Twirling throughout the house, I dragged a hot pink boa, littering feathery remnants down the hallway. Wearing Mom’s broken dress slippers, I breathlessly clopped the floor similar to a moose in a tutu, leaving behind a trail of deeply ingrained scratch marks on Mom’s polished wood floors.

I called into the other room as I spun, “Mom, I’m going to be a dancer.”

With hair similar to curling dental floss, I was nicknamed Flossy after Mom’s favorite babysitter for me, who also sported a head of frills, although her hair was much darker than mine. Flossy was a black college student with a smile that opened her arms to the world, along with courage large enough to inspire my future—forever. It all began on a sunny afternoon.

I sat at the top of the sliding board in anticipation of a breezy glide downward, just me and my new doll, Christy, next to me, a birthday gift from my recent four-year-old party. Dressed with a grin, I slid downward. But something was wrong. My doll moved faster, reaching the bottom before I could catch her. The family dog, Blacky, who frightened me, snatched her and fled to the woods. I screamed.

Flossy, with a focused stare, erect shoulders, and reaching arms fled after Blacky, and after catching up to him they demonstrated a frenzied tug-of-war. As Flossy held the doll’s head, Blacky’s teeth penetrated Christy’s foot with enough force to nearly bite it in two pieces. With a grunt and a perspiring forehead, Flossy made one last jerk, and with a loud whoop my doll was free. Unfortunately, my doll was a “has-been”. When I saw her I cried.

Her once shining straight hair was now smelly and mangled with dog saliva, dried crushed leaves, along with dirty grime. I shouldn’t have placed her next to me on the slide. But even more than my guilt was my affection for Flossy. She triumphed as the heroine, plunged into a frightful world I could not navigate. In the end, it didn’t seem to matter that my doll wasn’t the same for it had been replaced with a person far more real than childish play, a life-sized heroine.

Adventures of the Boxcar Children, saved for me by the school librarian, persuaded me of invincibility where imagination transported the reader into a place where dreams became reality. Whether roughing it in the wildness of nature, or dancing from a pinnacle of achievement, we would all be somebody of significance one day, like a dancer or a rescuer of helpless baby dolls.

Someday came, yet, it unfolded more like scratch marks on the floor along with rubber work boots. It fleshed out like a tug-of-war in the raw earth where heroines live. These heroines are not the rich and famous but rather the devoted, loving, and creative creatures God places along our pathway.



I was born in the red clay mud of the south, where it took mounds of manure and fermented discards twirled into the soil to sprout a squash plant in the summer. When the soil was rich with old stuff, my dad grew the best okra mom could fry up along with tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn.

Today we frown at tobacco’s harm to the lungs, but for me as a young girl it meant another season of summer smells—the curing of tobacco at the mud-packed log barn across the street where they strung leaves on wooden sticks and transported them to the barn for a week of curing. Today, those smells can only be found in my imagination.

Among those sappy, tall pines I explored every inch of our woods, dipped my toes in the tiny creek, and inhaled the dampness of leaves long since fallen from the trees. My bicycle traveled all those trails, even to the deserted house at the end of the path containing a rusty fenced graveyard where names on the headstones were barely visible. The presence of that eerie spot chased me home before dark.

Our driveway wasn’t always paved, the clothing lines were full, and the yards bursting with laughter from small children. The sounds of a tractor, barking hounds, and a push mower could be heard every evening around the hours after dinner, as it was early then.

When tired from the day, the neighbors gathered in our yard in a hodgepodge of swings, gliders and rockers nestled under the trees. Once a neighbor off her meds painted the swing red. Mom didn’t know what to say.

Always wanting to perfect our evening meeting place, Dad eventually added a covered shelter and fan. He brought large white stones from a mountain area miles away and cemented in a pathway, steps, and a stone wall to hold the cascading white, red, and pink miniature carnations.

The older I became the more I wanted to be somewhere else. Yet, now the older I become, the more I want only that place. There I gained the meaning of simplicity long since wasted in this hurried world of electronic nonsense: iPhone, iPad, iMac. I have them all. Yet, none of them can offer me the smell, excitement, and saturation of rain pouring off the sides of full gutters.

