Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dear Reader,

It has been a long while, too long a while, since I have written in this space.  I  have often composed the words in my head, only to have them dance away again.  The leaves have turned from green to yellow to brown and red and loosened their grip from the trees. Strong winds and rain have sent them skittering to the ground, across the dying yard and into the road.  Today it feels like that is me.  Clinging desperately, battling hopelessly against the inevitable, losing my grip and destined to fall and shatter, yet hoping that tomorrow is better.

The boy and I are at loggerheads over school.  Who knew grade six would be this horrible?  Oh the MATHEMATICS.  The email reminders about missing assignments and failing grades.  I ask about homework and he is clueless.  "Mom, it's fine!" alternates with "I don't know!" and "What is WRONG with me?"  And he comes home without the right book, or hasn't written down his assignments or can't explain what this means or.... blergh.  We've changed study routines and times and tried reorganizing his notebook.... and still the beat goes on.  Louder, and louder until my head throbs with coefficients, distributive properties and equivalent expressions.

The girl is 8 going on 18.  She insists she is old enough to dress herself, even though her fashion sense is less than stellar.  Black and brown mixed together, Uggs and shorts, summer dresses in the winter.... it dements me.  She's decided she should be home-schooled because the boys at her lunch table mix all their food together and "it completely grosses me out Mom!"  We'd last ten minutes before one of us exploded I reckon! I'd say odds are high it would be me doing the exploding.

The sun sets before 6 pm now.  My body tells me it is bedtime long before I have finished with the day. Crawling into bed at 8 sounds perfectly reasonable, but is in fact counterproductive.  The laundry, dishes, lunch boxes, baths.... I'm quite certain that the world will end if it isn't done.  Perhaps I should leave them alone today and see if the Mayans were right?

It is all too much.  No end in sight.  School, sports, music, homework, work....  Time and energy to pursue things untried is slipping away.  Soon, if only, when this finishes, or that wraps up.... there will always be something new to fill the calendar.

So, I am taking a risk.

Going out on a limb and doing something that is absolutely for me and is highly unlikely to bear fruit (at least financially), but perhaps it will bear fruit in my head and in my soul.  As the busyness only increases, I realize that the timing will never be perfect for me to do it.  So I've coughed up a considerable sum to take a writing course.  Gulp.  I keep thinking I could have purchased matching end tables or a new headboard, or repainted the kitchen with this money, but hey, I think I might have earned a little something for me.  I won't have anything to show for it.  Nothing with any trade or resell value, nothing tangible at all.  But what of it it it is something that brings me joy and satisfaction and the knowledge that I wanted something and I'm taking a shot at it.  Who knows, three months ago I couldn't run a mile and on October 6 I ran a 5K.  I'm doing this.

Taking a chance on me.  I think I'm worth it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Dad

September is here.  Crystal clear days, cool mornings, coleus, mums and pumpkins are appearing at stores and on porches and doorsteps.  The beautiful beginning of fall brings with it the pain of September 20, 2005.  No, it isn't the gaping, black pit of physical, mental, emotional horror as it was in those first weeks after my brother died, but life has not, will not, ever be the same.  Each Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday, wedding reminds me that our family picture will always have a hole in it.

My brother Sidney got married in July.  A beautiful day filled with beautiful people sharing love and laughter and commitment.  But when I look at the photo, the bittersweetness overwhelms. How much more precious are these days when we are together?  How I wish there were six of us in the photos, instead of five.

I think I find it easy to relate to Mom.  Her pain resonates with me because I am a mother too.  In many ways, I've thought the loss was probably harder for my dad.  He's a fixer (like me).  He's always been able to solve problems.  To support us financially, emotionally, and academically.  Dealing with his own pain and watching helplessly while the rest of us suffered was brutal for him.

