The Writing on the Wall

I have to share with you an event that happened to me a couple of weeks ago that inspired the title of this post as well as some other aspects of my life.  Keep with me here for you know I often like to equate happenings in my life with inspiration for my actions. It was the morning before we were to hold our Preview Brunch for our Spring Barn Sale opening. I had been glued to the weather forecast for the past week, as I always do, in the coming weeks and days before a big event in our barn. It was looking very grim with a forecast of heavy downpours, severe thunderstorms, straight line winds (who ever heard of those before the dawn of social media except for me?) and even a tornado warning. We had sold 120 tickets for our Garden Party luncheon which was to be held in our outdoor barn courtyard. We preemptively had the tent put up a day ahead of time when we heard that the forecast was just rain. The caterer had been booked and the menu planned. We had the non-profit selected for this sale and they were to speak at the lunch.  Everything was set and we were ready to open the doors. Then the forecast changed and the heavy rain that had been predicted changed to severe storm warnings the day before the event. What to do about the luncheon? Did I really want to bring the attendees out in extreme weather to shop in a barn and gather under a tent? To park in a field that in heavy rain could turn into a mud pit?  The barn is weather sound but barn roofs are made of tin. Tin can blow off in heavy winds, not to mention that you cannot hear yourself think let alone speak when there is a deluge. We bring people to the barn for an experience… this could pan out to be some kind of experience… one that one might not want to remember. 

Now to back up a little bit. I have an aversion for severe storms that erupted when my youngest was about 4 years old. Up until then, I never gave a thought about them, except for the fact that the humidity would make my already curly and frizzy hair…frizzier! You see, my next door neighbor and sister-like friend and I had decided to take our youngest children with us to head out for a quick craft store run to get more supplies for a paper project we were working on one afternoon.  We left my oldest home to watch the rest of the six kids. It was a beautiful blue sky day but there were warnings for some thunderstorms to pop up. I vividly remember Julie and I talking about it on the way, stating that the weather forecasters were way off base for it was such a beautiful day. To make a long story kind of short, we picked up our supplies and then decided to stop at a pizza place on the way home to get dinner for the kids. The skies were darkening a bit at this point and as I ran out of the shop, pizzas in hand, the winds had picked up in the brief period I was inside, so much to the point that some of the shingles were blowing off of the roof of the establishment. We headed home upon our usual winding heavily treed country road and out of nowhere, the skies turned black, the rain began to pelt the car, and the winds were causing the trees to bend as if something large and heavy had sat upon them. To take it a step further the trees began to fall!!! huge trunked trees and as I was driving a tree came down in front of us onto the back of the car we had been driving behind. I braked hard and then we both froze.  Out of the corner of my left eye, I saw a huge wooden utility pole start to fall, wrapped in power lines. I tried to ascertain where I thought it would land as it was falling towards us. It caught one of the huge trunked trees as it fell and as I eased the big black Suburban slightly forward, WHAM… the tree landed on the hood of my car, crushing it. The tree was entangled in the power lines of the pole that had been brought down as well and literally wrapped around the car,  trapping us inside.  I have to say that the resulting moments afterwards were some of the scariest in our lives as the black skies continued to bring down pelting rain, the winds continued to berate the trees causing more to fall and the four of us hovered inside, not knowing wether we should tempt the possible live wires and get out of the car to try to run for cover or stay trapped inside a possible target for more trees to land on… and then it was over. As quickly as it came, it ended, the rain continuing to fall but the winds gone. We were shaken to the core but okay, as were all of the other inhabitants of whose cars were hit by the trees. We had to wait an hour or two for an ambulance to get us out for good samaritans, who lived along that stretch of road told us not to try and get out, that the power lines were down along that whole stretch of road and multiple cars had been hit. All of us traveling along that road that afternoon had a very large winged angel watching over us for there were no injuries that day amidst all of the destruction.  It took a  week until they cut through the trees to get to my car and they could tow it away, pizzas still inside. It was straight line winds that hit that day… out of no where, for there were no warnings.

