January 31, 2011

Sunday Scribblings: Safe

I am a bonafide germ-a-phobe.

Okay, maybe not the real deal, but I do have anti-bacterial gel in almost every room of the house.  When I have guests, there is usually a bottle sitting beside snacks on the coffee table.

Sickness makes me feel unsafe.  I think it's the whole out-of-control factor.  No, I'm not a control freak.  *the uncontrolled laughter is coming from my family*  But perhaps I do have the unproved notion that I can stop sickness.  Well, I think I could.  If only all the other crazy souls out there WOULD STAY HOME AND NOT GO OUT WITH A FEVER!!  OR A HACKING COUGH!  OR A STOMACH-ACHE!!

Enter this weekend.

A friend from out of the country came to visit.  We haven't seen her for eight years.  We ate out at a fun restaurant.  Late that night my eldest daughter got violently sick with food poisoning.

At least we THOUGHT it was food poisoning.

She was half-finished with a cake commissioned for the grand party to welcome back out-of-the-country-friend.  After finishing with her violent night of sickness, she rested half the day then finished the cake for the party while alternating standing, sitting and laying down.  That night we went to the party.  Everyone raved about the beauty of the cake.

Everyone ate the cake.

Many are now sick with what turned out to be a virus.

How ironic is it that the germaphobe Mom did not see this coming?  So, although it pains me to admit it: no amount of anti-bacterial gel can keep you safe from a virus.

And I suppose I cannot be mad at any fever-going, hacking, stomach-ache person walking the streets ever again.

January 26, 2011

The Letter Project

At the end of December, I decided to write one letter per day to a friend away from home for a month.

It's been years since I've written letters.  Nowadays, it's email, or text.  My friend didn't have phone OR computer.  So I set out to go back in time and write--the old fashioned way, snail mail.  I was surprised to find I loved the challenge.

I wrote her a letter at lunch.  Polished and sent it off by 4:00.  Then when my kids were doing homework, I decorated my envelope for the next day.

My friend is coming home today so my project is over.  But writing to her was such a stretch from my daily writing that I've decided to continue sending letters to someone once a week. Daily was a bit consuming, but weekly would be more manageable.

This project helped me by letting me see my daily activities through the lens of antidotes and insight I could share.  It also opened my eyes to the little details I so often skim; moments that make us who we are. (She couldn't write me back, so it was a one-sided conversation; not too different from a blog post)

This made me wonder if any of my friends in Bloggiland would like to join me on this venture. I'm thinking I will send a letter off by Wednesday of each week and then blog about what I wrote/sent/painted OR who I chose to send to on Thursdays. If you would like to join me and want to blog about it, I would add a link to your post.  If you need help deciding on a person to send to, I could post different types of people each week to give you a prompt (nursing home resident, teacher, etc.).

How about it?  Anyone want to join?

January 21, 2011

Inspiration Friday: Dreamgirl

I've been soaking up a good book on a cold day wrapped in a fleece blanket.  To me,  it can't get much better than this. ( I know, I have small expectations)  Days like this make me consider my dreams; to write and publish a book is top on the list.  But more than that to change the world, to touch someone with what I say.

What are your dreams today?

January 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Last night, it sleeted and snowed long enough to give us a good covering this morning.  And I am thankful because today is our first snow day of the year!!!  My kids are home wrapped in blankets.  I'm loving the slow, long morning and looking forward to board games, books, hot chocolate and snuggles.

What are you thankful for today?

January 16, 2011


My daughter didn't want me aboard the party bus.  The one rented for her sixteenth birthday party.  We had other chaperons so it shouldn't have bothered me.

But it did.

"Are you sure you don't want me on?" I asked her.

"Yes I'm sure, Mom!"

I stood outside the group of boisterous teenagers congregated at the corner ready for loading.  My daughter was laughing and chattering in the midst of them.  And there I stood, the onlooker.  No thought given to the eight hours of labor; no one wanting to hear that story.

I felt invisible.

