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That Time We Tore Down The Fence

                                                                             

Life’s taken some turns for us these past six months as we answered a stirring in our hearts to change things up a bit. Some of it so quickly its taken a sec to process the changes. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Processing. We sold our little house in Austin. The one with the big oak tree out front and the wooden tree swing. The one with our handprints in the concrete pad out back where the kids and neighbors played basketball as I watched out my kitchen window. The one where we raised toddlers and newborns and where we cared for my dying mom. My throat is closing and eyes welling up as I think about the people we gathered around our table for shredded pork tacos and special sauce, cheese trays and wine, coffee and Quiche, pizza and ranch dressing, or just plain old cereal or leftovers. Truth is the food was just the invitation to the more important thing. Time.

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The things I will always miss the most about that little spot in the world are our neighbors. We had several amazing ones on our little block but we go furthest back with the ones directly to our right as you walked out the front door. We could never get grass to grow in that area because of all the little feet making a quick turn off the front porch.

To Kristin, Gaylen. Freddie, Camden, and Cooper. To your various exchange students, various family members, various tenants that lived in your bungalow out back, various dogs, cats, hermit crabs and strays.

Thank You.

Thank you for teaching us more about love than just about any humans we have ever met. Thank you for being game to cut a hole in our fence with wire cutters so the little kids could easily go back and forth. The fence we eventually took down all together. Thank you for not thinking it odd for me to be scavenging your back yard at 6:45 a.m. in my bathrobe on a school morning looking for misplaced shoes. Thank you for going in with us on those picnic tables we put under the tall front yard Sycamore trees where we so often combined forces to come up with complete meals. The tables Kristin strung cafe lights above as it basically became our very own real life Pinterest set up.

Thank you, Kristin, for bathing my kids, doctoring their cuts, and doing things no neighbor should have to do, Gaylen, as you hear the singing words of a 4 year old saying “I’m doooone….” coming from YOUR bathroom as you walk in from work. Thank you for sitting by my mom’s bedside as she was sick. Thank you for sneaking in to our house and wrapping our doors with wrapping paper and switching labels on our canned foods. For months I’d think I was opening tomatoes and it would end up being peaches. (Then I would just sneak into your house and borrow a can of tomatoes.) Thank you teaching me how to fold crepes, how to use a table saw, how to use a smoker, and how to use those weird claw things that shred meat. (Great Christmas present for someone who is likely to shred meat) Thank you for sharing cups of coffee, bottles of wine, and various groceries we were out of. (most usually tomatoes, milk, eggs, or cumin powder)

The thank you’s are honestly endless and the sadness I feel as that season has come to an end reminds me of a quote that comforted me when we lost our mom. “That which brings you much sorrow, does so because it once brought you much joy.” Your family was (and continues to be) joy personified to us.

I’m so glad we tore down that fence down together years ago and that walls have been coming down slowly ever since allowing us to be more vulnerable, more present, less guarded, less resistant, more whole, and more at peace. The tearing down of walls that let the light in to our stories of brokenness and let healing begin. I’m still a work in progress.

At the moment, I’m scouting out a place for a new long row of picnic tables in the front yard our new home in the world. (This time under tall Pine trees.) A place where we can put in practice what you all  taught us. How tables really do bring people together.

Thank you for being the kind of neighbors that became family. I think at one point we decided the Paulson’s + the Dozier’s could equal the Paulzier’s? We are better because of you.

With great love from Colorado,

Cristi, Ben, Adelyn, Gunner, Creede, & South (Paulzier)

Trying to bring into play all I learned from the great family of Greenbay Packers we used to live next to. The ones who sometimes channelled their inner Kenny G and played the saxophone on their back porch, or the ones who wore cowboy boots with swimsuits, or the one’s who had parties with 50 plus foreign students from China (who loved to zip line) and taught them how to make s’mores. The ones who were ALWAYS up for an adventure and who set out on a big one this year living missionally out at Community First Village in Austin. Apple dumplings and cheese curds are now forever a part of my vocabulary and I like it.

Here is what I don’t like sometimes and often resist. Change. Kids starting high school is dumb. Kids graduating high school is dumb. Moving is dumb. But those sarcastic dumb changes comes with the territory of growth. And growth can be smart. And high school kids and college kids are funny. And they can drive themselves places and wash their own clothes. And moving? Moving makes you clean out your attic. Not gonna lie, that felt really good. You don’t even have to move to do it.

