Friday, July 10, 2009

The View from my Porch...Now

This is the view from my back deck or as I prefer to say, porch. Not much of a view, an empty lot, hardly mowed. The dogs like it as use it as their DPA (designated pooping area). Normally I would not allow them to do their duty in someone else's yard, yet the owners mow it maybe once a month, so I know it is not noticed. Frontline is a must, as the ticks are abundant. The next lot over is a lovely house, vacant for a year now, and recently had a forclosure notice on it. Hmmm. Doesn't sound like much, does it? Yet, it is home and I love it here. I have to say, I don't miss my old home. Maybe it is because it is our family that makes it home, not the place. Emma, who still lives in Baltimore, has been here as much as possible. My Mom has come several times to help, My sister came and did all my laundry one weekend, and set up my desk (which I love!), My Father even came out one day, just to see me in action and have lunch on the porch. Yes, it is home. By the way, this is also the view from my porch, much better wouldn't you say?

I live 10 miles from a resort beach area, yet am even more rural than I was before. As much as I dislike Walmart, I have found that I must have used it a lot. The nearest one is about 20 miles away. I am not yet sure where to get those miscellaneous type items. Although we do boast Hockers or G&E, both local markets, within 5 or 6 miles, that are a supermarket, hardware store, and drugstore combined. You can get freshbaked goods or a crab trap, prescription drugs or a sandwich. Oh, and gas too!
The most action this town sees is on the weekends when the traffic flows east on Friday and west on Sunday. We have an authentic Mexican restaurant, a bank, a Police Department, a volunteer fire company (3 lots over - the siren does not go off that often), a quilt shop, a jeweler, a barber, a beauty shop (to which I already walked and got my wax on), and our claim the fame, The Clayton theatre.Photo by Ray Smock

My typical day here starts at 6:30 am, already at work, brewing the coffee, setting my staff up to cook breakfast for the visiting group. I usually work until 1:00ish, to go home, let the dogs out, have a beer, go for a swim, unpack a bit, then back to work by 4:00pm, at which point I check the dinner plans, check my staff, return phone calls, answer emails, make menus for the next couple groups, and always have someone in my office, asking something. I am home by 8:00pm at the latest and basically am not good for anything. This can go on for 2 days, 4 days, or even weeks, without much of a break. I'm not very good at giving myself time off, I admit it. But...I am in my element.
In our short time here, as in living here, we have already had 10 guests, most overnights but some just for an evening visit. Summers will be like that, friends and family will come take advantage of our offer, go to the beach, sit by the pool, and lucky for me, unpack a box or two, put a few things away (I can't find my vegetable peeler! but if that is all I can't find, I am lucky). The shock will come this fall, when I won't be working, the visits will peter out, the cold weather will come, the traffic will stop, and life will slow down. I think it will be a good slow, one when Audrey can find her place here, one where I can be Mom and Wife and Crafter, one where the dogs will go walking, walking, walking.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Long Overdue

"Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful?" - Stevie Wonder.
This is the only photograph I have of her by herself at graduation.

Audrey and Hannah, another early graduate, good friend, and neighbor.

Sweet sisters

Happy family

Dinner at Five Guys at almost 10:00pm right before they closed. Mmmmmm
The Graduation was interesting in that I really did not know any of the students or parents of the students. Oh, there were a couple here and there but because she did not graduate with the kids she spent 11 years with, it was different. My parents were there, along with My Handsome Prince's father and his wife, Amy and Timothy, and us. It was a nice evening and the rain held off until the very end!
We had the usual tribute at church, dessert and letters/speeches read by a parent and by a significant influence. I asked my sister to write and present. Here are both our tributes to our Audrey Lynn, amazing child of mine.
From Aunt Chelly:
When Dana and Pat went to the hospital for Audrey's birth, it was my job to entertain Emma for a bit. Honestly, I can't remember much about that day or what we did to pass the time but I do remember coming back to the hospital, when Audrey was an hour or two old. Pat, Emma and I went into the nursery to see her and watch her first bath. I was completely awed. Audrey was curled over the nurse's one hand. She was that perfect newborn pink with a head covered in thick, black hair. It was an unceremonious scrub over a large sinnk with rinses in the stream coming from the tap. I don't remember her complaining about it but I can't imagine that she didn't. She was an adorable baby with her very own look. There was no mistaking any other baby for Audrey or Audrey for any other baby. Eventually, her hair would grown in blonde, but she never lost the first shock of black. She just cound up with long blonde hair that looked as though the end of each strand had been dipped in ink.
As she got older and we got to know her, we found she was eager to laugh for he sister, some family and friends but there were a few of us for which she seemed to be reserving judgement. Requests to hold her were met with a frim "no", if eye contact was made, it was usually fairly cool and had a clinical feel (like you were being observede or studied), and any attempt at peek-a-boo, was, well, you just stopped trying to get her to play. It was a great relief to me to know that I was not the only one on this list of hers. We all still loved her but just couldn't figure her out.
One day Dana, Mom and I were going to meet at the Amish Market in Westminster. I got there before they did and saw them pull into the parking lot. I wandered over to the entrance to meet them, the automoatic doors parted, and hellos, hugs and kisses were exchanged. I looked down at Audrey and she was looking at me with a smile and asked me to pick her up. I carried her all that day. Dana and I looked at one another, laughed, and wondered alound about the cosmic shift that took place for Audrey to pull a complete 180 about her Aunt. We'll never know. But that's Audrey.
When some toddlers were holding their hands over their ears to block out the loud roar of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, she was turning to her Mom saying "cool bike". When some little ones could not be trusted with sharp objects, Audrey was very diligently and carefully putting all the sewing pins back into their proper pin cushions. Whe some kids were headed for the tv or computer after getting home from school, Audrey was sitting down at the table, eager to finish all her homework first. When some kids are splashing and playing in the hot tub, Audrey was using it as a backdrop for a blue ribbon photographic self portrait. When the flock of kids are heading to the mall to shop the latest styles at American Eagle or Hollister, Audrey is searching for treasures at the thrift store. And while some kids are in their junior year of high school, trying to figure out what credits they still need to graduate, Audrey was petitioning the administration for an early graduation, seeing that she had already fulfilled all the requirements.
As a babe, she had her own look, as a toddler she had her own agenda, and now as a graduate, she has her very own style.
Stay classy, Audrey.
This one is from me:

Audrey Lynn was born in July 1992 a birthday present for her father, whose birthday is two days earlier. And if you ask him, I’m sure it is the absolute best he has ever received. She was born a bright star in a difficult time, loved and cherished by her parents, adored by her big sister from day one.

Audrey has always been a questioner. At a young age, she always held her questions for bedtime. She would ask serious, thoughtful, even philosophical questions. She would ask how our blood stayed in our bodies, and aren’t our bodies amazing things or I know it is night here and I am tired and somewhere else in the world it is daytime but how do they know to be awake and how do I know to be tired. She asked many questions I could not answer and still does. At one point, around 4 or 5 years old, her favorite movies were Hook and Peter Pan. She actually compared and contrasted them and then wanted to know how Captain Hook got his name. I answered with the standard, he got it when his hand was eaten by the crocodile. Well, that was not her question. She wanted to know what his name was before his hand was lost. Hmmm. Anyone know the answer to that?

Audrey is a seeker. She has been a 4-H-er, a Brownie and a Girl Scout, a writer, a photographer, an artist, an actress, a musician which includes being a pianist, a floutist, and a singer. In school she’s been a mentor , a member of the service club, participated in drama productions, sang in both a volunteer choir and the advanced choir, and took the accelerated route of credits.

Given the tools and knowledge, Audrey has the ability to make decisions for her own good. As a kindergartner, she had a difficult time separating from her family. The only way she was able to go to school was with a piece of her cherished blanket in her pocket and one of my t-shirts over her own clothes which I told her signified my arms around her all day. With these reminders of home and the knowledge she would see us after a few hours she was able to go to school without tears. Within a couple weeks, she came to me and said “Mom, I don’t need your t-shirt anymore, but I still need my blanket” But within a week of that, she again came to me stating she did not need pants with pockets because she was no longer going to take her blanket piece with her to school. She was over it. Her decision to graduate early is another example of knowing what is best for her. High school was just not her thing, she knew she met all the requirements to graduate early, and took it upon herself to speak with her advisor, even before speaking with us about her decision. When I am asked what she will do now that she has graduated, I give the standard answer of community college for a semester or get a job. Truthfully, I am not worried as she will find what she wants and inform us of her decision.
Audrey is my teacher. She has taught me how to step outside my comfort zone. No one shows more courage than the person who does not like to sing in public, who dedicates a song to her Mama and sings it in front of over a hundred people. She has also taught me about being selfless in that example, singing for the people in Mexico, her youth group, and me. She has taught me about communication. I communicate verbally but that is not Audrey. She likes the written word. It has taken me a very long time and I am still working on it. She has taught me to be a better parent, a different parent. She has taught me how to focus for she is the queen of focus. I’m still a beginner.

I could go on and on about how Audrey rocks my world. I was a bit worried about our move, how we would meet people once the summer was over, and Audrey’s response was “Oh, we’ll get involved in something at school and meet people.” Her courage is unending, her dry wit and sarcasm strong, her observation keen, her creativity inspiring, her confidence growing and nothing, nothing is better than her genuine laugh. Call her cell phone and listen to her voice mail and you will see for yourself. I laugh every time.

Audrey is my daughter, my partner right now in the midst of change, a princess in her father’s eye, her sister’s best friend and now on a new path at a tender young age.
In the words of Amy Rigby “Hey I love you, your perfect, don’t ever change, don’t ever change.”