Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Surprise of Older Eyes

When one of my daughters was learning to read, having graduated from her favorite One Fish Two Fish to books with plot, we stumbled on a wonderful little series of early readers about an old man and his cat, Mr. Putter and Tabby, by Cynthia Rylant.  I was thrilled to find such deceptively simple books that told a little story but showed great sensitivity as well.  In one of the books Mr. Putter is tenderly appreciating his garden, his cat, and life in general. There was a line, that has stayed delightfully with me, that went something like this: Mr. Putter was old and beautiful things meant more to him.  All these years later, I still smile at that gentle bit of information that the author passed on to young readers.  And so it is true with many of us who are fortunate enough to grow in grace with each passing year.

I began to be aware of this truth in my 40's, waiting for one of my high school aged kids to come out of school and realizing that every child that came out of the building was beautiful. Was it my need to update my corrective eye wear? The affluent community where orthodontics were a given, where dermatologists visits are routine as well as regular trips to the salon for perfect haircuts and even better highlighting? While these things were true, I knew it was something more.  I was appreciating their youth, seeing the beauty of it as I had never seen before. Their vulnerability, their humor, their cub-like behavior was oh- so- endearing.  Then not long after that, I found myself almost wonder-struck by a state- of- the art vending machine, all lit up and glowing yellow, with dancing M & M's, bright and vibrant, tumbling down its surface.  My kids thought I was nuts. Isn't that so pretty? I had gasped and they craned their necks to see what I was admiring. They thought I was on the decline.

If this was decline, then I accepted it gladly. I was happy that the world was holding more beauty as I grew older, because the sorrows were beginning to be felt all the more poignantly. Sadness was all around and so deeply felt. There was more crying over the news than in years previous, more empathy for others, than ever before, a gift in and of itself too. But, this balance- gift of aging, this ability to see beauty where before it was unapparent,  was most graciously received.

In more recent times, having had my heart broken open, my appreciation for all things, has been so magnified, that even I question whether this is normal. But guess what? If it's not, I don't care, because again, it is a benefit of heartache that I gather right up.  If I told you that there are times when I might linger a bit over a porcelain toothbrush holder, painted with images of wisteria, thinking such wordless grace as, "awww, our tooth brush holder", would you think I was crazy? Or would you understand my appreciation of it because it cradles an everyday object that is held in the precious hands of my girls?

If I can get sentimental over a tooth brush holder, just think how full I feel when my girls' laughter rises from the other room and drifts under my bedroom door. Think of my joy when one of them plops down beside me on the couch and drapes her legs over mine without a moment's hesitation - such familiarity, such complete acceptance, such a sacred moment. Ottoman mom.  How my heart leaps.

I have lost much in this restructuring of my life.  I have lost friends who were uncomfortable with divorce. We have lost  our home. I have lost my identity and any sense of security that I once had.  I have lost my trust that I placed in a man, and wonder if I can ever give it again.  But I have gained so very much too: everyday epiphanies, everyday moments of awe that I would not, could not ever trade back for the life I had before. 

And so it is with such gratitude, that I look positively toward the New Year, knowing full well that it will probably bring even greater losses. But it is true; gratitude is the road to joy, and what a precious mystery it is to have a heart, so joyously broken.

Hoping beautiful things mean more to all of us this year. Happy 2012.

Personal Sun

When I was a young college girl from middle America doing a social work internship in a blighted urban community at an all -male correctional facility, I spent most of the time in wide-eyed learning mode.  My mentor, and everyone else who worked there, never tip-toed around words, in fact they had very colorful speech that was punctuated with every profanity I had ever heard and then some. I remember once making an observation, thinking, wow, I can't believe I am seeing this, understanding this. I was immediately shot down with cynicism, and this response, "Yea, well that's pretty ------- obvious; that isn't anything new under the sun."  I shut my ordinarily shy mouth and kept most of my observations to myself for the duration of the internship.  Of course as time went on, I saw that this mentor was right, I was not saying anything new. I was just giving airspace to all that had been said before and before and before that too. But my mentor was also wrong, because it was new to me. It was a revelation that had just dawned brightly under the sun -to me - and in giving life to it, by announcing it, I was adding to the affirmation of it being so.

