Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Critical Mission - Class 2012 Yearling Winter Weekend

Everyone who know anything about West Point is very familiar with the 'Gloom Period'. It's the time after Winter Leave until spring when everything is gray...the stone walls, the uniforms, the weather, the trees, the river...

the attitudes.

In an institution of higher learning where cadets can major in everything from Engineering to Defense and Strategic Study...

all cadets minor in Complaining.

Enter West Point Class of 2012 Yearling Winter Weekend. A bright, shining jewel of freedom in the sea of gray gloom. Add a hometown GF to the mix and life becomes worth living again...if only for a short while.

Meanwhile...back at Hillcrest Cottage on Thursday p.m....the Kinleystead is gearing up for a good ol' Southern ice storm complete with the frantic grocery store rush to procure standard Velveeta and Rotel provisions.

A text from the University three hours north arrives while I am weaving my grocery cart amidst wild shoppers imagining themselves snowed in for days to come:

Class is canceled

Time to hunker down and prepare because the storm is headed our way. GF from the University 30 miles away is invited to spend the night at Hillcrest Cottage and a promise is made to anxious Cadet that the very important GF will be personally escorted to the airport securely. This is no time for Murphy to rear his ugly head!

0430 The alarm clock announces the day
0455 Road Inspection and all is clear. Parental Escort Mission downgraded from critical to formality. Expedition is ignited for de-icing and heat for the airport run.
0500 GF check.

"Are we awake and on schedule for 515 departure?"

(Enter Murphy, the despised antagonist.)

"My flight has been canceled and rescheduled for 12:30 (1230)"

It will only be worse at 12:30 was my initial feeling, and we scrambled to think of alternative plans. With the weather heading due east toward her Memphis connecting flight, Dallas seemed to be the best city from which to deliver the very important GF package. But, alas, no openings available!

0610 A sudden realization that the Expedition is still running in the driveway! Very de-iced and very warm. An are-you-crazy look from Jeff...oh, well.

0630 The decision is made to go on to the airport before the roads get worse.

0930 Little Rock National is closed for the day...possibly tomorrow, too.

1000 Directives from Kinleystead Headquarters: Book a flight out of Dallas. Against the advisement from the ticket agent, Shreveport (3 1/2 hours south) was suggested as an alternate choice. "Book it!" was the order from Cadet Mom who has determined that nothing is going to stop the GF from getting to the West Point Yearling!

1030 to 1500 An uneventful, but slower-than-usual drive to Louisiana for the 1745 departure to Dallas with a 2400 ETA at LaGuardia.

1146 Cadet Text from West Point: thanks so much mom i love you!!!

Mom Points...YES!

1500 Arrival at Shreveport Regional with a heart-stopping glitch in the agenda when GF is informed her flight is overbooked. An airline change accommodates her with an earlier flight and earlier arrival in NYC...whew. With all found to be well, the Expedition begins the return trip.

1549 GF Text from Shreveport: i just boarded my first plane

Meanwhile, the Expedition tries to make good time while there's daylight and the roads are clear. I look like I rolled out of bed at 0430, complete with bedhead and blood-shot eyes. I've had a cup of coffee and a BK cheeseburger, but knowing the roads ahead are going to be icy makes hunger and vanity fall by the wayside.

And, all goes well. I make good time. My ETA at home is 1900, and while I'm thinking about the cheese dip at Hillcrest Cottage, I'm entertaing myself with a CD found buried beneath the Expedition console's heap of random junk.

1714 GF Text from DFW: just got to my gate! ive got my boarding pass.

Dark comes for the Expedition.

1810 GF Text from DFW: they said well be boarding in ten minutes :)

The closer I get to home, the more the snow and sleet pelts my windshield. It becomes difficult to distinguish between wet pavement and ice, so my 60 mph is reduced to 30 mph. Then, the interstate quickly, like someone drew a line over the road, turns into a sheet of solid ice. Cars have skidded off the road, police lights are flashing, truckers are coming to a standstill. The Expedition is sliding down the road at a zero mph that seems much faster because I have no control at all.

