Bang A Drum

This kid, he's got the kind of wild heart that might make your own stop if you didn't realize that he's actually kind of carefu...
7:41 PM

My Favorite Compliment

He smiled at me when I came through the doors of the coffee shop - this man as big as a house and beard all white and wise - smiled like he...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bang A Drum

Bang a drum, SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna RusnakThis kid, he's got the kind of wild heart that might make your own stop if you didn't realize that he's actually kind of careful in the middle of his crazy.

"I want to play the drums," he said.

And we were like, FINALLY!!!  

Kids are their own people. They aren't molded to the likings of a parent. It doesn't matter that we have a house full of instruments. We've got all these toys and not one child who has shown any interest. We've got that red accordion and mom's piano and four guitars and five harmonica's and percussion coming out the wazoo and a couple basses and amps and mics and everything we could possibly need to become the Von Trapp family of twenty-first century Normanby Township!

"I want to play the drums," he said.  Out of the blue.

And the very next day I brought home the bongos we'd left at the church. Because we are going to take this interest, no matter how fleeting it may be, and feed it full of opportunity.

He's got some rhythm. I think he must have hidden it back behind his ears where I always forget to look. He just put on his head phones and turned on the old mp3 player and jammed along with whatever was playing.

"Can I play in your worship band?" he asked.

And I was like, WHO IS THIS KID and where has he been all my life?

"You can come to practice and play with us there - but not on Sunday mornings - not yet," I told him.

He got a chair and I gave him the djembe and basically told him to have at it!

My band - they've got wide accommodating hearts - and they let him play along without a complaint. He beat that drum until his hands hurt and I watched him from the other side of the stage as I led with the guitar and he was singing along and {mostly} staying on beat and it made me inexplicably happy to see him there, in the music, LOVING IT.

"How long 'til the next practice?" he asked at the end because he couldn't wait to try it again and I had to kiss him because it felt like a dream coming true.

And I hope this is the beginning of something real. That music becomes a language to him.  That I will have to escape into the barn to ease my ears when he gets brave enough to tackle the big kit in the basement. That he will discover the inner rock star we were sure we formed him to be before he was even born. That he would create his own rhythm and move the beat of his own quirky drum.

In the words of the great {and swoon-worthy} Bon Jovi:
...Bang a drum, bang it loudly
Or as soft as you need
Bang a drum for yourself son
And a drum for me...

Bang a drum, SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Adventures in Magnolias

It hasn't been warm enough for the flowers to bloom. All those grand arches and pathways laid winter-bare and us traipsing through in hopes of a petal or two.  The Royal Botanical Gardens span acres of land and our feet traveled the well-versed paths as we sought Spring against a chill wind and grey sky.

Not the adventure we envisioned but we were happy enough.

For her 60th birthday, my sisters and I kidnapped our mother and whisked her straight down Highway Six for an expensive dinner, hotel stay, hot tub shenanigans and a garden tour.  This isn't the May we promised ourselves. We'd planned to ooo and aw through the lilacs but they had barely begun to bud.

My mother, she's got kindness to an art, she didn't care that the weather wasn't on our side and that the bare branches practically mocked our attempt at a birthday gift - she just pulled up her hood and enjoyed the day.

We were tired - she and I - staying up late late late to giggle through a ridiculous Ben Stiller movie while my sisters fell asleep with their mouths wide open - mom snorting her laughter in the bed beside me while we ate chocolate and watched Dodgeball.

magnolia trees,

When the afternoon brought us to the Arboretum we realized that this was where they'd hidden the colour. We wandered into the Magnolia collection, the trees spaced less purposefully, the wildness beautiful, the clouds pulling back to allow the sun to peak through. Gorgeous. I want one. A magnolia tree in the field under which I can place a table, a cup of tea and a basket to collect all that inspiration. 

magnolia trees, Royal Botanical Gardens

Twenty-seven hours of celebrating her sixty years on the planet - of recognizing her for spending more than half of that being a selfless mother to the three of us. 