I don't talk about him often enough.  I saw him briefly yesterday and I was overwhelmed by how much I love this man.  By how his slightly quirky personality, his funny walk, his inability to pronounce the word camel or flustered (he says flustrated) has kept us in stitches.  My dad wears white socks with anything.  Doesn't wear shorts.  Is almost 71 and could work circles around someone half his age.  Would rather be in his shop than anywhere in the world.  Lined up a job at ACE hardware BEFORE he retired, so never really retired.  Never met a pickle he didn't like.  Spells the word "enter" as "inter" (because you are going IN!  HELLO!) Complains about the TV but loves the History Channel.  Thinks everyone understands incline planes, pulleys, velocity and all things Physics because he does.  Can't get his hair (what's left of it anyway) to lay down flat for anything. Couldn't manage to look suave with the entire GQ style team in his corner.  Doesn't email, facebook, text or tweet and won't read this unless it is printed out in 20 point font on a sheet of paper...  and he is STILL too cool for school. 

A few years ago I was driving him somewhere, I forget why or where, but he said something that shocked me.  He said:  "I wish we could have given you children more."  It was a moment when everything sharpens and clarity comes in an instant.  The proverbial pole falling on the head.  Could I, my siblings, be anymore lucky?  My parents HAD given us more!  So much more than most kids who "have" more.

No we didn't have a lot of money.  I'm not sure how much or how little.  My parents told us there were things they couldn't afford and there were no new cars, Members Only jackets, Swatches and the like in the budget and when I was very small my dad worked three jobs to make ends meet... but they never said things that would scare us.  I know we did things together:  yard work, church, meals, camping, kitchen duty.  I know my parents did us a favor by telling us "no" when it would have been easier to say "yes".  That they were there, are there and will be there for us always.  No matter what.  What a gift to have that kind of security, as both a child and as an adult.  It is why Mama and Daddy, Christie and Sidney are HOME to me now... no matter where we are, we are at peace when we are together.

 So thanks Daddy, for giving us everything that matters.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Running Woman

Millions of people do it every day.  Lace up their shoes, pop in their earbuds and take off.... running.  Add me to the ranks of those millions.  Just not the really fast ones or the ones who can go for miles and miles and miles.

I'm only up to almost 2 miles (and at least two-tenths of those miles are spent walking and trying not to DIE).  My knees are slightly achy, my shins hate me and my chest is thinking of burning my sports bra in protest.  But I'm doing it.  I don't LOVE it.  But I'm doing it.

For a person who has always thought of serious exercise as a mostly spectator sport, this is a real revolution in thinking!  Being on the dark side of 35 and possessed of a genetic history of heart problems is an excellent motivator.  So is the sense of pushing through and doing something I really didn't think I could do.

 (Blurriness not due to speed, but a rather poor attempt to take a picture of my own foot, which I lack the coordination to pull off effectively)

I may not look glamorous doing it and the weight isn't falling off like I'd dreamed it would, pounds and pounds laying in my wake as I pound out the miles, but it feels.... kind of good.  And in deference to the serious eye-strain I might inflict on others, I do try to run after twilight (and after homework, booksbags, baths, etc. for the kids) when my huffing/puffing, sweating like a pig, ancient ipod packed with uncool music (okay Tina Turner will ALWAYS be cool, the Captain and Tenille.... eh), running shorts uncomfortably bunched by thighs that are NOT toned and slender and a crazy dog darting in front/behind due to the slow pace won't cause anyone to drive up a tree.

It's worth it.  The sweat, the soreness, the commitment to doing it 5 times a week.  Even if I set small milestones (I can make it to the mail box... the third pine tree up ahead.... the curve in the road.... the light pole at the end of the drive...) towards the 5K goal.

I'll get there..... eventually.

Monday, July 30, 2012


And you thought school started in the Fall?  No.  It has drifted, week by week, day by day, all the way back to August 1st!  Ah... back in the day we had the ENTIRE month of August to pedal our bikes around the block, run barefoot until our feet were coated in dust, dirt and bits of grass, drink lemonade and wear out our library cards (the ones they put used to manually put through the carbon copier when you checked out a book).  School didn't start until Labor Day weekend... September!  Those were the days kids.  The golden, halcyon days of a three month summer.

I may be repeating, "already??" in my head over and over, but it is indeed time to purchase new shoes, school clothes, paper pencils, erasers they will never use, pens they'll leave at home or school or both, hand sanitizer and boxes of tissue and new lunch boxes.

