Thursday, June 30, 2011

best laid plans...


Mr. Cynic is sleeping at his friend MD's house and I need to pick him up at 11. Then his friend TB  is coming over to form a new band. Grandma is taking Toots to Busch Gardens with her sister's family. So Captain Comic and I are on our own for a smidge here. I was hoping to have a little writing time, and talked to him about not interrupting, but it doesn't look that way, since his latest inquiry is:

Captain Comic: Mom, I'm taking a few of these poppits outside to pop on the deck (last box of those white throw down spark things from our bbq)
Mom: Okay.
Capt. Comic: (pop pop pop, reenters the office): Mom, can these be flammable?
Mom: Yes, they are made of gunpowder and spark.
Capt. Comic: So, like, if I tossed one in gasoline.....
Grandma & Mom: YES! of course if you throw them in GASOLINE!

So I guess I will not be writing today after all.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

basenji central

My friend CW loves Basenji dogs so much that she fosters puppies regularly. She has a houseful right now and wanted us to come by and socialize them. Originally I gave a pretty hard no, because I knew I wouldn't be able to be around puppies and walk away without one.

Of course, I came around and we visited. The one in the upper left corner is one of CW's adult Basenjis. The rest are the foster puppies. I fell in love with the brindle, named Amber (upper right corner), but I was good and did not bring her home. Just so you know, as I write this, my heart is totally breaking about having left her there instead of coming home with us. Another friend of mine has already adopted one of the tawnies. She's a big Basenji lover, too.

Someone else has claimed another one of the puppies, but wanted to be sure she was gentle with little ones, and that's where we come in. Toots and this shyer of the pups were wonderful together. In fact all the puppies really gravitated to Toots because she is just about their size. Captain Comic noticed and commented about it.

Captain Comic loves dogs and researching about different breeds. He was really looking forward to going today. He was especially interested in hearing the barkless dog's yodel.

Mr. Cynic didn't say much, but I just know he was totally squeee-ing on the inside.

Here's a bit of our adventures in Basenji Central:



Here's Captain Comic waiting for a puppy attack. He wanted it so badly. But Toots got it instead. Sorry, I was fending off puppies from her and couldn't take a photo.

This is Amber, with whom I fell in love. 
She was pretty keen on all the kids, too.

Circling pups and Toots, squealing in delight.

Puppy kisses galore.

Captain Comic was so excited to make the puppies come running.

Just look at that giggle face. He's holding it in so hard.


Puppy love! And CW's adults, too. 
The big one is a Basenji mix, all the others are Basenji through and through.

Apologies for the dog butt. Toots and Captain Comic were in seventh heaven here.


See how Amber just seems to belong to us already? NO, wait, stop that! 
Breathe, Cath, leave the puppy be. 
If you love something set it free....

Meanwhile, at home, not long before we went visiting the pups, a certain troublesome terrier raised a bit of hell. I heard the dog door through the garage, and immediately, half a house away, was blasted with a stink so bad... I never smelled anything quite so odiferous in my life. It was the stink of a thousand rotting corpses. It was hideous beyond belief. Captain Comic wrapped his shirt around his face as we tried to chase her out of the house. Lucy was clearly very proud, happy and excited about whatever she had just rolled in and apparently ate. We chased her out, we locked all pet door access to the house. She managed to get back in as we tried to get shampoo and green dog treats galore out to her. We chased her out again, grabbed her and hosed and shampooed her down. The treats didn't help her lethal breath. I went into the fridge for some cilantro, anything full of chlorophyll to fight the stink of rotting zombie off of her breath.
The stinker after we tortured her with bath and breath fresheners.
She is clearly still stoked about whatever she attacked and possibly devoured. 







back in the saddle

Last week was a bust for editing. The boys were home all week for the first time since April break, it rained or threatened to do so quite a bit, and I had too many doctor appointments. So I just left my edit bag leaning against the bookcase, and didn't grouse about losing writing time.

