Sunday, November 30, 2014

Robert Browning

Operation Gratitude

There are a whole bunch of wonderful opportunities
to be of support to those who serve and have served in the military.
Operation Gratitude is just one of many fine organizations
whose mission is to open doors for us to show our appreciation to
our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and veterans from all locations and conflicts.
It's incredibly easy to sit down and write a letter
or invite children to draw greetings
and create artwork'
these are treasured gifts that are sure to put a smile on the face
of someone who is serving
or has served.
Take a look at this quick summary of info:
Check out Operation Gratitude and the many opportunities
to support our military during this holiday season!
There are so many simple ways to say
"Thanks! We love you and appreciate you!"

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bad Jokes

It's decided.
Christmas this year will be
the self-indulgent purchase
of a brand new knee.
My early thanks to my health insurance carrier
for getting into the spirit of things.
It's the first time I've ever been presented with a holiday gift
that required bloodwork, a mountain-size deductible
and a co-pay which would finance food on the table
for every child in several small
third-world countries.
Nonetheless, I'm grateful.
And I think my loved ones will understand.
Nothing says "Awww, mean the world to me!" like
a poorly delivered bad joke accompanied by a
hug that makes your eyeballs pop out.
That's what they're all gettin' for Christmas this year
from this arthritic Ms. Claus.

Presented by me
 not likely to be in a Santa suit.....
but definitely pushing a walker
wrapped in bandages all up and down my leg
and probably just slightly high
on pain killers.
Ho! Ho! Ho!

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Magic Year

Comforting Things

Life passages have a way of wrapping cold,
indifferent hands
around the images and illusions
of familiar celebrations,
stealing trraditions
before we fully realized how much
we loved them.
Time is unrelenting in it's
kneading and pushing
the maleable, essential elements of tradition
into unrecognizable shapes.
The perfectly balanced recipe of
and friends
and home
and hearth
become a dish we've never tasted before.
 And sometimes it's bitter.

Isn't that the way it goes, though?
We never know how much we really truly
I mean deeply
loved something
until we lose it.

A loved one.
A family dinner no longer held because
all the members live elsewhere.
A great old sweatshirt, perfectly worn.
A string of lights that we lace onto the tree
for year and years and years until the cord frays.
An old hymn replaced by a contemporary chorus.
A beloved voice silenced.
A tiny person, all grown up.

Narrow pathways through which we squeeze,
guiding us from one time of life
to another.
This is a fine, well-worn flannel shirt
purchased from Sears
many, many, many years ago.
It was boxed, wrapped and tucked under the tree
back in 19-something or other,
waiting for Dad to open on Christmas morning.
Not MY Dad.
My kids Dad.
I gave this shirt to him mucho el lotsa years ago.
He had lots and lots of flannel shirts,
I ended up adopting this one as my own personal favorite
and now it's just plain mine.
It's my comfort shirt.
I take it out of storage every winter and keep it hanging
on a hook next to the drawer with my favorite
squishy winter socks.
When the evening is cold
and I'm home alone
I wear it.
It comforts me.
It's my happy shirt.
One that hugs me back to a sweet time of life
when my kids were little
and life was busy
with a calendar full of
places we had to be.
When I find myself
home alone
spending my holidays in a way I would never have dreamed
might be happy
and fulfilling
and satisfying
in light of my past family-filled gatherings
I wear this shirt
and smile.
Grateful for past celebrations.
Embracing life passages.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Morning

This is sooooo NOT the day I had planned.
Blue-sky beautiful.
Brilliant sunshine on freshly-fallen snow.
Yikes, no wayyy is this what I had planned for today.

I was hoping for another yesterday.
I know that's not very thoughtful
considering nearly everyone in the country is
in a car
or getting out of a car
or putting on their coats to go out to the car
and head to their Thanksgiving dinner.
On behalf of all those folks,
I'm happy for you
and I won't complain.
I'll just close my eyes and remember yesterday
because it was perfect.

