Dec 31, 2011

The Violent (though natural) Death of 2011


Oh my dear God. 

 I just got the dogs fed and my second cup of coffee and went out to my front porch to see how nice it is today. It's been about 50 degrees here and that's about 30 degrees warmer than normal: SCORE!

So I go outside, I drink coffee, I am looking around thinking it's going to be another gorgeous day, and I notice I hear Cardinals making their peeping noise.  A lot of Cardinals.  I think how cool this is.  Before it can cross my mind that the peeping noise is their alarm sound (oh, sweet obliviousness of early Saturday morning!), three of them fly over my house from behind me, all peeping, in the direction of the house across the street.   They were beautiful!  At this time my face had a smile, and I was thinking what a wonderful way to start the last day of this horrifying but never boring year.

Swiftly following this millisecond of peace, a small hawk flew right after them, two soared over the neighbor's house and on past, but one got caught up under the eave of the neighbor's front porch.  The hawk dove right after it.  At this point, my face had a horrified, wide eyed stare.  I was already telling myself that the hawk was a good, strong hawk, who was just hungry, and his amazing hunting skills were being displayed for me in all their glory, while at the same time the peeping got worse, and that hawk did not kill that beautiful, violently peeping bird for what seemed like a long time, but was probably only about 5 seconds.

At this point my face had a resigned, sad, kind of mad look because I knew the bird was not going to get away, that this was that bird's day to take it's place in the circle of life, but for God's sake hawk, FINISH IT!

The hawk did.  I couldn't make myself look away.  There was a mantra repeating in my brain that went something like "this is life.  this is natural.......this is life.......this is natural........"  and that was all.

During this time it occurred to me that I should film this but didn't have my phone with me.  During this time it occurred to me that this may be a sign.  Of what, I remain unsure.

This is what I have boiled it down to:

1) What you thought was a magical moment quickly turned into a hard but perfectly natural event in the life of any animal, and you were severely disappointed to have to witness it.

2) Illusions have a cost.  Not that they aren't worth it, just sayin.

3) Reality must be faced and dealt with.  There really is no time off from that.  You can run, but you can't hide.

4)  I am so glad that this year is over.  It has been one violent shock after another, I swear!  

I am speaking politically and, I believe, for the entire world, here.  Honestly, I cannot ever remember, in my entire life, being sad to see any year go, and that probably says a lot more about the age I am getting to be than my actual life, but I am actually looking forward to 2012.  

Whether I am just believing in the illusion that things will get better, or just standing on the cusp of another violent death (metaphorically ((I hope)) speaking) I am ready to get it over with.  

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, here we go and come what may, 2012 is upon us.

Now I have to deal with the reality of getting in the shower and going out to buy groceries.  In between those two things I will probably go over and clean up a bunch of gorgeous feathers out of my neighbor's driveway.  Unless the cats in the neighborhood have kicked in by that time, you really can't deny that everything in nature works together for the same good cause.  

Let's hope that humankind can find some illusions they are willing to pay the cost for in this coming year.

God Bless us all..........

Dec 26, 2011

Being Home.....

There is no time sweeter to me than Christmas these days, simply because that's the only time all my kids are ever home at the same time anymore.  

I never thought much about it when they were all home and I felt like I was drowning in kids all those years, and the quiet is welcome, but every once in a while, this old house takes on the rhythmic routine of days gone by. It's like being able to go into the past, only everybody is older now.  There is none of the anxiety that hounded me for so long.  For decades I was stressed over things not being "good enough".  Now I find comfort in the fact that nothing can hurt this house.  We have seen it all, from bees in the walls to fountains of water pouring out of the wall in the shower. I am telling the truth when I say that it would take a doozy to throw us off now.  We have practically been through basic training with this house.   I like it much better this way.

 For the past few days I have:

     - spent the majority of time in my pajama's or an apron, or both.

     - met one or the other of my older "children" coming in at 4 am, and not been upset with them for missing a curfew.

     - visited with my pretend daughter and noticed that of all the people in the house, no one said a word or remarked in any way when my pretend grand baby serenaded us with her version of a song on the piano.  Not too loudly and not for too long.  I was so proud nobody told her to stop.  We are a mellow crew at my house, I am inordinately proud of this.

      - felt the boys trying to gauge how awake their sister is, trying to make the choice between sleeping a little later or getting in the shower before their sister, as there is a long wait for hot water after girlfriend gets done.

     - heard the voice inside my head ask "are you really listening to your brother and your son have a seemingly casual conversation about AR's, which I am pretty dang sure are assault rifles, and both of them sound pretty knowledgeable?" and answered the voice inside my head "Yes......yes, yes I am."  and then smiled.  We are a family who can protect ourselves and those we love or are prepared to die trying.  I am most definitely proud of that.

