Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Bigger Project

I was told that there were enough diaper covers to last a lifetime.  

I was informed that there were enough little bonnets and berets and turbans to match every outfit she would ever own.

I was told that the small baby blankets were lovely, but frustrating.  Mom wanted to snuggle with her newborn, not just wrap her in love.

I created some sweaters, but making something that has to fit an actual human being is a challenge for me.  My garments were too long and too short and too wide and too narrow.  Looking at them in the closet, I wonder what I was thinking.  Unless my granddaughter is built like a square, those sweaters may look a bit odd.

So, when Little Cuter sent me a link to a round, ripple afghan, I agreed to try.  She chose the colors.  I was to do the work.  

And so, I began.  The pattern was for an intermediate crocheter; I think I am still an advanced beginner.  I had a terrible time determining exactly which hole was awaiting the hook.  Changing colors was challenging as well; it took several starts before I figured out how to start a new row without the old color encroaching.  I don't mind ripping out stitches. The activity itself is satisfying; doing it over and over again doesn't bother me at all.  I am amused by the action; the finished product is less important than each individual stitch ... because each of those stitches is filled with love.

After a while, though, the whole project became frustrating.  I put it aside and made something else, but Little Cuter kept asking about the round blanket.  I can deny her nothing as she is baking my granddaughter.  I picked it up again.

This time, I paid attention.  I looked at the stitches as I created them.  I counted between the changes.  After a few rounds, the pattern began to emerge.  Once I saw how it worked, my brain could relax.  The piece took on a life of its own.

That life was one of explosive growth.  Going around and around, increasing by two stitches in each section, time was passing and nothing was happening.  I went from finishing a project in a day or two to returning, day after day, week after week, to the yellow and the grey and the white.  

Around and around and around I went.  TBG was freezing, putting on a sweatshirt every evening as I, underneath the ever increasing afghan, was warm and toasty in air conditioned comfort.  After a while, it was large enough to share.  His toes could nestle under an edge.

Determining the color pattern was a joint effort.  I made another trip to Michaels for more yarn; the beauty of a huge afghan is that matching the dye lots is somewhat less important ... which was a good thing because the originals were no longer available.  I went to two different Michaels to collect what was needed ... I can deny my child nothing, even when it entails shlepping around town in triple digits.

Tonight, sitting on her couch, her toes replacing her father's under the edge of my work, I knotted the last stitch.  Congratulations ensued, and then I began the finishing.  It was simpler than I had imagined it would be; the pattern lent itself to the needle quite easily. I was smart enough, half way through, to leave very long tails so that I could avoid having to weave short ends with a tiny hook.  The needle is much much faster, and oddly satisfying in a "am I done with this yet" kind of way.
And yes, I am done with this.
Now we just need the baby.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lazy Day

I couldn't fall asleep last night.  I tossed and turned and changed pillows and blankets and I wasn't anywhere near relaxed.  Then, I rolled over to the side of the bed on which Thomas the Wonder Dog had taken a nap, smooshing the covers into a wrinkled mess.  He was long gone, but his aura must have remained; I fell asleep immediately.

I'm in Illinois, awaiting the arrival of FlapJilly.  I filled a giant rolling suitcase with assorted shorts and skirts and dresses and shirts and every pair of summer shoes I own... because there was room and why not.  TBG hefted the finished product and concluded that I was very close to the 50 pound weight limit. The scale at the airport concurred; 46.9 pounds was the digital conclusion.

The plane ride was fun because I was surrounded by grandmothers.  My seat mate shared picutres of her four daughters and three granddaughters and the lady across the aisle and I shared stories of our pregnant daughters and the hours flew by, filled with love and longing.  I was the only one of us on our way to visit; they were jealous.

They were right to want to be me right now.  I am surrounded by baby stuff - stroller and car seat and jungle play mat and baby bathtub and a closet full of tiny pink clothing.  FJ's room is Little Cuter's favorite spot in the house; there's a peaceful, loving vibe going on that will only increase over time, I'm sure.

The kids are finished nesting.  There are no projects left undone.  The furniture has been refinished and the pictures are hung and the muslin giraffe print sheets are on the mattress.  Sassy, SIR's lovey toy from his own childhood, sits right in the middle of the crib.  She'll have to move once the baby comes home; nothing can be in the sleeping space.  No blankets, no toys, no nothing.

That's just one of the many things that have changed in the 30 years since I was a new mother.  There are dual, electric breast pumps replacing the manual suction device I used.  (Yes, it hurt.  Yes, it was uncomfortable.  Yes, it was necessary.) There is a video monitor and a baby swing that plays music and vibrates ... at three different speeds.  The stroller has shock absorbers; they didn't feel they needed the model which had headlights.