Today, sitting in the mountains watching the day fall behind the dark, fear slides into this night, wondering what will attempt to replace those hills when the dozers mow them over in preference for a flat place to better accommodate our loaded airwaves.

So this is why I write, to remind us how it feels to walk on grass barefoot.




A day in the park

It is Monday morning. Again. Here’s another week scattered with daily duties pushing and shoving their demands into my small leather organizer. I press to wiggle free from the minutia to segway far right onto an exit where I might gain a glimpse of a more perfect freedom. What is pure and lovely delight other than the utilities of natural senses where I experience completeness…brevity…fragile…strong…empty…overflowing?

I want to sing. To allow my voice to dig out notes so piercingly high it blows my car roof within centimeters of Washington, D.C. while I cackle without regard for the curious glances from neighboring drivers. They’ll rest blessed with another interesting topic at their family dinner table. “You’ll never believe what I saw today…”

I want to see. The Strawberry Festival crowded with a plethora of persons crammed into jeans long since outgrown, then to saunter among them as if mine fit with an inch to grow, while allowing my hair to become one with the wind and to really not care if it settles back into its proper place. The last thing I’ll do is jump onto one of those rides I fear and allow myself to fall…fall…fall.

I want to smell. Robert’s lingering early morning cologne as he wraps his arms around my soul, my waist, my mind, reminding me nothing is as important as this moment.

I want to feel. Those exhales while sliding on warm and silly slippers after a day of tired burning feet, as I sip a glass of chilled apple cider bubbling up my nose. Afterward, to crunch hot hushpuppies between my teeth, tasting their buttermilk cornmeal, oniony flavor as they slide down my throat. They are worth every calorie.

I want to hear. My Lord’s love as we traipse together through the cool and damp tree lined pathway up close to the lake—His gentle, slow, and simple instructions sway my soul into submission, knowing no matter what, He will support me through the dark days when I’m weary from wandering this cement paved path. At times, this walk seems lonely, yet His answers fit. I am satisfied.


Porch Swing

He exited the bedroom in a pair of beltless lavender pants, a wide collared floral silk shirt and black-heeled pointy shoes. I was awestruck. Mom choked on her coffee. She imagined one day she would zap him to black and white.

Similar to his clothing style, his preferences for wallpaper lingered near the outer limits. Once, he walked into a store with walls lined in a multitudinous assortment of frosty pastels, gentle browns, and elegant pearls, yet left with his arms full of what appeared to be the American flag. With scissors, knife, glue and brush, he splashed the boys’ bedroom walls with bold red, white, and blue stripes that resembled a presidential jail cell. When I danced in that place, it was if the whole room spun around me. Even standing, this room insisted on its own jitterbug. Mom stood in the doorway sort of smiling as the room twirled.

On warm summer evenings, the sky unsettled from its laborious day, we swung back and forth on the porch in our simple cedar swing as the wind visited us with its bold breath, sending my sandy strands of hair wildly across Dad’s cheek. Rain gushed from the gutter, as I imagined it watering my soul. Drip. Drip. Drip. Its wetness clung to my skin as if it hadn’t been towel dried from a shower. I crouched tightly against his bony side with his frizzled hairy arm around me, and his knotty hand resting on my knee.

He was never famous, just an ordinary man. But not ordinary in the normal sense of the word—more like extraordinary. Extraordinarily creative. Extraordinarily funny. Extraordinarily daring.

His pancakes birthed Mickey Mouse ears, long legs and enormous feet, while his salads produced a landscape of cucumber trees, flowered tomatoes and peppers that swirled around the dish as if it were ready for a waltz. His outdoor Christmas trees topped 40 feet tall. Once, someone threatened to cut them down. “No!” I cried. “My dad planted those when I was a little girl.” So I took a picture and framed it, just in case someone didn’t hear me.

