Saturday, April 16, 2011

Daze of Summer

Her mentor is one of the most gentle people on the planet. He catches flies in his hands and sets them free outside his studio, and he flicks mosquitoes away rather than smashing them to death.

She often asked him why he is like this and he always said, "One day I will tell you."

One day she went to see him to show him her latest drawings and he said that he was busy and couldn't see them, but that he had some work he wanted her to do on the computer with some pictures she'd taken for him, that he'd set her up, he working on something next to her. As she went back to his "lair" he said, "Today might be a good day for you to understand what you have been asking so much about." She didn't really care one way or the other to hear the answer and for a moment she didn't remember the question, having assumed that he was a sensitive person who valued all things from birth, and her question was always asked in admiration. When he offered to tell her why he was so much the way he was, she misread him as being mischievous, expecting a funny story involving laughter and funny characters. He wanted her to read what he wanted her to know.

She sat down at his computer and he stood over her and muddled through various files until he found the story, "There," he smiled, "This should keep you busy for a while." He sat down behind her with his back to her while he worked on another project.

The story started off innocent and pleasant and took her to a place that existed a decade before her birth, when he was young. She could feel the hot, muggy air of the summer time, and smelled the grass and the flowers while she pictured him as a scrawny kid, much like her own kids, to a summer mixed with the ratio of 90% boredom and 10% excitement that her own summers had while growing up on the opposite coast much later.

Her mentor had never liked how she dressed as she covered herself in long skirts and hair covers, but she always blushed when he teased her and said that he always saw through her clothes and knew that she was beautiful, and when she asked him why he wrote a certain way, he explained that he wrote in a similar way to how she dressed-- when he wrote, he could reveal everything without describing, and that interested people would let their imaginations step in where he left off. His stories often left her breathless, but if one took the story apart, paragraph by paragraph, one could not say, "This is where he leads the reader on to the fascinating part." His work, both in words and in pictures, existed as a whole, interacting with the viewer's imagination and creating a newer work all together. Unlike how she dressed, his work had many more admirers, and people often came to him for advice on art, whereas few asked her for advice on dressing.

On that day, his story was not what she expected. As she met the people in his life from the time before she was born, she was jarred when he encountered his Abusers. As this was his story to tell, I will not tell you what had happened to him, other than to say that it was very horrible, and it was their threats and his forced silence for many years that got her the most. She wanted to pull him on to her lap and hug him, but as he was much older than her and quite tall, it would have been awkward had she tried. Unlike in his stories where the imagination of the reader filled in what he didn't say, he was graphic in what he described, and her imagination, which had only made his stories happier in times past, retreated, and she sat reading and rereading the horrible facts of the story without her imagination to help her.

She didn't know if he heard her gasp, and he kept typing as she absorbed what she had read. This wasn't about her, it was about him. She wondered why she was worried so much about her own reaction and how he'd perceive her. She had volunteered with Hospice and worked with victims of abuse in the past, but this wasn't something that he was sharing for her to comfort him or say anything wise. He was telling her as a friend about something terrible. After a deep breath, she asked him, "How do you heal from that?"

His voice was soft and he still wasn't looking at her, "You don't."

She tilted her head, and sharp pains circuited from her neck to her left shoulder and down her left arm and into her hands, coming back via her right arm and surrounding her shoulders and ribs and shooting back into her neck. She asked, "May I massage your neck?" He said she could, but asked why she wanted to massage his neck. She wanted to massage his neck because hers hurt, but she told him she just wanted to massage his neck, like it was normal for her to go around offering to massage people's necks. She often didn't make sense to him and this moment, in spite of its severity, still had her in it and she wasn't going to start making sense when she was brought into this part of his life. He let her massage his neck and he knew that she was putting all of her physical force into his muscles, but he hardly felt them because her hands were not strong hands.

She wondered if the abuse from 50 years ago was with him every day and every minute, but she didn't ask him that.

She wasn't ready to return to the cacophony of her own home, and she wasn't interested in editing the pictures that needed her attention. Regarding her work on the computer, he had been talking to her about retraining her eyes to see what is essential to the picture, to see and to represent the truth, while editing the picture's light and taking things out that didn't need to be there. Light had become a tangible entity to her and in the minutes following what she had read, she realized that there was more than just physical light to consider. There is a light in understanding, in knowing truths. Something can be ugly and still exist, but it doesn't have to take up the picture. She wasn't sure what she thought about the truth right then as she had cut out too much from pictures in an attempt to clean them up and therefore created idealized images, and realized that perhaps he was showing her something that was ugly, still managed to be part of someone she admired, and it didn't overshadow him. A few of her own demons were exorcised while she absorbed the lessons he was giving her: as much as the terrible event had hurt her mentor, he hadn't let it cripple him. She took out her omnipresent needlework while he worked on his project and they sat listening to Jackson Browne while drinking expensive tea from Styrofoam cups. She would go back the next week to discuss her work.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Where am I going?

As of late, I have been trying to figure out what direction to take my blog. For anyone sticking with me, I am thankful.

When I started writing this, I was an isolated mother with lots of children and I was identified by the sheer number. I still have lots of children, but two are in their 20's now, and the youngest is about to start kindergarten. I have left my husband's church because I cannot handle the smell of incense and I have a couple of the kids at a different church that they love. (Cloud has become an organizer in the church for events for her group. This church isn't full of triger-happy survivalist types, thank goodness.) People don't normally know me as that mom with 9 kids now that many see me with just a couple of them. My seven left at home are in three different schools and while I volunteer, no one sees me with all of them.

A few weeks ago, a friend got on me for not working and for making my husband support us all. He jeered at me, "Why haven't you finished your degree? What do you tell people when they ask what you do?" Gosh, I tried to finish my degree-- when I started to tell him, he said that all I was offering him were excuses. When I told him that no one but him had an issue with me not working, he didn't seem to believe me. I was depressed for a while over it. (My husband started to talk to me about working. I was like, "That is fine, but you have to start cleaning." I used to work in the evenings and I also took some classes and I'd come home around 10pm and he'd be watching TV and dishes would still be on the table. Floors still need to be vacuumed, windows wiped off, they all have to happen, and if I am working in the evening, I am going to sleep at different hours. After more thinking on his part, he dropped it.) I think that as I am a housewife, I embarrassed my friend. He got into his head that I talked about him-- and when I thought we had a mutual friend, he told me to not talk about him to her and that it would be "a test." I guess housewives do nothing but jabber to other people about him in his world.

I've dealt with things that I have to write about months later because, while the kids don't see my blog, it is about privacy for them.

I am getting more involved with my art. My mentor found me, and he is making me think. Today he said to me, "Do not run from me. I am not your professor, I will not fail you. Just. . . think. Don't think tonight, think in a few days." Of course I am up at 3:30 thinking about what he said.

For years I have painted and drawn, and I had one fan for whom I produced many works given that we wrote snail mail. For my mentor I am starting to go back, not to the works that I did, but to what I am seeing, and creating. What have I seen that has moved me today? What catches my eye? Do it in pastel, now recreate it in water colors. Work fast, I haven't much time, I can usually go back.

