Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Aquarina Springs

A few days ago, I was up in the dusty attic rummaging through boxes of childhood treasures - nekked Barbies and Kens, 2 troll dolls (man and wife - the "man" had his bright yellow locks snipped off), Campfire beads, old dance costumes...  I came across a little coin purse that I purchased as a souvenir during the late 60's.  It had sunk to the bottom of the Rubbermaid tote, but a tiny gleam between a couple of Barbie legs brought it to my attention.  The coin purse!  Oh, the coin purse!  Rich, vivid memories swirled in my brain as the sweat from the attic heat trickled down my back.

I present to you, The Coin Purse:

Gone are the 4 teeny tiny seashells that had captured my little girl heart.  Gone was little insert that said something that I can't quite remember.  Perhaps it was the name of the tourist attraction, but the space is so small I rather think it must have been "Carolyn."  Yes, "Carolyn."  Most likely it was my name coupled with the tiny seashells that won the day as I, after placing a dime in it to make sure that it wouldn't fall out through the tiny holes and testing the snug snap of the clasp, turned over my saved up allowance to be able to call the golden beauty mine.  I dreamed that the coin purse had been brought up from the depths of the deep blue sea by mermaids who had carefully chosen and placed each gleaming, artificially-colored shell from a treasure chest they kept in their absolutely dreamy coral kingdom.

In San Marcos, Texas, alongside I-35, there once was a little piece of heaven known as Aquarina Springs.  I was a bright-eyed little girl in a home-sewn shorts set, white keds, and bobby socks just about to wet my pants in excitement about the time that the blinker started signaling the San Marcos exit off of the highway.  For about 20 miles before the exit, signs teased travelers with billboards proclaiming "Mermaids drink cokes under water!"  "Mermaids performing graceful water ballets!"  "Panoramic view from the Sky Ride!" and "Glass Bottom Boats!"  Oh, yes.  A little girl with $1.50 of saved up allowance "spending money" jangling in her elastic-waisted shorts pocket would be wild with anticipation by the time the Vega Station Wagon eased off of the Interstate.

Jumping from foot to foot impatiently in the ticket line my little blonde head bobbed with excitement.  Hurry, Mom!!!  Hurry!!  The ballet is about to begin!  Under water ballet!  I had taken yeeeears of swimming lessons at Campfire camp.  I knew how hard it would be for a dainty mermaid to swirl and twirl around at the bottom of the deep end of the mermaid pool holding her breath!  Holding her breath, for Pete's sake!!

Once inside the park, no glass bottom boat, Sky Ride or swimming pig could distract me from her mission.  On to the mermaids!!  On to the water ballet!!  On to the consumption of a coke down in the depths of mermaid world.  As I sit here today, I can't remember if the observer platform with seats lowered down magically exposing a glassed-in viewing area or if I skipped down steps into a sunken cavern.  I'm going to go with the "magical lowering" because it seems to be true to my memory.  Yep.  I'll go with "magical lowering."

Sitting wide-eyed on the edge of my chair, I was enchanted by the mermaids  as they began to appear from secret caves.  There they were.  Swimming with the fishes like it was a perfectly normal thing to do on a hot Tuesday in July.  Oh, what bliss!  

You can imagine my surprise when they not only drank cokes (Texas talk for "sodas" or "pops") but also casually snacked on grapes and bananas.  It seemed that we had just happened upon a mermaid party in the crystal blue waters of the Pacific.  I ignored my mother as she pointed out strategically placed air hoses that kept the mermaids alive.  Unnecessary reality for a romantic child like me. 
from (a truly fascinating read!)

Watching the mermaids, I tried to memorize their graceful moves and twirls.  Kristi and Penny would be eagerly awaiting my return to Carthage.  Water ballet was one of our favorite pastimes in Carthage's small, rectangular city pool.  I was anxious to get back and choreograph our next performance.  With a tiny, magical coin purse clutched in my tiny hand.  The coin purse bearing a quarter that henceforth would be tucked into my Easter purse every Sunday morning.

Coin-purse-at-the-bottom-of-the-box-beneath-a-pile-of-Barbies, you brought me a smile and happy, happy thoughts in the sweltering attic the other day.  And, I thank you.  Here - have a quarter!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Things I'm Afraid to Tell You

I follow an awesome blog called Little Brown Pen written by a young lady named Nicole Robertson, a photographer who moved to Paris in 2009.  Her photography is simply amazing.  So amazing that I just ordered her first book, Paris in Color.  Through her blog I learned about a new blogosphere movement  called "The Things I'm Afraid to Tell You."  I first read about it on the Little Brown Pen blog who read about it on Creature Comforts who discovered it on Makeunder My Life, the birthplace of the movement.

The premise of the movement is that most of what people put out there in blogs is a glossy edition of reality.  Kind of like a high school yearbook, the lives of bloggers can seem so perfect.  So beautiful.  So danged photogenic.  Bloggers bake delicious morsels of goodness everyday.  They makeover old dressers found under garbage heaped in dumps.  Their homes gleam with the newest, coolest Benjamin Moore paint colors.  All things bright and beautiful are subject to blog posts.

Indeed, there are boundaries that bloggers put in place to keep out those who might decide to stalk or harm.  Also, who really wants to know about the ooogly parts of day-to-day living.  We've all got plenty of our own ooogly to deal with each and every day.