When Alzheimer’s tossed his brain from clarity to points not so, he struggled to recall me. I said, “Dad, you know who I am?” He said, “No, afraid I don’t.” Later, determined that he remember me, I insisted, “Hey, you know my name?” He said, “Nope.” Not to be defeated, 30 minutes later I said, “Dad, sure you don’t know my name?” He pointedly declared, “If you don’t know your name by now, you’re in real trouble.” Laughter.

But, he did eventually remember me and it became clear why I confused him. Sporting a new hairstyle, I was a bright blond with curls. He said, “I don’t like your hair. It looks like a mop. I wouldn’t know it was hair if I didn’t see your face with it.”

Dad’s been in heaven for several years now. At times, I imagine his thrill with all the beauty, for at home he never tired of the smell of roses and his pink and white carnations. Every year he enjoyed watching for his daffodil bulbs sprout green from the soil. Springtime always reminds me of him, with its color, energy and freshness.

I’m becoming older and finding that I am now the matriarch of my own family. I struggle with the largeness of those shoes, wondering if I will make a pleasant lasting impression on the lives of my own child and grandchildren as my parents did mine. Perhaps they will remember tea rooms with not so serious etiquette lessons, ocean fun followed by chocolate chip pancakes, Barnes and Noble, Chucky Cheese, and games in the pool. Most of all I hope they remember all the love those times held, that they squeeze them tight to their chest and smile.


Old Abandonded Weathered White House

The darkened sensuous whisper. The persistent reaching. The waving shadows they pester me as night’s damp sleepy embrace slides the tips of his chilled fingers along my small warm arms. I jerk away clamoring to capture in my hands, my mind, my soul, one last ray from the slowly descending sun. I cannot leave you—alone.

As a child I ran those fields stomping on tiny, wild yellow flowers until the lightening bugs appeared. I captured as much of that light as those jars would hold, but even glowing mason glasses couldn’t stay away the night. Whether friend or foe it came knocking just as timely as the whistling evening train.

Not that the night was all bad, but the day altogether better—the time when I’m most alive. It’s the part of me that never dies—craving the light with an urgency to capture it into an extended hug, to squeeze it until it begs to stay.

So here I am, the day has fallen off the landscape and I’m left with a certain regret that I didn’t make better use of the light. Too many suns have come and gone while my list remains just that, a list. I check-off a few items, yet many more tasks remain. I don’t know where the day wandered off to.

Perhaps, there’s tomorrow and it will once again give me an opportunity to work with renewed vigor. I’ll say what I intended to say, write what I hoped to scribble down on paper, and call my brother. I’ll begin to read another book. And I’ll encourage a friend. I’ll text my granddaughters. If the light continues to shine, I’ll sit out back in my pajamas and watch those crazy golfers attempt to hit a ball.

Jesus walked through the valley of my despair, right into the night of my sorrow, offering me another chance to redeem my wasted life. He breathed sun into my soul and sent me soaring. I’ll be forever grateful for this opportunity. It’s a sort of second chance among many to seize the day, to bottle the light, to bring it inside for a little while longer.

These Boots

Woman zipping up high-heeled tan leather boots
My affinity with boots refers back to my long bony-legged teen years when, as a part-time shoe store clerk, I owned a pair of almond-colored leather Dingo boots whose cost, more than thirty-years ago, compares with today’s prices. For three months I gladly made weekly installments toward their purchase. Not even a rainy day could delete the smile from my face when I strutted through the door, for the first time, in those creamy delights.

Eventually, I purchased an entire wardrobe to accompany them. Denim skirt, plaid orange blouse, Dingo boots. Bright red pantsuit, Dingo boots. Wide-brimmed hat, beige suit, Dingo boots. Dingo boots. Dingo boots. I wasn’t concerned if others thought my footwear collection was insufficient, but then neither does a child her new red slippers. Nightly, with the scent of wax and leather in my nostrils, I buffed them to a bright sheen with Dad’s wooden handled, fine-haired shoe brush, anticipating the next day’s wear.

Even though living in Virginia, I should have known not to wear them in a knee-high snow pile, but my love for the boots outweighed intelligence. My angst to restore the pair to their former glory, forever ruined them. Any desire to replace the boots was shoved to the back of my small, pale green closet.