With this in mind, all you seasoned bloggers, please take kindly to today's observations, since I am very new to any blogging community and posting these reflections are baby steps for me. But I have learned some things here already. 

For starters, I really enjoy poking around other blogs, listening to people across the ocean talk about the very things in my heart, looking at photographs of some one's backyard and feeling like I was there, experiencing it with her, a stranger, yet new "friend" in this sphere.

 I wonder what entices most of us, to share what  we do, what we know, what we feel, what we dream? I felt a little full of myself, beginning this blog, too self absorbed.  Who after all, if they ever found my blog in the first place, would care what lurked in my middle-aged heart? But I wrote it anyway; I'll write it again. 

When I began posting on here, it was to reach out to some others who might be where I am; to maybe offer a little insight, a way to connect. But it was also just for me, a way to talk so that I would have to listen to myself. I think I often didn't want to hear what was in my own heart, lest it be too painful or pathetic. But so far, in the few posts I have braved, it hasn't hurt that much at all.

I know there are those whose first goal here is to monetize.  A lot of us, I think, wouldn't mind that being a consequence too, if we ever had the time to figure it all out. But that goal cannot be what is calling most of us to share on here and in turn to follow each other.  

So maybe, a lot of what is going on is a sort of treasure hunting - the treasure being beauty in its many forms whether that be in the simple pleasures of being human, the wonder of the natural world or even in the darker side of biting sarcasm.

Good cooks on here share the most fundamental of treasures and recipe seekers delight in the collecting. Crafters share the simplicity of the seemingly complicated, the methods, the instruction, the materials needed, all secrets that could have been kept but are generously set free for discovery by like minded creators. Politicians, poets and reformers give voice to the often ugly side of human nature or the plight of the hungry, the sick. Their work to enlighten others about the tragic, is beautiful effort, their persuasive ability, a treasure. Artists hold up their work, for recognition, for admiration, but also to show what they have found, the treasure they have discovered in the design of that old iron gate.  See here? See this scroll? See the way the shadows sleep inside the curvature?  The photographers among us show the beauty they have found in their own feet amidst autumn leaves, the patterns of brick on a favorite building that others have walked by again and again without seeing; the shutter clicks and gives glimpse to what would have been missed if not for the treasure seeker and their eagerness to share. 

And what about the hurting among us, those who are healing or have healed, and want to share their introspection, their ah ha! moments, the bittersweet and the painfully beautiful moments of life?  Some writers uncover treasures of the human spirit and by way of word, want to give shape, to the beauty of their growth and the new-found fullness of their lives.  

And all of us in doing any of this, by making a record of it, have made it real, have created the opportunity of it being found. Taking our own thoughts, feelings and talents and offering them up for discovery gives us a chance to touch other lives in a remotely personal way.

Nothing new at all under the sun in this observation. But it is new to this brand new blogger, just wanting to give space, to give form, to the pleasure of treasure hunting with you.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Poets, Pups and Cheer-Me-Ups

Sometimes I crack myself up thinking about what a good catch I would be for some late fifty something or sixtyish man. I require so little, and the simplest things make me happy: the hum of a heater, good coffee, ephemera.... If only that old guy who walked right passed me and blatantly stared at my eighteen year old could see past my crows feet long enough to learn that I could bring him great joy by sharing my simple abundance. Mostly though, I just have this inner dialog for fun, since I have not yet even entertained the notion of dating again.

Today was one of those great days, where simple joys reign; A day when I hide from my inbox, lest anything (from the ex's lawyer) interfere with the gratitude that I feel. Two of my girls and I went out, like normal people, to eat and celebrate my college freshman's first semester - triumphant in grades and a promotion at work too! For the longest while we didn't dare eat out or buy a thing. We don't have cable TV, we wash out straws and don't buy paper towels because of the expense. This has become second nature to us, and being thrifty and creative at attaining life's little luxuries can be a satisfying accomplishment. But sometimes, just sometimes, one has to find the means to celebrate and participate in the normal activities that many (including me, in my past life) take for granted.

