Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cool Water in the Desert

Some recent happenings had me thinking a lot about certain painful events from my past. Last night I found myself up late while the rest of my family slept, looking at journals and letters from years ago.

It's amazing to me how much a life can change over the course of a decade. As I looked back at some of the things I wrote as a teenager, I felt amazed at how vividly I still could remember some things, and how many other things it seems I'd almost completely forgotten. Perhaps, in some cases, chosen to forget.

Last night I also sent an email to an old friend of mine, a person I've known since childhood, who once, before I foolishly let spaces in miles and years come between us, was as close a confidant of mine as any friend I've ever had ever has been.

Once upon a time, in those primitive late 20th century days when email and the internet were still newfangled, I was quite the prolific writer of handwritten letters. In the email I sent last night, asked if my friend still had some letters I'd written by hand almost ten years ago, and, if so, if it wouldn't be to much trouble for me to get some copies in the mail.

I wasn't certain my old friend would still have the letters. In fact, I felt like a bit of an idiot, asking this person I now rarely speak with to find something so obscure.

Today, that friend wrote me an email that said of course the letters had been kept. In chronological order. And of course they would be photocopied, in short order, and of course they would be sent.

And then my friend went on to write a very long email that was so very like the letters and emails we used to exchange years ago when we were still children, so much like some of the very letters I had been reading just last night, that, just for a moment, I felt as if the years of distance and change between us had fallen away.

Just as this friend's letters always used to, this one made me smile despite my troubles, not because it was a happy letter (it really wasn't), but because my friend's words made me feel so very much at home.

And I remembered that there were so many things in my childhood and adolescence that made me very happy right alongside all the things that made me very sad. And reading my old friend's voice, so different and yet so much the same, I remembered that no matter how the events of our lives change us through time, there is a core element to our selves that does not change.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yes, You're at the Right Place

I was playing around with all sorts of new blog template ideas today. Nifty backgrounds, complicated gadgets and thingies and doodads I needed my husband to translate for me. I futzed. I fiddled. I hemmed. I hawed. I frowned.

And then, suddenly, I thought to myself, hey! Liz at Mom-101 and Rebecca at Girls Gone Child are totally famous. And what template do they use?

Why, the plainest, simplest template Blogger has to offer, that's what.


Heh, heh.

(Am I famous yet? Hmm? No? How about now? Well. At least it looks better than that thing I was using before . . .)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Finding Coral

"Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same"
-Gerard Manley Hopkins

I think it was only about the 30th time we'd seen Isaac's favorite movie, when it hit him.

"Mommy, where Coy-al?"

"What, sweetie?"

"What happen Nemo's mommy, Coyal?"


He did say what I thought he just said. Right?


Sure, I'd worried a bit-- okay, more than a bit-- the first couple of times I watched Finding Nemo on DVD with my son, that the sudden disappearance of Nemo's mother Coral (along with, let us not forget, over 399 of Nemo's unhatched brothers and sisters) after the arrival of a menacing, razor-toothed barracuda might, uh, you know, disturb a small child, especially one as discerning, and one as anxious, as Isaac.

But after several viewings of the film with no reaction at all on his part to the tragedy at the beginning, I relaxed. Come on, now. He's just a baby, I thought. He likes to watch the pretty fish swim in the pretty water by the pretty coral reef. He's not analyzing things. He'll probably thinks Nemo's mommy went off to work, or took the eggs to see Grandma, or something, assuming he even thinks about it at all.

After all, he doesn't even know what death is.

So, when, after we'd had the DVD for a couple of months, the question came, I was caught off guard. I panicked. What should I do? What should I say? Should I lie? Should I tell him the truth? How can one possibly explain death, of a PARENT, to a child who is still learning to talk?

In the seconds I had to decide, I settled on evasive half-truth plus diversion.

"Oh, Isaac, that mean fish took Nemo's mommy Coral away. But look! There's Nemo's daddy! Nemo's daddy, Marlin! He just found Nemo in his egg! And what is he saying? He says, 'It's okay. Daddy's got you.' He's going to take good care of Nemo, right?"