It was wonderful but it wasn't nearly enough to say thank you.

“Like the magnolia tree,
She bends with the wind,
Trials and tribulation may weather her,
Yet, after the storm her beauty blooms..."

Nancy B. Brewer, Letters From Lizzie

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Favorite Compliment

He smiled at me when I came through the doors of the coffee shop - this man as big as a house and beard all white and wise - smiled like he knew me though I had no idea under heaven.

"You don't remember me, do you?" he asked, having left his coffee on the table by the window to approach me as I stood in line.

"Sorry," I said.

"Ha! Not a worry! You still singing?"

"When the mood strikes," I tell him, still without a clue to his identity. 

take me back, mr. time machine to anti-Vietnam America and I'll kiss the first twenty boys I see - Alanna Rusnak"Yeah, I remember seeing you up there singing. My wife and I, we always talked about how you were born in the wrong decade. Like how you were this hippie looking like you belonged smack in the middle of the sixties or something - all bohemian and what-not."

"I've been told that before," I said and I kind of wanted to kiss him on his wrinkled cheek because it's my most favorite compliment - whether he meant it as such or not.

Because it's true. I was born in the wrong decade. I belong cross-legged and barefoot in the grass at a 1965 Joni Mitchell field concert. When someone recognizes that it means they really see me and being really seen is the greatest flattery of all

(photo text is an excerpt from 'Dear Flower Child' a poem in my poetry collection, "When We Were Young" available for Kindle)

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Apple Tree {We Prune Because We Dream Of Pie}

spring pruning, John 15:2, be fruitful
The pruning shears were left outside all winter. I knew it too. But once the snow actually fell, I couldn't bring myself to go dig them out.  And so they sat. And rusted. And waited for the Spring that dragged it's heels and mocked us from our fattening couch positions until we were ready to face the sun and the million jobs to do that had rested, dormant, beneath that blanket of white.

I slammed the blades down into the dirt, pulling them back out of the ground like the sword from the stone, leaving much of the winter rust in the soil. I worked the handles and they seemed more-or-less functional despite their abusive respite under snow.

I've learned a lot since we moved back here. Mostly that a property of this size has a list of jobs that NEVER ENDS but with the sun on my back and the wind in my hair and us - the army of 5 - I felt more than ready to tackle them.

The poor apple tree. That sweet lady only gave us one lonely apple last year. We treated her well - the weather did not.  This year, we're hoping for apple pie and apple sauce and apple crisp and apple salad.

I pulled out the ladder and lifted those less-rusty shears and set to work.

Pruning is a violent affair.  It is aggressive and ugly and savage and necessary.

"Are you sure you're doing that right?" Scott asked after hauling all the broken branches from the walnut tree to the fire pit.

"Everything that points up," I told him.  "It will look like something from The Nightmare Before Christmas by the time we're done."

He hoisted himself up into the branches, using another set of pruners - the ones with the broken handle - and set about reaching the offshoots the ladder couldn't get to.  And of course Liam, who can't see someone in a tree without trying to best them, he climbed up too having found a third pruner behind a door in the barn.

we prune because we dream of pie, pruning the apple tree

we prune because we dream of pie, pruning the apple tree

we prune because we dream of pie, pruning the apple tree
It was time consuming and scratchy and more than once I got hit in the face with a falling twig.

"What a difference!" Scott said when we were finished.

"It looks haunted," Liam said.

"On to the gardens!" I said.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

I Heard The Bread Box Call My Name

retro bread box, tin

A flea market has it's own smell. It's a little like Grandma's attic or the inside of an old suitcase or the bedspread in Nana's spare room or the metallic perfume of painted patio furniture. It's a smell of neglect and a smell of opportunity.
Every time I enter a flea market, I imagine myself walking out with something incredible.

The hunt. The unexpected. The strange and wonderful trappings of lives gone before.

The thrill of the quest is the blossoming of joy.

The discovery of treasure is a joy-bloom bursting into full colour!