Yesterday, I sent Toots along with Grandma for her morning workout. Toots likes the play room at the YMCA. I think she needs more peer time than she gets around here. I left the boys to their own devices and told Mr. Cynic to keep Captain Comic out of trouble by playing cards or something and then taking him to the neighborhood pool. It's a really rather nice possibility now that Mr. Cynic is a pretty responsible teen.

I went to the library and, admittedly, it was hard for me to get started on the manuscript, as it had been about two weeks since I last worked on it. I was also at quite an emotional chapter for my main character, one in which he reacts uncharacteristically angry over something unrelated to the bullying that is pressuring him. I still feel like protecting him like he's one of my actual children. The difficult parts of the book for him are particularly difficult for me to watch him go through for the umpteenth time, as I write it, hopefully a little better with each edit. But when I got down to business, it seemed to flow really well and the minor changes moved quickly. I added a little more internal feelings without being too expository. That is one of my main issues with the last draft. I missed the mark on conveying what he was going through via the context of the scene itself, or my writing of his emotions was overwrought for a twelve year old boy - one extreme or the other.

July is around the corner, and so is the boys' summer travels to their father for a month. I am hoping to work more consistently, once again, on the the manuscript and finish it before they come home. I hope to get it to my writing group for a last hurrah critique, then out to children's agents and publishers.

What's that old adage about best laid plans?   I really hope that July is a quiet month. I really want to finish and send it out. I've been working on this far too long already. I practically could have grown the main character from birth in the time I've worked on this ten days of his life.


Monday, June 27, 2011

snack selection brought to you by dayglo pink

I swear, even with all the baking I do, that I try my darnedest to feed my family healthy snacks, made from scratch, with whole ingredients.

But Honey and I went shopping in a specialty store together yesterday and came home with bags of sugar crap, including this:
It's exactly the color of my bedroom until age seven, which permanently put me off to the color pink. It's Pepto Bismol. It's darker than cotton candy, but cotton candy flavored, in a cute box, marked half off.

I think that was what did us in. Half Off.
 I feel sick to my stomach looking at the batter. I think this was the moment that Mr. Cynic said, "Brought to you by Barbie."

Of course, he was riffing from my, "Today's snack selection brought to you by the color dayglo pink!" in my best announcer voice.
 And then the frosting.
But they smelled really good coming out of the oven.

Sorry, used cellphone camera again, this is cupcakes after pink sprinkle sugar. Note how the frosting is kind of melty? Someone couldn't wait for them to cool before frosting. I'm not telling who. I plead the fifth.

Someone else couldn't wait to eat them. Even if they are pink.

Neither could he:

The one to enjoy the pinkitude the most had just awakened from nap, and was a little slow to eat them.

I am not telling you how quickly mine disappeared. Nope, I just won't.


Friday, June 24, 2011

balance points

This week, between the kids' first week home from school and a gazillion doctor appointments - no worries, just getting updates on old stuff - I have not written or edited, seen only a couple of friends for thirty minutes, and the continuing hovering forecast of rain and wearing a boot have prevented trips to the neighborhood pool. We're all a bit stir crazy, one week into summer. And Grandma caught a bad cold and has been off of her usual exercise routine, too.

I think this week was an exercise in finding a routine amidst overall changes.

I have not watered the garden consistently, because it seems the rain will really pour, then not much happens. Then I think the rain will come overnight, and it really doesn't. And it's tougher to drag the hose around the yard with this dang boot.

Captain Comic wants to learn poker, badly, and I want to teach him. Poker was a big influence in my family life when I was a kid, I love playing cards, especially with my dad.We sure had some good Gin tournaments, mano a daughtero. But I know I need a good visual aid for Captain Comic to see all the levels of win, etc. Somehow I need the time and focus to teach him the multi-step processes of poker, when he is compromised in multi-step processing. It will take more than one session, that is for certain. Much frustration will have to be abated, on both parts.

Honey and I had a late night date at a combo pub cinema place last night for our fifth anniversary. We arrived a bit early for the showing of Bridesmaids, and sat at the bar. While we waited, I learned the difference between us and how that difference is a good thing. We were quiet for a moment, so I asked, "What would you like to see in the next five years?

