Monday, June 29, 2015

Walking this Messy Earth by Catherine Valentine

It was the 7th grade when I met Nellie.  We were both new to our junior high school and probably both feeling like little fish in a big pond.  She stood out in the crowd right away because of her beautiful copper penny hair.  We became friends -- not best friends but friends.  She was a very genuinely nice little girl.  Now, I was an only child and very sheltered.  Two of my greatest fears in life were losing my mother and fire.  In 1963, in that 7th grade year, the thing happened that was the culmination of all my fears -- but it didn't happen to me -- it happened to Nellie.  There was a fire and she lost her mother.  I couldn't bear the horror of it but one thing stood out to me -- Nellie's grace with which she bore the burden.  Over the years, through high school, I observed Nellie and how she grew and how confident she became and my mantra was "what would Nellie do" and if I was dealing with something that I deemed particularly difficult I would remind myself that "if Nellie could cope with THAT I can certainly cope with THIS because Nellie went through the worst thing possible".  I have looked at life through Nellie's eyes most of my life.

Nellie and I lost touch over the years until MySpace came into being and I was looking for childhood friends and I found her.  We reconnected there and again on Facebook.  One day I decided it was time to write Nellie a letter and tell her what a profound impact she had on my life. I am glad I did because I would have been forever regretful if I hadn't.  We lost Nellie a little over a year ago and I am still asking myself, during rough days, "what would Nellie do".

Nellie left a beautiful legacy in that of her children, one of which is Catherine Valentine, a young, aspiring writer.  Catherine has written three books -- a children's book "The Waterlady: An Ozark Tale", and two books of poetry "Mothers and Daughters" and the one I am reviewing today, "Walking this Messy Earth".

"Walking this Messy Earth" is a small volume of twenty poems, each one exploring, explaining and/or relishing in the ups and downs of her journey toward God and Christ.  There are moments of despair and joy, self-effacing exploration of doubts and fears, questions of faith and "am I doing it right".  Some of the writings are more child--like and some are more raw and questioning.  All of them are thought provoking and, in my opinion, cover the whole range of emotions of those of faith who are on the same journey -- Catherine just isn't afraid to voice her thoughts which is probably a God-given way for her to learn and make her way.  Questioning and learning is never a bad thing.

One of my favorite poems in the collection is "Christmas".  The first stanza is so indicative of Christmas as we see it --

"A picturesque scene--
the manger and lowly lamb
Christmas and good cheer,
soft lights and presents.
Forgetting the sadness
and the wounds--
a little baby raised to die"

Most time Christmas is just as she describes it -- no thought that with Christmas comes Easter -- no thought to the circle of His life.  This poem certainly brings it all into perspective.

Another offering in the collection -- "Prayers" -- which deals with how to pray -- the right way to pray.  How many people don't pray because they don't feel that they know the "proper" way to pray?

"He hears all -- just speak"

Another that I particularly liked is "Old Faith".  Maybe it is because I am older but as I read this poem I could just hear the tune to "Little Brown Church in the Vale" one of my favorite hymns growing up in my neighborhood Methodist church.   As I read it memories of my time in that church came flooding back and it was good.  Old faith -- so simple.

The poem that stands out to me the most, that touches me the most is "Heart's Want".  It is about her mother.  It is about her acceptance of her mother's passing and realizing that her mother has made the journey and is now in the hands of the Lord.  It is quiet and sad but hopeful and joyous at the same time.

Poetry is very subjective and I believe that everybody gleans from it what they are supposed to -- what is right for them at the time -- and not necessarily what was in the author's head at the time of writing.  To me, poetry invokes mental pictures even more than prose and Catherine's work created some powerful images in my mind.

Clearly this is a collection of faith driven words and thoughts drawn from personal experience.  It is Catherine's journey to this point in her life.  It is uniquely hers yet so undeniably universal -- I feel that anybody who is on a spiritual journey can identify with almost everything in this book.  Because of that I find it to be comforting in that the reader is not alone in his/her thoughts -- a camaraderie of sorts -- journeying hand in hand, so to speak, walking this messy earth.

I did not ask permission to use excerpts from the book but since Catherine asked me to review I assumed it was ok.  Hopefully I won't be in trouble for that.

If you are interested in learning more about Catherine or obtaining a copy of any of her books please visit her at!blog/cm7y.

In closing I have to add that it is a privilege to know Catherine, to be included in her circle of friends and to have the opportunity to read and review her work.  I am certain that Nellie is so proud of her daughter as am I. I look forward to watching Catherine grow in her life as an author and having the opportunity to enjoy more of her work.

I recommend this book to anyone.

Friday, June 26, 2015

First Date

I remember my first date with the Hubs. 

I was in a rather foul mood that day thanks to another young man who shall remain nameless here.  This other young man and I had a date for that day.  Then we didn't.  Then we did.  Didn't.  I quit answering the phone and went to a girlfriend's house.

My mother came to pick me up and we made a quick run to the grocery store -- the store that Hubs worked at.  I was clearly not a happy camper and the assistant manager kept hanging around the check stand and he asked what was wrong, my mother explained and he said "if I let Allen off work early would you go to the movie with him?"  My mother answered that we would have to ask my dad and he should call in a little while.  Clearly Allen and I had gone completely mute as this exchange between the asst. manager and my mother was going on.   Long story short -- we came home with milk, Cokes, fritos and a date. 

I was just a tad mortified by the whole thing and I am sure Allen was quite anxiety ridden as he was on restriction for ignoring curfew and he had to borrow the car.  I got over it and he somehow managed to get off restriction and get the car so....

