Oath Taking

Life changes a lot over sixteen years, and I have changed with the living of it. My world has lost some lives…and gained some. I have added three souls to this world. I have uprooted my world, took leaps of faith, and found the bits of myself I thought I’d lost. Through it all, the one constant was family.

imageSixteen years ago today, the only thing that held the cold autumn breeze at bay was the heavy layers of satin and lace that I wore. Feeling more like a young girl playing dress-up than a fairy princess or a young bride, I moved through the day cloaked in unreality. (Perhaps that, too, kept away the cold.) Our guests had no such protection and huddled in small chattering groups as they tried to keep warm. The pristine white betrothal tent was carpeted with the fading grass of summer and a generous sprinkling of crisp fall leaves; the day was divided between seasons with one foot in each. And, with all eyes on me, I felt much the same as the piper’s drone announced my arrival: one foot leaving behind those years of Just Me, and one foot posed on the brink of Us. In the sea of faces, I found the only one that mattered at that moment, and I focused on the man that I had long loved. Still clutching my father’s arm I moved forward. The walk that day was short, although the journey was long. The piper played on as my father walked me towards my future and, as the last note hovered in the breeze, I felt him let go. For a moment, one last fleeting-yet-impossibly-long-moment, I stood alone. And then Travis was there, taking my hand, leading me forward.

imageWe stood together before witnesses and, shivering with something quite unrelated to the brisk chill, clung to one another. With hands bound together with a length of tartan, and with no idea what Life would bring, we bound our lives together. The vows we shared, that oath we took, were words full of Hope and Love; but still, for all of their sincerity, the words were untested. For what did we know then of loss and hardship and fear?

All these years later, they have most definitely been tested; all of these years later, I love him even more.

Life changes a lot over sixteen years, and I have changed with the living of it. What has not changed is the unwavering belief that love is a choice, and that an oath is not to be taken lightly. So, whatever the next sixteen years bring, and whatever Life tests us with…I choose Love.

imageThis is my promise. This is my vow.

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After #Outlander

With Outlander now on hiatus, there are hours to fill. Long, hot, Oklahoma-summery hours. With hours and hours without school to help occupy the children.

So. Much. Time.

Yes, yes, I know there are always 24 hours in a day, but there is something about the heat that makes the days drag. Some days it seems that all I do is make the sweaty commutes to and from work…and try to convince my children that cleaning their rooms is a good way to alleviate boredom. (No, they never, ever believe me—but I try.)

This year, however, I was inspired. Inspired (as in so many things) by reading Outlander. Inspired, also, by the fact that Hubs survived The Widow Maker.

As a result, I wanted this summer to be Something More. I wanted it to be Memorable.

So, I planted more flowers than usual…

Purple Cone Flower
Purple Cone Flower

…and more vegetables.

(Peas, tomatoes, string beans, black beans, jalapenos, leeks, and onions.)

…and more fruit. (I planted a crabapple tree, two apple trees, a raspberry bush, a blueberry bush, two blackberry bushes, and two elderberry bushes. We added a second grape vine (with plans to add two more).

Apples!
Apples!

And I planted plenty of herbs (five varieties of lavender, three varieties of rosemary, curry, two kinds of sage, four kinds of thyme, cilantro, parsley, horehound, ten kinds of mint, dill, three kinds of oregano, three kinds of basil, a couple of stevia plants, tarragon, chives, bergamot, wild ginger, ginseng, chamomile, calendula, lemon verbena, lemon grass…I know I am forgetting something…)

We like mint, don't judge.
We like mint, don’t judge.

And I planted flowers. Lots of flowers.

Borage
Borage
image
Lots of purple flowers.
image
Chamomile and more purple flowers.

And, last weekend…

(insert drumroll here!)…

Cluck!
Cluck!

…we added four chickens to our bramble of a backyard.* Three Buff Orpingtons and one Bar Rock. (I am looking to add a couple of more asap, because apparently there is a thing called “chicken math” where you plan to get three chickens, come home with four, and immediately add two more. Fortunately I am much better at this “chicken math” than “new math.”)

I spent Friday night putting together the coop while Hubs was at work (I might have forgotten to tell him that I was finally going through with all this! Oops! Surprise, honey!).

Coop in the daylight.
Coop in the daylight.

My dad was kind enough to help put together the coop. As daylight gave way to dusk, we kept hammering and piecing things together. It felt good…and productive…so nice for something to make sense again. Before long, we were building by moonlight. I broke the silence to ask my dad if a chicken coop built in the moonlight was somehow lucky. (After the stress and drama of this year, I will take my luck where I can find it.) I could hear the smile in his voice when he answered, “Yes. You’ll be lucky if this coop stays together.”

I laughed like I hadn’t laughed in ages. And it felt good.

