Saturday Morning Thoughts

There has been so much to write, but since my dog passed away in late April I haven’t had the heart to write any of it.  A little list will have to do for the moment.

I’m spending part of my morning looking at door knobs and enjoying it way more than I feel like I should.  One of my favorite things about having our own home is choosing just what we want to put in it.

Things are changing at Mac n’ Cheese Manor!  Exciting, wonderful, lovely things!  More to come on that in the next few weeks.  : )

We started our seeds a bit late but they are thriving in their little plastic trays!  I’m excited and terrified as I do NOT have a good track record with plants.  And by “not good” I mean I have literally never managed to keep a plant alive in my life and not for lack of trying.

My sweet Sunshine is getting so big and has so much to say and I simply cannot (even as I perfectly can) remember how small she was or imagine how she will grow.

Our cat got a mouse last night!!!!  He really is the very best of cats, my sweet, salty Morris.

Time ticks onward, even without my Why?lee, and I’m grateful that spring is busy on a farm, even a very small one.
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My Pleasure

It is my pleasure (if also my pain)
To turn and wait,
as you amble along
stopping to rest here and there
pretending to sniff
when we both know you’re quite tired.
I remember well how you used
to turn and wait
cocking your head
as I tried in vain to keep up
with your racing paws.

It is my pleasure (if also my pain)
to forgo the kibble you have eaten all your life (17 years!)
but do not eat anymore
with your old dog teeth.
You may have the
tastiest morsels of meat
from our table
you have earned them.

It is my pleasure (if also my pain)
to clean up without fussing
when outside is too far
for old hips and thin cartilage
between well-loved joints
that have carried you so many miles.
I wish we could do them all again.

It is my pleasure (if also my pain)
to curl up in your bed with you at night
to rub your ears and scratch all around and over
the tumor that grows and grows
on your fine neck.
And to wipe your crusting eyes
and to remember old stories
of wonderful things we have done.

My sweet Why?lee,
what wonderful things we have done!
The places we’ve gone,
the people and animals we’ve met and loved . . .
how lucky we are to have enjoyed so much together.

It is my honor (if also my near to unbearable pain)
to know that this must be our last adventure–
your growing old, and my trying (if failing)
to let you go.

Every Mama has her Day

While ringing me up at the register in JoAnne’s last week, the cashier told me that I was really put together.  It felt nice.  And I know why she said it.  My hair was cute, I had lip gloss on, mascara even!  I was holding my daughter on one hip, my purchases in the same hand I had wrapped around her back and I signed the receipt with my free hand.  My sweet Sunshine was happy and smiling and waving at everyone.  I’m sure I looked like a mom who’s got her $#@& together.  So I smiled and I said thank you and I really meant it.  What I did not do was tell her about the week before.

The week before, I showed up at swim class with no lip gloss and my hair in the same, wobbly, top-of-my-head bun I slept in.  We had five minutes to get ready before we were supposed to be in the pool.  I opened our swim bag and dug and dug  . . .  and dug.  I dug until I hit the bottom and dug back up to the top, refusing to except the evidence before my eyes that I had somehow not brought my daughter’s swimsuit or swim diaper.

I threw everything out onto the bench at the Y, I had to check just one more time.  No dice.  I called my husband to see if he’d maybe put it in her diaper bag and he reminded me that my darling girl had gotten into her swim bag just before we left.  She’d thrown everything out and he’d thrown everything back in, but neither of us checked to make sure she hadn’t made off with something important.  There was nothing for it, we weren’t going to be able to go to class.  It was awful because she loves the water and she loves her friend Fred, who we’ve been in swim class with since she was seven months old.

About that time, I heard Fred outside the door so I popped out to let his mama know we weren’t going to make it to class and why.  Fred’s mom, who is never one to give up, immediately offered Fred’s extra suit if we didn’t mind using trunks as well as one of their swim diapers.  SAVED!  We grabbed the suit, got changed, and had an awesome class and I really wish I could end the story there . . .
IMG_2610But alas, after class, with my sweet Sunshine all wrapped up in her towel (hey, at least we had towels, right?), I realized that her after class diaper was also missing.  Thankfully, Fred and his mama were still there.  They gave us a diaper and we were back in business, all dressed, and ready for snack . . . except that I’d brought her frozen blueberries, which make a great snack when they’re frozen.  These, once frozen, but frozen no longer berries were a dark purple, puddle just waiting to ruin absolutely everything they splattered on.

My Sunshine began to cry, because of course, babies are always hungry after swim class and that’s when sweet Fred shared his Cheerios and we were finally able to conclude what was one of the most ridiculous mornings of my life as a mother.  Fortunately for me and for my girl, Fred and his mama are not judgemental.  We all laughed it off together and our morning was not ruined for any of the reasons that it might have been.

