and then out of nowhere Benedict Cumberbatch started reading to me!

Today I staggered about doing the best I could, considering I had another bout of kidney pain and a tremendous headache. The headache was of the ilk, beyond distracting – almost as if I had a serious neck injury or something. To my knowledge I have not hurt my neck or head so the source is a mystery. I paced around a bit, complained to my children, and (as per usual these days) drank a good deal of water. In the early evening I ate something nutritious and took an ice-cold coffee drink with two Tylenol. Mercifully the headache receded and I was able to get back to some work.

The kidney pain, well today I am just grateful to not be facing surgery in the immediate future, and I have some hopes I won’t need a medical procedure in the next month. However, even my “hopes”, I hang on to those lightly. These days I have more like a preference where general life shit is concerned, and I try to keep my chin up to face whatever I get to face. Some of the most feared and (seemingly-)horrid things that have happened to me, have ended up being tremendous blessings. I might as well be honest and admit I fear medicine and surgery, although I don’t particularly begrudge doctors their trade. It’s a fear I’ve had for a number of years that hasn’t gone anywhere, but I’m a patient bastard too and things might change.

Back to the day at hand: my children ran around the neighborhood, taking Hutch on a long walk, visiting a friend (with pets including a poisonous newt, turtles, and a baby corn snake), then taking a park date, then home to cook up their lunch of noodles and fresh mango before doing some housework (Phoenix sweetly, Nels bitchily). My daughter gave me a lovely shoulder rub and my son pushed me through the house to (gently) throw me down on the bed and give me a trademark “kiss attack”. My children are growing up quite swiftly so I take these lovies while I can get them.

I spent most the working day on a tailored silk jacket for a client and watching a few glumly twee-romance indie films while I performed a prodigious amount of handsewing. I am struggling with this project which means I’m struggling with Life. My husband asks me, baffled, “What could you possibly still be learning on sewing up coats?”

– & this is funny because as with many things I’ve put time into, the more I practice the more I realize I do not know!

in other news

I’m torn, as I almost make enough side money with my stitchery and graphic design to NOT go to work, for pay, outside the home. While I patiently wait to see if and when I am going to take (other kinds of) work, necessitating less time sewing, I’ve decided to vote my hopes, not my fears, starting with re-opening my Etsy shop. I am currently giving some thought to my stitchery over the next few months. More than anything I enjoy making custom pieces, one at a time, for creative customers. What I am finding is that creative customers are kind of rare!

But in the meantime – BMO! Who I love and who is adorable and tender and sweet and irreverant and reminds me of my Little Guy so much.

BMO (Beemo)

BMO (Beemo)

BMO (Beemo)

Speaking of the LG, this morning when Nels awoke, Phoenix and I treated him to a “spa date” – a many-fluffy-towel’d experience including a hot oil hair treatment, a pedicure, and a nail clipping. All while eating homemade strawberry shortcake, naturally.

Spa Date!#tender

 

is it real?

“Would you like to see my Christ Box?” my son asks me. He is holding a small, carved, wooden hingeless bowl with a lid. “These are things of God,” he tells me by way of introduction. He removes the lid and reveals two golden coins of indeterminate origin, a dime-sized smooth blue agate-like rock, and what looks like a beat-up brass washer. Now he holds the rock up now and instructs me: “This is blue and smooth and beautiful, for the Water God.” He thumbs through the two coins but rushes through these descriptions, instead finding the washer-like item to caress it. “And this is something God must have left for me, because I found it and it is beautiful.”

My son is so beautiful it breaks my heart. Daily he retreats from me, growing up and growing wild in his way, tall and lean and like a bramble, twisting up and up daily, growing without remorse. His hair is long and full of knots, his eyes infused with light and love, his summer tan and freckles glowing in the warm light of evening. His face is thin and wolf-like, changeling, but his smile is still innocent and mischievous, still the smile of his babyhood, and his skin and hair smell dusty and sweet the exact way his father smells. I hold him close and tell him it’s very important to notice such things, and then he is gone, to return his Christ Box to where he keeps it – I know not where.