I get up long before the sun rises
and yesterday the house was bright as day
even before I switched on a light.
There's your sign.
Yep. During the night.
Lots of it.
Yawning snow dog Chuck went into a fresh-powder frenzy
leaping and hopping all over the back yard
like he was a pup again.
No wonder that boy and I get along so famously.
I do love snow.
Pristine and freshly-fallen lightweight
made it easy to sweep a path to my car
before I negotiated my long driveway to head off to work.
(I mention the long driveway because it really, truly is a feat of
navigational prowess to back out of the thing when the ground is
blanketed in snow. True, it's 17 feet wide, but there is a substantial
stone planter right next to the drive and in a blur of white
some of names here, of course......find it a challenge to
get to the street in reverse gear....without hitting that planter. This is neither a
positive experience for the planter or the car.)
I got out ok, leaving a deep, single-track path
which undoubtedly says to wandering neighborhood hoodlums
"Oh look. She went to work. No one is home. Let's clean out the house
and sell her old Tupperware for drug money."
(This is where Chuck comes in. Ain't happenin' boys. JUST. Saying.)
So. I'm on my way to work.
And it's snowing.
The sky is grey, there is frost on the windshield
and my hands are warm and toasty
(in utilitarian gloves, but that's another story for another day, although I'll note
my favorite Sherry Tinsman bracelet is especially fetching with the winter ensemble,
don't you think??)
It's my favorite kind of day.
I love driving in snow.
And my sunroof is wide open.
At the stoplights I look up to the sky
where the grey is shedding
beautiful, huge flakes
that land
just like the song says
on my nose and eyelashes.
Don't care what the cars in the other lanes might think.
I think
they wish they were me
and loved snow, too.
I'm such a kid on snowy days.
Maria VonTrapp would be immensely proud.
By the time I got off work last night
the snow had started again
and I was pretty sure it happened
just for me.
There was some serious slipping and sliding my way through town
to get home but that is my idea of fun. There is nothing quite so
heart-stoppingly sweet as to fishtail into an intersection
with your eyes closed
praying the path is clear
and your left front quarter panel will live to see another day.
Thankfully, most folks were home
groceries unloaded
chopping celery for this mornings turkey dressing.
The path was slick
but beautifully clear.
Sunroof open again.
This time the flakes were fast and furious
from a dark sky.
I drove the long way home
through town
winding through the college campus
down along streets of old Victorian homes
just to savor the sweetness of
the Dickens kind of evening
and praying Chucks bladder would forgive me
the extra drive time.
And now it's morning.
Where I'd been hoping for a continuation
of last nights magical, falling snow loveliness
it's just another
fabulously gorgeous
sun-drenched day
on the prairie.
I shall persevere to endure.
And it does bring to mind my favorite winter morning joke:
What did the doe say when she walked out of the woods
on a snowy morning?
I'll never do THAT again for two bucks!!!
But I do soooooooo love a little seasonal irreverence.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving for One

Behold, my fortunate friend, Mr. Turkey.
I'm pretty sure he's sitting on a roost
right this very minute
penning a thank-you note
of depth and heartfelt appreciation.
Dear Debbie,
thank you for not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year.
I shall live to see another day....

You're welcome, bud.
One good bird spared, in the name of Thanksgiving for one.
You're so very welcome.
While it isn't the classic portrait of the
Great American Gratitude Celebration
here is what my Thanksgiving is going to look like this year:
Take out.
I'm going to stop at the deli on Wednesday night after work
ask the nice Chinese guys to fill a couple of foam containers
with a bit of Sesame Chicken, rice and a little egg drop soup,
grab a couple of movies from RedBox
and go home to my dog.
While every other person in the entire
United States of America
will be gathered in tastefully appointed dining rooms
around big, food-laden tables
holding hands with their family members
and laughing gaily
like something straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting
I will be sitting home
by myself
petting my dog
and watching Harrison Ford
protect his family from terrorists.
That's just the way it is this year.
And I'll probably drink some Bailey's.
Because that's my favorite way to end any good evening.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Odd Kid in Kindergarten

 I'll tell you why I remember Norbert.
I remember him because
on the very first day of Kindergarten
he didn't quite make it to the bathroom in time.
They had to call his mom
and she had to come
so he could change his pants.
It was a bad way to start Kindergarten.
Even at 5 years old, I knew it.
And things just didn't get any better for little Norbert.
I remember his family was from another country;
his parents didn't speak much English,
which, I now understand,
meant Kindergarten was an especially difficult challenge
for Norbert's parents
and for Norbert.
Here is something else I remember about Norbert.
I just loved the little guy.
He smiled real big
and even though he wasn't your classic
Kindergarten "good looking",
(whatever that is???)
he was a charmer.
I loved it when he and I were assigned to the same play "station"
during our play rotation time.
I didn't care which station:
the coloring tables,
the slide,
the little miniature kitchen,
the math station with it's rows of math games,
and a cool, beaded abacus.

