Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Goodbye, Hello..

I'm going off-grid for a bit.

Don't worry, I'll be back to tell the tales.

In the meantime, take time to smell the roses.

Because they are stunning, layers of petals, layers of scent.



Monday, July 27, 2009

This too shall end…

I’m a Capricorn and I’m a parent. Capricorns are known for their penchant to give advice, and I have this penchant in spades. Being a parent, of course I give parenting advice all along, whether I really know what I’m talking about or not, but I’ve learned a few things over the years, including in the business of education pretty much since I left college. Kids are what I do. I even babysat from the time I was eleven years old. So if I know anything, it’s kids. Or to be more precise and professional about it, I know child development. As a parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, I know child development intimately, and what it looks like when it is skewed. Small advice on that, trust your instincts, mom. If you think something isn’t quite right, tell your pediatrician and don’t let him or her give you the “oh, it’ll all even out eventually” speech. Get to the specialists, get the testing. If your kid is ok, it’ll show. If not, early intervention is the key to your child’s success.

But that is a topic for another day.

Today’s spouting of advice is to let you know, whatever you are experiencing as a parent will end eventually. This phase of development will end, whether it is the constant demand of a newborn that exhausts you all hours of the day and night, the toddler exploration that drives every tiny piece of muck from the floor into her mouth or the destruction of your home environment in ways you never imagined possible, the I wants and whines of a preschooler to a preteen or the back talk and eye rolls of your pre-teen to teen.

The nursing that seems to suck the life out of you will end. The nursing that gives the special closeness you never dreamed possible will end.

The constant curiosity and amazement with everything around him will end. The nice spitty sucked fingers in the outlet guaranteed to give a charge will end.

The exuberant jumping on or off the sofa will end. The intense focus on dinosaurs, legos, drawing will end. Well, maybe not, you may have an artist, builder, archeologist or Olympian long jumper on your hands, but what an incredible place to start.

The eye rolls and flip flop of hormonal emotions, the sneaking and secrecy, intense friendships and heart pulled deeply in any direction away from you will end. So will the late night or car ride talks when you have your teen alone. Those times when you’ll get a glimpse of this young man or woman and who they’ll be, how they are likely to handle the world on their own, and whether or not you will think, alright, they’ll be okay, or have to let go even if you think they won’t be okay. Then hope they'll at least be alright, eventually.

In every phase of childhood and parenthood, you and your child will rise to meet each other, negotiate the constantly shifting sands of your landscape together to rise into an adult. A day will come when the constant aggravation of his climbing the stairs when the gate is undone, or opening the kitchen drawers or inserting paper or bologna or puzzle pieces into the VCR, DVD, Wii slot will become family lore to share and look back on wistfully or in hysteria. Remember the time Junior jumped off the garage roof and broke one wrist and sprained the other? Yea, that was hysterical! And then he’d ride his bike around the neighborhood no handed, cast and splint up in surrender! Remember the time the police brought Junior home because he was riding his bike around town center at midnight? Yea, what was he, twelve? Yea, yea! Remember the time Suzy smeared poop all over her bedroom wall by her crib? Hahaha!

The seemingly impossible to survive times are survived, and eventually reflected upon or laughed about. But don’t forget to mark and hold the good moments, too. The intimate moments bed snuggling with the newborn, their sweet, warm, musky smell, their translucent skin and peaceful sleep. Don’t forget to hold the full–out preschooler laughs over farts at the dinner table, the spaghetti covered face, the midnight bad dream slip into your bed by the nine year old. The sofa snuggle and popcorn on movie night. The way the sunlight hits her hair in the off-shore beach breeze, the scent of salt and sunscreen on his skin, snow angels and snowball fights. The moment your teen looks at you in one of those deep conversations that appear to be on the surface, and says, only with his eyes, yea, I get it, even when the rest of his body language says otherwise.

Don’t forget the milestones and everything in between, because all of it will come back to mind, rise to the surface and you’ll wonder when that phase ended, when the sands shifted and created these new dunes in her life. The old dunes were so familiar.