It’s 11 PM now and I’m sitting after scrubbing a floor then cooking up a from-scratch chocolate cream pie. I’m not sure if there’s anything I find more cheering, humble, and heartfelt than cooking a few specific dishes – and chocolate cream pie is one of them. And there might not be anything better than doing this late at night, house clean and feet dirty, with the cheerful assistance of my daughter who is also wickedly funny. We’re discussing tonight’s viewing options, the bit of family movie we watch before we all get too sleepy to concentrate. I’m advocating for one of those documentaries on cryptids – predictable fare for me, I might add. “Most episodes are weaksauce, but that chupacabra was pure nightmare fuel,” my daughter laughs, a little tremor in her voice. She doesn’t get like her brother, terrified even to tears at times. It is hard to know what she is frightened of, what she fears. She runs deep but she is frank. Her brown is a deeper fawn-like brown and her cheeks blush like a rose, and her laughter has more warmth and is less harsh than her brother’s.

My feet ache and my knees have a twinge. Tomorrow I’ve an x-ray report I’m supposed to pick up, and we go from there to figure out the source of my mild, but chronic, hip and knee and shin pain. I pace myself, “the walk of an elephant”, yet even at this pace the home changes, opens up and blooms as I scrub windowsills and fold fabrics and wash windows. This evening in the waning daylight Ralph and I swept and scrubbed the living room and closets and a few places downstairs, in preparation for new furniture being delivered tomorrow. New for-reals-New, by the way. Perhaps my first-ever new piece of furniture? I’d have to think about it to figure it out, and I’m too tired for the mental exercise.

Gratitude beats down in my hard heels and is the company of the drum, even into the dark and into a bed of clean linens and a warm man and tangled-up children.

a little sunburn by the glare of life

“In a child’s eyes, a mother is a goddess. She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way. I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe.”

A little after four AM I hear my son’s voice like a pebble tossed in a still pool. “Mama. Would you be willing to comfort me in some way?” His voice is calm but sad. I realize, surfacing from sleep, he’s been under the covers, shifting silently, his body giving off heat like fresh-baked bread, frightened and trying to cope on his own for several hours. I hold him close and as I wake up more I collect myself to care for him. First I bring him to the bathroom to pee, then wash his hands and have a drink of cool water and then I feed him a little cereal. His body in his little underpants reminds me of my childhood books, Mowgli the “little brown frog”, legs and arms and a little fragile neck. His hair is long and tangled and every color of blonde, the smell of a dusty sunshine, a special heaven made just for me.

We return to bed and like a stone sinking in a pond he sinks into sleep, gradually over minutes but the minutes feel like much longer, laying beside him and in a state of half-sleep as I’m ready and willing to rise with him again should he need it; should his sleeplessness be the beginnings of a flu or fever. I stroke his back; smooth as velvet, living ribs rise and fall beneath my hand. It is quiet and the earth is spinning and soon I spin down to join him.

In the morning I hear my son telling Ralph about his restless night. He tells his father I’d held him, and got up with him. “And I got a glass of lemonade and I didn’t even have to rush because she was waiting for me. She was very kind.” I am tired, but I am content with being tired. I am learning how to rest, sometimes. And now I hold his hair gently off his neck and kiss him at the nape of his neck; his body folds up against me and his dusky little voice tells us both about his plans for the day, which include swimming and showing off his “fort” (at the bay side) to his father.

Later in the day my daughter arrives home from a beach trip and does not go in the house, but instead finds Ralph and I in the garage where we are doing the dusty work of cleaning. “Mom, a little assistance?” she asks now, unwilling to track sand through the house. Good, my four hundred thousand exasperated remonstrations over the years have made some effect. I gently whack the sand off her as best I can and with her cooperation tug off one of her t-shirts; we travel into the shower where she stands while I bag up her sand-laden clothes. I leave her there, treading to the laundry room to wash her things, and she turns on the tap. I remember how good a shower feels after a beach date.