I'm going to join in the movement and confess a few things that I probably wouldn't have mentioned in the name of "Boundaries."  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...Full-On Carolyn.
  • As a general rule, I hate talking on the phone.  Words like "Can you call all of the K's and L's on the roster and tell them the meeting time has been changed" make my stomach roil with angst.  Caller ID is my friend.  Don't worry.  I always pick up when you call!  
  • During my busiest times - holidays and miscellaneous big projects - I tend to let my house go to ruin.  You would most likely find a 3-day-old half full glasses of sweet tea with lemon slices floating on the surface in random places throughout my house.  Mountains of dirty dishes rise out of my kitchen sink.  Piles of unread Lubbock Avalanche Journal newspapers form a cushions on my kitchen chairs.
  • There is a male cat in our neighborhood that loves to pee on our garage walls and I can't figure out what to do about it other than imprison my cats in the garage by closing the door.  
  • I sleep with a night guard that keeps me from grinding my teeth to little nubs.
  • Every now and then, I don't clean up the kitchen after dinner.  I simply walk away after the leftovers are tucked into the frig and head for either 30 Rock or The Office.
  • I watch an embarrassing amount of reality TV.  Put "Real Housewives" at the beginning of a show's title, and you've got me.  I'm pretty sure I'd watch a show called "Real Housewives of the Department of Public Safety."  
  • Sometimes I order ordinary everyday things from because I'm too lazy to get in my car and drive to a particular store.
  • My husband and I had a smack-down over whether or not we're going to use the sprinkler system to water the flower beds.  Long, story summed up with:  squirrels and brown tubing.  Alan and those blankety-blank squirrels.
  • This year I did not be planting the usual 5 flats of impatiens in our front flower beds in passive-aggressive protest of Alan's insistence on "dry land" gardening.  Hm!
  • I haven't balanced my checkbook in YEEEEEEEEARS.  I do not feel that my right-brained talents are being used to their fullest while crunching numbers.  I married a man with an MBA in accounting.  Need I say more?
Oh, there's more.  Way more.  I haven't even scratched the surface of Full-On Carolyn.  But, I need to let you catch your breath and process all of the above.  Oh,'s about you share some of your Full-On Foibles with me? 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

Kirk, Kathy, and I sat on the front pew of First Methodist Church in Carthage, TX.  We were  just little kids - 10, 8, and 5.  The Meems sat be-robed in the choir loft, so we sat where she could see us and threaten us with her stares and glares when the sermon got a little longish.  I loved "Big Church."  The air smelled like fresh, clean water.  The air conditioning whispered a sweet sacred song.  The sanctuary was white, bright, holy.  We dressed in our finest.  A little-man suit for Kirk.  Sunday dresses with poofy petticoats for Kathy and me.  We wore tiny white gloves and white straw Easter hats.  Clutched in our be-gloved hands were tiny white straw purses filled with little girl treasures...a tiny golden souvenir coin purse from Aquarina Springs which held the offering plate dime, a couple of pieces of Halloween candy with loud, crinkly wrappers, and a tube of dried up Chapstick.

I took pride in the fact that I knew the Nicene Creed - complete with mysterious words "we believe in one holy, catholic and apolistic church" - and the Lord's Prayer by heart.  My little voice rang out with gusto as I sang the Gloria Patri.  "WORLD without END!  AHHHH-MEN! Ahhhh-men!"  My favorite hymn was "Onward Christian SO-OH-JERS!  MARCH-ing as to WAR!"  There was another hymn that had one particular song that I loved singing, "Here I raise my EB-UH-NEEZ-ER!"  It was only a couple of years ago that I was able to actually identify the name of the hymn thanks to Chris Rice.  "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" isn't on the top ten list of praise and worship songs these days.

I LOVED that word, "Ebenezer."  Of course, I totally thought that it was a "he" like Ebenezer Scrooge.  Yep.  I'm going to raise up little Ebenezer right here.  Right exactly here.  When I heard the Chris Rice version of the song, I began to wonder about what the heck an Ebenezer was.  Raise a whut?  Eba-whut?  So, I looked it up.  Here's the quick version.  Old Testament Jews had a little ritual of raising up either big old stones or piles of rocks in places that signified that God had brought them a long, long way via his grace, love and forgiveness.  "Here I raise my Ebenezer.  Here by thy great help I've come."

If you were to overhear me singing this song at the top of my lungs in the shower, the Ebenezer line and "SING ME SOME MEL-O-DIOUS SAH-AH-NET SUNG BY FLAY-MING TONGUES ABOVE!" would be the only two lines you'd hear.  Over and over and over.  That's usually all I can remember unless I'm singing one beat behind Chris Rice.

On hiking trails, they have little Ebenezers that  hikers call "cairns" that mark the trail where no trail is obvious.  Hikers that have gone before you create these little towers of assurance to help you find your way.  Trust me.  By the time I get to places where cairns are the main means of trail-finding, it is ONLY by God's great help I've come.
Zion NP
I've decided that I need to raise an Ebenezer as a testament to all that God has done for me in the past 55 years.  Oh, the places we have gone, from the depths of despair to the mountaintops of great, great joy.  Yep.  I needs me an Ebenezer.  God's amazing grace brought me to this time and this place.

With a little bit of Liquid Nails and some specially
chosen rocks that I may or may not have borrowed 
from an
undisclosed National Park, I made myself a wee Ebenezer.
Take us on outta here, Chris!


Meems had a very special visitor this weekend.  Our friend, Laura Ard, flew down from DC to spend time with her.  Laura lived next door t...