Monday, December 29, 2008

It's 12:55am. Do you know where my sheep are?

So.  It's nearly 1:00 in the morning.  And I am very, very awake.  Not very happy about it, either.

This holiday season, it's not been one for the ages.  Don't get me wrong -- in a lot of ways it's been lovely.  Sara, I am convinced, had the Best Christmas Ever (until next year!) and that's really all that mattered to me.  So in the end I suppose I should count this a success.

Except.

Well, she threw up Christmas Eve (her first real emesis -- cool!) and that really threw us all for a loop.  My grandmother has spent the past two holidays in one sort of healthcare facility or another and, though I would not have had it any other way, I'd really rather spend Christmas day at the farm than in the rehab unit at the Four Seasons.  To top it off, I've been under the weather myself for the better part of two weeks.  I'm getting tired of it if you'd really like to know the truth.  Sleeping proves tricky when you can't breathe, and waking up gasping for air has been commonplace the last few nights.

But then again at least I was asleep, right?

I had been looking forward to five days away from work, enjoying the freedom to hang with my daughter and get out & about with the family.  Instead?  Haven't left the house since Christmas day.  And when I finally do, it will be to go back to work in seven short hours.

BUMMER.

I did, however, get to spend a little quality time with the seed catalogues today.  And while to the untrained eye my back yard looks like little more than a mud pit housing several large earth-movers & a cement mixer -- set off quite nicely by a large, silty pool I might add -- to me it is nothing but potential.  I am having to remind myself that perhaps I shouldn't try to install EVERY new plant this year.  (I am also having to remind myself that, at the rate construction has been going, those large earth-movers and the cement mixer might still be here this summer.)  Still, the thought of new raised beds for square-foot gardening is giving me a thrill, not to mention imagining a cutting garden that will keep us in flowers half the year.  And I'm even dreaming of some berry bushes.

Day-dreaming, naturally.  Because did I mention?  I'M STILL AWAKE.

Yep, yep I am.

Ugh.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Ah, the holidays!

It's about 12:30am on Christmas morning.  Sara got to sleep at about midnight, after tossing & turning and coughing and vomiting and bathing and tossing & turning some more.  She has a lovely rash and sounds, well -- horrible.

My Christmas cards?  They arrived via FedEx today.  So be on the lookout for your post-holiday Merry Christmas from the Gunns real soon.  (I've never ordered cards from Snapfish before and likely won't again -- these were supposed to be picked up in the store.  Grrrr.)

Santa is hard at work assembling his toys for the big unveiling in just a few hours...  He sure does use a lot of packing material.  Must be a bumpy ride all the way from the North Pole.

But before you leave here thinking I'm nothing but a Grinch, I have to say that in many ways this has been an especially lovely Christmas.  I wish Sara wasn't sick for so many reasons, but among them is that I don't want her first "real" Christmas to be spoiled by an unforgiving bug.  It has been so much fun watching her experience all of what will become our family traditions for the first time:  learning about Santa, singing carols every night together in bed, taking drives to look at all of the pretty lights, making cookies for the big guy -- she has loved it all.  She believes, and if you want to know the truth I believe a little bit, too.

I miss my parents but they are still here, living in many of our rituals.  There's an apple in every stocking and Santa still doesn't wrap his presents.  We'll have our grandmother's coffee cake in the morning and, hopefully, still make a trip down to Columbus to see Grammy.  And in the midst of all of this is the joy of seeing that little face anticipate, imagine, and wonder.  It's really the most fun I've had in a lot of Christmases and is probably the best gift I'll get this year.  I think now I understand why my parents never cared so much about the presents they received but still counted this time as the best of the year.  

They were right.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Saunter on over to...

... Sara's blog for some really lousy outstanding pictures from her gymnastics demonstration last week. I'm not sure how Miss Jeanie does it week after week, but God love her for it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Please answer in the form of a question

I'm pretty sure that Sara is destined to be a Jeopardy! champion, because EVERY FREAKING THING SHE SAYS IS A QUESTION.

Here, a transcript in real time:

Are they fixing my house?
Why?
But why do they fix it?
How many naps until school?
You don't?
Why?
Can you get my circles and my star for me?
Why?
Why?
Why am I driving you crazy?
Is it funny?
Why isn't it funny, Mama?
But why?
Are you laughing Mama?
What did you see?
What are you doing?
Mom?
Mom?
Mama, what are you doing?
I'm killing you?
Why?
Mama?
What is he gonna do?
Why?
Why's he gonna fix the house?
Gramp isn't here?
What did you say (sigh) for?



ARE KIDDING ME? OH MY G*D, AM I DOING IT NOW TOO?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Best. Thing. Ever.

The only thing to make me laugh during the past fever, chills, stomach-cramp filled 24 hours:

http://www.firemeetsdesire.com/

Keep spraying to get to the King... you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Just moments before the time out:

Rob:  Sara Hope, don't grab the kitty!
(Sara grabs the kitty)
Rob:  Sara!  What did I tell you?!
Sara:  Don't grab the kitty.
Rob: What did you do?!
Sara:  I grab the kitty.
Rob:  Why??
Sara:  Because I grabbed him.

And you know, you really can't argue with that.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hypocrite

I just wrote up this whole post about a story that simultaneously breaks my heart and turns my stomach, and how I don't understand why the writer feels at all apologetic about her opinion on the matter.

And then I promptly archived it because I didn't want to offend anyone.

(sigh)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Close to home

I work for one of the largest employers in my state.  A few weeks ago, during my weekly meeting with our department's director, I was told that our organization was going to have to cut costs by 5% across the board but that "at this point, no lay offs are anticipated."

Well, at this point, they are.

My husband read me the headline from the newspaper this morning.  Because we are a hospital system they are not eliminating positions involved in direct patient care but are instead cutting personnel in "white collar" positions.

Did I mention that earlier this year I went from a clinical to an administrative postion?  Yes, yes I did.

I'm not anticipating a pink slip, though perhaps that is naive on my part.  Going forward I suspect that I am going to witness a lot of things I never thought I'd see as this economic situation continues to unfold.  In reality, I already have -- I had never personally known of families whose financial security was rocked by job loss, and now I knew several.  Rob's desire to own a piece of land and buy a few chickens is starting to look a lot more appealing.  "Farmers don't starve," he says.   I suppose he's right.

Earlier today we three adults, sharing this charming little two-bedroom, one-bath bungalow with one very active almost-three-year-old, had pretty much had enough with each other.  It's easy to step on toes, make bad assumptions, or just stop caring about who you piss off when you're constantly running into someone.  But I'm reminding myself now that I need to remember how very lucky I am.  I have a job.  I'm healthy.  We live in a safe neighborhood, in a nice house, with hot water and cold ice and piles of warm blankets.  We're blessed to own our homes without the burden of a monthly mortgage payment.  We have insurance, safe & reliable cars and a full pantry.  I'm throwing a Tinkerbell birthday party tomorrow and I'm not worried about whether or not it's a luxury I can afford to spend on my favorite very active almost-three-year-old.

It's clear to me now, as I watch my employer start to make those cuts that just a few weeks ago they "didn't anticipate," that all of this could very easily go away.  Just a couple of years ago this would have kept me up at night, worrying about rent and student loans and a baby on the way.  Now, life has changed -- quite a lot actually -- and my perspective is a bit different.  But still I wonder:  What would we do?  

