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The Julia Roberts film, Sleeping with the Enemy (in theatres in the early 90s, coinciding with the early courtship days for my husband and me) is about a wife who plots to escape an abusive marriage. An early scene in the film depicts soup cans in the couple’s kitchen which are shown lined up perfectly in the cupboard, the labels all turned just so. Another scene has Julia’s character hurriedly straightening bath towels that are ever so slightly out of alignment, the implication being that this will anger her husband who insists on things being neat and orderly. The movie, predictably enough, concludes with Julia being able to get away from her brutal husband and, we assume, living happily ever after with the new man in her life who saves her from a homicidal attack by her husband shortly before the credits begin to roll.

The point of all this – somber and important social commentary aside – is that my husband, while certainly not brutal or abusive, was a bit of a stickler for things being tidy and organized and otherwise ship-shape when we first met. In perfect opposition to his fastidiousness, I was a bit of a slob. In my defense, I think the word ‘slob’ is an overstatement although I will admit that you would be more likely to see dishes stacked up next to the sink and beds unmade at my place than at his. I prefer to describe my domestic outlook while we were dating as ‘relaxed’ and ‘laid back’.

Anytime Bill displayed his penchant for order and structure, evidenced by an oh-so-neat arrangement of tools or household cleaning supplies or personal hygiene paraphernalia, Wesley and I would snort and giggle and one (or both) of us would exclaim ‘Sleeping with the enemy!’. It was always done in good fun and Bill would laugh along with us.

Fast forward to our present day marriage…

It’s funny how our roles have reversed over time or, rather, evened out. Perhaps we’ve both just been a good influence on each other. I am now known more for keeping a tidy (or in any case – tidier) house and am sometimes chided by some in my family for it. Once, while hosting a holiday dinner, my mother was standing next to the stove when I noticed a kitchen towel hanging on the door was out of kilter. When I reached over to straighten it, Mom said ‘Julie, you’re scaring me.’

In the meantime, Bill has become more lackadaisical about things such as directly carrying recyclables out to the garage (99% of the time that’s exactly what I do while he prefers to just lay them on the counter by the door that leads to the garage). Another example is a continuing nag of mine about his habit of leaving dirty socks laying on end tables or on the floor in the living room.

Over the years, thanks to my husband’s example, I’ve become a better (read: not perfect!) housekeeper. I crave structure and order and dislike clutter. And apparently I’ve succeeded in getting Bill to focus more on what’s important and timely instead of hard and fast rules about a place for everything and everything in its place. Shrug. In any case, it seems to work for us.

Oh, but I do still enjoy sleeping with the enemy!

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Yes, I’ll shout it from the mountain tops! I love my husband more than I can say. He’s sweet, funny, sexy and wonderful. And my very, very bestest friend!

Quitting my job to go to school at the age of 34 paid off in more ways that one since not only did it put me on a healthier career path but it provided the setting and timing for the two of us to meet and fall in love. Hooray!

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Fall is a gorgeous time of year, no doubt about it, and October is a fantastic month to commune with nature doing activities such as biking, hayrides, sitting around a campfire, hiking, camping and snapping photos of all those wonderful fall colors. This past weekend I enjoyed an entirely different type of event in the great outdoors: an October wedding.

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My beautiful niece and her new husband exchanged their vows on a spread of land they hope to build on in a few years that they’ve christened Up South. Situated along a gravel road in Madison County (yes, that Madison County – of covered bridge fame), guests pulled into what appeared to be a hayfield where large, round bales of hay displayed hand-lettered signs that assured family and friends they had, indeed, come to the right place.

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The hayfield parking lot gave way to an open clearing where ‘pews’ of hay bales had been set up for the guests. The ‘altar’ was a wooden archway with a grove of mature trees serving as the backdrop. In lieu of a unity candle, the couple branded their initials and the wedding date onto a tree trunk. The groomsmen wore simple brown suits and the bridesmaids wore gauzy shifts, denim jackets and cowboy boots. Everything about the ceremony and wedding party smacked of simplicity and as a result was elegant and lovely to behold.

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Even guest attire was casual as everyone was instructed to wear jeans (if they so wished) especially given that it was an outdoor affair and temperatures (and that wind!) were a little on the brisk side. Several people carried blankets and quilts from their cars and that added to the cozy factor.

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Brad and Becky had an amazing wedding and I think they definitely got it right. Not only did they (hugely!) save on the costs associated with elaborate flowers and programs but their wedding hit all the right notes in that the emphasis was on the love they share and the future they look forward to together – just as it should be.

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On our lunch break yesterday, as we often do, my husband and I cozied into chairs at Barnes & Noble and with hot beverages in hand, each of us picked a book or two from the shelves to peruse until it was time to head back to the office. While Bill’s interest tended toward learning the intricacies of the new Canon 70D we recently gifted to ourselves, I decided on something a little more domestic.