Moral of the story?  When you see a mom who’s got it together, say something nice to her.  When you see a mom whose day is falling apart before your eyes, say something nice to her, too, and if you have the power to help, help without judgement.  A kind word can work wonders . . . as can a loaner swimsuit, swim diaper, regular diaper, and Cheerios!  My sweet Sunshine and I really do have the best friends.  : )IMG_2614

Spring 2017: The Flurry

Spring came late that year.  It was still bitter cold and snowing in late March.  The family had been making regular visits after that first and every time she heard them coming up the walk, she hoped that maybe, just maybe, that day would be the day they stayed.  In the meantime, she treasured each moment they spent with her, mostly sitting in the kitchen together, talking quietly, and dreaming their dreams.

She began to file away the feeling and sounds of their lives–the slight weight of the baby (it was a girl!) when they laid her in her little bed to nap, the old dogs turning their circles to lay down after running around outside awhile, the woman’s soft voice murmuring about ocean colors, and the firm step of the man checking this or that.  She didn’t want to waste any opportunity to know them better, if they were going to be hers, and it would seem that they were . . . (She was still sometimes struck with terrible bouts of anxiety that they would not come back and she would be alone again, uncertain of her fate.).

One night, shortly after they arrived for an early evening visit, she felt a slight tug and heard a pinging sound.  It was coming from the window over the kitchen sink . . . with no further warning, she felt the last of the day’s sunlight flood in, pure and bright, pouring onto her counter tops, her walls, and her floor!  Oh, to be touched by the sun again!  It had been years since the plastic was stapled there, to keep the heat in through cold winters and to keep the heat out through hot summers.  She appreciated it, since there was no one inside to look after her, it offered some protection from the elements and changing seasons, but it was also terribly suffocating.

She had heard the phrase, the eyes are the windows to the soul many times in her life and had decided, in turn that her windows were the “eyes” to her soul.  A house could not see, of course that would be silly, but through her windows, she could feel the sunlight warming her everywhere it fell, no matter how cold it was outside; when they were opened she could feel fresh breezes and hear the birds and the people outside; and with the plastic gone, her body was filled with light–just as it was meant to be.

Windows were also a point of pride.  At her birth, she’d had only three, but after a few updates and additions somewhere in her first hundred or so years she was blessed with forty two!  And every last one of them had the shade pulled down and thick plastic stapled over it.  Well, every one but the one over the kitchen sink, that is . . . if she could have sighed, she would have, it felt so lovely.

That was how it began–The Flurry, as she would later think of it.  They peeled the plastic off that one window and watched the sun set, then began bringing in bags and setting them in the pantry.  They pulled up the old carpet in the living room, they scrubbed the sinks, counter tops, and the cupboards, and when they left late that night, she gleefully noted that they did not take any of the bags with them.

Over the following days, more and more boxes would come, they brought friends and proudly showed her off, they vacuumed and they bleached, they drug out the old kitchen shelves that the mice had ruined, and the man came one night by himself and stayed very late painting the living room floor.   The day after the floor-painting, they didn’t come in the morning or in the afternoon and as the day wore on, she found herself afraid again, even after all of their cleaning and care, even as she held boxes and boxes of their things.  It is hard for an old house, one that has held and loved so many over the years, to be alone.

That particular day was sometime early-spring, though she couldn’t have given an exact date for houses do not mark such things.  The last of the winter snow still lingered, but the sun had been staying longer and longer, and she was lost in her fretful thoughts when she felt the key wiggle in the deadbolt. She could tell by their shuffling steps that they were tired.  Moving quietly, they placed the baby in her little bed in the downstairs bedroom, brushed their teeth, made their way to their bed (which they’d set up in the living room of all places!) . . . and went to sleep.  It was the night she’d dreamed of for so long and she spent the whole of it listening to the sounds of their soft and steady breathing and dreaming dreams of her own.

That night would have been the highlight of her year if it weren’t for a few weeks later when she felt a small and strange thump, thump, thump, WUMP in the kitchen followed by the woman’s squeal of delight.  It had been so long since she felt such a thing, she didn’t recognize it for what it was until the woman spoke.  “Oh honey!  You did it! My sweet Sunshine, papa is going to be so excited!”

The baby had taken her very first steps: three of them!  Thump, thump, thump!  Before falling on her bottom with a WUMP!  A house cannot cry, and that is good, because she would have absolutely flooded herself so moved was she by the feeling of those tiny feet and the sweet sound of a mother’s joy.

The Flurry continued all through spring; furniture and appliances came, electrical and some plumbing were updated, old shelves were torn down and new ones put up in their place and it was glorious.  After spending years wondering if she would molder right back into the earth from whence she came, she delighted in all the activity . . . but it was just a touch more than delight.

That spring, the perfect season for such a change, her dread and loneliness were replaced with joy and the bright energy of a new beginning.  As they moved in, placing all of their possessions along with themselves in her care, she felt her sense of purpose swell, filling every dusty corner of her being.  And at the rate they were cleaning, soon there wouldn’t be any dusty corners at all!