"S'okay. Daddy got you," Isaac crooned absently, seeming now unperturbed, transfixed by the pretty colors once more.

I sighed with relief.

But the next time we watched the movie, it happened again:

"Where Coyal?"

"Um . . . "

I repeated my previous performance. Half-truth, diversion. It worked.

It became a ritual, over the next few weeks, every time we watched the movie (which, in case you're wondering, was pretty much once a day, as he almost invariably chose it for his limited daily TV time). He asked, I evaded, he lost interest.

Eventually, he stopped asking. But every time he watched the scene where Marlin finds Nemo alive in the last remaining egg, Isaac chanted, in a queer, sad, empathetic voice, "S'okay. S'okay. Daddy's got you." Occasionally he insisted that I stay near him for the first ten minutes of the film, holding his hand.

It bothered me. I didn't like to see him even upset by something he'd seen on TV, not even this slightly. But still, he loved the movie. I loved the movie, the first time I saw it all the way through (which was with him, at home), enough that I could still tolerate having it on after seeing it a kajillion times (I could even, actually, still laugh at about three of the jokes).

More weeks passed. He fell in love with other, newer DVDs. But these were passing infatuations. Whenever he'd had a bad day, he still wanted Nemo.

And then one day, he seemed particularly agitated as it came on. "Mommy. STAY. HERE!" he commanded quite imperiously when I started to take some dishes into the kitchen. He wrapped his little hand painfully tightly around mine. "Watch," he demanded.

The barracuda came. My tiny son looked me in the eye.

"What happen Nemo's mommy Coyal?" he barked, his gaze penetrating.

"I . . . oh . . . that big mean fish . . .that big fish ate, her, sweetie! He ate her! She's gone! She's dead."

I'd said it. I'd just admitted to my baby boy that mothers can die. They can die, and never come back.

What in the name of all that is innocent had I done?

He paused for a moment, contemplating, maintaining his iron grip on my hand.

Then, "Find Coyal?" he asked, tentatively.

"I don't think Marlin can find Coral, Isaac. You see, she's--"

"Find Coyal."

This time, it was a statement of fact.

"Go look for her," he continued. "Keep looking. Will find Coyal. Look. Maybe look far. Look up in the sky."

(Up in the sky?

Yes, he really said that.

Did I mention we're heathen heaven-doubters, over here?)

And ever since then, my son has been on a quest to find Coral.

When he plays with his Nemo and Dory bath toys, he tells me they're going to find Coral.

When he plays with his Thomas the Tank Engine trains, when they're not helping "Sir Happy Hat," of course, they're off to find Coral.

The Hot Wheels cars, the Little People, and an entire zoo of stuffed animals have been recruited for the search.

"Find Coral," he says, in a hopeful, commanding voice, just tinged with a hint of sadness.

"Oh honey," I said one day in response, "We're all trying to find her. Everyone in the world."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sooo Tired

Oy . . . will I ever finish that post I keep talking about? Now I feel bad for mentioning it. I really thought I'd have it done and up the very next day when I first mentioned it, and now look at me. I'm such a blog tease. You're all going to start smacking me around at some point. Or maybe you'll come by and spray "BLOG TEASE" on my house in whipped cream.

Today has been a very mentally exhausting day. Husband and I were trying to go over finances and work plans and possible pre-school plans for the boy this morning and I feel like I am just faced with so many important choices over the next several months, and I just can't seem to figure out which choices make the most sense. I feel so immature in the face of so much of my life lately.

When do people actually start feeling like competent, responsible adults? I am beginning to think the answer must be: never. All those people who acted like competent, responsible adults in front of me when I was a child were just putting on a big show to make it seem like they had everything under control, when in reality they were just confused and overwhelmed by life on a regular basis. If I am lucky enough to live to be 100, in my mind, if it still functions at that point at all, I will probably still be about 16.

