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Friday, June 29, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

What I Did On Summer Vacation, Part 1

It was no coincidence that I began my summer break a week early this year.

I wanted to have the time to be intentional with my daughter during the final days before high school graduation.

After taking the girls to the mall for the nine hundredth time for more outfit tweaking, and a manicure, Brian and I set about preparing a lovely outdoor grad dinner. Brian got into his happy place, and I quickly got into my own.

 

I found a few yards of linen in my sewing stash, some milk glass vases in a storage cupboard, some daisies, dill, flowering cilantro, baby's breath, and other flowers from my gardens.

I may have a certain weakness for chairs, so my newly acquired turquoise set married nicely with this year's floral chrome chairs, and last years painted metal ones.

Brian's timber shed and parents' original 1956 chrome kitchen table provided the perfect backdrop.

I was happy with how things were turning out, and we hadn't even gotten to the dinner yet.

Not that I was worried.

I knew it would be pretty darned yumtastic.

One of Arianna's favorites: artichoke and olive linguini.

With asparagus.

Ribs, done in the awesome Brian way. (you should know... this is not for Arianna. She's not a meat-a-tariun. She's more of a Kehler that way, and prefers her meat in purring furriness, laying on the couch).

Veggies with goat cheese.

Everyone had something to be happy about.

 

We celebrated with family.

Because we were also celebrating family.

It was something to think of where we had come from, where we had landed, and the places that were yet to come.

My prayer was in thanks of my daughter. Who she is, and the gift that raising her has been.

 

 

 

Because, finally.

She eats her green beans.

 

But soon enough the greens were eaten, the bubblies toasted, the noodles noshed, and the shrimp dipped.

Time for our princess to close her eyes and hope for the best.

 

 

 

 

 

It was a bit of a trick.

A vintage camera to add to her collection.

 

Had we known how she'd love it.....

Well, we might have saved a buck or two.

 

But where's the fun in not having a package to unwrap?

 

 

All covered in hugs and kisses.

 

Those anxious moments of anticipation.

And then

Sweet joyous relief!

 

The Nikon of her wildest dreams!

 

Though I'd rather been seen with the Yashica.

 

Just because it looks so sweet.

Just like my nearly adult daughter.

Who insisted in wearing her new gift on her shoulder for our very elegant dessert:

Ice cream at the local gas station.

So much to celebrate.

And just so barely

into summer vacation.

 

 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Snapshots of My Life Racing By

 

My Friday morning began with a sweet "thank you".

My last workday before holidays. Always a sweet and sad day for me, feeling possessive about my minions and not wanting them to be perfectly fine without me.

But so excited for the chance to catch my breath, get caught up on some things, endulge in doing absolutely nothing if I choose, and a hundred shades between.

I had our very first family grad to think of. Arianna's year chose a Morrocan theme for the dinner and dance decor, so I wholeheartedly signed up to be in charge of transforming " a few" cast-off pillows into something of luxurious beauty.

With the fair just behind me and a million or two piles of that left in the garage to clean up "when I have time", I began a small mountain of Morocco in a corner of my already cluttered dining room.

There'd been so many other things to think of as well. Both girls had overnights to prepare for and I admit I felt a little more sentimental letting them go in the wake of our town's very recent loss of a precious daughter, sister, wife, and friend.

We'd recently celebrated some very special family milestones.

My special niece got married, our daughters standing up as her witnesses.

My nephew became a daddy.

My mama grew a little funnier and a little more delightful on her eighty-sixth birthday.

And my papa surprised himself by turning ninety.

Ninety.

We're all a little awed.

 

I always get a little weird when there's a change in my routine. I feel a little disconcerted, and anxious.

 

So, with my last work day behind me, and me left imagining what four weeks without finding random infant cookie snatchers on my dining room table, I decided to go out and celebrate my imminent holidays in the only sensible my way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yard saling for awesome toys.

For when the kids come back.

And maybe just a teensey stack of vintage goodness for me to play with whenever I choose to.

Because I'm on holidays and I can do what I want to.

I'd have to be crazy to feel anxious with all that on my goodness in my life and on my clothesline.

Oh.

right.

I am crazy.

oh well.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Don't Want To Be Skinny

I don't want to be skinnier if it doesn't make me nicer.

I don't want to be good at money, pay off my mortgage, keep on top of my bills, savings, tithes, offerings, and stay within my grocery budget if I don't become more generous, less concerned about my own well being, less conscious of my stuff, and more abandoned when sharing with people.

I don't want to do everything King Dobson says if it doesn't make me more authentic with my children. More vulnerable, more honest, more accepting. More out of the box, more listening than lecturing, more available more likely to be honest with.

I don't want to have great hair if it doesn't make me more approachable. If it doesn't make me smile bigger, hear better, open my arms wider.

I wouldn't give up my cellulite, sagging belly button, spiderman veins and jiggly bits if it meant feeling compassion less acutely. If it made me quicker to judge others, if it made it easier for me to see their faults instead of their humanity. If a toned and slimmer body meant I became less understanding, more bossy, and less real, I wouldn't want it for the world.

I don't want a perfect record of church attendance if it doesn't address my tendency to judge others, to suffer from self-righteousness, to be fearful of questions, to require other people to fit into my tidy boxes and make me fear the opinions of others.