After dinner we made our yearly trek to Barnes and Noble for calendars and planners, now 50% off, even if the selection has dwindled. I do hope I will have something to write in my planner this year, besides meetings with lawyers. Maybe wonder of wonders I will be able to write in a schedule for a regular job.

Back home the girls and I tidied up the apartment, readying it for the busy start of the new year which will involve a fresh semester for my youngest and a marriage (wedding, yay!) for my middle daughter to a kind, caring, golden-retriever of a man, who is all smiles and all heart. God bless him. 

Right now, I sit in front of a Duraflame log (I told you it didn't take much to make me happy).  I have the best cup of coffee in a little birdie mug my daughter gave me for Christmas and have my feet propped up in lime green furry slippers (that look like Oscar the Grouch under black light), that the baby picked out herself. I am one happy woman. I survey this temporary home, this apartment of healing and I sigh. Literally, I sigh in contentment, and it has been a long, long time in coming. I know the New Year might have us packing up again and mooching on a  relative, but for now, just now, it is perfect.

I look over to the large marble heart that sits alone and stately on the mantle. I bought this soon after the world (as I knew it) imploded. This carved-stone heart,this thing, this material thing, that cost 15 dollars at Homegoods has the power to remind me of what my life has been about; regardless of manipulation and lies, regardless of abandonment and betrayal and attempts to define my contributions as worthless.

As simple as the symbol of a heart is, I still love it. I will always love the shape of it.  From the time my girls were little, they scoured beaches and mountainsides for stones in the shape of hearts for me.  My gaze drifts off to a table, an alter, where some of these stones huddle, lobe to lobe, energizing each other, showing solidarity. I am reminded of collecting one of them on a terrible, terrible day, the first Easter of my family's fracturing. My ex had one foot out the door, busy making plans to set up permanent living arrangements with his girlfriend. His girlfriend, how incongruous a word is that after you have trusted someone for almost 34 years? 

On this first Easter, I tried very hard not to let what happened effect whatever relationship there was with the girls and their father. I tried very hard. But they are young woman with eyes and hearts of their own. One cannot hurt one of us without the others reeling and aching too.  But still, the magnitude of what had happened had left us all in shock and reluctantly the girls went out to Easter dinner with their father.  I watched him arrive with Easter baskets filled with the best chocolates from Bayards, that I could not afford anymore. How odd  a sight, I thought, considering that I had been the only Easter bunny for 25 years. It was one of the hardest days of my life, watching the four of them walk out that door to my favorite restaurant and not being invited. Invited, another nonsensical word when one thinks of family.

Stunned, I did not know what to do with myself.  I couldn't remain in the house with those baskets mocking the life I had led.  So I piled up the dogs (my friends, my dear friends, now gone) into my little car and drove to the tiny lake, where my ex and I used to go for picnic dates, where I used to take my children when they were little to look at the ducks and hunt for frogs.  We walked together, my dogs and I for what seemed hours.  Violets were at my feet. How many hundreds of violets have the pudgy hands of my children handed to me? How many had my husband picked for me over the years?  Happy, intact families passed by, again and again. I could barely breath. 

I got back in the car, cried into my water bottle and shared the water and tears with the dogs. And I prayed. I prayed to find a way to go on. But after staring out the windshield of my car, waiting until I thought it was safe to go home, even if home didn't feel safe any more, my tears dried a little, my stomach whined for food and even a broken-hearted woman got bored. I found a Superfresh receipt and a sharpie in my handbag and scribbled this poem of hope, where I desperately tried to convince myself, that all would be well.

Easter Weekend 2009
I pick my own violets today,
scour the ground for heart-shaped rocks
with love abundant, still. 
Hope lies in the surprise of
purple in my path
and trust is small
and solid
as the stone 
in my hand.

