Death of a Maestro, Death of a Spy

DSC_1007This year has seen quite a lot of endings. Too many endings. Too many deaths. And it’s only May. I keep telling myself that the year is going to turn around, and truly wonderful things are going to start happening. Maybe they have been all along. Actually, I know they have been, because otherwise the people who have passed on since January 1, wouldn’t have made such an impact on us. Both their lives, and their passing. Like Professor Reyes. He had been Jonah’s piano teacher, and I cannot express to you how deeply we have been affected by his death. He had become like family to us, and was a friend. He passed in February, and on the very last day of April, Jonah gave the opening remarks at his memorial service. It couldn’t have been an easy thing to do, but he handled it beautifully. The whole service was beautiful. It was a large church, and it was full – as you might expect of such a teacher and musician – of people whose lives had been deeply touched by him and his music. The service was perfect; it was humble, but in an almost grand kind of way – much like the man, himself. Humble, but what he could do and what he passed on to his students was grand. Bigger than himself, and given freely and easily. One of the people who got up to speak talked of how he “cast his bread on the water”, and “look at what was returned” so many lives touched by his. During the service, Jonah’s first piano teacher, Professor Reyes’s great-niece, played Clair de Lune. It was beautiful; and it was profound, because it is the piece Jonah is learning with his new teacher. It was almost as if some sort of unspoken blessing was being given. The first piece with the new was the sending off of the former – two former, in fact.
As his ashes were carried out, someone played the National Anthem of the Philippines, which we were told was what Professor Reyes always played as an encore, and interspersed in the crowd of mourners – voices singing along. Soft. Almost sprinkled throughout. So beautiful, so honest, and so moving.

Last week, at the 5th grade Spring Concert, Jonah played the last piece he worked on with Professor Reyes. He died before they could finish working on it, and Jonah refused to introduce it to his new teacher, because “It was Professor Reyes’s, and I don’t want anyone else to ‘mess’ with it.” It was a Romance by Tchaikovsky that Professor Reyes said he played when he was a boy, and never forgot. It always “just stuck” with him. Anyway, Jonah continued to work on it on his own & decided to play it for the school concert. And he did – on an out of tune old piano whose keys sometimes wouldn’t play and you could barely hear from the audience; and with the prayer card from the memorial service tucked neatly in his shirt pocket “for luck”. And it was magical. At least for us. And another ending; heartfelt and humble.

Also this month was the memorial service for “Grandpa Walker”. He was my uncle’s father. He was a fixture in my life, and he was a-for-real-honest-to-goodness spy. There were no martinis at his service, though – shaken or stirred – no one crashed through a window, no one talking into their sleeve, and no watches with grappling hooks and saw blades. There *was* a table filled with photographs and medals, and plaques for service from the NSA and Laurel police force. There was a lot about Grandpa Walker that I didn’t know. There was a lot about Grandpa Walker that his own kids didn’t know, and there’s a lot about Grandpa Walker that no one without the proper clearance will ever know. We were assured by a couple of former co-workers that though they can’t tell us why, we should all be both proud of and extremely grateful for his service to this country, some which is still relevant today. That’s good enough for me. I did learn that during the civil unrest in the area, when race was a bigger issue than today and when he was a police officer, he was the *only* police office that was trusted by both the black and white communities. Also, that when his daughter was asked by her friend (who happened to be black) to the school dance, he personally escorted them so that no one would give them any trouble, and they could just “go and have a good time like kids are supposed to do”. I wonder how many fathers would have done that at the time. I wonder how many fathers would do that today… I also learned that he was truly a man of God and did QUITE a bit in service to his church. The hall we were sitting in was *his* vision, and he never even brought it up. But I guess spies are used to keeping quiet about things. Or maybe it was because that was just the kind of guy he was. Unassuming, and a man of integrity.

His service was attended by a much, much smaller, but equally diverse group of people. It was also humble, and honest – and though not grand, the things he accomplished in his life sure seemed to be. He also scattered his bread on the water, though much more quietly – that was his job, after all, to be quiet – and the over-all effect was the same: an out-pouring of love, because he gave of himself freely and easily.

Two very different men on the surface, and two very different services. I have been made a better person by the bread each cast, and I am so very grateful.