All I cared about
was that Norbert and I had great fun together.
The little guy captured my heart.
Norbert was my little heart-secret.
That's because Doug and Ben were the kids to be seen with
in my Kindergarten class.
Doug wore glasses which
everyone thought were extremely cool
and Ben had a horse.
Once again
completely cool.
Norbert pooped his pants and his parents talked funny.
A tough gig for a little guy just starting school.
I didn't care.
Norbert was my kinda guy.
I remember laughing as we played.
It was Norbert and me at the reading table,
Norbert and me coloring together.
He was weird
and people made fun of him
and much of the time
(for what reason I really don't know)
he smelled kind of funny.
But he captured my Kindergarten heart.
He wasn't cool, he was just my friend.
The last day of school was the last day I ever saw Norbert.
I played through the long, hot summer
and when I came back to school in the fall
he never showed up.
The end of a beautiful friendship.
But the seed of an important lesson planted.
Not too many years later
I had the chance to take music lessons.
My dad was a pianist.
It seemed to make sense.
And true enough,
I thought it was so neat the way my Daddy could just sit down
and make those keys dance with his skinny fingers.
He offered to teach me.
The piano looked like so much fun.
He sat down several times and began to show me how the keyboard worked.
I loved sitting there.
I loved the way my fingers felt on those shiny, beautiful keys.
But I quickly discovered there was no heart connection.
I just couldn't pursue it for more than a few sit-downs.
Much as I loved listening to my Dad play,
beyond the beauty of the piano and it's shiny keyboard
there was no connection for me.
My heart belonged to my crayons.
And markers.
And paper.
And scissors.
And glue.
My heart-choices weren't as shiny
but the things that wrapped strings around my heart
and have held me tight from the time I could first pick up a pencil
are the creative arts
where I take materials and fuss with them
until something magic appears.
Some folks choose shiny instruments
some folks choose hobbies that make their hearts sing.
Some people jump out of airplanes and find that to be some kind of
sparkly and fulfilling.

Fussing with my hands
and the art of creating things
is what truly makes my heart sing.

It's the heart-connection I knew from the very beginning
was truly, truly me.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Outdoor Plumbing




I was so little my feet didn't even touch the floor
as a Sunday school kid visiting the outhouse.
Here's what I remember, though:
I did some deep, deep thinkin' on that seat.
Mostly about bees.
And wasps.
The ones that nested somewhere
down under the bench.


I'm living in my parents house.
Well, it's mine now.
They're gone.

It doesn't feel like mine.
I'm not sure it's where I belong.
But it's where I am right now.

Every room is a juxtaposition of our different worlds.
My life. Their lives.
So different.
Me, alone.
The two of them, together.

Me, odd and awkwardly artistic.
My mom, country-cute with lace curtains framing every window
my step-dad with his frenzy of wires and antennas and satellite dishes;
indulgences in both his genius and his hobby.

The fireplace he painstakingly built
stone by stone by neatly placed and perfectly aligned stone
on which I now stack my art work
and hippie flowers in an old thermos bottle
next to a chunk of wood I just happen to like
and a spray bottle to give the canary
a bath.

The curtains are so not me.
They really aren't.

But I left them up because honestly
after nursing and burying two parents last winter
in addition to all the other stuff of life
that's rolled across and flattened me like a big effing truck this year
I just can't seem to get my foot up on that first rung
of the ladder
to take them down.

So I come home at night to this mish-mash of them and me
and I let my dog lick my dinner plate
and I stare at the piles of boxes that need to go to Goodwill
and the rooms that need to be emptied
and the walls that need to be painted
and the floors that need to be pulled up
the cupboards that need to be emptied
and the basement that I haven't stepped in for two months
because it's just full of more work to do
and I put on my fuzzy socks
I wrap up in my fleece blanket
let the cat crawl up on my lap
and decide it'll all get done.