Honey: What do you mean? I can't see into the future.
Me: What would you like to see. What do you want in life?
Honey: I don't know, I'm pretty good. A hot meal, a warm bed, a chance to relaxed a little more.
Me: Really? That's kind of nice.

See, I am always looking around the bend, aiming for something, having big dreams, wanting something, looking for the next adventure. In his way, Honey is content to just be.

At times, this can be a source of frustration for both of us, but I think, at other times, it works to both of our advantages that we come at the world and each other from different angles. I get him off of his butt for an adventure. While it may take a little initial effort, he always seems to appreciate it after the first push. Conversely, he gets me to stay in the moment and just chill and realize that not everything needs to be done right now, not everything needs to be planned or in constant motion. A little stillness is a good thing.

So we find our balance.

I need to find a way to fit writing into the week while the boys are home. I think I will manage that a little better next week, when I don't have so many appointments. Also, Grandma seems to be feeling a little better today and will likely get back to her morning exercises routine, away from the mayhem of home. I know how important her exercise routine is for her. She's better about keeping one than I am.

I have written a summer daily schedule and hung it up for Captain Comic to have a reference as to what this hour of the day is for. Poor guy kept floating around not knowing what to do with himself, leaving a wake of difficult relationships, snack scraps and random detritus until I did.

Toots needs a little more interaction than I've been giving her this week, while I've focused on my medical stuff and whatnot. There's been a bit too much PBS and Netflix children's program selections going on.  I think if the forecast perks up to the sunny side, we'll get to the pool more next week. This will be good for the Capt., too.

Mr. Cynic has been a big help this week, and found ways to hang with his friends and girlfriend. He's getting more and more independent, even if he is still hesitant on the learning to drive sessions.

And, even after all these years, Honey and I continue to learn each other, and how to negotiate what it is that simultaneously drew us to each other, and what drives us most crazy on a daily basis.

Ain't love grand?

It's summer. I think by now, all schools across the country are out for the season, the days are long on light and open hours. Don't forget to enjoy them for what they are, a chance to relax a little more...and maybe have a good adventure,or two.




Thursday, June 23, 2011

five

photo: j. gallo

That's my guy, Honey and me, five years ago today. I think this was taken right before our first married kiss.

Everyone should be so in love and able to do this. Sure, marriage isn't all happiness and light, contrary to what fairytales would have us believe, but it is worth the work it takes when you love your partner and can be recognized fully in that, no matter how that love is packaged.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

anatomy of ankleland

Some of you may recall this story from about a year ago:

You can click the picture for a link if you haven't heard the tale, but about a year ago, I hurt my ankle pretty badly. I haven't really recovered. In fact, from favoring the initial ligature/tendon injury which was never properly diagnosed, I developed tarsal tunnel syndrome.
TarsalTunnel
Click pic to read about it.

Then from not dealing with the tarsal tunnel syndrome, I developed tendonitis on the posterior blah blah, a tendon sheathe along a muscle that runs from the knee down behind the calf muscle, close to the tibia. I lost track when the doctor was talking yesterday as he gave me a cortisone injection for tarsal tunnel syndrome. I left the doctor's office and drove in circles (yes folks, it is my driving ankle) to find the place where I was supposed to pick up a boot to wear for the next month, and found it just time for it to be closed, thanks to it's lack of signage. By the time I got home, my foot was on fire up to my knee, and felt dead and asleep, like it was trying to wake up, but never did except partially sometime around five o'clock this morning. Needless to say, it was a sleepless night.  Before I went to bed, I asked a medical friend if my foot/ankle/leg should still feel like this several hours after injection, and she replied that it sounds like I had a classic steroid flare. Yay me and my weird anatomy.

So this morning, I got to drive all the way back across Newport News to find this boot place again and now my fashion statement is this:


May I pass this lesson onto you?

Listen to your body when it is giving you clear signals to see a doctor and take care of yourself, for goodness sake, because if you don't put yourself high 'on the list', this is the sort of thing that can happen to you.