I'll be here until they ask me to leave, or until the wedding we're attending in Carmel at the end of August is imminent. If I have to leave before she's ready to throw me out, I'll come right back. I'll be doing laundry and grocery shopping, vacuuming and feeding the dog.  I'll be the errand-girl and the "If only I had a ...." provider.

Now, if the baby would only arrive so I can get started.

Friday, July 25, 2014

On Our Way

My hair is cut.  My nails are done. The clothes are in a laundry basket on the floor of my closet, awaiting transfer to the big rolling suitcase.  My reading material and crossword puzzles have been considered and collected; I'm still vacillating between a vast array of totes/carry-ons/purses.  I have the yarn and the crochet hooks for the extra-large blanket the kids requested sitting in the closet of the room I'll be occupying.

My granddaughter and I are on our way.

The baby is descending nicely, thank you for asking.  Mom is in love with yoga's cat and cow poses, and credits them for keeping everything moving in the right direction.  They promised that she won't deliver today or tomorrow, but I am very glad that my plane ticket puts me on the ground in Chicago tomorrow night. 

Little Cuter still can't really get her head around it, or so she claims.  I think she's as close to it as it is possible to be.  There is no real preparation for the all encompassing nature of motherhood.  No one can explain how odd it is to have a piece of your heart residing in another, much smaller, much more demanding, much needier, much more vulnerable being. 

There's your human ... the one who lived under your heart for almost 40 weeks ... who must now face the world without the comfort of her mother's womb.  She'll be out there and you will be responsible as the world becomes filled with worries and delights. 

Just thinking about it has my eyes filling with tears of joy. I've never felt this way before.  My baby is having a baby .. and just moments ago, it seems, she was tiny and beautiful and mine.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Noticing G'ma

She's everywhere these days. 

Sitting on my desk is a picture of her playing with a goat when she was 21.  I never knew that woman.  Wearing short shorts and a midriff revealing blouse, her hair in two braids, she's completely in the moment, not wondering what others were thinking, not judging herself.  She was a wonderful mother but she was never like this.

And yet, when I think of myself I conjure images of college and building sand castles and reading in bed by the light from the hallway and in none of them do I have grey hair.  My thirties and forties are filled with pictures of my children, and myself in relation to my children, but the visions are of the kids ... not of me. 

I have no idea when my hair tilted more toward the white than the black side of things. The face I see in my mind's eye is filled with more color than the one the mirror reflects.  It's younger.  For the first time, I am wondering if this young woman is the one that G'ma saw when she thought of herself.

That's not who is visiting me these days, though.  These days, as I wait for my granddaughter to enter the world, I'm accompanied by a very real sense that my own mother is here, waiting with me. 

She's the content old lady who agreed to whatever I suggested.

She's sharing the love that I feel every minute of the day, surrounded as I am by pictures of FlapJilly and Little Cuter occupying one body.  My phone rings and there they are, the girls on the lock screen and G'ma hovering just above my head.  The combination is eerie and lovely at the same time.

Yes, it is as weird as it sounds.  I don't live my life this way.  I'm a fairly grounded individual, for the most part, I think, usually ... and yet I have been having conversations with my mother, I have been crying on her shoulder, I have been missing her and consulting her and noticing that I'm doing it as I'm doing it.

Perhaps there is something to the notion of crossing over to the other side.  Perhaps she's finishing up the work she started the day she died ... the day the pregnancy test revealed the existence of a new life.  She's watched over my girls as they've grown ... creating parking spaces where there were none with her personal parking karma ... leaving me with the knowledge that she was paying attention, up close and personal, while I was so far away.

Now that the baby is just days away from arriving, now that I am packing to join the prospective parents as we wait, together, for her presence, my own mom is coming to say goodbye. 

I'll always have her with me, but her work here is nearly done.  Just as when I kissed her goodnight for the last time, the intensity of her spirit is almost overwhelming. 

I can't prove it.  I feel it.  that's good enough for me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

She Was Riding on the Bus

"Do you want to tell me about being on television? The teacher told me to ask you about it."

"Not really......"

She's always at the studio, amusing herself while her mom exercises.  Dressed to the nines, with hair accessories matching her outfits, her smile as big as the sky.  She dances to the rest room, streaking past our sweating bodies, trying to become invisible.  That is impossible; her personality fills the room.

Not wanting to be too pushy, I left the conversation at that.  I'd done what I'd been asked to do; I posed the query.  We were both satisfied, but her maternal unit was having none of it.  Pressured by her parent, she relented.