Each day that has passed since the earthquake of my marriage, I have looked heartily for inspiration. I have made little journals of beautiful quotes, out of old little books, pasting old postcards on the pages or images of birds or butterflies from vintage field guides. These volumes feel sacred in my hands.  Some of them are riddled with pain and cry out with Psalms and prayers.  Others hold poetry and wisdom from Rumi, and Khalil Gibran, and Emerson and e.e. cummings... It was with a sense of serendipity that I pasted e.e. cummings' poem next to my Easter poem, the similarity striking, when I discovered it.

(I) came home 
with a smooth
round stone
as small 
as a world
and as large as
e.e. cummings

Of course my small poem pales in comparison, but tonight when I am feeling so grateful, it is nice to be reminded that surprises await us at every corner. It is comforting to know that a friend can be made when you least expect it, even when you meet on a dusty page and the common ground is a love of words and simple pleasures.

Monday, December 26, 2011

On Maternal Instincts and Seasonal Toppings

Sometimes, I am so glad to be a woman. Today, I am not talking about great dresses or vintage jewelry or any other favorites. I am not even talking about sensuality and the deeper joys of being female.  Today, I am talking about instincts and the push-button response we women, especially mothers have in certain situations.

It happened in the midst of an ordinary Christmas gathering in my living room. My grandbaby had just opened a few presents and the rest of us were sitting back, sipping french vanilla creamed coffee and chatting.

Then we heard it. It was coming from my mother, the elder, the wise one, the mother of four, grandmother of thirteen, great-grandmother of nine and great-great grandmother of two. It was that siren, that oh- so -familiar alert, "Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!"  She pointed at the fifteen month old. My mother had spotted an object in the baby's hand that she deemed a possible danger. "She's got something!"

I don't remember how I got off the couch. I am supposing that I flew. My daughter, the baby's mother was supernaturally transported across the room too. We surrounded the baby on the floor. My mother continued to provide stats. "It's green!"

Squawks were emitted from the three of us. High pitched worries filled the air as six hands searched her chubby fingers for signs of the threat. A piece of broken Christmas bulb? An errant pill from some one's pocket? God forbid.  We picked her up, we inspected her mouth, opening our own mouths wide, wider, widest to show her how to give us a better view. She giggled and drooled. 

I was vaguely aware of my son-in-law, a doctor, looking on, calmly assessing the situation. If his eyes showed any surprise at all it was over the gaggle of concern that had swarmed his baby in less than a second.

Our frantic search seemed fruitless. Had she swallowed it? We scoured the floor, the furniture - hands flat, covering all surfaces. 
She seemed fine, we agreed. Cautiously relieved, we began to catch our breath.

Then I spied it! In between her chubby fingers - the enemy, the threat to our peaceful Christmas.

Together, we extracted the danger. It lay in my palm as mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all leaned in for closer inspection. 

My son -in-law raised a curious eyebrow as he peaked over the top of our heads. 

"It's a sprinkle!" He said, blatantly amused.

It must have come from the chocolate- dipped Oreos, we woman concluded.

Even though my son-in-law laughed heartily at us, there was a hint of admiration for the pack that we are. How the lionesses pounced and worked together in precision to protect the young. He would never admit this of course, but I saw it flash across his young, confident male face. I saw a smidgen of understanding and new- found respect for our rapid response, even if it was in folly. 

And we women? Of course we laughed. Of course it was thankfully, wonderfully ridiculous of us. We also know that in a heartbeat we will make fools of ourselves again and again to safe-guard the ones we love.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

In Celebration of Flies in Late December

When my toddler grandbaby girl leaves after a long day of visiting, my back aches, yes, but so do my arms and not from holding her. The minute she and her mom, my beautiful first born,  drive off - my arms are painfully empty; they already ache to hold her. These arms have had the privilege of holding her throughout the day, whether she is marveling at planes overhead, sucking on a bottle or listening to books by the bushel. 