Buy a few chickens, I guess.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Wonder Years

Somehow, in a blink, my baby is gone.  I miss her to be sure, but my consolation is this wonder-filled little girl.  And oh my word -- do I love her.

She spent all night talking about Santa, asking if he would drive here, or if he would ride in our car, and if he would bring his bag.  And she would help him with his bag!  She would hold it for him!  And could he come to her birthday party?  And she would take her soft soft Tinkerbell blanket to the "Nerf Pole" so she could see him.  And why was he making toys?  And will it be Christmas after she takes a wiwwy good nap?

Many times over the last week I've found myself seeing Sara through my mom's eyes.  This isn't new.  It's overwhelming but nice, somehow allowing me to imagine that Mom really isn't missing out on these moments:  wide, shining eyes as her birthday cake is placed in front of her; eager anticipation of a visit from Santa; the tiniest bear hugs you can imagine and "I wuf you so so much."  Truly, I want to burst.

Sara is just now beginning to see the wonder in everything, and I am lucky enough to see it again too thanks to her.  Maybe this is why Mom loved Christmas so much -- an annual gift of wonder, the kind you only get from a child.  

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Philly to Indy

Jeez, is that a long drive.  
I never thought I'd say it, but thank God for Dora.

It's good to be home.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A lot to be thankful for


I am very, very good at finding problems.  While this serves me well at work (because at least there I am also pretty good at finding solutions) it is more often than not a hindrance in real life.

But today is Thanksgiving day, and so in the spirit of the day here is a list, by no means exhaustive, of the things I am so very thankful for:
  • Rob and Sara
  • Nanci and CJ, Sharon, Tony, Kelli and Dani
  • Mom and Dad, and everything (tangible and not) they left behind for us
  • Grammy and her safe recovery
  • Kathy, Skip, Trish, Ray, and Grampa Bill
  • My family - all of them
  • My community
  • The generosity of friends
  • My brother-in-law, alive and well in Iraq
  • Watching Sara grow up and into herself
  • The anticipation of Christmas
  • Friends who never stray
  • A stable job with a steady paycheck
  • A safe place to live with a warm bed for sleeping
  • Gardens, and all that they provide
  • The promise of a finished home (some day at least!)
  • Fond memories (like this, this, this, and this and this)
  • Safe travels
  • Second chances
  • Third chances
  • Good books
  • The Good Book
  • Grace enough
  • Stories of survival (like this one)
  • The blue and white plates hanging in my grandmother's dining room
  • The first sip of coffee in the morning
  • My cat Pete (the best cat ever)
  • Our new fluffy warm blanket
  • Pretty autumn days
  • Catching the perfect picture of Sara
  • Our new little tree
  • Good health
  • Love, love love
How about you?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Have I mentioned this site?

This one right here.
I have?
I see.  Well, obviously I still like it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's a small world after all (with apologies to my Disnophile friends)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the pleasure of spending a couple of unexpected hours with my aunt last Saturday. She has a lot to say.

During the course of her conversation she mentioned a trip she had taken to Scotland a few years ago, and while she was there she saw my cousin -- ironically named "Scott."

I haven't seen Scott, or either of his brothers, for years. Probably decades. They moved away from Indiana when we were young kids, then all scattered -- one to San Francisco, one to New York, and one to Scotland. Their parents divorced, their dad died, and given their very common last name I figured I'd never find them again.

But leave it to my old friend Google, and my new friend LinkedIn, to prove me wrong.

I sent him an inquiry last night through LinkedIn, just trying to determine if this was the same Scott ________ I was looking for. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't spend a lot of time on my LinkedIn account (probably because I'm not all that interested in being linked in) so I didn't figure I'd hear anything very soon, if at all.

Lo and behold, this morning there was a message in my inbox: "Hi, Cousin."

And I don't know why, but that makes me so happy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday morning post

Wait - what's that I hear?  

What?  Nothing?  I hear nothing?

Oh sweet heaven it's true.  I hear absolutely NOTHING!

Rob, Skip & Sara have taken a day trip to Chicago to see Skip's mom/Rob's grandmother/Sara's great-grandmother and I have the whoooole house to myself.  Well, me & the cats.

It's 9:00am and I have the whole day to look forward to.  Already I've slept in a bit (but just a bit, as I didn't want to waste my alone time), taken a shower, gotten dressed, and enjoyed my first cup of coffee in uninterrupted bliss.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Right now I'm doing some investigating on Cabela's and - lo & behold! - have found a $30 off promotion through my recent new fave, UPromise.  Christmas is coming and, well -- I have a Rob to shop for.  

I'm also enjoying a big bowl of oatmeal.  It is so tasty I'm going to tell you all about it:

Really tasty, rainy-fall-morning, seven-layer* oatmeal
*that's right, seven layers!

1.  Start some oatmeal.  I prefer steel-cut, which takes about 30 min, but right now all I have is plain-old rolled oats.  (Stay away from the instant stuff...  blech.)
2.  Get out a nice big bowl.  I have prepared the "heart healthy" serving size, which is, um -- sizeable.
3.  Add the following, not necessarily in this order, to your bowl:
Brown sugar (to taste - not too much!)
Cinnamon, a couple shakes
Coconut (yes, yes, a little tasty surprise in your bowl), about a tablespoon
Nuts -- I like pecans and walnuts, your choice; a little handful, crunched
Flax seed, about a tablespoon
Dried fruit -- right now I've got Sunsweet "antioxidant blend;" a little handful
The oats
4.  Add a little milk if you like and stir.  Delicious!


*********

Later, I plan on planting a terrarium.  Or, as it's known around our house, a "fairy garden."  We're all about the fairies these days.

*********

I got a haircut Thursday night and oh, oh, oh.  Do I feel better. 

*********

I thought I had something else to say but I guess I don't.  Enjoy your Saturday!

*********

Addendum:  So.  About thirty minutes after I signed off, my aunt arrived.  I had completely forgotten that she was going to be in town (she lives outside St. Louis) and wanted to see me and Sara.  I did indeed feel like a heel.  Also?  She's a talker.  Really.  I love her though.  But I'm glad I've been able to bookend that 2 hours with quiet.  Now, on to the terrarium...

*********

OK, so after lunch I totally fell asleep.  Then had unpleasant dreams about, well -- never mind.  They were unpleasant.  I guess I should go plant that terrarium.  This is not turning out to be the day I expected at all!  Maybe I can get them to go back to Chicago again TOMORROW...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reclamation

So I'm wondering:

When will I be able to arrive at work without a newly-acquired stain on my shirt? You know -- one that's strategically located?

When will I be able to travel from point A to point B without looking like a pack mule?

When will I stop finding rocks, barrettes, and stickers in my pockets, on my pants, or in my shoes?

When will the 7:00am time outs be a thing of the past?

When will I no longer be excited about a new episode of Dora?

When will I be able to use the loo without an audience?


The answer:

All too soon. And I'll miss it when it's gone.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

36 inches of peace

Mayhem and chaos.  These words are not too far off the mark when thinking about a typical day with Sara.  She brings both to the table.

I'm not saying this is all bad, mind you.  She is smart and funny, and every day she adds some new trick to the mix: suddenly unable to bear loud noises, like the toilet flushing or the mixer in the kitchen; answering questions with a very serious "yeth;" insisting on wearing oversized Tinkerbell jams to bed (every night); telling a joke; eating and eating and eating, til I am quite sure she will bust.  Or, eating nothing at all.