Then also today we had to deal with an emergency "fix my computer" call from my sister. One of the benefits/hazards of being married to a computer genius is that everyone you know is always calling your husband to come perform CPR on their broken machines. I was actually glad to visit her as I don't see her very often. But the woman has no concept of childproofing. None whatsoever. She and her boyfriend are anthropology students. Who, in their early 20s, have already managed to travel most of the western hemisphere. And filled their house with all sorts of unique art and artifacts from their travels.

Many of which they keep at the eye-level of a child.

So, it was mostly a night of me running around behind an over-stimulated just-back-from-vacation two-year-old, hissing:

"Look with your EYES, not with your HANDS."
"DON'T %*#$*&% #*@#& TOUCH THAT!"

And now, I just want to sleep . . .

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Man Plans, Fate Decides. Woman Gets Stuck Working Her Butt Off Regardless.

So, I didn't finish my aforementioned post yet because my husband told me at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday that he had decided that instead of leaving on Friday morning for our weekend at the family lake house, we would leave around noon on Thursday.

(Because, I mean, I won't care a whit if he totally changes our weekend plans on practically no notice without consulting me beforehand, because I stay home and therefore have no life, and nothing to schedule, right?


Anyway, I had to pack four (not three) days' worth of clothes for three people, pack four (not three) days' worth of food for The Boy Who Only Eats Twenty Things*, and re-pot my wimpy, suddenly-claiming-to-be-rootbound basil plants so they wouldn't die of dehydration while I was gone on Wednesday night, a day earlier than I had originally thought I had to. And then Thursday morning, under a calm, mild, sunny sky, my power went out.

You think I'm joking? No.

It did come back on, but after that I was afraid to turn on anything. So I didn't. And then we left.

However, Husband brought the laptop on our little excursion, and it turns out there is in fact wireless internet access out here on the lake. So, hey, maybe Nature will inspire me, and I'll finish the post sometime this weekend.

I thank my legions of (eight) adoring fans for the encouragement, by the way, but when I say the post is not finished, I mean, not only is it not polished: it has no end. So it would not make sense if I just slapped it up. But I do really appreciate your apparent desire to read even my really bad unfinished writing :)

*Twenty, it must be noted, is a marked improvement over five. Hallowed are the OTs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hey There

So, I have been working on a post for about three days now that I have really had trouble finishing.

Lately I feel like my brain is full of bees. Not the productive honey-making kind, either. More like the carpenter bees, that eat holes in things.

I just saved it as a draft for the third time, but I hope to get something actually readable up tomorrow.

Incidentally, Isaac finally got over his fear of losing his balance long enough to learn to climb a ladder yesterday.

And there was much rejoicing over his newfound physical confidence.

And now nothing in my house is safe.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hot Cross Buns Banana Muffins

Today I was going to post about what a wonderful day Sunday was.

Because, you see, Saturday was a terrible day for me. One of those days where the boy wouldn't eat anything all day, (and wouldn't poop all day, either, after several days of voluntary constipation) and overreacted again and again to a billion seemingly ordinary things, and just seemed generally miserable. One of those days when I found myself feeling less-than-optimistic about his progress so far in overcoming his sensory issues. One of those days spent treading and retreading worn roads in my mind, familiar pathways of blame (Did he inherit this disorder from me? Did I drink too much that one night, before I knew I was pregnant? Did I take the wrong medicine, before I knew? Did I stand too close to a smoker one too many times? Was I too stressed out during pregnancy? Did I work too much? Did I worry too much? Did I not want him enough, before he was born? Did I not hold him enough, after he was born? Was it the surgery on his skull? Did I choose the wrong surgeon? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS???

Me? Hah! What about him? See? There you go selfishly thinking about your own troubles when HE'S the one with the disorder that interferes with nearly every aspect of his life. You're a SELFISH mother. THAT'S what's wrong here. You worthless bitch.

Yeah, Saturday was a bad day.

But Sunday? Sunday, I got my son to try fresh grapes.

And he asked me for more.


(Yes, they were cut into quarters so he wouldn't choke on them, safety police.)