Back to the body of my post… the upcoming Preview luncheon the next day. As I balanced the warnings with the event and agonized over it, going back and forth with the pros and cons and consulted as many on line weather forecasts as I could find, all of which were the same, I decided to jump in the shower to clear my head. Our shower in our master bath had been leaking so we were having some work done on it and we had been using the kids shower. The only other one in the house that was not a claw foot tub that had been converted into a “kind of” shower. I had been using it all week and had noticed these purple and blue blotches of color that seemed to be wiped into the stone tile. As I gazed at the same blue splotches while the water came down, puzzling yet again over how they got there, I turned around to get out and noticed the faint outline of a happy face on the wall in the same colors as the blurry blotches. As I peered at it closely, remember that aging has diminished my perfect vision and I typically do not wear my peepers in the shower, the memory of how it got there came flooding back. The first year we moved in, one of the younger kids had received colored shower crayons in their Easter basket, which child it was, I have no recollection of. But I do remember that I had the bright idea to give them to the two youngest as they were showering off one summer day after swimming, probably aged 5 and 7 at the time. Aidan and Cameron had drawn with abandon all over the shower as they thought it was the coolest thing to be able to draw on  the walls.  A few days later, I was cursing both the kids and the makers of this product as I tried to clean the happy smiling goofy faces off of the shower wall. It had embedded itself into the tiles and large colored splotches were created as I tried to clean it up. The moment in time had become one of annoyance in that it took a week of daily scrubbing to somewhat, get the images off.  All of that  scrubbing had scrubbed the joy out of the moment watching the kids playfully create the images. As the happy face gazed back at me and the water continued to fall, time seemed to fly by and I realized how much I would love to have that moment back, when I could see it for what it was and not the chore that it had become when I was in the nitty gritty of mother hood. There were so many other chores at that time to be completed, so much hustle and bustle in which many moments had been run through and I had not stopped to savor them because I had too many tasks to do on my To Do list, or we had to hurry to get to another activity or the laundry had to be done, or homework  finished or there were meals to be cooked and cleaned up after. Life felt like we were stuck on the spin cycle in the washing machine. I thought to myself how could have ten years passed in the interim?  How could one of those mischief makers in the shower be graduating from high school next month? The writing had been on the wall but I was too busy to have seen it for what it was and things had happened in that time period that we had never intended to happen that had caused us to change our expectations, our hopes and our dreams. We had to adjust in those ten years, we had to learn how to be malleable, to bend with the trees in the wind instead of falling. 

Back to the decision on the luncheon. After getting out of the shower, I called the caterer, who has done many events here before, and we both decided after again perusing the forecast that there seemed to be a break in the weather pattern later in the day. Thus we pushed the preview party back a few hours to a preview cocktail party as he asked me,  “Have you ever been to baseball game where there was a rain delay,  or you stood in the rain for a couple of hours until they cancelled the game and you received tickets for another make up game?”  We knew full well that we would loose a good bit of the attendees with the schedule change. I knew that I would be held to my catering contract and that I would be paying for food for the final number that I had given the caterer two weeks prior, regardless of how many people would still be able to attend. That it would take quite a bit of effort to contact all of the ticket holders and to inform them of the decision and that not everyone would see it like we did. I knew that the forecast might again change but it was looking pretty much like there was no dodging the storm. We pushed the time back  vs. bringing people out in extreme weather should the forecast come to fruition. Bending with the wind, decisions that we need to make in life, taking the time to make them, taking the time to relish in the moments that we should be relishing in regardless of the “To Do List” consequences. All of the above concepts;  rain, storms, wind, trees, tough decisions, memories… felt akin to life and the phrase the writing on the wall presented itself before me. 

I have always loved writing, especially writing letters. It is a practice that I see as a dead art but one that I continue to practice and will hold onto. When you look at the current phenomenal play Hamilton, and look into the actual making of it, you see that the portrayal of these past lives had been brought to fruition largely due to their writings of the day. People of that time, wrote about everything and wrote to everyone, even their enemies as Hamilton and Burr are depicted doing in the play prior to their duel. In today’s society, writing has been succinctly replaced to be short and sweet so as to save time and due to technical advancements. Much communication is done by texts with abbreviations that unless “one is in the know” one does not understand. While this is all good for the advancement of progress, there is something that is lost. Might it be feeling, emotion (yes, we have emoji’s) and actual conversation through the written word that is being lost? Does an email have the same effect  as a handwritten letter where one usually recognizes the handwriting of the giver? The handwriting being a reflection of the writers’ personality? When reading a letter from a loved one, can you not feel the spirit of the person that wrote it? I absolutely understand the value of email and speedy communication in ones everyday life and for business purposes. We no longer have the time to wait for a handwritten letter nor would we want to when trying to make a decision instantaneously. We are a society of instant gratification and our communication skills of this day and age enable to have just that.  My opinion is though, on a personal level, the gift of a letter is just that… a gift in this fast paced world. A thing of beauty that reflects the spirit of the person writing it. 

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I found this paper a couple of years ago when at the Atlanta Home and Gift show and it has become my absolute favorite. I cannot resist writing on it for a multitude of reasons and I will always carry it in the barn!  It has combined letter writing with another favorite thing of mine… quotes. Each piece of paper in the pad of fifty pages has a quote typed on it. You can select a piece of paper from the pad that fits the recipient or reflects the circumstance in which you are writing the letter. It is by Sugarboo Designs who also makes the baby and adult blankets that we fell in love with as well as many other products that were designed around the power of the written word. We will have these available for purchase at our upcoming Summer Barn Sale, June 2nd – 4th.