Ironically, in the waiting room, my reading was Hot (Sweaty) Mamas, by Kara Douglas Thom and Laurie Lethert Kocanda, an enthusiastic book about making personal fitness a priority in your hectic life as a mother.

I neglected to mention previously that this book was a win from Kate Hopper's blog, Mother Words:Mothers Who Write. I am incredibly grateful, Kate, thank you. Once I can get back on both feet, I am so on this!

In fact, even before I am back on both feet, I am starting a belly dancing class next Monday. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

stuff

I did it again. I overloaded a weekend and its lead up, and paid the price physically. And then I woke up with a cold this morning. I did more yard work last week than one somewhat broken down (back, shoulder, ankle) middle-aged person should ever attempt on one's own. I think I amassed fourteen hours on Wednesday and Thursday alone, of serious manual labor. 

But Captain Comic slept in for the first time in his life well past six o'clock this morning. He made a premeditated decision to do so, and it worked. This makes me extraordinarily happy.  Ask me another day if he kept up his plan to sleep in this summer for more that one morning. It's been a long childhood of pre-dawn waking. 

Friday night we had a big cookout with a bunch of families with young kids. Mr. Cynic invited Goldilocks. I totally forgot to break out a camera. Must have been having too much fun. It rained briefly and Honey saw a rainbow while he was grilling.  The kids were all over the trampoline, swings, house, dog...and poppers and snaps: 

I think most of the adult males had more fun with these than their kids. 

Father's Day, the boys thanked Honey for providing and Toots woke up a very sleepy Daddy with hugs and kisses and a card. And then we left him the house to himself for several hours. I had a very busy Sunday at our fellowship. Poor kids had to stick around for a choir rehearsal and two services. There was a cookout scheduled, too, but I had church burnout. Captain Comic had it much worse than I did, so we came home to spend the afternoon with our resident Dad. Honey grilled again and Toots was excited about "Wayermelyen!" 


Or did I take this shot on Saturday evening? I can't remember anymore. 

At some point this weekend, I looked out our front window and discovered I had grown a sea horse in my driveway:

I am sort of collapsing this week, and have a gazillion doctor appointments lined up. No new worries, just back on the specialists wheel I hopped off of about a year ago re: old stuff.  It is exhausting and expensive, even with insurance going to one after another only to have them tell me to go see yet another. But hopefully I will start to get some real answers. However, I just found out a new bellydancing class is starting tonight and I really want to join it. I need to do something about my belly, and why not have fun getting it into shape?

The weather is kicking into high gear as I type this up. I hope it doesn't get too bad, coming in from the Midwest....but we sure can use the rain.







Saturday, June 18, 2011

new fave thing & convo with the captain




Captain Comic: How'd they DO that?
Mom: I don't know, but it's really creative and innovative, don't you think?
Capt. Comic: But how did they do it? Did they like draw it with a stick burning into the toast?
Mom: The images are so consistent from one piece of toast to the other, I wonder if they have some kind of a stamp thing they add lines of something to, and heat up to burn into the toast...
Captain Comic: That wastes a huge amount of toast!
Mom (falls over laughing)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

breakfast

A little while ago, I brought the corn husk materials from last night's dinner out to my compost pile. I perused the pickings around the peas. I popped one pod in  my mouth. I'll let the others linger and grow another day or so. I strolled by my little swiss chard piece of a plot in front of the okra,  and was struck with an idea for breakfast. I picked a few leaves thinking of combining them with eggs, and considered what else to add as I reentered the house.

Last week's storms broke Grandma's hanging tomato plant. The remaining tomatoes are ripening on our kitchen counter.

I chopped some garlic as I started to scramble the eggs. I gave the swiss chard a few licks with the knife and tossed those in. I took a small tomato from the opposite counter did the same. A little salt and pepper later, and voila!

Garden fresh swiss chard and tomato scramble, from garden to plate.

This is why I love to garden. Everything you grow yourself inspires and tastes better, from plant to table in ten minutes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

dog day

Does it get any better than this?


Lucy has just dug up another mole. She is excited at a job well done in her mind, while the yard has yet another hole in it. But the sun is shining and something good has been scented. She has taken over my chaisse once again.