I have an art show planned for September of 2012. I am finding themes in my work. Art is a language unto itself. I do envelope art and my art always says, "I love you, I have prayed for you, I thought good thoughts of you for however long it took me to make this." I do not know if the envelope art will make it into the show-- it is hard to create it just because I have a show coming up. "Oh cool! Art on an envelope!" Yes, it is nice, but for whom am I making it? Having an audience is important because I have direction. Now that I have a mentor, he is guiding me and ultimately, I can always create for him since so much of what we discuss manifests itself into my work.

I assisted at a friend's art show a couple of weeks ago. It was private and very elegant. I discovered that unplanned "fiascoes" are really opportunities in disguise. I went along to help set up easels (I think I was asked to help because I have a big vehicle!) on which to put up work, but given time constraints, I didn't have time to change from volunteering at the elementary school to where I had dressed almost like an elf in striped stockings, a mini skirt (not micro-- it was cute!) and bright colors. I arrived and was setting up when the people putting on the art show realized that they'd not booked the caterer to cater-- just to make food! They were having several guests come over and they asked me to stay to help serve. Since I was with my artist pal, I was there for him and was happy to do what I could. Their plans for the kids didn't work out because the kids got tired of watching a movie, so I had a container full of art supplies from the kids' school. I did an art project with the kids that the parents wanted to try, too! What had been planned to be an event from six to eight or nine lasted until eleven o'clock at night with fascinating stories and people bonding.

I get really embarrassed because I spend a lot of time at FaceBook. I don't spend too much time there, but on one of my accounts, I often access it from my phone. The particular group of people has my base of friends from 30 years ago, as well as close new friends. We post encouraging notes to each other-- it is like. . . . getting a dozen Hallmark cards every day! I recently posted something about my eldest daughter and how proud of her I am, and my friends who are also friends with said daughter were really wonderful because they know her, too. They told me that I had so much potential when I was younger, but that no amount of professional accolades and education could trump what they are becoming as people, and that the sacrifices that I have made are worth it. I am so blessed to be seeing it in my lifetime, and I hope that the younger ones will also be as wonderful for their sakes. (I think they already are!)

I am not ready for Starshine to enter school. We had a late snow the other day and she wanted to walk. I parked a few blocks away and she tramped through people's yards as I walked on the sidewalk. I asked my she was walking in the snow and she said it was so other people could follow her. At one point she paused and looked at her foot prints and said to me that her footprints are art. It was awesome. As we walked, I realized that it may be the last I walk with her to school in the snow. Next year, she will be an eager kindergartner. I may volunteer, but it won't be the same. I really want to have more babies. As she grows, I am also getting older. Sure, I am 43 and I am quite young looking, but age is a funny thing and you cannot escape it if you live. I hope to make the most of every year and be a wonderful role model on how to age well.

I suppose that like StarShine, I, too, am leaving footprints.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

I have the most wonderful child-- unless she is up to something. . .

With Esme's daughter in crises mode and quite scared about a pregnancy that no one is really worried about having happened, my own daughter has asked me about homeschooling next year so she can spend time doing what really matters to her. She doesn't want me teaching her anything, she has in fact looked online and wants to do a combination of math and science at her local school, and German, history, English, and whatever else she needs to do from home. She can use my help for German, but she says that she has been noting in class how much time is spent learning and actually doing anything and she said that she could get her day done in 2.5 hours if she was doing it alone, and then have more time to study what she wants. One of the things? She asked me to get with the mother's group at her church to find out about religious classes.

She is solidifying with the Catholic faith and told us this evening that she is hence forth crossing herself as a Catholic. Eastern Orthodox shouldn't mind, but they do, but I don't mind and I will lock pointy hats with any priest who wants to make an issue of it.

I played Devil's Advocate with her, and asked about abuses in the church. "Mom, I had nothing to do with those, and you are making a point with your ideas for abuse prevention. Besides, all I can do is to help prevent them from ever happening." She wants to learn more and I have to admit that I am happy for this. There are a few cradle Catholics who are her age who are baffled by her love for a faith they feel has been thrust upon them. (Of course Orthodox are stricter, so she probably feels like a rebel. Her godmother is Catholic and is really excited-- of course she has probably been behind this the whole time, praying for her conversion! There is a lovely church a town over that Esme loves that is a huge cathedral and she is planning her eventual wedding there!)

I know that with time that she will grow closer and then step back, then get closer still. For now I am enjoying her joy with it. This evening she asked what projects I will be doing with the kids for Lent. I was dumbfounded and she asked me, "How will you ever give us warm childhood memories of these holidays if you don't get it right and do them now?" I have always wanted to, but life has been swirling around us. I stammered out that we'll be making a salt dough Crown of Thorns and stick toothpicks in it and every time we do a good deed, we will break one off and throw it away? She liked that and suggested we put it on our Eastern Orthodox Pascha table at my husband's church.

My husband has sweetly agreed to let us do some events at the Catholic church over Lent-- his church isn't doing much as they don't have a priest.

Cloud proceeded to explain to her brothers and sisters what it means to give something up for Lent, and to take on a good new habit. She shouldn't have shared what she wanted to give up because Basil quickly goaded her and got her mad enough to yell at him, and he smirked. I made him put his nose on the wall and he was not that worried about his punishment and said he thought that I should perhaps give up punishing him for Lent!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Little curve balls in life

No sooner had my daughter and I completed our mandatory, pointless class with the Catholic church on relationships and abuse (that turned into a cheesy lecture on not having intimate relations) and I wrote a rant, than my friend, Esme (not her real name, but you knew that) called me up. Her 14 year old daughter was getting really, really close. And she was getting stalked by a boy who she had turned down.

Esme was not hysterical, she had also been at the class at the church in the next town over. The class did not spur the discussion, but rather, her boyfriend getting death threats scared her daughter into sharing. Her daughter is in no way a floozy-- but Esme would be a ding-a-ling to leave her alone with a boy at this point. (I offered to state that my son, Mudd, is to be her paid companion and to join them on dates and she is really considering it. Hey! Mudd is a fun kid!) Esme handled it with humor and has not slept since. Of course she told her husband-- couples don't keep secrets like that from one another. (He, having been sick, took to his bed and to the Wii. For four days. Wii basketball-- the best thing for an ailing person. He decided to make Esme handle it alone and he'd work with what she shared with possibly doing and then he will either agree or not. Esme's daughter swears her father will "want to kill" her, but he didn't when he found out. He was surprised that it was happening 2 years before he had expected it.)

The threats came via her text messaging. I went with her to the police. At first they didn't want to take it, but I have a degree in human services and since I am a mandated reporter, I pointed out that the suicide threats were something that had to be acted on immediately. It sounds like the kids' parents were relieved-- apparently he was already in the system for infractions of which were not elaborated on and they had numbers. His parents were called while we were there, and within the next week, the kid was sent to a residential facility for observation.

The Catholic church was not interested in my views on fixing the problem with the classes being so bad. Basically, they ignored me. I told the moderator of the class why I thought it was cheesy and not enough, and explained that I knew she knew of patterns of abuse and that sharing these with the teens would be another voice when the voices of the parents were being drowned out. Parents who found her class informative probably had their heads in the sand and wouldn't talk to their kids about abuse because they would not think it could happen. No comment from her, or the two people at the church to whom I spoke. I was disappointed, but not surprised. I later had breakfast with a group of moms who feel as I do and I may see about working something through a parent's club at one of the schools. (My party will be cooler!)