My children show the evidence of the season’s change; they are outside immediately when the weather improves and they stay out for months. It is a cheerful ritual I have almost nothing to do with, but that helps me immensely. Even cooking hot meals in the kitchen while the family is out, even pouring scalding water and suds into the sink, there is a privacy I experience in keeping the home while they are out, that is much-appreciated after the winter months being cooped-up. I cook beans with chiles and pour strawberry lemonade for my husband; before I go out in the evening I change into a thin white shirt and step out into the sunshine, a bit cooled from earlier in the day.

the sun, the moon, & the truth

Phoenix and I cut eyes at one another as Nels heads back into the kitchen – he’s happily chirping something-or-other, picking up a glass of milk to accompany his lunch of homemade matzoh ball soup. While we wait for him to return she and I turn back to the newest member of the family, “Jumpkin”. Jumpkin is a cheap plastic Halloween jack-o-lantern candy bucket, inexplicably “dressed” in a pair of Nels’ underwear and old flip flops and sitting at the table in mute (to us) reproach. An hour before, as I sat stitching away in my sewing room, Nels had emerged from a morning bath talking tenderly to this creature while briskly brushing her plastic smile with his toothbrush (he brings this up later: “My, how clean your teeth are, Jumpkin!”). And now I’ve got an extra place to set at the table.

The afternoon develops. After I clean up lunch and while I sew, Jumpkin is ministered to alternatively with tender loving care – Nels asks Jumpkin her preferences about afternoon activities and pauses while listening to her responses – and then sly pranks (“Such filthy language, Jumpkin!” Pheonix retorts in a shocked tone, after a bit of silence at the table). I arrive home later in the evening and Jumpkin is stacked with party accoutrement for tonight’s meteor shower party: pretzels, honey sticks, a flashlight.

Today was beautiful. The sun breaks out and the children are delighted – and I mean like, four-star delighted – when I unpack their warm weather sandals. They walk the dog down to the grocery store to buy their choice of breakfast cereal, a baffling product named SMORZ that is even more sugary and shabby and ridiculous than I could have guessed (later, Nels refers to the day’s repasts as “a sugar montage”).

Tonight: a fire burns in my mother’s backyard pit but it can’t keep the chill quite out of my coat. I huddle and watch the flames, content but not sleepily so for the cold. My daughter says to us, serenely: “Everything is for sale – but you can’t buy happiness”. My mother fetches coats and blankets and offers to cut up apples and cheese for the kids. They are the centerpiece of our gathering, happily picking through yard waste and bits of scrap lumber and raffia ties and feeding these into the flames. Two of our cats duck past on fences and through the greenhouse, watching with night-bright eyes. Nels beams from his grandmother’s old corduroy coat and talks near non-stop and hauls Jumpkin from chair to chair; he finds a rock in the shape of a heart and triumphantly plunks it in Jumpkin’s recesses. Hutch, excited, pants and drinks from ceramic plant holders and trots here and there and ducks and smiles and finally settles on an old afghan. Ralph fiddles with the telescope and shows me the moon’s craters; later, like a ghost he spirits across the wet grass of the dark yard and sets up the telescope first here then there, and now to see Jupiter. I look in the eyepiece and my own breath causes the watery vision to tremble: Jupiter, faint atmospheric stripes the colors of creamsicle ice cream; and distant moons at precise orientation to the planet.

Nels cradles Jumpkin, safe from the fire, offering aloud her opinions on a variety of subjects and her thoughts on the various members of the family. He holds her in his arms and turns to her and says, “Jumpkin? Don’t get mad. Can I tell you something?” then he brings her close to his bright cheek and whispers, “You’re really just a soulless husk of plastic.”

seven days are more than enough for others

“When you’re here eating your salad rolls and we’re sitting up here like a King and Queen and watching TV, and we’re cuddled together – it’s like Paradise,” my son tells me.*

I. Completely. Agree.

Our family is painting a room downstairs – so at night we sleep on a huge, makeshift three-part bed that spans most the attic bedroom. There are like four thousand blankets piled on this massive pallet and in the morning I get my coffee and my two kids are sleeping in tousles and All Is Right In The World. I keep trying to explain how it works and I have no idea why I do this, except perhaps I love to be understood by Creation itself, and in part that is you, you who are reading. Because there is simply nothing more important to me than my relationship with Spirit, and that came to me in large part by my children, I do not see how anything else could have been possible. My children are the only two people I am completely relaxed around; they are the only two people I have total and utter intimacy with, for my part. I may reach easier intimacy with other human beings or I may not; it doesn’t matter because that taste of heaven is wonderful and all I need, although I am thirsty, always, for more.