Despite her age and current state of disrepair, she took great pride in the fact that even after hundreds of years, she still stood strong under and around them.  She may have lost much of her outer beauty to peeling wallpaper, chipping paint, worn out floors, and broken windows, but inside she was as sturdy as the day she was made–with wood hewn from the forest she stood beside, hand-forged and driven nails, and horsehair plaster.

After so long standing empty, she felt deeply the precious weight of their life–something only a house could truly grasp.  And knowing, as she did, how quickly lives came and went, it was a gift she meant to cherish.IMG_4195

Things to Do and Be

I was inspired by a particularly brave thirty-something whom I dearly love and deeply admire to write a list of things I want to do and be but am afraid to try or there are obstacles in the way that seem insurmountable.

  1. Grow and tend my own herbs and vegetables.  (We bought seeds yesterday!)
  2. Have a regular yoga/mediation practice.
  3. Leave the country for a family vacation.
  4. Take some of the incredible love my sweet Sunshine has brought us and reinvest it in our marriage in new ways that better fit who and where we are in life now.
  5. Learn to swing and ballroom dance.
  6. Ride Daisy (and not just in the paddock or round pen).
  7. Become an active member of this lovely town and community.
  8. Publish

There they are.  Eight things I badly want to do and be.

I am afraid I will fail.

Actually, I’m pretty confident I will fail.  And just as confident that I can dust off and try again.  I’ve failed before; I know the drill.  After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?  : )

What are you afraid to try?  What do you want that, in this moment, seems impossible?  And what are you going to do about it?

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Home

My sweet Sunshine started saying the word “home” this week.  It’s adorable and comes out sounding more like “ooohhm.”  Every time she’s done it, I’ve felt my heart squeeze in my chest.  Home.

I grew up living in lots of places: California, Idaho (four different times, two different towns), Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee every summer, Oregon (two different times, two different towns), and now Massachusetts.  Most of those houses were parsonages, meaning they belonged to the churches where my dad was preaching and we were just temporary inhabitants.  If there’s one thing moving so much has taught me, it’s that sometimes home must be a fluid concept.

I’ve met lots of people who feel a sense of ownership over the places where they grew up or have lived for a very long time: people who have a deep sense of pride in their roots and not just living somewhere, but being part of the fabric that makes the place a place at all.  For someone like me, though, without those particular roots, I have no sense of the places I’ve loved belonging to me, more I feel like a part of me belongs to them: little pieces of my heart, scattered across the country.  I can’t get them back (and wouldn’t if I could) but I can visit them and I feel whole in different ways each time I do.

I think that’s why her sweet, tiny voice saying “oooohhhm” squeezes my heart in that achingly, lovely way.  She is not quite two, but for her, this old, yellow farmhouse by the woods in a tiny town in Massachusetts is  warmth, safety, and fun.  She is surrounded by love here, she can be herself without reserve, and wherever else we go, whatever adventures we go on, this is the touchstone we return to-to rest and refuel.

This little farm already has a piece of her heart.  Maybe she’ll stay here her whole life through and be woven into the fabric of the town.  Or maybe one day her heart will break and she’ll leave a bit here as she moves on–learning to love another place . . . and another.  Only time will tell.

For now, I am filled with gratitude for this beautiful town, this incredible house, and the fairy tale landscape that altogether make my sweet Sunshine’s first ooohhm.

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Sunday Randoms

Every memory I have of feeling alone, when I look back, I can see I wasn’t.

I’ve learned to work on forgiving myself first.  If I can’t manage that, then there’s no path to forgive others and being forgiven doesn’t help.

As my sweet Sunshine gets older, so many long-forgotten memories of my own childhood are coming back to me.  My favorite from this morning is a memory of my mama playing hot lava with us in the living room when I couldn’t have been more than four.  She was jumping from the couch to a cushion on the floor and belly-laughing.

It takes so much more than love to make a long-term relationship work well.  But when hearts get broken, great love can sometimes hold you together while they mend.

If I could only choose one word to describe my twenties, it would be “big.”  I had big fun; I made big mistakes; I felt big hurt; and I found big love.

I can’t choose a word for my thirties yet because we aren’t even halfway through, but so far, “humbled” and “grateful” are neck and neck.

I am falling in love with Massachusetts.

Snowy days are my favorite–beautiful, sparkling, white.  My thoughts swirl like snowflakes in the wind while my fingers chase after them over the page like children with their tongues out.

I cannot get used to the sky here–each day a new shade of blue I’ve never seen and can’t describe and the clouds move so fast there’s no time to decide their shape.

And when the morning sun hits winter tree limbs after a freezing rain, it looks as if diamonds blossomed overnight.

We are rich, indeed.