The Deck


Dear Reader:

A word I first came across my junior year in high school (preparing for the Verbal SAT) has crept back into my life recently.

Aesthetic: concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.

Later…I remember going to Presbyterian College for some kind of pre-college counseling… recommended by some woman in our church from mother’s Sunday School class. It was free for Presbyterian teenagers in their senior year in high school. Mother insisted that I go.

Once again….there was a whole set of questions circling the meaning of aesthetic.…like:

1) If you buy a car…are you more concerned with mileage and performance…or how it looks.

2) If you buy a car…are you more concerned with the price or its shape?

3) If you buy a car…are you more concerned with its warranty or what color it is?

You get the idea….the questionnaire was obviously trying to find out if we leaned more towards the practical-minded business sense arena or the “But it’s so pretty” aesthetic (whimsy) decision-making arena.

You guessed it...aesthetic.…like Alice in Wonderland…I wanted to live in a world of imagination, bright colors, beautiful sounds, adventurous anticipation…where I could be assaulted by all the senses given to us by God on any typical day.

Poor mother….I think the vocational counseling session (results) basically declared me a dreamer…and that I would need more down-to-earth decision-making skills training.

As much as I wanted to live in that dream world…I was forced out & grew cynical of car salesmen, distrustful of insurance”pushers”, and cable companies. I started hanging up on phone solicitations, charity donations….“Our records show that you gave 25 dollars last year” (to which I am thinking…”Not!..I don’t even know what your organization is .”)

Yes…I am afraid little “Alice” had to grow up the hard way…by personal experience. The aesthetic side of my life was forced to lay dormant for a couple of decades while I raised children and tried to keep the ship afloat each month.

Then one day I woke up…the children were gone and retirement was beckoning. I had just gotten into my new routine in life when “little c” (breast cancer) came calling. Nightmares of losing my house and savings loomed in frightening reality….but once again God held my hand and got me through it… with some help from Uncle Sam.

I could now  just concentrate on the treatments…but, alas, time never waits on us to recover physically or financially before springing another problem.

The roof on my house is a post-Hugo roof…(which speaks well for the roofers)….but the shingles are now curling and the sideboards are all showing their age with mold and cracks…(soon I would be able to see the sun and moon through the cracks without ever leaving the house.)

Then a little over a year ago…a surprise came my way via my wonderful Poppy – following his death. An unexpected financial gift provided a solution to this home renovation problem…which  was not only probable…but possible now.

Yet…I found myself hesitating. Somewhere deep inside that wide-eyed girl of my past re-appeared- For weeks I heard the voice speaking softly…”You have wanted a deck added to your house for decades…this is it….it will completely change the aesthetic look of your back yard. Go for it…for once in your life!

I did. Reflecting upon this decision in hindsight…the deck was meant to be….everything fell so wonderfully into place. The other thing the deck did was provide the “loft” I needed to look down on my backyard and see the real possibility of a garden.

Without the deck…I don’t think I could have “seen” the future unfold…into my own small piece of paradise.


So I am back to saving again to get a new roof…it will happen…because God will put the right people at the right time in my path and I will know when it is time.

*In the meantime…the nice thing about a deck is that you don’t need a roof…God’s sky provides the roofing and it doesn’t enclose you…but frees you to be closer to Him.

Besides…no amount of money can buy the peace and contentment my deck and garden have brought me….along with my friends. Brooke spent last night (her birthday is this week) and we solved all the world’s problems in three hours sitting on the deck…hands down…with a couple of beers amidst solar lights twinkling from Chinese solar lanterns and solar mason jars.

It is all so beautiful to me that I pinch myself each day that I have this sanctuary of serenity. I bounce up every morning because I can hardly wait to get out there and eat my breakfast and then tell the deck and garden good night each evening.


I have always envied Mandy for her artistic talent and wished I had even an “iota” of this talent-the other day I saw this quote and thought…”Maybe I am an artist…just not in the conventional sense.”

“All gardening is landscape painting.”–  Alexander Pope

So until tomorrow….Thank you Father for opening our eyes to Your beautiful world and choosing its beauty over practicality occasionally…a life without aesthetic creations is a life dimmed from its potential.

* Breakfast on the deck this morning:


IMG_4597 (1)



Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

April 27…Eva Cate’s real birth date. At her birthday party last Saturday…the camera caught a pensive moment of reflection  on her face before blowing out her candles.

I think even small children sense the passing of time and the realization that the personal past won’t return again. Four is gone…never to return…and five is the unknown.


* Look’s what blooming in my garden today…besides Brookie in her beautiful blue top?




This beautiful blue iris with three other bulbs on the stem about to burst open and join it. The light shade of blue is exquisite…so delicate! Welcome


The red petunias in the wheelbarrow are very happy….it looks like they are having a party and smiling in the sunlight!


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Deck

  1. Sis Kinney says:

    Hi Becky!

    (and Happy REAL Birthday date to little Eva Cate and to big Bobby Kinney!!! LOL)

    You ARE a “real” artist – both in your gardening aesthetics and in your words!!! You tell a tale so delightfully well and your words are your art! Your craft is with the words. So many people – including me – love to open their computers and see what you have to say today, every single day! I’ve told you before: I go to your next Chapel of Hope story first thing after I do my morning devotionals; your stories are a part of my morning rituals. Much like your devoted ritual of getting out to your sanctuary, mine is going to what you have next said in your blog! And remember: Mandy must have inherited SOME of her talent from her parents and YOU are her mother! Don’t diss your own talent; there are hundreds of us who cherish YOUR “art”!!!

    I’m hoping the SC weather will stay warm and sunny at least for another week; I’m coming back to go to an annual retreat at Seabrook (Camp St. Christopher) this coming weekend, and I’m really hoping for beautiful SC sunshine!!

    Much love to you and your continued artistic, verbal talent!! (See – those days at PC with the “pre-college counseling” were NOT wasted!!!)



  2. Becky Dingle says:

    Sis….my eternal cheerleader….everyone should have someone like you in their lives…who opens perceptions that we can not see in ourselves….Seabrook ….how wonderful! Have fun!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.