Let Them Eat Cake

Today’s discussion includes two things:  First, my secret profession and secondly, wedding cake.

Mr. Bee and I attended a wedding of his co-worker’s last evening.  Saturday night big events, like a wedding, are not something I really look forward to because I covet having free weekends to do what I choose.  So, knowing I had to take a shower, do my hair, put on makeup, my Spanx and find something to wear was all going to be worth it because, in the end, my reward was wedding cake.

I am not a big fan of Groom’s cake.  It’s usually chocolate, which I like, but it’s also dry.  I will knock a line of women down for a big, thick, corner piece of Bride’s cake, which is usually white.  Mr. Bee has been married to me long enough now to know that white cake with white buttercream frosting is the way to make my heart sing.

Here’s a photo of the happy couple (that would be me and Mr. Bee) after we had a glass of wine and our appertifs…I am going to take a break from the cake talk and review the first point…my secret ultimate profession….wedding singer….

No, this isn’t me.  It’s the singer in the band from the reception.  I thought they did a nice job.  She sang on key, was dressed appropriately and they had a great mix of songs they played.  I wanted to be an actress and major in theatre when I went to university but Earnie said I had to actually earn a living.  I became a nurse, which in some way is like acting.  I think wedding singer would be the perfect jumping off point to re-visit the whole acting thing.

When I mentioned to Mr. Bee that I wish I were up there singing he said, “Yeah, but your version of a wedding singer would be more like Debbie Reynolds.”

I knew what he meant.  Debbie played Bobbi Adler, Grace’s mother on Will & Grace.  Everytime Grace would come home with Will, her mother would be laying on top of the piano singing.  Mr. Bee said that would be me when Miss Bee comes home from college.  He’s right.  Okay, back to cake.

As soon as we arrived at the reception, I made a bee-line for the cake to see what we had in store.  After all, it was the whole reason I was wearing Spanx.  I was working on my strategy of how I was going to score two pieces of bride’s cake without anyone noticing.  Here’s the bounty…

My world of cake came crashing down at 10 p.m. when the darned bride and groom still had NOT cut the cake.  They were happy as clams dancing the night away and since the bride weighs all of about 95 pounds cake was the last thing on her mind.  Mr. Bee turned to me and said, “we need to go.  I have an early flight”.  Cue sounds of old-timey records scratching.  “But, everyone is going to get to eat cake and we’re not.”

I completely understood his plight.  I didn’t really need the cake.  But I wanted it.  I have been thinking about it ever since.  I am thinking about staging a fake wedding and calling a bakery with a fake name to have a small cake made for myself.  Of, course my birthday is coming up and Mr. Bee already has the bakery’s number on speed dial.

Six Things You Should Focus on Everyday

I signed up to teach our adult Sunday school class tomorrow.  For about a month I have been thinking about what to share.  Recently, I picked up a copy of one of my favorite magazines Life:Beautiful.  I have posted about this lovely magazine before.

The photography is ethereal and the articles are inspiring.  I read an article by Joyce Meyer entitled Enjoying Everyday Life:  Six Things You Should Focus on Everyday and knew this was the message I wanted to share.

I have really enjoyed my summer with Miss Bee.  Relaxed summer days, a slower pace at my job, no homework to do every evening, no lunches to pack, or hurried mornings preparing and serving breakfast before the bus comes.  I am hoping I can keep this peaceful feeling despite the approaching first day of school.  I know when my hurry and anxiousness bubbles to the surface Miss Bee is sure to feel it.  Do I want to empose these feelings on her?   So, this is my message.  Six things I can work on everyday that will help the “Keep Calm, Carry On” mantra in my life:

1.  Feel Blessed — Start the day with the right attitude and focus
2.  Be Thankful —   Treat everyday like Thanksgiving.  Say thank you more often
3.  Offer Encouragement —  Build up those around me
4.  Be Truthful —  Admit your weaknesses and make hard choices
5.  Make God’s Word Your Vocabulary — Make time for God’s company everyday
6.  Be Quiet — Listen Before You Speak — Hold Your Tongue.  Are your words really necessary?

