Friday, July 16, 2010

An UnSnowy Dog Picture. (Don’t Tell Snowy) And Irving Berlin.

becky with dog

Even if you haven’t seen this person lately, you may just catch a glimpse of her in the next day or two doing a Vlog (video blog) on Napkin Folding 101.

Stay tuned!


There are many things I love about my daughter. For one thing, she is mine. Flesh of my flesh. Person of my person. Heart of my heart.

I also love the fact that she adores words, she is quirky, creative and compassionate, and when she sends me e-mails she always puts in the title line, “Hello, mother dearest.”

But this past week I found yet a new reason to appreciate her! (As if I needed one.)

Manteo has been sponsoring an outdoor summer concert series with all sorts of excellent and varied presentations in the line up. And the best part about them? They’re free? (And after having just come up with a down payment on a house PLUS paying $5,000 in cancer bills, FREE is a lovely word.)

This past week, the presentation was called, “I Love A Piano: The Music of Irving Berlin.”

Now as a pianist and songwriter of many years (started both activities around the age of six) you can imagine how interested I was in attending the performance. Steve had something else going on that evening and so I cast my eye around the rest of the Smith household to see who else might be willing to accompany me.

Snowy? Not so much. He had naps and snacks filling every spare moment of his evening.

Nathan? Um. From all reports we’ve heard, he is currently living in Florida and probably won't be seen around the Smith house again until Thanksgiving. (Waaaah.)

Sarah? Hmmmm. Sarah is almost fifteen years old. She likes current music. Irving Berlin does NOT represent current music. Would my teen age daughter deign to accompany her middle-aged mom to an evening featuring the music of a guy who was born in 1888?

She would.

And she did.

And we had a fun evening together.

We walked across the beautiful lawn to the stage area . . .


. . . where I proceeded to skulk around the sound board for awhile. (It just brought back so many memories of the outdoor concerts we did during our fifteen years on the road.)


In the midst of my skulking, I was entranced when a sudden gust of wind blew away Mr. Sound Man’s Rain Protection Mechanism.


Happily, some intrepid Manteo-ers and vacationers helped him get everything back in place.


I loved seeing an imagine of a piano on the screen as soon as we walked in. . .


. . and seeing this dog all settled on his blanket, ready for a little dose of Berlin. (Somehow I doubt that Sir Snowy would have been so calm and obedient.)


I loved seeing people lined up to hear the music. . .


. . . and that the threatened rain stayed away.


I loved the flags on the wall.


. . . and the sense of community that is created when people gather to hear music that will never go out of style.





And I loved that I got to share it all with this young lady.


Note: Please try to ignore the fact that we were the only two people in the entire area who were sitting on folding chairs from a card table. Since we’re new to Manteo, we’re still working on some of the prerequisites of living here, one of which is that everyone seems to have lots of portable chairs to take with them to all of the outings and events. Thankfully, everyone was merciful to us as we dragged our tacky folding chairs in and out and did require that we leave the town. Or the state.

Thankful for small blessings . . .

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Other Smith Lady

If you would like a dash of writing from the other Smith lady today then run--don't walk--over to Sarah's Spot and read her wonderfully witty, lengthily long, and inspiringly informative write up about her week at Victory Junction Gang Camp last week.

And be sure to leave a comment so she'll be inspired to write again soon.

The Other, Other Smith Lady.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cancer Road. Comments on Your Comments.

Edited to add: Buff just e-mailed me the link where you can get the "Old Guys Rule" t-shirts. (There was a question about that in the comment section.) Here is it is! Thanks, Buff.

I know I haven’t talked much about my breast cancer journey recently so here’s a wee little update.

My next appointment with “Dr. Brings-Me-Pain” is on Monday; thankfully (as far I know), this should be a non-hurting appointment. From what I understand, he just wants me to come in every month until the exchange surgery so that he can be sure that everything is looking (and stretching) the way it should.

I’m planning to ask him if he’s able to be flexible in the scheduling of the surgery as far as moving it forward 2-3 weeks. (Among all surgeons, the average wait between the last saline fill and the exchange surgery seems to range between six weeks and four months.)