"I was on that bus in Oracle, on my way to camp."

That bus.... the yellow school bus GOP Congressional candidate Adam Kwasman and his fellow protestors were trying to block ... the one that they feared was carrying disease ridden, gang prone, undocumented children.... children who were terrified, according to the candidate, who saw their faces through the windows. "This is not compassion," Kwasman said.  I wasn't sure whether he was talking about the decision to bus the kids to Oracle or his own behavior.

You might have seen it on tv ... the protest signs, the angry faces, the news vans, and the bus crawling past adults with poster boards and fists in a rural community on the outskirts of Tucson. 

Turns out that the bus was filled not with immigrant kids, but with local YMCA campers, on their way to an adventure.  My little friend was one of them. By the time she got the basic story out, she was surrounded by fascinated grown-ups, all eager to hear it from an eye witness.

What was it like?

It "wasn't scary ... it was funny ... we all took out our phones and started to take pictures and filmed it ..." 

Apparently, there was a cow in the road, too.  Bovine protestors is a new wrinkle in the public debate; our little friend was delighted to share a piece of information which no one else knew.

And then she paused, and we waited, and she looked me right in the eye and said
"Some of the signs were mean.   
One said 'Go Back to Mexico, you Brats!'  
How did he know we were brats?"
And so it goes.  She took it personally, profoundly shaken, not stirred by the vehemence of rational argument but hurt in her heart by an anonymous grown-up.  If those adults are looking to change hearts and minds, they're failing.

We talked for a while about being part of a national event.  "What happened to YOU?" she asked and Christina-Taylor was with us for a while before we were back to the weirdness of total strangers being privy to an incident in which you were a major player.  People talking about it and us over breakfast.  People imagining our lives ... our lives ... when we weren't all that special.  She just got on the camp bus.  I just went to the grocery store.  I made a point of the fact that those with notoriety are people just like us, because we are also people with notoriety and we were just regular people until ... and we laughed at the circularity of it all.

I encouraged her to write it down and told her I'd send it along to Brenda Starr at the local newspaper.  She told me about her friend who was on tv that night, "but they didn't want to talk to all the kids ... just him."  The crowd around us reassured her that we were all interested in her story, that we'd all read it, that she had something to say and we wanted to hear it.

That's about the most positive outcome I could manage from an absolutely awful affair. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Keeping It Together

He's unworthy of her.  No one disagrees with that piece of the equation, not even he.  Somewhere beneath the destructive behaviors is a kind heart and a giving soul.  Unfortunately, he always seems to get in his own way.

When she asks, he's there ... but she doesn't want to have to ask.  She's not asking him to read her mind.  She's perfectly comfortable telling him when she is in pain, when she needs comfort, when his support is the only thing that will make it all seem right.  Those are the times when there are new heartaches, new situations, new needs. 

But certain things just come with the territory.  Family life includes child care and discipline and entertainment and supervision.  None of it should be a topic of conversation.  It should go without saying.  For a while, it seemed like a men are from Mars, women are from Venus issue; moms being hardwired to worry.  Over time, it became obvious that he wasn't paying attention to picking up the slack, let alone taking an active role in anything remotely resembling active parenting.

She was doing it ... because it had to be done.  She'd never use the kids to teach him a lesson.  Wives 1 and 2 own the patent on that.  Besides, she loves the kids and the time she spends with them; to her, it's the least onerous requirement of family life. 

It would be nice to have a true partner, one who was less demanding than the most demanding of his children. It would be nice to have confidence and trust in the one who pledged to share his life with you.  It would be nice to plan a vacation rather than a separation.

For now, she's keeping it together.  It's all she can do.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Random Thoughts - The Sunday Editiion

When did August become Autumn?  On our mall walk this morning Brenda Starr and I saw shoe stores filled with browns and blacks with nary a sandal in sight.  School starts on August 4th ... and that's not a district with year-round classes.  The temperatures are still in triple digits.  The summer blooming Texas Rangers have just hit their peak, matching the crepe myrtles in my courtyard that herald the height of the heat. 

