WALKIES

the fox in the snow

WALKIES

It’s cold. Cold and windy some days; merely cold others. I dress as best I can for the morning walks with my dog and frankly I’d rather end up over-bundled than the opposite.

My dog is a fit and hardy soul; he traipses across large puddles encrusted with thick ice; these frozen lakes groan under his pressure and he takes a quick drink, then he’s trotting ahead again. I find myself enjoying the fresh air and some contemplation; small brown birds abruptly blossom into colorful flowers – slam into the tenacious blackberry shrubs at trailside. I see a fellow dogwalker now and then, but mostly it’s just the sound of the water in my ears, and my dog’s companionable tread.

Winter Walk

They’re pulling the paper mill down, across the river. There’s a part of me that can’t believe it’s gone. I stop and really get a look – as long a look as I’m willing to take given the cold – and I think about my past, my future. I’ve lasted longer than the mill. Huh. See, I started my engineering life at that mill as an intern, after my sophomore year at college. I remember all the other engineering students and how all they’d talk was money and job prospects and the cars they’d buy.

It depressed me long before I earned the degree so maybe I was fated to let that life fall aside.

I think about when I quit engineering and the few who told me I was wasting my “good brain” by leaving a technical field.

But I’m still standing; the mill isn’t. It seems like each attempt, each vocation, each series of struggles and failures, and I’m left humble, less-than, and in a satisfied smallness.

Winter WalkToday I line my eyes in black eyeliner; powder, line them again. I tuck my blonde curls away up in my watch cap. I adorn myself with the one necklace I own – a cheap little affair with a black cross. And hoop earrings. I make the bed, stopping to kiss the small kitty who asks for my attention. He reclines on his back, his paws up, lazily paddling the air in his ecstasies.

I wash the dishes, and care for the animals, and sew two simple garments. I meet with a friend, and attend to my duties: picking up the children, chairing a meeting, attending pickup rehearsal.

My children are old enough to have a life of their own; this happened very swiftly, and it is taking me quite some time to get used to this. I find myself teetering on the balance beam; realizing that they have formed of themselves most of the persons they will be, and that my job is no longer so much to help them manifest, but to support them in their ever-blooming self. So when my children are well, I feel well; when they suffer, I suffer more than seems possible, and certainly more than is logical.

My daughter’s manicure, deathly deep blue – chipping. The blonde tendrils of my son’s hair, clinging to his perfect skin as he emerges from the bath, wrapped in a threadbare towel. The cozy clink here and there from the kitchen: Ralph washing the dishes. My own anticipation of a hot shower, and a hot lemon and honey to drink. And hanging the last of the clothes to dry and wiping down the counters.

And last night, when my son had so much trouble sleeping, and couldn’t settle, and cried out. And I brought him a warm milk with honey and after he drank it

he fell

into silence,

and slept.

 

Snuggle Besties

the world sometimes seems full of people being cruel, but I’ve got this little oasis and it means a great deal

Snuggle Besties

My son emerges from the bath, wrapped in a red terrycloth robe. I bought it for him for his last birthday and, far less than a year later, it is now too small.

“Is there anything I can bring you, mama?” he asks. “Just kisses,” I tell him. He smells better than anything – his skin is warm, and damp, and perfect.

My daughter is off to bed. She tells me, “I love you so much,” and puts her arms around me. Her hair falls in my face – dry, sweet-smelling like straw. I feel a pang. She needs things I can’t provide, or at least not all at once: a door and a heater in her bedroom, new bedding, a kit for washing her face after gym. Two pair of shoes (gym shoes and regular trainers), t-shirts, socks, bras and underwear – and a haircut. I’d been invited to a pajama party last night and like an asshole, showed up in regular clothes. But I need to buy these things for my daughter and I hardly know where or how to start.

The kids grow fast. In no way ever, can I keep up.

But still, when she kisses me it isn’t the feeling of, I am behind or, My kids need things, like I’ve felt so many times before. I’m not in that place, not mentally. Instead I am thinking on their kind and sweet natures, and the entire trust they’ve placed in Ralph and I. Our children do not complain when circumstances are reduced in some way – nor do they grab and gobble when they get something lovely. They seem to be spiritually well. Like I told a friend last night, there might be no greater possession for a mother than to believe her children are okay. If you are okay, if you take care of yourself, you make your loved ones very happy. 