It’s been emotionally hard sometimes. And that has been ok.

To grieve the end of anything is ok and usually necessary. You can stuff it but the need to grieve will keep surfacing. So do that part. And then, with time, it will become what you make it. It will become how you choose to see it. How you honor the memory of it and how you choose to let it grow you.

Hoping we can all grow and change and be thankful in the process.

“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.” 

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An Awkward Motion Above the Head

Basketball. There’s a ball. There’s a basket. Whether it was from the sideline, the court, the couch or the driveway,  you’ve  seen it, played it, loved it, or hated it. In my husband and I’s family,  basketball is just something that we know…something that we do. Okay, not so much me. I’m usually in the kitchen making a chocolate cake or changing a diaper or finding the first aid kit, but I do know the rules and I can hang with the best of them in a game of horse.  Our dad played college ball. Amy and I went several rounds on our hoop growing up. The hoop that stood on an aggregate driveway. The aggregate driveway that had thousands of tiny pebbles in it making your dribble awkward and rollerskating darn near impossible. (Here I end the divulgence of completely irrelevant information.) My husbands grandfather was a coach and there was always a ball at any family gathering. We enjoy the game.

This past week we drove home for a family funeral. My husband’s Uncle Doug, the eldest of four boys, passed away from complications with cancer. It was sudden.  Life is that way. Funerals are the time you rally around the loved ones left by the life lost. It’s a time you recall the best of times and even the funniest of times. Uncle Jay (number 4 in the line up and a pastor) led the services and told stories about Doug’s love of backroads, his way with words, and his faith in Christ.
Uncle Rich (number 3 in the line up and, incidentally, a basketball coach) wrote a story about his older brother. I wanted to share it, not just for the story, but more so for what happened afterward. If you know anyone with a love for the game please pass it on.
“The ‘Brother’hood of Basketball”
By former Medina, former Hallettsville, current Sonora Lady Bronco Basketball Coach
and brother to a basketball official
 
“The basketball official just signaled travel with an awkward motion above his head. I am scouting a game film late in February. If you are scouting late in February then you really should be focused, but I find myself watching the referee and not the game. There he goes again – the slightly overweight, middle aged official – is hustling beside the high school players on a fast break. I think to myself… ‘this guy thinks he is an official at the state tournament’. The video is an early tourney game in Central Texas and I have never seen an official try so hard. Again, I find myself watching the basketball official and not the game. More hustle and more calls above his head. I am all by myself in a dark room just sitting watching the game film with a huge smile on my face. Then it happens – BOOM! – the official’s face comes right in front of the screen. It is my brother. It is his first year to be a basketball official. Our dad was a high school basketball coach. We both played college basketball. We both love the sport. My smile gets bigger with every hustle play by my brother and I find myself laughing out loud with every call he signals above his head. My focus on scouting is lost. I give up on the video work and call my brother. I ask him about his mechanics and officiating. He tells me that he was making his calls “high in the air” and “so the fans could see the 
calls”. At the exact same moment in time, we realize how funny both his officiating and his comments were and we laugh. Not the regular laugh but the big belly laugh that hurts and brings tears to your eyes. That laugh will last forever in my mind….
 
Thank you to all the organizations that make basketball possible. Thank you to all the coaches, players and fans that love the game.
 
Most of all THANK YOU basketball for giving my brother some of the greatest memories and experiences of his life.
 
Rest in peace my brother….”
This story was emailed to friends, family, and acquaintances in the basketball community. It basically went viral within circles of coaches, players, and officials in the sport.  As Uncle Rich shared the story again the day of the funeral, he added that the response to the tribute he wrote for his brother was unexpected. A slew of emails, an offer for it to be published, and then this. One particular referee contacted Uncle Rich letting him know that, come Friday night, first call of the game, he was going call it high in the air, hands above the head.
Goose.Bumps.
My father in law (number 2 in the line up), then,  invited us, as a group, to raise our hands above our head and signal the call for traveling.  We all, including Uncle Doug’s wife, mother, children, and grandchildren, raised our hands high in the air and rotated our fists one over the other.  I’m sure we looked ridiculous, but it was the best kind of ridiculous. Tears welled up as I pictured officials, possibly across the state of Texas, doing the same come Friday night after the whistle blows.
May we all be more intentional to cherish the life we live and honor the lives of those we love.
Cristi

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