I took this the other day. Today, I have been all over the yard, digging up dead boxwood root balls, transplanting peonies to where they will bloom, reorganizing the shed, weeding, watering and trimming dead branches. Guess what I meant to do?  That's right, none of the above. I went out to weed whack the driveway edges and hedge trim the boxwoods in front of the big window. I still intend to make the driveway job happen today, because the whacker and extension cord are waiting for me there, but I'm hoping the forecast rain holds off tomorrow, so that I may trim to where the window is visible again then. I don't think I can do all of it today. This is me trying to listen to my back. I'm still a little late, but I may actually not put the darn thing completely out.



Sunday, June 12, 2011

first real beach day

At the beach, the world is bright, the waves lull, even when there is a strong riptide, and everything that has gotten under my skin for the past year rolls off of me in the breeze off of mother ocean.



And Captain Comic stops talking when he hits the water, for hours at a stretch, or when he's buried in the sand. His synapses reset from the sensory input he gets from being wholly contained over most of the surface of his skin, whether sand or water. Sensory ReIntegration. I think he and I are alike in that manner, he's just more so, to the nth degree. Other than when he sleeps, the beach is the one environment in which he does not talk endlessly.

I loved the beach for a lifetime before he was born, but for him, I love it even more. At one point, he and I took a walk on the pier to see the fishermen's catch. Toward the end of the pier, one young man had caught a skate! That was really cool for us to see. As we talked with him, he said in the past week, a couple of sharks had been caught at this pier. You should have seen Capt. Comic's eyes bug out when I said, "Right where you were swimming in the same waters!"

It is a struggle to get him to put on sunscreen before he hits the surf. In front of the woman in the white top from right to left is Captain Comic, Mr. Cynic and Mr. Cynic's new gf. She's cute and very nice, also very blonde, hence she is now known as Goldilocks. They had to move away from the pier zone by 200 feet, partly due to riptide, partly the fisherman's lost hooks. We kept the encampment by the pier, so it was a little walk to the swim zone. Toots decided she didn't like the ocean after it hit her in the face when she was with Honey. But I got her there a couple times later to rinse a ton of sand off and to cool down. We got hit with a good sized wave, too, But when I laughed about it, she laughed about it, too. She still would rather go to Water Country.


Here is the gang of youngins all helping out to bury Capt. Comic in the sand. Goldilocks was a good sport in entertaining him, and Toots, who is completely enamored with her.

He emerges to rinse off:


 Honey, soaking up the sun. looking up the pier. It's nice to see him relax. It's not nice to see how easily he sunburns, even with 45SPF.

Toots, when we first arrived planted herself in the sand and proceeded to swim in it and douse herself with it.

After a couple of hours, and Captain Comic and my walk on the pier, we discovered a playground near the parking lot.



Toots kept up with the teens, fearlessly. I swear she is a girl after my own heart. There was a time I rock climbed, before I totally wrecked my back, shoulder, etc. Captain Comic, after some initial Parkur moves in preparation for making his ninja movie, decided the puddle between the bathroom and play space was the most attractive place to be. Yuck.


 Play is very serious business for a three year old.

All in all, it was a perfect beach day. Life is good. Wear sunscreen.





Friday, June 10, 2011

drastic measures

There comes a time in every mother's life when she has gone beyond anger and desperation.

There comes a time when reason alone must rule.

I went into the boys' room this morning in order to collect a bit of inevitable laundry. It turned into an exercise of futility with significant use of my old rock climbing skills.

I blew several fuses, veins, etc. And then reason took over. I wrote this to post on their door.


Boys,

You are not to go anywhere or do anything that you enjoy until you work together to get this room CLEAN and KEEP IT THAT WAY. What is going on in here regarding clutter goes beyond health code violations.

You are to put your mattress pads and sheets on your beds properly and you are to keep them that way, pillowcases, included.

You are to have nothing on your floor.

You are to vacuum and dust. Clothes go properly in their drawers and closet.