A Gaelic Blessing

Since my daddy passed away, I haven’t been out to see his grave.   I guess I wasn’t ready.  Approching the second month of his death,  Mr. Bee and I took a drive out there recently on a beautiful, sunny day after church.  It was an odd feeling.  My memories of the day of his funeral were seeing the bugler, who played taps, standing off under a nearby tree and Daddy’s casket covered with the American flag.

I’ve made grieving my hobby for the last thirteen years.  It started with the loss of our little John.  I was trapped in a darkness that seemed insurmountable.  By God’s grace I recovered and I promised Him I would devote my life to helping others who grieve find a sense of hope for the future.  It has been a blessing and a honor to walk this journey with others.  I have made many close friends through this ministry and, as a result, received comfort from those around me in the recent death of my daddy.

Grieving is hard work, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I tell others this all the time, so I have to make sure I listen to my own advice.  When I am stting in church, I imagine Daddy sitting next to me or at the back of the church.  He’s wearing his coveralls, a ball cap and his boots.  He has a half-chewed cigar in his mouth (he long ago gave up this habit) and has his loyal canine companion, Lexy, by his side.  I can feel Daddy’s presence.  I can sometimes feel him putting his hand on me.

Last Sunday during one of these moments with him, this blessing was sung by the Chancel Choir as we were being dismissed from church.  It was a God thing…

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ, the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.

Heaven Sent

One month ago today, my sweet Daddy went to live in heaven.  Of course he timed it with the full moon, because sure enough he was out on Saturday night.  Sister Bee called me and said have you seen Papa’s Moon?  I ran outside.  It was so beautiful.

As I reflect on the two weeks leading up to his journey, it all played out the way it was supposed to.  He was surrounded by countless friends who came to say their goodbyes.  All our family was here, even baby Bryan, my 30-something nephew in the Navy, was able to be with him until Daddy’s last breath.  Daddy even got to have his last “lodge” meeting a few days before he closed his eyes into deep slumber.

Always the prankster, one of his friends, I think his name is Big John, put a plastic bug in Daddy’s bed.  It about scared the bajesus out of me — thinking what kind of establishment is this that has giant bugs in patient beds, until I realized what it was.  So, even in death, Daddy made things funny for us.

Two lasting images I have, are my precious mother giving Daddy his last kiss goodbye.  Devoted to each other.  You didn’t say Ray without saying Earnie too.  Forrest Gump would say “they were like peas and carrots.”

The other classic image is Daddy and his cell phone.  His phone was his lifeline to the outside world.  Somehow, we don’t know how, while he was in ICU, he managed to get a nurse to let him use her cell phone.  We had told him no phones were allowed in patient rooms — a white lie, but we thought it was a good one.  Anyway, he called Earnie late one night to talk to her.  Like a mother of a teenager I got on the extension and told Ray under no uncertain terms to hang up.  He was not allowed to be calling Earnie, they both needed their rest.  Daddy has no memory of that night.

So, as his days on earth came to an end, we placed that old cell phone in his hand.  We laughed we should pen a country song titled…”waitin’ on a call from Jesus”.  It was a lovely site — his phone, the cross on his chest and his talking watch on his wrist.  Jesus did call Ray…and they’ve been together ever since.  I look forward to hearing Daddy’s “reeport” at the next full moon.


To the Moon Raymond

At 3:23 a.m. this morning, my sweet Daddy went to live in heaven.  For the last four years, he has been my constant companion, one of my greatest joys (and pain in my side on just a few days) and a wonderful father.  I wouldn’t trade anything for having him here with me.  I know that he is pain free, can now see out of those beautiful grey eyes again, can run and skip, and is flying airplanes with Jesus as his wingman.

As we were all sitting out on the patio enjoying a cool night, we looked up to the heavens and saw the most beautiful Moon.  Tonight is a Perigree Moon also known as a “Supermoon.”  NASA tells news that the “super” in the word Supermoon refers to the rare beauty and illusion that the Moon will create this evening. At first glance, tonight’s full Moon may not have a proportional difference than any other night, but as NASA explains, when tonight’s Moon is observed behind foreground objects like trees and foliage, it will appear “supersized” and brighter.

There is more to be excited about tonight’s Moon besides it enlarged appearance. It will appear also thirty percent brighter that a normal full Moon. The last time this happened was March 1993.   And yet, tonight’s Moon is only fifty thousand kilometers closer to the Earth to create this spectacle.