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Judged

I’ve debated writing this post for quite some time. In fact, I’m still not sure if I’m actually going to publish it. I’m not even sure I know quite where to begin. There are so many aspects to this topic, and so many ways to approach it that I’ve been quite paralyzed by indecision. I’ve written it and rewritten it in my head for weeks and each time I’ve done so, it takes on another meaning. This topic is, in fact, bigger than me. It’s bigger than a lot of people, and that’s why it causes so much trouble. The topic is this: addiction.

There is a man close to my heart who is struggling with it. He is strong, and smart, and brave, and gentle, and kind. He is honorable. He is the kind of man who you’d trust with your life. The kind of man you’d trust with your children’s lives, so when I was told of his current predicament, my immediate reaction was disbelief: “No, it couldn’t actually be true. There must be another side to this story.” I think my actual words to his wife were “but it’s like Bizarro Superman. It’s the complete opposite of who he is.” She agreed, but it didn’t make it any less true.
This cut me to the core. I felt for his wife. I felt for his kids. I felt for him, and I desperately wanted to talk to him. To see him. To hear it from his own mouth. To know why. I wanted to tell him I was there for him, and remind him of who he is. I wanted to give him a big ol’ bear hug and tell him it was going to be ok… right after I told him to get his sh*t together. In fact, I tried. I tried to get in touch with him, but couldn’t. And that hurt just as much as anything else. I felt like he was just … gone.
Months went by and then one day I got a message from him asking me to call – which I did immediately! It was a great phone conversation which led to a great visit. He isn’t out of the woods, but he is trying very hard to put his life back together. He has sought help. He is going to meetings – daily, I think he said. He told me everything. What it was that he thinks triggered it all, where he is now, and why he didn’t call or write me back. That was the bit that hit me like a brick. He said he was afraid he let me down. He said he was afraid I’d judge him. He said he was sorry for thinking that, but he just couldn’t stand the idea of knowing that I might. That still eats at me. It eats at me because I know exactly what he means. I would never judge him, because I am afraid of being judged. I have kept a secret from most of my loved ones for years. I have never shared it, because I am afraid of the exact same thing. It’s interesting, because I’ve thrown it out there to certain friends nonchalantly: “well, you can’t go by me on that one, because …”. Usually, the response is “really? wow”, and then they move on. None of them has judged me – or if they have, it was privately and has never interfered with my friendship with them. Not even once. But here I sit, deliberately avoiding divulging it, because I am worried that I will be judged. Worried that if I happen to look too thin or tired or if I pass up a tray of dinner rolls, I am being judged. I’m worried that my credibility will be lost. I’m worried that my loved ones will worry. Or feel guilty. And the idea of them feeling guilty makes me feel guilty. I never want to be a bother to anyone. I never want to lose the illusion that I have it all together & my life is a magical fairy tale and that absolutely nothing is wrong. Because my life is a magical fairy tale and I do have it all together (the fact that I’m in yesterday’s clothes and am usually wiping poopy or boogies off my hands notwithstanding). But I’ve been thinking about him, and thinking about how unfair it is that he has been so honest with me, and is going to be forced to be honest with everyone who cares about him, while here I sit hiding my own addiction. It is a kind of addiction …. well, maybe it’s more of an obsession. Well, here goes nothing: I struggle with anorexia.
No, I’m not trying to directly compare alcoholism to anorexia. I know they are different animals altogether. They are different, but there are a few things that they have in common. Both cause physical damage that can be lasting, and if either goes unchecked, can kill; both are life-long struggles, and both are things we don’t like exposed.
Now, you might be thinking that I must be very vain if I obsess about the way I look so much that I’d be willing to starve myself; and I’d be lying if I said that self-image wasn’t a part of it. It is part of it, but the bigger part of my experience with anorexia is obsession. Obsession and control. How long can I go without eating? How few calories can I consume and continue on? How light can I get without alarming anyone? I used to be able to make an entire meal out of 2 strawberries (and would feel guilty about eating that second one), and would eat rice individually. Yes, you read that right. I would sit there with a chopstick and pick up individual grains of rice until it grew so wearisome I’d say “forget it”, and dump the rest. I knew how many calories were in a single m & m, and could, in fact, eat only one. I would chart out how many times in a day and how many calories I’d consume – and yes the m&m counts. I even counted the diet pills I was taking for awhile , because they did, in fact, contain a calorie. I made up detailed spreadsheets, and had webpages bookmarked for quick reference. I made a science of cataloging food, an obsession of self-denial, and the lighter I got, the better I felt – both mentally and physically. I can’t explain it. There was – and is – a kind of euphoria in lightness. -and I was addicted to that feeling.
Let me also address the common misconception that anorexia is for teenagers. I can assure you that it is not. I didn’t spiral out of control until I was out of college, and I’ve struggled with it ever since. I say I still struggle with it, and I do. Often I have to talk myself into having lunch, but this does not mean that I do not have it under control. (There’s that word again: control. I really do have a thing for it.) I was exceptionally lonely and unhappy when I was at my worst, and today I am in a much better place; and even when I am feeling low, I would never want to set an unhealthy example for my kids. I have also turned my obsession with food around: instead of worrying about how much I am eating, I now worry about the quality of food I am eating and serving my family. These days I’m all about nutrition, and learning about what different foods can do for me – and my family. I might freak out a little too much when my kids are offered a non-organic apple, or find out that they had a juice box, cupcake, AND box of nerds at a party, but in the end I do know that there are worse things. And there are. And at that very same party I will probably ask for a cupcake.
Again, I’m not trying to directly compare anything he’s going through with anything I’m going through. Except, of course, that fear of being judged. It really is the root of this confession. I guess I just want those in my life to know that I am keenly aware that no one is perfect. I know how quickly an obsession, at least, can spiral out of control, and I know how hard it is to come back from that. I know what it’s like to hide what I’m going through. I know what it’s like to lie about what I was consuming, and I know what it’s like to not want to be a disappointment or worry to anyone. I know what it’s like to fear judgement from those I love the most, and I know what it is like to be ashamed. There is so much more to say on this topic. Or maybe I’ve said too much. In any case, I’m going to stop writing and hold my finger over the “publish” button and wonder if today is the day I actually press it.