And... my wee boy, the one who really was starting kindergarten yesterday, I swear it, will be in the 6th Grade.  Rob took him shopping for new shoes last week and the child wears a 9.5!  In a man size!  His foot is bigger than Rob's by one full size.  Today we went for a check-up and he measured 5 feet 1 1/2 inches!  He needs a small shift from the men's section.  He's leaving boyhood behind, quickly.  And I'm not ready yet! 

When did he quit needing a hug before bed and outgrow bedtime stories?  He needs deodorant and a good face soap and he still can't remember to brush his teeth without a reminder (or 12).  And when on earth did I blink and not put it all together that we have been marching past milestones, never to be repeated, at light-speed?

 Middle school.  The age of puberty and teasing jerks and learning about girls.  I am trying to "keep calm and carry on" but on the inside?  I'm freaking out a little bit.

So tonight I am going to sit on the back porch with a glass of wine and watch the full moon and soak in the stillness and the last few hours before we start a new chapter... one I hope is tucked in the adventure category and not the horror section lived out by many a geeky, awkward tweenager!  Gulp!  Maybe Tower of Terror WAS a fitting open to our summer vacation?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Long days that begin with lazy sunrises and end with 8:30 p.m. sunsets.
The scent of sunscreen and chlorine in humid air.
The happy screams and splashes and calls of "Marco!  Polo!" from kids in the pool.
The white flakes of a peeling sunburn.
"It's not the heat, it's the humidity!"  (Really.  It's both)! and "Is it hot enough for ya?"
Star gazing on the back porch with a glass of wine (Ursa Major, Hercules, Lyra).
Line-dried towels and pillow cases and sheets.
The rumble of thunder in the afternoon and the flashes of cloud-to-cloud lightening... a free fireworks show.
The whine of mosquitos and the hum of cicadas at twilight.
Ice cream and popsicles and frosty drinks.
Fresh garden offerings:  Blueberries, peaches, watermelon, okra, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers.
Freshly cut grass and the stinging bite of fire ants on bare feet.
The icy blast of air conditioning vents, flipping the pillow to the cool side and the lullaby of ceiling fans.
Sweating at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. . . .
In the summertime.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

We Were Riding, Riding in My Car (but Not Fast)

I confess I've given serious thought to how much it would cost to install one of those privacy screens that seem to come standard on limousines.  Or all the limousines in the movies anyway.   It would be especially wonderful for the 300 mile trip to Orlando and Disney World, the happiest place on EARTH!  Can you see Rob's happy face in your mind?  Yes.  That is sarcasm.  Rob isn't going to be happy because Walt Disney decided he should be.  He really isn't going to be happy while Disney is telling him to be happy and plucking money from his wallet.

The silence would be greatly preferred to the constant squabbling, poking and complaining that emanates from the rear passenger seats, it would also mean missing out on some pretty interesting, sometimes baffling, conversations that take place on the way to here, there and everywhere.   And I wouldn't channel my mother so often with the words:  "Don't make me pull this car over!" and "Don't make me reach back there!"  and "I WILL turn this car around RIGHT NOW!" Which should be yelled through clenched teeth for unintelligible yet effective conversation stopping capability.

I guess it's only fair to MY mother that I get paid back for some pretty terrible renditions of 99 Bottles of Milk on the Wall and "How much furrrrrrrrrrrrttttttttttttthhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr???????" pestering.

Recently overheard from the backseat:

"Such and such would be a great idea!"
"I thought that before you did."
"But I said it first."
"So.  Have you seen Jurassic Park?  Do you think it mattered who discovered the dinosaurs first or who said they discovered them first."
(Yeah.  Doesn't make sense to me either.)

"Mom.  When we get home I want to FaceTime with Imogen!"
"Abby, it's 3 a.m. in Queensland right now!"
"Oh.  So I can't FaceTime with Imogen when we get home?"

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Interrupting cow."
"Interrupting c-"


"Mom.  Did Dad leave his CD in here?'
"Nope!" (technically it was IN the car, but it wasn't IN the CD player if you want to Bill Clinton the definition of the word here). 
"Great.  It's Mom's boring music again."  Why yes, yes it is.... if by boring they mean AWESOME!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday I left home at 8 a.m. and didn't return until 8 p.m. Never have I been so happy that the following day was the every other week cleaning lady visit! To make the weekend all the sweeter, she made AN ENTIRE MEAL and brought it over on Saturday. I'm thinking about asking her to adopt me.