I think back over our day as they pull  away and I find myself standing alone in the parking lot, smiling like a fool. Who else on this planet would I stand with (for a full ten minutes) watching flies crawl on daisy- mums in late December? I still hear the emotion in her tiny voice, both repulsed and over-joyed, "ewww, eww, ewwww!" It is impossible to worry about such things as never-ending divorce issues when I am in the midst of moments like that. Such is the power of 25 pounds of innocent energy.  

It takes me at least a half hour when I come back into my apartment to stop looking for her. I startle every few minutes, afraid that she might be tugging on electrical cords, or tasting pennies or reaching to pull the laptop off the table. It is a decidedly lonelier place when she leaves. 
 We gathered pine cones today and wrapped up little presents for her mom and dad.  These are bedraggled, sticky, and perfect. I think how happily my heart beats now that she is in the world - a stubborn little girl who has come to us out of the blue because my girls and I all needed her to be here. God sent us re-enforcement, adding another link to this small circle of broken- hearted women. A mighty link, brand new and in love with this world, a world where pine cones are really truly treasures and flies are still abuzz with wonder.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Life is Like a Bar of Soap

My high school friend told me about this gift that she bought the other day at a card store: soap with currency hidden inside. She paid fifteen dollars apiece for these with the hopes that inside might lie a twenty or fifty, or maybe even a hundred dollar bill. Of course it could be much less than this, but she was willing to take the risk.

I think my friend bought these not for the chance to "win" although there is the lure of gambling here. What I believe she was buying was a little slice of anticipation.  Waiting for something with hopeful imagining sure is fun, and we never outgrow it. 

These soaps immediately reminded me of something long forgotten from my childhood. There were little soaps, called Fuzzy Wuzzies or something like that, because they were in animal shapes that actually took on a furry quality as you used them. And the best part, the best part, was that when you washed them away, you were left with a little surprise charm in your hands.  These little darlings sure prompted a lot of hand washing back in those days -they were so much fun to use and the more I used them, the quicker I got to my prize. One time, it was a tiny dolly, or maybe a little heart charm. But there were booby prizes too, at least for me, like the time I washed and washed with my little blue bear only to find a plastic bullet in his tummy. Why would anyone want that, I wondered at the age of five. I wonder still. But it did not deter me from loving those soaps and eagerly receiving them. I used each bar with gusto.

So of course, the armchair philosopher that I am got to thinking about why we don't hold onto those wonderful feelings of expectation as we get older. Well, not why. I know why. It's because life beats us up along the way and we begin cowering and covering up to avoid the next slap.  But, remember back to the days when your biggest worry (if you were fortunate enough to have a good childhood) was whether or not your best friend could come out and play? Or the biggest disappoint was a plastic bullet in your bear- shaped soap?

The trick to it all of course, now, is holding onto that sense of anticipation, knowing full well that sometimes you are going to get  kicked, trampled and crushed by life.  And that is a pretty tough task for any of us.

But we all know people who can do it.  The cheerfully optimistic, who are so good at it that it is a way of life.  They greet each day, palms open, ready to receive what is hidden in the day for them, with humor, grace and hopefulness; And maybe even stifled giggles and squirms - such is the degree of anticipation they hold for life. They are the lucky ones. So far, I can only muster those feelings in short spurts and usually they are directly related to present circumstances. But I am working on this. Oh yes I am. Because I want to greet each day with hope and gratitude, because well, isn't that the nice way to receive a present, and after all every day is a gift, isn't it?

When I was young and just married, I approached my everyday life like this. I was with the man/child that I loved. We had our whole lives to look forward to and all the possibilities that that entailed. A home, children, holidays, vacations, great meals and laughter and hugs all around.  And life did bring me those things.  Plenty of those things. And each day as I got up and washed my hands and did all the normal things we do, it became clearer that he wasn't quite what I had expected. But I kept my booby prize, because he was mine, and I built my life around him, he was my family and I had promised to love him forever. I didn't see the other crappy prize of betrayal that was still hidden, but it was in time revealed, as are all of life's surprises. But that was the chance I took by saying, " I do." Would I take that chance again with someone else? Probably not. At least not the way I feel right now. 

