Thursday, February 25, 2010


The first thing I do every morning and the last thing I do every night is pray. It is a rote prayer, and sometimes I find myself laying in bed repeating it over and over and over – I’m not really sure I’m always aware that I’m doing it, to be totally honest. Many times I’ve even wondered if I can actually call it “praying.”

But I think I can. For me, this kind of prayer is like a soft-worn spot on a child’s blanket, that place they mindlessly rub against their cheek each night as they go to sleep. I imagine they do it because it provides some sort of comfort, a self-soothing technique that becomes ingrained in their bedtime routine. And if I think about it, that’s what my prayer times are like for me: they quiet my mind at night and prepare my mind in the morning.

There’s more to it that that though, isn’t there? I’m just not sure what it is. Like most things in my belief system, I take prayer on faith. And let me be clear: I don’t have a problem with this. I don’t require answers for everything (though I have certainly spent many sleepless nights crying for them), nor do I think we would be capable of understanding all the answers if we had them. So I will continue to pray because I am taught that it is right and good to do; I just know that it is more powerful than I understand.

I don’t want to be a desperation prayer – you know, the girl that begs and promises and pleads for some outcome that, at least to her way of thinking, seems right. I’ve done that. It doesn’t work. If it did I would be skinny and have three kids by now, and my parents would be here to see them grow. None of those things seem like particularly selfish things to ask for, but I’m beginning to suspect that I’m asking for the wrong things. Or maybe I shouldn’t be asking for “things” at all.

There’s a saying: Did you think to pray? And for me, 99 times out of 100, the answer is a regretful “No.” I wonder why that is? I wonder why the ritual of morning and evening prayers hasn’t translated into something more mindful and powerful? Why don’t I think to pray, before the prayer becomes yet another plea?

This business of belief… it’s a tricky thing. I’m just glad there is grace enough to usher us through the confusion of it all.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Name Game

I have a thing for nicknames.

I blame credit my father (aka Papa-San) for this gift, a man who bestowed names upon nearly every one of our family members. And while this was always done with love {always} it was rarely appreciated. Punkin (that was me), Ceasar (my brother), and Spook (the sis) got off easy, considering my mom got stuck with Poopie (I don't even want to know). There was also one for Sara -- Silly Sally -- that's still known to be heard around these parts from time to time. I'm sure lots of you had your own, too (Eloise, Lainzo, Riot and the Wizards, I'm looking at you).

Historically my nicknaming habit was pretty much limited to the male of the species*: my brother, my husband, my guy friends, there were monikers for all of them. Blue Coat Man**, Spark, Jaybird, Estuarte, Tony Bologna – you all know who you are.

Then Sara came along. Sara Bear, Sara B, Bear, Beetle Bug, Bug, B, Huggabunch (I know; I don’t know where that last one came from either); she answers to them all. This is not to say she always likes them, as I was informed one evening while putting her to bed that she is NOT a bug, Mama! But what are you going to do? I am a nicknamer; she is the nicknamed. And so it goes, and so it will be.

But the king of all nicknames, the one who leaves them all in the dust, who earns new titles on what seems like a daily, if not hourly basis?

That would be this little fella right , here:

This is Tigger. Now that I think about it, my mom (aka Mama-San or, less fortunately, "Poopie") actually gave Tigger his name. And because you really have to know the guy to appreciate the accuracy of his many aliases, a little history is in order.

Tigger was one of four kittens, along with their feral mother, that Rob and I rescued several years ago. Because Fancy Mama (aka Fanciful One/Fantastic, the Fan Dancer) was feral we – OK Rob – had one heck of a time trying to round up the lot of them, as Fancy was hiding near a steam vent and we couldn’t exactly see them. Did I mention it was the dead of winter? In an ice storm? Under some sticky juniper bushes at work? And that she was actively birthing the kittens at the time? Ah, yes – well it was and she was, and it was quite an evening for everyone involved.

But luckily for all of us we could hear them, because Tigger started mewing… and never stopped. Thanks to this Rob was able to find them, rescue them, and save them from what would have been certain death given the elements that night. Tigger’s proclivity for mewing was actually quite handy over the coming weeks, too, since I used it to lure Mama out from wherever she was hiding to make sure she was eating and using the litter box. That Tigger, he had quite the reliable meow!

In fact, he still does. Except over time it has evolved into more of a robust whine than a meow, a grouse that we find more humorous than helpful these days.