But not now.
Not now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sometimes You Must Look Real Hard but.....

Purple Hug

I didn't tell my little artist friend that one of my best buddies
went to kitty heaven yesterday and I was feeling very sad.
She just showed up in my office with a sore throat.
While we were waiting for mom to come pick her up
I gave her some markers and paper
so she could get her mind off feeling sick.
This is what she drew for me.

Thanks for the beautiful purple hug, little 8-year old friend.
Hope you feel better real soon.
You made me smile.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Love You, Binks

This is Mr. Binks.
Hard to tell from this photo but he was
my 25-pound best friend
at a time when I really needed one.
He died today.
And I'm really, really sad.

He had an unbelievably interesting life.
Found, as a kitten, by my son when he was doing PT on a Marine base.
Hidden in the barracks for a few days.
He lived on the East Coast, the West Coast
and the Midwest; five different states.
He lived in an old brothel in Missouri for a year.
He loved to jump up into my lap where I would
wrap him in a blanket
and he'd sleep for hours
while I watched movies over the weekends
in a city where I didn't know anyone.
He got old.
He got sick.
He got weak.
He's at peace.
I am too.
Just really, really sad.
I could use a hug tonight so sooo bad.
Losing my buddy makes me think back on a very important life lesson I learned from cats.
That sounds weird, I know. It's not, though.
When I was about 13 years old I had a cat named Princess.
(Original, huh? Back then every cat was named Princess.)
She was fairly dainty, long-haired and not particularly social.
She had that royal air about her.
Didn't sleep on our beds.
She accepted attention and affection one way: on her terms.
But my sisters and I loved her.
One night she didn't show up for dinner.
We ran the electric can opener.
(The one sound that would make her come running from anywhere)
and she was no where to be found.
The next morning we discovered clumps of cat hair and blood in the driveway.
My sisters and I were hysterical.
No Princess, but clearly something bad had happened.
We searched to no avail.
Then we heard a very faint whimpering.
The weak little sound came from deep within a huge hedge of the prickliest
evergreen bushes you could imagine.
They were thick and gnarled with age
roots and branches twisting about from the ground
Impossible to see beyond the first few inches of the outer branches
but we could hear a faint little meowed response
to our calling her.
Princess was in the bushes.
Deep, deep, deep within the bushes.
And there she stayed.
My stepdad told us not to worry.
Sometimes when living creatures are hurt
they need to crawl off by themselves and be alone.
He said they instinctively knew what was best for them
they would tend to their wounds
and when they were strong enough
they'd crawl out of their hiding place.
It was a hard sell.
Days passed. Rain fell.
No Princess.
Although every now and then
to repeated calls
pleadings, really
we would hear a faint meow.
Each night my step-dad would put a tiny little dish of food near the bushes.
Every morning it was gone.
We couldn't be sure if it was our cat
or the raccoons and 'possums eating it
but it made us feel like we were doing something to help.
He would toss a few little bits of the food into the bushes in her direction.
And at night my sisters and I would cry.
He would reassure us.
"She'll be ok. When she's better, she'll come out."
And that's just what she did.
It took about two weeks but our beautiful kitty eventually emerged
from the bushes.
Pathetically skinny
Gaunt and weak
But alive and hungry.
We carried her into the house
and she got better and better and better
from that day on.
I've looked back on that experience many, many times
throughout my life as I believe it holds a deep truth about
human nature as well as the nature of animals.
People get hurt, too.
Sometimes when people get emotionally hurt
they need to crawl into their own evergreen hedge
where they can rest and lick their wounds
and go about the business of recovering
away from any of the fussing those who care
are likely to offer.
It's self-care.
The most primal sort of recovery process
one that is instinctive:
the need to be alone.
I'm a fusser, by nature.
There is nothing I love more than to come alongside someone who is hurting
put my arm around them
hug them
stand close to them
listen to them
care for them
just be near them
so they don't have to be alone.
What I've learned through the years
is to reflect back on how Princess knew best.
She knew she needed to retreat
and take care of herself.
People are like that too.
When someone says they need to be alone
I leave them alone. But I remember what my step-dad did, too.
He checked on her often from a distance.
He put little dishes of food where she could find them.
That's what I try to do with people who are hurting, too.
I respect their need to be alone
I pray for their healing
and I push the smallest little offerings of caring
close enough so they can find them
Healing will come
in due time. People know
by nature what they need the most.
Sometimes the very best way to come alongside someone and love them
is to keep our distance.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening


Deleteriously Delicious

( Courtesy of the definitive Gospel of Vocabulary i.e....according to Webster.
Thanks, Merriam.)
I love this word.
I've always LOVED this word.
It's like a verbal cookie for me.
You know the kind....sweet, with just enough chips?
Spelled with just the right number of mildly harsh consonants
ordered in such a way that,
when spoken with accent applied to the correct syllable
the whole word just kind of launches out of the throat
exiting the mouth in a marvelously definitive and lovely way.
It's a good, good word.
Post-it note to my brain:
Use this fine word more often.

I stood on the edge of Thursday
looking ahead to this weekend
with some trepidation.
Life stuff.
Work stuff.
The panorama was just too overwhelming.
I wasn't sure how I was going to do it all.

Friday the sun was out so bright
the sky was so blue
there just seemed to be every possibility
some way
I'd get it all done.

Treating myself for being such a brave girl at the dentist yesterday
I squeezed my little race car (Saturn. ha!)
into the drive-up and pondered
the Starbucks possibilities.
A late-bloomer to coffee and pretty much a creature of habit.
I like it dark, dark, dark and bitingly flavorful.
With a messa cream and sugar.
True coffee-addicts would say that's not coffee.
To each his own, folks. Leave me to my beans.

On special days, I hit the Starbucks drive-through.
On ordinary days I'm much too stingy to expend 1/3 of my daily calorie budget on a cup of coffee.
Too poor to afford the cost, too. But today I thought.....let's just dive all-in for the weekend, shall we?
Let's try something new.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh BABY!!!!!!!!!!
My boots are dancin' now, for sure!!!

Chestnut Praline Latte.

Here is how I described it to my Facebook crew:

Driving along, minding my own sweet biz when....out of the drivethru window I am unexpectedly and deliciously assaulted by the most arresting burst of flavors! Soooo just close your eyes and imagine a happy little chestnut rolling its chubby, roasted self around on your tongue, when all of a sudden a team of wild little pralines arrive from seemingly nowhere and explode in your throat. And imagine too, that the lovely young man with the bright red (very festive) gauge things in both his ears is the best listener ever, and actually DID make your Chestnut Praline Latte extra extra H O T. Heaven.
 Lovely sips of heaven!!!

Got it?
My new favorite Starbucks beverage, for sure.
Now, full disclosure so we don't all run off half-crazy

Sip with caution.
But....on that occasion quite-special
do sip.
Ohhhh yes, yes, yes! Do sip!

Enough digression.
Back to the subject of favorite words
and the point of this entire rabbit trail
of verbal meandering.

"Facts in hand, of the deleterious results rabid consumption of her
new favorite coffee beverage would have on her fitness, health and teensy tiny little wallet,
Debbie allowed herself but one Starbucks beverage per week, as a
less-nutritional but highly satisfying substitute for breakfast."

Sorry, eggs.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

And yet.....MORE Miles to Go Before I Sleep

If I've got somewhere to go
someplace to be
I don't mind 4:00 AM.
I'm a morning gal
so I can pop up out of bed in the wee-est of the hours
for a purpose.
Notsomuch a fan of the waking-up-in-the-wee-hours thing
if the only purpose it serves is to find me
staring across my room into the dark
ruminating on every little thing troubling me of late.
Money, kids, health, future, prayers, wishes, regrets, guilt, love, faith
purpose, friends, enemies and whether my car will get me through the winter.
They're all stacked up
with a thousand of their pesky little trouble friends
right over there in the corner of my bedroom
where no one can see
unless it's 4:00 AM.

Yesterday was one of those mornings.
Helllllllllllllllllllllllo 4:00 AM.
Yep, it's me again.
But yesterday there was kind of a reason.
I had a dental appointment scheduled at 8 AM.
Root canal.
(Feel free to envision the cozy chair, the needle coming towards my mouth,
the sound of the drill, the vibrating of my jaw......
yeahhhhhh, all manner of fun things.)
You'd think so, anyway.
The root canal.....seriously.
It was nothin'. PIECE. OF. CAKE.
I almost fell asleep
although the whole vibrating jaw thing....
NO pain, mind you....but couldn't quite drift off.
Almost, though.
Face still numb, an hour after the dentist I
found my favorite, all-time best friend boots.
I thought I'd lost them in one of my many recent moves.