It's pretty ironic to think of what sorts of people I find difficult to love or accept. I'm not proud of this, nor do I endorse it, but I speak of it because its true for me.

It's the ones who do it all right. The ones who insist their children not making one single grey area choice. The ones who I imagine will be heavily paying the piper when that child becomes an adult roughly five seconds into the future.

The people I struggle with are the ones who have all the right answers. For themselves, for me, for their children; for mine. The ones who can easily point out what went wrong for whom where and why, and how others ought to have behaved otherwise.

Those ones who struggle with looking their own self hard in the mirror; past their skinny butts and hard earned slender thighs. Those who are too proud to really let others in. Who are too together to fail, to be seen failing, or to -God forbid- allow their children to fail. How embarrassing.

I struggle with people who never have trouble with money. With whom "Being a good steward" means caring within ten percent.

I struggle with people who never cry, never rage, never question their own motives, heart, actions but find it incredibly easy to provide the service for others.

I know that these confessions merely highlight my own inadequacies. I recognize the irony of preaching "love for all" when people chronically P-- me off. When my own sarcastic tongue can run and run and run.... and hurt. I recognize my own tendencies toward pride, judgementalism, denial, hard-heartedness. And I bet there's a million or two things that I do and think that I'm not even aware of and ought to address.

I'm going to a funeral this afternoon. I don't want to go and I'm not sure I can emotionally cope with all the agony.

There's been a lot of death, accidents, disappearing people, and kitty cats squashed on the highway this week. Way more than I ever want to hear about, because I don't want any of these things to be real.

And it has made me angry and then passionate about the way I want to live my life, however short it may be. I don't want so much to be right as I want to be in relationship. I don't want to clutter up my precious, too short personal time on people who want to rant about others, gossip, criticize, and fake it. I want people in my life who challenge me to think bigger, love more brazenly, care more deeply, respect others, treat waiters and cashiers with kindness, share with their neighbors, give more stuff away, eat more chips, laugh more, be willing to question everything. Even themselves.

I want to love all those annoying people too, but its a delicate balance to figure out how to be kind and accepting without being sucked into a holier than thou/ you people suck vortex.

So, if you see me around, and notice that maybe I'm going grey and my ass has gotten wider, maybe it will make you think. And then maybe I'll invite you in for a coffee and a homemade muffin and we can grew wiser, greyer, and bigger in many ways.

Together.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Daughters

My niece became a mother this week to a perfect baby girl.

As she holds that tiny, intact human being in her arms, I imagine that she anticipates a lifetime of possibilities yet ahead of them both. I imagine that a seismic shift has already occured in her heart, her outlook, her plans for the futures of her and her perfect, dependent, fiercely loved daughter. It's a phenomenon not easily described, and best understood from the perspective of the new mother.

Everything has changed.

And will never again be what it was before.

Yesterday, a young woman from our town died in a car accident. She was married for just one year, and before that, she was that daughter. The one that changed her mom forever. The daughter that shaped the way her mom saw the world, what she wanted from this lifetime, what she hoped, and dreamed, and anticipated. I imagine their baby time, the toddler years, the school years, the teenaged parts. I imagine the bond, the joy, the anticipation of what was yet to come. I imagine that mother's heart.

How do you breathe when your daughter cannot? And do you want to?

I'm a mom too. And a daughter. I've tried to imagine what it might feel like to lose my daughters, and I just can't. I don't think its even fair to because its not possible to relate to something so incongruent with my hopes and expectations. My own mother turned eighty-six this week, and there's a vague sense of survivor guilt for "having it all"- having my mother, being a daughter, being a mother, having my daughters.

Life is just plain stupid sometimes. It's maddening and discouraging and senseless and unfair. There isn't a thing I could really say or do to make this less awful.

God, have mercy on us all.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

I Gave The Cat Imodium

She'd been sick for three days, dripping brown beneath her tail. Leaving more laundry, more worry, more suspicious spots on the floor. I'd meanwhile washed things I'd not gotten to for years- spontaneously washing a bathroom wall right after a stolen moment to pee; taking down the rust- stained shower curtain and baptizing it repeatedly in toxic noxious cleaner to hide the evidence of showering under a rusty stream of Manitoba gumbo well water. I'd ordered the girls to wash the windows, we'd scrubbed some chairs, counters, cupboards. I stared repeatedly and worriedly at the deck which stubbornly continued to deteriorate before my frantic eyes.

I meant to get to the bedrooms.

But there were groceries to buy, lawns to mow, furniture to rearrange, quack grass to pluck. Tomatoes to plant, perrennials to prune, hedges to trim. Coleslaw to mix, pop to chill, meat to cook.

A drink to mix.

Brian's family was coming for the day.

And then they came, and they were here, and they were lovely. I kicked myself under the tables arranged around the yard as we sat in the sunshine sharing our lives and pork on a bun. There was bocce ball, trampolining, and kittens to chase. Hot coffee, cinnamon buns, chocolate cake. Talking, laughing, relaxing, letting go.

Was I judgemental, thereby expecting to be judged? If so, I had brought this anxiety upon myself.

And was so delighted to find myself wrong.
Again.