How I hopped aboard the Lent train and gave up sadness on the ride to Easter.
How I hopped aboard the Lent train and gave up sadness on the ride to Easter.
On an ice-glazed morning, today’s reading thaws my cockles. Thanks again, Annie L:
When all is said and done, spring is the main reason for Wow. Spring is crazy, being all hope and beauty and glory. She is the resurrection. Spring is Gerard Manley Hopkins, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God. / It will flame out, like shining from shook foil.”
Buds opening and releasing, mud and cutting winds, bright green grass and blue skies, nests full of baby birds. All of these are deserving of Wow—even though I have said elsewhere that spring is also about deer ticks—and everywhere you look, couples are falling in love, and the air is saturated with the scent of giddiness and doom. Petals are wafting and falling slowly through the air, and there is something so Ravel, languorous, reminding me to revel in the beauty of things wafting.
Only two months to crocuses.
Living on pins, needles these past months since
Surviving a second heart attack in eleven years I’m finally
Beginning to relax,
Feeling better, better than back to normal, lighter, back to
Working at my
Marketing job for a
Publishing company, which isn’t all that creative but freed me to reserve my creative energies for
Digging into deep thesis revisions, finally finished, and now the joy of
Crafting it into a manuscript, because a friend who read it thanked me for
Revealing, in my stories, a gracious God, a
Loving God, the same one who let my heart keep
Beating in July, so that in November, this quiet
Morning I am
Sitting on my Crate and Barrel couch
Watching another Macy’s Day parade, my 49th, and
Sipping coffee my
Darling husband brewed, and I can see outside tiny snowflakes
Falling, and I can hear the egg timer shaped like a chicken
Ticking down the minutes for the pumpkin pie, my sweetie’s favorite, in the oven
Filling our home with cozy aromas after yesterday, a glorious, common day of
Nesting to give my babies, two teenagers who are still in their beds
Sleeping, memories of a normal holiday with their mother who loves them more than life still
Typing this little post,
Trying in vain to capture her gratitude by
Counting the ways she is blessed with gifts so good it’s
Embarrassing, so extravagant that all she can do is just be
The second sweetest thing about cardiac recovery is the extravagance of time you find to loll on the screened porch playing the synopsis game with your 18 year-old son, who hasn’t yet read the books you’ve loved in college and half a lifetime, but who has read the books you loved and hated in high school but can’t recall.
The sweetest thing about cardiac recovery is winning at the synopsis game against your über literary little boy-man, with the clue, “a child tries to prove his independence by leaving in many ways, never escaping the persistence of his mother’s love,” and the prize: digging out, dusting off, and reading aloud to this man the book he doesn’t remember finding in his first Easter basket, a book you read and re-read to him before naps, after naps, at bedtime, and so many times in between until the pages were bent and sticky and smudged with too swift a season.
“Have a carrot.”
Today, while sculpting chapter intros for my thesis I got to use a really fun building material. It’s like the day your mom would drop you off at kindergarten, you’d enter the room and see waiting for your eager little hands blobs of green and red and yellow Play Doh on one activity table, Cheerios on another table; and multicolor marshmallows on another table. You just KNEW you were going to have fun that day!
Today, my my rainbow marshmallow was a fun fun word I got to choose for my art and craft project for the day: “HERKY-JERKY!” Yes! I have the most fun vocation in the world. I get to play with words. I get to rub plunge my grubby little paws into piles of delicious words, grab my favorite color, and POP it into my mouth. And today’s word made me smile, made me feel like the luckiest person in the world to call myself a writer. It’s the little things.
It’s not the most elegant sentence I’ve ever written, and it’s just the rough draft (self-protective disclaimer), but here’s the sentence: “Another essay, a heartfelt motherhood-themed mosaic by Robin Black grabbed me by the throat, not only with its content, but with its form, which reflected the angst of parenting decisions in its own herky-jerky structure and section titles.”
…and I’m in it.
After a gloomy weekend of rainy weather, it’s Monday, the kids have a Flex Day, and the sun is shining. The sun is shining bright like a blue sky day on the beach, it’s 75 degrees, and I’m in the Carmel Ice Skadium writing a Bosma internal newsletter on my laptop while my daughter skates stumbly laps for two-and-a-half hours with four other 11-ish buddies. It’s her birthday, and spending three hours in a cooler was her choice.
And since Grace really is the best girl who was ever born, truly, I didn’t hesitate to oblige her. But between you and me, I appreciate this opportunity to complain. Not that I didn’t spend hours in this very place after school and on weekends when I was her age, learning spins, jumps and spirals. Like with so many other haunts in this town I left in ’83 never to return, I’ve had enough of this particular locale. I never needed to see it again. Or smell it. It still smells like feet, sweat and dirty frost. The steel rafters, wooden stands carved with marks from a million blades, and cinderblock bathroom walls painted yellow remain as they appear in my memory.