This too shall end and you can hold it dear, or let it slip away. Let the tough stuff wear away with time. Keep it all close to your heart, because it’s not just your child’s life that is growing and changing. It’s yours.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Party in the flower garden without me

I've been neglecting the flower garden out front recently. Just purely being lazy and giving into the 'don't feel like it' penchant.


They don't seem to care. In fact, it's looking rather like the teen house whose parents are out of town for the weekend. Let's just work our way around from the exiting my front door.



Sure, the ground is scraggly and growing some grass and weeds, but this patch of petunias is quite the crowded dance floor. However, they have bullied out the pansies from the whole garden.











The zinnias are quite the giggle patch. Anyone out there old enough to remember the old PBS early seventies children's shows, The Magic Garden? Maybe some of their love of nature and folksy guitar tunes was the start of my Nature Girl persona. I loved the giggle patch.














This handsome guy's name is King's Ransom. Fitting isn't it? He smells great, too. I had to pick off a bunch of his Deadhead buddies, but you don't want Deadheads party crashing, anyway. They're such stoners, they always stay way past the fun.











I made a small appearance after all. I'm the shadowy wallflower lurking around the edges.



The grass, on the other hand is making a full invasion in their party crash. this zinnia snuck away from her usual rowdy gang to hang with some quieter petunias. And she's being kissed by a bumble bee.










A lot more mingling going on here: Grass, a couple of petunia varieties, zinnias, and a mystery guest.















Another view.






















The shady gang. I like them: the strong silent types. Who doesn't love the bad boys in the corner looking all tough and cool? They have a little gaggle of clover girls hanging around their feet.









More party crashers. I spend a lot of time yanking out these little tufts of clover. Since I haven't lately, they surprised me with these little yellow blooms. I've never seen this kind of clover before moving down to this climate. There's the beginning of a birch tree in there, too. Lots of those suckers throughout the garden right now. If I leave them alone, I'll have a whole birch forest right outside my front door.












And just who is this chick? I wish I knew. She brought a lot of friends just like her. I also wish my camera with macro was working. Sorry about the blur.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

One Ringy-Dingy...

I think I've mentioned that my boys are away for the month of July, visiting their father who lives several states away. It's good they get to spend time with him and their other half-sister and step-mother. It also makes for a lot of quiet around here, good or bad. I miss them, but hey, quiet is a rare commodity.

Those of you who have in any way experienced blended families or child of divorce, whether you or your children, can probably relate to the following telephone conversation:

"...Okay, K. Can I talk your brother now?"

"Yep, here he is - [not quite whispers or covers the phone] S, DON'T tell Mom about Dad mutter-mutter -"

"I love you, bye, K!"

"Hi Mom!"

"Hi S. Don't tell Mom about Dad what, chuckle?"

"Ne-ne-never mind."

"It's okay, S, what can I do from here?"

"Uh, he's playing [insert name of a violent probably M-rated video game here]."

"Don't worry about it, kiddo. It's okay."

"Okay, bye, Mom." And silence. Check the cellphone screen, yep, he hung up. Obviously he was paying more attention to his father's shoot 'em up digital exploits.

I supposed on one level it's good that K wants to protect his dad from his perception of my perception of something stinky in Denmark, but it does make me wonder what he thinks he'll try to hide from me over the next few teen years....the little sneak. What he doesn't realize is I was a bigger sneak.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

200 Novels or thereabouts

After mentioning these on Monday, I figured I better put up the links:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/bigread/top100.shtml

http://www.time.com/time/2005/100books/the_complete_list.html

There. Now you have an excellent reading list or two to choose from if you were at a loss as to what to read next.

Time for my confession. No I have not read them completely. I have easily read over eighty percent of each and that's more by a long shot than my facebook friends, who are a largely intelligent, well-read and personally competitive lot. And I've read a lot more besides.

Now here's my critique of the lists: very culturally self-referential, ie: lots of British books on the BBC, lots of American on the Time list, barely a side note of amazing Latin American, Asian, Australian, Native American, African, etc.

And who will put out the list of must read Poetry books? HHHMMMM? Or have I just made that my job? Quickly, a blogger can be seen ducking the oncoming task as if it were a bird of prey and she, a mouse in an open field.