Obviously part of the reason for the delay is to let everything stretch that needs to be stretched, i.e., the skin and chest muscles. (And no, that is not such a fun process.)

In my case, the nurse said I was “ahead of the game” as far as having plenty of extra skin; as a result, it’s not really having to do much stretching. However, I am really aware of chest muscles stretching, especially when I lie down or turn over in bed; there’s a deep ache in that area which comes and goes at strange times. (Which I guess is a good thing; it means something is happening.)

Ideally I would love to have the surgery before Sarah goes back to school. Even though the replacement surgery recovery won’t be as difficult as the mastectomy recovery was, it would still be nice to have someone in the house with me for a few days afterwards to fluff my pillow, soothe my fevered brow and bring me chocolate bars. (And lots of pain killers.) Since I won’t be in bad enough shape to summon family members from afar, a little part-time nurse would be ideal.

So we’ll see. If the plastic surgeon is adamant about waiting the full three months (even though other surgeons wait half that long), I could always kick and scream and throw something to try to change his mind. Apart from that, however, I suppose I could always choose to capitulate. Or else, I could absquatulate! (See yesterday’s entry for your new vocabulary word.)

I’m a part of a wonderful discussion/information forum at a Breast Cancer site which has given me all sorts of helpful information about this complicated journey. A good number of the women on the site wrote that they really looked forward to the exchange surgery but then were depressed after it was done. I guess the surgery represents the finality of the whole process and reminds them 1) that their old breasts are truly gone forever and 2) their new breasts will never be able to take their place. It’s just another layer of the cancer grief that has to be worked through. Of course, other women aren’t depressed at all so maybe I’ll land in that group and be known as the “The Happy Post Exchange Lady!”

On a humorous note, I read on the site about a t-shirt some of the ladies wear that says, “Yeah, these are fake. The real ones tried to kill me!”

Gotta keep a sense of humor!


Questions and Answers From the Comment Section:

Anonymous asked, “What is Snowy’s middle name?”

Okay, you all have to promise not to laugh at this answer. His middle name is, er, Studmuffin.


Well, it’s not actually on his birth certificate, but it is the name our family chose when he was handed to us as an 8-week old ball of fluffy, white cuteness. Snowy Studmuffin Smith. It just suits him, doesn’t it?

Anonymous asked, “Where did you get Steve’s 'Legend In His Own Mind' shirt?"

Actually, I don’t know the answer to that question since the shirt was a gift. I just know it was from a shop here on the Outer Banks.

Jodi asked, “Will a visit with Victoria be happening this summer?”

Since the girls now live 6 1/2 hours apart instead of 3 1/2 hours, visits have gotten a bit more complicated. The two girls would love to see each other, though!

Randee said she just realized we lived near a family whose blog she follows, Confessions of a CF husband.

Randee, yup, we are indeed about five or six miles away from them. We met Nathan and Trish a few weeks ago and they are as wonderful in person as they are on their blog.

Lesley asked, “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Hmmm. I don’t really have a favorite. I guess I would have to say that anything with texture or “chunks” would be high on my list. I love butter pecan, or ice cream with bits of Heath bar mixed in or any other sort of chewy, chocolate-y addition. Just plain, smooth, creamy ice cream is not something I like. (And if you want to hear something strange, I sometimes break up saltine crackers and stir them into plain ice cream. Salty, crunchy and smooth—all in one dish. Yum.)

Stacy asked, "Does Sarah like to cook dinner other than desserts?"

At this point, she’s pretty limited in that area. (And that’s my fault; I need to get a Cooking School going here at the Smith House.)

She has made Pigs in a Blanket (with hot dogs and crescent rolls) and various Hamburger Helper dishes. She’s also very good with getting a meal together if I have a pre-made casserole in the fridge. A couple times when I got home late from a doctor appointment, I called her and she got the casserole in the oven, cut up some fruit, made a vegetable, set out some bread and had everything on the table when I got home.