A change in ownership a few years back, though, and an accompanying infusion of capital have resulted in some significant improvements. Topping the list is a new manager—a friendly, helpful guy they hired away from a rink near Seattle. (The old guy was aloof, loud, and rude. And I’m not saying the year, exactly, but it was earlier than 1980.) Mr. New Manager says they brought him on to “fix” the Carmel Ice Skadium, specifically the facility and programming. (“We sell ice. Ice and fun.”) When I asked him to pinpoint the most critical fix, he said, “Customer service.”
Friendly, helpful help goes a long way, sure, but so does a new and improved snack bar that sells hot Starbucks beverages, Tazo teas, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, pizza, and…BEER! (Mommy needs a beer, but nothing makes a responsible adult wait to drink at home more effectively than four little girls who depend on said Mommy to provide safe return to their mommies and daddies.)
One girl left because she was bored (a wrist injury prevented her from skating-???); another sulked by my side, slurping her blue slushie in my ear for fifteen minutes trying to annoy me into giving her money for a snack (I resisted), but the other three party girls skated and fell and skated some more until it was cake and present time. After the girls slimed a tabletop with their blue and red slushie juices, I offered to wipe it down. The new manager smiled and said, “We’ll take care of that. You just relax. Is it going okay?”
Grace is having a blast, it seems. And it’s not too bad for me, really. The prices are reasonable – $5 for kids, $3 for rental. I’m picking up someone’s internet signal. And the new manager, with his efforts at creating a tidier facility and a better experience for kids and parents, has made this afternoon’s warm weather deprivation a little less hellish.
At the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon 15K training race this past Saturday, a friend of mine who is legally blind finished STRONG! See a snippet of her story and a link to the video of her celebrating by clicking this link.
Approaching the six year anniversary of the 95 percent blockage in my 38 year-old lower anterior descending artery, I’m still counting my blessings. Happy to be alive, that’s what I am. I snuggle longer, stress less, laugh more, eat dessert first, kiss my sleeping kids — all that jazz. But: I miss shoveling snow!
At the end of a week in the hospital recovering from my freak heart attack, the doctor sent me home with a list of activities and corresponding time frames when I would be allowed to return to them. “Walk a block – one week. Light house work – two weeks. Climb stairs – three weeks. Have sex – four weeks. Shovel snow – NEVER.”
Indiana was blessed with a lovely snow storm last night. Balm to my soul. Anyone who knows me knows I didn’t leave Colorado in my rearview mirror seven years ago. It hangs around my neck like a tacky accessory I refuse to remove. It’s a virus I can’t shake. The West was my home for thirteen glorious years; it’s where I grew up, found Me, met grace, died a couple times, learned to live, work and play. It’s in my blood, and I’ll ache for it until I return for good.
But in the meantime, a blanket of white provides temporary relief to the longing I feel for my home on the range. A snowy day doesn’t have to be an official snow day to be a Snow Day to me. This morning, though, it’s official. Work and school are closed. I’ve suited up my children to play in the snow and help Daddyo shovel.
As I sit here in flannel jammies, my husband is outside laboring to clear twelve inches the heavens heaped on our driveway as we slept. I wish I could help him. Aside from feeling guilty that he’s pert near dead from cold and effort, I’m a little envious! I want to feel the warm, wet fleece against my neck and the cling of sweaty silks on my back. But if I do, I might die!
So, I’ll watch through the triple panes from the big comfy couch as I sip coffee and type on my laptop with Ellen on in the background. And I’ll have hot cocoa ready for my cold, sweaty, rosy-cheeked loved ones.
Living is good.
(With her Canon.)
This photographer sees the beauty I see in my children and captures it on film. More examples in a later post, but check this artist’s work on Jen’s website. And see the cutie brother and sister on her blog!
Yep, on the July 14 post, them’s my babies!
Here’s the headshot Jack used for his IRT audition today, his 12th birthday! (It’s from a scan, so it’s not as clear as the real thing.)
Not a professional shot:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JACK!!!
There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.
Is a picture really worth a thousand words? Are the words true? Can I trust the words? Whose words are they? And is no news good news?
Today, on my son’s fourth day of camp, my husband brought the mail in and announced, “Mail call! A letter from camp!” Last year my son went to camp but did not write to me. Holding the envelope addressed with familiar printing in my hand, I felt a mixture of pride, anticipation and sentimentality. “Oh, my little boy is growing up. I’m going to put this milestone letter in a scrapbook to bring out when he and his wife and children visit me someday.” These thoughts and others predicting the content of the letter flooded my mind in the fifteen seconds it took me to carefully open the envelope. I did not expect to read the following words.
