Thief of Hearts

by Jennifer on February 14, 2015

20150213_205509 When Matthew was born and for a couple years subsequently we wrote a lot about his struggle through 3 heart surgeries. Here’s a snapshot of Matthew now, after he came to stay with me last night. We took him to a Mardi Gras parade in Orange Beach, AL – which is as tame as parades get and so perfect for kids (and snow birds, apparently!).

This little guy is so awesome. He walked around waving, smiling and announcing “Happy Mardi Gras!” to everyone he passed. To the ladies he’d announce: “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Then at one point he looked me right in the eyes and said: “You are special!” After a positive reaction from me he added this to his repertoire for others.

It was fascinating to watch as people just melted before him, in the presence of his big smile and endless exuberance. It was a bit like watching a crowd do “the wave” as we walked down the street. People standing, staring, lost in thought, concern and worries about whatever, waiting for a parade to pass before them and throw some trinkets. Then out of nowhere comes this sweet little voice, drifting into their ears spreading well-wishes and you could watch it move, like it was a tangible thing – recognition of something different, heads turning as they seek to identify the source, involuntary smiles lighting up their faces as they are pulled unwittingly into “the now” by this gregarious 4 year old. Without time to think about it, they do their best to engage him, not realizing what they want is to hold on to this feeling, this moment, when this little guy reached into their heart and effortlessly squeezed a little love from it, and then replaced it with pure joy, the joy that is simply – being human, and seeing in that sweet face, all the goodness that is in you reflected right back for you to clearly see.

For a kid born with half a heart, he certainly has mastered the art of stealing them from others everywhere he goes. On this day of love, it’s worth noting the half of his heart that functions is bigger and more full than most of ours with both sides functioning. We are so blessed to have this child in our lives. Matthew – YOU, my little buddy, are SPECIAL! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Blowing Away The Cobwebs

by Jennifer on January 12, 2015

Orange Beach SunriseNothing like a 2 year writing hiatus, while MFN sits and collects some dust and a few cobwebs. Since the blog has emerged in conversation recently and seems to keep coming up I’ve found myself writing in my head again. This is where posts are born. I’m humming along, doing my thing (biking, kayaking, cooking, cleaning, showering, etc.) and suddenly words are being formed in my head and I’m forced to stop what I’m doing and capture them (or not, and allow them to vanish).

This hasn’t happened much the last couple years, as I’ve been in major transition. If you read my last post you know old Leon found me while I was looking at a house for sale on the Alabama gulf coast. Subsequently, I found a lovely home in one of my favorite little towns on Pleasure Island, about 30 miles from my encounter with Mr. N-U-L-L.

I bought said home and left Knoxville (and yes, the good man I married, from whom I’m happy to say I had the most amicable parting in the history of divorce – a testament to two people who truly loved each other but just weren’t compatible for the long haul), and spent the last couple years settling into my new city, which likes to refer to itself as “A quaint little drinking town with a fishing problem” (though I don’t think we have the monopoly on that description).

It’s been an interesting couple of years, filled with some of the highest highs and the lowest lows I’ve experienced thus far in my life. Oddly the biggest extreme between hitting the low and subsequently reaching the high was amazingly short. I attribute this to a number of things, not the least of which was finally asking for help when I needed it. To that end I’d be remiss not to give a shout out to my dear friend Wendy, who heard that request and responded in spades.  As did many others (all of whom I hope will forgive my omitting their names here – you know who you are and I love and thank you all).

Additionally, finding a fun, amazing, eclectic and very accepting group of locals has been like discovering an oasis in the desert. Not to knock Knoxville, because I know many people are happy there, but in 7 years I’m not sure I managed to accumulate more than 5 or 6 people I’d call “friends.” Here on the island, however, it’s like I’ve always known these people. Is that the island mindset, or is it that people who would make the choice many others only talk or dream about (moving to the beach) are just more likely to be MY kind of people?

What I can say for certain is that I have a TON of observations and stories to share from my short time here. Many days it feels like I opened up a fantastic novel and, rather than reading from the outside, physically wandered into the middle and became part of it, “Neverending Story” style.

So here is my “housecleaning” blog post… dusting off the cobwebs and shining her up again. Here’s me, rolling up the sleeves and blowing off the fingertips as I put them to keyboard and begin to let the thoughts once again take shape somewhere besides my journal (and my “Dear Wendy Diaries” – but that’s another story).

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“DO YOU LIVE HERE??” were the words yelled in my direction the day I met Leon Null (N-U-L-L as he spelled it out for me). Leon was making his way over to the house where I was descending the back stairs as I began to explain that I was sent by my realtor to look around. “Well […]

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On a recent trip to Tucson I stayed in a home which had a baby grand piano. It also had no television so I was inspired to find some sheet music and dust off my pianist fingers and see what I could remember from ten years of grade school lessons. One beautiful thing about learning […]

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Organic Garden Slug Control

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Last year we had the “accidental vegetables” when the compost soil we used for plants in the back yard suddenly sprouted tomatoes, squash and other goodies. While it was a total surprise and I’d never grown veggies before R and I decided to research, care for them and harvest the fruit to eat, which we […]

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Who’s Afraid of Ron Paul?

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That’s really not the best question, as it turns out. The “who” is easy to answer. If you can read inflammatory words about Ron Paul and not smell the fear from the establishment at his grass roots popularity, do some research. Ask one question: Why? Why are they trying so hard to make him look […]

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An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Ron Paul 2012

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Though media is ignoring Ron Paul to the greatest extent possible, this message cannot be silenced in a society where communication and information is available at our fingertips. In a world where Twitter can make the difference in the Iranian elections and social media can unite people from all backgrounds and beliefs, an “idea whose […]

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Life Beyond Biltmore in Asheville, NC

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Most people know the one place you have to visit in Asheville, NC is the Biltmore Estate. Indeed, with 8,000 beautiful acres, a luxurious inn, winery and a 250-room French château built by George Vanderbilt in 1895, Biltmore is a must see. But once you’ve seen Biltmore, is it worth returning to Asheville for another visit? […]

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