This is also quite exhausting on all fronts.  She is a whirlwind that requires constant chasing and a sensitive little soul whose heart requires constant tending.  She never - ever - stops talking, and requires constant conversation.  Sara's mind is always thinking, figuring, planning, analyzing.  Her world gets bigger by the minute -- and it's not ready for her, let me tell you.

So at the end of the day, when she grudgingly gives in to her little body's demands for rest, I'm always surprised to find the most wonderful thing:  36 inches of peace.  36 inches of warm, steady breaths on my cheek and soft small hands smoothing my hair.  36 inches of arms and legs kept warm in her favorite footie jams,  finally still.  36 inches of cozy, her body not too hot (like her father) or too foreign (like everyone else), but just right.  36 inches of innocence and promise and faith and hope and unconditional love.

36 inches that breaks my heart and makes my life, every single day.  

Sweet, silent, peace.

Monday, November 10, 2008

OK, but it's only 5 or so in dog years

A conversation with my nearly-three-year-old at lunch today:

"Mama, are you two?"

No.

"Are you five?"

No.

"What are you?"

Thirty-seven.

"Oh, right."

[pause]

"Firty-WHAT?!?"


Nice...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Waiting Game, or Happy Birthday, CJ!

The following post was shamelessly copied & pasted from my other blog, which is supposed to chronicle the mad-cap events surrounding our much anticipated home renovation project.  SUPPOSED TO, I say.  Instead it has become a safe place for me to use all of the choice language that my mother never let me get away with.  Enjoy.

So, my brother asked me today why I haven't posted anything.

OK -- first?  My brother?  Reads this blog?  Who knew?  (Clearly not me.)

And to answer his question for the record:  Because there's just not a whole lot going on right now.

My father-in-law would certainly disagree and I mean him no disrespect.  He has been working on putting in the last of our replacement windows and putting up trim where he is able.  So yes, something has been going on.

But none of the BIG stuff is going on.  It seems that the city of Indianapolis, or the state of Indiana, or both, like to screw with their taxpayers by making them wait for weeks on end (weeks!  that's right, I said WEEKS!) to issue final permits.  I am so beyond over it that I don't know what to do, but there's not a hell of a lot I can do except curse about it.  And so I will.

Those #&^-d@#^ m(#*%^-f&#?^*$ really need to get off of their m(#*%^-f&#?ing a$$e$ so we can f&#?ing get on with this already, because this $%!t is really starting to p!$$ me the h@)) off.

Ah, I feel much better now.

No, no I don't.  Not really at all.

But there it is.  We wait while the chump from the IDEM decides to grace us with his* presence so we can actually start building what we've been dreaming about for over a year.  Perhaps if he realized we are sharing a room with a two-year-old, he might take mercy on us and put a move on it?

Nah, I don't think so either.


*And in the event that this chump is a woman, all of the above still stands -- because I am nothing if not an equal-opportunity p!$$ed off taxpayer.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Feeling blue

Indiana, for the first time in 44 years, has gone blue. And I’m not really all that surprised.

I’m glad this election is over. Like most people I’m tired of the campaign ads, tired of the talking heads, tired of the glad-handing and pandering and what-have-you. I was not an Obama supporter (though I did flirt with it for a time), but fully expected him to win so the outcome of yesterday’s election was more or less a formality for me.

Let’s just say I went to bed early.

More than anything, the campaign for this election left me disappointed. I am happy for -- and if I’m to be completely honest also a little jealous of -- Obama’s supporters. They were (are) real believers, and had a candidate who could (can) inspire. Obama is certainly charismatic, charming, engaging, even a little seductive. I wanted to believe, to get on the bandwagon because this is a guy who pulls you in and, somehow, gives you faith that he, unlike all the others before him, will deliver.

McCain? Not so much.

My friend Richard has said more than once that Obama is our generation’s Kennedy, and I suppose he’s right about that. It would have been nice to be a part of that kind of movement. (Then again I’m not a Kennedy fan either, so there you go.)

But in the end I just didn’t (don’t) buy what he was selling. I’m concerned about his agenda and where it will take us, even more concerned now that he appears to have the Congress firmly on his side – a Congress which proves, time & again, that they can’t always be trusted (no matter their political persuasion). He’s got his work cut out for him, to be sure, but right now the deck seems to be stacked in his favor.

Here’s hoping he’s the best thing to happen to this country.

And here’s hoping that four years from now I’ll have someone that I can believe in, too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A useful web resource – and it’s nutritious, too!

Every couple of weeks or so I get something in my e-mail box from the National Gardening Association. I don’t remember when or why I signed up for the “Edible Landscaping” newsletter, and admittedly I usually delete it before I even open it. But not today! Looking for a mental break from my hum-drum administrative duties, I decided to check out the latest installment and guess what – it’s actually kind of interesting! And helpful! And accessible to the wanna-be proficient home gardener!

The only problem is now I really want to grow purple potatoes and start composting, but don’t think the contractor would appreciate it if I converted the dumpster into a compost bin, and I’m pretty sure the crew would trample my cold frame. So, maybe next year.

Anywho, check out http://www.garden.org/ if you’re interested. I know I’ll be visiting them from time to time while I whittle away the weeks until the seed catalogues arrive!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A stitch in time (saves nine, at least -- if you're into that sort of thing)

Some more sites I’ve stumbled across (don’t ask me how) that I think I kinda like:

http://www.ncnblog.com/
http://beingfrugal.net/
http://www.home-ec101.com/
http://getrichslowly.org/blog/

Also, while I’m all about growing and storing my own food (with exceptions as noted previously), I’m pretty sure that I’m not cut out for this or this* (though this, in it's exclusivity, really makes me wish I was). As much as I want to be the kind of person who can very contentedly pass the hours by whipping out new hand-made goods for her family… I just. Don’t. Think so.

Any experts out there willing to change my mind? Cause I’m open to it!

* Seriously? That first link scares me. And the second one... well, I could do without the hat. But that's just me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

IPromise, UPromise

So, I just signed up for UPromise today. I know, I know -- don't bring me down with your "drop in the bucket" mentality.

Catch enough drops and eventually you can put out a fire, right?

Anyway, I'll be able to put percentages of my purchases (online or in-store) directly toward my student loan. It's all set up so they talk to each other. My grocery store cards are hooked up, too. AND, I can ask my family to join so their purchases can help me, too. (Did you hear that, family?) :)

I mean seriously -- no matter how crunchy I become I'm going to need to shop at Target or eBay or CVS or Kroger. Because vegetables are one thing, but until my hamburger & chicken breasts start popping up out of the ground in nicely wrapped packages I'll leave the dirty work to someone else.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Go figure

So color me surprised, but it's five days later now and I'm still smitten with the idea of living a crunchier life.  I love stumbling across new resources that offer no-nonsense, easy, relatively painless ways to save.  Save what?  Time, money, stress, materials, myself -- whatever.

Also to my surprise I am not really missing being a chronic consumer.  Right now, the three of us are sharing a room of about 144 square feet.  Chewing up most of that space is one twin bed and one king size bed; our clothes, shoes, and bare essentials fill in the rest.  Yes, we have other things scattered here & there in my sister's house but we haven't even approached taking it over.  So what this means is that I can't really buy a lot of things - where on Earth would I put them?

This is amazingly freeing.