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Silence

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Last night I slept lovingly curled up with my husband. It’s something that hasn’t happened all too often lately, mostly because of a certain 18 month old who has “taken a break” from sleeping through the night. It was wonderful. I drifted to sleep thinking about how much I love the way he holds me. That’s when Yum Yums decided to wake up. He was crying for “Mommy”, panicked and afraid. I tried to lay him back down, and he did lay down – but only for a minute. This is the second time he woke up last night. The first time I was successfully able to get him back to sleep – in his own crib. This time, though, he clings to my arm, so I carry him back to our bed & he snuggles in close. Throughout the night he reaches for my face, as if to make sure it’s really me and I’m really here, and makes sure at least one body part (a foot, an elbow, his head) is touching either me or Jeff at all times. I think it’s sweet, but I also understand that this is a boy who is terrified of being alone.
I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you are thinking that I am both a fool and a bad mother for not letting him cry it out. Not letting him learn to face his fear and “put himself back to sleep”. Not giving him the tools early on to be able to deal with “the real world”: a place where Mommy and Daddy can’t be with you every second of your life. But I’m going to tell you something: he’s going to find out what it means to be alone soon enough. He doesn’t need me to teach it to him at 18 months in the dark stillness of the night.
Sleep, (or lack thereof) was not, oddly enough, where my thoughts were when I was snuggled back in bed, though. Instead, I was overcome by happiness and comfort and love, and I did what I often do – I reached for my phone. At 1:30am. To tell all my family and friends how happy and lucky I feel.
Wait. What???. I then thought to myself “Seriously? You’re going to write a status update? now? What in the holy heck has happened to you?”.
That was my first reaction. Then I remembered all the family & friends who were in marriages that were struggling. Or broken. Or over. Then I thought of my friends who were trying desperately to have a baby of their own & I realized that I should never post about these particular gratitudes because at any given moment in time, such a post could be seen as salt in a wound. I would never want that. So I remained silent and preserved the sanctity of the moment.
Silence. On a social media outlet. Kinda defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Or does it? Lately, things that should never be said have been plastered almost everywhere. In some cases, uninvited comments that degrade, demoralize and offend. In other cases, graceless and blatant examples of poor taste and superiority. It is because of this, that I have decided to try my best to keep my big mouth shut. No small feat for me, let me tell you! Instead, on Facebook, I have decided to communicate mostly via images. Can a person gloat or offend through a photograph? Certainly. Evidence of this abounds on Instagram, but it is still my favorite social media outlet; and, I think, it is less likely that friends and family could misunderstand what I am trying to convey. Or at least, it’s hard to put my foot in my mouth if I just don’t open it. That’s my theory at the moment. I’ll let you know how that works out… And anyway, I still have this blog.