As you make your reading way through those lists, may I also recommend a turn at this one:

http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/newberyhonors/newberymedal.cfm

I promise, you'll be amazed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Babette’s review





I hope the cat’s is the only critique that claims my manuscript makes a better bed than a read. Apparently she thinks the same of notes I’m currently working with, too.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pride and my prejudice

Back in the Dark Ages, when I was in college - really the mid-late 80's - I was one of those horrid people who knew everything about anything to do with books: a Lit Major. I recognize now, I was probably a big Pain in the Butt to people who were not avid readers, and to those who were, as I would argue critique til I won, or until one of us was blue in the face. I enthusiastically tried to convince non-readers of the joys of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. I mean really, who doesn’t love a 19th century tome about someone who thinks he can get away with murder for the intellectual sport of it but suffers through psychological and moral self-torment until he is rescued by the love of the original hooker with a heart of gold? (double eye roll, from the then me to everyone else, and a bigger one from the now me to the twenty year old me)

How Pretentious. I'm glad that particular phase is over, but that in my life, I still am an avid reader and adore books of wide variety.

But back to the Dark Ages: I had taken every course in English Literature from Chaucer to the 18th century, everything in American 18th, 19th and 20th century, and everything in 19th century Russian literature, and a smattering of European modern and ancient authors. By the time I got to 19th century English literature, I was up to my eyeballs with the polite society of people holding teacups. And then I was required to read Jane Austen. I wearily opened Pride and Prejudice, and couldn’t make it to page 50 before throwing the book against the wall. My claim for many years was that if I had to read about another dang teacup I was going to start breaking things.

Well, here it is twenty odd years later, two movies, and who knows how many BBC productions of the book later. Many friends, who I consider to be intelligent, fun, and thoroughly modern women have insisted repeatedly what an excellent and favorite book it is of theirs. I absolutely must read it!

So, finally, I did. And it just so happens that my son about to enter high school has to read it for his Advanced English course this summer. Well, for his sake, I’m glad I did, so I can help him through the dense turn of the 19th century language of it. I’ve been rather steeped in the contemporary middle reader genre of late. P&P is a long way from Hoot. Heading back to that stuff after so long a break from it really took me forever to read. I mean, my eyeballs didn’t bleed or anything, but it just seemed I couldn’t get through more than a few pages at a time. Of course, I also had multiple distractions, as I started it after school let out for the boys, and of course I’m in constant toddler attendance.

I swore I would finally finish Pride and Prejudice, and I did. I slogged my way through it and can now add it to my list of ‘have reads’, which, I’ve found out recently is a rather long list compared to most people I know, so should be very proud of myself or admit what a geek I really am. It’s still a toss up, guess I’ll make that decision conversation by conversation. There is a BBC list floating around on the web of should have read classics, and I may have actually completed it and then some now. There is a similar Time magazine list, which I’ve also nearly completely, if not by now. Few books make it to both aside from Pride and Prejudice. But back to said book.

As much as the actual physical reading of it gave me some pains, I really did ultimately enjoy it. Not that Jane Austen needs any help from my review, as it is required reading in both high school and colleges now. And she's dead anyway and would not benefit from the book sales.

The characters are lively. Elizabeth and Darcy are well-suited to each other as they are, in fact, seemingly so unwell-suited. Each’s strength to each’s weakness is a good counterbalance. They each need a good challenge, and get it in each other. The rest of the cast is really entertaining and thoroughly real in their riduculousness. The plot regularly thickens. While so much seems stuck in the time, it is a thoroughly timeless and modern tale. Every romantic comedy in the theater takes its core cue from good ol’ -2oo year old to be accurate - P&P. Here’s a partial character list: sassy lead female, reluctant lead male, the ridiculous and greedy mother, the chuckling father who’d rather be done with all this nonsense for all five of his daughters so he can be left to his library, his hunting and fishing. The silly sisters, best friends, the nemesises, et al.

So, if you have so far managed to avoid it, I highly recommend it. That is no feint praise. And honestly, nary is a teacup in sight.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I'm in trouble now

Baby C has been the easiest baby I've not only had, but known, and I've known a lot of babies.

I've been very grateful for this, especially in light of being an older mom with her.

Until now.

She has discovered tantrums.


Yep, there she goes again. Bye.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hmmmmm....