My children have been my biggest fans, my biggest supporters. Yesterday they sat through Jesus Christ Superstar rehearsals and praised my performance warmly. They are like two cotton quilts and they wrap me up. And I respect their opinion a great deal because they are one hundred percent accurate about everything – or at least, about their opinions on any given point.

The world I occupy lately – seems hostile. I’ve been thrown into a social circle that is often unkind and cruel. Today I had someone point-blank ask me to tell them intimate and upsetting details about another’s life. Later on, I walked in on a small group, trashing another (absent) person’s character. I walked right out again, but I felt quite forlorn. People just go around hurting one another, yet no one likes to be hurt.

My little family, and my group of trusted friends, they know my heart, my nature. They know I want to be my better self, and not devolve into behaviors that are harmful. Sometimes it is easy for me to walk in the world, and sometimes I struggle.

Today: steaming wool into shape on a new jacket; sewing on my beloved 70’s Pfaff. Drinking hot coffee and listening to my children’s laughter. The dryer, which is broken and shitty, so it runs all day all day all day. Listening to a spooky-lonely playlist. Kissing the basket full of kittens right on their noses.

A little island.

A small sanctuary.

I am very grateful.

"Everything Is Better With Mustard"

Tonsillitis

the ground I stand upon

Tonsillitis

My son takes a day at home, a nasty bout with tonsillitis. (Pip helps him rest.) Today he is much improved; he arranges a picnic with his grandmother, and I drive out to pick my daughter up at the bus stop by myself.

She steps off the bus and she’s so happy to see me her face lights up and flushes. Do you have any idea how it makes me feel, that this is her response to me every day?

Later: the rain hits the roof in torrents; darkness whirls outside. I’m sitting in a theater, listening to my castmates practice. Smiles, laughter, silly impromptu dances, yes – but everyone is in earnest. Our director helps each performer with notes, with mood, with blocking.

I miss my home. I miss feeling a part of; feeling like the center of the household. Sewing for others, and writing and volunteering, and now this production – I am not the at-home provider the way I once was and I am still finding my niche. My children’s worlds continue to expand and although my life is very full, the sea change leaves me unsettled.

The gas tank, and the bank account, are empty. My son’s illness, though not a serious one, is very sad and frightening. He is one who hallucinates and has terrible dreams, when he has a fever. Sometimes my hands stretch out and find his edges; he feels like a little boat tossed in furious seas. I hold him close and kiss his head and yet my heart is tossed to and fro as well.

I bake – chocolate pumpkin bread – I boil eggs. I buy raw milk, I peel oranges. I tackle the laundry with sincerity – we have the worst dryer we’ve ever had and our little laundry hallway is piled deep.

I try not to worry: how will I afford groceries the next few days? Instead I buy lamb for a friend who recently had an illness, and cannot digest many kinds of meat. With satisfaction, that is the last $8 in my account. I am glad to gift her. Another friend asked me last night – why don’t I keep things? I told her, “I’m a Buddhist. We are all about non-attachment.”

Giving a gift when I have but little grounds me in a way almost impossible to articulate. I know I do not need to, either.

VAMPIRES n shit

“just a bunch of stuff that happened”

Yoga. Tonight on the floor, on my mat, my mind wanders. I think of a cigarette. Then I think how funny it would be if I just calmly lit up in class. There are so many people here on the floor we have to be careful not to touch one another. Heavens no!

Smoky aspirations aside (I’ve been Quit over a year and a half!), my body can go deeper into yin now that I’ve been practicing. The body feels great; but it is unpleasant to have my face on the mat. I feel panic that I can’t breathe. I return to the breath and tell myself, I’m not going to die here. Mental discipline. I suppose.

So: life is busy.

VAMPIRES n shit

I forgot to tell you – I’m watching a vampire movie every day this month. Almost all of them are those I haven’t seen: the above-pictured is one I have, years ago. Had to get a DVD and everything!

Puppy Timez

 Puppy Times. Not our puppy! Oh my gosh. This puppy was built like a cube. It doesn’t even have a job!

