one who takes me through a life-changing hour of Pilates twice a week, every week. We can go on the lake. We’ll do it right after workout.

And then my other dear friend (and Pilates partner), Leslie, joined right in.

It was my second time on a board and my first time (aaaahhh!!!) on big water. The Lord made His face to shine upon me, however, for it was dead calm. And gorgeous.

 

sky
How hard can this be?

 

We paddled across. (Me a little more slowly than they.)

We looked for the eagles.

We watched for soft shell turtles.

We talked about this, that, and everything.

Then we paddled back.

 

paddleboarding
Leslie makes it look easy. I make it look terrifying.

 

This calls for Peach Ice Cream! said Jan, and Leslie and I wholeheartedly agreed.

 

Yes, it's homemade.
Yes, it’s homemade.

 

Paddleboarding and ice cream. I’m counting that as Summer Fun X2!

 

30 Days of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!


 

Fun, Fun, Fun. Here we go!

I made a new friend today, a young woman with whom I was corresponding about The Daily Grace. She ended one of the emails with this lovely comment:

I’m now into reading your older blog posts and love the 30 Day Series!  I’m going to have to do the “Fun” ones before summer ends!

I’ve been thinking about doing that again, too, I wrote back. But I’m not having that much fun.”

And that is the point, I thought. Neither she, nor I, (nor you) should let this summer pass without a real effort to put a little fun into every single day.

So let us begin! 30 Days of Fun III ~ Summer 2015 ~ is officially underway!

Join me, won’t you?

 

doing a little drumming at Camp Twin Lakes
A little fun from Camp Twin Lakes, just to get us in the mood.

 

 

 

 

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I love camp.

I do.

I’ve loved camp since I was 10, packing up my big blue trunk with everything a girl needs for two, three, five weeks away from home; kissing my parents goodbye, choosing a bunk bed (top please), swimming in the lake, weaving lanyards, learning dances, riding horses, laying a trail, idolizing counselors, eating in the dining hall, ringing the morning bell, roasting marshmallows, writing letters home, reading by flashlight, performing silly skits, catching lightning bugs, making Best Friends you will remember forever and ever. And then crying all the way home knowing Camp is over, knowing another year will pass before summer will come round again.

Camp is all that and so much more to the kids who come to Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Geogia. It’s a respite from the world for children who face difficulties I can hardly imagine, be it complicated home situations, significant medical challenges, life-threatening illness. It’s where my brave about-to-be-a-college-graduate daughter, Eliza, is spending the summer giving her all to children who need so much–children, she says, who give her way more.

 

CTL

 

We spent last Saturday there, Tim and I, and Eliza was determined to give us the full Camp experience. First we met her friends, fellow counselors I immediately loved who are changing the world one camper at a time with grand gifts of love and normalcy.

 

camp-girls
Don’t you love them?

 

Then we spent two hours on a golf cart traveling the entirety of Camp Twin Lake’s grounds. I was overwhelmed with it all, from the fabulous HGTV-style treehouse (my favorite) to a full working farm to two lakes to a boundless playground to the rock climbing wall to the ropes course to the arts and crafts building to the rimless pool. There is so much to see and do and the most remarkable thing of all is these activities are adapted for people with physical challenges.

I’ll never forget one of the first times Eliza called to tell me about camp. “Some kids may not be able to walk, Mom, but on our Zipline they can fly.” Yes, yes, yes.

 

campsigns
this is but a small sampling of their camp activities

 

We were thrilled to try our hands (legs?) at Paddle Boarding, something that’s been on my life list for a while. It was so much fun!

But the very best part of the day came when we visited Eliza’s cabin. At the last minute she pulled from a plastic tote this letter, which she’d just gotten from a camper the day before.

 

eliza-letter

 

I’m proud of my daughter, but I was even more touched by the words this child chose as she considered her Camp Twin Lakes experience.

You are important to me.

Isn’t that the most perfect way to begin a letter? Or a conversation? Isn’t it like having the other person look deep in your eyes to say I see you in there, and I mean this just for you. It’s a sentiment I love, and a phrase I vow to use in my own life in the future, just one of the many lessons of my day at Camp Twin Lakes.

You are important to me.

Yes.

 

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the best day ever

As days go, this has to be one of the best ever.

First, the Confederate Flag no longer flies on the grounds of our South Carolina Statehouse. In tribute I humbly offer Columbia poet Nikky Finney reading a poem she wrote in the early morning hours yesterday, just after our lawmakers and Governor Haley put ink to the decision to Take It Down. Its publication comprised the entirety of the front page of this morning’s newspaper. Bravo to The State, and thank you, Ms. Finney, for articulating what so many of us feel. How poignant is your question: Who are we now?

 

Second, the baby bluebirds have fledged! It is an understatement to call this a miracle, since the last four nests of this devoted bluebird couple have not been successful. You will remember the last sad tale of the morning I woke up to find the five-day-old babies missing–devoured by a snake, we later determined. Our hearts were broken: Mama’s, Papa’s and mine. And so we moved the nest box out into the yard, took preventive snake measures, then fretted as temperatures topped 98 degrees seven days in a row.