However, in the interest of making her future husband a happy guy, I do need to start some more intensive cooking training.

Mary H. asked, What classes did Sarah choose for her freshman year?

So far, the only thing that’s different from last year is that she added Chorus to her line up. However, her selections aren’t yet finalized. We’re still waiting on the results of her neuropsych testing since the person who grades the test was out of the country a few weeks. When we receive those results, we’ll have a better idea of which direction to head academically. At this point, her 8th grade teachers have actually recommended that she take several Honors courses in 9th grade; I’m a bit leery of her doing that for her first year in High School but we’ll see!

And as far as the other Smith Sibling goes, I had a couple questions about Nathan:

MN Mom asked, “How is Nathan doing?”

Mary H. asked, “When is Nathan coming back to visit?”

Nathan is doing well although he still hasn’t found a summer job. (Thankfully, he does have a job lined up when the school year starts.)

This job thing is actually starting to get a little bit ridiculous; the poor guy is halfway through July already! He’s had several interviews in the past few days and is just waiting on answers.

I think what may need to happen is that his mom might just need to drive to Florida, knock a few employer heads together and say, “Look. Just what IS your problem, dude? (or dude-ess.) This kid is the best employee you will ever have and if you don’t hire him immediately then I will, um, I will . . . .”

Hmmm. It seems as though my knowledge and usage of scary threats is just a tad rusty . . . maybe I’ll just let Nathan do his own thing. Without me. Sniff.

As far as when he’s coming back to visit, it might be a while. Once he does get a job, he’ll probably need to work it right up till the time school starts in mid- August. So it could be that the next time we lay eyes on the College Dude might be Thanksgiving. Which would mean a 7-month period of time without seeing him. Which is the longest I’ve ever gone! Which I may not be able to survive!

He turns twenty-one on September 18, but since we have the choice of either giving him a generous gift for that big birthday or traveling down to FL to see him, we’ll probably opt for the generous gift and just stay home and send him happy birthday thoughts in absentia.

You know what?

It’s really tough when a kid grows up and turns twenty-one and can’t come home and has his own life and a girlfriend and a job and college classes and friends and responsibility and car payments and, um, a real life.

But you know what? It’s also really wonderful when a kid grows up and does all those things because it means that we’ve done an okay job of getting him to this point in life and he’s finding independence and stretching his wings and getting ready to be a real grown up and make me even prouder of him than I already am.

So. That’s the Nathan Scoop. And just because I’m writing about him, I thought I’d share a couple of vintage pictures of him and me before a special event at his High School.

Before getting ready to go.




And here is the mom of the College Dude (who was, at that time, the High School Dude) letting said Dude know that at any time and in any place, he should never forget that she can take. him. down.

Or not.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Truck-ish Sort of Thing. Absquatulating.

This morning, Steve and I rode our bikes along this lovely trail.

IMG_4946 IMG_4947

As we were happily ridin’, talkin’, and sweatin,’ a vehicle went by and honked at us. A lot of times, our parishoners will pass by and honk or wave and so Steve said, “Who was that?”

I said, “I’m not sure. They honked after they were almost past.”

Steve said, “Well, what kind of vehicle were they driving?” (Let me just mention that Steve is highly gifted at matching up parishoners with their vehicles. Me? The only time I would notice what they drove was if they arrived at church on a donkey.)

In answer to his question I said, “Well, I don’t know exactly what they were driving. It was, um, sort of a, um, truck-ish sort of thing.”

A truck-ish sort of thing? Does that sound like a female description of a vehicle, or what?

Now we all know what details would have been involved if the conversation had been reversed. In fact, just for the fun of it, let’s reverse the conversation right here and now. It’s my blog—I can engage if Convoluted Conversation Reversals if I want to!

So here we go . . . .

Becky: Steve, what kind of vehicle just went by?”

Steve: “Well, it was a red Ford, 4x4 with a lift kit, dual exhausts and headers, a bed liner, running boards, off road tires, and a winch.

So! Which answer do you prefer? That answer or the “truck-ish sort of thing” answer?