In recent months I plowed the soil of Florida malls in search of medium-brown leather, low healed, and comfortable boots. Yes, the kind my denims would slide into. I’d like to say I saw them on a shelf in a department store, but it’s more like they walked up to me with a smile and a firm handshake.

The moment seemed surreal from the unzipping of the leather parts, to the actual slide of my polka-dotted clad foot up and onto the sole. Standing, a spark of youth sizzled in my inward parts, as I was transported to the day I flipped a hula-hoop around my waist while tossing a twirling baton in the air. Glancing in the mirror, my hair sparkled as if sun washed in gold whereas my face held a certain glow cosmetics couldn’t duplicate. I was eighteen, standing in Dingo boots.

Time doesn’t sleep in dwellings like closets, bedrooms, or church buildings. It moves along from sunrise to sunset, whether or not we’re willing participants. Yet, every once and awhile time, like God, weaves an unsuspecting embrace into our narrative reminding us of the day when we caught fireflies in a jar. We’re utterly astounded, so deep and so wide, we’re speechless with delight. Something like ordinary boots lands in our lap and it’s not a special occasion.

These boots will not be easily surrendered, even when they do their dance to a foreign Florida heat. Somewhere between craving the cold and Mother Nature’s addiction for adding logs to her fire, my boots lose sync of time or season.

I suppose one night while sleeping someone will attempt to pry these boots from my stinking feet and I will release an animalistic roar. What’s a Cinderella to be without her glass shoes?




The Day I Died

Country church in the prairies

I left the doctor’s office for a routine medical exam, the kind a woman moans about in whispers to her best friend. Since there was another hour before a nail appointment, this seemed to be the perfect opportunity for a quick nap. I arrived home, laid down on the couch, and no sooner had fallen asleep when I woke with a mere five minutes to get there. Dazed, I grabbed my favorite purse, the one Mom once laughed about, saying it looked as if it came from a bargain basement sale. I ran to the car, and raced to the salon around the corner.

These days a four-year-old memory haunts me every time I park in front of that salon, along with dread and a sort of creepy desperation akin to fear. I still can’t believe this is my story and not another’s to tell. Yet, heaven knows I’ve earned a certain right to share.

In a hurry, I swished my silver Hyundai into the parking space directly in front of the salon window. I braked but felt mush under my foot. My helplessness mounted with every pounding of the pedal, yet my car barreled with the speed of a racing train up and over the curb, barging through the window. I grabbed the gearshift, shoved it into park, before the car came to a jarring stop in the middle of the waiting room. Something similar to disbelief plagued my senses. I never got the “what-to-do” instructions for this one.

Still seated, I grabbed the cell phone to call Robert, my husband. With rapid speed I shouted, “I ran my car through the window of the beauty salon.” I look up to a choir of mouths opened wide enough to shove in a pan of cornbread.

Robert said, “You did what?”


“Never mind. I’ll be right there.”

My audience held iPads and cell phones taking pictures while people came from up and down the sidewalk to do the same. Before the hour was out, the digital airways were hot with messages shooting across cyberspace. In the days, weeks, and years following, my beloved town knew me in a way I never wanted to be known.

Sweet trembling folk helped me from the car, friends who had known me for as long as I had lived here. I stepped over crunched glass and splintered wood to find a seat in the far corner, while I waited for Robert. I shrank down, listening to the chatter and whispers, some not so quiet. The city’s broadcasting system was working well. I heard voices and clips from conversations of folk wandering into the salon to inquire.

“Was anyone hurt?”

“Nope. But someone almost was.”

“It sounded like a bomb exploded.”

Laughing I heard someone say, “You must have really made her mad. What did you do to her hair?”

“Was she drunk?” I cringed.

“I don’t think so, but she could have been.”

“Who did it?”

“The pastor’s wife of that big church down the street.”

I slumped down further in the seat. They know me! Now they’ll feel terribly sorry for my husband who married the town’s drunk who crashes through unsuspecting businesses.