We've had a tiny health scare with my own mother. She woke up in intense pain that required a visit to the ER. Turns out she had kidney stones (probably the result of calcium supplements) that were quickly passed. The CT scan also showed some spots on her liver. When someone has had cancer, the word "spot" looms in neon letters in an otherwise boring medical report. After several weeks of waiting, the good news from her oncologist is that liver spots are very common and that these spots pre-date her breast cancer diagnosis in 2007. Phew!

So of course this year, spending the day with her will be all the more special. Two weeks of waiting meant a lot of time spent reflecting on how important she is in my life. In our lives. No matter that I don't need her to help bandage cuts or create science project displays or depend on her to put a hot meal on the table every night, she is still a tremendous support... particularly now that I am old and wise enough to realize she might actually know something!

My mother-in-law is pretty fabulous too. She carts the kids around from school and to dancing and horseback riding. If I'm sick, she steps up and makes sure everything that needs to get done does, even taking care of me along with the laundry, homework, etc. She is a big part of J.T.'s top writing and MAP testing results.... she loves to work with both kids on their homework. Appreciating that I am quite lucky to have a wonderful mother and mother-in-law. They make my life better. The kids, of course, love them to pieces. I think that they wrote cards for their grandmothers without prompting, but might have needed a nudge from Rob to complete my cards. Might have something to do with the yelling and fit throwing?

Fresh cut and color? A little slice of happy for me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Happiness Project

"Contemporary research shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likeable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens." - Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project.

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not unhappy. Do I appreciate how lucky I am to be married to a good man, to have two healthy, intelligent children and to have family and friends who give of their love, time and friendship generously? Yes! Does it ever cross my mind that the pure chance of not being born in poverty in the third world means simply by having enough food to eat I am happier than the great majority of people on this earth? Frequently! Should I be grateful for the life I have? You better believe it! I am grateful. But could I do with a little more contentment... a bit more "in the moment" joy? Not only could I do with it, I crave it.

Much like Gretchen Rubin describes in her book, I find myself looking at my life and thinking, so this is it? Married, two kids, working, fighting off under eye wrinkles and gray hair and a gnawing sense of, THIS IS IT! Who I am, living the life I've got, waiting for everything to magically become perfect. If only the mortgage were paid off and the kids wouldn't smear paint or fingernail polish all over the table. If only those stupid unmatched socks would pair themselves up and march to the sock drawers. If only I could fit into my skinny jeans and the dog wouldn't chase the UPS man. If only I had more time and less to do.... wouldn't life be deliciously, deliriously, wondrously wonderful?

So how do I let go of the elusive perfect and find the happiness in the good?

By embarking on my own happiness project. Implementing small strategies and setting small mile markers to up the happy quotient in my life. After all, a happier me will mean happier people surrounding me.

This month's goals are to get more sleep (people who are well-rested have more energy to do the things and make the changes that will make them happy) and to wrap up at least one nagging task I've let go too long. Yes I am mimicking Gretchen's first month goals almost exactly... but I think this is a good place to start for me. I never sleep all night long. Waking up ten times is not unusual. When I do get enough sleep, I have more energy, get more done and feel more satisfied with my day. My upstairs space is almost finished. But it has been over a year since I did anything with that room! The blinds need to be hung, the paint splotches cleaned up and the furniture placed and arranged. I've found a thousand reasons (probably literally, a thousand) not to tackle these boring tasks... and the unfinishedness of it hangs over me (also quite literally) like a gloomy what-if. I think the satisfaction of completing this long overdue job will be worth the drudgery of actually tackling the tedium of paint scraping, window cleaning, furniture staining, etc.

With that said, I do realize that there is no magic secret to contentment. But I equally realize that exploring what makes people appreciate what they have, what they are actively doing to achieve contentment and gratefulness is an endeavor worth undertaking, if only for the journey and not the destination. Here's to happiness!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Smaller Footprint

I just finished reading an article about the importance of reducing our carbon footprint. As the population of the world increases, the strain on resources grows greater. Are we in danger of collapsing under the weight of our own "progress"?