School should start after Labor Day.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Prep and Pastry outdid itself this morning.  We met Cali Grammy after our walk, and marveled once again at all the babies and pregnant mommies and the wonder of seeing one another after several months.  Grammy apologized as she snapped pictures of our food; "I'm one of those people...." didn't phase us at all.  We moved silverware and napkins and glasses and you are rewarded with these:
 I was encouraged to include protein along with my fruit and croissant/donut topped with strawberry glaze... real strawberries... no artificial sweetener after-taste or gloppiness in my mouth ... so I asked for a scrambled egg ... which was perfectly cooked and garnished with a pea shoot or three.
We split the pastry.
Cali Grammy waffled between the varieties and settled on these creamy and gooey fruit covered French toasts. She didn't talk much after they arrived on the table; I think she liked them.
 Meanwhile, Brenda Starr ordered the tri-tip sliders she's been eyeing since we began eating there.  She, too, was quiet once she put top on the cheddar cheese biscuit.
To no one's surprise, I kept right on talking.
James Garner died, and I am blue. 
He is ... now was ... on the short list of people with whom I'd like to share a meal. Along with Robert Mitchum and Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, his name in the cast will guarantee that I'll at least take a chance on watching the movie. 
He always seemed comfortable in his own skin; Murphy's Romance seemed more autobiographical than fictional.  He was married to the same woman since 1956, which doesn't surprise me at all.  His politics were left of center and his smile melted my heart.  He was the best Maverick ... and I'm willing to argue the point. 
He will be missed.
What do you do when the Bridal Registry is completed and you've yet to buy a gift?  The happy couple live many states away; I knew him as a college student when decorating choices were dictated by availability and portability.  Past history is no help today.
I can guess at their color scheme by examining the choices they made.  I can be creative and hope they like my choice.  Or, I could send an email and ask for guidance.
It's absolutely lovely to have this at the top of my worry list.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Going to Hell in a Handbasket

Where to begin? 

Presidents Obama and Putin were on the phone discussing the US sanctions when the news broke about another Maylasian Airlines plane ... this one shot from the sky ... despite Ukranian separatists' denials ... with hundreds of innocents on board.

Is it a problem of command and control in the field instead of at headquarters ... if there is a headquarters ...so that a jumpy junior officer shot first and asked questions later?  Is it a plot against the airline itself ... not a far-fetched idea from a woman who enjoys reading international thrillers?  Is President Putin lighting the wick of a global conflict? 

It must have been an interesting conversation, don't you think?

And then there's the invasion .... or incursion ... into Gaza.  TBG wonders what Hamas hopes to accomplish by shooting rockets into Israel. Beyond drawing attention to themselves, I have no answer. Those rockets are, for the most part, repelled by the Iron Dome.  If their intentions are to kill Israelis, they are failing.  If their intention is to stir up the world, they are succeeding.

Through it all, civilians are suffering, on all sides.  Mothers of slain children are chastising their countrymen for acts too terrible to imagine.  When I heard the story, I was stunned.  Jews don't do that sort of thing ... that phrase resounded through my head for days.  It's not how I was raised.  I may have harbored homicidal thoughts toward my shooter ...  now and then and not very welcomed when they came ... because I didn't like seeing that side of myself.  They were thoughts, though, and never in any danger of becoming actions.   Even the death penalty was more than I could handle.

And I grieve for the families of the three Israeli boys, kidnapped and killed and mourned across the globe.  There was a memorial service here in Tucson; I didn't attend.  I can't cry in public ... not any more.

I drove around town today, dropping off donations and reselling books and sending packages and having lunch and checking out wall-beds and coffee table repairs ... and I saw nary a rocket in the sky.  I didn't worry about tuning my radio to the emergency alert channel.  I drove without cares and I tried to imagine what it would be like to live in a world where tomorrow is truly not promised ... where there are forces actively engaging in events designed to end your life.

I have to think that the people are being very poorly represented by their leaders.  I refuse to believe that people are just evil.  I refuse.

PLEASE use restraint when commenting. Everyone is wrong and everyone is right and people are dying ... and that's the part I just can't stand.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Colbie Caillat and Me

It seems that I am at the forefront of a new trend.  Colbie Caillat told Elle magazine that she's tired of being Photoshopped.  She wants to be able to walk out the front door without makeup and without judgment.

I've been doing that for years.

Big Cuter says I have spoiled him for all other women, since it takes me no time at all to get ready to go.  I search for my keys and my phone and my wallet - you'd think I would have learned to keep them in the same place by now, wouldn't you? - and I'm out the door.  I don't own any makeup to put on. My hair is wash and shake and finger comb to dry.  I like everything in my closet these days and the temperature is always hot so there aren't that many decisions to be made. I can be up and in the shower and in my clothes and out the door in less than ten minutes, if I have to.  I don't look that much different when I have an hour to prepare. 

Colbie Caillat told Elle that she worries about disappointing her fans.  That's akin to a first grader freaking out when he sees his teacher holding hands, wearing shorts, walking near the zoo.  You get over it.  If her music is dependent upon her appearance, if her listeners can't appreciate its value without imagining a glamour puss mouthing the words, then she might have a point.  But I've been enjoying her for years and have never given much thought to anything beyond the sound.