Short story,

short story,

screenplay,

poem,

poem,

poem,

article.

manuscript?


This is the problem with not having any deadlines.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On writing ordinary

Back when I was a post-collegiate bohemian youth, I bopped around Boston, notebook in hand or messenger bag, writing down snippets of conversations from the street, cafe or T, sights, smells, incidents and other observations, quotes from favorite artists, poets, authors, musicians, you name it. If the light bulb dinged over my head, pen was in hand, scribbling away.

If I tried to do that now, everything I’d jot would be so ordinary, so mundane, so housefrau. I guess in a way, that is what I do with this blog. I try to find the amazing in the small facets in my life as a mother, a writer barely hanging on, while raising teen angst, asperger preteen and toddler girl, gardening, and trying to keep a lively conversation going while I am alone in my thoughts.

Yesterday, I found the last vestiges of my gladioli lying on the ground. Imagine if your very existence really weighed you down like the gladiolus? Sometimes, I feel like I’m stuck home without a purpose or a friend, staring at the same old same old, day in and day out. So I clipped the blooms of the gladioli, and stuck them in a vase while I thought how surprising that the stamens are lavender in each variety. Lavender, not orange or yellow like you find and expect in most other flowers, but something totally surprising when I got up close and really observed them. The white variety has a slight blush in the flute of the bloom, the frilled pink, a ray of yellow, the peach blossom, deep burnt orange heart, yellow ray that deepens to the peach of the petals. And they all have those lavender stamens.

I realized as I was picking them that if I’d dig in a little deeper to replant the bulbs, maybe they won’t fall over next year. When I dig in deeper in my own life, I feel more stable and connected, too.

I thought about how if I really took a moment to observe, I would find the beauty and the depth in the ordinary. The variety in the simple, and how much I was missing, by closing my eyes, my mind, my heart to what is right in front of me.

So here’s a little of my extraordinary ordinary:

Lucy has just caught a scent and is contemplating whether she should go dig up that mole or will she get in trouble because I'm sitting right there. Trust me, she is trying very hard to not acknowledge that I'm watching.



Baby C is running at me, about to fall over, carrying the world in her hands. I don't think I've ever viewed Antartica from quite this close projectile perspective. A moment later, that ball saved C from smashing her face into the arm of the beach chair where I sat. Another eye or tooth saved from permanent damage due to the whims of a toddler. I now know what that prehistoric meteor must have seen as it hurdled through space to obliterate the dinosaurs. Minus the backyard and toddler.

Update: a handful of hours after setting up this post, C did receive a black eye - the first shiner of her little life. She's okay, a tough girl. After all, she does have two very big brothers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Of weekend...and old southern fishermen

Of weekend, writing or not, organization and furniture, productivity or relaxation, beach, t-storms, dead battery, stand still traffic and old southern fishermen.


I’m thinking again. Thinking of writing, thinking of editing, but waiting for editorial input from a few select friends in order to edit my manuscript. Of editing the poem I wrote the other day or not, or of writing the story I started or the one with the fully cast set of characters from about a week ago. Or of finding that script outline from oh, 4 yrs ago, that I still would like to develop. And three derivative character books from my manuscript that I could easily start, not exactly a series, but related books on existing characters.

I’m thinking I’m happy that Honey and I finally rearranged S’s bedroom on Saturday. I’m thinking how long will it stay this clean after he gets home from his dad’s. And of threatening to take anything left on the floor or shoved behind furniture away for eternity, but that’s a lot of money in legos and drawing supplies and dinos and godzillas that I’d rather he use.

I’m thinking I wish I had a laptop and a couple of hours a day in a cafĂ© or elsewhere so I won’t be on toddler duty, or in the vicinity of laundry, dishes et al, so I can focus on writing and get to the deeper level, find the groove, without distractions in housework or parenting.