The lost are found.
The feet are happy.

And speaking of feet................

Uhhh, yeahhhhh.
Only the best movie EVer!!
Found my Happy Feet DVD in the same perchance
dive into the storage unit that revealed my sweet boots.

So. Despite the fact it started early....wayyyy too early.
Despite the fact a dentist was sticking a needle into my jaw at
zero-eight hundred thirty.

The day had earmarks of unfolding into something lovely.
As long as I would keep my eyes open to notice.

Love days like that.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Through Strangers Eyes

We had an exercise in Mrs. Hildreth's class
High school English. Junior year.

Once each semester she would pass out little scraps of paper.
On the scraps she had written the names of other students
with whom we'd shared class for the past months.
Our assignment was to make observations about
the person whose name was written on the scrap.
She collected the notes.
And passed them back out to us.

The first time she explained what we were going to do
I got sick to my stomach.
I didn't want to stay in class.
I was gripped with this irrational fear
all the same, very real to me
and I almost approached her desk to ask for
permission to leave class.

I was distressed at the thought of how I would handle
the hurtful things I might read
in my classmates comments.
I imagined myself sitting at my desk, unfolding and reading the comments
trying to act nonchalant
all the while dying inside
wanting to cry.

I should have had more faith in my classmates.
And more faith in me.

"Likes to make people laugh"
"I think you're probably shy but you still aren't afraid to speak up"
"Good writer. I like it when you read your work out loud."

Were they really talking about me?
Who wrote these nice things, I wondered?
I had no clue anyone in class felt these nice things about me.
I read the notes scribbled on those little scraps of paper once and tucked them deep into my purse.
Over the coming weeks, I read them over and over.
Is that really me? Am I really those things?

The comments put a smile on my face
and confidence in my toolbox.

Even the smallest compliments are like pebbles dropped in a body of water.
There is no measuring the extent to which the ripples may multiply
goodness into the heart of someone
who might feel like just another faded flower on the wallpaper.

Behind the Curtain

I wonder
if we knew how differently people truly felt
from the way we guessed
just by looking at their windows from the outside
would we feel less alone 
 because we'd realize
they're just like us
after all