I called the camp and waited two agonizing hours for the camp people to locate my son and find out if he was okay. I bathed, got dressed and prepared to drive the two hours to pick him up.
Finally, the camp director called to relieve my fears. Turns out he had transmitted his distress signal on the second day of camp, after his first night of a cold, cold (60 degree) night. (I was excited for him to have “real camp weather,” a relief from the sweltering, sticky 90 degree nights he endured last summer.) “He thought you either didn’t get the letter or figured he was kidding…and was glad you didn’t come pick him up.” WHEW!
So I’ll still put the letter in a scrapbook and hope that next year he writes a more newsy letter.
Or no letter at all. That’d be fine.
(Fun on the Blob – A thousand words of evidence off the SpringHill website proving that the crisis has passed.)
NOT – See next post – “NOT A LAUGHING MATTER.”
My husband is hilarious. It’s one of the many reasons I love him. Another appealing quality is his natural ability to Get Things Done. He’s a strong, assertive man. Forceful yet smooth.
Take, for instance, our trip to Chicago last weekend. After our “Wicked” matinee, I decided we’d try one of the top restaurants in Chicago, Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill, seating capacity 65. In a city of close to three million people, to think we could be seated at 6pm on a Saturday night — with two kids in tow — is something only a coupla hoosiers would be foolish enough to think they could do. But we were one five-dollar cab ride away so heck, we gave it a shot.
And speaking of shots, the only alcohol on the menu at the celebrated chef’s downtown restaurant is tequila. My husband, being the vodka man that he is, took one for the team, sucked it up and ordered two margaritas for our two-hour wait.
I should back up. The maitre de (which is French for master of) first greeted our party of four with cool courtesy, telling us to take a walk and try back in a half hour for a pager. I smiled, turned on my heel and herded the fam back out to the sidewalk of Clark Street across from an adult bookstore. We walked a few blocks, grabbed some bottled juice for the kids to tide them over and returned thirty minutes later for our pager. Looking surprised by our commitment to dining at Frontera, the maitre de relinquished a pager which I handed to the husband.
For fifteen minutes the four of us tried to make ourselves inconspicuous and out of the way of the adult patrons, scrunching ourselves as close as possible to the the shelves displaying an array of Rick Bayless cookbooks and Frontera sauces. Dan disappeared into the swankified bar (seats 30) for grown-up drinks and returned with two identical glasses full of tart, pale green, high octane liquids. I sucked my delectable happy potion in under five minutes, and my husband nursed his conservatively. Two chairs opened in the waiting area opened, and we seated the kids with instructions to be on their very best fine restaurant behavior.
Five minutes later, Mr. Bates handed me his drink. “I just don’t like lime.” Oh happy day! Two more chairs opened – our luck continued! The kids were content, we had seats for the next hour of waiting, and I had me a fresh, fabulous, barely dented margarita. One or two minutes later, when the master of the restaurant stepped away, my husband stood and approached the maitre de station. A hostess peeked over at me briefly, and Dan turned to tell us, “Okay. Here we go.” Pleasantly surprised, the children and I followed him to the table where we celebrated with joy the freshest, most flavorful meal we’ve shared as a family.
Over coffee and flan for two I said, “Honey, I’m surprised we got in so quickly.” He smirked. I said, “What? What’d you do?”
“Heart,” he said. I had a heart attack five years ago, which became useful and necessary to invoke in order to avoid lines and long waits in the months during my recovery.
“What did you say?!” I laughed.
“I just told her, ‘My wife had a heart attack. If she has to wait too long, she drinks too much,'” he said. (That’s when the hostess peered over at two-fisted me sitting there holding two margarita glasses.)
I laughed harder and more loudly than I have in, I’d say years. Though the alcohol had mellowed in my system since those earlier cocktails, my son said, “Mom’s smashed!” I was smashed on giddy joy, and as we sauntered down Wacker back to our hotel, I laughed all the way at my husband’s hilarious resourcefulness. I love him.
With all my heart.
all i ask is to see the wonder of it all
(Somewhat) Daily News from the World of Literary Nonfiction
Dreamer, Sober, Daddy, Hubby, Leader-ish, Lover, Yet to be Determined
The Bliss of Reality
Discovering a Beautiful Life
I talk language, Tolkien, films, ideas, stuff.
Real Grace. For Real Life.
Sharing writing tips, information, and advice.
Editor | Copy-editor | Proofreader
and other classics