I saw the bread box only minutes after coming in the door.  I touched it and loved it and set it back down before moving on to the next.

But I thought about it the whole time. I thought about it while the kids dug through the box marked 'FREE TOYS'. I thought about it while rifling through old records. I thought about it while I gazed into the marble eyes of a huge mounted deer head. I forgot about it for thirty seconds while I drooled over a bright yellow 50's kitchen counter, island and table but then I thought about it again while I touched the mane of a tired, worn rocking horse.  I thought about how, if I went back to it's spot and saw that it was gone, I would be so disappointed and forever lament a lost opportunity.

Obviously, I needed, wanted it...I could picture it's scarred retro green body adding some retro green beauty to my kitchen.

The booth owner was already packing up her cash box when I rushed back to rescue it from some other lazy shopper who would never appreciate it's beauty like I would.

"Can I please just get this before you leave?" I asked her - like I just couldn't go on if she kept on being done for the day.

"Oh, isn't it just the loveliest colour?" she asked, taking it from me to remind herself of the price she had put on it.

"It's perfect!" I told her, like a complete dweeb, handing her the cash and grinning over my prize.

"You're lucky," she said. "Something like that doesn't sit around long!"

retro bread box, tin

retro bread box, green, tin

Put a little JOY in your morning! Get a happy mug like mine by clicking one of the photos below!

{these photos contain affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on them} 

And don't forget, you still have lots of time to enter for your chance to win this lovely, vintage inspired JOY medallion necklace. People have been sharing beautiful little snapshots of their daily joys and it's been a blessing to read through those each day!

Keep watching the facebook page because I'm planning a JOY BOOST day where the little joy bit you share will earn you 10 entries that day!
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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Grace {When You Leave Your Heart Behind}

Grace When You Leave Your Heart Behind - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna RusnaThey've grated the road. My tires kick up dust behind me in a violent, messy swirl.  I come up from the little valley and crest the hill just as the bus flashes its lights and those two blond boys of mine come tumbling out.

I wait for the last golden head to appear but the bus just lumbers past, an ark without my Noa.

I feel a heat in my throat.


Who does that?

I don't do that!

I would never forget to pick up my own child from daycare!

I couldn't.

I wouldn't.

I did.

I wave wild at the boys who have just emptied the mailbox and started down the driveway.  "Get in the car! Get in the car! I forgot Noa!"

Zander laughs.

Liam says, "She might be a little bit mad at you, mommy!"

When they were babies, I would find myself reaching a flailing arm back over their rear-facing car seats to make sure they were still there because somehow my mind would imagine them cooing in a shopping cart at the grocery store even though I could clearly remember clicking them into their seat before unloading the potatoes into the trunk. Misplaced fear follows you until it finally punches you in the throat.

I retrace my path, stirring up the same dust that has barely settled from my first distracted passing and land, breathless, in front of the home that didn't forget her.

Thankfully, my daycare provider is a dear friend - practically an adopted sister - and she just laughs when I land disheveled in her yard, declaring, "Guess what I did?"

Noa is all forgiveness before I've even apologized.  She gathers her bag full of Toy Story toys and waves goodbye to the friends who adore her and climbs up into the car to Liam shrieking, "Mommy forgot you!"

She just shrugs and I reach across her to fasten her seat belt.  

She was never forgotten.  She could never be.  Just left behind for the blink of a moment.

"I love you," I whisper to her, kissing her forehead.

"Love you too," she says, grinning at me and all that dirt on her knees and her rubber boots smearing against the seat in front of her and she's had the best time ever and it doesn't even occur to her that she has grounds for upset.

I climb into the drivers seat, pull on my sunglasses and spin around to make sure I have everyone.  One. Two. Three.  "Are we ready to go?" I ask.

"Yup!" she says, smiling so big that her eyes turn to tiny crescent strips.

If somehow I could garner all of her grace, it would be more than enough to change the whole world!

Grace When You Leave Your Heart Behind - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusna

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