This may not seem so monumental to some of you, dear readers, on first glance, but I have been trying to get this child to eat fresh fruit now, well, let's see, since he was old enough to eat fresh fruit. Which would make it, like, A YEAR AND A HALF. He loves dried fruit, mind you, but for the longest time, he wouldn't eat fresh fruit at all. For months upon months, I've been trying; various pediatric specialists (including Michelle the hallowed OT, may She return from her maternity leave healthy and well-rested posthaste) have been trying.

But so far, what has a small army of adults accomplished? Only this: He will OCCASIONALLY eat sliced apples. Granny Smith or Gala apples, specifically (no substitutions -Mgt).

And each slice must be lightly patted with a paper towel to remove excess juice before he will touch it.

So, this Grape Incident was a HUGE deal. Not only did he just increase his fresh fruit repertoire by 50%-- he did so by volunteering to eat STICKY globes filled with JUICE!

I am convinced that somewhere, angels wept.

Later that day, we took him to a park, and not only did he do all sorts of new climbing tricks on the playground that he'd been scared witless to try just weeks ago-- he also ate the sliced deli ham I packed for him as part of our picnic dinner. He ate the deli ham. Which he has been categorically refusing to eat for three months straight.

And, the icing on the cake?

My husband, who refuses to consume:

green salads
hot drinks
most nuts besides peanuts
anything containing mayonnaise

(And I blame myself for the boy's picky eating? Oh, oh. I know.)

told me the broccoli-cheddar quiche I'd made for our family picnic was "good."

An adjective which the man ordinarily reserves SOLELY for cookies, cheesecake and lasagna.

Holy smokes! What an awesome day, right?

Yeah, so that's what I was going to post about today. In much more touching detail than I just did. With charm and wit, etcetera.

Then, something happened.

And I got angry.

I mean, "You won't like me when I'm angry," angry.

Someone made me angry.

Someone who, incidentally, isn't too fond of, say, asparagus.

Or walnuts.

Dammit, I love walnuts.

So, lacking a doghouse to send him off to, what's an angry housewife to do?

Aha! The same thing angry housewives have done for the past 2000 years, that's what!

I'll drink.

I'll drink . . . I'll drink, and blog!

No, no, no. Wait. That's been done before. I'll do one better than that.

While I make my S.O. put the boy to bed and fold the laundry, I'll drink, and blog, and BAKE!

Let's see . . .

I've got these brownish overripe bananas. Aaaaand . . . some walnuts. Yeah, walnuts.

So, first, I'll down this large, refreshing, brim-full glass of white wine. Last of the bottle. Thanks for leaving that, happy couple friends who came by for dinner Friday night. Okay . . .

Rip off banana peels. Hurl forcefully into trash can. Tear bananas into pieces. Smash bananas. Smash bananas. Smash them some more. Add melted butter, and vanilla, and smash.

Beat eggs. Lightly? Screw that. Beat eggs vigorously. While glaring at them. Add to bananas, and beat some more.

Stupid eggs.

Pour a glass of the claret. Take a sip. A bit sharp, that. What's that? 2004? Pffffft. Too young for my tongue. Heeeeeeeeeeh heh heh. I'm hilarious. But hey, it was free! Them's damned good friends, leavin' two half-full wine bottles behind.

(Did I mention the husband won't drink wine, either? Yeah. I know. Philistine.)

Okey-dokey. Now what? Flour. That's right. Don't forget to substitute a third of a cup of the fancy stone-ground whole wheat. That's my secret ingredient, bitches. Adds body and texture, and stuff. Plus it's healthy. Yeah, I think about health stuff even when I'm baking drunk. WTF?

Okay, I must not actually be drunk yet.

Drink more wine.

Now add white and brown sugar and BEAT--

Holy crap! I almost forgot the baking powder!

Whew! That would have totally sucked. "Angry Woman's Unleavened Banana-Nut Sludge, anyone?" Sheesh. More wine, please.

Now, for the walnuts: I don't have chopped walnuts. I have shelled walnut halves. So what do I do?

Crush each half into smaller pieces with my bare hands, of course.