They arrived back home as loudly as they'd left. When it came time for cake, she lit the candles without waiting for me.  In that moment, I realized what was bothering me.  She didn't need me anymore.  She had planned, decorated, invited and even baked her own cake. Without me.  And the more I thought about it, it became clear that it wasn't just about the party or feeling invisible--I was losing her.  The little girl who wanted me to play dolls, snuggle and fix her hair, didn't need me now.  It was the beginning of the end.

A week later, she and I were chatting with one of her friends.  My daughter shared something deeply personal.  Her friend nudged her, signaling her to shut up.

"Oh my Mom knows," my daughter said, "we have that kind of relationship."

And like the Grinch, my heart grew two sizes that day and melted into a giant puddle of happiness.  Maybe she doesn't need me to fix her cake or choose her clothes anymore; but we have that kind of relationship. One that, I hope, wraps her in unconditional love.

And in the length of one sentence, I felt visible again.

January 14, 2011

Inspiration Friday: Wild Thing

Being outside daily in the frigid air has made me long for jungle temperatures which may have inspired this piece.


She reminds me of the MC in my middle grade novel simmering in my desk drawer.  I miss her.  Is that weird?  Maybe you shouldn't answer that...

What are you working on?

January 5, 2011

Uncluttered Comments

I've noticed a new trend in the comment arena.  People are emailing responses to the comments on their blogs instead of answering IN the comment section.  I like the intimacy of it.

Christine taught me how. Go under settings to get comments emailed to you.  When the comments arrive in your box, simply reply your answer.

Easy peasy!

I like the idea of commenting back and not cluttering the comment box. But being my snoopy self, I like to read the answers other people write on their blogs so I'm a little torn about switching to the reply by email.

What about you?  Which do you prefer?

January 4, 2011

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Vegans

My almost sixteen-year-old daughter decided to go vegan for the New Year.  Why?  I don't know; I love meat.  Must be from her dad's side of the family.  Nonetheless, I took her to the Whole Foods Store.  It was my first time.  (Don't throw organic eggplants at me)

I noticed something different right off.  People in a health food store actually care about what they wear.  No one matched my sweatshirt/sneaker outfit.  Two young butchers whispered behind the counter with elusive glances in our direction.  I felt like we wore blaring siren hats screeching, "Newcomers!"

Despite my lack of health-food shopping, I found the first object on the list fairly easy, veggie bacon.  (Yes I agree, seems a contradiction)  Guessing that veggie bacon might need to be refrigerated, I headed for that section.  There it was on the shelf, nodding at my genius.  From that point on, my daughter fell in line behind her all-knowing Mom.  After marking coconut oil and vegan bacon off her list, I began to get a swelled head.  I was pretty good at this. Especially for someone who'd never heard of these things before.

After an hour we'd found everything on the list except for vegan tofu. We circled the butcher block three (or three hundred) times.  My feet ached, my eyes were getting glassy.  I wondered if they hid the tofu to give you a workout while you shopped.  The butchers continued staring.  To which I reasoned they must be overcome by my beautiful, greasy-haired ringlets.  Why else would their eyes not leave the sweatshirt-clad woman and her daughter?  Someone might argue that they were looking at her NON-sweatshirt-clad-daughter.  But why would they be looking at a little girl? *Ahem*

Finally, after the other shoppers were almost family, a nice employee took pity on us.  "The vegan stuff is grouped together over here."

In case you're wondering, vegan tofu is next to veggie bacon--in the refrigerated section.

January 1, 2011

A Year Without Regrets?

I think I lost my innocence last year.  I know, that's an odd thing to say at the age of 43.

It started when my boisterous Julia-Child-length-friend found out her cancer had returned.  She was only three weeks out from finishing her treatment.  Really?  And this time it was in her lungs.  Both of them.  I stood over her hospital bed as she told me and wept on her two inches of hair.  We clung to each other as only two mothers can do both consoling the other and yet having no words to help.  I didn't sleep much that night.  A dry depression sunk over me like that hurtful swallowing you do to stop tears.

