Tag Archives: origami

12 days and counting: Wedding day draws nigh

I've dabbled in origami for a couple of years now. My flowers will be among the décor at the Sept. 7 wedding of my youngest daughter, Natasha Jackson, to Kory Myrick.

I’ve dabbled in origami for a couple of years now. My flowers will be among the décor at the Sept. 7 wedding of my youngest daughter, Natasha Jackson, to Kory Myrick.

Flashback …

Kelly and I were married when we were still kids. I was two months away from my 19th birthday. We were too young. Got it.

But to have done it any differently? Would that mean no Kishia three years later? No Natasha two years after that? 30th anniversary before I was 50? There are things in my life I would have done differently, but nothing before the age of 40. (Except maybe that time my friend, Kenny, and I caught the railroad box car on fire. And maybe a few other things from those days.)

Does any couple truly understand what they’re getting into by getting hitched? No, but you can’t know. You can just know you’re supposed to and, ultimately, that decision is entered into and sealed by the couple. They are accountable to each other and God and — someday! — their children. (No pressure there, Kory and Tash, but this fella LOVES being a grandpa!)

Now let’s get on with the business of “How to wreck your marriage.”

Wrecking ball No. 4: Call 1-800-Mom-orDad.

You’ll see a lot of namby-pamby advice out there about making sure the groom has cut the umbilical cord to mom and that the bride steps away from being daddy’s shadow. Don’t believe it, because if your goal is to wreck your marriage — and this one is a slow, maybe even years-long process — involving the in-laws/parents inappropriately and not drawing clear boundaries about their efforts to steer your marriage and eventually raise your children for you is a no-brainer. (File away the “no-brainer” reference for a sec.)

How this wreck occurs is when bride and/or groom insist on using mom and/or dad to vent about the offending spouse. And this can happen very passively (another GREAT trait for marriage wreckage), as in bride/groom not actively complaining about the other to mom/dad, yet mom/dad might say, “Oh, you poor misunderstood boy/girl,” and the wedge drives a little deeper. Later, when the in-law mom/dad brings this up to the offending spouse, it will create great pain (a la “wreck”). And when offending spouse mentions that talking about her/him to your mom/dad was hurtful, you can blame your mom/dad (the in-laws – stay with me here), and apologize with, “I just wasn’t thinking.”

“I wasn’t thinking” is its own wrecking ball, at the ready for repeated use. Telling your spouse often enough that “I wasn’t thinking” will give him/her the clear signal that, in fact, you don’t think much about him/her. And when you defend mom/dad (instead of defending your spouse) by saying, “Oh, c’mon, mom/dad didn’t mean anything by it,” what you’re saying is that the in-laws don’t think much of or about him/her, either.

That’s a great way to wreck a marriage, and usually it’s a slow, methodical wreck. Might take years of practice. Give it a whirl!

This wrecking ball is basically spelled “F-A-M-I-L-Y,” because your new one will be messed up soon enough even without the deliberate or well-intended meddling of in-laws. But you want to be sure to remind your spouse that “our family has these special traditions at (insert name of holiday) that we always do.” There’s automatically a head-on crash, because both spouses can reference family traditions that are part of the fabric of their lives.

“Oh, honey, you’ll just love Uncle Merle. He’s the one with the hairy back. My family has played Twister with Uncle Merle every Christmas morning now for 83 years. He never wears a shirt. We love that silly goof-ball.”

“I was hoping we could spend Christmas with MY family. We do that thing every Christmas Eve and then eat deer organ meat and we all sleep on the floor together in the attic. I thought that after we got married you’d want to be with MY family. And what about Thanksgiving? I was thinking of having MY family here this year.”

It’s not just holidays when this thinking is popular. You can’t even begin to imagine all the wonderfully subtle ways this theme gets played out.

Keep feeding the “my family” theme that excludes your new spouse. Don’t for one second think of something as zany as starting your own family traditions, like instead of trying to keep track of who visited whom last Thanksgiving you do something silly like deciding that your family’s tradition — YOUR family, the two of you (and kids when they arrive) — will be to go to the Salvation Army to prepare and serve Thanksgiving to others as a demonstration of gratitude that your family — husband and wife and children — is incredibly blessed.