Suddenly, the upcoming exit looks very good to me, and I know I just can't go any further. I should have gotten gas before this event, my phone is down to one bar with no car charger. Everything is closed, and I am picturing a very cold night alone in my car.

I exit very cautiously off the interstate and into the first parking lot. A beacon of hope, lights, and a gathering of cars appears outside a Target store ahead. People are walking in and out. It's the only thing open for miles around, and I am very thankful!

So, I meet some truckers from Canada and Texas. We drink coffee together in the Target Starbucks. I sit at the counter and watch the Target parking lot begin to fill up with 18-wheelers.

With one bar left, I call Kinleystead headquarters.

Before I can even drink my coffee and read the magazines I had just purchased, my heroes in the Jeep have navigated the 30 miles from home and are in the Target parking lot.

I wish my trucker friends a good evening.

2130 I am found eating cheese dip in Hillcrest Cottage's kitchen!

2216 GF text from NYC: I made it! we're in a taxi

With the arrival of the evening's last text message, all the events of the day faded quickly away.

The bright, shining jewel of my cadet's gray existence has appeared for him. I thank God for my I-don't-accept-no-for-an-answer personality, for His making our paths smooth-er all day, for cheese dip in a warm cottage, and for a late night walk in the snow with Davis and Mac the Labradoodle.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jesus Knocked on My Door

The older I get, the fewer older people there are in my life. (This thought is not nanotech)
Seems like there was a good part of life spent trying to break free of my elders' rule upon me...a natural desire for independence. But when the point came where the older ones have become fewer and fewer, there has also arrived, a sudden desire to hang onto inviting any input and wisdom from someone...anyone...older and wiser than me.

I find myself thinking, Surely, I can't be the one person in my life who can advise me on this.

Scary being the smartest lab partner in chemistry class...not good.

And it's so much more than missing the $5 checks on my birthday from all my great aunts who are no more.

(I love the auntly system of gift giving! Every niece/nephew was allotted a portion for Birthdays and Xmas, the next generation received the first amount divided by however many siblings there were, and, as in my case, my children received my portion divided by 3. There was never any cost-of-living increase. The amount was fixed straight until the great aunts 'passings'.)

No more $5 checks.

Saturday morning Jesus knocked on my door...well, He actually rang the doorbell.

He came in the body of an 85 year old saint who believes God with great faith and works diligently in prayer. The Holy Spirit brought our family to her mind, and she is so tuned into God that when people come to mind, she prays. After she prays, she will usually drop an encouraging note in the mail. But, on this day, she felt like the mail was entirely too slow, so she stopped by to drop the note through Hillcrest Cottage's postal slot.

I'm glad I was home.

In she came, like a fireball from heaven. After we had briefly visited in Hillcrest Cottage's front hallway, she grabbed both of my hands and prayed a prayer that will take me through many a discouraging day.

I know God was listening.

I was listening...taking in every word she spoke as if Jesus Himself were speaking to me. Because I, sadly, don't have very many older people in my life anymore and when an 85 year old saint knocks on my door on a random Saturday morning to deliver encouraging words from heaven...

I listen.

She encouraged me to not grow weary in doing good. Oh...I needed to hear those words on this random Saturday morning in January.

Galatians: 6:9:

"And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary."

On an entirely different note...just wanted to share this pic I just received from July 09. Remember, "I am Film." This has been in my camera for the past 6 months. I love it because I rarely get to see the face of my Stuart...usually covered by hair...and I wanted to share how awesome they both are! Stuart is looking more and more like his dad...the summer of '79 when we met on the beach...very weird.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


The Dilemma Every West Point Cadet Faces...Torn Between Two Worlds...Home and the Mission. But the Mission Won...Now He is Gone.

My West Point Cadet's very anticipated times at Hillcrest Cottage are often like a swirling tornado. They come with great force, excitement, and activity. The olive drab satchel explodes open with the smell of stinky socks and laundry pleading to dive into the washer. The uniforms are happily tossed in the corner as well-worn jeans and flannel shirts are embraced for their familiarity, sense of home, and...

a desire for normalcy.