You are NOT to castigate, insult, or blame each other for any of it, because you are both responsible for the horrendousness from one end of the room to the other. If I hear yelling or arguing, you will both lose something of value to you. I know where you live in your likes and dislikes and will use this knowledge accordingly.

Papers you want to save go in a drawer of the file cabinet. Choose a drawer and put a sticker with your name on it, try to keep the papers standing up, like in folders.

Your bed shelves are to be cleaned out, and trash thrown out outside.

You are to keep this note on your door until such time as you can show me you can each and together keep your room orderly and clean.

If you rip it off, you will lose screen time for a week. And I will print another and post it again.

I love you and am not going to yell about this. It is a fact of life that you are responsible for your personal hygiene.

So be it.

Mom


There is something much more scary to them when I don't yell. I am not even going to say a word. That should chill them to their very bones.

When they come home from school and take care of walking the dog and mowing the lawn, they are not to be seen or heard, but for the shuffling sounds of cleaning, until such a time as I can see the floor, made beds and clothes and crap all put away. The end. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

hot hot hot

It's supposed to reach one hundred or so today. My morning shower was a waste of water, as I am now covered in sweat, from just a little gardening.

I fed and pruned the roses and other flowering bushes. I am way late for feeding them, should have put a post-it about it on my forehead. As I cut back dead branches and tied up the hydrangea, I found a chrysalis. I think it's a swallowtail, but I don't know what type. We get a lot of swallowtails around here, state butterfly and all.


Sorry, still stuck with cellphone shots, until I figure out a better camera situation that doesn't eat batteries.

Here's some lavender by the driveway. I should really trim it back. Grandma parks on that side of the driveway and it attacks her as she gets in and out of her car. 


The crepe myrtle I planted street side a few years ago is blooming. The white blooms smell like cinnamon Necco wafers this morning. 



I think I mentioned before that I didn't realize the sprig was spliced with pink when I bought it. The little pink bloom smells like cinnamon, too, but in a different way, a larger, more mellow scent, not as sharp as the white blossoms. Kind of like when I used to take a fireball out of my mouth as a kid once it was licked white and my tongue was on fire - after I drank something to cool my tongue.
Besides the chrysalis surprise, I found something Lucy left in the yard. She's been digging a lot lately because we have moles, again. She left me a present of a dead one by the deck.

Well, I''m too hot to write much more. How's the weather where you are? 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

on writing

I went to the library. I resisted. I stared at the screen, the document, out the window and at the critiqued copies.

I wandered the library stacks looking for the the next Charlaine Harris book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. It wasn't there. I looked at bindings. I couldn't remember who else I wanted to read. Nothing else appealed.

I opened facebook. I kvetched. I closed facebook.

I picked up one of the critiqued copies and started reading the chapter I needed to work on. I wrote in what needed to be added, in the margin. I stared at the screen, knowing I needed to start typing. I looked out the window. It is a stunningly gorgeous day. I thought I'd rather be weeding my garden.

My phone buzzed. It was a call from my father. My father rarely calls. Does he want to ask about my garden? Does he want to talk about his? Did something terrible happen to Mom? To one of my brothers, anyone in their families?

I took the phone out front and called him back. Mostly he wanted to talk about gardening, but he also wondered if he left a hat here when he last visited. He found it in the garage before I called him back. He laughed at himself. We talked about growing beans, and his single radish that came up.

I returned to my seat. I started to type. I texted two different friends to see if they wanted to meet for coffee. I typed a little more while they both teased me via text.

I typed some more, then noticed the time. I needed to make a run to a store across town before I came home in time for the boys to arrive home from school. One of the friends said she had something for me. I stopped at her place. We chatted, major girl talk. She gave me purple Thai basil to grow in my garden, because she realized she wasn't going to eat it no matter how pretty it looks in the sunshine.

I came home. I think I forgot to disconnect the USB before I turned off the laptop. but I saved my changes, minimal as they were on the desktop.

I know this doesn't sound like I did much writing or editing, but I did. I changed the way I thought about the chapter, and I only need to type about half of it, hopefully tomorrow.  I have edits in margins I can type in, and I gave my brain room to roam as I wandered the labyrinth of library and mind. And that my friends, is how I write.