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I dress them up to give as thank you notes and this year, I will be dressing them up big time to give them as gifts for Mother’s Day. Maybe to my children, in how they have gifted me in being their mother as well as to my mom, grandmother and any other woman who has influenced my life. Time will tell and the writing on the wall will be spoken to be recorded and presented to the recipients who have impacted my life. You might want to pen a letter this year as a gift. Below are some tips in snazzing your letter up. You know me… it really is all about the presentation! 

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 You can punch holes in the paper and tie ribbons around the paper.

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You can use paper tape or washi tape to dress it up.

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You can dress up a plain envelope with a stamped image or word

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and then add a ripped off piece of paper tape to create a little texture and add color.

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Creativity is in the eye of the beholder and ALL of us are creative, as was witnessed by our retreat attendees, some who had never considered themselves as creative at all who created beautiful works. (We will fill you in later on the retreat for there is so much to share!)

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When I am gifting a large letter, I like to take it a step further and embellish the envelop as well. Here I took a simple brown cardboard envelop and lightly brushed paint over it.

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I then stamped that with images and a few strips of paper tape and a cut out quote and I think the end result is pretty isn’t it? Hopefully the recipient felt special receiving it!

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Accompanied by a bouquet of flowers, I think this would make a lovely Mother’s Day gift don’t you?

~In the spirit of the written word and the writing on the wall,

Meg

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Mary K. Miluski says:

    Meg, I always enjoy reading the gifts of your writings, and I agree with you about letters and how we are losing something wonderful as the next generation shortens words, and expressions into a kind of code. Happy Spring and Happy Mothers’ Day.
    Mary K. (Caroline’s college friend)

    • Meg Veno says:

      Hi Mary!
      Thanks for reading and for commenting! Hopefully this generations or ones to come will realize the importance in communication of the lengthy written word in personal communication. I know that some school districts who had taken handwriting out of the curriculumn, have put it back in for the practice of handwriting and the process and connection of the hand and the brain when writing is a strong one in learning! Happy Mother’s Day to you as well and I am glad Caroline shared my blog with you! Hope to see you again soon!
      xxxx
      Meg

  2. Anne says:

    Meg, how often you practice your love of the written word shows through in the elegance with which you express your thoughts and feelings. Having lived a similar active path of motherhood to five these past 20-something years, your sentiments beautifully express thoughts that I have had as well as the youngest two progress through high school. How has the time gone by so fast? Can I have a do-over? Why didn’t I stop and enjoy the happy moments more instead of rushing to the next? That being said I take solace in the fact that through it all we did bend and not break through our own storms of life and we have so many wonderful memories to look back on. Perhaps you will have inspired me to take the time to write down some of these memories in an effort of love and preservation for my family this Mother’s Day. Thank you!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Isn’t it ironic Anne that we experience these “wish we could do it over” moments as we are slowing loosing our grip on the chaos that once existed and the bodies that once lived under our roofs? Yes, we should take solace in our strength as I think mothers are the strongest women on Earth and the wonderful memories that have been created. I know that you will act upon your inspiration Anne for you get things done, especially when you put your mind to it and I am sure that you will preserve your memories and love in a way that your beautiful family will relish in!
      Love ya and Happy Mother’s Day!
      Meg

  3. Janet Antoian says:

    Meg,
    I always enjoy reading your posts but this one really hit home. There have been so many times when remembering things about my kids growing up that I wish I could go back & relive. I feel like I rushed through so many things just get to the next phase or to the end of the day, never being able to enjoy them or the moments. Life can be so crazy sometimes. I guess that’a what grandchildren are for!

    I also feel like the art of handwriting a thank you note is dwindling too. I love the idea of your note paper & embellishing the envelopes too.

    Thanks for all your insights & beautiful writing!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Dear Janet, I know that you know where I am coming from! I appreciate your reminder that we have grand children coming down the pike and the reminder that we need to take the time to enjoy them!! Good point!Thanks for reading and for commenting Janet… it means a lot!
      xxxx
      Meg

  4. Alison m says:

    Thanks, Meg, again for sharing your thoughts. You make an excellent point regarding the sad loss of written letters – ironically, studies have shown that many children in our schools are no longer taught cursive writing. Makes you wonder if writing is truly on the way to becoming a lost art, right along with our ability to connect with others in any kind of meaningful personal sense the way we once did, and adding to the feelings of alienation that seem to be permeating society on so many levels.
    One definition of genius is the ability to recognize and demonstrate connections between otherwise disparate and unrelated concepts. Another interesting fact is that the vast majority of acknowledged geniuses in history were white men. Obviously, that is now changing. Please keep writing your letters, Meg.

    • Meg Veno says:

      You are quite welcome Alison! Thank you for reading and for posting such a well thought out comment! I enjoyed reading it and your sentence about the “feelings of alienation that seem to be permeating our society on so many levels” is so very thought provoking and real. Thank you as well for recognizing the connection I was trying to make and not thinking that I was just experiencing an over running of the mouth! I appreciate your words Alison… they keep me writing!
      xxxx
      Meg