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Catching Up

I have been busy. Crazy busy. Ridiculously busy – and yet, I have nothing to show for it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have LOTS of half finished projects, a sink full of dirty dishes & piles upon piles of laundry waiting to be done. I shouldn’t even be writing this, but I’m enjoying a moment. Yum Yums took an incredibly short nap, so I scooped him up and floated him on over to my bed where I’m sitting half-hug with him under the covers. He fell right back asleep and I absolutely refuse to carry him back to his crib. Before I blink twice he’ll be in the second grade like his brother & I’m not letting one magical second pass me by. Dishes be damned! And anyway, I do so hate doing dishes. And laundry. And cleaning bathrooms. I *can* however, cuddle a sleeping boy and type one-handed on my iPhone, so here we are!

Let me catch you up on recent happenings:

1. We just got back from a trip to Florida with my parents! Talk about a great time! The Noodle’s highlights were getting his “driver’s license” at Legoland, going down Humunga Cowabunga at Typhoon Lagoon, and getting to go on Space Mountain 4 times (3 of which were in a row with no wait! Gotta love off-season!).
The Muffin also loved driving at Legoland (as well as going on every single roller coaster they had), the Storm Slides & Lazy River at Typhoon Lagoon, all the boat rides (except one in Epcot) and the buffets we went to mostly because of the ice cream machines. She hated Space Mountain. It was too dark.
Yum Yums loved anything that had a steering wheel, the water slides & sand at Typhoon Lagoon, and the Dumbo and Magic Carpet rides at The Magic Kingdom – so much so that he screamed & cried whenever we took him off.
Me? I had a great time visiting my cousins & Aunt and Uncle. Oh, and just about everything else! It’s Halloween at Disney & the place is completely decked out Halloweenn-style. I love Halloween, so I was extra excited by this!

2. I suck at sewing. It kills me that I suck at it as much as I do. I have such grand plans. I have big ideas for a diaper cover line. I dream big at the fabric store. Yup. I’m great at ideas. Too bad I’m so sucky at execution. I made a diaper yesterday out of an old t-shirt, a piece of terry & a newborn sized prefold folded up. I saw a YouTube video of a teen mom making something similar – in like SEVEN MINUTES! Hers looked great. Mine – though functional (I think), looks sad. I fought with my machine, my elastic didn’t do what I was supposed to make it do, my thread broke repeatedly, it took me 20 minutes to figure out how to do a zig zag stitch (and I’m still not sure how I did it), and what took that teen mom minutes, took me all afternoon.
I *can* however make a bag with straight sides & uneven stitching. At least that’s something. I do think, though, that I will be returning the snap press I bought yesterday. I’m not sure I’ll ever be that advanced. Maybe I should just stick with screen printing & find someone to partner up with to actually assemble the diaper covers …or maybe I should get my head out of the clouds & not make myself busier than I already am …

3. This is a break-through that I’ve been meaning to share with you for awhile! Ever battle with ants in your house? Hate the idea of using poisons around your kids – or pets – or yourself? I have the answer: cinnamon leaf oil!! It is potent stuff & your house might smell like Christmas, but it works! Evidently, it messes with the ants’ pheromone trail & they hate that. At first, I doused a q-tip with it & painted around the baseboard & door where they were coming in. That really made our house smell. I mean I really applied it liberally. Then I read that it can be a skin irritant, so I scaled it back to a few drops on a wet sponge. It worked like a charm! No more ants!! We also had ants in another room & couldn’t figure out how they were getting in, so I sponged the floor with the cinnamon leaf oil & g-o-n-e! Now I maintain our ant protection by making my own floor cleaner: hot water, vinegar & 12 drops of the oil. Haven’t had a single ant since! I researched a bit & found out that it’s an old bee-keeper’s trick. The ants hate it, but it doesn’t bother the bees one lick. I also read that peppermint oil works, too, but I haven’t tried it. (Peppermint makes me sneeze).