That would just be old-fashioned, kinda like that ancient Bible verse that says a man (not the woman) must leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. Old-fashioned. (As if those old sayings even had merit way back then).

Playlist …

Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” (and music video), simply one of the best songs ever.

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Forgetting to get dressed lately …

Colossians 3:12 – “… you must therefore clothe yourselves with … gentleness …”

Finding myself homebound, ailing and recuperating from pneumonia last week, offered ample opportunity to consume a portion of the programming on our DVR, but there are still: 62 episodes of “M*A*S*H”; 30 episodes of “Wild Kingdom” (side note: I interviewed my boyhood idol, Jim Fowler, back in ’98); “Barbecue University” (21 episodes); “The War” (10); “Nova” (13); “Haunted Highway” (10); and “The Boys in the Hall” (7). That’s just a smattering of the clutter – I mean, “information” – that I have DVR’d. And you can never watch “Mermaid: The Body Found” too many times.

There was also time to take stock of the other things that interest me, and if I’d had the energy and adequate stretches of consciousness, I would have lost myself in origami, an art that I’ve tinkered with but not yet mastered. Organizing notes and outlining long-term projects for the Tribune would have been another wise use of time. Better yet, I could have worked on finishing “Chasing the Devil” (unfinished novel No. 1, book two of trilogy) or “Gone” (unfinished novel No. 2, third part of trilogy), before National Novel Writing Month comes in November and I begin “Dixieland,” the sequel for the trilogy.

Oh, the things I could have done. I certainly had the time.

Instead, I convalesced and reflected, and even before I re-encountered that No. 1 pet peeve of my life – the Creasy Springs/Business Loop/West Boulevard roundabout ‑ it dawned on me during that time of reflection that somehow it IS possible to survive without a constant infusion of Diet Coke, and also that lately I have not been a gentle person. It really didn’t take Phil Schaefer saying so on Sunday at Christian Fellowship to convince me, but apparently he WAS speaking only to me: “Clothe yourselves with gentleness.” There are some other clothing requirements in there, too, like “patience” and “tender mercy,” but the one that stabbed me Sunday – and again later this week – was “gentleness.”

I’ve even been “snarky” with people lately. And I hate snarky. Apparently I’m good at it, but not proud of it. One of my first lines of defense is sarcasm. It’s a trait that rarely leads to productive dialogue and consensus. While I wrestle with the insecurities that make me need to be right and clever, I need to nip “snarky” in the bud.

Can’t be that and gentle at the same time.

Back in 2000-01, I spent most of the school year substitute teaching in Jefferson City and Blair Oaks. I worked the 4-to-midnight shift most of the time at the Jefferson City News Tribune, so I usually worked two or three days a week making a little extra dough as a public school sub. Please, please, don’t EVER make me sub again for middle school students! High school was okay, but what I especially enjoyed was the special needs classroom or grades K through 2.

One of my best experiences was subbing for the music teacher at Callaway Hills Elementary School in Holts Summit, where just inside the classroom door was a sign that said: “Before I say it, ask: Is it true? Is it nice? Is it necessary?”

Lately I’ve needed that reminder, and not so much in how I speak, but how I respond non-verbally and how I want to respond to the incredible imbeci … – I mean, people – who simply can’t grasp that roundabouts are NOT four-way stops, and that you’re supposed to yield to traffic already in the circle to your left.

Gentle. I’m working on it. If I’ve been anything less, don’t excuse me, but please – in your most gentle spirit – please forgive me.

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‘Mystified’

Countdown to Kianna

10, 9, 8, 7.

The due date for our first grandbaby, Kianna Allene Brown, is just one week away.

Kelly and I talk about impending grandparenthood many times a day. We communicate as well as we ever have. I don’t think we need any prodding to chat. At least I don’t need a nudge to get me to talk. But this Saturday morning, before sis-in-law, Jeannie, and her three boys arrived for a day-long and overnight visit – joined eventually by mom-to-be Kishia and Jeannie’s hub by, Eric – Kelly sat in the middle of our freshly-made bed, telling me she found the book, “Love Talk Starters.”

Her voice was playful. I rolled my eyes. She read the subtitle: “275 questions to get your conversations going.”

I rolled my eyes again.

