Friday, August 26, 2011


" come can happen to you...if you're..."
My apologies to Mr. Durante, but my paraphrase of his song carries a little message with it.  If you are in the path of Hurricane Irene on this upcoming weekend - get out of the way.

You are looking at a picture of Hurricane Hugo getting ready to devastate North and South Carolina in 1989.  He paid my house a visit.  That is significant because I live more than 200 miles inland.  My dad was 80 years old at the time and had lived here his whole life.  He had never witnessed a hurricane in these parts.

Naturally, all of us (including those his age) were anticipating this event with a bit of excitement.  That excitement quickly vanished when the wind picked up and the rains came.  We spent a sleepless night, praying that none of the many trees around our house would actually fall on the house.  We prayed this because they were falling and there was nothing we could do to stop them.  
After the storm, we ventured out to inspect our little town - a trip that turned out to be almost impossible because the roads were all blocked.  Trees weren't just fallen.  Many of them were standing on their heads in the middle of the street like giant stalks of broccoli, their trunks pointing toward the sky.

 By comparison, here is Hurricane Irene - obviously a much larger storm than Hugo.  And here is the thing.  When Hugo passed over us, he was barely a hurricane, only a few miles shy of becoming a tropical storm.
So please - if you are reading this and you are in the path of Hurricane Irene - get out.  Get out even if they are forecasting the storm to be minimal when it reaches you.  I lived through one of those "minimal" storms and hope I never have to do it again.


Today is Countdown Friday

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pure Joy

The best moments in life are simple and pure - or at least they should be.  Our grandson laughed out loud today.  We had heard giggles from him before, but this was his first belly laugh.  Lucky us - we had the video camera handy.

Today is Countdown Friday

Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take
but by the moments that take your breath away. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Summerhouse

What do you do when the Curb Gods hand you four working sets of 1949 Anderson roll-out windows and a pair of matching French doors - free for the taking?  It's simple.  You build a house for them.

About ten years ago, one of our favorite old houses on a shady street in our town went up for sale.  We had always loved it because of the beautiful windows and it's front porch entry with fabulous old French doors. 

The house sold quickly, and the new owners began renovating.  To this day I don't understand why - energy efficiency is my guess - but for some reason they found it necessary to rip out all of the old windows and doors and replace them.  The result was no doubt a house that is now easier to heat and cool... but, dang, did they really need to throw the baby out with the bathwater?

Anyway - fast forward a few days.  Joe and I discovered what they were doing when we happened to ride by the house just as the last set of windows was going out to the curb.  Incredulous - we stopped and asked what they were doing.  "Throwing these old things away", they said.  "For the trash?" we asked, stupidly.  After looking like he wanted to answer, "No.  For the next marching band that comes down the road and needs old windows!", he instead said "Yep."  "Can we have them?" we asked.  "Sure.  If you can haul them off, you can have them" he said, wiping his brow.

We brought them all home - still in perfect working order - with no clue what we were going to do.  Then the idea hit us to build a summerhouse.  The set of windows that you see in the picture, above, was one of the four sets.  The resulting house used all four sets and the pair of French doors.  It almost looks like a glass house.  Joe spent the summer building the house from the design that I came up with, and we have enjoyed it ever since.  We found the vintage screen door at the local Habitat salvage store for $5 - and yes, it slams just like the one in your memory.

Late this afternoon, I noticed the sun slanting across the yard and hitting the summerhouse with a pretty light.  Couldn't resist grabbing the camera - and then I realized that I had never told you about the summerhouse or how it came to be.  Now you know.

This past Friday was Countdown Friday.
Time passes more sweetly when you observe it through beautiful old rescued windows. 

Monday, August 8, 2011


Charlie left Wilmington, NC in the middle of the night on Friday, July 29 and drove through the night so that he could be home by daybreak.  There were shrubs and trees in his yard that needed trimming.  His Facebook post at 6:30AM that morning said "Lots to do!"
Some time around noon, right in the middle of his tree trimming, his heart stopped.  By the time neighbors arrived and began CPR, he had been without oxygen for a while - too long, in fact.  On Sunday evening, with his wife and her sister singing him to sleep, he went to Heaven.
I'm quite sure they were glad to see him.  He spent his whole life pointing folks to Heaven.  With every song he sang, every one he wrote, the message was clear.  He was incredibly gifted, and he gifted all of us with his life, his big hugs, his even bigger laugh, and his love.

We were honored to play and sing with him as part of his music ministry for more than 25 years.  During that time, we raised our children together and took whatever life sent our way.  The turn that life took this past weekend broke our hearts.

 Charlie loved Christmas.  His decorations were up and running on October 1 of every year - with all of us ragging him constantly to no avail.  My daughter called me the day after he died and said "I know how I'm going to honor Charlie.  My tree is going up on October 1."  We put it on Facebook, and now half the town is talking about doing the same thing.  I can't wait to see it.

Last year, just before Christmas, I rushed to finish my own decorations in advance of our annual Christmas Eve party.  Looking around the living room, I heard a quiet inner voice say "Well, your house looks great.  What about your heart?"  Naturally, I picked up the phone and called Charlie to say "I have an idea for a song..."  In just a couple of hours, he wrote it, recorded it and had it posted to YouTube.

This is one of hundreds that he wrote during his short 58 years.  His music will continue pointing people to Heaven for as long as there is someone to listen.

Charlie - for all the memories - for all of our grand ideas and big schemes, for all the times we couldn't get through a church service for the tears, for all the times we couldn't get through a church service because something had us laughing when we shouldn't have been, for all the crazy trips with Jill and the kids, all the meals around the table, all the games of Trivial Pursuit (which I always won, btw), for every Christmas Eve (you never missed a single one in 25 years), and for all the songs we meant to write and record and never did - thank you, dear friend.

You blessed us all with your gifts, and now it's your turn to be blessed.  My guess is that there was a mansion waiting for you - decorated to the nines for Christmas.