Although – I hardly saw my children today. They were busy with their stuff and Ralph and I were busy with our stuff (work in the downstairs bedroom,  some clothing construction, house-sitting while the landlord delivered a “new” fridge, etc.). It’s only a little after midnight, now, and it’s time to come together and share some of our love for one another.

***

Tomorrow I take our son to the orthodontist. A new adventure for all of us!

* If you want to feel better about the Universe and all its doings, I suggest you text-subscribe to the stream of some of the things my son says.

like a sleepy golden storm

This morning in bed I barely moved and my sleeping son rolled over and draped his leg over mine. We sleep like a single organism, our family. It’s wonderful. & now, I can’t fall back asleep, but I am content. I bury my head in his hair. It is THIS pillow-bushy and blonde and tangled and smells delicious. Depths. His skin is smooth and alive and flawless, warm velveteen, a tawny timbre even in the dead of winter.

This morning my first cup of coffee and I’m watching a little telly. My daughter comes downstairs, long legs and a shallow belly-bowl and her little cotton underthings and big beautiful eyes and she plunks next to me on the couch, and I mean right next to me, and I tell her not to get dressed, when I get home after the treatment center we’ll watch television together, and she is well-pleased.

A little before 1 I pull the car off onto the main thoroughfare and a few moments later my phone rings and I click on over and it’s my son and he’s sobbing. He’d chased my car because he wanted “one more kiss and one more hug” and now he hiccups he’s lost. Turns out he ran over four blocks and almost caught me. I had no idea. I tell him to call me back if he can’t find his way home and my eyes sting a little.

Tonight. My husband is out the door for a run after kissing me goodbye and in the quiet I fold up clothes then I plate up dinner – all-day pot roast and an Ethiopian cabbage, potato and carrot dish. Today I didn’t get up to much, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy so much what I have.

viajar en autobús

Wet Kidlets, Playing

My friend on the bus with her newborn son, she tells me she just ran into the father of the child and they sat only inches from one another without acknowledgment. She tells me this was awkward, but I can tell it was upsetting and as tough as she is, she’s a bit rattled. A few minutes later and we tell her goodbye and I sit and look straight ahead out the steamy bus windows as much as I can. The diesel smell makes me ill. People smile at us a lot, perhaps because my children are cheerful and beautiful, perhaps because it is unusual to see a mother and school-age kids riding at this hour, perhaps it is simply because many people are having a Good Day today.

The bus fills up gradually and it lumbers through the wet grey streets it seems I’ve never not known, and after what seems like a long, long time, but a peaceful enough ride, we arrive at the grocery store. I pick up: red leaf lettuce, cucumber, mint, carrots, beef, rice noodles. Nels gets a complimentary cookie for himself, his sister, from the bakery. The children are hungry but we’ll have to wait until home to eat. We pack our groceries in my backpack and I carefully allocate things so the lettuce won’t get bruised, then heft the bag onto my shoulders and step out into the cold.

We walk several blocks along highway traffic and the rain has set in in earnest. Into the health food store and pick up the teas Ralph likes, along with fresh yeast, ten times cheaper here than anywhere else. Packed away and back outside and now the rain is horizontal into our eyes and the children suffer as we walk about a half mile, a little less, to the bus station. Phee puts up her collar but Nels falls behind and cries out. We pass the dancing Payday Loan employee, dressed as a Statue of Liberty a young man wearing a dazzling smile, even in this weather, but I am cold cold cold.

On the bus and even with the stench of fuel I am feeling relieved. I am cold, my body so cold it is tired simply from being cold. The kids are cheerful and have kept up their wrestling and singing and most of the time on the bus or on foot Nels has been holding my hand.

I get home and put my hands in hot dishwater and I’m a special kind of exhausted. I make a pot of hot tea for my husband and put it in the oven, after preheating then switching the oven back off. The cut of beef is cheaper than past cuts but Ralph transforms the rest of the ingredients into a delicious meal and we fold clothes and draw the curtains and a friend stops over to visit,

and Phee & I will finish watching the documentary on American whaling tonight,

fin

Wet Kidlets, Playing