The jokes continued when the inspector came with his clipboard. He tossed his hat, plopped down onto a stylist’s chair, and broadcast his announcement. “I want to go on record as being the first person who had his hair cut at the town’s first drive-through hair salon.” He chuckled so loud and deep he coughed all over the stylist.

My cheeks burned. At least nobody died. Well nobody, but myself.

For me, life became “me, before the crash” and “me, after the crash.” If I had an ounce of pride before that day, it was now ground and scattered like slivers of glass all over the city, cutting away any futile argument that I wasn’t a bit touched in the head.

Once the reality of my situation settled, I laughed. What’s a woman supposed to do? Yet, I’ve discovered there are benefits to being labeled “touched” in the head. Perhaps, I’ll surprise a few folk with a clever remark now and then.

Yes, Lisa wants a new car—someone has said, “the kind that will go anywhere.


My House Smells

Beautiful Young Woman Outdoors. Enjoy Nature. Meadow

I want my house to smell as welcoming as warm cookies, as sedated as clean linens, as invigorating as lemonade from the stand. Natural. Gathering my lighter to fire-up the candles, but I don’t have enough in the same scent. I reach for a cranberry/orange, and a fresh balsam, a cookie crumbs, a vanilla holiday, a pine needles, and a frosted mulberry candle. With each simultaneously glowing and scattered through the rooms—this house will smell better soon or I’ll ignite from an allergic reaction.

Yea, I know your house never suffers from this malady. Yours is more like freshly laundered sheets and orchids.

It’s not just my house. My life could use a fresh scent, only, I can’t settle on the right mix. Some days I’m as tart as apple peels, others like a zebra let loose from her stripes. An occasional moment has me reclining with a stretch a bit too reaching. I don’t know how I should smell. These emotions run together like streams converging into a river. I don’t even know what I want for dinner. You pick. But no rabbit. Or squirrel. Or chicken liver.

Have you ever wondered if God always eats oatmeal for breakfast or if He is satisfied with a bit of nuts in His pancakes? Does His world twirl as precisely as sunset and sunrise? Would He pout if I missed out on the lecture in return for a quiet conversation? Does His kitchen smell like mine in the morning?

God, my world is zips and zaps in competing twists. Today looks like rest when I need it to be a tree laden with oranges. Productive and focused. Oftentimes, I feel challenged because my world isn’t tidy, wrapped, and displayed with a pretty ribbon. And I want it to be.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said he had a dream. I have a dream, too, a dream that I will finish all the tasks I’ve started, that I will finish well. I shudder at the mention of a wasted life, but would rather become a beacon of God’s goodness. My list doesn’t include fame, not anymore, and it doesn’t choose perfection, although I’m obligated to perform well. I want to live as if God matters, life matters, and the people He’s placed in my care matters.

How can I live without passion, but just to coast along in some mediocre posture? It’s this passion that places me in the fast lane. Always running—eager to accomplish the desires of my God-saturated heart. Ten is never enough. It must be eleven. And then twelve. I cannot stop. Or I will die a miserable old soul.

This isn’t about armpits and dirty feet or yesterday’s pot of turnips greens floating odors around the room. It’s more like cleanness in my soul, clarity of mind, and freedom to soar. I want to live unencumbered with secondaries, to live solely for the essentials, to have a house that smells good. Everyday.



When I die they will find my remains scattered like stubborn glitter to the furthest reaches of Florida to heights of my beloved Virginia. Partial remnants will be detected in cookie crumbs resting in the crevices of my Lazy Boy. I will live forever when I die, for I have lived.

The threads of my hand-knitted dishcloths have cleansed many a counter, pot, and drinking glass. Every red, brown, green and blue strand wound through my fingers—stitch by stitch. It will live forever even when the cotton is frayed, burned, and stained, spilling out my prayers for the recipient.

When they dredge through my belongings they will discover journals of various dimensions, labels, and contents. These books hold my gratitudes, memories, ideas, non-religious rants, prayers, so many prayers. These words are written by a passionate heart, angry pen, tearful celebrator, and hopeful soul. These short and long phrases and one-word sentences will live forever through these scraps tucked into some restless mind seeking inspiration. They will resonate like a title-less song to a bleeding wound. These words will live forever for I am scraps scattered all over the world.

