Sunday, October 11, 2009

Summer's End-Looking Forward

I will decide if I publish this post later,but it is time to write. When it is time to write in means I am giving myself a sermon, or an alter call or a stern talking to in the corner kitchen chair. Sometimes it means I have something poking me, like a sand burr in my sock and I must stop. Hurrying is not the best option. Such a time has come. 
Fall always leaves me pensive, nearly melancholy  as I reflect. It is a time to notice the passing of time as though in stark contrast to simply absorbing sun and warmth of summer. The dancing through sunlight stops. The sudden change in temperature, in the leaves and grasses, and the knowing that tremendous cold is coming, calls to me like the bugler. That there is a coming of storm and ice and a very long cold, not to be escaped, hibernated through, but to be endured. 
I know that there will be good things in all that time. The end of summer the hazy smoky autumn speaks to me in pictures. 
This call to change, this sudden notice in of the weather. The winter is on my heals, herding me toward the barn. It is almost as though I am crowed into the required chamber with others to deal with the inward work we must do, much as we are crowed into the warm interior of a home  because of a breaking storm. After the brave adventures and coveted stealing away onto warm meadows or still quiet places by trout pools, the loss of which is resented.  Bigger and more powerful and over arching, the weather is a limiting factor of how we live our lives. 
I know going inside is needed even wanted but I dread it too. I have to examine why. 
I know I have not examined my thoughts or my heart or my habits. I bustle through days snarfing  the uneaten cookie, staying away from the disorder in the garage, neglecting the mending and the needed exercise. I have been able to avoid it by the grand scope of being busy, much like having the great outdoors unfurled before me on a summer day. It comes replete with longer, warmer hours-- from an early twinkling dawn to the last sultry heat wave as velvety as the late night stars pulsing above. The endlessness of such a day is tangible. There seem to be no limits on the abundance of summer. I do not imagine myself alone in this idea. I see whole bundles of my fellow beings here: We can eat the whole loaf of bread and crunch through whole watermellons dripping with sticky sweet. We swim until we are too tired to and then sun bather until we are ready for iced lemonade. We turn from summersaulting down the green to whiling away the late afternoon in a book or a nap or a friendly face. Now really these moments are rare. We are usually racing from the grocery to the library to the next meal, the next chart, the next bill or meeting or project. The dirty socks and dishes and stacks of mail testify that our time is not spent at the golf course or at the beach. But the sense of it will not be erased nevertheless; the sense that we have no limits. There is the niggle that all this will end. We know it and ignore it because every moment must be opened and eaten and nothing wasted. We know we will want to walk away from the rind full and contented. When our summer feast is done there will only be drying orange peals and crumpled wax paper. 
For some, yes too, there is the cold slap of reminders that this is not endless, that this is temporary, comes when someone leaves us suddenly; when a life is gone too soon; when it is us crying through the endless gray of grief. But still summer weaves the expectation of bounty, an expanse of doing and dreaming by turns. 
So autumn leaves me wistful; fearing the empty cold, dreading the indoors. I know inside the coming months there is firelight and buttered popcorn and puzzles and laughter and snug contentment. I know there is the hush and wonder of blanketing snow and the magical brilliance of each flake and diamond dazzle of the new landscape. There is the forgiving white cover over ugly soggy dirty brown places and unpainted fences. The red and green twinkle of Christmas and the carols and rosy cheeks of children sledding or skating and sports tumble through the winter too... There is the struggle of lifting the torso onto the first snowman and the patchwork quilt and mug of steaming chocolate. Tucked in like a prize will be red and pink candy valentines and sugar cookies and spiced cider. There will be thin pink clouds of dawn and the projects of snow caves or contests for the longest ice-cycle, and the deer picking their way from gray copses of willow. There will be story telling and homework and winter will whirl away in the bustle of living like old leaves twisting off the side walk in the stiff wind. Spring will nibble away at the cold edges and brown patches will get bigger and the redeeming green will march out again. But will I still avoid the inside?