As for Esme's daughter, Esme has decided that 16 is the youngest she can be to date. The young man is a sweetheart and I even met him. It's not that he is bad by any means. Does a 16 year old have a better understanding than an almost 15 year old on why it is better to hold off on intimacy? (Does a 25 year old understand it any better?) She asked me about symptoms of pregnancies and I knew that she would be psychologically bringing them on in her worries. I told her of nerve pain shooting up the leg from the right big toe, mental alertness, and a desire to clean her area, be it her room or the entire house. Esme called to report that her daughter indeed is acting as I had spoken. (I am so going to hell for this. LOL) I do not think that she wants to be pregnant, but like many women, the posibility of a pregnancy is the posibility of potential and the sweet girl has names picked out!

I brought Esme some chocolate and tea and we knitted for a bit. She is still confused, but at least she has chocolate and yarn.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A very lame class on abuse prevention

Tonight I took my teenager to a Catholic Abuse Prevention class. I had thought that this would be great-- a chance for the Catholic church to prevent some of the abuses that have occurred in the past, that have blotted her history. It was lame. The teens talked about relatiooooonshiiiips and premarital sex and waiting. It was the same lame and stupid crap that my generation heard as kids and while we parents were required to sit through it, I got the impression that the kids were speaking for us. Statistically, how many of these kids will go to the altar as virgins? How many in that room were gay? I am not worried about priests or clergy making moves in this parish because we have a lot of safeguards, but if they do and if they succeed, I will blame it on the education.

They spoke of the acronym for LIFE (Love, Infatuation, Friendship, Exploitation.) We talked in our groups about what this meant. In mixed groups of parents and youth, we were asked to write down what we thought of these four definitions. Then the moderator of the session wanted them to be read to our groups and for us to guess who said it. I told her that I didn't think this was a great idea for her to spring this after we had written these down, so she quickly told us that if someone didn't like this, to just read them. Of course when the group chose their faves to share, the woman queried, "Who said that?" Knowing who said what did not matter to what she was teaching and I have no idea why she asked. My quote was read as the best from our group, as I said that infatuation is like salad dressing. . . a little goes a long way, but it is never the main course of the meal.

They spoke of waiting for sex until marriage, but they didn't talk about the hormonal effects of sex on the body and why this might be a good thing. While I do not know if it is true,  I was told in a Crises Pregnancy volunteer class that sex produces happy hormones that make you feel attached to the person you are with, and that in a healthy relationship where there is love, it really builds your relationship up with your partner/spouse. I get that way. (I have had reason to think of it lately, bad experiences from my past, and indeed, good experiences, also, and the casual encounters, where my boyfriends didn't want to be called my boyfriends, who panicked at me calling the Sacred Act, "making love," I had to detach myself from them. One of my friends recently shared with me that if her husband is looking at his iPhone instead of paying attention to her when she is talking about her day, she feels like she did with her casual encounters when he makes moves on her later.)

I can handle that they didn't talk about abuse by clergy in the class, but they didn't talk about abuse by other people. I think that gay teens need to be warned about abuse happening just as much in their relationships and how to spot it-- and places to find out how to get out of the situations. (Of course gay youth don't exist in the Catholic church and if they squeeze their eyes shut tight enough, they can pray away the gay!) They also didn't really talk about abuse in interpersonal relationships.

The girls were wistful about what love is. It's so simple to them at this age. It was basically the crap about "True love waits!" The message of the evening was, "If it is infatuation, don't! If it is love, wait!" How simple! They didn't talk about how to get from point A (being single) to point J (being married.) Oh-- I am assigning letters to my variables. They touched very lightly on hormones which, while they are well and good, they did not over ride them. If I was 16 and making out with my boyfriend, I would not be thinking of the bookish hag that taught the class.

I think it is noble to wait until marriage to have sex-- you avoid a lot of problems, many that are too personal for me to go into here as I'd offer up my personal experiences. The issue, however, is not to wait, but how to wait. If you choose to not have sex before marriage, I think that dating is like saying that you don't want to drink, but you are going to go to a wine tasting. Don't put yourself into temptation's way! Why can't the Catholic church figure this out? They need a young adult group (not youth) director who provides outings for the singles to meet and go out just to have fun. Bowling, white water rafting, these things are all great ways to meet other singles in the group and to go out. One of my friends is an Orthodox Jew and her kids will not date and will instead be introduced to possible matches and they will not be left alone by choice, until they get married. I wanted to stand up and scream in that class, "Listen! Your bodies are made to want to have sex! Decide now what you want to do with this choice! If you don't want to have sex before you marry, going off to a party college is a bad, bad, bad idea! Involve your parents! Don't go out with your friends who like to date so they can troll!" I knitted and reserved my comments for Cloud when we got in the car. She said, "You should be teaching this class, Mom." I told her that I am the old lady who knits and covers her hair and who sits in the corner. She said that that is only believable until I start talking, and then I could be wearing a gorilla suit and no one would notice. That was sweet.

They did say that "friends with benefits" is a form of exploitation, which I thought was great. Adults need to be told this, too. Sadly, the woman giving the talk is not someone who I could see as ever having had to avoid a situation such as this. If she was pure when she married, I doubt that it was by choice. It is complicated to have kids take this advice from someone who does not seem to have ever had a life to enjoy, who was ever young and vibrant like they are.

Of course, choosing a life partner is something that one cannot cover in two hours, but this course was about abuse prevention, and I thought it did a bad job of covering abuse prevention.

The class should have been taught in a gender specific fashion. I sat in the back and watched the girls look back at the boys before they spoke, and the boys didn't talk much at all.

Overall, I felt cheated of my time. The people who put the class on felt good because they made parents and teens come together to talk. They didn't talk about anything that I wasn't discussing with my kids when they were younger.

The magic mitts

Several weeks ago, I surfed around on FaceBook visiting the pages of a few people who I didn't know-- like most everyone else, I have quite a few friends who I don't really know but we are friends because we have mutual friends who we do talk to on a regular basis. I do this on a regular basis just to touch bases and say hello. I clicked on a lady who happened to have her grandfather dying. She is in her mid-20's and her grandfather was dying of cancer. It was herself, her sister and her mother, and his live-in companion of the previous ten years who were his support. (Her grandmother was remarried and living a few states away.) They all lived in his city and her mother was his only child.

I sent her a supportive message and asked if, while we didn't know each other, if she'd mind if I checked in on her page and just said supportive words here and there and she didn't mind at all.

One of her grandfather's complaints was that he was cold. I had just finished knitting a pair of handwarmers in a washable wool (buckskin was their color) that I had intended for myself, but as the wool feels quite nice, I made another pair in baby alpaca and asked if I could send them to her for her grandfather via a mutual friend who was posting often on her page, and she consented and was quite happy when they arrived. He was happy and especially very much enamored with the baby alpaca mitts. I do not have a picture of them, but there were quite basic, what I'd make for myself, or for a man who I didn't know as they lack frou-frou frills. As he has been ill for a while, my small hand size fit him well. (They are very similar to what you can find in this picture.) He was really happy when he found out that a complete stranger happened upon his granddaughter's page and how we worked it out. (He loved that I was from Alaska-- he'd come up here in the 1970's, vowed to return, but never did.) Upon getting my mitts, his hands were no longer as cold as they'd been, and he loved that people cared enough about his grand daughter to worry for him.