I’m thinking what an absolutely gorgeous day at the beach on Sunday. The water was perfect, the beach was packed, Honey and I relaxed, Baby C grew a little more accustomed to the sand and the water, and even pointed from the shovelful of sand I held to show her, and pointed to a speck on my arm and said ‘sahn..’ She watched a kite circle and dip and bounce. She pointed to gulls, to clouds to people to sandcastles, to the ocean for me to say what they were again and again. She pointed and giggled at the flock of squawking laughing gulls dipping and circling and diving at an unattended set-up, where they were stealing snacks, because the family all went to the water together, leaving their belongings to the snarky thieves. That is a lesson learned in my well-beached youth. She flirted with the young guys behind us who laughed and called her adorable, after gossiping about friends and others apparently at their college. I thought and said to Honey, I am so glad I am not that age anymore, when what people wear, their hair, their ‘tudes, their likes and dislikes matter so disproportionately to the entirety of world affairs.

And then the breeze became darkened sky, became drops. I watched the cloud direction and we packed up, headed to the van in the municipal lot, to discover alarm drained dead battery, and then the sky opened up, and Honey and I yelled at each other, til he stood at the edge of the lot to watch for Triple A, who arrived with handheld battery pack in an unmarked Nissan, calling me on my cellphone on the approach. I think, why do we yell at each other so readily, when all else fails.

I’m thinking of getting on the road and sitting in standstill traffic on the bridge. Of the ancient bent man wiping his new truck with a greasy cloth and getting out, hobbling slowly, fly half unzipped, toward his trailered fishing boat. He stopped and spoke to us on his way, offered us a pepsi or a mountain dew with multiple extra syllables in his deeply southern accent, as only the true locals in this highly transitory area speak, and of his spit of tabacca chaw in the midst of the conversation. I’m thinking of the four car slightly more than fender bender and emergency vehicles that held us up and of how C slept so well after the beach through the whole thing.

I’m thinking I have a moment right now in which I could be writing something mentioned above, but that right now, this is what I need to be writing, because I’m thinking of so many different things, including that the boys will be home in a few weeks, and of all the plans I am making for the week we will pick them up, we will spend trying to visit loved ones we miss, see my family, check up on my mom’s progress since the stroke, and of nephews and niece, growing so much - she’s twenty and the youngest nephew is three, and how much of life has passed in the time since I moved away, and since my brothers and I were growing up, and I need to write all of this down somehow, use it, love it, and turn it into something more than the ramblings of my life.

And I've suddenly realized I've hit a landmark. This is my fiftieth post to my little blog. I guess I'm not so new to this anymore and better figure out how to do that underliney thingie for links instead of throwing the whole link up in the blog.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ethereal

On the website, creativeconstruction.wordpress.com there is a weekly creativity challenge. this week's prompt word was ethereal.

Somehow, all I could think of was faeries and diaphanous material or mists. I wasn't feeling it at all. Friday, late morning, this came out instead, suddenly, like an earthquake. A very earthy real poem for me anyway. I did minimal edits, as it felt too close, I had to let it go as is. Here it is:

Finally quieting for nap
my daughter nurses,
tossing her feet to my face
as when she was littler, toes to nose
in laughing games of ‘stinky toes!’
dreamily seeking the same.

Now fifteen months,
she has spent the morning
running across the backyard
barefoot, chasing the dog,
picking unripe tomatoes,
watching for my reaction,
dodging, one in hand,
out of my reach,
squealing in thievery delight.

Her feet to my face, I inhale deeply,
as she is latched on, rhythmically
sucking, most peaceful sound on earth,
lids sleepily closing.
I inhale deeply in the spaces
where her toes meet the sole of her foot
the in between, the nothing,
the soft padding
pressing into my lips, my nose,
roughening skin from
barefoot wandering
where once all was softness
pressing into my face
the ethereal scent
sunwarm grass,
freedom, independence,
and a girl, a baby no more.

Friday, July 10, 2009

One Lovely Blog

Kelly Warren down in The Happy Shack http://happyshackdesigns.blogspot.com/2009/07/what-is-meme-anyway.html

has bestowed me with the honor of "One Lovely Blog." Big thanks to Kelly! Love going right back to you! There is a little catch to this One Lovely Blog, in that once the award has been given, you must tell seven unknown things about you. So I will see what I can dredge up that is of the slightest interest. Let's see:

1. When I was about 17, my pediatrician asked if I had anymore questions, and I responded with "Actually, yes - why are my toes so short?" whereupon he noticed what never occured to him in the prior 17 years of being my doctor - I am missing the middle bone on all my toes. He then bestowed another title on me - The Evolutionary Link.

