Monday, July 28, 2008


Saturday was my mom's birthday. There isn't anyone in the world quite like Connie Keagy and if you know her, you would readily agree. She's got the prettiest smile of anyone I know, and she's one of the friendliest and kookiest persons I've met. She's always been a fun mom. I'm embarrassed to admit that when I go to their house to swim, my mom and I end up on inflatable rafts racing each other like two kids. We also have a game where we are pirates who sink each other's "boat." That is, we meet in the middle of the pool and attempt to flip each other over. We're usually very mature individuals, but occasionally we let our hair down. Sometimes we are oil and water and sometimes we are like two giggling schoolgirls.
My mom has probably been the most influential person in my life as regards to my spiritual walk; she challenges me and isn't afraid to tell me what she truly thinks. She doesn't know a stranger, will cry with you if you are hurting, and makes a lovely black walnut malt if you have your wisdom teeth out.
You've already heard a few stories about my dad, but before I tell this one (a personal favorite) about my mom, you must know that my dad is possibly the world's most easy-going, patient man ever born. He is not easily rattled. You should also know that my mom has a propensity to shop--T.J. Maxx is a favorite, and because of this he keeps his checkbook and credit card in a kind of death grip against any interloper.
Chris and I had just moved here from Dallas and we were sitting around watching t.v. when my dad walks in and asks my mom if she went shopping today. Apparently, she'd wanted some clothes, and my dad told her he would pay for a certain amount of clothing and she could pay for the rest. Well, she found more than a pair of jeans and the amount he'd been willing to pay was far exceeded. So, when he told her that he was only going to chip in for say, $70, and would she give him the rest, she very matter-of-factly told him that she was not in agreement with their arrangement anymore. My dad was a little baffled, but before he could say anything else she said, "I apologize. And since I've apologized you have to forgive me if you want God to forgive you." I don't think dad got any money back. Chris, I think, was shell-shocked and didn't understand why my mom and I were laughing.
She's also given me some tips on how to hide large purchases made on a credit card from a questioning husband. It is brilliant...I haven't used it yet because I'm the one who pays the bills and it would be difficult to surprise myself. But, if you are interested, I could fill you in.
When I say that my mom was very influential as far as my spiritual walk, I probably wouldn't count the above story as being all that spiritual, although, if you are like some Christians and like to analyze certain Hollywood movies and say they have classic god-like principals, then you can probably derive some sort of moral lesson as far as giving and forgiveness are concerned.
In the mean time, I'm happy to celebrate another year with my favorite mom.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hannah Comes to Town

This weekend we had a very special little guest: Miss Hannah Joy. Her parents brought her down to see her big brother and sister, and she reigned over the entire proceeding. She is non-stop action and a non-stop chatterbox. I do believe that she and my mom had a showdown once regarding who should be speaking...Hannah won.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Lavender Festival

I am going to take a break from picking on any of my family members (there may be a few colorful character illustrations, though) and tell about our wonderful weekend at the Lavender Festival. Los Ranchos, the village my parents live in, hosts an annual Lavender Festival every year in July. Los Poblanos farm, a few wineries, and the local farmer's market are swarming with folks who come to pick their own bundle of lavender at the farm, buy veggies at the market, or enjoy sampling some local grapes.

The farmer's market is within walking distance from my parent's casa, so Chris and I set out on foot to explore the vendor's wares. There were lotions and shampoos and oils scented with lavender, pottery made by local artists, jewelry, antiques, you could even buy coffee with a shot of lavender syrup in it (which Chris turned down because he considered it a bit frou frou, I think).

Last year I picked my own bundle of lavender from the big bushes (actually the ones pictured here), this year I was content to just smell that wonderful scent as we walked around Los Poblanos farm checking out the lily pond, the chickens, and my favorite...the baby goats. I didn't know you could scratch a goat behind the ears just like a dog. They like that. I want one. But Chris says they'll eat every living thing in our yard and then die. Because he will kill it shortly after the last green thing disappears? I don't know. But apparently they eat and then die...which doesn't really sound like that bad of a life, but I digress.

Chris was a bit too hungry to linger around the farm for long, so we walked to Flying Star for some lunch. Then we walked back to the farm to catch the shuttle that was meant to take us back to the market. However, the Festival has grown each year, and they have not managed to keep up with the growth by providing timely transportation to and from the events. We stood in line for awhile, and it became rather obvious that it took the buses a long time to come around and that once they managed to actually arrive, we had a slim chance of making it on board since the line was about 100 people deep. I expressed my frustration in a practical way: I pointed out the fruitlessness of casting our hope in those shuttles; I told Chris I was glad we hadn't brought our bikes as I'd suggested because that would have been too easy; I casually mentioned that I wasn't much for standing in lines...but, then the lady in front of us ruined it all for me when she turned around and told me that she couldn't hear all that we were talking about, but she hoped that Chris was the positive one in the relationship. What does she know?