Troublez

So this is what I come home to at night. Nels says Herbert Pocket has “intelligent” eyes. What do you think?

Phoenix

Soccer season is about halfway through. I don’t know what I’m going to do about Saturday’s game; I have about four places I’m supposed to be at once.

A Shared Meal

Friends joined us for a movie. And some taco dip. And taco soup. It’s fall, so it’s time for tacos. (It was also time for tacos during spring, summer, and will be in winter too).

SQUATCHIN'

Working on a pretty awesome project! Unveiling in two days.

Just Before A Walk

The kids are rocking it at school – and come home with energy to spare. I miss them

– but it’s liveable.

 

Pip, A Little Under The Weather

then having swallowed him I’ll creep / into the Guest Room Bed to sleep.

Today I have a few minutes alone, in the vet, waiting on a diagnosis. Our little Pip is ill – a skin infection at his shoulder blades. The difficultly was discovered yesterday and though his spirits are up, and his appetite is good, I woke up ready to worry. So, today: a vet appointment.

Pip arches about in my arms in an indolent, satisfied way – purring like a little buzz saw and stretching up his head to kiss me. I scritch his neck, his ears. I think to myself, My kids’ first week in school, gradually getting used to being places without them. Other grownups, caring for them. My children, caring for themselves. Out there in the world.

I am overcome. Not sad, or happy – an experience of newness. Coming back to time to myself, a rare quality for thirteen years. It’s like a gently sore back, needing to be worked in a little, a few stretches. I take long, deep breaths. I know I will adjust; tasting the newness. Some vertigo.

Right now what matters is holding this small cat, this wee scrap of life. His beating heart is as sacred as mine – or anyone else’s. Holding him right now, is holding everyone in the world. If I remember that, my life blossoms into something fragrant, vibrant – the senses attuned once again to the colors of the skyscape and the music of the open road.

I hold my little kitty and when the vet returns he talks to me swiftly and concisely. The cat will recover. All is well. Here – medicine. The veterinarian touches me – my hands, my knees, even my shoulder – often. He has brief, gentle hands. “Do you have any questions?” he asks. I do. I ask about antibiotics, about flea control. Pip thrashes in my arms, the picture of feline ecstasy. And now hearing this vet, when I realize my little kitty is going to be okay, tears start up in my eyes and I look ceilingward. I tell him, “I’m so glad to have him seen to. I was starting to freak out. The vet says: “It’s okay to freak out. That’s what we’re here for.” His kindness makes me blink. I remember how I need people, how I need help. I know my kitten needs help and somehow we are helping one another, holding one another.

Home in the heat – exhausted, but breathing deep, full breaths. Another day; the office of caring, and loving, going deeper down into my belly and bringing forth new life from within.

Pip, A Little Under The Weather

Pip

we’re all sensitive people, with so much to give

Pip: He is a doll. Truly. He is feeling so much better.

Pip

Plants: I set aside a few for a teacher who wanted some for her classroom. And put them in cute little pots. It felt right.

Avocado, Spider, Succulent, Wandering Jew

Progress. We are fixing some flooring in need of repair. I’m trying to find some old tongue-in-groove fir, 3 1/4″. This flooring is common as dirt but I haven’t yet found it around these parts!

Flooring

Plans. Taking a break from an overstuffed schedule of sewing for clients, I… sew for another client. In this case, a project to donate to a local auction. 

Auction

Perfect. Turns out the kittens are way into Ralph’s beard. Like really into it.

Pre-Colonoscopy

“What’s the buzz?” – or, about three weeks somehow shoehorned into just a couple days

The last few days have been growth days. Doing new things. New, often scary things. Being very busy; busier than I am normally

For instance I am hustling to finish up my projects from the Bundle Up! boys’ blog tour. Typically in my tailoring work I stroll with my head back, cockily finishing up before deadlines, like a Boss. However this time around my fabric order was freakishly late – the fabrics arrived last Thursday. And even then I might have had time but a medical project reared its head. Thursday afternoon I prepped for, and Friday I underwent – a colonoscopy.