2. Since I am having a moment here as I write this, I have a hitherto unrealized passion for blackberry jam. I have blogged slightly about it before http://musingsinmayhem.blogspot.com/2009/05/blackberry-jam.html
but right now, I'm realizing just what a sensational experience blackberry jam is: tangy earthy scent, deep purple velvet by sight and on my tongue, crispy light wheat toast to balance the smooth - ahhh, a true pleasure of the morning. It's really all fruit, seedless variety, no sugar added. I swear, it brings me closer to the Great Spirit. How can there not be something bigger than than this one life, when something like blackberry jam exists? There must be a Supreme Being!

3. I live by hyperbole and exaggeration. The above is a case in point, as are regular conversations that proceed thusly: "Mom, you have not asked me to unload the dishwasher for the 47th time. You asked me twice." "Ah, so you were listening!"

4. I have mentioned it elsewhere, but I don't think I've mentioned it here: I break out in random tap dancing in my kitchen on a fairly regular basis. This is an excellent way to relieve boredom, entertain the younger kids, and embarrass the eldest, particularly when he has friends over. Random tap dancing is also an excellent way to get out of an awkward social moment. Just said something that devolved into awkward silence? Shuffle-ball-change your way out of it.

5. While I try very hard to eat fresh healthy foods, and actually enjoy doing so, I have a terrible weakness for ice cream, gobby, gloppy, nutty, swirlie-ribboned with fudge and caramel, on a cone. Simply luscious.

6. My husband and I have several pre-meeting coincidences including this: my first wedding took place in Boston Public Garden on the corner where Cheers was having its Final Episode celebration. Ocktoberfest was in swing on the Boston Commons, loudspeakers of which we were previously assured would not interfere with the wedding, which they did. Well, this was about twelve years before I met Honey, who worked in entertainment setting up staging, and was working the Cheers gig when he looked over and said, "What kind of idiot a*holes would get married here, today?" And now he's married to one of those idiots himself.

7. While I have oft professed my hatred of all things pink, especially frilly or flouncy, I absolutely love peonies, which is about the pinkest, frilliest, flounciest thing on earth.


There. Maybe you've discovered that I'm at least a bit silly, if you didn't already know that. Another aspect of receiving this award is passing it to others. Some of my favorite bloggy women have already been tapped for this one, but, the the fact that I want to do so, too, just shows how good their blogs are, and maybe I'll get to know a little more about them, too.

1. http://jacquirobbins.blogspot.com/ Jacqui always makes me laugh and she just published her new book on friendship for young readers this week! Pop by Jacqui's Room, where everyone is welcome.

2. http://motherswhowrite.blogspot.com/ Kate Hopper has opened a fantastic discussion recently on the trials and tribulations of ending nursing. She really has a way of capturing what what matters.

3. http://myothercar.blogspot.com/ Liz Hum is never afraid to tell you exactly what she thinks and inventively, too. Even when she's on a rant, you can laugh along with her about it.

4. http://ophelia-rising.com/ Mary Germanotta Duquette is likewise never afraid to plumb the depths of human nature and emotion through revealing her own, and she does so very beautifully.

5. http://ebeckartist.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth Beck is always happy and colorful and artful and fun. What more can I say? Go see for yourself. Feed her fish while you're there, too.

6.http://brittanyvandeputte.blogspot.com/ Brittany captures the essence of mothering two little boys and rescued westies while trying to write and keep her sanity while also rennovating her house.

7. http://mamasmagic.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Johnson's is a real family blog and she makes beautiful fun jewelry, too. The love of her children is evident, even in her most honest moments of less than ideal mothering that we all go through. As wonderful a mom as she is, she let's us all know, there's no such thing as perfection. Perfection would be boring, anyway, right?

Thanks, again, Kelly, you deserve the One Lovely Blog Award yourself.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

On functioning minimally, while sleeping even less.

I have things to do. Let’s see, I have house work galore, weeding the garden plots, rearranging boy numero deux’s room while he’s gone, and plenty more besides. And writing with a whole brain, so I may actually net some kind of income from what I do. Writing with half a brain or less is not so income netting.