So while tonight’s “Perigee Moon” may appear as the biggest and brightest full Moon in almost 20 years, there is always something exciting to capture in the sky.  Of course, I know, it was all my daddy’s doing.  He picked out this moon just for us tonight.   It’s his way of telling us “I am okay”.

If I could go back….

I’d live in the 60s.  I love to watch movies from that era.  The clothing and the homes.  There was a formality of that time, dressing for dinner, cocktails before dinner, after dinner drinks.  It’s funny how in fashion, architecture and home decor these days — the 60s is what everyone is after.  I liked the 60s before it was cool.

One of my favorite movies is the orignial version of the Parent Trap with Hayley Mills, Maureen O’Hara, and Brian Keith.

I found the funnest website the other day Hooked on Houses.  They had photos of the set design from the movie.

This is what the typical lunch looks like in Boston.
Note:  Father reading the paper in the background.  All
Disney movies show the dad reading the paper while the women work.
Nice to know things haven’t changed..
Look at this bathroom.  Now, some people might think
gut job, but it looks like something out of modern home magazine.
I know I have the same Calphalon she is cooking with (note the peasant blouse)
except mine is blue.  Look at the state of the art ovens behind her.  I think
I have the same turquoise vase.
Cookies and milk with the nanny.  I always wanted
a blue phone…and an easy bake oven.
And finally, just relaxing in my ballet flats
listening to my HiFi.  Instead of humming “Let’s Get Together”
I was singing “Copacabana” into my hairbrush.  I have those lamps in white.

The many faces of Hobbes

When I survey my backyard, it’s like Lion Country Safari.  Cats galore.  My backyard is a cat’s Wally World.  A fountain with fresh running water, and because Earnie loves birds, about 20 bird feeders.  We’ve got your finch feeders, your cardinal feeders, your ghords for nesting, your lint holder for making that nest, hummingbird feeders, and I could go on.  It would look like Garden Ridge if I didn’t say no to Earnie every once in a while.  We also have very soft furniture on our covered porch perfect for the 18 hours cats nap.

I spied my favorite feline, Hobbes, the other day loving life.  If there ever was a cat that was grateful to have a home it’s Hobbes.  He’s always fit in, even before we invited him to live inside the house.  When Ruthie, the weinerful, would go outside, Hobbes would greet her and lay down next to her in the sunshine.  He’s very snuggly and loves to purr.  A true testimate to all things Great and Small.

Our neighbors, the Paysons, actually were the first family to take care of Hobbes.  They were grooming him to be the neighbordhood ratter.  They even took him to get vaccinated and “tutored”.  I thwarted their plan when I started letting him in the house.  He told the Paysons…”why would I want to hunt for stinky rats when I’ve got canned frisky’s from the lady next door?”

He has a pretty great routine down…here’s his daily journal entries:

6 a.m.   Eat breakfast, sip some water, lay around watching everyone get ready for school and work.  Occasionally pounce on top of Wilson.

7:30 a.m.  Sit by the door to be let outside.

7:31 a.m.  Go next door to get breakfast from the Paysons.  Be sure to look pitiful like I haven’t been fed in several days.

7:40-10 a.m. Say hi to Cameron and Mitchell, the two stray toms, who have taken up residence on the back porch.  Watch the occasional bird that hasn’t received the memo that cats will eat them if they visit the birdfeeder.

10:00 a.m.  Sun is usually shining on the backporch, perfect time to stretch out for a morning nap on the outside couch.

11:00 a.m.  Yawn

11:40 a.m.  Play with rat I found, flip it into the air to get Earnie to notice me.  Earnie comes outside, picks up rat, puts into a ziplock bag, and leaves on kitchen counter to show Mr. Bee.

11:41 a.m.  Wait and watch through the window for Mr. Bee’s reaction when he sees my bounty on the counter.

11:53 a.m.  Mr. Bee finds rat in ziplock bag.

11:54 a.m.  Calls Mrs. Bee.

11:55 a.m.  Resume nap.

1 p.m.  Wake up.  Get a drink from the fountain.  Stand by the backdoor.  Earnie lets me in the house.

1:05 p.m.  Eat

1:10 p.m.  Take a nap in the chair in the living room

3:00 p.m.  Mrs. Bee comes home from work, greet her at the backdoor, say hi then go back outside.