I took drastic measures, constructing heat shields and (ultimately) bunji-cording a large golf umbrella above the birdhouse to provide some shade for the eggs and the Mama in that box, baking in the heat.

 

i am the crazy bird lady

 

The eggs hatched, and with all the rigging I’d done to that birdhouse my glimpses into the nest were few and far between. I did keep a close eye on the parents, however, rejoicing each time they flew to the box, dinner-in-beak.

 

mama

 

Last night I got home from work and took my (hot) perch on the back porch, waiting and watching for activity. There was none in sight. With each passing minute my panic rose. Where were they? Why weren’t they feeding? What had happened this time???

Two hours and lots of fretting later I began to wonder if there was a chance the babies had fledged. Surely not, I thought, there hasn’t been time. They’re too small. I mean, the last time I got a photo, they hardly looked feathered!

 

July 5, 2015
July 5, 2015

 

When were they born? How many days had it been?

I tracked it back to the first sighting of Papa with a tiny crawly in his mouth. Seventeen days. Seventeen days! That’s fledge time!

And still I was not brave enough to look. I decided to wait until morning, when my sweet husband, Tim, would be home to assist.

Just today, this is what we found.

 

Brave Tim.
Brave Tim.

 

An empty nest!
An empty nest!

 

home sweet successful home!
home sweet successful home

 

I am overjoyed! I believe the three babies are in the woods just there to the side of the Cope’s yard, out of the sun’s direct heat, learning to fly and jump and play. Their parents will continue to feed for the next month, keeping them under cover, safe and sound (we hope) and out of Hawk range. I am going to believe that is the case, anyway.

As for me, now, I have breathed a great sigh of relief and am so happy this dear couple is having this joy. Life is good.

The third thing that makes this one of the greatest days ever? It is the day before I get to go see my own sweet baby, all grown up and spending the summer working at Camp Twin Lakes, a life-changing camp for children with serious illnesses, disabilities and other life challenges. How proud I am of Eliza for not just wanting to make a difference in this world but for actually doing it in such a special and meaningful way.

 

Camp Twin Lakes
Camp Twin Lakes

 

My heart is full, my spirit soars. I send you all good wishes, my friend, for a July weekend filled with everything that makes you happy!

 

 

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how a nun helped me learn to pack properly

 

If there is a quote on my gravestone, it should say this:

She took everything she had everywhere she went and never had what she needed.

Lordy, it’s true. (Just ask my husband.) A quick weekend hop to visit Dad in Florida requires two knitting projects, five magazines, three books, two laptops, two digital cameras and an iPad. Oh, and a sketchbook. And that doesn’t even count the multiple outfits per day I pack–casual, dressier, warmer, cooler, and the all important “what if I just don’t feel like wearing any of the others?” option.

It’s ridiculous, this I recognize.

I just don’t know what to do about it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

No wonder my heart stopped as I listened to Sister Simone Campbell, a nun, lawyer, lobbyist, poet and “Zen contemplative” as she exposed the root of my problem–an obsession with security–in her beautiful “How to be Spiritually Bold” conversation with Krista Tippett of On Being.

She was talking about bigger things than my inefficient packing –inequality, oppression, liberation theology–when she casually mentioned a need for a new theology in the United States. Here’s what she said that got my attention.

I came to this insight. I think our sin is our obsession with security. Our obsession that everything ought to work out perfectly for us.That we ought to have every conceivable drop of oil ever that we’d ever need, any time. That we have to have electricity. And a guarantee I brought the right clothes, so I brought extra just in case I needed extra layers. I mean, all this obsession with having everything we need.

(Boom.)

Security is an illusion, she said, because we’re all vulnerable. We would be much better off if we just made peace with insecurity.

Make peace with insecurity.

(That spoke to my heart.)

We’re all vulnerable.

Always.

~~~~~~~~~

And so I have been giving a lot of thought to this idea of making peace with insecurity. What does that really mean, anyway? And how would I go about it?

It reminds me of the trip we took to Colorado just last month. Tim and I made the long climb (in a car) from Boulder up Flagstaff Mountain to Lost Gulch Lookout. My palms were sweating as I watched my unaffected husband bounce around on the edge of those rocks.

 

tim

 

So you feel afraid my soul whispered. Go anyway. Don’t miss that view.

And so I did.

 

CandT
This may or may not be me with my hand providing stability. I promise you I did not even realize it until I looked at this photo.

 

I’ve also thought of the concepts of vulnerability and insecurity as I’ve walked around my yard of late. I’ve had enough run-ins with snakes to warrant a fair amount of caution, let me be clear. But when I was on the verge of buying flowers rather than collecting my own pretty ones, I knew a talk with myself was in order.

I need to change my perspective, I said. Snakes and I have peacefully co-existed my entire life–I just haven’t been hyper-aware they are there. Perhaps I should recognize their toleration of me. Perhaps I could respect their right to live here, too.

And then I packed for Florida. I wasn’t perfect–but it was a vast improvement. No magazines, no books, only one knitting project. And only two extra outfits.

Now that’s progress.

The Theology of Insecurity. I’m working on it.

 

 

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