I also have a teething toddler who is clinging like nobody’s business, who is not particularly interested in food she can chew and who prefers to nurse all night long.

What’s a mother-writer to do? Besides beg someone to shoot her now and put her out of her sleep-deprived, partially-functioning misery.


Now, I’m kidding of course. No need to hire a hitman or call the authorities as I’m not a danger to myself in that regard. I am, however, much klutzier than usual. For instance, yesterday, I stubbed the same little toe twice going around different corners, inside the house and out, and I bonked my head on the corner of a two-drawer file cabinet just bending over to pick up one of C’s board books off the floor. The little pointed bump at my hair line still hurts. Warning: file cabinet corners are very sharp, and I believe, slightly aggressive. I won’t even mention hitting my right shoulder going through virtually every door frame. Apparently, I list to the right. Oh, and I guess I mentioned that shoulder bit after all.

Seriously, any ideas would be a big help on all fronts. I’m feeling very rutterless and ineffectual…even if I do get to cuddle C a ton.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Garden, the good and the bad

The other day, I harvested a few more grape tomatoes and a good bit more beans, but I also epsied some more new beginnings both good and bad:


Watermelons and butternut squash and a blight in the butternut squash.






Three new cucumbers, here's one, a little blurry.
The yellow squash is also succumbing to the diabolical bugs that decimated my squash last year. According to my personal gardening go to guy, my father, they are called squash bugs -nothing quite as effective as telling it like it is - and they lay their larvae in the base of the stems, destroying the plant from the inside out. Once hatched, or past pupa stage, they bore into any squash that grew while they were killing the base of the plant, and eat the squash from the inside out. You know it's them by the blackening withering leaves. Last year I tried dealing with them with pesticides, which I'm really not keen on as I'm trying to be as organic as possible, but it was a bad sight last year, and I was afraid they were going to jump plots.


Grape tomatoes galore


and one lonely okra plant budding some okra from my overheated in the aluminum shed two year old seeds - my own.
There's a zucchini out there, too, and frankly I fear its demise before we can eat it.
So if anyone out there knows how to deal with these squash bugs less toxicly and more effectively, please let me know! I will be heart broken if those watermelons and that butternut are destroyed.






Tuesday, July 7, 2009

take a moment



I must confess, now that my boys are visiting with their dad for a very long month for me, I went looking at my ex's blog to see if he posted pics of them yet. Instead, I found this. What an amazing array of artists. What a beautiful version of Lou Reed's Perfect Day.
And just for fun, if I can't sing like Emmylou Harris, I.must.have.her.hair.

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July harvest

The morning of the fourth was very quiet without S's usually Saturday am Godzilla session going in the background of my coffee session. Until the boys visit their dad, I forget the value of quiet. Even when he's not watching tv, S is generally making noise of some kind from around six am til nine pm everyday. I mean, I miss it greatly all the time, rather frequently call out for it, but forget just how calm and centered it makes me to start my day with quiet.


So, C and I got up, cleaned up, and went out to water and harvest the gardens. I found a load of green beans hiding under the leaves and one slightly rabbit chewed tomato. A few grape toms were ready, and I accidently knocked a green one off. While I was shooting these, a little thiefly hand snuck in and plopped the green one into her mouth quick as a blink.


Here's the little Dillinger dressed for the day's festivities.


And this was only the beginning. How was your Fourth?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Some days are just like that

I knew even before yesterday happened that it was going to be a long one. Even before the following entered the scene.


My cellphone rang Wednesday evening, a rare occurrence, and K came running to me with it and an urgency rarely seen in him. I mean he ran- this is my anti-athlete, and nothing is ever urgent with him, and the phone was still ringing. “It’s K-!” I will warn you now that there is an inordinate number of people with a K name in my family and I’m not feeling very original this morning.

My younger brother opened with the dreaded words, “Has anyone called you yet?”

