Tag Archives: Thora


My Grampa comes to visit, and he tunes our piano.  I stand to the side, watching, fascinated.  He unwinds the thick red felt ribbon and carefully tucks it between the revealed strings, explaining that it will stop those strings from vibrating.  I hang on his every word, his every action, even though he tunes our piano every time he visits.  He strikes the tuning fork against his leg and listens to it ring, then plunks his gnarled finger (“I’m losing my fight against my enemy, Arthur,” he’ll say) down upon a key.

From his pouch of tools he deftly plucks just the right instrument and reaches into the depths of the piano, twisting and turning something I cannot see, and the tone of the note twists and turns with the movement of his hand.  He plunks again, twists again, plunks and strikes and twists until he is satisfied, then moves on to another key.

He explains to me about wavelengths and vibrations and hammers and dampers and life.  He strikes and plunks and twists and moves that thick red felt ribbon to a new position.  It is better than any television show I might watch.  Finally, he rolls his felt ribbon into a bright red coil and tucks it away with his tools, then closes up the piano, hiding the mystery of the music within.  He adjusts the bench, and then sits.

The first song is always, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”.  I could sit there forever and let the music of his heart swirl around me.  The big band and jazz tunes flow from the piano, find their way to my toes, my fingers, weave themselves into my heart. Too soon, he is done.

Later, we will go to the church together and he will tune the piano there.

Years later, I will play from the books my Gramma has sent me, the books my Grampa played from, the music of his heart, and I will remember.


It’s Been a Long Time…

…since I’ve laughed so hard.

We’re visiting friends from Kansas, just overnight, and somehow we wound up playing Mexican Train dominoes.  Not that it applies to anything, but you needed setting.  I was winning and Smiddy was sure I could have been helping him out a little.  Martha tried to convince the group I had sharpies and white out under the table, and that was how things were going so well for me.  Finally, after I messed Smiddy’s next play up yet again, I told him, “I took an online personality test once…it said I was pragmatic.”

Harry looked up, startled, then relaxed.  “I thought you said you took an online personality test and it said you were pregnant.”

Oh, did we laugh.

Later, we contemplated the ramifications of online pregnancy tests…


Mayhem: I saw a dress you might like, Mommy. But it was skinnier than you.

Thora: Well, it was nice of you to think of me.

Mayhem: It was taller than you, too. You’re really not that tall.

Thora: Any other compliments you’d like to pay me?

Mayhem (looks me up and down, finally says): Your shoes and your shirt match!

How Do I Loathe Thee?

CostCo, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. Thine parking lots are much too small, causing much consternation amongst myself and all other road-weary travelers.
  2. Thou persists in hiding merchandise in the least likely spots, causing me to trek back and forth among the throngs of people, grumbling all the while.
  3. Thou carryest not in one store the products I find in another, meaning I canst not count on finding everything on my bulk list in any one trip.
  4. Thou dost NOT mark thine aisles with contents, so I must journey up and down each aisle to find the goods I seek…and must often consult employees, many of whom also know not where thine goods are kept.
  5. Thou hirest not nearly enough checkers, so that I must stand in line with three tired children, trying to not bump into or be bumped by all the other cranky housewives and their children, while the few available cashiers work as slowly as possible.
  6. Thou drawest crowds of people who prefer to walk slowly down the middle of each aisle, turning to the side only when I attempteth to passeth them.
  7. Thou art not, nor will ever be, Sam’s Club.

A Garden Is A Generous Thing

A garden is such a generous thing.
You turn the soil and place all those little seeds just so,
or not,
depending on your temperament and the amount of time available,
and then you wait.

First, there are the tiny little sprouts,
poking their tips up through the tender soil,
and then leaves and stems, and
suddenly there’s a whole plant just there where there wasn’t anything before.

And one little seed gives you quarts of pickles or bowls of salad,
heaping tablespoons of herb-y deliciousness to add to ordinary fare.
And because you weren’t sure if one row of spinach or three tomato plants
would be enough for all of the canning and freezing and general preserving
that you wanted to do,
you planted twice that much,
just in case
of hail or disease,
and then you realize that even if you preserved until you ran the store out of jars you’d never get it all saved, so you give it away.

Bags of spinach and swiss chard go home with your children’s friends,
zucchini and summer squash accompany you to church,
and there’s always fresh rhubarb cobler on the table.
You trade (“If you take my extra zucchini I’ll find a use for that bucket of peppers”)
and you wheedle (“Surely you wanted to try turnips?”)
and you proudly display seven or eight garden vegetables at every meal.
You make jellies and pickles and chop and parboil until you’re sick of the entire mess,
but you keep on…

…because you know that, come winter,
when you crack open a jar of cinnamon cucumber pickles
or defrost bright red bells for your fajitas,
then all of the memories of summer
(your daughter dashing across the yard to catch her first firefly,
the conversation with your growing son over the weeds in the carrots)
will come drifting back and you will remember.