       - divided up left over ham while my sons bring a table into the house by way of taking off the back door, and then the weather stripping, until they achieved success and kept me from having to turn around and sell a great table and benches that I bought second hand.  Without measuring my doors or the top of the solid tabletop, just in case that was not self explanatory. ;)  I have raised men who rise to a challenge, not to mention perform miracles with nothing more than a pipe fitter's wrench, a tape measure, and 7 flat head screwdrivers of varying lengths.  What a relief.

      - watched while wringing my hands as my sons tried and failed to get the old table down the stairs, as the "new" table would not possibly fit down the basement stairs.  This did not deter them either.  We just switched out the sets and now I can do puzzles on the table in the basement while my youngest baby plays video games with his friends and asks me to "please do not be a part of this conversation, Mom".  Something tells me this could be a game changer.  The basement has been forsaken by me for several years, for reasons having to do with testosterone and dog hair.  No more.  Muahahahahahahahahahaha.

    - watched one of my mother's dearest friends see the Rock Star's tattoo, (which is his grandmother's name right over his heart), tear up, hug him and say "I am so proud of you", which is pretty much the same thing that I did when he showed me, and the LAST thing I ever could imagine saying when presented with any of my children's first tattoo............of which I had adamantly insisted there would never be any "as long as I live".........  I can eat crow like nobody's business, having had quite a lot of practice over the years.  I think I have learned that you just never know what a day will bring, but that it will probably be all right, whatever that is.  I needed that.

       - comforted and reassured my sister in law that it really wasn't a problem that my nephew left the door open and the dog ran in with big muddy paw prints all over the kitchen, because a) This happens all the time!  Really! and b) I bought a carpet cleaner for this exact reason!  You know those commercials where the kids make a terrible mess and the mom just smiles and says "that's OK" in a sing songy voice?  Well, I am now that mom.  It took 22 years and a Bissell but baby, I am finally there and I have to say, it feels good!  It really is OK!!

      **It should be said that if you want to be "that mom", (and you do!!  Trust me, you do!!)  you should be very careful not to replace your carpet or fix anything that happens to your walls for a couple of decades.  This process will erode the part of you that cares about your house looking "good".  This is crucial, not to mention freeing.    At the end of the 20 years, you will not give one single flying flip about another stain on the carpet, OR another hole in the wall, for that matter.  I didn't say it would be easy, I said it would be WORTH IT.  In other words, give up now, give up and relax and just enjoy those kids while they are still there.  The other stuff you can fix or remodel later, or not........ 

I hope you had a great Christmas and some down time to just "be home".  It isn't easy to accomplish in today's world.  You have to really make your priorities count.  And if you are one of those people who are still caught up in getting everything perfect?  Give it up, now, while there is still time.  If you can't drop everything and have a child, at least borrow one for a while, or get a dog.  There is still time to save yourself.  I have often said of children, "they save us".  They really do, not in ways you would recognize as "saving" at the time.  It's in the looking back that you see how the hardest  things were the best things, in the end, and marvel that you wouldn't trade them for anything.

It's nice to be reminded of that once in a while, even at 4 am.

To my kids, you did a really good job with me.  Thanks!  


Dec 24, 2011

Christmas Present......

 All those years I waited and waited for them to go to sleep so I could get started.

Now they fall asleep on the couch at 9:30 watching It's a Wonderful Life.......

I knew this day would come.

I always thought I would be happier about it......

Oh, well.  That's life!!

I will just treasure the moments I get to watch them sleep.

I find it just as mesmerizing as I did when they were babies.......

....and to all a good night!!

Dec 6, 2011

Little Altars Everywhere.....Pt3

A lot of the ornaments on my tree are actually the kids' now.  Every year I get them at least one, all alike if I can find them.

That says "Mom's Favorite!" under First Born, but don't worry........

Everybody got one.  The girl even had red hair!  I was thrilled.

The undisputed favorite of the kid's is Santa in his hammock.  They used to fight over who got to put it up but in later years have settled for quietly moving him around to their own personal preference, without saying anything about it.  It's become our version of Find Waldo.

It's not a very good picture but you get the idea.  He's on vacation and has probably been drinking Mai-Tai's, so this focus is representative of Santa's own!  He's watching All My Reindeer on his little TV on his tummy, so focus isn't so important.  It's always easy to catch up with soaps even if you are blind drunk.

This is one that the kids always make a point of looking for and locating also.  It's kind of out of focus also but Santa has lost his clothes.  It happens.  I hear stories.

As long as Santa's on vacation and "fuzzy", I guess it's understandable that he might find himself naked except for his hat?  lol

Here is one of the more ritzy ones I have gotten for the Beautiful Redhead.  A a child, the more bling the better.  She was always partial to crystals and I found this one when she was 4 or 5.  The red and white striped ball to the right is from Chuck and Chirpy's December wedding years ago, and this year they are expecting their first child!  You can hang a tree with enough memories to last a lifetime.  Every year it just gets a little bit better.