“This will be fun!” she said with way too much glee for a Saturday morning that demanded our time to get ready for guests.

“If you could do one thing together and be guaranteed success, what would you do?”

It didn’t take me long to answer.

“You know how I try to get guest bloggers? We should be guest ‘pickers’ for the show American Pickers.”

Kelly agreed. We were really connecting; on the same page as it were.

“We’d be good at that!”

“Yeah,” I said. “Then we’d have our own show.”

This conversation-starting book was okay. Kelly read two or three more questions. We had more great conversations.

One more question. (Still 270 to go).

“Matthew Porter, the writer, said to his wife: ‘You do something to me – something that simply mystifies me.” Then the question: “What does your spouse to do mystify you?”

I didn’t hesitate.

“You always have one more ounce of energy, one more act of love. No matter how exhausted you might be, you have time for someone in crisis. And you still have time for me. Your capacity for compassion and empathy mystifies me.”

I know it was one of those “awwww!” answers, but I meant it. Rolled right off my tongue.

I was almost afraid, though, to hear her answer. So what mystifies my spouse the most about me?

“The way your mind works. I mean, like you wanted to learn origami. Where did that come from?”
It was a lovely moment. I wanted to say, “You’re mystified? I’ve got no idea why my mind works this way. I’m mystified!” That might have put a damper on things.

We’re four months away from our 30th anniversary, but we haven’t gotten tired of or used to each other. I think this concept of “mystified” is one of the sweetest spices that flavors our marriage every day.

Darnell's careful handwriting left an indelible message to Kianna on mom Kishia's belly. Photo by Sara McDaniel. Her website: http://belovedphotobyslm.com/

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #30

The verse on your mommy’s belly says it all. Kianna, you are not an accident or just some chemical or biological process. Your life has intentional purpose.

I’ve counted down the days until your birth because I’m just so excited. Excited to see my beautiful daughter be your wonderful mommy. Excited to see your daddy treasuring you like the miracle that he never dreamed he’d experience. Excited for your Grammy (Mrs. Grandpa) to tuck you into the place in her heart that has been waiting just for you. Waiting for Kianna.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that worldwide 361,000 babies are born every day. About 11,000 other babies will be born in the United States the same day you are born. That’s lots of babies.

But there’s only one Kianna. One life script just for you, different from the talents, traits and purpose of all those other babies.

I’ve been writing about your mommy’s pregnancy as if it’s a big deal because it is.

Kianna, YOU are a big deal.

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It was a great day to build a piano

Origami piano, from Baptist Hymnal, hymn 324, "We Would See Jesus." Saturday's paper-folding experiment. When I asked for origami instruction books for Christmas, I wasn't kidding.

And now for the rest of my 42 new year’s resolutions. (Parentheses mean it’s a repeat from 2011):
 
#23. Think. Filter. Speak.
 
#24. Sell 2 freelance articles. (This was No. 17 in 2011. I sold one).
 
#25. Avoid cliches, but keep thinking outside the box.
 
#26. Meet and interview a Holocaust survivor. (Related to #4, “Finish my novel ‘Gone’ “).
 
#27. Have 1,00o Twitter followers by year’s end. (350 to go).
 
#28. Take Kishia on a date. (30)
 
#29. Take Natasha on a date. (31)
 
#30. Take Darnell to a movie. (32)
 
#31. Give Kelly a monthly date night. Preferably with me, of course.
 
#32. See a bobcat in the wild. (34)
 
#33. Call Kishia once a week. With an option for a frequency less than “annoying.”
 
#34. Call Natasha once a week. See option listed above.
 
#35. Host a backyard campout for my buddies Bryson and Bryant.
 
#36. Kiss a duck. (35)
 
#37. Find and reassemble the nerdy journal I kept for every day of high school. (A work also known as “My Senior Drear.”)
 
#38. Repair the 18-55mm lens for my Canon Rebel digital camera. (My photo pals tell me that the lens rattling is not a good thing). Also: donations/contributions accepted to help make this resolution successful.
 
#39. Catch a king snake. Preferably a gentle prairie king snake. Speckled would be nice, too.
 
#40. Find an arrowhead.
 
#41. Become a “morning person.” (Don’t hold your breath on this one).
 
#42. Laugh at myself more than I laugh at others.
 
 

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