We went here --

to see


 and then we sat on the porch and talked until about midnight. 
My mother asked if I thought I would go out with him again and I looked her straight in the face and said "Mom, I am probably going to marry him".  Seven years later I did just that.

So, when was this life-changing momentous occasion?  June 26, 1965.  Fifty years ago today.  Did you hear that?  FIFTY YEARS AGO!!!!  How could that be? 

If you are wondering what happened to the other major players in that little scenario well --

The other young man came back a few months later and wanted "to be friends".  I said no.  Regrets?  Yes. We had been friends first and then tried dating.  It didn't work for us but we shouldn't have let go of the friendship.  He ended up marrying a girl I went to high school with -- his second marriage and he has two children.

The assistant manager whose name was Doug was our best man.  We lost touch quite some time ago which is a shame -- he was a nice guy.

My mother passed on in 1996. 

Fifty years ago -- wow.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Unconscious Mutterings

Unconscious Mutterings is a meme hosted by lunanina at  I used to do these all the time and then somehow forgot about them.  However, I was reminded on my cousins blog and decided to participate today.  It starts on Sundays but you have all week to participate. So, I am a day late so to speak.


Unconscious Mutterings
Free association is described as a "psychonanalytic procedure in which a person is encouraged to give free rein to his or her thoughts and feelings, verbalizing whatever comes into the mind without monitoring its content." Over time, this technique is supposed to help bring forth repressed thoughts and feelings that the person can then work through to gain a better sense of self.
That's an admirable goal, but for the purposes of this excercise, we're just hoping to have a little fun with the technique. Each week I'll post ten words to which you can respond to with the first thing that comes to mind.
"Rules are, there are no rules." There are no right or wrong answers. Don't limit yourself to one word responses; just say everything that pops into your head. AND you don't have to have your words up on Sunday. Take all week if you want! Read the FAQ for more information.

So, here goes

Sunday, June 07, 2015
Week 645
I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Shack :: Sugar -- 1962 song by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs (really?)
  2. Cute :: many things pop into my head -- uh, bunnies
  3. Factor ::  algebra
  4. Beach ::  relaxing
  5. Toddler ::  fun
  6. Cups ::  baking
  7. Leaning ::  topple
  8. Thailand ::  got nothin' here
  9. Beanie ::  granddaughter

ok, well, there is my muttering and it appears to be pretty unconscious.  Except for the bunnies.  It is not even 7 o'clock a.m. so I am still reasonably unconscious which would account for some of the answers.

Have a good day!

Friday, June 05, 2015

I Am Not Going to Lie

I am tired.  It was a somewhat emotional day for me for all sorts of silly reasons.  As most everybody knows, my husband and I babysit Bean on the days she is not in school -- three days last year and two this year.  On the days she was in school we picked her up.  Her last day for Pre-K 4 was last Friday but my daughter was still in school all this week so we had Bean all week.  I am not used to having her all day for five days and I knew I would be tired but I really enjoyed it knowing that next year she will be in school five days a week.  We will be picking her up from school but that is so little time together after having had the privilege of having these two years with her.  It hit me at lunch today -- this would be the last lunch I would be making for her -- the last lunch we would be sharing -- the last intense conversation over lunch.  Oh, I know there will be the odd days I will have her, when she is sick or there are school holidays that don't coincide with her mother's days off but it won't be the same.  Oh, the sadness hit like a ton of bricks.  I now have to adjust to my new reality.  I am sure I will be fine but I will miss her and her antics, the long talks, the reading lessons, surgery on the stuffed animals -- all those things.  She is growing up too fast for me.

After I get done with my pity party I have to play catch up.  I have an email to answer (Bonnie!) and a snail mail letter to answer (Mary!).  I am thankful these two friends are patient because I wanted to wait until I could give these correspondences proper attention -- I don't like to try to answer important letters in a rushed manner and these letters are important.  So, that will be the first on my list of things to do starting tomorrow morning.

Next thing is helping Hubs do a little yard work.  We still haven't replaced the tree that fell down and after looking at the whole of the area, we have decided a complete re-do is in order.  Neither one of us is "into" yard work so we are going to make things easier.  Actually, when we had the landscaping done in the back garden it was in an effort to make things easier but the reality of it is, it just became an over abundance of work that neither one of us wants to undertake.  It has become bigger than the two of us together.

There is some sewing to be done and definitely some de-cluttering.  I have done a lot of reading about minimalism and living with what we really need -- not everything we have collected and I am sure this summer will mean a good look at everything that is stuffed in obscure drawers and closet corners.  Some of that will be started tomorrow as well.

I have plans to do some stitching -- hopefully finishing something and then there is the ever ongoing effort to read through my personal library.  I have enough unread books to keep me busy for years -- absolutely years.  So what do I do?  I go to the library.  I have no more room for books so I was thinking an e-reader would be a great idea and it is but I am finding the books to be a little more expensive than I would like to pay.  I do frequent Half Price Books which is great on price but still doesn't solve the problem of too many books.  Yes, I could sell them back but they give you nothing and I would just as soon donate my excess bookage to the library.  There will be some culling of books and more reading -- always reading. 

So, anyway (as Ellen says)  that is what I have been up to for the last couple of weeks and what my foreseeable future looks like.  Hopefully my energy will bounce back after a good nights sleep and I will get back into some sort of a routine.  After two years of spending the majority of my time at somebody else's house I am going to have to reacquaint myself with my own and try to make it meaningful.  I guess I will just have to take it one day at a time and make it work.

Oh, and by the way, I think the new Col. Sanders of KFC fame is creepy! I don't like it!

Have a wonderful Friday and I will see you on the flip side.