Monday, November 10, 2014

Don't Make Me Fly

If you've got an hour or so I could list
all the reasons I don't care if I ever got on another airplane.
It's a long list.
I'm not afraid to fly.
Not at all.
My dad retired from the airlines after a 35 year career. I took full
advantage of my free-pass privileges over many, many years time.
I went places. I saw things.
I ate great food.
Later, I traveled on business.
Went lots more places. Saw lots more things.
Ate lots more great food.
I was privileged to experience so many, many things as a result of all the travel.
I lived in absolute wonder each and every time my plane touched
down in a new city and I looked out the window of a rental car or a cab
or a hotel limousine and thought to myself
"Wow. I can't believe I'm here."
I met people.
I took pictures.
I journaled memories; a thousand memories.
And now I'm done with it.
One day as I was sitting in an airport lounge, waiting for yet another flight home,
 I noticed the bottom seams around the edges of my suitcase
were worn and the zipper was a little wonky. I can't begin to guess how many
miles I'd rolled that thing through airports, carrying everything I needed for the coming days.
I sat there and stared at the suitcase for the longest time.
It was clear, I'd have to replace it.
Or quit flying around.
So I quit.
I was tired of it.
Time was, so often, of the essence.
Now it isn't.
I want to see lots of things.
But I want to see them from the view down here on the ground.
I love road trips.
There are a couple things I do miss, though.
A couple things I love about flying.
The first thing I love: the people I met.
Yep, I am that annoying person that sits next to you on the plane and strikes up a conversation.
Relax, man. I'm NOT the annoying person who persists after you've politely
made it clear you want to...nap. Or read. Or just stare out the window.
I'm really, really polite.
I'm also a bit of a screaming kid whisperer.
I used to sit in the airport lounge, waiting to board my flight, watching for moms
traveling alone with kids. That's tough duty and I've put in the required hours over the years;
I raised kids; I flew with my kids lots of times.
I've got my Mom in the Airport Badge and I'm not afraid to use it.
I'd spot the moms and if they had a screamer on their hands
I'd try and work my way to a spot beside them and help them with the babies.
Flying isn't a whole lot of fun when you're a little kid.
Air pressure hurts your ears and makes you cry.
The space is crowded.
The noises are funny.
People are weird.
There's nothing to eat but those dang Cheerio's your mom poured into a Ziploc
bag and when you throw them all over the plane, people look at you funny.
Yep, I'd sit next to those kids and engage them with my ability to draw kittens and bunnies
and dinosaurs. Or I'd invite them to play a game of connect the dots. Or sing about ducks.
Or let them play with my car keys. I was flying with my beloved little 3-year old granddaughter
one time when the plane had a service call and we sat at the gate, buckled into our seats
for five hours. FIVE hours. With a 3-year old and no food.
We played connect the dots.
Like, forever.
She was happy as could be.
(Did I mention it was five hours?)
Yep. I'm that good.
So I just like to step in and help a weary mama out.
Maybe it's weird, but I always thought it was fun to turn a little
scrunchy frown upside down. And it was fun to make the children happy, too!
There is one other thing I really, really loved about flying.
I loved how I would get up in the wee hours of the morning
and it'd be raining and gloomy and even as the morning
progressed there was nothing but a grey, drizzly world to behold.
We'd all file onto the plane
after taking the last final sips from our Styrofoam cups of lukewarm coffee,
buckle into our respective seats,
lean back, close our eyes and pretend to sleep until takeoff.
Some days it took five minutes.
Some days it took less.
I always looked out the window during takeoff.
Outside the window is where the magic happens.
Up, up, up we would climb
with that funny sound and pressure kind of thing that you feel
when a big airplane is working it's way up to a cruising altitude.
We'd disappear into the clouds, fighting our way through layer upon layer
of cumulus whatever-us, still climbing.
And then....all of a sudden the nose of the plane would break through
with the rest of us back in the cheap seats close behind
and in a moments time we were cruising in brilliant sunlight.
bright and ever-present in a way the earlier darkness
suggested just wasn't possible.
In the dark, wee hours, it felt like the layers of darkness
would just last forever, yknow? Like maybe God had played some cruel trick
and stolen it from the sky.
Not at all.
We broke through, leaving the dismal clouds and cheerless weather below us,
 cast off like a heavy blanket to the earth's floor.

I loved those moments.
I savored those moments as some of the best ever.
My breathing deepened.
I had to squint because the light, in contrast to the somber shroud
we'd left behind was just so intense. 
Like rebirth.
It was so wondrous.
So amazing.
So real.
That's something I miss about flying.
But I carry the beauty of those breakthroughs with me.
And sometimes the memories of how darkness always, always, always 
is overcome by the light
 comfort me as I wait for my own sun to shine again.

Small Acts of Love and Kindness




Ok, well.
That's actually four words.
I'm trying to contain myself but the excitement is pretty dang overwhelming.
I need two new ones, have needed them for a long, long time.
So....finally getting everything lined up and approved for the first one in four weeks is very, very exciting. Very exciting. Sooooooo exciting!!!!!!

(Should I be this giddy over a guy taking a saw and hammer
to the bones in my leg?)


Saturday, November 08, 2014

Sliding on the Ice

My best friend uses a phrase I've favored above many
since the day I first heard her say it
"Sometimes you've just gotta take down your pants and slide on the ice.
She was young when she said it. We both were.
In our thirties. (Yes, thirty-something's....that's young.)
We were young moms. We were living our lives in such a way as to keep every
hair on the heads of our children in place
and a smile on every face.

House-frau weary of laundering that one damn Strawberry Shortcake t-shirt
fifty three times in a single summer
two years after it even FIT anyone in the house
we conspired some small
Just because.
I don't remember what we did.
I'm pretty sure it would have embarrassed our parents
mortified our Sunday School teachers
shamed our children
and caused our husbands to look at eachother and say
....hey, did you see Star Trek last night and how 'bout them Yankees.
Doesn't matter.
The only moment I recall from the entire episode of presumed
misadventure was her rolling her eyes, looking out the window
and shaking her head in captive resignation.
"Ok. I'm in,"
Why not?
Slide, we did.
Babysitters meters ticking, no doubt
to nurture our inner runaways for the night.