It had been a while since I laughed. Laughing felt like tempting fate. I didn’t want to mess with her…she was a bitch! So I had stayed quiet. I had kept my head down. I didn’t want to look too far ahead.

When Hubs was in the hospital, the books were my refuge. I read them, and re-read them. They were my touchstone. They reminded me that True Love was hard and scary…but that it was worth fighting for, worth sacrificing for, and that gave me hope.

I read about the potatoes in Jenny’s root cellar, and I read about Claire’s garden and her wee herbs. I had always loved herbs. As a teen, my room was filled with books about herbs and their uses. I saved money to buy herbs…much like a “normal” teenage girl might buy clothes.

But somewhere along the way, there was not enough time, or space, or money, or…something. Somewhere along the way, I let it slip away from me. Reading the books reminded me of how many things that I loved and let go. And when Hubs had his heart attack, it reminded me that life was too damned short and unpredictable to put things off.

So I bought chickens. Because, I gotta tell you, chickens are friggin’ cute.

We named them all after Scottish clans...one *might* be named Fraser.
We named them all after Scottish clans…one *might* be named Fraser.

Yes, I bought chickens. And I planted herbs, and vegetables, and fruit. I started to study Gaelic, and I researched my genealogy, and I listened to bagpipe music while I watered the plants.

So while Outlander is on hiatus, I will not fret over Droughtlander or obsess about every snippet of series information that ripples across the internet (although I really AM looking forward to seeing Season 2!).

Instead, I will enjoy my summer…the summer that Outlander inspired.

Slàinte
Sláinte mhath.

* Yes, I know that Jamie said that “Chickens make verra poor company.” But he and I do not agree on everything. For example, I am in the “Claire camp” when it comes to neck kisses. Just sayin.’

Moving Forward/Looking Back

The past three months have been…trying.  Hospitals, urgent care, heart attack (Hubs), collapsing at work/wonky heart rhythm (me), strep throat on Mother’s Day (mid-kid), flooding front yard (thanks, Oklahoma weather), exploding light fixtures (no, dear husband, the house is NOT cursed), and a pile of medical bills high enough to serve as a decent sized step ladder.  Yep…let’s go with “trying.”

For a few days there, I seriously felt like I had been attacked by Dementors…or like my mojo went MIA.  I felt more than a little lost.  I am normally not That Person.  I tend to be pukingly positive, annoying optimistic, certifiably content…well, you get the idea.  But, for a bit, I wasn’t.  I felt rather…stuck…like I couldn’t quite get the energy to move forward.  Because, to be honest, forward was scary.  Forward was Unknown.  It might well hold more medical maladies, and it would certainly contain more bills and less money.  Never a good combination.  So, I sought refuge where I could.

I worked in the garden whenever weather allowed.  (For those keeping track, we have about twenty tomatoes and many more flowering, the peas are also blossoming—my daughter forbid me from saying that “the peas are pea-ing”—and the herbs are all growing like crazy.)  And when the rain was too heavy, the soil too sodden, I read.

I found an amazing site called Better World Books that has really inexpensive used books, and which makes donations to literacy programs when you make a purchase.  I found some books on Scottish history.  These books supplemented my obsessive Outlander re-re-re-re-reading.

I also randomly Googled my great-grandmother’s surname.  When I first got into genealogy, there was no internet (I know, I know, THIS is how old I really am!), and I could research other branches of my ancestry easier, so the lineage that I was most interested in was woefully neglected.  Now, though, INTERNET MAGIC happened.  I found ALL of the information!  Needless to say, there was much frantic printing, downloading, pdf-ing, and obsessive reading.

The Ulster Scot connection that I had heard of was suddenly explained, with extensive footnotes and hyperlinks, God bless them!  I read about Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg and Antrim, and Clann Dhomhnuill, and Aonghas Mór MacDomhnaill.  I turned page after page and went back further and further.

mcdonnell_antrim
“Always Ready”

According to all accounts, my ancestors were cunning, and strong, and willful.  Right about now, I thought, I could use a bit of strength and strong fill.  Not sure about the cunning thing, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, right?  Intrigued, I read on.

A fair few of them ended up hanged, and exiled, and martyred.  Sign of the times and all.  A pile of medical bills seemed like fair trade for not being drawn and quartered for some imagined offense.

I have always been drawn to All Things Scottish (no, not just the whisky).  I have a theory that it comes from ancestral memory passed down through DNA.  I read an article earlier this week about how phobias might be “inherited” from our ancestors. Some of the things I discovered in the historical documents definitely strengthened my musings that perhaps these things that I am drawn to have a familial/historical connection.

My foray into the past has also made me feel…steadier.  Revisiting my roots has made me feel more grounded, stronger, more certain.  If I come from a people who can survive all of THAT, what the hell am I fussing about this?

Looking back, I can see that it is time to move forward.