Thursday, January 31, 2008

Finding a Good Thing and Sticking With It

Well it's my birthday, and my uncle says I gotta write. So I thought I would write about what it's like to be 36 years old, year in and year out. It's really a very nice feeling. I don't know why people choose the age of 29 -- to me, people don't even treat you like a grown-up until you're 30. There is something about the age of 36 that is very very comfortable and desirable. And so here I shall stay for the rest of my days.

It was only last year that my then 11 year old narrowed her eyes at me after she asked on my birthday how old I was. She started to say, "But weren't you..." and somebody kicked her under the table. It was NOT me, I promise. When the topic of my age comes up, I assume a benevolent, dreamy exterior, and am able to ignore all questions having to do with chronological reality. The husband plays along quite admirably, and clamps a hand over little mouths at the appropriate times. I do appreciate him, (although at age 42 he is really getting along in years I must say.)

So here I sit, in my own little Neverland, surrounded by growing children - watching them in wonder as they pass milestone after milestone. I suppose someday soon I will have to lose my grip on age 36 and leap forward with the rest of the population, into the beauty of aging.

But for now, I think I will just join a band.

Monday, January 28, 2008


They're gone again. They're gone!!!

My scissors.

In the silverware drawer, on the right hand side, is where I keep my scissors.

But they steal them. The children come in, take them out of the drawer, use them, sneak out into the backyard, dig a hole, and they bury them. Or they just toss them in the trash, I don't know which.

I have one with purple handles, one with orange handles, and one with black handles. They're all gone.

Two days ago, while cleaning out the laundry room, I came across a pair of grey-handled hair scissors from long ago. I placed them in the drawer.

Immediately, a child appeared, feverish to get his hands on those scissors.
It's like there's an unspoken credo among them:
The Scissors Must Be Freed.
Take them, quick! She's not looking! Hurl them out the window! Toss them under the couch cushion! Hide them in the laundry room!

It was with a sense of helplessness that I watched him walk away with those scissors. I knew I would not see them again.

Now it is today, and the boy twin is Star Student Of The Week, and my task is to create a collage of pictures of him on a wrinkled piece of paper with a frame printed around the outside of it, that he has just pulled from his backpack. I have 25 photographs that we had copied just for this project, and if I don't find a pair of scissors soon, it's going to end up looking like I tried for the artistic, "torn edge" look when trimming these pictures, and, combined with the wrinkly 8 1/2 by 11 paper, I'm telling you the effect is going to fall flat.

I have one pair of ultra-deluxe scissors in the sewing bag. Whenever somebody finds these, I leap out from behind a nearby object and hiss, "Those are FABRIC scissors!!! Don't you dare get them anywhere near paper!" These scissors are in pristine condition, complete with a plastic point-cover, and to my knowledge have never touched a piece of fabric. The last sewing project I completed must have come pre-ultra-scissors. It was the creation of two Easter Daisy Princess dresses one of which, if inspected closely, had a ravaged back button hole, the crowning touch at the end of a long and frustrating sewing week in 2002. I have not sewn since.

I have this sense of security though, in knowing that they are there, still sharp as ever. If I used them on the next hair cut, they would not "bend" your hair or make you scream by pulling it out by the roots, like our present hair scissors used to(before they disappeared). They are like my little insurance policy.

Tomorrow I will buy myself another pair of everyday scissors. I will hang a bola around my neck, and tie the scissors to the end of it. I will be like a walking cutting machine, leaning over so that the children can complete their art projects, fumbling to zip up my coat without poking myself in the eye, flinging them over my shoulder before giving hugs....

Or I can just tempt fate and stick 'em in that drawer again.
Yeah I'll probably do that.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Family Bed

I slept with all my babies for at least some of their infancies.
It seems so long ago now, but some nights it all comes back.

The boy twin, age nine, has got to be the most cheerful human on the planet. He talks non-stop, and too loud. We all say to him at times, "You're talking loud," and without even pausing in his story, or slowing the flow of words, his voice drops - literally as if we had just reached over and turned the volume down.

His cheerfulness remained even through the long hours of trips to the bathroom last night, to grip the sides of the toilet and cough and spit out all the trouble in his tummy. He would pause, and gasp, but he could still talk -- giving a little running commentary of the event: "Well (gasp), that hurt. Maybe--....Okay, I think I might be---....boy that makes me choke!" Smiling, philosophical, he would trudge back to our bed and curl up underneath the big quilt while I cleaned up.

At 4am, I had to burst his bubble though, because he was still optimistically talking about "feeling better in the morning, and I know I can go to school." I rubbed his back and broke the news as he coughed into the toilet. Finally the tears came, and he slumped into me, revealing his desire to earn that perfect attendance certificate that last year Zach won, and that this year he had wanted to win so badly.