4. No-poo is a no- go! I really wanted to ditch the shampoo, I really did. And I had read such glowing things about the baking soda/vinegar rinse method. I thought ” sure, no problem! I can live through greasy hair for a week or so! It’ll be GREAT to be free of shampoo & I’ll be saving so much money! And the environment! And…”. Yeah. Well, day one was fine. But then instead of my hair getting greasier, it got drier & brittle. I went 3 or more days between washing (which is normal for me), and still it just got drier & rougher. Maybe I wasn’t effectively washing out the baking soda. Maybe I should have used more vinegar – though I felt like I was using tons. I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s just not for me. Oh well. I tried.

5. I made my own dishwasher detergent!! It’s baking soda, salt, citric acid, and orange & grapefruit essential oils – with an orange-vinegar rinse aid. So far, it’s doing a great job! I’m so excited! Hopefully, I’ll still like it in a few weeks. I’ll keep you posted!

6. In addition to sucking at sewing, I also suck at bread making. I don’t understand it. I’m following the recipes exactly, and still I either get bread shaped bricks, or bread shaped pieces of disgusting grossness. Oh well. You can’t be good at everything, right? Still, it irks me. It’s not just the failing, but it’s the wasted money (ingredients), and time. Maybe I just can’t afford the learning curve on certain things right now. By the time they lay me to rest, though, I WILL be able to bake a loaf of bread & sew a diaper! (The power of positive thinking, right? 😉

7. The Noodle is missing his 2 top teeth, and 3 more are loose! When those come out, the poor boy will be on a solid diet of mush!

Right. Well, there’s lots more to mention, but I’m going to have to wake this sleeping boy so we can collect the other two from the bus stop.

Be well!

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The Things We Have Done …

I live in a bubble. A magical fairy world where my children slumber on soft mattresses, books stowed under their pillows, Bach softly playing in the background. They are physically intact, and mentally capable. They are healthy, clean, and warm. My world is a picture postcard where my stress is relieved by securing child care so I can continue my part time job of playing music. In my world, though worrying about going over budget by buying gas, my pantry is full, my water is clean, and the central air is heavenly.
Tonight, I had the audacity to complain about “fairness”. With tears of frustration, I barely restrained myself from throwing my smart phone across the kitchen table. Then I ate a piece of chocolate and started practicing for tomorrow’s gig. We’re reviving “All Along the Watchtower”, so I was working on that when I stumbled across a YouTube video with footage of the Vietnam War behind Hendrix’s famous recording. A link to the side promised a history of the Vietnam War in 4 easy installments. A few clicks and I’m researching Agent Orange, and Human Experimentation, and birth defects and mutations, and dioxin, and Monsanto, and dioxin again. The babies in jars – pickled specimens of human sadism – nearly made me vomit. The deformed children languishing in orphanages and hospitals ripped my heart out. I mentally shelved it in a jar next to the infants so I could keep reading.
I will never be the same for the things I’ve read tonight; and I now understand why every single Vet I’ve met who had served in Vietnam refuses to speak of it, and why a dark shadow falls over them when I’ve asked.
Tonight, I thank God for my fairy tale life, and my perfect family. Tomorrow I will hug my children until they beg me to stop.
Also, I will continue to buy organic with renewed conviction.
My God, the things we have done …

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Powerless

I am reading Moby Dick by a string of battery operated Christmas lights to the incredibly loud roar of the next door neighbor’s generator. Or, I was, before I paused to write this. It’s funny; we first lost power during a derecho a few nights ago, and I remember thinking, (after the initial “uh-oh. No power and 100 degrees in the forecast”), “this is kinda cool reading like this in the middle of such an incredible storm.” It was fantastic: hail, rain, wind gusts and lightning like a firework finale. Two nights ago, the power going out (after having been restored for a glorious 24 hours) somehow triggered the intruder alarm in the process. That made our hearts jump out of our chests. Then the heat set in. All of a sudden blackouts got a whole lot less romantic. Still, I am enjoying reading Moby Dick by Christmas light.
It also doesn’t hurt that our next door neighbor – the one with the incredibly loud generator – bought said generator with the intention of sharing; and through this generosity I am enjoying a lovely breeze from a fan that he also brought over for us. He actually brought over two, so everyone here could sleep with a fan in their room.