I'd not heard from her in a couple of weeks, dropped by her page and saw that he'd died early last week. I sent my condolences and in the way that people say, "If there is anything I can do, let me know" I said this, not knowing what I could do and assuming, as people do when they say such things, that there is nothing that I could do. Of course I wouldn't be telling my readers this if nothing came of the offer!

She wrote me back and she seemed embarrassed, but there was something I could do. . . her grandfather had very little in worldly goods, and what he had, he understandably left to his girlfriend. There were tears over the gloved that I'd sent! His girlfriend was going to give them to my friend's mother in a few months, but she very much loved them as they were a link to a man who she loved. Of course his three biological descendants also loved him and they, too, wanted the gloves. She didn't tell me what she wanted, but simply said that she was sorry for asking and that she hoped I understood. Of course I did. I have extra hanks of the yarns and I quickly knit up two extra pair of mitts, identical to the ones that I had sent her, and told her to put one of each with his others, and I made so that my friend, her sister, mother and grandfather's girlfriend could each have a glove that he'd worn-- and a new one.

I just got a message from her. She had taken them to church this morning and his girlfriend was very happy and they went back to the home she had known for the last ten years and had cake and wine and they made the new pairs of mitts. His girlfriend had no children of her own and my new friend and her sister and their mother are bonded for, I hope, life, and this is in a good way.

I was so happy to have been involved from a distance in making her grandfather's death a little easier. My fingerless mitts are like puppies-- they are warm and soft, very tactile, but they don't have cold noses. At the ends of a person's hands, they are open so they can handle the blankets and have their hands held and have the touch of their loved ones. From my end, I like making them better than shawls because fingerless mitts can be complicated, but they don't take long to knit up, so it isn't like knitting a shawl or an afghan: what is 2 hours of tricky parts in a pattern when you only have one more to go? (Shawls take longer.) You also use less yarn which, considering that I love using nice yarn, this spreads to more people and I think they get more joy out of it! 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

She's got that personality. . . Meyers Briggs. . . INFP

So this is what you do on Friday nights when you are married and taking this night off from your usual obsessions. You take a test that is similar to the Meyers-Briggs personality test. I got on here between cleaning the kitchen and folding laundry. It's nice having my three older boys out for a couple of nights as I can clean their room.

I am always either an ENFP or an INFP. Tonight I am an INFP. I always score close to 50-50 on the Introverted and Extroverted portion of the test. I hate that I feel and don't think as much, but then again, I score close to thinking, but never test into a "T." I feel (NOT THINK!!!) like the description fits me perfectly.

Tonight I bask in the personal comfort of sharing the same personality trait classification with A. A. Milne, J. R. R. Tolkien, Neil Diamond,  and Laura Ingalls Wilder, to name a few. As we are all introverts and I am feeling introverted, we are only in the same classification, but probably not the same room as alone, we are working diligently on our own great things.

PS: I linked to Neil's song, "Forever in Blue Jeans." I used to hear that and think that he was singing, "Reverend Blue Jeans." It came out in the '70's and I pictured and itinerant minister who smoked plants and walked country roads with a guitar, preaching about Jesus and holding revivals. (The idea didn't appeal to me and I lean strongly toward Judaism.) The lyrics were not for me to judge and didn't bother me in the least, but I pictured him seducing (or being seduced) by farmer's daughters between revivals.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bamboo mothering

I am very excited. Today my son with special needs, the son who I hardly understand, came home with news of an airplane club at school. The application requires that students have a math and science background, and I called the school in tears. My son was speaking clearly when he gushed over the club and asked for permission to join it, but I didn't know how he could get in. The office sent me to the teacher who runs it and it sounded like he knows my son and he said that he will help him. He seemed happy over the sudden speech improvement and suggested that maybe he will adapt to the work if he loves the airplanes. I was so happy for this. I have no clue as to what Guy will do with his life, but he isn't that bad off. His delays are mild, but he is seriously behind in math and reading. He's never been a discipline problem and the instructor was happy for this!

This weekend I have my three older boys at a winter camp. What an exciting thing for them to be outdoors and sleeping out and living outside for two days and nights.

My husband is terribly sick with the crud that I am fighting and I fear a mid-week sleep-spell. I have to put off being sick for a few weeks as my life is picking up so fast with some trainings. I feel absolutely terrible because my work is only volunteer work. A former friend really bashed me over this a few days ago and I am having a hard time enjoying it. I cannot work and I have to be only a mom for now-- but what I do is terribly important. I am not lackluster with my volunteer work!

My eldest daughter called me (psychic power?) shortly after the money focused idiot and I got off the phone and she thanked me for making her do various classes in school even when it meant that I was in bad physical shape and drove her across town to another school twice a day. She recalled several things that I made her do that she balked and whined about that she is now grateful for me having forced because she is making some serious money and she loves her job. There were some things that she wanted to do that we couldn't afford, so I quit getting my nails done and she was thankful for those things, too. (I don't know that Mr. Money would put himself out of a trip to Las Vegas if it meant that his kids got a shot at private music lessons or if he even knows what it means-- can he just not imagine having to deny himself anything?) I still wish I could "have it all, all at once," though! I could have been happy without the blow, and I had to get nasty and yell at him and I hated having to defend myself to someone to whom I should not have to defend myself. I cannot be friends with someone who could be flat on his back and still be looking down his nose at me.

My ex husband (who I can never like for reasons that I won't elucidate on here and now) once told me that "the person who inspires ten strong men is stronger than any of them." OK, so I only have nine kids, but I feel like they are my most important work.

(If my kids were acting up due to what appeared to be a lack of parental supervision, Mr. Money would have a completely different opinion. And yes, I miss him because he had some nice characteristics, but for someone with a background in law and politics, he lacked diplomacy and was horribly mean. I'll get over it in a few days.) 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where to find inspiration

A good friend told me today to find inspiration when the light is bright in my soul and I can see clearly-- and to hold on to it when I am sad. He says I do it backward, that a blow from someone I trust, is what I hold on to when I start looking up.

I did the training yesterday and I am really excited. I get to take Cloud with me for next week's session. While she is too young by 14 months, the trainer has a big group of teens for whom he wants to figure out how to mobilize and get volunteering so he can have them as adult volunteers either up here or somewhere else with our organization. I like his line of thinking. Cloud wants her boyfriend to come along and he's a nice guy-- we'll be happy to have him aboard if he wants to join us!

Starshine joined me yesterday and she was cute-- while she could have been a pill, especially since I was not feeling well, she would come in while I was watching videos and hold my hand and smile at me, giving me her googly eyes. How can you not laugh at that? She insisted that I have her orange juice that I'd bought her, so I'd feel better. I hate juice boxes, but who can refuse the ministrations of a five year old who loves her mommy? (I will so miss her when she goes to kindergarten next year!) She was good for three solid, boring hours! She was asked if she wanted to volunteer when she gets older and she said she will, but that she wants to be the boss. She's a delightful elf, not in the least bossy, but she does seem more like an eldest child when we are out and about like that! 

Games People Play

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How I do not argue with someone who thinks he knows everything. . .