But I am still going to take a chance on life.  Because in cowering, you forget to look up and if you don't look up you might not see the good prizes; a day with your granddaughter, the admiration of your children, a new friend walking toward you...

So, life I guess is like those bars of treasure soap.  You get the soap you choose and you get surprises hidden in there too.  Some surprises are obviously very, very bad, way worse than a plastic bullet and some are so wonderful that we ask ourselves what we ever did to deserve such abundance.  I think today, I might try to cower a little less; I have already been kicked around pretty good, although I am keenly aware how much worse it could get. Still, right this minute on this beautiful Sunday morning, I am going to open up these palms for my soapy, sudsy wonderful life. I am going to giggle, damn it, and maybe even squirm with the excitement and anticipation of it all. There is so much to be embraced and now that I am alone, there is one less obstacle in my way.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Merrily Single at Fifty-Four

There are days when I am glad to be free. It is exciting to be able to remember who I was before I was married. To excavate the artist within, long buried, is at times nothing less than thrilling. Less exciting, but still nice is not finding tighty-whities in my laundry, because in three decades I never could figure out how to fold them right. It is also reassuring to know that no meat lurks in my freezer, since now only we vegetarians reside here. But truthfully, there are days when being divorced and fifty-four is a pretty lonely place to be. And so it is at Christmas time.

When our family was completely intact, we loved Christmas so! There was abundance, there was joy, there was stress too, but oh how we all loved red and green.  My girls and I still do. We celebrate more simply these days and everything we touch and give and make is heartfelt. In the material world for us, "plenty" has made way for "precious"and that is a pretty good trade-off.

But there are those days, and today is one of them, when the stores are filled with older couples, heads together in thought - pondering slipper sizes or debating how many bags of pecans are needed for this year's pie. I turn away when I glimpse such intimacy or hear such sacred murmurings about the seemingly mundane.  I walk on wistfully to the next isle, forgetting my oatmeal, forgetting for a minute why I was at the store in the first place.

Later, I struggle up the long courtyard carrying the boxed Little Tykes car for my granddaughter that I struggled to afford, and it is heavier than it should be.  I come into an empty apartment, happy that I got this great toy for the little gumbygirl, and there is no one to ooh and ahhh over it with me.

I make a cup of coffee and sit down to feel sorry about this, and it occurs to me, that even when I was married, I rarely had someone to discuss slipper sizes with or even shop for pecans with, or at least I hadn't had for a very, very long time. And I realize that this loneliness I feel, is nothing new.  I think back to the days, where my footsteps were as heavy as my heart, dragging around that vague sense of being alone in a marriage that lasted for decades.

As I sit staring at our newly decorated, scrawny silver tree there is a small rejoicing over the realization, that it is far, far better to be by myself, then to live with someone and be utterly and truly alone. 

No great revelation here, I am sure, but sometimes things are so simple that we step right over them.  So I raise my coffee mug to simplicity and the genuine; to my beautiful girls and the love I have all around from them and their own new families. Alone, I celebrate this quiet, blissful reality. Sitting humbly before this artificial tree - put together limb by limb with love and gratitude, I am at this minute, merrily single at fifty-four.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beneath This Tacky Tree

This is the first year, in the 32 years since I moved out of my parents' home that I do not have a real tree for Christmas. I know, I can hear the collective gasp, but it is a big change for us, and since change has visited my family all around and over and over again these past few years, it just seemed fitting.

Used to be that Christmas just wasn't Christmas until we picked out our big evergreen from the tree farm.  The joke in our family was that the tree had to call out to mom, it had to softly, sweetly, beg to be the one; "kill me, kill me," the tree would plead, telepathically of course.But, before saw ever touched trunk, I had the family hold hands while I sang, O Tannenbaum. Seriously, we did this.  When they were little, the kids sang along, when they got older they rolled their eyes, when they got even older they hid in nearby trees.