We really and truly got lucky in the neighbor department. Joe and Marty are always quick to lend a hand. Joe himself is quite a character – one of the few WWII vets that I know still enjoying life to its fullest. His son, Marty, though raised Catholic, converted to become a Jehovah’s Witness. Despite their reputation for banging on doors, and attempting to “preach the word” at every turn, Marty has never spoken of his faith unless asked. Instead, he lives life as others might preach it: always says hi with a smile, the first to lend a helping hand (even when inconvenient), thinks of others, and treats others the way he would like to be treated. He even offered to turn the generator off at intervals if the kids had a hard time sleeping through the night with the noise – and at nap time as well. Actually, fortunately for us, it seems that coupled with the fans, the roar is serving as white noise for YumYums. Last night was the first night he slept past 7am! I guess all he needed was an extremely loud constant roar – or it’s heat exhaustion. But I’m hoping for theory number 1.
Speaking of sleep, I’d better get to it!

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Father’s Day

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I had the best of intentions for this Father’s Day, especially since it was also Jeff’s birthday. I was going to have the kids make cards, and despite the fact that Jeff expressly told me not to get him anything (he bought a few shirts which he desperately needed, and said we should consider them his father’s day/birthday gifts), I had planned on picking up some of his favorite beer, a bag of hot chips, and a whoopie cushion (The Noodle’s idea). It would have been the least I could do. I had also planned on running out to “the far book store” to pick up a copy of a book my dad wanted, since none of the local shops had it in stock. I had it all worked out. Our schedule was jam packed, and it was going to require precision timing, but it was a perfect plan. Perfect, that is, until Yum Yums fell and required a trip to the Emergency Room. That kind of threw a monkey wrench in the works. Luckily, help was at hand. Our house just so happened to be completely staffed with exactly the right friends & family to handle such an emergency, and we were able to leave The Noodle & The Muffin at home – at lunchtime – without a single worry. The kids were even given a coat of sunscreen before going outside to play. Talk about great babysitters! If only they’d all agree to move in, life would be perfect. Perfect, except for the fact that now I had no father’s day/birthday gifts, and absolutely no time to get them.
I don’t usually wait until the day before an occasion to shop for gifts. In fact, usually, I’m anxiously waiting to give a personally and lovingly crafted book for Father’s day. It’s become a tradition in our family. But this year, I just couldn’t get it together. I felt terrible. I felt bad to start with that Jeff’s gift was going to be hot chips and beer – and a whoopie cushion; but now i really felt like the worst wife on the planet that I was going to be completely empty handed.
I did manage to salvage the day a tiny bit: I ordered my dad’s book online, and while Jeff was busy helping my dad build an observatory in his backyard, I managed to procure a bag of hot chips & the whoopie cushion for The Noodle’s gift to Jeff.
Did I mention that Jeff and my dad spent their father’s day building an observatory? In my dad’s backyard? I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I am so very lucky to have a husband that will not only spend his birthday (and father’s day) helping my dad with a construction project, but one who considers this particular construction project to be as cool as My dad and I do.
Watching the two of them, I was reminded of why I love them both so much. I love that my dad can not only navigate his way through the celestial sphere, and identify distant objects twinkling in the night, but that he also understands exactly how his instruments work, and can build the tools with which to better explore them. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find that he was actually Galileo in a past life, put here and now to sit back and enjoy just how far his inventions have come. This might also explain why he “had to have” that new solar telescope in time to see the transit of Venus.
They say a girl marries a man as closely resembling her father as she can. In my case, I have married a man with some of my dad’s best qualities, and some of my grandfather’s (Dziadzi’s). Jeff is hard working, intelligent, musical, and interested in learning – like my dad; but he is also slow to anger, gentle, kind, and always willing to help – like my Dziadzi. My Dziadzi was (and still is) my hero, and watching my dad & Jeff measuring, and lifting, and sawing, and building, I was reminded of the way Dziadzi used to help in exactly the same way. Fathers and sons working together, helping each other, and learning something new in the process. Gifts and cards really mean very little, when it comes down to it. Especially when you’re gazing at the universe through a piece of glass, in a place you built together.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m not a little jealous. Jeff was the right man for the job, and leaving my mom to tend to all three kids, clean up after breakfast, and get and clean up after lunch all by herself just wouldn’t have been fair. Especially since she & my dad babysat for us just the night before – and were among those who held down the fort as Yum Yums was getting his stitches. I do wish, though, that I could have been the one helping my dad. It looked like a fun project – something to be proud of. Something I could point to years from now and say “Dad & I built that.”
I wonder if Galileo had any daughters…