Enter dumb pause from me because this is the brother who usually opens with something funny or very quickly after, and here’s his version of comic relief that finally set my brain in motion. “I know, worst opening line ever, huh?” Then it clicked into place. KHC rarely calls me. Our parents are old now, officially old, as both are in their seventies and lately are not known for taking good care of themselves, and have been under a lot of stress in the past handful of years rather than whiling away retirement as they has always planned. “Mom had some weird symptoms for the past couple of days, and they got worse, like numbess in her left hand and she was more tired than usual and I guess it got worse today, so Dad called Dr Cos (short for Cosmo, his first name as he’s a friend of the family, too) who said to take her to the ER immediately.”

Not a lot to go on, and he gave me the information he had, which all came from our dad, who is known for downplaying everything.. Just knowing that my father who is notorious for avoiding doctors, a story for another time, called Mom’s doctor meant it had to be huge. Later I talked to Dad, and there still wasn’t much to go on but he described it as they thought she had a mini-stroke. I never did talk with Mom Wednesday night.

Enter yesterday morning, a different kind of lack of sleep from the usual as I fretted and had nightmares around the situation. S was up before dawn I believe, backpack strapped to his back and poking and Momming me from the start. K was coming in and out of our bedroom, too from a short while later, plopping suitcases and piles of outfits on the floor, because with all the commotion around Mom, I hadn’t packed them for their summer trip to their dad’s who lives in RI. Baby C had her fifteen month appointment scheduled for early morning with vaccinations, then we were to get on the road as soon as Honey finished his business errands. We usually try to leave for the interstate parental switch in DE very early in the morning, so the twelve hours in the car there and back don’t carry us into the middle of the night.

Long story hopelessly (ironic typo, think I’ll keep it) slightly less long rather than short: there we were on the road at noon rather than anytime earlier taking my boys away from me for the next five weeks, longest time ever; my mother in the hospital in CT, impossible to reach because though they said they would admit her overnight, they didn’t until much later the next day, running her from one specialist or test to another, so every time I called I couldn’t reach her. I was worried about my Dad, too, because he’s old school, needs his wife to make his meals for him or he’d just eat continuous ham sandwiches and bags of potato chips, which I confirmed when I asked how he was doing and what he was eating without Mom in the house. And he has his own high blood pressure issues without all of that salt. Of course he is running back and forth to the hospital for updates and to keep company with the woman he has been married to for his entire adult life. Next year they celebrate their 50th anniversary. What is that, their Golden Anniversary? To make it that long, Honey and I will have to live til we’re well over 100.

Anyway, long day, full day, too long in the car, not knowing enough, too many phone calls later, and now that I’m home, awake the following day, awaiting further test results, I’m thinking of getting back in the car on one of the worst holiday traffic weekends of the year and driving back up the East Coast. And I miss my boys already. This is going to be a long summer. Or was yesterday just one of those days?

Update: Mom has good prognosis for a full recovery, and when I finally was able to get her on the phone on Friday, sounded so much better than the day before.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Serendipity in DC

My son K is on a trip with his coming of age group. They have gone to DC, and one thing K was looking forward to was going to the White House and having a chance to see President Obama. Unfortunately, in the planning process they were unable to secure tickets ahead of time for their time in the area. When I was his age I remember just standing in line and walking on in, but we all know since 9-11, security in most public buildings is higher, such as not being able to go to the top of the Hancock Tower in Boston, but the White House is on a whole different level of public access. You can go, but only if you've been screened ahead of time.

Well, the other day, they decided to at least go look at the place from outside, even if they couldn't get the tour. They arrived around 5pm, as everyone else was leaving and they were closing up the gates. As the gang slumped away in disappointment, the presidential motorcade rolled on up, and Obama looked right at them and waved.

They were thrilled.

I wonder if K was wearing his grinning Obama shirt, with the tagline "Chill out everyone. I've got this!" He had planned on wearing it to the White House.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sympathy a la Asperger's Syndrome

The other day, S, upon seeing a scrape/bruise on my foot incurred over the weekend during my yard work visit to the dump and a run in with Honey's car door, exclaimed,

"The sight of that alone broke my heart into a million pieces then those pieces exploded into a million pieces then those exploded into a million pieces so that it must be powder by now."

I do love him. He is very clever is expressing empathy in an unexpected ways, which is also quite unexpected for a person with a syndrome that specifically states difficulty in expressing empathy for others. Of course, having the visual of an actual wound probably helped. I bet he would have really enjoyed watching it bleed.