Crush nuts. Crush nuts.

Hmm, let's put in twice the walnuts called for in the recipe! WALNUT-banana muffins.






Have long conversation with husband.

Who is really, come to think of it, a nice guy.

So, maybe I won't move to Antarctica.

Eat muffins.

Ahh, love.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Do you all recall my recent weather defiance?

Did you witness as I challenged the skies with my responsible storm preparation, and verbally smacked the proverbial wind bitches down?

Yeah. The weather people, they said it would storm. They said it would storm one day, and it didn't. They said it would storm the next day, and it didn't. They said it would storm again a few days later, and still, it didn't storm.

As the days went on with naught to show for the weather seers' warnings but the occasional ominous but evidently impotent cloud-- no fearsome, power-line-ripping winds, and no rain-- I thought to myself:

Yeah, those wind bitches-- they talk a good game, but when it comes down to a challenge, just look! All bluster and no bite. Nothin' but a load of hot air. The moment one miniscule human dared shake her fist in their general direction, they puffed their gusty butts right out of town. Snap! I think the town should give me a plaque for sending those silly storms on their cranky way.

Then I realized: The wind bitches, those clever, clever wind bitches, with their heavenly ironic wits. They are playing me for a fool.

You see, though it's true we certainly don't need any more dangerous storms here, there is something we do need.

A lot.


Those storms we had that knocked out power to over half a million homes? That for all intents and purposes shut more than half of a major metropolis down? They didn't drop so much rain. Nor, in fact, did they do all that much to break a heat wave that basically lasted through the entire month of July.

And now? Most of the grass around here is dead; it crackles like kindling. Which it is what it would be, actually, for a careless match. Every day, at just about two in the afternoon, my herb garden does its best impression of an overly dramatic southern woman fainting at a funeral.*

Even the trees are drooping.

We are nearly nine inches below normal rainfall for the year at this point, folks. And today, scattered thunderstorms were predicted yet again. Clouds gathered. I set out my candles in anticipation. I turned my computer off.

No dice.

Nature, you mock me.


*Practically half of my herbs are native to the dry, sandy soils of the Mediterranean, for heaven's sake. Yes, I'm talking about you, Sage and Thyme. I'm not buying your "I just can't take the heat" dramarama. But I water you like bunch of weak, wimpy, rootbound Sweet Basil plants anyway, you pansies. No offense to the actual pansies. Which are totally taking the heat like champs, UNLIKE certain other edibles I know.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Thank You, Husband

For teaching our child the phrase:

"My butt got stuck."

Which I am now absolutely certain he will repeat constantly for at least three days.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I'll Never Go Iceless Again

(Please imagine me saying that in a determined, sultry southern accent for full effect. Not that I sound southern. I'm from the midwest. I sound like the people on TV news programs, only with fuzzier enunciation and inferior gravitas. But let's pretend I can do a southern accent, okay?)

My freezer has seven freezer packs and two bags of ice in it (made from my own freezer ice machine).

My spanking-new 60 qt "Keeps ice frozen for up to five days in 90 degree heat!" cooler has three bags of ice in it (purchased last night when the power went out, just in case it didn't come back on).

I am making more ice with my freezer ice machine as we speak. You know, to offer the neighbors.

And the "possibly severe" weather forecast for tonight/tomorrow?

Bring it, wind bitches.

(Just please please don't knock my house down, because I don't have a basement to cower in, okay? Do you think you could negotiate with the nice wind bitches about that on my behalf, Melissa?)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Thinking of Investing in a Ham Radio and a Wood Burning Stove

Okay, so, my power went out AGAIN this evening, just as I was finishing cooking dinner on the electric stove (luckily the burners stayed just hot enough just long enough for me to finish cooking). I suppose the power grid got overwhelmed because of so many people turning their AC on full blast to try to counteract today's 101 degree heat?

Anyway, it's back on now, but we have storms forecast later in the week, and I have gotten to the point where I am basically expecting the storms to knock my electricity out.

Which kinda sucks.