Because we are (still) committed to finishing our basement, I scanned the shelves in the Home section for inspiration. While there was plenty to choose from – books devoted to the design process, remodeling how-to’s (more Bill’s bailiwick than mine), decorating and feng shui – I was instead drawn to a beautifully illustrated volume entitled Back to the Cabin by Dale Mulfinger. Filled with stunning photographs and stirring prose descriptive of a wide variety of woodland and lakeside retreats, this beautiful book immediately (but gently) pushed me into daydream mode – and I went willingly along for the ride.

Secluded getaways, far removed from the daily grind and go, go, GO mentality that drains us of our souls, these cabin structures and their environs, offered the reader (me!) images of an enticing shelter – a cocoon to envelop and warm and hug us into complacency. Imagine yourself, on a bright and sunny morning, stepping out the front door of your calming fortress (whatever its form) and taking in a lake, stream or mountain view (or even perhaps something not quite so dramatic but no less soothing such as rolling fields of corn or wheat) and experiencing the satisfying reality that such is your existence, with only the weather and your own whims and preferences to dictate how you wish to spend your time each day.

How is it that life as we know it, life as we pursue it, does not take this essential need for beauty and calm and peace (serenity now!) into account? Why must we be constantly bombarded with the bump and grind, the rush and mania of our everyday dealings, a lifestyle much more accelerated and fast-paced than when I was growing up or even just twenty or thirty years ago? Much of it what we are subjected to today we do to ourselves: Facebook, Twitter, 24×7 cable TV and all manner of social media. This is our hurry up, gotta have it, gotta do this, gotta do that, gotta know what’s going on and gotta have it NOW culture.

It’s hard to imagine just chucking it all and spending the rest of our lives in a small cabin in the woods (or is it?) because for one thing, we need to work, we need money to live on, to buy clothes and food and medical care and to plan for retirement. I did mention that I was daydreaming, though, did I not? A Walden Pond type of existence certainly beckons though at times, to get away from it all, to simplify and live our lives examining joy and beauty and nature, relishing quiet and solitude, having time to really just think and enjoy the stillness and wonder of not constantly moving.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

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Just like the aftermath of a New York City ticker parade, these locust leaves provide a vibrant ground cover beneath the arc of this sweeping handrail. I reckon this is as good a metaphor as any to celebrate this, my 100th post on A Sawyer’s Daughter.

Thanks to all who’ve stood on the curb cheering me on!

Temperature: 36 degrees. The wind, a brisk northwesterly blow at 16 mph. It’s 6:00 AM and I’ve been awake since about three. Fortunately, I had set out my sweats, underwear, socks and shoes the night before so I wouldn’t wake my husband if I decided to step out for an early morning walk. Fully dressed, I don a light-weight jacket, cap, scarf, gloves and adjust my favorite rhinestone-studded bling earmuffs so they fit snug against my ears.

The pre-dawn sky is a deep, almost turquoise blue which I find odd for this time of day, this time of year. A few stars and the always fascinating moon, half-full peering through the darkness helps to light my way as I begin my morning prowl. I don’t get too far before I first hear and then see a trio of the younger gals from down the street out for their run. The air bites, only just a little, and it feels refreshing. Still though it’s cold so I quicken my pace. Seems I have two modes when I walk: plodding and striding. Today, I’m definitely striding and it feels good.

I’m around the ‘loop’ and more into the open now and the wind, it’s strong. A tiny voice whines: Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. But I push it aside and think how satisfying it will feel to persevere and DO this thing. I love walking in the early morning like this although I don’t do it as often as I’d like. The quiet, the solitude, the stillness. Knowing that once I’m done I’ve gotten my exercise out of the way for the day. It’s a great time to just think or better yet, just to BE. No computers, no phones, no To Do list to check off. Just me. That’s not to say I wouldn’t love for Bill to join me (and every so often he will) but alone time, ME time – well, I think everyone needs and is entitled to that.

The fresh air clears my head. The cold makes a body feel so alive! You have no choice but to react to the elements, accelerating forward in order to keep warm and moving one step closer to your destination. Kind of like life, eh?

I think it’s going to be a good day.

 

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To write ~

Start with an idea, ponder it awhile, flesh it out and approach it from different angles and perspectives. Try it on for size; you’ll know when it fits. Next (or more appropriately, throughout) add passion to the mix, modulated by the voice only you possess, the one that announces to all that this is who and what you are. Sift it, shake it up, sit on it awhile, revisit as needed. When it feels right (write?), begin.

If it has momentum, the task is a pleasant, satisfying chore. The words and thoughts and essence of your message will fly from your fingertips, the keyboard barely able to keep up. Success does not necessarily follow but if it is a joy and genuinely represents your soul, your very core, then that is its own reward.

Should, however, the completed effort require more than you were quickly and easily able to give but you stretched beyond what you thought you knew to be your limits, very likely then, the warm glow of achievement, of a job well done will honor what was extracted.

This, I believe, is why we write.

IMG_0372 I don’t want to creep anybody out but I snapped this sitting in one of the stalls in the women’s restroom while my husband and I were touring the campus of our alma mater on Game Day last weekend.

It made me smile.