I got worn out by a lawyer friend. We had a disagreement on a couple of situations. The man is a badger by nature and a lawyer by trade. I have two things in my life that I do not like to discuss and they have not come up here. I literally disassociate myself from him when he starts harping-- I do not do this intentionally, but my brain scrambles his words. I wonder if he thinks he won the argument and if he is proud of himself, but in truth, he is an ass. Somehow for him, me agreeing with him makes his world OK on matters that don't involve him. He chose to not back me and that was ok and I was never going to talk about them again nor was he to, but his constant bringing of the issues to conversations that are meant to be about other things makes me wonder if, on top of him seeming narcissistic, if he also has a neurosis. (I have brought them up a couple of times, but as a friend who does not support, you just be silent for your friend and let the comment pass: 'It is your life, I don't understand, but you hurt, so it is what it is for you.')

The friendship is probably non existent at this point because I'd told him not to bring them up, he agreed, and somehow me bringing up some other topic always brought him to the topics. He also informed me that I have wasted my last several years in not finishing my education. I told him of some of my hurdles and he said that I needed to work them out with my husband. He had spoken of so many very personal things, brought them up on his own, but found my hurdles for what he thought I should be doing as too much pesky detail.

A few days ago, he asked me, "What do you tell people in social situations when they ask what you do?" Somehow, saying that I am a housewife with seven kids still at home is supposed to hurt me, but I told him that when I say that I am a housewife with seven kids still home that people usually seem to have no problem. (My older two, who make it a total of nine children that I have birthed and raised, are in college, so I must be doing something right. I talk to them a couple of times a week and we get along well even though I have no wealth to share with them, so we must love each other, too.)

Tomorrow I have training with an organization that I care for. I am getting sick. I have two kids who are getting sick. I may have to not go in. I will be a failure to this so-called friend if he ever finds out why I missed it. He doesn't get it as he looks at me-- I am articulate and I have, in his opinion, wasted my life-- gee willikers, I could have done something with my life and I have all this great talent that I have wasted on my brats! He has four kids that he hardly knows and has managed to not figure out how child care and sick kids can impact a person's training and job prospects.  (My articulation somehow should make everything great in my life so I can have it all, all at once! And he can go to a certain city 20 times in ten years, but not see his kids as much and with all his education, he is doing so much better than me. I felt like it was the 1980's all over again with the housewife debates. I am a lesser person because I am a home and we struggle money-wise.)

Anyway, I feel gross and sad and like I should have fought and it's not worth it. I feel like in his eyes I am a failure and this hurts. How does one argue with a biased judge in one's life? It's best to not try to defend yourself when everything sounds like a big, fat, lame excuse-- were I to do anything different, I'd be neglecting my responsibilities as a mother and he'd be the first to point that out. If he got it, he'd have to realize that he is dead wrong and only experience can teach you some things and I don't wish it on him-- he missed his experiences with his own kids and that revelation would be crushing if he figured it out.

All his successes in life matter little when through my magnifying glass, he missed years of the lives of his own children because his ex wives were smart enough to leave him. I can only imagine him at the births of his children, smiling and beaming with the mothers of his children, stealing their thunder of their labor stories with the presents he bought them that he wanted to show everyone who came to see his children. . . and asking his wives, "So, when are you planning to go back to work? You look great, you can go back in three weeks instead of six!"

He needs a sterile trophy wife and sterile trophy friends.
I have gone off course in this post.

(He does not read my blog.)  

It wasn't Las Vegas, but we still had a great time!

My husband sweetly took me out this past weekend. We had 22 hours to ourselves! (The above pic is of me, obviously putting on my earrings at the hotel.)

Of course we had Life going on and we couldn't start at hotel check-in time at  11am-- Cloud had a sacred music workshop going on, and there were numerous events happening all day for the kids before Tiger and her boyfriend got over to be with them for the night. We got out of the house at 3pm. We had planned to have dinner at 5pm at a restaurant, but we just didn't have time. I was wearing a black velvet gown, but I couldn't find various underthings that I swore I had-- they were casualties of the long-ago disaster, but I maintained that I'd seen them only the previous week. We had to run by a department store en route to the hotel to get these things, and of course everything in my life is dictated by costs and I felt bad for throwing them at my husband who was already spending a fortune (for us.)

I also didn't have my garment bags, so to cover my gown and an outfit for the next day, I had to use a Glad garbage bag to cover them. I fear that we must have looked like Valley Trash with them hanging on the hotel rack used to transport the luggage!

We canceled our restaurant reservations and had dinner in the hotel room. I had wild Alaskan salmon-- it was very, very good, and a glass of champagne. I cannot drink without breaking out, but I decided to have two glasses and suffer the what I knew would happen-- I had the cream, so they were minimized.

It was funny because the hotel asked what they could do to make us feel at home and I said, "Bang on our door at 6am and demand to use my husband's laptop and ask me to come downstairs and make French toast!"

We got to the PAC a full hour early. It was nice because we had some time to kill-- for a change, we were early! I had another glass of champagne. I got compliments on my outfit-- my gown was a tea length, strapless black velvet, form hugging dress with a bolero jacket. There is a slit up the center of it and when I walk, it shows off my legs-- nothing skanky, but in this gown you notice that I have nice legs! With it I wore my cheetah heels. In the bathroom, a lady complimented me and said that I was "sophistication with a grin." That made me feel like a million dollars-- with a grin! (I like to dress like that-- when I debated in high school I had a few really nice business suits and I would wear a Donald Duck watch to remind myself to have a good time.)

We were there to see the Duke Ellington Orchestra. They did not disappoint. My husband was funny afterward because he turned to me and asked, "How do they choose first chair for the brass?" All of the musicians got solos and I think I am still dancing to their big band sound!

We breakfasted in down town, but my husband likes "down home" type food and I am into lighter fare, so what I had was infused with a layer of grease-- not so good! But then he took me to Bell's Nursery, one of my favorite places on the planet. They have coffee and delicate, pretty things, like Wedgwood china, and Lennox. We didn't buy anything other than coffee there, but it was nice.

It was good to get out. My husband really tried hard to make a great night for me and he succeeded-- I only hope that we can do this more. I would have preferred to unspool with two or three nights of no kids (and uninterrupted, noisy romance!) but we take what we can together.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I took a stupid quiz that is quite accurate!
I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Waiting on the marrow match. . .

I had seven vials of blood drawn from me eight days ago and now I am waiting. They are testing for compatability and possible diseases and conditions that would be bad for my match and that might weaken my condition if they took anything from me.

They said that it may be two months. It's not hard to wait this out because I am so busy, but I must say that I frequently think of the kid who I may give to. Sometimes I see someone who looks like they might have cancer, or I see one of Cloud's guy friends who are around my match's age and mentally will the tests to go faster because I want him to be out doing the things that Cloud and all her friends do. If he went to the marrow match registery, he probably isn't out going to the movies with his friends like they are!