And, it's buying me time (hee hee) to make some considered decisions about what we will need to purchase when we move back home versus what we can just do without.  Or do differently.  On my list?
Putting up a clothes line.  
Garden planning.
Boning up on freezing & canning.
Learning to use my sewing machine.
  Repurposing a small dresser for Sara's night stand.
Planting another tree in the front yard for afternoon shade.
Mastering the art of bread-making.  

OK that last one has very little to do with being crunchy;  I'm just tired of making a lousy loaf of bread.

The point is that none of this is original and none of it is rocket science.  But it does take a little more effort on my part while requiring a little less convenience.  And that's OK.  I'm enjoying these little epiphanies and find that it's making ever-so-slight changes in my thinking.  Like instead of begrudging what I can't do because it's too expensive, I find myself thinking about what I can do instead that will be just as enjoyable and, probably, a lot more creative.

A year ago?  No, no.  Not so much.  The wallowing would have commenced immediately, followed closely by a fairly obnoxious period of martyr sydrome.  It ain't pretty, I know.

Anyway, there's no real point to my rambling here.  Just happy to report that, so far, this seems to be more than just a passing fancy.  I am pleasantly, hopefully surprised.

Go me!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oddly enough, green was my mother's least-favorite color...

I don’t consider myself crunchy. In fact the word itself conjures up images of long, fly-away hair, Birkenstocks, jars of sprouts, and the distinct smell of doobie floating through the air. (Yes, yes, I know – I just described one of my aunts circa 1985. I’m happy to report that she now eats meat, refined sugar, and shaves. Don’t know about the doobie, so I’m opting to go Clinton on that one: don’t ask, don’t tell.)

But I’m beginning to realize that crunchy has come a long way, and while it still seems to be planted squarely in the realm of politically liberal ideology (Ed Begley Jr, anyone?), it’s becoming apparent to me that this Republican from the middle of the Bible belt is enchanted by it as well.

Evidently I’m late to the party on this, as Rod Dreher has written a whole book about crunchy conservatives entitled, appropriately enough, Crunchy Cons.* I haven’t read it so I can’t claim to be a true Crunchy Con myself, but the little bit that I did read here does seem to line up more or less with my own beliefs.

Anyway, this is not a political post.

What I’m discovering is that the ideas of reusing, repurposing, reinventing, growing, harvesting, storing, sharing, simplifying, saving – all of these are incredibly appealing to me. The choices I’ve made thus far in life might not tend to support this statement, but it’s true. And really, it’s not all that surprising. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve found in my parent’s house that have sparked an idea about how I could fix it, or change it, or display it, or whatever. I’ve done it before (those of you who helped move my grandmother’s painstakingly refinished ten-ton secretary in the middle of a monsoon can attest to this), and I am quite certain I’ll do it again.

Only this time, it seems to have a purpose.

Right now, on paper at least, we are worth more than ever before (in other words, we have a net value that is greater than zero -- a novel concept, no?). Whether it is the current economic situation, my ever-increasing understanding of responsibility for our daughter, or my overwhelming desire to chuck my day job & stay home to care for my family, I am feeling a tremendous need to preserve what we’ve got and make it last. Being in the throes of major – did I mention MAJOR? – renovations doesn’t do much to help the preservation effort.

BUT!


That doesn’t mean that I can’t continue, in whatever small way possible, to put what might appear to be cast-offs to good work once the construction is completed:

An old, rusted table base without a top? How about a “new” table to use in our herb garden, with a top fabricated with stone scraps from the renovation?

A ridiculously heavy and oversized wooden locker, covered in 60-year-old stained & disintegrating fabric? How about a reupholstered storage bench for the guest room?

A toilet & pedestal sink, unused & tucked under a staircase for the better part of the last 15 years? How about using them to outfit our new powder room? Really – it’s already new. Why replace them?

A bent and warped cold frame, that long ago lost it’s membrane to the elements? Yeah – we’re fixing that too. Because, in case it’s not already perfectly clear, we plan to garden our brains out next summer.

Canning party anyone? (Amy H, I’m talking to you!)

I could go on & on. There are so many things that we’ve forgotten we even have that I can find a use for – and I fully intend to do just that. Sites like this one only stoke my fire. The best thing is that I like doing this. I enjoy finding creative uses for “trash,” cleaning things up and giving them new life & having people say “That is so neat – where did you get that?”

So if that makes me crunchy, then I guess I am.

Bring on the granola!



*Thanks, Amy for mentioning this to me. I'll have to add it to my never-ending list of things I'd like to read once I have a house to read them in.

Friday, October 10, 2008

October

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost--
For the grapes' sake along the wall.

--Robert Frost

(With sincere thanks to Amanda Soule, who reminded me that I love Robert Frost)
This story reminded me why I still love Indiana, even with all of it’s faults.

How many places can you go where, just 30 minutes outside the state capital, you can visit the FFA pumpkin patch? (What’s the FFA you ask? Future Farmers of America, of course.)

How many public school systems still have agriculture teachers?

How many high schoolers use their savings to buy rabbits, calves, pigs & goats? And then allow them to be part of a petting zoo for little ones?

How many times do you get to hear a grown man say “I’d like them to do it forever and ever?”

I know, I know. It’s all kind of hokey. But give me hokey any day if it means reminders about what really matters: working together, working hard, and enjoying what you do.

Hokey, but refreshing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Welcome to the asylum

Seriously. The child ought to be dead tired, with all of the extra activities she's had the last couple of days. But oooohhhh noooooo, she was up and unstoppable at "six-oh-freakin-two" today (timekeeping courtesy of Rob). And then this was her for the better part of the morning:















Naked, save for the infant-sized fleecy jester hat which she insisted on wearing because she was "wiwwy COLD."

Well no kidding.

I was just happy that the cats weren't being terrorized and my laptop wasn't being used as a trampoline.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Peniel

I'm spending some time these days hashing things out. Mostly with myself, I think, but probably just as much with God. Or maybe, God is hashing things out with me.

I have some decisions to make and making them will commit me to living life one way or another. I have reservations about both of my choices and wish I could have it both ways -- but that is the one thing I cannot have. Both options scare me. But to be perfectly honest, there is only one right path, I'm just afraid to chose it. (I'm more afraid not to.)

This is the conversation I find myself wrapped up in during those brief, scattered moments when I'm not asked to be Mama or wife or sister or therapist or friend. When it's just me and God, over and over again I am led to the same questions and fears and regrets and hopes. I spend so much time asking "why," bargaining with "what ifs," and kicking myself with "if onlys" that I don't generally shut up and listen. This is hard for me on a good day, when I've got someone sitting in front of me -- trying to do it with God? For crying out loud. It's nearly impossible. And (of course!) it's the one thing I really need to do.

So shut up already and listen, goose. Sheesh.

I was reminded today of the story of Jacob wrestling with God and it really resonated with me. I actually wish it didn't; I'd rather get through this without all the wrestling, thank you very much. But the good news, if I'm in the mood to look for it (and I am), is that in the end God blesses Jacob and tells him that he has overcome. I can only hope for the same.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The demo is underway!

You should check out this link for the visual play-by-play, but if you just want a quick hit, here's the scene at 6249 these days!
(Isn't that the sexiest dumpster you've ever seen??)



Saturday, September 27, 2008

No, this is not tornado alley

Rob & Skip took out some trees this week. Much chipping commenced. Here is the "before..." I'll have to work on the "after." Actually, I guess that last one counts as an "after" after all. Hmmmm...







