Sunday, December 31, 2006


Is it telling of this year that the last day of it just so happens to be the worst day of it, or is it, I pray not, a portent of the year to come?

My mother had another stroke last night. She's stable now. I can barely remember the phone call, and getting to the hospital is also foggy, though I did not drive myself.

I'm blurry in memory because I was out with a friend last night, drinking margaritas. On a stomach that had only one small slice of pizza hours before in the day. I looked at the food but couldn't entertain the thought of eating. That happens when my heart is hurting. And that happened because someone I love walked out. There wasn't much conversation, just the leaving. And returning - he's gone back to where he used to be, who he used to be with. There's details and reasons but nothing as important as the simple truth. He is gone. And I am here. And this pain inside is a heavy load to carry into the new year.

I walked home from the hospital last night. That was a long walk. A long and lonely walk.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Around here, we call her Cat

This morning I woke to a house full of her friends, fast asleep here and there in my living room. I had forgotten how easy it was to sleep on a couch, chair or even the floor when you are 19. They had driven in from Louisiana yesterday, wanting to see her before she left for college.

Which will happen in five days.

On Wednesday, we'll drive to Austin with all her stuff in the truck, and her following behind in her car. On Wednesday we move her into her dorm. Thursday she'll attend orientation and registration. Friday I'll return to Houston, likely without dry eyes. As excited as I am for her that she's been accepted to the university she wants to attend, that she'll experience dorm life rather than living with her Aunt and attending community college, that she'll be on her own and figuring her way, I'm also dragging myself through the days that rapidly approach her leaving.

She's blossomed the past several months, and I've enjoyed every minute of her living with me. I've also gotten to know her on a level that is beyond love, a level of respect and pride as I've listened to the reasoning behind the choices she makes in her life. I'm nuts about the person she is and the young woman she is becoming. Her talent behind the camera floors me and I'm certain that pursuing photography as her major will secure a bright future for her. The Christmas print she gave me of Cheyenne is one of those photos that is less of a captured moment and more of her eye and camera skills, her skill in enlarging and printing. It's one of those photos that says photographer, and not lucky shot.

What I'm not going to do in this next paragraph is jabber on about how I held her when she was only hours old, how I've watched and guarded over her for 20 years, and been involved every step of her way, from bottle feeding and Christmas pagents, and skinned knees and braces, to first dates and broken hearts. And every one of her haircuts and hair colors, and even the piercings and that tattoo. Okay, that's wrong. I did not watch over that tattoo and if she ever wants it removed I'll cough up the money, but she loves her ladybug and she was of age so that's when I had to start practicing backing off. Which wasn't easy, by the way. Anyway, I'm not going to write about all that right now. I prefer to save my tears until Wednesday.

(Side note to her: Sorry about revealing the tattoo, but that's payback for making me find out about it A YEAR LATER, rather than telling me in the first place. Love, your Aunt.)

What I've enjoyed most about her living with me, and I'll miss most about her absence, is her laughter. She laughs often and she laughs loud. She's honing her sense of humor and lately when she laughs I close my eyes and thank God for her happiness. She deserves it. I know that a small part of that happiness is because of the relationship we've forged, the trust we have and the guidance I've been able to provide. My relationship with her is one of which I'm very proud. In turn, she's taught me a few things. In indirect ways, she's reminded me to smile more often and love more freely. And every now and then I'm able to dismiss something that I previously would have clung to unnecessarily. In short, her influence on me has been one of balance. I've gained a bit of flexibility and freedom from watching her life. Freedom to hang on and freedom to let go. In a few short days, as she steps into her new life, I'll be doing both. Beneath my tears though, a big smile will reside. And isn't that exactly how it should be?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happy absence, thrilling return

We arrived home in one piece a few hours ago, no thanks to the cab driver who I had to request to please stop driving 90 miles an hour and cutting people off on the freeway. I asked him if he was from New York. He laughed. All of this after we argued in front of the cab stand as to whether we live in Zone 2 or Zone 3. It's a $20.00 difference and I wasn't about to budge because I know that the zones have not changed since our cab ride Christmas morning. Happily, that's the only negative of the past three days.

