slamming doors and behinds

26 11 2009

If only old houses could share with us the mistakes people have made over the years and save us some grief.  On my trip down to fetch the Mrs. I was listening to an NPR interview with Amy Dickinson of Ask Amy.  The subject matter was the gracious comeback using as an example the most recent blast from Martha Stewart toward Rachel Ray and Ray’s gracious response.  I’m not a fan of either one particularly but I was interested in the whole situation in light of gatherings that will happen around a stuffed bird today.

I know that I’m on high alert.  I’m tired.  I’m annoyed.  I’m stressed.  There will be off handed remarks – not intended to hurt but considering the fragile state of affairs – they could wound.  I will consider before I speak.

There will be families gathered all over the nation today.  Some that barely see each other save for special days.  Others who see each other too much for comfort.  There will be words, silent digs, people intentionally pushing “red buttons” and feelings getting hurt – old wounds opening again and again and again…and people wondering at the end of it all why it is that they put themselves in these positions year after year.

My hope for this Thanksgiving is that we allow each and every person around the tables where we will gather – to be themselves.  That we not try to change them, to judge them, to mold them into something we think is right.

We have maybe a 12 hour ordeal in front of us.  Twelve short hours out of our lives to be gracious, kind and loving.  I will do my best to weigh each word and response to the never ending questions that will come my way.  I will try to be a grown-up and put myself in someone else’s shoes and wonder how all this will look to me 30 years from now.

Pass me that baby

22 11 2009

Shop Girl, yours is the first hand he grasped.  Yours is the touch that calms. You will turn around twice and another hand, another heart will finish what you started.  Mothers of sons must learn to share.

Mimi will arrive on the red-eye.  Best Boy has been here for three days but isn’t all here without her.  I like that.  This isn’t home for him anymore.  She is.  And when I really see that and celebrate that, it helps me in my current struggle.

I want to gather MY kids and the ones they love, pull closed the shutters and revel in these few short hours we’ll have together in one place.  Stupid me.  Our table, now complete, includes two other people who have mothers – who feel the same pull I do.

Selfishness wells up in me and I am torn at having other responsibilities, other gatherings to attend, other people to include who desire our company.  Shame-shame-shame on me.

Now quit hogging that baby and pass me Donny Diva.


color wheel

20 11 2009

Twenty-plus giant bags of brown paper stuffed with yellow confetti.  Azure skies top the Indian Summer days.  Two Norways and one Sugar Maple spread their arms to form a hunter green canopy that shade the windows from heat, now stand like lacey webs – bare. The dance of the sun across the sky is lower now. The music is changing – the notes are more somber.

Inky darkness falls but midnight is yet far away.  We turn out all the lights and sit staring at the cadmium orange, yellow and red blaze in the fireplace.  Stifling a shiver, I focus on the light.

One more maize day.  The red and silver ladder stands ready as I arm myself with a bottle of liquid turquoise and stuff my pockets with black and white newsprint.  I make circle after circle till the tiny bubbles and wavy lines entombed in the century old glass sparkle and shine like tiny prisms.

Twilight again turns the sky to a cerulean pool.  The burnt amber room turns to cinnamon with dimmed lamps.  My three favorite windows in the house – the three dressed in nothing but their golden oak frames – are my portals to sanity.  Tonight they stand with clean faces ready to welcome the southern light.

Gray.  It came sooner than expected.  Dropped like a thick scrim in front of the sun, there were no pale yellow rays to dance across the polished crystal.  Just gray.  But sooner than I’d like,  there will be a brilliant day when light will be intensified by the surrounding white and my windows will magnify those reflected rays. Then, imitating the Mouser, I will find a reason to stop and bask in that warmth in hopes of surviving another winter.

lullaby of life

11 11 2009

hnd1It has only been a few days since this new adventure began.  Time is magically suspended when suddenly we look up to see the sky outside is dark and and there is no accounting for how we got there.  Conversations with Shop Girl have a new weight.  Barely a week into this experience called “mothering”, it is as if 1000 doors have opened in her brain and connections to her heart are winding their way through her soul.

She is on the fast track of learning about balance…balancing people’s expectations with what she instinctively feels about what is right, timely…and safe.  Feeling as if she were the only counterweight in a giant tug-o-war, she wanted to know how I ever learned to manage a poker face to the world belieing the storm raging inside my head and my heart in situations that were tearing me in two.

Here is where it starts.  Either you learn quickly or you don’t learn at all.  There is so much we cannot control even when we’ve been wired for nurture.  All I could say to her through the tears was that I’ve learned and continue on a daily basis to wallow in the reality that if I love this kid (in my case Shop Girl and Best Boy) THIS much – and God’s love is infinitely beyond that – I’d better get a handle on the trust thing.