I admit it's getting a little crowded.  But very soon, the Rock Star is going to need his.  He just got a great job.  Annnnnnndddd he's 22.  Sob..........

One last shot.  This features several wooden ornaments,more "hand" painted ones and the one that says Merry Christmas I got from my co-workers at Walsworth when I left there.  Also on the right there is a train.  We have two of these.  They were gifts to the twins and if you pushed something on them they actually sounded like a train.  Because of the loudly irritating sounds these made, they were very popular with the twins when they were small.  They were just as unpopular with the rest of us for the exact same reason, and this was the biggest game of all for a couple of years, as the twins were a little defensive about it and would throw screaming fits if they could not locate their "choo-choo's".  I forget who we got them from but I highly suspect it was probably my brother, who took his long awaited revenge upon me by buying my children noisy toys for years.  Before he had children of his own and I was helpless to retaliate, not that I would ever be so cruel.  Even he drew the line at noisy toys, though.  I should take this opportunity to thank you, dear brother, for never gifting my children with pets.  

It took about 6 years for the "choo-choo" batteries to finally wear out.  No one in this house would ever dream of replacing them.  We have the memories of that sound and it is enough.  More than enough, until such time as we should have to suffer through it again with the grandchildren.

So ends my post about the "altar" of the Christmas tree.  

But I have other altars.  Everybody does.  They might not be called altars, but that's what they are.

Dec 4, 2011

Little Altars Everywhere....Pt. 2

I was the first grandchild on my mother's side.  For three years I ruled the kingdom and during this time I proclaimed my grandmother "Big Grandma".  This was not because my grandmother was big.  In fact, the first time I called her that I can remember how she laughed for a very long time and finally asked me why I called her that.  She didn't seem especially touched by it.  I had two grandma's that lived in her town, as I thought of it, her mother lived there also, my great-grandmother.  The only explanation that I had then, and the only one that I still have to this day, is that my grandmother  was taller than my great-grandmother, ergo, "Big" Grandma and "Little" Grandma.  Little Grandma didn't seem especially pleased by her name either, but it seemed completely obvious to me.  I, being naturally shorter than either of them by quite a distance, did not know that they were both actually very small women.  Be that as it may, they were both referred to by those names from that day forward.  Nobody argues with the first grandchild, I tell you.  Nobody.

Big Grandma always had a bird nest on her Christmas tree.  She said it was good luck for the next year.  I can remember her getting excited about finding small abandoned nests.  She sprayed the holy living crap out of them with Lysol and put them in trash bags, to "kill all the bugs", for weeks and then shellacked them.  Probably to seal in the bugs, just in case any survived.  Or laid eggs that could hatch.  She did not suffer dirt, she put on a whole uniform including a scarf over her hair and attacked it mercilessly. 

It's not a real one.  It was a gift from my mother, in memory of the one Big Grandma had, for my own house.   It's the oldest tradition I have.

Big Grandma was very crafty, even artistic.  She was always whipping up something or other and there wasn't much space between us, which is probably why one year I made my own ornaments as gifts.  The Santa below is another of the cute wooden ones that move around, but to the left of it and below with the pink and blue swirl is one.  You simply buy an empty ornament and whole bunch of paint, pour it in, swirl it around, and waa-laa!  Beautiful ornaments that will last as long as you don't break them, but hey, that will just be the year you broke the pink and blue ornament that you made when the twins were small, and waa-laa!  There's a memory.  That's the way it is with Christmas ornaments that you know.  They never leave you.  This cannot happen with new ornaments.  Unless it's the only new ornament, in which case it will probably be special, in which case you could make a memory if you broke it.  But only if you cared about it. 

You can swirl any colors you want, in case you have a different "theme" going, or want to match your furniture or something.   However, if you make these please give them as gifts.  They will be treasured forever.  Unless they are sold at a garage sale.  

Another good use for the empty ornament is to put cute stuff inside.  Pictures, confetti, in this case golf tee's.... these are unique and one of a kind gifts, inexpensive to make, depending of course on what you put in them.

One of the Beautiful Redhead's, from her golf coach in high school and safe from garage sales forever and ever, amen.

If you knit, and I am ashamed that I don't, this is an excellent choice.  In fact, so ignorant am I that I do not even know for sure whether this is knitted or crocheted.  Probably crocheted.  Isn't that the one with all the holes?   Whatever it is, we should all learn to do it and I am pretty sure my Nana is rolling over in her grave right now because I would never learn this most basic skill when she tried to teach me.  I regret it.  It can't be that hard and I need to get that started.  It's been on my list for decades.  This one was given to me by a friend I worked with named Janet Turner in 1993.  I have put it on my tree every year since and I always stop and think of her.  I always thought I would do that for the kids every year, if I that stuff, but I've not gotten around to it.  My babies are 14.  I need to get started soon.