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I had it all written down. I had explained in great length how it was that I have become engrossed in a classic and momentarily forsaken this blog. I had written about how Melville has been floating around in the collective subconscious for years and years; the references to Moby Dick so ubiquitous they went unnoticed by me until recently. Yes, recently, it all came to a head when The Noodle’s baseball coach mentioned to Jeff that Moby Dick is his absolute most favorite book of all time, and how he gives himself the gift of reading it every year at Christmastime. I had been thinking about picking up a copy when I was watching Starbuck kick some serious ass “tail” on Battlestar Galactica, and realizing that I couldn’t remember anything about the original Starbuck except a vague notion that he or she (I wasn’t entirely sure) was on that whaling ship with Captain Ahab – but I didn’t really know. It was this “not knowing” that made feel like I failed whichever English teacher it was who had assigned it whenever it was that they did. If they did. Maybe it was on a summer reading list. In any case, this all motivated me to find a copy and get to reading. I think I had also mentioned that The Noodle’s coach shared a story about how the founder of Starbucks originally had wanted to name his coffee chain Queequegs, but got talked out of it. Can you imagine what Melville would think seeing one of his character’s name every 3 blocks? – and spoken in the same breath as “grande decaf soy cinnamon dolce late with no whip” (my personal favorite).
Anyway, I had written about all of this – and so much more (and so much more eloquently than I did just now) – but I made a fatal mistake: I assumed that the phone blog app saved drafts automatically. I was wrong – I went to pull it up the next morning, and it was gone. I had even made a joke about how I was “hooked” on Moby Dick.
Ok, so maybe it’s a good thing that draft disappeared. Speaking of which, I’ve got a date with a great white whale. I promise to write more soon.

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It’s the weather- or, Subconscious Wanderlust

I’ve been having vivid dreams. The kind of dreams that stick with me and color my day. It’s like looking through a stained glass window. A translucent filter with images of seaside cliffs and towering masts of tall ships, desert military encampments and high school parking lots. I run through fields of tall wheat, and sail crystal blue waters with vibrantly colored sea life. I bark orders in dusty fatigues, and escape failing space crafts with barely enough breath to rocket safely into the glittering promise of other galaxies.
Then I wake up. Usually just as I am about to do something dramatic or discover something important.
What a gyp.

I grow restless when the weather turns warm. I used to, (when I was single and childless), suddenly just take off for the beach without so much as a moment’s notice; or walk into a gas station, grab a map, close my eyes, point to a spot and head there. Too bad I was so broke I usually couldn’t make it farther than one state in any direction. My car, at the time, was a 1978 Malibu Classic. Blue with a little bit of metallic flake – or so it appeared when the sun hit it just the right way. It guzzled gas & ate oil. Also, toward the bitter end, the speedometer would freak out and flit back and forth like a metronome set at 300 bpm. On the one hand, a terrible car for a broke adventurer to set off in (as it cost a fortune to get anywhere); on the other hand, a perfect car for this broke adventurer (as it kept me out of trouble – for the most part). Anyway, maybe that’s what these dreams lately are all about. I certainly can no longer set off for parts unknown at the drop of a hat, so maybe my subconscious is doing it for me – only so much better. And all expenses paid.
I’m not just the chick with the fiddle or the mom with three kids in tow. I may seemlike just plain ol’ me, but last night, I ran barefoot across cold marble to escape from my tormentors before sailing to an uncharted island only to discover that I was a pilot sent to free a group of people held captive underwater and bring them aboard the space vessel orbiting wherever it was that we were.
Yeah, I’m a space cadet all right. But the weather’s warm, tomorrow is a school day, and I’m not going anywhere; so, space cadet is fine by me.