A garden is a generous thing.
It provides for the table,
builds relationships, and
brings back to the dead of winter that thing we long for most: summer.

Looking In

My best friend lives in Nebraska. I live in Oregon. It takes some work to keep up a friendship across half a country, but we manage. Maybe it’s that while I’m flitting from state to state, she’s constant–always there. I have called her to share joys, to wail “Why?”, to ask for prayer, to ask for advice. She has prayed with me over the phone while tears streamed down my face, told me about her own screw-ups worse than mine, and challenged me to be a better person. I love her for it.

I still often wonder why we’re friends, but I am so glad we are.

And sometimes, when the stars align and we’re both in the same state at the same time, I get to visit her.

When I go to her house, I belong. I usually knock–more so she knows I’m there than for permission to enter. I might grab a glass of water (or whatever crazy concoction she’s drinking lately)…if she’s busy with children or her studio I’ll peruse her library for a while, making a stack to take home with me. I know where the other light switch is in the bathroom and about the pile of laundry downstairs by the washer. We fold our legs up on the couch and chatter, interrupted by children and the phone, and we share our lives.

And because I feel like I belong, I act like I do.

Earlier this week I went to worship team practice. I’ve been acting as the backup keyboardist for about 4 months now. I don’t feel like I belong. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not really a part of the team. I’m just a hole-filler…someone to make sure there’s not a gap when the regular keyboardist is gone. And that’s okay.

But I realized this: because I don’t feel like I belong there, I don’t act like I belong.

Because I am an outsider, I act as an outsider. And because I act as an outsider, I am an outsider.

I know I hold myself apart in an unfamiliar group setting.  And I know that doing this keeps me outside of that ring that I want to join.  Get me one-on-one, and you’ll discover a whole other me–one that cracks jokes and has something to contribute.  So why is it that I act like I don’t belong…and then wonder why I don’t?

I don’t know what the answer is.  Perhaps it’s simply time.  Time to get to know these people, time to trust them, time to step towards them one foot at a time.

And I know you’re out there, too.  You who holds yourself apart, you who recognizes the distance but doesn’t know how to close it.  What will you do today to act like you belong?

Pandemonium Ensues

This is quite possibly my favorite entry of all time.  It could have just been the title that I liked…but I think it also reminds me of the craziness that life with two toddlers was, and how much I loved it.  Every age has been the best age with our kids, but this little moment holds a special place in my heart.

The Sorry Game,
Pandemonium Ensues

(Based On, But Not Limited To, Actual Events)

Chaos (henceforth to be referred to as Player One) asks to play a game.  Thora (Player Two) agrees because Sorry seems simple enough, and even if the rules aren’t followed to the nth degree, Player One will at least get some counting practice.  Mayhem (Player Three) dumps the board and all game pieces onto the floor. Pandemonium ensues.

Player Two picks up the cards and all visible pieces while Player One wails about the injustice of it all.  Player Three puts the blue pieces (I can’t spell pieces—they will now be referred to as Men) into her mouth.  All four of them.  At once.

Player One and Player Two distribute men about the board.  Player Two puts green men on the green start and yellow men on the yellow start.  Player One puts red men on the blue home and distributes blue men equally to all four home bases.  Player Three stands in the box the game belongs in.

Player Two shows Player One how to take the top card and move men the corresponding number of spaces.  Player One draws a 12 and Player Two helps him count to 12 as they carefully move the little green man.  Player Two draws a two, and moves a blue man two spaces.  Player Three takes the top half of the deck of cards and drops them back onto the table.  Pandemonium ensues.

Player One draws a seven and moves a green man 8 spaces while counting to seven.  Player Two decides to let the discrepancy slide since he did count correctly.  Player Two gets a one and moves a blue man out.  Player Three decides to change her pants and comes out of her room wearing green shorts with both legs out one opening.

Player One gets a 10 and moves one green man 4 spaces, one red man 5 spaces, and a yellow man backwards 3 spaces.  Player Two realizes that Player One and Player Three need to be in the bath tub in five minutes and picks up 10 cards, exclaiming, “Look!  A three! Can you help me count?”  Player Three takes off her pants (she changed again during Player One’s turn) and puts a megablock on the game board.

Player One draws a three and moves a yellow man across the board to home base.  Player Two takes all but two cards and moves a blue man one space.  The phone rings, and Player Two talks to Court’s mom for a few minutes.  Player One and Player Three use this opportunity to see who can jump from the coffee table to the couch.  Pandemonium ensues.  Player Two just doesn’t care anymore.  There are only 44 minutes left until bedtime.

Player One draws a seven and moves three or four pieces the combined total of 27 spaces.  Player Two draws the last card, which is a Sorry! card.  “Look, it’s a Sorry! card, Chaos!  You win!  Yay!” Player One does a little victory dance while Player Two stacks the cards and Player Three attempts to put a skirt over her head.

Game Over