Will I see spring contented? Will I have managed to open myself to its newness renewed or still walking even racing blindly away from the inside of me? I do not fear the oncoming snow, but the dread is like heaps of after-feast dishes. Each one must be scraped and washed and polished and put on its' shelf. The end result is desired but the task is unavoidable to get there. And most of all, will I stop long enough to take the time? Will I stop long enough open the attic, lift the lid of the old treasure chest? Will I sort out old clothes, give away the relic, transfer the puzzle to the donations,  and wipe the dust and clear the cobwebs of lost hopes? Dare I re-read the yellowing letters of  diffferend days and right the up-ended dreams? Dare I face the task to really live? Ah, there! Now I have named the dread of weather change and winter. 
(Oh, I will publish it. No one HAS to read it. But I will, and I will read it again later and remind myself.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Adjusting Identities

Well, I'm back...for a while anyway.
I think I've been mixed up with someone else lately. Two or three people in fact. I got a text message thanking me for inviting a buddy golfing. I don't golf. I got a call for Kim (not my name), I received a collection message for a family whose old name was not on the mail box. My daughter says, do this, or else! She's the parent, I'm four. Suddenly it all makes sense! I can't keep up with everything that I should be doing but cannot possibly do. Three people could not do it. I realize I have inadvertently stolen five people's identities and I have to live all of their lives at once!!! If I could just inherit a fairy godmother's identity, I think I could actually pull this off!
Things seem busier than ever before. Lots of things will sift through the summer undone. it can't be helped.
The walls are starting to come into focus. the flash-flood of laundry is sand bagged and running in the right direction. The employer has been more than patient and the boxes of paperwork are caught up (with help) and labeled and waiting to be delivered on time. The stale, 'mom's gone' smell is slowly drifting out of the windows.
I am feeling overwhelmed and grateful. We got the car unstuck in under an hour when we were going to go on a picnic. We picked a new spot. We ate our dinner in the nicest place: green grass, flowers, birds, cool. And best, we only had to walk across the lawn to get home! The teens nod and smile when I say, "Please" (This is nice, but I'm not sure if it's normal.) They do chores, help willingly, wash their own clothes, play with little kids and agree to go on walks with me. I even caught one listening to soft music this week. (Is this the fairy god mother kicking in?) I realise that I am glad to be alive. I hope I never outgrow the sense of wonder and awe I have of wearing skin and standing on this planet. I realize I must drive people crazy with my silly joking and teasing, my adolescent ear rings and music, dancing or cartwheels or my constant, "Look!" I enjoy the company of young people, but feel shy , wondering if they think I'm weird for being there? I remembered the retired teacher I met on the train coming home from Iowa. "are you always this animated? I mean, glad to be alive?" He asked. "Well, I guess so, most of the time." I had to apologize later for making him insane with my "Oh, David, look at that! And, "Look over there! Isn't it beautiful? Did you see that?" He kindly excused me saying he felt more anticipation and eagerness with us there.
If the hard things seem harder, the good things breathe more of heaven. So I will celebrate the good things. Summer thumbnail moons and the wide orange smear of tonight's sunset accenting the orange twinkle of evening city lights and the purple-blue lake complimenting the mountains in silhouette. People have said encouraging things to me this week. The summer is more pleasant, greener and cooler that any I remember. ( I think I smuggled some weather back from Iowa)I look longingly at the green mountains and wonder if this year I will hike. It could happen. My eight year old has learned to swim. Another teen might have a job. The three littlest are bathed and big brother, home for the weekend from his job, read to them and tucked them, three in a row in his bed for now. He'll move them when they're a sleep, so as not to spoil the adventure. So I will sit here and listen to Josh Groban and blog.
My first bright grandson is seven years old today! Seven! When it first happened, I remember it took a long time to get used to the new identity, the title, I mean, not the feeling. The feeling was as natural as a heartbeat. It was new. What ever I had been before I was more. Holding the fuzzy, sleepy little head--waiting for a glimpse of blue eyes; laughing at hungry slurping, and watching him curl up like a sweet pea in its' shell. Rocking, the three of us, my little Grace and Roman and me. It was better than warm cookies and a summer meadow and Vivaldi. If he's seven, that makes me a seven year old grandmother. It's definitely time to celebrate!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Time Out. Go to Your Room!