Despite this, or maybe because of it, Tigger is our much beloved, incessantly mocked, most relentlessly nicknamed pet. In fact, he will respond to any of the following:

  • Tigger
  • Tigs
  • Tiggy
  • Tiggly-Wigs
  • Wiggles
  • Mr. Wiggles
  • Wiggler
  • Red Wiggler (the Cadillac of Cats)**
  • Wiggly-Woo
  • McFly
  • Lookin’ at the world through McFly’s eyes
  • Señor Rojo
  • Little Ginger-cat
  • Gingy
  • Butterscotch Puddin’
  • O.K.
  • The Riddler****
  • Chardonnay
  • Merlot
  • Rosè
and my all-time personal favorite:
  • Charles, the Prince of Wails.

We couldn’t be happier that Fancy, Tigger, and his sisters -- Daisy (Daisy Doodle, may she rest in peace), Maisy (Moo/Moodle/Maisy McMoo, the Mayor of Mootown/Mooses/Mooses Malooney Bird/MooYou'reNotSoSmart), and George (Sweet Georgia Black/Ubergator/Ubes/Dangler) -- came into our lives. They joined Pete (Peetle-eetle-eet/Pete’s a Pie/Sweet Pete/The King of All He Surveys) and turned our house into a fur-infested home. We just wouldn't have it any other way.

Whining... it's Tigger's super-power. (Pete's is halitosis/search & rescue, Mama's is shedding, George's is hissing and Moo's is, well... Moo is a sturdy girl.) What? Your pets don't have super-powers? I don't believe it. Cause our kitty's powers have saved them from many a scrape, and it all began with Tigger's very powerful whine.

Oh – and did I mention I make up songs for everyone, too? No? Well, then… maybe next time.

* Though not entirely, as my niece D/Bo Deedley/Deedles would be quick to point out.
** This one is so old I’m not sure I can take credit for bestowing it, though I was an avid user to be sure.
*** You’ll understand this if you, like me, are a fan of
WKRP in Cincinnati.
**** By way of his ridiculously long tail, often curved into the shape of a question mark.

This post is dedicated to Aunt Pants, Spacy-Gracie-Rat Head, Sweet Georgia Black and Reginald*****, who have so graciously allowed our 22 collective feet to take up residence in their home for the last way-too-long. Never fear – the nicknaming won’t stop after we leave. I promise.

*****His actual, and only, name.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

When she comes back down

It's been a long week -- and yes, I realize it's only Wednesday, but I am tired. There is just not enough of me to go around (and this really is saying something). I have been behind on things at work, behind on things at home, too tired to be much of a wife or a sister or a friend. Definitely too tired to be much of a mother.

And I hate that. The irony is that the less of a reserve I have for mothering, the more Sara demands of me to dig deep & find a way. She's always been sensitive to the emotional currents running through our house, so I don't know why I'm always surprised when this happens, but there it is. I am tired; she requires more of me. What is there to do?

I don't know how this will all work out. Every day I can feel her becoming even more herself (as children have a habit of doing), pulling away from the four-year-old rhythm of "us" and creating her own syncopated beat. This is challenging, and hard (for both of us I would imagine), and comes at at time when I wish I was more available to give her the space and security to work it out. But that requires time and patience, and a thoughtful discipline allowing her to navigate new boundaries. All of that is hard work. And have I mentioned that I'm tired?

When Sara was a baby I used to sing to her all the time. Not really the traditional lullabies but the songs that I loved: Dixie Chicks, Nickel Creek, Alison Krauss, India.Arie -- like I said, not your traditional lullabies but they carried messages that resonated with me. This one was a favorite, and when I sang it I imagined our lives so many more years down the road; but I see that it's beginning even now. And I can't believe it.

So there's no time for tired, Mama. We've only just started.

You got to leave me now, you got to go alone
You got to chase a dream, one that's all your own
Before it slips away
When you're flyin' high, take my heart along
I'll be the harmony to every lonely song
That you learn to play

When you're soarin' through the air
I'll be your solid ground
Take every chance you dare
I'll still be there
When you come back down
When you come back down

I'll keep lookin' up, awaitin' your return
My greatest fear will be that you will crash and burn
And I won't feel your fire
I'll be the other hand that always holds the line
Connectin' in between your sweet heart and mine
I'm strung out on that wire

And I'll be on the other end, To hear you when you call
Angel, you were born to fly, If you get too high
I'll catch you when you fall
I'll catch you when you fall

Your memory's the sunshine every new day brings
I know the sky is calling
Angel, let me help you with your wings

When you're soarin' through the air
I'll be your solid ground
Take every chance you dare

I'll still be there
When you come back down
Take every chance you dare,
I'll still be there
When you come back down
When you come back down