No one should have to be on all the time.  Celebrities should be able to run to the corner store and grab a paper (does anyone do that anymore?) without worrying about being on the cover of the supermarket tabloids.  But, since my should's don't rule the world, those in the public eye have to punt.  Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis in part because he had enough money and influence to allow her to live a life out of the public eye.  Buying an island or a mega-yacht isn't possible for most, so they worry.

I suppose I could worry, too.  I have gone beyond clean-and-pressed, washed-and-dried, nothing-more; I wore makeup on special occasions until sometime in the 2000's.  I know I didn't move any to Arizona in 2006.  The rest of the wedding party had their makeup done and they looked lovely.  I brought my face to the party, clad only in sunscreen.

My samples go straight to Elizibeth, who regards them as manna from heaven.  Then, again, she's 16 and trying to decide what she looks like.  Face paint is just one variation, for now. She knows I think she's gorgeous when she rolls into the dining room with bed-hair.  When pushed, she'd probably admit that she knows it, too. 

That's where it gets tricky. 16 and hiding behind war paint?  We are not alone with our insecurities, the opening opines. And then, there's this:

Do they like you?
Do you like you?
I like you.

This is one of those posts which ends up in a different place than I'd intended. I'm glad to know that I am on the cutting edge of a burgeoning trend.  This video prompted lots of comments and likes and shares on Facebook, so it obviously touched a nerve.  It's never been a big deal to me, one way or another.  I'm not very good at it, I'm lazy, it's an expense I can avoid..... I have lots of reasons but the biggest one is that I just don't care about it that much. 

I do, however, always wear good underwear, because Bubba was right.  You never know when you're going to end up in the hospital.  Trust me on this one, denizens, even if you are reading this as you are applying mascara.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In the Mail...

....came the Costco Magazine, featuring an illustrated article on myofascial release strategies, including the deep tissue work which has been so helpful in my recovery.  As we age we tend to dessicate, inside and out.  As our fascia dry out, they become adhesive, clinging to the tissues around them.  Separating them from others and themselves is something we should all be thinking about, because we are never too young to take prophylactic measures. 

I took that information with me to meditation several weeks ago.  I sat on the floor, legs extended, arms by my ankles as I leaned up and over my fourth and third quadrants (lower abs to pelvic floor), sinking into the pose, just as Costco advised.  After 15 minutes of clearing my mind and not judging the thoughts which entered and left, my forehead was closer to my kneecaps than it ever had been before.  My fingers were well beyond my heels, and my spine had no knots or kinks. 

It took me a while to regain an erect spine, and even longer to stand up and rejoin the group on my chair.  But it felt great to be so much taller..... a sentence which started out to read It was great to feel so much taller but which is truer as first presented.
...came a letter from Robert S Mueller, III.  He apologized for taking so long to respond to my letter as he retired from the FBI.  He sent his thoughts to my family and said a thing or two about "the circumstances of that tragedy" and I smiled.

It's not often that remembering January 8, 2011 makes me smile, but thoughts of former Director Mueller always do.  He was a kind and gentle presence in a sharp and painful process,  He knew all of our names and our stories and he held my hand ... not shaking it, but holding it, as he apologized for the fact that this had happened on his watch. 

There was not a doubt in anyone's mind that he truly cared.  How often do you get to say that?  Can you see why thinking about him makes me smile?

And then, of course, there was the stationary itself.  A half sheet embossed with his name alone in a serif font, in big and small capital letters, in black at the top of the short end.  The watermark is straight down the center of the almost-but-not-quite-too-thick paper.  It made my smile even wider.
....came a thank you note from a good friend.  She lives here in town.  We email and text and phone all the time.  Yet, she took the time to use a pink, deckle edged, folded over note card (yes, I do love stationary) upon which she penned words of gratitude and friendship.

Some old habits, ingrained since childhood, die hard.  This is one I am glad is showing staying power.
.... came an AARP card.  Actually, it was two cards, one for me and one for my spouse.  My spouse has been ignoring these requests for two years longer than I have been, following his lead since the gesture matched my own desires. 

But this week he looked at the shiny red surfaces of the plastic rectangles and thought aloud that, maybe, we should sign up.  He said they were the only people who advertise anything about Medicare Supplemental insurance plans. 

I bit my tongue.  Medicare is his issue first and I am leaving it in his court.  I don't understand it and I don't want to undertake the investigation.  Therefore, I didn't mention the stack of ads accumulating in his Medicare file folder.  He'll get to it when he gets to it.

Meanwhile, I am frowning over joining an old people's club.


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