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Birthday Boy and Broken Branches

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Yesterday my sweet Yum Yums turned 1. I simply cannot believe how this could have happened. I blinked and an entire year evaporated. It’s as if I’m living in an “I Dream of Jeannie” episode, except I don’t realize it and just keep blinking away hours – no months of my life. If only I could harness that power for good … if only I could be like that girl in that 80’s sitcom who could put her fingers together and freeze time. Imagine all that I could get accomplished! What was the name of that show…?

Anyway, I was thinking about all of this as I was moving through my morning, (which was speeding along faster than I could manage to keep up with), and placing myself back in last year’s delivery room where I held my tiny little Yums for the first time. There’s a poem out there somewhere with a line that goes (pardon my paraphrasing) “Your children are not your children. They come through you, not from you,” and this was exactly what I was thinking of a year ago. I have no idea who wrote it, and in fact only heard it read once, but it stuck with me. I always thought it was a beautiful idea: little luminous souls, swaddled and presented to new guardians – and there I was, holding this tiny new perfect little person. And he did seem luminous. To me, anyway. But I don’t think that poem has got it quite right. I think that our children come both through and of us. I say that because I see little bits of myself in my children every day. Also, I am absolutely my father’s daughter. There are many obvious similarities, but it goes beyond any of those. We can’t even play rock, paper, scissors together because 90% of the time it’s a stalemate. It’s very creepy. Even when we decide we’re going to make a move to fool each other, we make the same move at the same time. When I was a kid, it freaked me out. I was convinced he could read my mind. Then I realized it’s even weirder than that: we make the same choices, and we make those choices at the same time. Talk about the power of genes! Anyway, I was lost in these internal ramblings as I was changing a diaper, when The Muffin points out the window and says: “Whoa! Mom! Look at our tree!!”

I look up, and it’s like the tree has its hand pressed against the window. It was a branch, in fact, that had fallen, but it looked like fingers against the glass. Yum Yums loves trees – in fact, looking up at the trees was one of the first things that made him smile; so it seemed appropriate somehow that on his birthday, there’d be a big tree branch pressed against the window, almost as if it was saying “Hi”. It’s when I opened the window, that I noticed the big branch was also resting on a power line.

The night before, I read a short piece on the Standing Ones. I’ve always loved trees, too, so I guess that’s why it caught my attention. Anyway, it was posted on Curanderismo (the Healing Art of Mexico)’s Facebook page and it read:

“It is said all our people talked with the Standing Ones in times gone by,
but humans began to think they were better than the trees and animals.

They placed themselves above nature
and claimed dominion over all the earth.

That is when humans stopped listening
and the green things stopped talking.”

It went on to describe how with patience, one might learn to communicate with the trees; then described the different attributes of certain types of trees. Our tree in question – the one with the branch on the power line – is a Maple. I think. I really don’t know much about trees at all, which I am sure would disappoint my Dziadzi (Grandfather) to no end. He studied Forestry before becoming a Meteorologist, and knew all the trees by name. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Maple. It seems that Maple “is the tree of offering; of giving of ones self so that others may benefit” (according to that post). So, as I was carefully moving the much-more-enormous-branch-than-it-looked-from-the-window away from the power line, my heart went out to that tree. It’s a beautiful tree that gives deep red leaves in the fall, and now that I’m really looking closely at it, seems to be half-rotten. I climbed up into the tree to free part of another broken branch, and noticed another rotten limb just barely hanging on, so I gave a hard thwack & down it went. Poor tree. I made a feeble attempt at Native American tree talking.

Me: “What’s wrong?”

silence

“How can I help you?”

silence.

“Ugh!” – that was me as I accidentally put my hand on a slug, then discovered what looked like a fluffy bird’s nest, but filled with slugs. Kinda killed the mood. And the “conversation.” But I did take some pictures.

Tree bones

Slug Nest?

rotten wood

I brought Yum Yums and the Muffin outside to look at the broken branches, and play in the grass a tiny bit before it started to rain again. We noticed an entrance to a burrow at the tree’s roots, and a line of mushrooms leading to the nest with the slugs. The Muffin wielded rotten twigs like swords and fought imaginary Ninjas in the yard. It seems the description on Maple was an apt one: “tree of offering; giving of ones self”.

I couldn’t help but think of that book “The Giving Tree.” Which is made of paper. Which came from trees. The irony is not lost on me.

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