We are sometimes good environmentalists and sometimes, lazy environmentalists at our house.

The good:
  • hot water heater seat on moderate (a genuine sacrifice as I prefer my shower hot enough to scald off a layer of skin) and cold water washing machine use.
  • Lights off! Our house gets enough natural sunlight that we don't need to turn on any lights until it gets dark. Rob is great about going behind everyone and making sure we turn everything off, but that MIGHT be as much about money as saving the earth.
  • Drying rack. I have not used my dryer AT ALL this week. If Bob the Wonder Dog wouldn't snatch the clothes of a clothes line, I'd love to install a one of those umbrella style outdoor racks. Our summer heat would have a load dry in no time!
  • Recycling. The kids help sort the plastic, cans, paper etc. for the recycling center. We don't have curbside pick-up, but we live less than a mile from the recycling center. Our trash to recycling ratio is probably about 50% now.
  • Keep the clunker going! Changing out cars frequently (even for more energy efficient ones) adds some size to the old footprint. We have managed to keep Rob's 1997 truck going with some mostly minor repairs and a little duct tape for the seats (how redneck is that)!
  • Consolidating errands. Three days a week, I drop the kids off at school and just continue on to work instead of going back home and leaving for work an hour later. That saves 10 miles per trip or 30 miles per week. We combine errands so that we drop the kids off for one activity and do the grocery shopping while they are occupied for an hour (this is less stressful than shopping with two kids, so BONUS), which also saves a trip.


  • Home Garden. A giant FAIL last time I attempted it. Trying to maintain an organic garden against the onslaught of bugs and weeds was more than I could do. I had every intention of attempting it again this year, but didn't get my act together in time. Thinking about doing an above ground container garden for tomatoes and okra on the back porch as a compromise. The Farmer's market is open on Saturday morning, but is the 14 mile round trip. Our grocery shopping is done on Sunday, so that adds to our gas total.
  • Grocery store packaging. I find myself really frustrated with the grocery buying. I can manage to buy unpackaged fruit/veggies for the most part: bananas, cucumbers, tomatoes, cantaloupe (but not the blueberries or strawberries), but it seems that the bulk of what we buy is packaged and then packaged some more! Yogurt, cheese, crackers, tea bags, bread, meat.... all packaged and then shrink wrapped for good measure!
  • Reusable shopping bags. This would seem to be the easiest thing of all... but I always forget the bags!
  • Clothing. Trying to find locally made clothing is almost impossible! Every label I read says: "Vietnam" or "China" on it!
  • You all know I ADORE my kindle. Is it really more sustainable to purchase ebooks than paper books? We have LOTS of things that plug in: ipad, kindle, PC, laptops... is the balance in raw materials vs. electricity usage really balanced? Abby absolutely loves to facetime with her friend Imogen in Australia! I doubt she is willing to give that up.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


The weather is stunning right now. Bordering on too warm, but the heat is mitigated by the beauty of new leaves and the clean white of dogwood blossoms and pink, red, and white azaleas. Skies that look like they extend forever. Fields cleared and ready for planting. Everything is fresh.


It makes me want to drive.

To obey that impulse to ignore the responsibilities of daily life... alarm clocks, laundry, dishes, meal times, schedules, phone, computer... to watch it, the eternal forward motion of life, grow smaller in the rear view mirror.

To tune it out with the blast of the ipod and the rush of wind over ears.

To let the sound of robins and the blue of the sky and the lazy float of clouds in front of the sun bleach life into a quiet shade of white and calm.

To be in a place where time is irrelevant and I can breathe and my energy is not pulled in a thousand different directions.

To just exist for a bit. To hear nothing but the pull of air in and the push out, the steady beat of my heart.

Not a possibility right now. Too many balls in the air that simply CANNOT come crashing down.

But... to borrow some of Sally Seltman's lyrics:

"Dreams, they come and go. This is one I've had forever I know. Been crossing my fingers and always hoping for it to come true... Got a dream that's become a friend and a reality!" Australia - 2014. We. are. there.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Son Ate a Pancake

You are probably asking yourself why on earth the fact that my son ate a pancake merits an entire blog post. Kids are by nature picky eaters, of course. Did you know there is a biological reason behind that fact?