I sent myself to my room last time I got too grumpy. It works better for me than for my six year old because I'm not mad at myself when I get to come out again. 
People know that I have allot on my plate, and maybe can't figure out exactly what needs to change when I'm not up-beat or sociable. It's only because I haven't had a "vacation". 
I should probably take one about every other month. I'm not sure how often I really take them, but I know how refreshed I am when I do. 
My oldest daughter treated me to a mini vacation in the form of some thick easy read books, and I wondered how many other parents/couples out there take these sorts of vacations?
I never have to leave home. I just plan out a few days of easy prepare food, neglect the housework and say no to packing the schedule. I say yes to early morning walks. I say yes to plays, movies and late night glasses of juice. I say yes to unplanned trips to the park or canyon drives. Sometimes its cottage cheese and grapes at the park for breakfast. I can call or write to someone I need to keep in touch with. I say no to cleaning the car, the carpet and the pet.  I say yes to reading all night, dancing, and laughing until 1:00 am with teens. I say yes to silly jokes, laughing at myself and chocolate. I stoop to really listen to little ones. I imagine myself a child, an adolescent, a senior citizen depending on who it is I'm taking to. (Sometimes the senior citizen needs to talk to a little kid!) I stop and put a hand on the shoulder when a child tells about their day. I think, "I have time for this". I buy lemonade from roadside card tables. I share childhood stories about myself. I allow myself to think of loved ones whose faces I will not see again. I ignore slights and irritation and the clock. I say yes to standing on a wet hill in the gray dawn until the wind picks up, the morning chorus crescendos and the clouds turn from rose to amber. I make sudden stops near baby lambs, new foals, feed bread to ducks or detour to see the baby chicks at the local feed store. I pet the cat. I nurture people and plants. I put fresh flowers on the table and put on makeup and curl my hair. I smile allot. I decide to see myself as new, lovable and beautiful. I take extra time in my conversations with God. I read uplifting poetry or scripture. I look up at the stars. I let the little kids sleep in my big bed and rub lotion on their feet. I stay up late just to sing to them and rock them to sleep. I build puzzles, read stories and play games. I look at peoples eyes. 
I make sure I know when I'm coming back from vacation because then I set the alarm clock, plan ahead, keep the schedule, prepare healthy meals, clean house, take the car for an oil change, cut grass, bake, wash the dishes, sew, mend, iron, mop, clean the garage, go shopping, wash clothes, go to work, answer the phone, write in events on the calendar, attend community functions, problem solve and schedule dentist and doctor appointments. I'm not certain that my days are less full, but the mental vacation means they are less stressful. 
Sometimes I can only take a half hour vacation. Sometimes its using spare change to pay for a massage from one of the kids. Sometimes its a walk; sometimes its a movie; sometimes its a book; but my bio-rhythm requires a time out to stay sane. 
If today feels like a Monday, maybe its time to schedule a mini-vacation! 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I suppose it was silly to start a blog and then only write in it once a month. 
Paper organization is only one of my handicaps; not being a skilled juggler is another. Juggling the little one at home with two elementary kids and four teens leaves me feeling sure I've missed an important deadline, let someone fall through the cracks, or am falling asleep when I should be doing... something..., but what? I love being the mother of this bouquet of children, I'm just not very confident at it. 
There are sleek, cool, glamorous moms, perfect makeup, cell phone in one hand they can smile as they pull the homemade casserole out of the oven at 5:57p.m. with the other, walk to a ready laid table and stand back as the five kids breeze through the kitchen door at 5:59 with clean hands and faces. Dad calls, "Honey, I'm home" and walks straight to his place at 6:00 p.m. sharp. These moms can explain, "Its usually like this, if I keep a schedule, everybody knows what to expect, so its not stressful." I always wonder where I was when heaven handed out basic skills? Definitely not in that line. I wonder what was I doing when I missed that disbursement? Probably admiring the sports fans mothers or mom's with fourteen kids and Phd's. I walk around with a chronic sense of being less competent and prepared than the average female. I realize that to admit that means I need a daily therapist. But I have one, my kids. When I'm sure I'm rowing my boat merrily, merrily backwards, they say, "Just look at the scenery! No body else gets to see the world like we do!" When I'm cross, they look down and droop, but always offer a helping hand. If one is slamming doors, another is sure to spring up to me with a delighted, "Look what I made for you!" I close nearly every day wondering how I got blessed with the most amazing kids I know. How, why, what, I could never tell anyone. I have been awestruck from the first minute until now. I only know I have to do everything I can to keep them as happy, as trusting and eager and innocent as they were when they first held my finger. 