A few years ago when Best Boy lay fighting for his life in the hospital I would have given anything to trade places.  But it wasn’t mine to trade.  There was another journey – not mine to take.  As a parent, the best I can do is to keep my hands open enough to lay them steady on their backs when things get rough.


cellar door

9 11 2009


Cellar door.  Cellar door.  Cellar door.

How apropo that  J.R.R. Tolken was the first to draw our attention to the beauty of those two words and how they sound (phonaesthetics).  If he were still alive today, I’d beg him to invent a new word or two in those wonderful fantasy languages he created that combined good phonaesthetics and functionality.

Cellar door.  Cellar door.  Cellar door.  Grandma.  Granny.  It’s the G-R combo that gets me.  My skin doesn’t even crawl as much hearing abuelita.

I am not reacting to the idea – just the sound.  It grates on me.  I fully embrace and am proud of my gray hair and the age it represents. What’s not to love about having enough experience to handle whatever an 8 lb. wonder can throw at me?  I can easily tuck him under my arm and still make lunch.  Changing diapers, regardless of how frightening they may seem…I’ve seen it ALL.  But the name thing?  In our family all the best ones are already taken…these roll easily off the tongue.  Yaya.  Nana.

Shop Girl and I have deliberated long and hard behind closed doors over this one.  It has to sound right.  It has to feel right.  If the Kid could call me Cellar Door – I’d let him.  Fact is, he can’t call me anything at this point.  But we are going with Momo.

It just so happens that one of Shop Girl’s favorite books by Michael Ende is Momo.  Widely read by school children in Europe (wanna get me started again on another rant??), it seems be scarce in these parts.  Maybe that is all part of it too.  There are hundreds of variations and nicknames for my new role…but how many Momo’s do you know?

p.s.  The photo is as close as I could come today for the theme.  Truth is, it’s the door to a lighthouse in Sagres, Portugal (if I remember correctly)…but we can all imagine that somewhere in the world – there might be a cellar door with such a great looking latch, right?

what’s NOT to love about America?

6 11 2009

stnrbbyDo you know what über means?  I’m sure you understand très chic?  And when you are tuned to the Weather Channel and they are talking about El Niño, do you see it written in the graphics as El Nino?  Let’s get really crazy here and test your smarts…how do you pronounce the word “garçon”?

Sometimes I just get stumped.  I live in a world where, as I sat in a surgical waiting room, steps away from where Donny Diva was just taking in gulps of air, Book Boy took pictures with his iPhone and the Dr. who is on the other side of the globe opened his email before I did to view instant pictures.  I think I am in the year 2009 – almost through the first whole decade of the 2000’s – living in America…so advanced, so modern, so technologically savvy – then I have to stop and think again.

Like yesterday for instance.  Yes, here in America.  Yes, in a hospital with a Level 1 Trauma center – one that is hoping to be the next Mayo Clinic…the Medical Mile.  Go Michigan!  Into the hospital room where Donny Diva and Shop Girl are quietly minding their business walks a minion with the piece of paper that will be filed as the official birth certificate.  But wait!  A very astute and alert Shop Girl, despite her vicodin haze notices an “error”.   She would like his name is spelled with an “ø” not an “o”.

“Sorry – the state of Michigan won’t allow any foreign letters.”  What? “The State of Michigan won’t allow any foreign letters.”  Yes, now I get it.  We are IN America but not OF America.  Isn’t our language made up of foreign words that we’ve appropriated into our everyday speech? 


You can’t use foreign letters because…why?  Because they are unrecognizable?  More so than many of the compilationnamesthatdon’tmakemuchsenseandIcan’tpronounce?  I’d rather imagine it is because someone is too inept to be able to figure out that if the ø is already on the iPhone that there is ALSO a way to find it on your stupid non-Mac keyboard too!  Dear God, people…we live in a Google world!!! And excuse me, but if Hamid Karzi can speak flawless English, can’t we get our bureaucrats to learn to use a fricking international keyboard?  Oh, no…they can’t.  When I just looked up how to spell that foreign word, I read the meaning

2. an official who works by fixed routine without exercising intelligent judgment.

I had to do my steely-eyed magic on Shop Girl to keep her flying out of the bed and tearing the poor girl’s hair out.  We let her have her way and Shop Girl had to learn the first lesson in mothering…the State don’t mean @(*#&$^@.  So what if his birth certificate has his name misspelled.  From that official document you get a passport.  They won’t be able to read it at passport control anyway!