Curious toddlers tend to enter the "age of beige" eating stage around the same time they become completely independent in their mobility. Sticking to a diet based on beige foods helped them avoid potential poisonous plants (particularly brightly colored berries and poisonous leaves) that could kill them.

My son entered this stage and never exited. He disappeared down a culinary black hole that narrowed and narrowed and narrowed until his dietary staples could be counted on two hands. Some parents debate whether apple slices dipped into sweet caramel sauce is a healthy food choice. I dream of J.T. eating apple slices dipped in caramel sauce. The current extent of his food choices includes: cheese, crackers, whole grain bread, yogurt, V-8 fusion, ketchup, mustard, pizza, fish sticks, chicken, cookies, and plain chocolate. That is it. All of it.

Yes, I have tried insisting that he eat what is put on his plate. I have made him try blueberries, apples, bananas, salad, broccoli, carrots, green beans, and tomatoes. "Just ONE bite!" I have pleaded. These efforts end with him throwing up and me throwing up my hands in frustration. It isn't that he finds the flavors that objectionable, it is the textures he can't stomach. Even toast has to be at just the right level of "toastiness" or it is, er, toast.

Yesterday, as I made the grocery list, I spoke very frankly with J.T. about the importance of a healthy diet. We do have a history of heart attacks in our family. My brother died at 41. My father had a heart attack at 68. My grandfather (a very slim, fit man) had one at the same age. Eating less junk and replacing that junk with vegetables and fruits is really, really important. He agreed to try something different. Apples (with caramel sauce) was one choice, the other was pancakes. At this point, trying ANYTHING new is a plus, so I agreed.

Tonight, we had pancakes for supper. And the kid who only eats grilled cheese or fish sticks or some other variation, ate a whole pancake. I'm sure it is a ho-hum event in most households, and I would truly prefer that it had been an apple slice and not another "beige" food like a pancake, but the fact that he tried something new and liked it, is a big deal around here. It has not happened in a long, long time. It gives me hope.

P.S. We are consulting with his doctor to figure out if speaking with a counselor might help him. There is not enough space here to detail the YEARS of efforts and conversations we have had on this subject, but suffice it to say it is the number one cause of stress in my life right now.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Runaway Train

Was it only two short months ago that I had a plan? A plan to get everything TOGETHER this year?

The Plan has been scrapped in favor of winging it. I think I knew that's what would happen all along anyway. Best laid plans and what not.

Busy doesn't describe this household lately. Runaway train experiencing a brake failure on an extreme downhill grade would work. I'm tempted to pull the emergency brake and bring it to a screeching halt. But I feel in my bones we'd just end up flattened by the cars behind us. The dance lessons to guitar practice to horseback riding lessons hopping continues with bits of homework, illness and late night work projects thrown in for balance.

Today I had to stop and really think about what day of the week it was. I can't decide if I'm running behind or thinking ahead or simply confused. All the grand ideas for the new year have been melted in the acid of reality, of all the obligations and events and.... life. Just life.

Abby has been asked to be the flower girl in my niece's wedding in April. We managed to find time to do this today:

One more thing off the checklist. And isn't it a beautiful thing?

Now this weekend (come to me my love), there will be relaxing. Wine, reading and sleeping until I wake up without alarm bells ringing in my ear. The train gliding to a halt for a bit.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I confess that I might be in love with my Kindle Fire.

A little TOO in love with it.... as I spend quite a bit of time either reading, catching up on Facebook (see what you are missing Aunty E.), and ahem, playing Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies. ( WHY is lobbing birds/plants at bad guys so addicting)? I've decided I'm a glutton for punishment as a certain fellow blogger keeps kicking my butt at Words with Friends. Just when I think I'm at least in a game, she plays a 70-point word!