Pre-procedure: tired, tired, at the tail end of a thirty-six hour fast, and ready for my Twilight Sleep:

Pre-Colonoscopy

(the “Shadow of the Vampire” look I put down to a puke-green “gown”, hospital lighting, and a very special adventure the day before.) That said I’m not sure if anyone’s done so well during a prep and colonoscopy as I did. (Is that something to be proud of?)

Post-procedure, I slept most the day.

Saturday, feeling quite amazing and energetic, I got to sewing as quick as I could. But of course: kids, housework. A long-lost friend resurfaced and needed some time. And of course – before I forget: we put together the Event Page on Facebook, printed the tickets, and rolled out the poster for our upcoming benefit for a local animal rescue:

(For the love of god, buy a ticket or donate to the cause. We put up our household grocery money to reserve the Theatre and secure film licensing – $750!)

And today?

Well, today. Ralph and I tried out for lead parts in a local production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”.

Yes. Yes, we really did.

Ralph & I Off To Audition

(we both channeled the late and great Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance as Sandy Lyle in Along Came Polly)

I didn’t mean to have such a busy week, but when things get busy I get very “one thing at a time” – and sometimes I don’t notice how many “things” I strung together.

I guess out of everything… I mean I am proud of myself for stretching, for reaching out and doing things scary. But the auditions? That is huge for me. Not that long ago the only people who’d heard me sing were my children.

I’ve had a lot of adventures the last few days. I’m ready for a little rest.

Some people in the home, however, continue on much as before. So after a very busy last five days, I leave you with some precious Cat Serenity.

Just An Old Hat

Champions

Pip, Sleeping

 

Bowerman Noir

i want to be good to you

Bowerman Noir

My children are my everything to me. They leave me helpless and I’m always treading water trying to make it work. I have never struggled so much nor done such a poor job or found more endless reasons to triumph above my own meager failures. I pretty much don’t give a damn about what anyone thinks about me but I am occasionally tortured by the fact that so much of how I behave matters to them a great deal. There’s nothing I can do to change that. I just have to pray for their safety, somehow. The world isn’t really safe and neither am I.

I didn’t know the meaning of the word “responsibility” until I had children. From the moment they were born: 24/7. I have never caught up. Not even close.

Our family life is idyllic; it is messy but full of life. The children are a constant flux of love and quarrel; of seeing the goodness in everything day after day. How do they do that?

Our newest little babies; they too are making a home for themselves.

The Sinister Urge

 This picture is kind of great. It sums up my private life. A horrible B-movie. A sleeping little one. My bills organized in old cigar boxes.

Unusual Beetle

 The children find a new kind of beetle: a new kind of bug to my eyes, on a regular basis. And I’ve lived around these parts twenty-five years!

2 Syrups

 A friend brings me some homemade vanilla syrup; coincidentally, I have homemade blackberry syrup. The two sit companionably side-by-side until one leaves my home to flavor the Italian sodas and milkshakes of another family!

#selfie#selfie

 

I got it all on the back of my hand / I want your answer so I won’t forget

 
Early ghosts of summer. Night walks. Sunshine through freshly-washed curtains; newly potted plants.

Too tired to cook, much.

Sore shoulders: yoga, bike riding. Tallying up: money for groceries, dinners out, new doctor bills. Debts.

Plans; worries. Set them aside. Anger; fear. Set them aside. Sage smudge stick, a candle, metta-meditation. Not quite enough, but all I have.

some things never seem to fucking work

Just in case you aren’t following/friending me on Facebook, WHY YES I wrote a massive post on Roadhouse‘s twenty-fifth anniversary. I am kind of upset you thought I’d do anything else.

Life is – good. I am still recovering from illness. Mostly I’m tired – but I have a lot of my strength back. At a volunteer commitment on Sunday I had my Ego bumped down a notch when I made a mistake – and it still smarts. I’m trying to be kind to myself. A lifetime practice.

I am a little sad, too. Today I found out that on June 14th my maternal family will be scattering my grandfather’s ashes – my last grandparent. There is no way I can afford airfare and accommodations to be there. I am saddened by this. I’d like to be there. I’d like my children to meet their extended family on that side. It’s not going to happen and I can live with this. I just need to make a little space in my heart.

In other news:

Swimming

Evening Walks

Snuggles

Thug Life

1 year since I quit smoking. Yes. Go me! Because seriously!

Life goes on. For us.