What did you do today?

Monday, June 6, 2011

bravery

When I was a kid and teen, I spent a lot of time on stages in dance recitals and in choirs, specialty choirs, and in a few plays. I had dreams of being a Broadway star or a movie star, or rock star in the way that any fifteen year old girl dreams what she dares to dream.

The drama teacher I had in high school had an approach that was very intimidating for me at that time. She terrified me. She terrified me right off of the stage. I don't know why I let her get to me so much, well I have an inkling, but I don't really want to get into here, this is not a therapy session, and I think I've done a pretty good job of battling my personal demons.

After one play in which I had a decent role, and one background chorus part in a musical my freshman year, I never went back. My mantra for years afterward was, if I have to deal with another director like that, I don't even want to do this anymore.

I continued to do chorus in college, but didn't seek out solos anymore. I was terrified anyone would hear my individual voice. I hung around a bunch of bands and musicians, secretly wishing I would just jump in and join them, but I never did. I was a party to infinite jam sessions in college and beyond. I even felt intimidated to learn to play guitar, though I carried one from one dorm room to another, to apartments in Boston and beyond. It was an old one my mother had picked up in a pawn shop in the mid-fifties that never held a tuning.

After college, I still longed to do something like that, but was too chicken. Slowly, I was led back onto  a stage of sorts, reading my poetry at coffeehouses and getting featured gigs. I was still terrified, and anyone who saw me give those earliest readings especially, can tell you how much my leg shook, which was violently. My teeth chattered, too. Not so great an effect when you're baring your poetic soul into a microphone.

I never did get used to mics. I learned to tolerate the presence of one in front of my face, but, never enjoyed hearing my voice hovering around my words as I spoke them.

I have always sung at home, and in my car. But I'm self-conscious about singing in front of others besides my family. Captain Comic's sensory sensitivities also put a damper on my singing, as I can't sing freely, without him suddenly and vehemently saying he can't take it, stop!

But something happened as I reached my mid-forties. I didn't care so much about what I couldn't do anymore. I didn't care about intimidation I felt when I heard someone with a beautiful voice do a solo on Sunday morning, I didn't feel particularly intimidated by professionals when I went to concerts. I just felt like I wanted to get up and sing again, after over twenty years without a chorus, only singing in the shower, in the car, or in the kitchen, with someone screaming for me to stop it. I joined the choir at my fellowship. I was comforted and felt the joy of blending voices again. I did a solo line in a song surrounded by them last year, and another, actually the same one, again this spring.

And then the music director said, if anyone wants to do a guest song during a Sunday service, he would help make it happen.

And then I got an Idea. And it grew, and I sent a song to the minister, choir director and music director. And then things started to happen. For Real. It wasn't just an idea anymore. In the end, it didn't happen quite how I thought it would, but it happened, this Sunday. I sang a capella in front of an audience, on a mic, with virtually no rehearsal. I faced my fears square on, and loved it. And then my heart did arrhythmic flip flops after the second service performance.

Honey took a bit of cellphone video, and I find it incredibly hard to listen to or watch. I do not have the control of my voice I once had, when I sang with a lot more practice twenty some odd years ago. I think I do, and then I heard this. I am going to share it, because I need to face my fear and embarassment because only through doing so, will I be free of it. Besides, I did sing in front of people. On a microphone. All by myself. If Toots can be proud of jumping off a curb enough to say, "Yay! I did it! I did it! I jumped off the curb!" Then I can be proud of myself, in all my imperfections. Because I faced what most terrified me in my life, and did it anyway.

video

It's just a piece of the piece, but this is me, as is.  Thanks for listening.














Saturday, June 4, 2011

in preparation

I spoke with Captain Comic this morning about the fact that his sixth grade Family Life class is coming up next week. I just wanted to give him a heads up.