Saturday, September 20, 2008

My BFF

Sara told me this week that I'm her best friend.  And at first I thought it was just a fluke, but she's said it quite a few times now so I'm pretty sure she means it.

Yes yes, the girl does have me right here (pinky proudly displayed).

Do you think she'll remember this when she's 15?  Or even 5?


No, I don't think so either...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Protesting too much?

I dunno.  I freely admit that I'm not a news junkie and most of what I pick up about the presidential campaign is purely accidental.  But the thing is, most of what I do happen to pick up is piece after piece featuring the Obama camp trying to discredit Palin.

Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.  Hang on.  Palin?  Last I checked, Palin was running for VICE president.  And last I checked, the VICE president wasn't the person who ran the country.  Yes, yes, that whole "heartbeat away" thing.  I get it.  Not likely.

So, I don't know.  Maybe it's me but it just seems a little desperate.  

I'm also a little put off by the smart-ass ads Obama is endorsing.  Frankly, I don't want a smart-ass in the Oval Office.  The truth?  For a minute there, I was thisclose to becoming a believer.  Obama is smart, engaging, charming, and certainly talks a good talk about hope and change.  Plus, like most everyone else, I am more or less done with W and McCain just seemed too wacky an option.

But now that the pressure is on -- courtesy of Palin? -- which, again, I think is odd -- he's losing me.  Seems a little too full of himself.  Arrogant, I guess.  That fist bump never bothered me before, but now it strikes me as...  I don't know.  Cocky?

Oh, and by the by:  I don't believe for a minute that the pig/lipstick comment was "misconstrued."  

Please.  Spare me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Writer's block

My problem is that I'm all too aware of the fact that, really, I'm  just sort of a so-so writer.  

I tend, frequently, and with little regard, respect for, or attention to flow or proper use of grammatical rules, to over-use, and generally abuse, commas.

I often times find it very difficult to pare down what it is that I'm trying to convey and end up using more words than necessary which, inevitably, leaves my point diluted or, worse yet, lost in the mire of overzealous use of language and, as mentioned previously, commas -- which, truth be told, may be only slightly more annoying than the over-use of dashes; semi-colons; or exclamation points!

I was saying what, now?

I remember.  Yes.  I was saying that I'm really not a very good writer.  Poor punctuation.  Non-adherence to the rules of form and structure.  Rambling iterations that surely cause my readers -- all three of you! -- to lose interest, if not their minds, as they wade through word after word and phrase after phrase of seemingly haphazard strings of letters, letters, letters, and commas, commas, commas.

I also have a very bad habit of starting new paragraphs with the word "I."

I -- oops, I mean -- argh!  No, no, let's try this again...  

(Oh, and then there's the ellipsis.  Surely my high school English teacher would faint dead away if she saw how casually I threw around the ellipsis....)

I've also recently started to realize that there are whole communities of bloggers out there that actually take this seriously.  They debate what makes for a "good" versus "bad" blog.  Bloggers and blogging have spawned whole new industries, with potential for ad revenue and special convention sessions (conventions?!  and convention sessions?!?!) on how to generate the most traffic through your blog -- which, I'm assuming, is to help prop up the aforementioned ad revenue.

I also tend to blow it by using words like "aforementioned" and "spawned."

I give up.  This is what it is -- namely, my online, take it or leave it, I'm-not-making-any-money-off-of-you-so-don't-expect-too-much-except-egregious-punctuation-errors, pompous -- or is it pretentious? -- use-of-lexicon-and-poorly-formed, rambling-thoughts-cause, you know, it's late and I've got a two-year old-so-what-more-do-you-expect-from-me, purging of ideas, opinions, hopes, dreams, failures, sorrows, triumphs, and thoughtful links to, well -- you know.  Other blogs.

And with that, I'll say good night.

I did it!  A new paragraph that didn't start with "I!"  Uh, no.... wait.....  never mind....

Friday, September 05, 2008

The one thing that made me laugh at work this week

And no, it was not the little Amish boy with a cochlear implant.

Instead, it was this little nugget I found in an online debate on our internal web page regarding whether or not Obama scrubs were "appropriate" to wear or would be cause for corrective action:

BARACK ME OBAMADEUS!

OMG. Love!

Color me disgusted

Another inspiring story about the fine "servants" we pay to screw us represent us in Washington.

Meanwhile, my siblings and I are forced to pay (I cannot bring myself to say "owe") the government tens of thousands of dollars, just because my father worked hard for 40+ years and made a point of leaving something behind for his family.

And our legislators wonder why we are jaded, why we don't care enough to show up and vote, why we have lost all trust in them and their system.

It's because it sucks, ladies & gentlemen. It sucks.

I could give a big fat rat's ass that this story happens to discuss a Democrat. Give it a few news cycles, they'll find a Republican pulling the same crap -- and I'll feel just the same.

I find myself wanting to feel hopeful that a new President (and either one would do, actually) could inspire change. But then I remember the beauty of our checks and balances, and realize that no one man can make the sweeping changes that are required. We as voters are the only ones who can do that... you know, those same jaded, impassive, untrusting voters who don't care enough to show up and vote in the first place.

Ah, the irony.

On the list of things I never expected to see:

The little Amish boy outside my office, going into an audiology booth for a follow-up visit regarding his cochlear implant.

Huh.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

C jane shine

Not too long ago, a couple from Mesa, AZ was in a plane crash. There were three people on board -- the pilot, his wife, and a flight instructor. The filght instructor did not survive his injuries. The couple remains in critical condition, having suffered severe burns but thankfully no internal injuries.

Theirs is a long, hard, tenuous road. My heart aches for them, their children, and their family.

I learned about their situation here; I learned about their lives here.

I am blown away by the way this family has rallied together, and more blown away by the way one sister is managing to share the story with such grace, wit, hope, and humor. It's a true manifestation of their faith, hope, and love for God and one another.

A quick review of my blog posts through equally dark times reveals that I was not nearly so eloquent, faithful or hopeful.

Lately I am reminded over and over again of the passage that Elaine read at church last week from Expecting Adam by Martha Beck. I can't remember what was written, but I remember what I heard: The beauty of people is blinding if we allow ourselves to see it. Painfully blinding.

C jane has blinded me and the pain is real but consequential. I don't know what it will bring, but I believe that it can't help but change me.

God's blessings, healing, and peace to all of them.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The funniest nonagenarian I know -OR- I could tell you what her real name is, but then she'd have to kill me

I might have to make this a regular feature.

My Grammy is 94 years old.  She lives by herself in an old farmhouse in the middle of the country.  She has always been hard of hearing and, for all practical purposes is just about deaf now.  She insists on keeping up with some of her own yard work (like pruning bushes and sawing off rogue limbs) and sometime within the last few years was caught up on a ladder cleaning out a gutter.  Need a dish she's stored up on the extra-high shelf?  Not to worry -- she'll just climb up on the counter and pull it down for you.  (This is the same woman who didn't want to walk down her own front stairs during my wedding because she "usually just hops off the retaining wall instead.")

Hello!  She's 94.

She's also a lot like her son, my dad, in that she's stubborn and reluctant to accept help.  She is in considerable pain a good deal of the time due to osteoporosis and degenerative disease in her spine.  "It's just like my mother, nothing you can do about it" is what she says when you ask her if she'll go see the doctor.  That's great Grammy, just great.