The downside might be too much "wasted" time, but the upside is more reading! I can't put my finger on exactly why, but the Kindle has increased my reading pace tremendously. Maybe it is the easy access of having a virtual library that I can toss in my bag in the morning, then pull it out and pick the book that suits me while I'm waiting for guitar/dance/horseback riding to finish, so that I'm reading at times and in places I have not been? Finally finishing up The Hunger Games trilogy, re-reading some favorites and getting new recommendations (Bereft and To Be Sung Underwater) thanks to Mary's brilliant idea to start a "Recent Reads" group on FB. I don't have the time or money to waste on mediocre books, so having a recommendation list is wonderful.

As much as I truly, deeply, for always and ever love my Kindle, I am discovering that I need to limit my use. Too much intake and not enough output. Hopefully I can maintain the reading renaissance and back off of the more mindless entertainments available in this tiny rectangle of happiness. I really would like to return to more regular blogging and blog reading, gardening, etc.

But in the meantime, did I mention that Kindle and I are madly in love?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

You know it's time for a facial wax when you glance in the rearview mirror and wonder for just a second why, when you aren't driving a red ferrari, Magnum P.I. is behind the wheel of your car. Brow/upper lip maintenance needed. Yuck head cold equals sleepless nights equals dark shadows that don't at all look like the "smoky eye" I'm trying to pull off. I just look tired and sick. But even when Mom is down, life goes on.

The boy, who has turned 11 this week, has decided that he doesn't want the annual birthday party EVENT (okay it's hotdogs, chips, fruit, cake and ice cream and lots of running around staging sword fights boy mayhem). Instead he would like a trip to Savannah to visit the toy store. At the ripe old age of 11, he has never been to a store that exclusively sells toys. But can I just say that I'm a bit lost not preparing for the usual party festivities? It was also my opportunity for grown up conversation with my favorite fellow moms of children of a like age and now I have to wait at least another month before one of our favorite families invites us to their child's party before I can indulge in mom chat.

I like to think I'm coping well with the fact that my oldest child is becoming a tweenager and that my youngest is seven going on seventeen. I confess that while I've had to let go of the smocked dresses with bloomers, the Thomas the Tank Engine trains have been packed away and Dora yogurt is no longer on my grocery list, there is one thing I've struggled to leave behind. Those sweet little baby washcloths are still in the basket next to their tub. They've been washed so many times they aren't much more substantial than tissue paper, but I still can't bring myself to throw them out. I've rationalized that they are the perfect size for getting behind small ears and between toes, but I know I'm in denial. As long as those worn little scraps sit in that basket, my babies they will be.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


A little boy who was in Abby's class suffered a severe brain injury last month. He is on the road to recovery. One of the therapies they are using with him is to introduce familiar smells to stimulate brain activity. Smell is closely tied to memory. Few things can stimulate recall like familiar scents.

Several weeks ago I attended a parent-teacher conference at school. The smell of chicken and hot dish soap instantly conjured images of orange lunch trays, cardboard milk cartons and lunch ladies garbed in plastic aprons, gloves and hairnets. I can see myself standing in line, waiting for tired women to slap a spoonful of chicken and dumplings, overcooked green beans, a brilliant orange yam and a slice of peanut butter cake on my tray. It seems like no matter what is being prepared in the lunchroom, it always smells like chicken to me!

A whiff of honeysuckle in late May and I am riding my bike, barefoot, around the block... drawn by the sweet smell to stop, pick a few flowers and collect the drops of "honey" clinging to the ends of the stems. I can feel the warm breeze, hear the whine of mosquitos and taste the dewy sweetness as clearly as if I had climbed into a time machine and whisked back through the decades to a spring day in 1985.

The scent of Irish Spring soap reminds of baths in the claw-footed tub at Grandmother Hall's. The gleam of sunlight through homemade curtains, the feel of the bristles of a nail brush under my nails, the creak of floorboards as Grandmother brought in a fresh towel and a bottle of Jergen's lotion for after the bath.

Chimney smoke wafts by and I can see my dad adding another piece of wood to the wood burning heater while my mother sits so close to the warmth she is almost IN the fireplace, reading a book. A patchwork blanket wrapped over her and her glasses perched either on her nose or on top of her head. The squeaks of the rocking chair as she rocks and reads. Oblivious to anything outside the pages of that book. The warmth, the noises, the images are so vivid they are almost touchable. As clear as a photograph.

So perhaps nostalgia is all in the nose?

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