It's all good. I have been healthy and strong and I take good care of my body. It is in G-d's hands as to when or if I can help him, but it certainly will be an honor if I can be the one who helps him. This picture is my hand holding seven vials of blood. When I was pregnant after my second child, any finger prick had me furious that anything had to be done to me. (I think it was because everything was routine and I felt like I had no say, then I started saying no to everything, which probably had some of my doctors snickering behind my back! I really had great doctors, but it was the touchy-feely midwife-witch doctor who I still want to backhand.) This time, I may get to be a part of what is amazing about modern medicine so it's all kind of cool. The lady who took my blood had a friend who did this and she said that the doctors, nurses, and med techs tell the donors whatever they can about what they are doing and everyone is thinking about the patient who is being helped.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Giraffe is about to make his debut!

Have I ever told you all how much I love giraffes? I do. I had set a personal date of February 1 to show my drawings off, but alas, I hesitate.

For now, I will show you a cute youtube clip of an adorable baby giraffe! Give me to the end of the week to work up the nerve. . .

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

From NPR: Queen as they never thought they'd be heard!

I found this at NPR. It is Jake Shimabukuro on the ukelele playing Bohemian Rhapsody! This man may start a new trend in ukelele playing!

My involuntary invisibility cloak

I was never invisible until I became a mother. This magic cloak is what I wear when I hear the kids watching a TV show that they oughtn't be watching (something with vulgarity or violence) and I slip off my shoes and walk down stairs and stand and listen to what they are watching before I enter the room and confiscate the remote control and pull cords from the TV and explain that it is time to play a board game. (This is how you get a 12 year old boy to cry like a toddler, "I-just-want-to-watch-TV!-Why-won't-you-just-let-me-watch-it,-Mom?-You-treat-me-like-I-don't-matter!" He goes on. And on. And on.)

Sometimes I see a mishap about to happen and the kids see me at one end of the room and when a disaster is about to strike, when, for example, a child is getting something out of a cupboard from the middle-to-bottom of a stack, I am suddenly there to protect my young child from a toppling mess and all the kids are dumbfounded as I seem like I suddenly appeared at the other end of the room. Is that invisibility? Maybe not. Maybe it is just super fast action, but it's cool!

At other times, I feel invisible and it isn't sneaky or cool and I can't take off my cloak. I suppose it is just part of parenting. This is where the kids do a half-arsed job at completing a task and I an not only invisible, but I am also put on mute. My husband is in on it with them. Why am I being so picky, they ask. I have a rule here that you don't put the large, stainless steal bowls into the dishwasher. These bowls, which range in size from a small measuring cup to a giant bowl in which I make a triple recipe of challah, in general take up a lot of space. Two big bowls can take up all the space on the lower level of the dishwasher, and a few of the smaller ones on top can leave little space for anything else. They get treated like pans and have to be hand washed is only to make room for the dishes, unless there are not that many dishes. Since my kids take the path of least resistance and throw all the bowls in and leave dishes in the sink, I have to say than NONE of the bowls go in to the dishwasher, ever. What can I say? Kids are lazy and I think that people in general are lazy. So, I have to tell them over and over to wash the bowls (and the big pans, and even rinse the plates off before putting them in the dishwasher) and they can't see or hear through my invisibility cloak.

Unfortunately my husband does not see why I have to do this and this makes it harder. He asks, "Why can't you just finish that up yourself if it is so important to you?" I explain that it's because the kids will not always have their mother around to do things and that they have to learn how to handle it in real life so when they live at an apartment and save up for a house that they won't be clogging up their dishwasher and have to give back all of their deposit when they move. Of course asking him to follow up on the kids doing this has gotten me nowhere, as my involuntary-invisibility cloak works on him best off all! 

One of my good friends has a great son of 18 years who is the most responsible, reliable male on the planet. If he is not the most reliable male on the planet, he is in the Top 1000 Reliable Males on the Planet to have EVER Lived or Who Ever Will Live. Of course I met him when he was 16 and he really impressed me. What I didn't know was that only in the previous 6 months had he become normal. Before that, she was on him 24/7. For three months when he was 12, he had to do the dishes every day because he had been caught putting them into the dishwasher with food stuck to them and she'd had to pay someone over $200 to repair the dishwasher.  She would watch him load up, but before he loaded up, he had to clean the debris trap in the dishwasher, first, this was a chore that he hated because it often stank. With him mom watching him, he gradually started washing off the plates and one day, he went to the food trap and it was clean. This happened several times in a row and he said to her, "It's clean all the time."

She said, "You have been RINSING." All the times that she had told him to rinse made no difference on him, so after three months, it dawned on him to rinse the plates. She still wears the involuntary invisibility cloak, but she says that experience is the teacher in her house. With her other kids, she sees the same mistakes being made and she has to walk them through the whole process each time. Now her eldest son is doing very well-- he is a Mr. Fix-It and he can fix almost anything in his house and he is pretty self-sufficient. While I have no worries for how this kid will be as a husband (he is also very level headed) and keeper of his home, I know it didn't happen on accident. (I hope whomever he marries sends his mom flowers on his birthday.) My friend produced this guy with her husband feeling as mine does.

So I forge onward, fighting my involuntary invisibility cloak and hopefully my children will come out OK and get it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thoughts on donating marrow

I get tested next week for more blood-- the National Marrow Match Registery is sending a kit up to Alaska and I am going in to get "a few vials of blood drawn." Excuse me-- a few vials? If I do well, I get to go in for a physical. Noboady hates being touched like I do. This is no small task for me, but when I think of what this kid and his family are going through and have been through already, every time I get squeamish I think, "It is the least I can do. I would want this from someone if my own kid's life was on the line."

Oh-- I found out that the person who I may get to match is a 16 year old young man. I don't know what his goals are, but I am asking G-d to just get him to graduate-- with the caveat that He knows I will then plead for the kid to go to college, get married if he wants, have kids, etc. G-d knows how I work, He gives an inch and I want a mile, but He likes it that way. I hope that whatever time my possible match has left-- be it one year or 80 years, that he is a good kid who legally enjoys every moment and that he does good things.

Suddenly, everything that I am doing is taking on a higher form. I sat down to eat Irish oatmeal this morning and I thought, "This oatmeal may improve my marrow quality and make it strong to help my possible match!" We are very broke right now post Christmas and we are eating simple but hearty meals like we did during Advent. Is this part of a greater plan, that I will be able to give this guy better stem cells? When I was pregnant, my babies drained me and took what they needed. (I was 120 pre-pregnancy and got up to 160 at my biggest and delivered 8-10 pound babies. They were born as babies, not tiny infants!) I'd be left with scraps of what was left and it was how it was supposed to be, but my marrow? I can make it healthier. What this kid gets is what I put into it. I am trying to think sweet thoughts into it. Am I a giant nerd? Do I think too much? This is a lot like being pregnant!

I worry that I might be anemic, but if the match is good, there are ways to fix that, I am sure.

This morning we had bad roads and I got scared as I drove then realized that I might be saving someone's life in a couple of months. While I didn't get stupid, I did relax. They prefer live donations and I felt better.

If I donate, it will probably be in the spring as the weather is getting better and the days are getting longer. If I have problems, which I don't get what they are-- something about flu-like symptoms and possible collection site infections? happen in roughly 1% of the donors. They tend to not be fatal and I can't think of a better time to be recovering for me and my match, wherever he is.