Well, Grammy has fallen a couple of times over the past few months.  We tend to find out about these little spills accidentally.  This last time she did consent to go to the doctor and, good news! -- no fractures, no damage to her spine.  Just good old arthritis and osteoporosis.  He did suggest that she get a doughnut pillow to sit on, use ice instead of heat, up her dose of Tylenol (a placebo if ever there was one) and get some rest.  My cousin Molly, who just happens to be a nurse, goes out to check on her frequently and moved a chair into her regular "spot" that she thought would be easier for her to get in & out of.

And this is where we pick up our tale.

Sent an e-mail to my aunt earlier today, who replied with a couple of new Grammy stories.  I think I'll just cut & paste:

[Grammy] was in a really good mood when I got there... she was still sitting on the south end of the sofa...kidded me about being "late" compared to other mornings.  (Didn't feel any better, she said.)  I should have know she'd succeeded in putting one over on us.
 
Couldn't quite figure out what she'd done til I got ready to leave and realized her little LaZBoy was back in its old spot, and the higher, bigger upholstered chair that I had moved from its spot by the piano to the former LaZyBoy site in the family room was now in the dining room. 
 
I thought perhaps she might have asked Molly to move it yesterday.  So I asked her, "Did YOU move these chairs?" 
 
She replied, "Nah, I didn't really move them.  I just leaned on them a little bit."

And then there's this little gem:

Earlier this week Grammy was watching the weather, and I asked her how the "hurricane" was shaping up.  She raised her arm in the air and gestured as she said, "I'ts going 'round and 'round!"

Honestly.  I'm not that quick and I'm, well...  a lot younger than 94.

My aunt made me promise not to mention this to Grammy, as she is always afraid we're laughing at her.  Well, we are --but it's really in a good way (if you know what I mean).  So do me a favor:  If you run into a wicked funny old lady at the hardware store, in sharpening her pruners or looking for a new saw, don't mention that I shared these stories with you.  She wouldn't like us laughing at her.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Something in the air

Had an unsettling dream this morning. Won't bore you with the details, but money (actually an estate being settled), a break-dancing judge, and a tornado or two were involved. Pretty much in that order.

I woke up a little rattled.

Being a pragmatic Hoosier (descended from a line of even more pragmatic New Englanders) I'm not a big believer in dream interpretation -- though it did work for Joseph and his amazing technicolor dreamcoat. But sometimes, when the dream is just so vivid and so alarming... well, I let curiosity get the better of me and I turn to my old friend Google.

Turns out, tornados (and other strong winds) can mean many things. What I distilled from all of the internet kooks experts was that tornadic activity in your dreams can be a sign that you are stressed about something.

Oh. You don't say? Boy, that's a stretch. Because really, stress? I don't know anyone who is dealing with that.

Anyway, I'm hoping for less atmospheric disturbance in my sleep tonight. It's exhausting.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Such a sucker for a pretty picture

So Rob and I had date night a couple of weeks ago...  we went to Borders, which we discovered is not exactly conducive to "date night" -- he winds up in sci-fi (of course) and I'm wandering through the chick lit.  Note to selves:  no more dates at the book store.

Anyway, I usually take a stroll through the children's section to see if there's anything there that I just can't live without.  Usually there isn't -- but not last time!  I found a new old favorite:  A Visitor for Bear, written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady Macdonald Denton.  

As Sara would say, I WAHVS it!

The story is sweet (how I love that mouse!) and the illustrations are enchanting.  (Did I just say "enchanting?"  Why yes, yes I did.)  I am crossing my fingers that they make it into a short animated movie -- seriously, I would go.  Twice.  By myself.

Anyway, if you -- like me -- are a sucker for sweet and clever children's books, and you just happen to have a child to buy it for, I highly recommend A Visitor for Bear.  

I WAHVS it!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tu(tu) much

Never, ever in my life --
EVER --
did I think I would have a little girly girl.  

Never.

And never, ever in my life -- 
EVER --
did I think that she would want a tutu.

Well, let me tell you something:

The girl has a tutu.  The tutu to end all tutus if I do say.  And I made it myself.

Excuse me, what?

Yes yes, me -- the one whose mother played ice hockey and semi-professional softball and struggled to sew a button onto my father's pants -- I made a tutu.  That's right, me.  The girl who owns a sewing machine she doesn't know how to use, who struggled with the concept of wearing a dress on her wedding day, who only went to the ballet in college because the tickets were free -- I MADE A FREAKING TUTU.  A shiny, frilly, fabulous pink tutu complete with a smashing pink peony at the waist.

Oh, there will be pictures.  Don't you worry.  Pictures a-plenty.

I love that the bear is a girly-girl despite the fact that her Mama, most definitely, is not.  She certainly has opened my eyes to the frilly side of life and I hate to admit it, but...  it's not so bad.  (Shhhhh.  I didn't say that.)

The trick of course will be to convince her to not wear the tutu while caving, climbing, and carousing with her father.  Because -- wouldn't you know --  girly-girl also happens to be a tom-boy, too.  

She ROCKS.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Here's how I know I'm getting old

• I'm closer to 40 than 30.
• I'm closer to 50 than 20. (WHAT?!)
• I have a conversation about funeral planning and realize that it's not just theorhetical.
• I can tell when there's a front coming through.
• I suddenly have a pill case. And it's full.
• I understand the importance of life insurance.
• I'm bothered that we still don't have a will prepared. (Note to self: Find an estate attorney. Pronto.)
• I think that I'm listening to Top 40, but the album was released in 1995.
• I look forward to the seed catalogues coming each winter. I mean, a LOT.
• I don't think McCain is that old.

Friday, August 08, 2008

What's better than finding a forgotten 10 spot in an old pair of jeans?

Finding a favorite song you forgot you loved.

I found this one earlier today. So true then, oddly true now.
Ah, music.... it soothes the soul, no?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tasty summer

For the most part I am not a big fan of summer. This is not to say that the idea of summer isn't appealing to me, because it surely is: all the beautiful colors, the sound of the cicadas, the fresh, home-grown vegetables, the sweet seasonal fruit, the never-ending supply of fresh cut flowers...

Bliss, yes?

And then there is the heat and humidity.

Bliss? No.

Somehow I managed to put my disdain for the weather aside these past two days and really enjoy summer. The main event this weekend was my Uncle Paul's fresh sweet corn. I realize that I risk offending many by saying so, but fresh Indiana sweet corn really is the very best on Earth. It is a double-edged sword, knowing what really good corn tastes like because once you've had it, you just can't stomach what the rest of the world eats. You know, that stuff they've got stacked up in the supermarkets or -- even worse -- what you get in the freezer case [shudder]. So it's a darn good thing that I've got my Uncle Paul in my corner, who puts out "a few rows" every year to share with family & friends.

"A few rows" is roughly equivalent to the size of my yard, FYI.

But in my world, sweet corn is more than just a tasty treat. This annual ritual is steeped in memories and traditions and, probably, a little bit of pride. It starts when we get The Call from Aunt Judy letting us know that the corn is ready. We truck down to Hope and after a bit of visiting head out to the corn patch to pull as much as we think we can handle (and then some). My uncle is a corn-pulling machine who seems to take great delight it filling our bags to the brim -- and then going back for more. After he's convinced that we have all that we need (and trust me, it takes a lot of convincing) we head back to the house for a little more visiting, which always ends with the invitation to "come back and see us." We always do.