My soaps, my stamps, my bookmarks, ornaments, afghans, quilts, drapes, recipes, cakes, pictures, cards, letters, stories—so many stories seem buried yet they furiously knock upward from the soil like a newly resurrected sprout. They gather with speed greater than gravity releases, as they soar to places not initially intended. I’m scattered—my goodness, my evil deeds, my remorse all over the planet. Nothing stops its hungry reach.

Scraps of me, like confetti strewn over Times Square, float freely through the atmosphere as thoughtlessly as picking my teeth after a steak dinner.

My white crooked feet clad in leather straps mingled with other folks today as we shuffled soil from places near and extremely far away. Without consideration we walked on tiny grains of dirt lodged in our treads, dirt originating in countries of unknown names. We mixed together, carrying the weight of one another’s burdens, every weary walk in this world.

So cold. I slipped my hand into the pocket of Mom’s coat. My fingers bumped against butterscotch candy, her remedy for diabetes’s trouble. I smiled. She, too, remains though long since gone. The sweetness of her message warmed “all” of me with her nearness, for she too was scattered like pieces of paper.



Toss Them in the Bin

The newspaper LATEST NEWS with the headline CHANGE WILL COME  and coffee

Some folk like change.

They camp out all night forming lines around an entire store in wait of the newest iPhone. You’ve got to be kidding! I still don’t know how to call home with the old one.

What’s with all these setting updates? They present their new idea of the week as if it’s the best piece of technology ever shared. Do they truthfully believe this makes me happy? I’m about to take a collection to send the Apple team on a long needed vacation—preferably to a place that doesn’t have cell phone towers.

Then we have the other devices sent to torment my brain. How did typing a story onto a sheet of white paper become such a complicated mess? Now I have so many buttons on this contraption they call a computer, I want to throw it into the next world. But I don’t. It would only be tossed back. All God needs is His finger and a slab of stone.

A few weeks ago my husband Robert purchased a new car. When the salesman began showing us how to operate the navigation system we nearly croaked. Smiling, the salesman handed us a guidebook as large as the car manual, boasting about all the things this system would do.

Robert said, “All I want is to listen to the radio.”

We still don’t know how to bring up a little music.

Smashed TV Remote

The television is another matter. If I happen to get it on, I don’t know how to turn it off. It is managed with three remote controls. I’m as confused today as I was the first day we purchased this television. A few days ago I attempted to watch a movie with my granddaughters. One hour later I finally found the right button.

Change is charging life past me. Don’t these inventors understand that all I want is simplicity? I don’t require new gadgets to fill up other parts of my day.

Who has time to read an entire manual in order to call for pizza? I’d rather use my grandmother’s black rotary phone.

Advanced technology isn’t a sweet ride on the merry-go-round, keeping us all smiles and waiting for the next trip around the world. It’s viciously controlling and has us up all night fixing freezes, air printer failures, and turtle-like speed. When we think we’ve won, we discover our labor has disappeared into the unknown world of cyberspace. Ridiculous.

Simplicity. Does anyone crave for a return to family dinners without a chicken clucking at regular intervals from a phone? How about lingering on the porch swing just to inhale the scent of rain? Yes! See me as a child of nature all wrapped in dew from early walks—those walks with God bringing me back to what truly matters.

And what does matter besides the racing of media moguls? Humanity. Face-to-face time. Looking one another eyeball-to-eyeball with barely a blink as we share our heartfelt convictions. To smell the scent of someone’s labors, whether sweet or raw sweat. Speaking to God heart-to-heart rather than before an audience on social media among people who really don’t care about our sermonizing and open prayers.

It’s all too rushed, too crowded, too overdone. I’m eager for a drink of sugar- saturated lemonade, a long swim in the cool creek, a moment to think about my day among the roses. I want to sing a song to Jesus from the depths of my soul without caring if it’s off-key.

In the meantime, I’ll hang onto this phone, this computer, this television. Perhaps someone will stagger pass in great need of my silly electronics, and I’ll offer them at a reduced price.