Mom: Hey, kiddo, C'mere a minute.
Capt. Comic: What?
Mom:  Do you know your Family Life class is coming up this week?
Captain Comic: Yea. Wait, what's that?
Mom: They're going to talk to you about sex.
Capt. Comic(face screws up in creepy disgust): Ew. You mean they're going to tell us how to have S-E-X?
Mom: Not like that...
Capt. Comic: Wait, don't you have to be... (puts hand over mouth, screws up face more, barely whispers): naked?! Like the woman goes on...
Mom: Stop right there! (because can see he's trying to picture it) They're going to talk about the science of your body going through puberty, and a girl's body...
Capt. Comic: EW!!! (runs away) I'm adopting all my people!




Friday, June 3, 2011

mayhem, garden, creativity, sing

The blur continues through the week, hence my absence here.

I did manage two library sessions of over two hours a piece. Tuesday, I finished edits to the chapter where I had left in the middle, a longer one, and Wednesday I edited the following, shorter chapter. I left after that because a man joined me at the table where I sat and proceeded to attempt games of footsie with me. I would have thought that the 5th time I kicked his foot way and said excuse me in a very annoyed manner, that he would have gotten the hint.  Dude, I may be friendly, but I'm not THAT friendly. And there were plenty of other tables in the room. But I finished editing a whole chapter, regardless, and feel like I won that little confrontation.


In the garden this week I discovered snap pea pods, and Toots and I have been enjoying them straight from the plant, in the hot sun. She eats them like some people eat Oreos. She peels them open, eats the peas out then consumes the pod sides individually.

That's another thing, it has been super hot here, very demotivational when there is so much going on. I feel for my little black dog, whose fur feels as hot as stove burner to my touch. I have been sheathed in sweat when outside for very short periods of time. Summer has arrived early and fierce. Somewhere is a piece of paper with a poem half-written about it, written upon my steering wheel outside of Mr. Cynic's bass lesson.

Speaking of Mr. Cynic, last night an awards banquet was held for his school choirs. His teacher/choir director has a great relationship with his students. The seniors saying goodbye to him called him a second father figure. In his words to them, he had to pause from the emotion of sending them off. Of course, it didn't help that his daughter is one of the graduating seniors. I am very happy that Mr. Cynic will be under his tutelage for his whole high school career. Everyone should have a teacher who loves and lifts his students as much as Mr. P. I hope in my years in public schools that I was half that for mine. Some of the toughest ones thanked me, and that means a lot, and will for the rest of my life.

At some point this week, I found a forgotten piece of Memorial Day's events in my purse:
Captain Comic discovered the free photo booth at the WHRO tent at Town Point Park in Norfolk. It took a while for him to warm up, which of course just makes it funnier. He also folded and stuck his in his pocket.

And then he tried out some ninja moves:


And then he told me about it and some of us got very silly, while he played it straight. He always has to do the opposite. 


 And then Toots had to do it herself. The woman running the booth expressed she probably wasn't tall enough without my lap, but that didn't stop her, the little nutball. It took a minute for her to realize it was taking her picture.



Yesterday, I fell in love with my garden. Sorry, cellphone again, batteries still dead in other camera.
There is something very sexy about bean plants tendrilling up poles, especially when I grew them from seeds. Every gardener knows what I am talking about.

This weekend is over-scheduled, too. Next weekend, I hope I can quit this. Part of this week's mayhem was a two day scramble session to get things in place for my solo singing this Sunday morning. The pianist got sick, we hadn't rehearsed together, turns out the music I scrambled to get was in a different key from the recording, which Mr. Cynic, on bass, and I had practiced. His bass teacher kindly and late one night, after receiving a flurry of panicked texts from me,  transcribed three different keys for him just in case, but in the end, I am going to do the number a capella.  

I am going to get up and sing in front of two 'audiences', essentially, naked - without accompaniment. 

The reason I never became a rock star is I was too chicken to sing by myself in front of an audience for the past twenty-five years. I have no trouble as long as I stand with a choir. I'll even sing a solo line as long as I am surrounded.

But my voice, alone?  

And then I turned forty-five, and no longer feel chicken, just a bit nervous and excited, and that's a good thing. Wish me luck. Please.