Monday, January 07, 2008

Random thoughts

A day hemmed in prayer is less likely to unravel.

I'm struggling to get my bearings today - this weekend Meagan cleaned out her room of the things she can't see taking to college with her. There were bags and bags of stuff in her room waiting for me to carry downstairs to the garabage this morning. It took me hours to get the task done - kept getting distracted by the memories of days back then as I looked through the bags and saw signs and symbols of times we've spent together. She doesn't know it but I pulled a few things out and set them aside for my memory box. They will comfort me when I'm old.

One day last week Linley and I spent an afternoon having lunch and shopping. During this time we were twice referred to as “daughter and dad.” Mind you, we look absolutely nothing alike (a fact for which she is quite grateful) except that we are both tall. How could the merchants make this mistake? It must be the way we interact with one another. I’ll take that compliment!

Speaking of Linley, she had a childhood friend spend the night with us this weekend. During her visit she observed a marker board we have near the back door, one on which we write our grocery list, appointment reminders and notes to one another. Sometime before she left she wrote her own note to us: “I enjoy this household!” Another compliment we are all happy to accept.

Although it is January and just days ago the temperature dropped to 14, it was a balmy 60 degrees yesterday. This brought out our friends – Jill and I visited with five different couples yesterday as we sat on the porch or walked through the neighborhood. And as you might guess, no porch visit is complete without a chilled chardonnay. Hey, my resolution was to skip wine during the weekdays, not the weekends.

Speaking of resolutions, I’m now 5 pounds closer to my goal. They say the first ten are the easiest. Get ready Greg, in a few the real work begins.

And while I’m talking about the neighborhood, let me recycle this article. I wrote it a year ago and think I’ve posted it before, but it is on my mind again since I’ve been asked recently to put it in our neighborhood newsletter:

“Welcome to my porch, the place where I sit to relax with my family, chat with neighbors, and reflect on life. It is a real porch, one outfitted with seating for four, a coffee table for serving brunch or wine and cheese, an iron statue of a dog I’ve named Rusty, and an end table featuring a lamp that stays on late into the night, welcoming passersby who succumb to the temptation to walk up onto the porch and sit a while. Here, everyone is welcome.

It is from this porch that I find inspiration as an author, taking note of what is said or what I see in the community park before me and on the sidewalk passing before the front steps of my neighbors’ homes in this neighborhood where we live. It is where my wife and I read the newspaper, talk about our children and our hopes for their lives, and spend time lingering in each other’s company. It is where we laugh out loud with, listen to the worries of and have meaningful conversations with our two daughters. It is where our neighbors sit and share their life stories and major announcements, leftover meals, and sometimes their tears.

Our neighbors really are our friends. I don’t mean casual acquaintances; I mean the kind of friends with whom you exchange house keys, to whom you lend your car or a stick of butter, even if it means they go into your refrigerator when you aren’t home. The kind of friends that watch out for your children when you aren’t looking, who grab your newspaper from the sidewalk and toss it onto the porch when you are away, or who rescue your mail on a rainy day if they see it sticking out of the mailbox.

It is from these moments I observe while sitting on my porch that I find material to write about. My writing is auto-biographical, sometimes poignant, sometimes humorous, but always based on events or conversations that have actually happened. In my books, and now in this column, I share stories about my family and friends, ponder out loud about what perplexes me, and, I hope, occasionally cause my readers to reflect on their own lives and stir them to embrace those they love a little tighter.

My front porch is also where I now and then spend time alone with Rusty, worrying about the things that keep a father and husband awake while everyone else in the house is asleep and peacefully dreaming about shoes. It is where I think about the life I’ve led, the sins I’ve committed, the things I want to make right, the work I have left to do, and wonder how much longer I might have on this Earth to get to it all. And in the end, I suppose, that is why I write - so that in case I can’t get to everything, you will know that at the very least, I meant to.”

Now lest you think I embellish the story of our neighborhood, I’ll invite you over for lunch today to have some of the chili Laura cooked for us, followed by the Boston Cream pie Karen gave us.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

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