Match, where ever you are, know that my prayers are with you and your family right now! I know what a terrible event/diagnoses can do to a family and I hope and pray for a full recovery so you can lead as normal of a life as possible, and that your family can be strong and happy. Cancer doctors know that you need to live life, so follow their diections exactly-- if they say to stay out of the sun, stay out of the sun. Take the pills, plan to do what they say. (I know of someone who died post marrow donation after she got a light sun burn.) I am doing all that I can to ensure that you get strong marrow from me if I get to share mine with you. Please plan to be strong.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guns and pansies

I do not agree with my husband's church. It's something going on post what they call the "Old" Testament, but that is beside the point. I was trying to get in with the women and to do their craft group with them and to teach-- I want that camaraderie in my life. I didn't get far. Earlier in the week, I went to the craft group and that went really well. I like probably all of the women. It was MLK Day and many of our husbands had our children so only a few kids were at the church with their moms. There were just enough that they were a manageable number and they were all good-- even the ones who misbehaved were good!

Today I went to a teacher training. I got my teenager out of school early so she could be in the training and I was looking forward to a fun afternoon of learning and mother-daughter time with people who I want to like.

The other ladies are wonderful people, but we have a slight disagreement on guns. When I grew up, I was taught to respect guns. A toy gun was still a representation of a tool. You didn't aim it at anyone, but you could aim it at things. The things had to have no one behind them. A lamp was OK, unless someone was on the other side or next to it. A wall was not OK because you had no idea of who, if anyone, was on the other side. (It was OK to throw darts if someone was on the other side because darts, real or fake, couldn't go through the wall. Duh!)

So at the training today, the leader was talking in her breathy voice about how to teach lessons when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group of kids with fake semi-automatics and pretend guns circling the parish hall. (Fake semi's are plastic models that look like semi-automatics. Pretend guns look like sticks, pieces of toast, or PVC pipe.) They bothered me. Then the little brats came inside. I mumbled that they looked like a band of terrorists and a few of the moms giggled, "Boys will be boys!" Well, these kids were mixed and the boys included boys and girls and they were running. One of the moms didn't like the running and told them to run outside.

A little later, one of the daughters of a high ranking man of cloth said something snooty to Cloud when she told her to take the giant PVC pipe out. That was when I decided that I needed to go home and that I'd not be teaching there and I pretended to check my messages and made an abrupt getaway with Cloud and Starshine, who'd been pretty quiet and had played really nicely with another little girl.

As I was leaving, a small band of kids were running inside and one of them pointed his fake semi-automatic at me. I told him to point it at the ground and he sneered at me and pointed it at my head and yelled, "BLAM-BLAM-BLAM!" I pretended to ignore him and looked at him again when I was 20' away and he was smiling with his fake gun pointed at me. I realized that with such disrespect that I personally can't go back there and do much of anything.

I texted my husband and he said that boys would be boys and blew it all off and said I was over reacting. Somehow, I am not supposed to gather from this that he doesn't value me! Whatever-- but I was greatly annoyed. My husband is a member of the church board and I really wish (for the sake of me being able to do more than have dinner with him) that he had at least faked concern, "I can see how you would find that scary since you were raised to respect guns. I'll bring it up at the next church board meeting that we ask all parents to have their children leave their fake guns at home." (He said that if we were together that he'd have talked to the brat's father, but I seriously doubt that he would have done anything. I don't go there and I am not really a part of the group. If he thinks that I was over reacting in what I told him, he wouldn't have done anything. He claims that he has taken guns from kids, but I just don't believe it!)

Anyway, as quickly as I got involved, I decided to leave, as has Cloud and she won't teach there, either. It is sad because I would like to be a part of a religious learning group, but I do not belong there. I don't have an issue with people having guns and using them properly.

Several months ago, I FaceBook'd a quote that had to do with the Korean War and taking away guns and one of the mothers from that church got upset thinking that I wanted to take away her guns. I thought that bickering at my FB page was overreacting and a bit invassive, and since she had helped me a great deal in an emergency, I was wont to slam her about anything. I couldn't possibly bring up my concerns without being publically slammed by her and her friends with basically how my husband feels.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I may marrow someone!

On Friday of last week, I got an email, and today a letter from  I signed up a few years ago when my neighbor, Kelly Marre had a donor drive. Her son, Logan, had died of childhood leukemia not long before that and I showed up more to support Kelly. I couldn't fathom the pain she was in, but there she was, being strong and bold in spite of the hurt that she felt at having her son taken from her at a young age. (I think he was 12 or so.)

I spoke to the marrow registry today and they need more blood from me. The proceedures were described in detail and I was asked if I still wanted to before we went on with making an appointment for blood collection and 15 minutes of questions. I know what it entails-- doctors and needles, but this patient has been through worse. I would hope and pray that anyone who could save my life or my child's life would do the same. I would do it even if it meant that I had to run across hot coals. I'd hesitate at donating a kidney because I might need my other one up the road, or perhaps my children might need it, but marrow regenerates. Less than 1% of the people who donate have problems, but the percentage of people who die if they don't get that donation is. . . a lot higher.

Anyhoo-- If our numbers are good, I will have a physical to make sure I can handle it. I hope and pray that this patient gets a donor and if I can be of help and get selected, that I am in the best shape possible.

I wrote the following on Saturday--
I got a message from a marrow donor program that I may be a match to someone! Wooooo! I am so excited! I called the number and they were happy that I was so excited because there is a lot they check for and I was already bumped up a tier before I called.

Please pray. I hate doctors and I can’t stand needles. I shared this on FB because my friends, many who are doctors and people who put their lives on the line all the time, inspire me and are pumped that I am doing this. I know that I will have to be seen if I have better number matches as I go through whatever medically neccessary "hoops" are needed to be able to help someone out. I need courage! Especially when people who know the details are saying how much they admire me, knowing what I am about to go through. (Gulp!) What I am about to go through? LOL

Marrow matching is last on the list-- you go to them when you are running out of time. I keep thinking, “What if it were my child needing this? Needles are nothing!” This person may be bargaining with God, pleading for life, just a few more years to see a grandchild, to see a child get married, or to get married him-or-herself! I know I will do whatever I can to help this unknown person-- giving marrow is easy in comparrison to sharing a liver or any other organ.

Please pray for the person who may need me, that they get help from whomever is chosen. Please pray for their health and their well being and for their family and friends who stand by them. Please pray for all the people on the list, and sign up to be a donor.

I am so thankful that I might get to help save someone’s life-- and God help me, that I am not the one needing it for myself or my family.

Please also pray for the surgeons and medical people involved. I initially wanted to know if I could meet the person who I am donating to a year after the proceedure if they are OK and they said that I might, but I kind of like the idea of something so huge of a help to go unacknowledged. I will share what I am doing and write about it because I want to promote marrow donation, and here-- prayers for all of the people involved, including potential matches, people running donor drives, people who could match up but who feel to busy to sign up, are needed for this to work for the patients. For my readers who pray or do vibes, please pray and do vibes for all the people on the list needing matches, and sign up to be a donor.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It sure is windy out in the Valley!

We have really had some of the worst winds that we have ever had. Gusts have been well over 80 mph, and yet life goes on with no closures since the roads are dry. Still, grocery shopping is not fun. Twice this week, I have had my shopping cart yanked from my grasp and had to run to retrieve it. I got slammed to the ground the other day when I took the dogs out for a walk. Am I really not that strong?