Once we're back home the real work begins: Shucking, blanching, shocking, cutting, storing, and freezing. It sounds easy, and it isn't difficult, but a whole winter's worth of corn is a lot of work. By the end it I'm always tired and a little bit sore and overwhelmed by the mess and the dirty dishes. But the best part really is in the work, because this is when I get to think about all of the other years spent doing these very same things. Dad always helped pull and then shucked, going to great pains to get rid of nearly every last strand of silk. Being an engineer he was almost obsessed with counting the dozens as they were through, trying to figure out (every year) how many ears were going into each quart.

Then things moved inside, where Mom had her huge canning pots filled with boiling water and her sink filled with ice water, so she could blanch and shock in a futile effort to keep up with Dad. Next she got out her corn cutter & creamer, a barbaric looking device intended to both cut off the kernels and extract the cream, all in one pass. I remember the first time I tried to help Mom with this... and let's just say she was amused. An expert I wasn't. But then again she had a few years on me and after a few trial ears I wasn't doing so bad myself.

Ironically (or not), although you would think we had seen enough sweet corn to last us until next summer, we always had fresh corn for dinner that night -- just as we did yesterday. One of the funniest memories I have of Mom was an evening after putting up corn, and she ate what seemed like a half-dozen ears just herself, with butter dripping down her chin and wrists, content beyond measure. The conversation that night, just like every other year, always turned back to Mom marveling at how so many people ate such bad corn, and how they never would again if they had ever tasted sweet corn as good as this.

Sara was too small this year for much more than pulling and shucking an ear or two, but the tradition will go on. Rob has added his own twists, and over time Sara will graduate to helping with the blanching and shocking and cutting. As for me, I will always spend this one day a year being so grateful for the generosity of my family, so exhausted by the effort, and so happy to spend a few hours dwelling in the past with memories of my parents who instilled in me the sense that, somehow, this was important.

Truth be told, I was sort of dreading yesterday, with all of the work and the heat and the running around. But when it was all said and done, it really was one of the best days. I spent time with some of the people I love the most, lived out one of our family rituals, and got to remember a few of my fondest memories of Mom and Dad. And yeah, the corn was pretty fantastic too.

This is how I always imagine our lives to be: Full and happy, with memories both recalled and created. Come next February, when it is cold and grey and we are anxious for Spring, I will pull out some of this sweet corn and remember today and the time spent with those who helped make it such a great one.

I'm already looking forward to next year.

RIP Atlas

In the midst of our corn-storing day, Rob and I took advantage of nap time to run some errands, including a stop at the new Fresh Market on 54th street. Truthfully, the only reason we stopped is because Rob has been infatuated by the rooftop parking lot for months now. Plus -- a couple of hours to burn together while the child sleeps? Bring on the new store!

Actually, I have had very mixed emotions about the Fresh Market for some time now. As a Broad Ripple native I was beyond disappointed when Atlas closed and had pretty much decided to boycott whatever new grocer might try to fill it's void. Like almost everything these days, I have lots of fond memories of the place: it's ridiculously narrow aisles (no small feat wheeling a triplet stoller through that place, let me tell you), Sid holding court on the platform that allowed him to oversee the entire store, browsing the aisles for new treasures, knowing that, no matter how obscure the ingredient, I'd be able to find it at Atlas. And of course, the famous Atlas meat counter that was ultimately it's undoing.

But if I've learned nothing over the past few years, I have most definitely learned that life has a way of going on whether you like it or not. And so rather than begrudge the new kid on the block, I tucked away my fond memories of Atlas and stepped into the Fresh Market.

Well, I didn't actually "step in." To be more precise I "rode down" into the Fresh Market from the rooftop parking deck. It was kind of cool. And I have to say I'm glad I did. Although the place continues to be packed by people like me just wanting to check it out, there was plenty of stock ("fresh," no less) and all of the staff was helpful and pleasant. The new meat counter, while nothing like Sid's, was pretty awesome. I finally found a close source for fresh raw-but-already-cleaned-because-really?-who-wants-to-bother shrimp, which we bought & had for dinner last night (with... come on now.... sweet corn!). Their dessert case was just as impressive and could prove quite dangerous -- I told Rob he needed to move me along.

The place is heavy on unique/organic items, a lot like Trader Joe's or Wild Oats, but also carried a few token major brands (so if you absolutely must have your Doritos, you're in luck). They've got a case stocked with a couple dozen varieties of cold, quirky sodas (Frostie Blue Cream Soda anyone?) and the bulk bins are like nothing I've seen before. And to top it all off, Rob found - and quickly grabbed -- a bag of Peet's coffee, which you really ought to try if you haven't already.

So yeah, we'll be back. It's definitely not going to replace my staple shopping and I'm going to have to save my pennies before I venture back in (or down, whatever). But it's a nice place to pass a half an hour and grab a few things for an extra-special meal. You know -- one fit for my Uncle Paul's sweet corn.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

No poker face here

Sara has taken to licking. Licking people, to be specific.

When asked she will tell you that she is allowed to lick ice cream cones and lollipops and candy and food. And when pressed, she will eventually admit that no, she's not allowed to lick people. (Though she will say this with that look on her face and tone in her voice that implies that surely I must be kidding.)

But every night, pretty much like clockwork, when she so tired that all of her very shallow reserves of self-control are spent, she licks me. She tries to be sly about it -- and maybe that's where I fall down -- but every night, pretty much like clockwork, I crack up from the licking. I can't stop myself. It's so random and goofy and slightly gross, and she seems so utterly incapable of keeping her tongue in her mouth... I am slain. And then she is too, and before too long she's laughing and licking and we are one hilarious, albiet soggy, mess.

So fun. Some day I'll gross her out with this story, but for me it will always be an awesome memory of what a fun, silly, fabulous kid she is.

Have I mentioned how much I love that girl? Yes? Just checking.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Among the many things that I shouldn't let myself do...

...looking at this probably falls close to the top of the list.

I want to take them all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Damn spoons

The walls started coming down in the dining room today, which meant that the furniture had to be moved/removed and the few things on the walls needed to to be taken out. One of the things that had been hanging up in there, for what seems like forever, is a collection of a dozen little demitasse spoons that Mom had. I assume that she got them from her mom. Now Sara thinks that they are hers. And to be honest, I don't mind her playing with them. They're just her size.

So, Sara found the spoons in the kitchen tonight, and she stood there happily stacking them and rattling them for a few minutes until I told her to put them away (three or four times, but who's counting) so we could go have dinner.

Two hours later I was in a heap.

I am really missing Mom tonight. I mean, a LOT. It took me a bit by surprise, at least the intensity of it, but once I thought it through it really made perfect sense: As I was rocking Sara tonight I started thinking about those spoons, and how I'd like to do something with them but I'm not quite sure what -- maybe pair them up with this awesome, vintage-look picture that Elaine took of Sara playing with an old tea set. Then I started thinking about pictures that I have and where I'd like to put things when the house is built; how I have a definite favorite of Dad that I'll use, but how I needed to think about one of Mom... and then I remembered one of her and I that Dad took out in the yard. I was probably six or seven, at an age where my mind has sort of frozen my family: Mom & Dad in their forties, CJ & Nanci in their twenties.

But the memory of the picture led to others, good times and laughing and Mom as I will always remember her: trying in vain to teach me to hit a softball; learning how to identify her beloved birds on the feeders outside the kitchen windows; lying on the sofa with my head on her lap while she stroked my hair; sitting at the table and laughing about who-knows-what until we were crying.