After the buses came and summarily departed sans us, we decided to walk back to the market. My parents happened to call and tell us they were on their way and would pick us up. I knew my dad was driving when we had practically reached our destination and still hadn't seen them. We finally spotted them and they pulled over to tell us that they had two passengers to drop off at the farm and would pick us up on the way back. Oh well. I only had two blisters. It's not like blisters are unpleasant or anything.

It really was a great day. If you are ever in need of a little rural rejuvenation, I would highly recommend it. And, please try the lavender coffee. I think it deserves to be sampled.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Chicago is a very fun city. Especially if you like to eat. And, I do. We returned last night from a week of exploring the Windy City. Neither of us had been before, so we stayed in Downtown Chicago the first 3 days and ate deep dish pizza, visited Chinatown, ate in Greek town and Little Italy, watched fireworks from Navy Pier and tried to burn off all those calories by renting bicycles and cycling the city along Lake Michigan.

Chris had a conference in a suburb, so we made our way Southwest and stayed near Naperville, a very quaint little town that reminded me of New England. It had a river walk and we discovered Red Mango...a frozen yogurt shop that didn't serve the frozen yogurt I'm accustomed to, but yogurt like you'd buy in the grocery store, frozen, whipped up, and topped with fresh fruit. I think we sampled it four days in a row...just to make sure.

The best part of the stay in Naperville was the morning we decided to play racquetball in the gym of the hotel. I'm never better than Chris at any sport, but I used to play racquetball alot about 5 years ago. Part of the strategy is to know where the ball is going to come off the wall, and since I've played more than Chris, I automatically had an edge (beside the fact that I pretty much dominate him in this sport). He kept getting in my way, and it annoyed me because I'd miss a point. I very sweetly informed him that if he got in my way again, I was hitting the ball regardless of where he was standing and let the chips fall where they may (as I write this, it occurs to me that I may not be the most loving of spouses when I play games with Chris--I'll have to ponder on that later). Sure enough, he served the ball really hard and I hit it back really hard and his head got in the way. I dropped him like a fly. The ball hit him right in the middle of the forehead and a nice red circle started to puff up. It didn't stop him from getting in front of me the next time, and so I proceeded to hit him in the thigh and the back of the arm. For some reason he really hates racquetball.

Chris took the rental car with him, so I was stuck at our 80's era hotel everyday with nothing in walking distance. My cousin, Sara, who lives just outside of Chicago, very sweetly drove down and rescued me. She took me to the Morton Arboretum, and we talked while her two kids played in the water. We had so much fun, and since I never get to see her, I got to catch up on all the goings on with my cousins.

We miraculously made it to O'Hare without any incident and wonder of wonders, our plane was on time! It was good to be home and to see my dogs. I don't think Chris was quite as enthusiastic about seeing Trudy and Sophie, but my parents seemed pretty pleased that we were back if only because they didn't have to watch the girls anymore. Trudy was ecstatic to see us...Sophie wagged her tail and then headed under the couch. She's so dumb she probably doesn't remember who we are.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Devil's Playground: Sunday Volleyball

There are few sports you can play that will bring you together as a team. Where before you have been enemies, when you play volleyball, you become the best of friends. Now in most circumstances this would be true, but not when you play after church on Sunday. No, after church on Sunday, there is a certain wildness about you that is begging to be released. And you don't care if it requires hitting a small boy in the face with the ball (Chris), yelling at your wife for missing a ball (numerous husbands of which mine was not because he's smarter than that), or telling your husband to back off because you can hit the ball without his help, thank you very much (me).

Perhaps it is the pastor's sermon that sparks such animosity after the service. Maybe his teaching hit a tad too close to home and you don't wish to give up 24 hours of television to spend a little quiet time with God. Maybe he taught on loving your wife and spending quality time with her and you sit there fuming because quality time to your husband is letting you watch him mow the lawn. I don't know what does it, all I know is that church volleyball is a live or let die kind of sport. And mostly, if you miss the ball, people wish you would die.
In addition to the animosity that flares up, there is always that person who takes the game a bit too seriously (this person is usually the one with knee pads, tall socks, and face paint), and if you screw up he isn't going to speak to you next Sunday. True colors begin to bleed through. There are those people that are meek little mouses, worshipping God, soaking in the sermon during the service, and then they walk out on the sand to play and suddenly they are homicidal maniacs bent on revenge.

There are also a precious few that are bad losers and because they are around fellow church goers, have to keep from a) cursing, b) punching that man in the face because he just missed the 4th ball in a row and c) slamming or throwing either the ball, a rock or some other heavy object because you lost (this one is usually me, I ruined quite a few racquets when I played racquetball by slamming them into the wall when I lost). All of this destructive energy has to be contained when with fellow parishioners.

Long standing feuds can begin with just three simple words: "Let's play volleyball." The following week, the pastor is forced to preach on forgiveness or mercy in order to reestablish community and loving kindness within his flock. He (or she) cannot allow volleyball to occur too often after church and must find other diversions such as demoloshing the sanctuary and rebuilding it one Sunday afternoon or repaving the 5 acre parking lot.

You can learn many wonderful life lessons from this sport, some that the pastor will probably never preach from the pulpit. I've learned to keep my friends close and my enemies can't be too careful in life.