The activity level ramps up significantly with parties, dinners, fire pit evenings, and lots of coming and goings long into the early morning hours. If the Kinleystead food is good, he will come, so there's also lots of extra cooking.

My sleep schedule is altered to catch a cadet hope that a 2:00 a.m. convo could happen in the kitchen (and it did).

"Mama," he told me in the midst of a bear-hug, "I love it here. I wish I could stay. I don't want to go back."

I make advance reservations with him on the calendar. Can we have this night and this night? He usually complies.We had Christmas, he dutifully donned his uniform to attend the All Academies banquet, and the Last Night included a competitive family Monopoly game.

At 4:45 a.m. the alarm sounded this morning, a misplaced wallet scare (the ONE thing he can not forget when flying!), a breakfast waive, a wanting to stay but a needing to leave, and the dash to the airport.


Lots of debris left in the wake. Lots of silence where there was once noise.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 Year in Review

One of the things I enjoy doing at year's end is the annual review of my very well-worn calendar with all its red ink and black x's, physical proof of time's passage. I like to go month-by-month jotting down the highlights. I keep it very simple, just a few words to stimulate the memory. The calendar tells only a portion of my life's story in a very event-oriented way. I find that some months are blank...even though I know the days were filled to the brim and overflowing with life's constant busy-ness.

Here's the message: Life is very ordinary...punctuated by events. I can't live from event to event. I must learn to find true life in the simple, the ordinary, the daily.

January - Dance Lessons (Monika from Austria with the Schwarzenegger accent)

February - Converge 09 (Our Student Ministry's Winter Retreat)
VintageNxt (Our Church) had 2 Baptisms...thankfully not killing them as they were
performed outside in 30 degree temps!

March - West Point Plebe Parent Weekend 2009
Stuart Turned 18

April - Blank...I know stuff happened, but, obviously, nothing calendar-significant

May - Jeff turned 50
Clayton turned 20, Finished his Plebe year & Headed to Airborne School
Stuart went on his Senior Trip & Graduated from High School

June - Stuart & Parents Attended U of A Freshman Orientation
The Whole Fam Attended Airborne Graduation & Vacationed with Clayton for 5
Days in South Carolina with Jeff's Family

July - Florida for 5 Days
Driving, Driving, Driving with Davis
Clayton had 28 Days Leave
4 More VintageNxt Baptisms

August - Davis Turned 16, Passed His Driving Test, Took Possession of the Jeep
Clayton Returned to West Point
Stuart Began College
I Turned 50
Pepper the Black Cocker Spaniel Died
All of the One Week's Time

Sept. - Football Season Began
Imagine Student Ministry Began Its 5th Year

October - More Football
West Point Weekend Visit
Hillcrest Cottage Art Show

Nov. - VintageNxt Celebrated 4 Years
Football Team Went to Second Round Play-Offs
Hillcrest Cottage Opened an Etsy Store
Stuart Came Home for Thanksgiving Break

December- Stuart Finished His First Semester with Stellar Grades
Clayton & Stuart were Both Home for Christmas!!!

And, now...onto 2010:

New Year's Resolutions ( I Love Them...Even If They Rarely Last!)
1. Learn a New Word a Day.
Yesterday my word was "Sycophant". Today it is "Meticulous" (Which I already know, so I'm ahead already and get an extra day to include "sycophant" in my vocabulary! So far, this resolution is going well!)
2. Organize My Attic and Closets.
(This is a carry-over from 2009, but I am still determined.)
3. Get a Dog-Sister for Mac the Labradoodle.
4. Grow My Etsy Store.
5. Walk 3 to 5 Times per Week (2 to 3 miles)...Notice I'm NOT Vowing to Lose Weight...
Exercising Regularly will Take Care of That Problem!
6. Read 10 Books (I'm up to 1 1/2 so Far)

I'm gonna call it "20-10" (Not Two Thousand & Ten) I'm just getting that out there in the beginning.
Happy New Year!