Even though its past Mothers' Day, Hooray to mothers!  You are my daily inspiration. I watch each one, and I ask what is she doing so right? Can I do that? Thanks for letting me learn everyone!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Why, on Easter

Well, Easter is around the corner. And for those of us along the Wasatch front in Utah, it also means snow. Why on Easter? 
Easter summons up images of lilies, spring hyacinths, vivid greens and blues and yellows; the white of  bursting orchard blossoms and lambs and gentle warm afternoons. Things like Easter bunny come to mind (Utah's will be a white snow-shoe hare), and eggs and yellow chicks and children calling and laughing with the celebrated egg hunts. 
I inwardly grumble at God. He knows perfectly well these snowy mantles are not a cloak I would not have designed if I had done the shopping!
As a family, we have begrudgingly thought we could make small snow balls and chocolate coat them, and twist-tie jelly beans in colored cellophane and throw them in snow banks. Boiled eggs should preserve nicely if bought brown. You'd never find the white ones! The cold hands and grouchy children stuck inside were not a welcome back ground anxiety.
But there are upsides:
We can make our own displays: clothes pin and pompom caterpillars, paper towel chrysalises and crepe butter flies; cereal boxes converted to mats for salt dough maps of the Holy Land; blown and hand painted eggs; and those marvelous giant crystal eggs with scenes inside. I've never made one, maybe now it is time to learn. There will be family gathered around me, and food, and songs, and smiles. 
Maybe, just maybe, there is more to this cool weather for me than even this. I can look for its hidden treasure like turning over old leaves and seeing that surprising green shoot underneath. Like the surprise of picking up a fiery red-orange sea agate on a gray, cloud draped beach. It is not the setting, but the discovery.  I am on a treasure hunt.  A miraculous chance I would not have created for myself.   
This year I shall re-discover why. Not just why this cold on Easter, but why Easter. This is not just the celebration of new life, but a REALLY new life: HIS, and mine through Him. This is a chance to skip the shopping market and visit the cathedral. Lifting this small branch of cold weather I can see this landmark of the Christian's own chrysalis. This is God's garden, where He can be seen walking through the magic of making all things new. All I can do is hold my breath, remembering every time He has touched me and changed me, and one more time inwardly plead, "Let it be me!"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

If Wishes Were Horses

The Spring yo-yo has gotten under my skin. 
When the daffodils bloomed by the front door, and the purples of crocuses and grape hyacinths were clustering at edges, I was optimistic, delighted, content. Now I'm moody, can't tell if I'm grouchy or worse, unreasonable. The thermostat says the temperature is the same moderate 72 degrees, but I can't get warm. I'm sure it said the same thing last week when I basked in cooler clothing and went on a walk without a sweater. 
This last season especially, I made an agreement to myself to be content with winter while winter was here.  I would not be petty and spoiled and always wish for something that I could not have. I would take the time to feel the wonder and beauty of dusted fir, and snow powdered slopes; pause to take in the contrasts of light and shadow. I would take time to look at the ice cycles and examine closely the first large flakes of each new storm.  The howling wind and drifting snow would foster gratitude as I curled warm and safe in the lamp light to read. I would have extra family time to pop corn and see movies that we were too busy to watch before. We would sing and do puzzles. And we would cut and hang the traditional snow flakes and watch the fire (when we got enough wood dry). Then there would be Christmas and soft colored lights and oranges and hot cocoa. New Years parties and St. Valentine's Day. I promised to relax. Enjoy the season. And I have. I have tried not to lose a single wondrous moment. How truly marvelous it has all been. I have not neglected one or these resolutions. The memories are in a welcome stack, heaped like warm blankets in their wicker basket.  