I can’t sleep when it is like this and the latest has been happening since the day before my birthday. One of my friends had a house next door burn down. She said there was a knocking on her door and that the fire had engulfed it before the rigs got there. This is where a 12 minute fire like "mine" would take less than three minutes. Of course I read this on FaceBook and didn’t sleep for several days. There is nothing paranoid on my behalf for worrying. It’s like pregnancies where once you have a problem, others become more realistic. Our house shakes and I hear shingles breaking off the roof, wind comes in via the oven vent and the elctrical outlets, and I had wind blowing down my chimney as I sat next to the fire while I knitted. It has never been this bad. I actually relaxed to let myself sleep by thinking of things that are far worse and being thankful that I wasn’t dealing with them. I was not dealing with my ex husband in court. I wasn’t on the phone with my dad making mean jokes about my reproductive-ity and my “hobby.” These things normally annoy me if I think of them, but when I figured it out, knowing that only my house could trap me and burn down but that I wasn’t under a threat, I was OK.

The winds are not abating after a day or two—this is the fifth solid day. We have a few breaks and then more wind. We should call this season, “wind-er.” What is the etymology of winter? I keep imagining Ol World Russian families, Jewish and Christian alike, forced from their homes by Lenin’s goons, and making their way across the fields and the frozen rivers in weather like this. I imagine how desperate they were to get away where there was no safe place, so the 20 jog steps to my car are no real big deal and I try to not complain. I have been hit by my car door, though. Getting groceries in requires that I take the big canvas shopping bags to the store with me (they have more space and are sturdier) and I fill up my driver’s side back seat. I call the kids from my phone and they come out with jackets zipped and I hold open the car door while they step in front and grab bags.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

If a person says, "I am just being honest. . ."

run. Don't talk to them again, ever.

There was probably a diplomatic way to deal with whatever they wanted to do, but what do people with MPA's know of diplomacy or kindness?


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I made it into another new year!

We got through New Year's Eve and on New Year's Day, I have my first group of people to my house since I lived in South Anchorage at my parent's ranch. For twelve years, our old house was full of CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome.) My husband's sister and her husband and family of five kids came over. It was really nice. My husband's sister is better than me in every way and she has intimidated the heck out of me since we met. In spite of a stroke, she is a pastor's wife and is on top of everything. Her kids are perfect. For her to not intimidate me, I am not sure of what she could do. Would she have to walk around swearing like a sailor and try to be more "earthy"? I have no idea. Her kids are all in their mid teens (she adopted a couple-- after a decade of more miscarriages than she could count, she always had sticky pregnancies when she adopted newborns!) All of her kids are super fantastic. One in particular makes you feel like you are the most important person in the world when he speaks to you. Another one played Pachelbel's Canon in D for me and I started to cry because it was so beautiful.

I realized that my sister-in-law's light does not make what I feel like is darkness on my part more dark, but more light. I do not trust people who are extremely complimentary-- I always wait to hear the, "but" that shakes me to my core and makes me realize that everything good that was said meant nothing. Not with her. I watched her with my kids and her exuberance and enthusiasm had them wanting to show her how amazing they are. Even when I knitted some dishcloths for her, she was so excited that I almost ran off to get the rest of my work to show her. (OMG! I want that talent that she has to bring out the very best in people! What a great super power to have-- to pull the very best from people! I so much wish I wasn't immune to her, as well as having been skeptical of her.)

When I say that my sister-in-law is a perfect person, this does not mean that she looks down on anyone. Quite contrary to this-- she is very accepting of everyone. She really looks at every person as a unique creation of her Christian god. She runs huge fundraisers and teaches and does everything very well. Yes, her light showed how chaotic my life was. I told her how amazing she is and how stupid I feel when I am around her and she said, "You've had no time for what I do! You are finally able to go to the bathroom by yourself! What do you know of what you can do? You are just starting to crawl out of the nursery!" She got a degree before she started having children, she had them later in life-- and by then she had mastered a lot of "advanced" jobs. She told me to always push the envelope and learn, but to be aware of my present limitations.

My brother-in-law is an amazing athlete as well as a pretty wise guy. He runs a huge congregation but used to be a counselor. He is always passing on some wisdom and while I won't quote what he said to me because I am not sure if he meant to say it, I will say that I think that I could not pass this guy on the street without him saying something profound. Every moment to this guy is a teaching or learning moment.

My eldest is studying in another state, but my second eldest came over to help me make lunch for everyone. I am amazed by how she knows me so well that we work without talking in the kitchen. We have a sixth sense with each other but while she isn't shocked by it, I completely am shocked when I turn to do something and she is already on it and in the same way I do it! She loved being over here and seeing everyone, too.

My 14 year old daughter was being a pill. I adore her, but she is in a stage where every time she is asked to do something, she slouches and rolls her head and eyes back. I make her do push-ups instead of other forms of punishment and she is getting huge biceps. Instead of this decision on my part curing her of smart-alec comments and her attitude, she has advanced to push-ups with clapping and she is getting good at them. She doesn't change her attitude, but she is getting into shape for her sports! I envision her doing really well at the varsity level and having to attribute her great conditioning to her cheekiness!

We got through Christmas break. This year was not terrible in the least, although I had braced myself for it. My kids are older now, which helps. . . and my mom bought them a Wii! I never wanted to be a mother who put her kids on the computer or games like that, but Wii is not a sedentary game system. We set them up in teams and the looser of a game looses his turn to someone on his or her team and the winner plays one game extra and if he or she wins again, they only play one extra game before handing the controls to someone else on their team. They cheer each other on and yell and get quite excited. Wii is not a typical electronic game. As for me and the Wii? I still don't know how to turn it on and the TV confuses me.

My eldest son turned 13 last night. This is the one who has Aspberger's Syndrome. He obsesses over how lawns are mowed and, in the winter, how snow is shoveled. As he has gotten older and begun to articulate himself better, I am liking what he has to say. His career will probably be in something to do with property maintenance. His Aspberger symptoms may turn out to be an asset, after all!

I have a couple of shawls on my needles at the moment. What I don't like about knitting is that I feel like I am painting by number with it. I know my stitches, but you have to work off patterns. A good knitter can look at something, squint their eyes and point out where you did a knit when you should have purled, or where you did a double increase instead of a triple increase and then explain how you did well to compensate, "because no one else will look this closely!" and this annoys me. Few look that closely and those comments on minor mistakes are more to show off, as in, "Look how much I know and can see a mistake!" than on the overall appearance of the piece. I do not do shoddy work, but some people are so into precision that they become machines when they knit. I like taking simple patterns and spicing them up with color and texture. This doesn't mean that everything that I do is bright-- there are lots of stunning, sensual neutral colors, especially in angora blends. I have met people who hold patterns in their heads. I don't have many in my head, but the local yarn store says the patterns are like math equations. I told her that I have not been able to do well and with confidence and certainty she said to me, "Knitting will make you able to remember math equations." She explained that knit patterns are physical manifestations of patterns, that once I can retain them, that I will be able to go into abstract ideas and that it will get easier, especially with the kids getting older.

Knitting is more expensive than drawing. As much as I spend on chalks, I spend more on yarns. Working with yarn takes up more time and of course, I like nice yarn, but I can also do some good work with not-so-good-yarn so it doesn't matter that it's not great.