Then a few days later we found out Tally, our dog, had Cushings disease.  It was treatable but not curable and the Vet said she wouldn't live out the year even if we proceeded to do the expensive treatments. You might think I'm about to wax on about how much I love this dog.  You're wrong.  I hated her.  Well, it wasn't her so much as just the whole dog thing.  I never was a pet-lover and dogs just gross me out, all slobbery and fartsy.  A friend had offered the already aging dog to us one summer five years ago.  My three kids squealed and my husband gave me the pitiful you-can-say-no-if-you-want-to-but-what-a-meanie-you'd-be look.  And in a moment of vacation weakness, I said yes.

A few weeks later we had a thunderstorm.  Tally was terrified of them and jumped on my bed about four hundred times that night.  I literally growled at my husband who, not surprisingly, slept through the whole thing.  We bought tranquilizers for the dog since we live in Tornado Ally. The friend who gave her to us said Tally had never done that before.  Uh-huh.

Beware, even if your children swear on their life to care for said dog, YOU will be the one doing it. Every morning Tally would wake me up all eager and jumpy.  She'd sometimes have to wait on me to pee before she could.  I didn't love her or pet her or even talk sweetsy to her; but I did have compassion.  I fed her.

It was the eve of Christmas Eve when we told the kids we were going to have to put Tally down.  They said their goodbyes, gave her treats, cried.  I took her outside to brush her one last time.  I'm not sure why, I just felt she needed it. We put her in the car then Steve and I left the kids at home and headed to the vet.  On the way I felt restless and angry.  I snapped at every question Steve directed to me.  He let me and Tally off at the door and parked.

I took Tally in.  She sniffed along the floor and in every crevice possible.  I made her sit.  Her paws slid out from under her.  I realized for the first time how decrepit she had become.  I avoided looking at her and slid more treats into her mouth.  Her eyes caught mine.  They were big.  She was a quiet dog, never barked much. I could tell when she needed to go outside by the panic look in her eyes.  Her eyes were happy now and her tail wagged.

Behind me a gruff old woman attempting to whisper but failing said, "That dog's tail is wagging now but I'll bet it won't be wagging in an hour."

I wanted to shout that I could hear her.  Tears threatened to slide down my cheeks.  I tried to choke them back and remind myself I was NOT one of those people--the ones that think dogs are humans.  I was a dog hater and crying over one was not okay for me.  But my tears didn't listen.  By the time I reached the counter, I was sobbing.  The receptionist spoke carefully as if one wrong move might make the lunatic in front of her blow the place up.  She led a wagging Tally back to a room and said they'd call me when they got her ready.

Steve came in and tried to talk but I continued to snap.  He quieted and left me in my weird don't-love-dogs grief.  Finally we were called back.  The Vet treated me like someone who'd loved this dog from birth and was now saying good-bye to their best friend.  I felt like a liar.  The vet gave us a few minutes alone.  I told Tally things that people who loved her had asked me to say.  Then I told her I was sorry I hadn't loved her. I petted her like a child getting a immunization shot.  The vet came back in and told us what to expect; he gave her the medicine and she was gone.

That afternoon my nose looked like a Christmas Rudolph impression and my eyes like snowballs.  I knew it was probably delayed grief over my beautiful friend and her cancer.  But the next morning I got out of bed ready to take Tally outside and it hit me--hard.  I melted back into my covers and sobbed.  Plastering my face into the feather pillow, I wailed.  I felt regret.  No one else in my family was sobbing, they'd all loved her and had no regrets.  I never once said I love you to that stupid dog.  And now, I regretted it.  Because, gulp, I did love her.  She had sunk into my heart without my knowing it.

Loss is terrible.  Loss with regret is worse.

My friend with cancer will probably get sick of me now because I don't want any more regrets.  I know regrets lurk nearby like those little dust pieces floating in a sunbeam from the window, but I can try to keep them at bay.

For my Julia and Tally, tell someone (or some dumb dog) that you love them today.