I remember her beautiful, crooked smile SO well.

And the more I remembered the more the tears came, and I sat there rocking Sara hoping I wouldn't wake her up. "Mama, are you sad?" I don't think I could have taken it.

I have become pretty adept at postponing whatever this thing is that they call "grief." Sure, I have waves from time to time, just like tonight. Frankly I just don't want to deal with it. I don't want the exhaustion or the anger or the disappointment or the wallowing that I know will come with it. I lived with all of that for over three years; I've had my fill.

But I guess there's no escaping it. If I'm honest with myself, the loss is never far from the surface. It resonates every time I have hard conversations with families at work, so much so that there are times I'm afraid I won't be able to get through it. Rob brought a nightstand down from the attic the other day, and I couldn't even touch it. It had been sitting there, right by the side of their bed -- right next to where I sleep now -- through both of my parents' illnesses, full of pills and dressings and lotions. I couldn't even really tell him to take it away, but he knew.

I don't know what to do with these things. I don't like being so out of control and I don't understand why it can sometimes still feel so raw, and the thought of deliberately opening up this box of pain and wading through it? No thank you. But ignoring it hasn't, thus far, made it go away. And so here I sit, in a heap on a Tuesday night for no particularly good reason.

Damn spoons.

Oh, Mom. I miss you so. You would love Sara -- she's cut from your cloth, full of spunk and funny and beautiful and so loving. She would love you, too. Peas in a pod, the two of you.

I really, really wish you were here and that I didn't have to miss you and that Sara could have known you. Really, so much.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Probably NOT the best reason...

All of a sudden I feel like I MUST have another baby girl so that I can fill her room with this woman's prints.

LOVE.

Don't be surprised if you see some of these cards coming your way some day soon....

LOVE!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All the world's a carnival in the Wal-Mart parking lot

I hate Wal-Mart, I really do.

Back when I was a kid (a moment of quiet reflection as I realize that I'm now old enough to say that), Mom and I used to go the the Wal-Mart in Franklin, IN. We'd stop by on the way down to the lake. And the crazy thing is I LOVED it -- it was so big, and everything was so cheap, and Mom would always get me something, I'm sure. But then again I was young and it was the only one I'd ever seen... Wal-Mart had not yet taken over the world.

Ah, the good old days.

Now, I hate it. It's always crowded and understaffed and dirty and filled with low-quality crap that I'm pretty sure some four-year-old in Taiwan had to make in a closet without access to electricity or running water. Even the smell, that Wal-Mart smell... how do they do that?

But from time to time, when push comes to shove, there are those moments when sadly -- oh, so so sadly -- Wal-Mart is the only alternative. Tonight was one of those occasions. The pisser is that they always have what I need. And cheap.

Man that annoys me.

But despite what you may be thinking, this is not diatribe against the menace that is Wal-Mart. No, in fact it's quite the opposite. This is an ode to the wonder of the Wal-Mart parking lot, that magical intersection of races, creeds, genders and abilities, socio-economic classes and criminal histories. Not quite the Promised Land that I think Dr. King envisioned, but a fair cross-section if you take the time to really look at it.

Yes tonight, as Rob and I trucked out to the car loaded down with bottled water, composition notebooks, and lots of chocolate (don't ask), and out into that asphalt expanse surrounded by neon signs and glittering headlights, we were overcome by the unmistakable smell of reefer. And a LOT of it. The three happy black guys chilling in the SUV had be be really mellow -- I'm guessing their fourth was inside picking up a boatload of snacks.

Having picked up a contact high on the way past the doobie cloud I spotted a single woman pushing her cart sort of erratically to her car. I assumed she just wasn't quite sure she remembered where she parked, but as I watched I realized that she was somehow distracted by the planes flying overhead. She actually stepped away from her car to watch them fly by, and I would swear she was talking to one of them.

I wonder if she talks to the helicopters, too.

Shortly after this I got in the car and waited for Rob to load up the goods (he's such a gentleman that way). Thinking the show was over, I sat back to contemplate whether or not I really did get a buzz from the fumes rolling out of that SUV. And then I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, what appeared to be a child riding some kind of bicycle across the parking lot... except it was moving a little wonky and too slow for a kid that big. I decided to take a closer look and realized that it wasn't a bicycle, but a TRIcycle. A big one -- I mean, really big -- and candy-apple red. And the operator wasn't a kid at all, but an older gentleman with rather long, flowing grey hair who most definitely suffered from at least one physical handicap, as the very large basket on the back of his "bike" (??) was holding his walker.

I kid you not. The dude was weaving around the Wal-Mart parking lot on a giant red tricycle, toting his walker on the rear and hell-bent for something on the inside -- maybe some snacks courtesy of the second-hand hemp haze, or maybe just shelter from the incoming air traffic.

I was done. I fully expected the carnies to start streaming out of the store and had an overwhelming urge to eat an elephant ear. It was quite charming, really... sort of like the state fair come early.

Good times. Good, good times.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's more than just oatmeal, people

I confess: In the past, "Quaker" never meant much more to me than oatmeal. The big hat, the grandfatherly gaze, Wilford Brimley... It's all so very comforting in a hot-filling-breakfast on a chilly-fall-morning sort of way.

And then Google came into my life, and I would never, ever be the same.

A few months ago I stumbled across a mention of a "Clearness Committee" on another guy's blog. There wasn't really an explanation of it so off to Google I went. At first I was a little uncomfortable with what I was reading: an "inner teacher" and "focus person" and "mirroring" and all that silence... I wondered when the crystals were going to come out and what kind of special brownies were going to be served up in the name of all this "clarity." But as I am learning to do, I opted not to discard it out of hand just because it was outside my box. I kept reading. And much to my surprise? I was a bit smitten.

Now, I'm not going to go into all that I learned about Clearness Committees. I'm sure my knowledge is barely rudimentary, so if you want to learn more you can read up on it here or here. Or Google your brains out -- you'll be at it for days, I'm sure.

What has happened, of course, is that my curiosity about Quakerism (also knows as The Religious Society of Friends) is piqued. This time I turned to my new best friend Wikipedia, where I learned about the Friends' beginnings in England, their strong presence in Africa (where I left my long-standing image of the Quaker Oats man at the curb), and some comtemporary movements maneuvering to take Christ out of the equation altogether. It's fascinating to me, really.

I don't know... the crux of the whole thing seems to be simplicity and yet - silly, silly me - I find that notion to be so complex. Like there certainly MUST be a catch, right? Right?

But then I read about these concepts -- to "hold in the light," to "proceed as the way opens", "leading," "that of God in everyone," and yes, "clearness" -- and they are so lovely to me, so cozy and familiar. It's as though I'm hearing some of my own beliefs, thoughts that I'd never really had words for, in a lexicon that's existed for hundreds of years. How very strange and wonderful.

My friend Amy commented in my last post that she thinks our little church community is more Quaker than we realize, and I think she's right. Certainly not in practice (because us, sitting for more than even 2 minutes in silence - really?), but I think perhaps in spirit. And I suspect that very few of us ever would have thought about it because, you know -- Quakers are all about the oatmeal. Right?

So here I am living with this whole new framework for "Quaker*" and it's the craziest thing: It's just as comforting as it was before, only I've traded in the whole grain goodness for Christ-centered promise.

Neat!


*An interesting, if not exactly ironic aside? Type "Quaker" into Google and the first thing that comes up is... you guessed it: Quaker Oats.