They say no two are alike.  That is just one added plus if you are nervous about making mistakes in knitting. Or crocheting.  Maybe by next year I can inform you further on these mysteries.

Dec 2, 2011

Little Altars Everywhere...Pt.1

Tonight I drug out the Christmas tree and got it up.  There are even presents wrapped under it.  After having been so efficient and on my feet so long I grabbed the camera and thought BLOG THIS!!

The Christmas tree in my life has never mattered.  I have had real trees and hated them, the trying to get them even, the watering, the needles dropping out, the getting rid of it.  I have had fake trees and hated them, putting them up and bending all those branches, the backache, the falling over the whole entire tree because it is never solid at the base.  In fact, in recent years I have been thinking of buying a fake fireplace just so I can throw up a garland, decorate it and call it good!

None of this matters a whit because the tree is merely the backdrop for the ornaments.  Christmas trees are altars, of a kind.  I have altars everywhere in my house.  You probably do, too.  The ornaments are one of the major things that makes it feel like Christmas for me.  I often received them as gifts growing up, and especially after I left home and had my own home.  I often give my children ornaments as gifts, and when they have their own homes they will already have a starter set of ornaments that have been with them their whole, entire lives.
This is the whole thing.  Notice the way the tree leans to the right.  

Christmas ornaments are tangible memories. Myriad memories of when you got them, times you have put them up, other ornaments this one reminds you of that got broken, and when, and by whom, and if mom cried when it happened.  There is the little ceremony of unveiling them.  Many of them you have seen just once a year, for a few weeks, since you were very small, and just a kernel of what you have become.  That kernel is still there, and you have put that snowflake on the tree as a child, the first Christmas after your Grandma died, the year you were home from college, and the first year you ever put it on your own tree. 
I got this ornament from my mother the first year I had my own tree.  Many of my ornaments are from her and my aunt Linda.  They favored wooden ornaments, often with moving parts.  Just as often Hallmark as Dime Store, back when we still had Dime Stores.  Should that be capitalized?  I'm tired.  These high energy days are about to kill me.

How you felt as sad as you did happy that year and how strange it was that you would be sad.  Telling yourself that it was just sentimentality when really in your heart you knew you were just mourning your old life because whatever happened from here on, and no matter how wonderful it would be, it would never be the same as it always had been before.  Some changes are irrevocable.  That's just life, but you should always take note and honor these changes.  They are the tapestry of your life.  (Why yes, Ms. King joined me this evening in taking measure of this year, as I performed the rituals that sustain us all from cradle to grave.  wink wink)
My first child's First Christmas ornament.  He got about 12, as he was born Dec. 1, and the other kids have always been jealous.  They say he gets everything.  I say it is not my fault.  But this is the first one I actually opened.  Is it not amazing that I remember that when I can't figure out whether to capitalize Dime Store or not?  You simply cannot get this kind of stuff with new ornaments every year.  

I met people at college whose families bought different ornaments every year.  They had, like, "themes".  Different ones every year unless they really liked them.  These people lived in a city, and I felt very sorry for them.  I asked what they did with the old ornaments and they said they sold them at garage sales.  I made a mental note to check out their garage sales, but I am still astounded to this day by this concept.  It doesn't sound like Christmas to me. Themes are not for Christmas.  Rather, Christmas IS the theme.  Nothing new here, same old story, same old ornaments.  At least, at my house this is how it is.  How it has always been.

Isn't he cute?  He made me cry,but in a good way, as did this post until I added the captions.  I figure this is a new "theme" for blogs.  Read the italics and laugh, read the straight print and cry, and by then you've had a full day.  If you are going through menopause you can probably go out into the world without embarrassing yourself, as now your emotional roller coaster for the day is complete.  Onward Ho!  Stride forward with confidence that you at least will not start bawling in public.  Probably.

For instance, the ornament above was given to me by my friend Louise, when I lived next to her.  I turned it over and thought of her and she was close to me as if she was standing right next to me.  I thought of those days when we were just one house away and all our children were still home.  Everything has changed so much!  Almost all our kids are grown and she already has grandchildren and mine are yet to come, but I know they are coming and I think of them already, especially when I hold these ornaments.  

She made these by hand and they still smell like gingerbread.  I'm pretty sure at least one of the twins tried to eat them that year. They are not toxic. ;) We ended up putting the Christmas tree inside a playpen, and I moved all the ornaments up for a couple of years even after that.  It made for some strange looking trees, but all the ornaments were close to eye level.