Spring always comes... How is it the I can still wonder after all the years? 
But, yes, is spite of all the memories we have made, the laughter and the love and the sweetness of the family circle, I am impatient and irritable. I was supposed to be weeding and preparing flower beds, trimming the edges, and raking away old leaves. We were supposed to be finding pussy willows and listening oh so carefully for the song of the first meadow-lark. We were supposed to be holding hands and lifting little ones to see now lambs and wobbly colts, who are now trying to pull grass from under snowy mounds, without us wandering and watching. Yes, the lake ice has nearly all melted, yes the fields are still greening, and sap rising (and falling) in the orchards; but the mushy,cold snow seems to have sucked out the pleasure, and I am again, wishing for something, in spite of myself, that I cannot have.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I have a mommy question. Its about paper. 
I have a file cabinet and a file box too, there is a file with each kid's name on it and a divider and the save stuff is on one side and the respond to stuff is on the other side, but then sure, I found that reading chart, but it was due last month, (if its not where I can see it, I miss things)  and there are all these important notices that have to be responded to this week, like the phone bill that is waiting for the next pay check before paying, the notice that girl scout cookies can only be ordered on Thursday and you have a parenting class that evening. Last chance for book orders and the Mother's Day gift your second grader is making needs xyz; please sign and return this field trip form with your child on Wednesday or they cannot ride on the bus; the Health Department suggest an update on the chicken pox shot before next week, since there was an out break in your child's school; the furnace will be repaired at 2:00 on Friday, but only if you are home; please look for this name when you are working on that file on Friday; take down this number and call Mr. X and ask if he can meet Wednesday morning; this warranty will expire if not renewed by x/x/x/; the band rehearsal is Thursday and its your turn to bring the chips; my play is tomorrow, Mom, and you have to buy tickets before four o'clock for the student discount; the orthodontist called and she needs to be there after school today, but she needs to bring her old records with her; This is the job agency, can your child call us before Friday?Mom, you know that tie, one of the kids would like to borrow it for the concert, will you bring it with you? Mommy, I made this in school today for you; me too; me too. 
Some people have desks. I can't spare the space. I selected a drawer, but it's not big enough. The calendar works for some of these notices, but not for others. By the time all the teens have their schedules posted it reads like a book report. I have in and out boxes, but they are overflowing, and the drawer, and the fridge. My family thinks I've cleaned the kitchen when all I did was remove the last week's notices off the refrigerator. 
How do real people do this? I met one person who simply threw everything away and dealt with the consequences. I can't. I can make decisions like that for allot of these pages, but not all, not even most. I had thought I can wrap each sheet around an arrow and shoot it at the wall and make the world's largest porcupine model, but that was more out of desperation than practicality. Now either other people have a fridge door that is 8 ft. x 10 ft. and it still looks like a paper mache pinata or they are orderly and brilliant, or just plain common sense people who have solved a small reasonable problem and I obviously need their advice, so I'm asking for it. If any body lacks wisdom let him ask.. Well to be honest, I thought I'd check with other moms before I picked up the big red phone.  I have six kids in school, at least only six that account to me for scheduling, etc. Is this just a stage, like terrible twos that I'll grow out of? Is this normal?I'll risk sounding really stupid and say, what am I missing? How do real people do this? (I'm not a real person, if I miss the obvious.) Any body??


Go quietly among the stars, the hills, along the edge of night. Closed and quiet unborn thoughts lay sleeping, wet with dew. Softly, softly the light comes pale to the grass. Thoughts made translucent and ethereal in the warming air rise unseen in the mist, surrounding the world with it's radiant aura. I sometimes think my days go too quietly, not in the sense of stirring sleep, clanging lids and band-aids, but in the broad sense where great men change lives, heal and help, and carry mankind forward to the next generation. But I am convinced that every soul that breathes leaves the global envelope changed. I pray to somehow contribute to the pinpricks of light in the vast  universe where I have loved and slept and labored. If the Great Unseen can sway heavens and earth beyond our reach, then I too unseen and unfelt, will change the world as surely as morning comes again. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I think I cna, I think I acn. I think....I think I can! I have a blig. I mean a blog. Whew!