But some traditions must fall by the wayside. This is the first Christmas in many years without our  old pets. It is the third Christmas as a fractured family.  It is the first year out of the only home my girls have ever known. It just didn't feel right celebrating in the same manner. Where we are now, space is limited, hearts are healing and it was time for something different.

Different came by way of eBay. Our tree arrived a week after the highest bid, shipped promptly in a recycled brown box with our address written in black Sharpie. I was the winner of a vintage, bedraggled, shedding, aluminum beauty, just under six feet tall and just like the one I had when I was four years old.

It was actually fun for my daughters and me to separate the branches according to size and fit them into the ill-fitting holes. It was nice having the old ornaments we had collected over the years, showcased on the sparse, stiff limbs. And, guess what? It sparkles without any lights at all. The truly vintage electric color wheels that spin and change the tree different colors were also a hot item on eBay, but they were out of  our budget this year. I do remember sitting fascinated when I was a kid, watching the tree go from red to blue to yellow, while the little wheel went round and round. It was so high-tech back then but now seems sort of  homespun.

At the moment, it is a temporary home, where my girls and I find ourselves. It might be a long time before we have a home of our home again. But right now, this place feels heavenly and this cusp we are living on, where the last two of my chicks are poised for take off, is oh so precious to us. It is a girls place here, where pink reigns and silver bangles sit artfully by the kitchen sink. It is a place, decidedly feminine. Our place for now. But isn't everything, only for now?

Some day we, I mean I, (I will have to get used to saying "I") will have a house of my own again.  And when that time comes, the tacky aluminum tree will come along. It will share the space with a real tree and be a sparkling reminder of these often trying, oh-so-fleeting, good old days.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Ugly Santas

What I love about Christmas is remembering what it felt like to believe in Santa. Of course if I believed Santa ever looked like any of these guys, I would have hid under my bed till New Years.  The girl in me still likes Santa, but now with a twist and it has been fun rescuing these guys from flea markets. The last photos is a postcard, the others all gather together on shelves with other tacky offerings of Christmas past.  There are dozens of cute little fellows that didn't make the ugly Santa cut and one much scarier guy, that my adult children were too frightened to let me bring out of the storage bin.  My dear friend, SteveMeeple, thinks his Santas are uglier than mine, but nope, not even close.

Tender Perennials

Hardening Off
Jan 8, 2011 7:51 am
There was a piece of dry cat food
in the boot with the broken zipper
that I put on without socks this morning
Do you remember how I always
forgot to buy socks?
And how I used to steal yours?
I still forget to buy them.

I'm wearing boots inside the house
because the thermostat is set at 62
and 62 isn't cozy, is it?

When you were here

we had the heat
as high as you wanted.
When you were warm -

it was warm enough 
for everyone.

King of the Thermostat, I used to call you.
"Who touched the thermostat?" you shouted
when I secretly nudged it up

a degree or two.

These days it is smaller electric bills
or a sparse refrigerator.
So we choose cream cheese
over cozy.
And no one shouts
much about anything any more.

It's funny how a piece of dry cat food
can feel like a razor. 
Still, my steps aren't as heavy,
as you would think
wearing boots inside

the home
that we will lose.

The girls are asleep upstairs,
warm under the electric blanket

from Nan and Pop.
they will stumble
into the kitchen
and say
"Morning Mama".

And for a second, because some
habits take a long time to die,
I wonder,
if you are cold
this morning.

December 9, 2011 5:18

The boots came with us
to this place
because boots with a broken zipper
are better than no boots at all

We landed here, 
not far from our
old home, 
wings not yet strong enough
to fly very far.

Walking inside,
up the stairs -
we call out 
for each other.
Handbags huddle in
the hall, while we eat
pizza topped 
with giggles again.

Soon, we will all  
like milkweed seeds,
and my heart
will know a new ache.

But for now, 
the girls are still with me
in a temporary place
that you never touched.

It hurts less to be here
in this haven
where the heater hums on
and pink is the color of

If you are cold,
I don't care.
And it makes me 
a little sad,
I am not as nice
as I used to be.