I said maybe he would win the award for the Best Kid In The World, and he nodded agreeably. You don't have to be humble to be cheerful.

Then when we slid back into bed, he was buried underneath covers and so was I. The sun was coming up and I was most definitely not ready to face it. As I floated off into another light doze (really the only sleep available with a child in your bed), I felt those tiny fingers reach into mine and we held hands secretly.

There is something about sleeping together that is a binding, bonding, intimate thing. It's beyond hugs and kind words, or time spent together in the day. It's sharing time and warmth in that ethereal space of the midnight coma, mixed with the semi-conscious awareness of another close by. The silent presence of a dear one who is just keeping company with you in the long dark night.

Every once in while it all comes back.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Coffee Clarity

The coffee hasn't kicked in.
Long night, with two girls kneeling over toilets, crying, waiting...

Have you ever done something so very contradictory,
and realized it right in the moment of doing it?
Like sitting at the dinner table alone,
eating a big plate of cheese-covered, sour-creamed nachos
while reading your "Nutrition Action" newsletter?
This happened to me yesterday and I only paused a moment to reflect,
saying, "huh",
before I resumed my contradictory behavior.

Heath Ledger has passed away.
Why did I say, "oh that is so sad?"
It is sad, of course, but I suspect that I
said it because he was young and beautiful.
And famous.
I haven't paused enough in my life to consider
the many unfamous ones who pass through this life
under the radar,

Sometimes I am so scattered, shallow, distracted.
I jump from nachos to death too quickly.
Sometimes I think the weight of me is wanting.

I'd like my footsteps to leave a deeper mark.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pooh Sticks

The creek was overflowing, flooding the woods on either side.

The children were watching television; neglected, bored, ornery and starting to fight.

I burst into the room.

"Get your coats on!"


"Quick! Let's go play Pooh Sticks!"

They scrambled. None of them had a memory of that old Winnie the Pooh video we used to watch when they were toddlers. There was just something about my sudden urgency, and the name....Pooh Sticks!....they pulled on boots, mittens and followed me as I dashed out the door.

I ran down the slope of the front yard to the road and they all tumbled after me, calling, "What are we doing? What's Pooh Sticks? Wait!"

I got to the end of our driveway and a few more yards to the barriers on Kalamink Creek, and stopped.

"Oooh," they said. It was flowing fast. I jumped into the woods and broke off some dead twigs - five of them. Working so fast that they couldn't think of questions, I passed them out.

"This is Pooh Sticks," I said, leaning over the barrier, watching the water rush underneath the road, and holding out my stick.

"Oh!" they understood, lining up on either side of me and dangling their sticks over the edge.

"On the count of three, drop your Pooh Stick," is all I said.

One, two, three. Now!

Dropping my stick I dashed over to the other side of the road and leaned over the edge. They followed, stomping along in too-big boots, breathless from running and the cold. We waited silently, tensely, until a stick appeared.

"I won!" Someone yelled, and then,
"I'm second!"
"Where's mine?"
"Over there!"
"You're last!!!"
and then,
"Let's do it again!"

Oh, simple pleasures. Even the 15 year old trudged after us and dropped his stick in, and laughed, pleased to see it appear on the other side of the bridge.

Thanks, Pooh.

Very Kind

January 18th:
Touching Bass

The bass duo extraordinaire once known as "Like That" has come together with a new CD and is back in full force. This is culture, indeed, right smack in the heart of Jackson. Heather and Michael play an astoundingly tight show with bass trade-offs and harmonies that will keep you glued to their every song.

Kind words from the Nomad Bookhouse in Jackson -- they're a cool place to play - you sit in the front picture window (well, your back is to it), and play to people sitting around on couches, drinking coffee, studying, listening. The people are really kind and they talk with you and clap - and apparently their owner is VERY kind - I was laughing at this description because it's a little over-the-top. Also, I was like, "We have a CD?" Apparently, we do! ha!

P.S. Jumping back in with absolutely no reference to the scary experience of my last post -- I tried, but I couldn't capture the essence of it in words - ask me in person! I got through it!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Back Soon

My dear friends in Blogland,

I do love this little pretend place where we meet.
Each of us speaking at our own tempo,
in our own time.
Each of us with our own space.
Nobody interrupts here, isn't that just the best?

I've been feeling the guilty nag of not taking time to write,
and so I am solving that dilemma by sending this little missive.

I am eating, sleeping, drinking and breathing music right now,
and I will be for at least the remainder of the day, if not the week.
It's a crazy deal for me, and soon, whether succeeding or failing, I will
write of this terrifying adventure.

It's nice to know, that no matter what happens you will read, and feel,
and mourn or cheer, coming right along with me.

Thanks for being here.

Back soon.