3-5 p.m.  Sit under bench in backyard.  Still watching for birds that haven’t got the clue about the four cats living in the backyard.

5:01 p.m.  Go back inside the house.  Mrs. Bee is cooking dinner.  Sit on chair and watch her lovingly.

6 p.m.   Go back outside until dark.  Might find a few more rats for the ziplock collection.

8 p.m.  Go inside to listen to Little Miss Bee practice the piano.

9 p.m.  Lay on bed with Mrs. Bee until she goes to sleep.

10 p.m.  Go to sleep in my bed that Mrs. Bee made for me outside her door (because she thought me sleeping on the carpet might be uncomfortable).

Note:  Humans asleep from 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. so they have no idea what I do during this time.  It’s best to keep it that way.

6 a.m.  Start agenda all over again

On the fifth day…

We have a guest post today.  Sister Bee read my blog yesterday and offered up her side of the naming of the Queen.  I thought it was interesting that Earnie never shared the informational snack that it took her five days — in the hospital — to name me.  Here’s Sister Bee’s recollection….

Mrs. Bee,

What a nice little story about your name and the reflection on its meaning for you.  I am glad you like your name. Did Mama (my note:  it’s interesting how all the kids call Earnie something different — Mama for sister bee, Mom for the boys, and I prefer the more formal Queen speak — Mother) tell you that you did not have a name for 5 days?  The man who was in charge of filling out the birth certificate went to the hospital room every days for five days and Mama always said, “Come back tomorrow.”

At age 15, I had finally learned how to corral the boys so I bought a small paperback book with baby names and made them sit down at the kitchen table until we settled on a name.  I started with “A” and it was pretty funny all the comments I received from them.  They did, however, seem to like the idea of knowing what each name meant or stood for so by the time we got to the “M’s” they were really into it.  Day 5 and still we could not agree on anything but possibilities.  We knew we had to come up with something or you would be Mary Helen all your life.  We could not face it.

When we got to “Melissa — Honeybee” we knew we had found the perfect first name and so “on the fifth day” when the certificate man came to the hospital room he wrote “Melissa Kay Reeves.”  It was a good thing.  I am not responsible for “Kay.”  Mama did that one. 

I think I did a good job on your name and on finding Mr. Bee to pollinate your roses.  You have been our precious little bee ever since.


Sister Bee

Simple Gifts

Three weeks ago today, I clipped a sprig of Dusty Miller from my front flower bed.  I was inspired by a photograph I saw in the winter issue of Life Beautiful magazine.  It is a spritual, inspirational magazine.  Even if the content doesn’t interest you, the photography will.

What a simple, rather non-descript plant this is, but what a work-horse in the garden.  It doesn’t scream, “aren’t I lovely” when you walk by like my roses or hydrangeas do.  But, rather says I am the filler, the base to your centerpiece.  In fact they say you should have three things in your flower pot during the growing season — a filler, a spiller and a thriller.  Dusty is a filler.

Despite the 17 degree weather we’ve been experiencing it is still growing strong in my garden.  Even after three weeks in a bud vase on my end table, it still looks as fresh as it did the day I picked it.  It cost me nothing, and yet three weeks later it is still smiling up at me from my $4 vase I picked up in Frederickburg recently.

It is just one of the simple gifts that God gives me everyday, if I just stop long enough to enjoy it.   God is my filler, my work horse, my centerpiece.  If I let Him, he will make all my days easier and lovely.  I just have to choose to get out of His way.

It reminds me of the old Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” by Joseph Elder (made popular by Aaron Copland)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come round right.

The Happiness Project — February’s Well Read Bee

This month’s book pick is the The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin.  You can get a look inside at the book at http://www.amazon.com/.

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

What I like most about Gretchen’s book is that she designates each month to a specific area to work on to achieve happiness:

January — Boost Energy
February – Remember Love
March — Aim Higher
April — Lighten Up
May — Be Serious About Play
June — Make Time For Friends
July — Buy Some Happiness
August — Comtemplate the Heavens
September — Pursue a Passion
October — Pay Attention
November — Keep a Contented Heart
December — Boot Camp Perfect

Here’s a quote in her book from Robert Louis Stevenson that I think we should all try to remember —
“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.”