In my defense, I think that my answer was elegant in its simplicity, straight to the point and phrased in feminine language. It was stated quickly and was efficient in the way it communicated the facts without any extra verbal baggage.

In other words? It said absolutely nothing.

Sigh. When I grow up, I want to be like Steve.


In my next post, I’ll be answering a number of questions which have piled up in the comments area and will also let you know what’s going on with me on the cancer journey.

In the meantime, I’ve got a frightfully busy day ahead so I guess I shall vamoose! (Which sounds like a lot more fun than just plain ol’ leaving.)

Well, actually, speaking of words . . . Steve and Sarah’s and my favorite word for leaving is “to absquatulate.” Isn’t that absolutely wonderful? (Here’s the non-official pronunciation: ab-squat-choo-late.)

So today when you leave work or your house, instead of saying, “I’m leaving now," say, “I’m going to absquatulate.”

Go ahead. I dare you!

If you do it, you will hereby become an Honorary Smith!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Snowy The Decorator

Have you ever tried to pick a carpet color when there are endless acres of carpet colors to choose from?IMG_5960

Have you ever tried to decide on just one paint color when you can’t even manage to narrow your choices down to fifty?IMG_5857

Well, that’s where we’ve been lately. Thinking about choices. Too many choices. And the more choices we’ve looked at, the more overwhelmed we’ve become.

Don’t the two of them look overwhelmed?IMG_5885

And so, being the wise (not to mention smart) family that we are, we did the only possible thing we could do under the circumstances. We called in a professional. A carpet and paint professional who was already on site. A professional named Snowy.

Well, actually, if the truth be known, Snowy sort of called himself in. He just got rather tired of sitting on his sister's lap and watching his own personal humans run around in a dither of doubt, dismay and indecision. So he got right up, strolled on over and humbly inquired, “May I possibly be of service?”


And just so that we would be convinced that he truly was a highly trained professional, he proffered his card. Who could argue with such a polished presentation?card use4

Since we never turn down good help, Steve was quick to ask his opinion.

“Snowy, which paint color looks the best?”IMG_5876

Snowy was about to answer when he noticed that there were paparazzi lurking in the room, trying to get a glimpse of the rare phenomenon known as the Decorating Dog. Before proffering his considered opinion to the man of the house, he glared at the camera with his best “You are bothering the important person" look.


And then with that small detail taken care of, he got down to work. Because you see, Snowy knows something about decorating that we human beings don’t understand. He knows that you don’t just make selections based on what you see—you make selections based on what you smell. (This one technique alone has the power to totally transform the decorating world.)


When Snowy had sniffed sufficiently, he then went on to the next step of his decorating technique which he humbly calls, “The Official Turning in a Circle Around the Color Wheel Maneuver.”

And why does he do this strange thing? Well, here’s the deal.

His movements reflect the shape of the color wheel and when he turns himself clockwise and then counterclockwise around the wheel, the essence of the colors make their way into the atmosphere and then into his (very small) brain and he is then able to discern from the path of the colors and the aura of the pigmentation encapsulated in the color wheel which of the correct colors are to be chosen. (Or at least that’s how he explained it to me.)


After the Circling Ceremony had ended, Snowy decided that he was working way too hard and was coming perilously close to the end of his Doggie Decorating Endurance. And so it seemed that a good, hearty yawn was in order. (Obviously, his mother never taught him to cover his mouth while yawning.)


And then suddenly, in the placid post-yawning moments that followed, something very important occurred to Snowy. Since he is a pastor’s dog, he has heard many times about asking God for wisdom when one doesn’t know which way to turn. And Snowy thought that maybe the time had come to ask for a little extra wisdom. So he did.


And then, as inspiration struck, he looked up! He just knew the answer was close by, even right there in the very room!


He looked to his left.IMG_5930

He looked to his right.IMG_5934

He cast a glance behind him.IMG_5942

He sat very still and pondered all the things that needed pondering.IMG_5945

And then he plopped down near the previously encircled color wheel and asked, “Isn’t it about time for lunch?”


The End.