Earlier this week I bought this sweet little platform cart.
I can pile all manner of this and that upon it's non-slippy surface
and conveniently push it all to a destination
be it down the driveway
through hallways
or, in this case
from my car to the lower level of a church building
without breaking my back and without so much as losing a thing in the transport process.
I love logistics.
This cart and I are going to do great things together.
So there we stood, my newest buddy and I.
A car filled-to-sunroof, now unburdened of goods portaged into the church
in short order. The evenings mission accomplished. Time to go home.

Moonlit night.
Just a sliver off full.
Autumn's chill in the air.
Standing next to my beloved cart.
On a blacktop parking lot with a smooth, even surface
sloping dramatically to the South
seemingly off into oblivion
Or at least beyond the radius of the nearest street lights.
It's a parking lot that shoots off in roller-coaster style
into a big, hilly neighborhood.
Really hilly.
My hands are on the cart.
Big hill.
I stood there for the longest time, pondering the opportunity.
I thought too, about a conversation I'd had recently with a dear one.
"I've ALWAYS wanted to..........." I said to him, and then I went on to relate a
fantasy of misadventure I've dreamed of for the longest time, which may or may not
involve some....minor, very minor.....criminal trespass and
depending on the success or failure of the operation,
may involve police and possible inconveniences
like squad cars and ugly pajamas (I look ghastly in orange) and...well, you get the picture.
I expected him to laugh, of course
because it was a pretty funny plan I explained to him
But he didn't.
He jumped on it.
And of course I knew he was kidding.
But the enthusiasm with which he grabbed hold and stepped up to join me on
my train of misguided thinking for a few minutes
to entertain the entire ridiculous scenario
even going so far as to suggest mapping out reconnaissance
for strategic success of the mission.......well.
 it just gave me the biggest thrill ever
It was so much fun. I laughed like I haven't laughed in the longest time.
In my heart and mind I was runaway mom with the night off again.
Headed for fun, dashing through the snow
laughing all the way. Like sliding on the ice with our pants down.

Last night I stood near the top of that big, long hill
with my hand on the cart.  Why the hell not?
What's the worst that could happen?
Just point it downhill
throw caution to the wind
hop on
and go for the ride.
Did she?
Or didn't she?
Did she? Or didn't she?
No one is more disappointed than me but.....I didn't.
Would I have likely hurt my older-than-back-then self?
Yeahhhh, probably. My hopper doesn't hop quite like it did when I was thirty.
Would I have been able to stop the cart before it reached the Gulf of Mexico?
Probably not. So what? I know enough street Spanish to get along.
Mature reason and physical reality won the argument. 
A few years back, in a moment of gleeful abandon over a
moment of supreme accomplishment
I took a (literal) flying leap off the top step of a bus
onto a similar blacktop parking lot which, at the time,
was coated with a layer of ice.
Would I do it again?
Yeah, actually I would, even though I ended up in surgery.
I love, and have ever-since held dear the written notes of my
orthopedic surgeon to inform my family doctor of his diagnosis: 
that  my knee needed everything but repainting and pinstriping as a result of that joyous moment:
"Surgery is scheduled and so....and I'll be doing such and such.....and lastly, I would certainly recommend Debbie not be jumping out of buses anymore no matter how happy she is."
Man, he got that right. I WAS happy.
I'm just not so sure how much more gleeful abandon and raucous happiness
my shredded knees can take at this point.
That's ok. It was good to feel that kind of happy again.
Even if just for a moment.
When I slid on the ice with my best friend, I was happy.
When conspiring over a ridiculous notion, I was happy.
Standing there at the top of the hill last night, hand on the cart
I was really, really happy.
True. Some things are best left to the crazy, young runaway moms.
My older and wiser self assured me, parking lot surfing may very well be one of them.
I suppose midnight stealth operations may be another.
One of the gifts of age is knowing which rolling trips to take
which recon missions to make
and when to just head home
delighted to be laughing
and really, really happy.
Happy because we even considered it in the first place.