I want to tell you all about it, about St. Francis Cathedral where we sat together on Christmas day, about the horseback ride in the mountains, about the drive along a winding and climbing road through the mountains up to Taos, about the snow and the sunsets seen from our balcony, about the many deep breaths I took thinking this is exactly where I want to be and exactly who I want to be with. But right now, there's laundry to be done, a reunion with that now very happy Lab of mine, and sleep to be had.

Sunset, Christmas Day Blue Miles and miles

Sunday, December 24, 2006

On this, Christmas Eve

It's cold outside, baby, and that makes me warm inside. We opened all the gifts underneath our little tree. Truthfully, they were under the tree, on the chairs and had spilled over onto the floor. I think the word is abundance. Boxes and paper everywhere. Smiles too. My niece takes my breath away these days. She's growing into a loveliness that is her own, and she shines when she smiles. Which lately is often.

Yesterday, I had lunch with my nephew, my niece and my sister, their mother. She had not seen her son in over a year and a half. The word I can use to describe their feelings at seeing each other would be joy. And when my nephew thanked me for giving him the best Christmas present he could have ever received, I too felt joy. From the bottom of my toes and deep into my heart.

Today, we'll visit my mother. It will be quiet and love will be in the room, emanating from and covering all.

This evening, we are going to church and following that we're going to meet friends for Christmas cheer and celebration.

I've used the word, we, in this post. There is another. He came back into my life several years ago. And again in October. He came to stay in November. My heart has love and happiness again. Tomorrow morning, he and I will get on a plane to Santa Fe for a couple days and nights. Just the two of us, mountains, snow and a more quiet and personal celebration of the holiday. And each other.

Merry Christmas, everyone. A very merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

In between vacuuming and transferring the laundry

I was going to take and post a couple of photos of Cheyenne with Christmas ornaments hanging from her ears but she was being her usual self, meaning that since there was no food involved, she refused to cooperate. So I gave up and took pictures of ornaments while she took out her frustrated model aggression on her Christmas Goose.

DSC_0011 Tree jewelry
Christmas drops Christmas goose

Would you believe she had those nails trimmed yesterday?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Revisiting the meaning

Well over a year ago, I posted something about Ecclesiastes. At the time, I realized that I could recognize the words, but was only beginning to comprehend the meaning.

I realize again that understanding this is a process not unlike learning to read. I thought I’d be able to understand the whole by now, but still my focus is on the building blocks. Someday, someday I will understand the whole. For now though, as it was then, I do trust it's there.

Too everything there is a season,
a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant,
and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Voicemail to my heart

Left on my cell phone earlier tonight:

Hey, it's me. I'm sitting here at a bar and the bartender is wearing a t-shirt that says Poco Bueno on it. I've been looking at it, thinking that's the fishing tournament that your old man won with that big Marlin. I had to show off a bit, tell him I was good friends with the man who won the whole thing one year. What year was it? I can't remember. Anyway, I showed off my tattoo. You know the one, on my arm with the bear paw and your father's birth year and the year he died. I had to say, yeah, you may be wearing a t-shirt, but I knew Ed Groth.

That? That's a voicemail I saved.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

That'll do for now

Interim change - because now that I have so many options I'm sure it won't end here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Two completely unrelated things, well, though fire and new construction can be connected

1) Things do come in threes. Even fires. Wednesday night I was sitting at a table at the Mason Jar, waiting for my dining parter to arrive. I was reading an article in the paper that I'd not had time to complete during the course of the day. Over the lit candle that had been placed on the table for ambiance. Or to catch the newspaper on fire. Which it did. Again, I found myself asking, What's that smell? Embarassed? You bet.

Tell, me, do you know if they make personal fire extinguishers? You know, to keep in my purse for moments like these.

2) Have you grown tired of the black? I have. I've been sitting on the fence for too long. Over the weekend, I'm going to get some light in here, clean things up a bit, rearrange the boxes and see what tickles my layout fancy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Outside in

On the outside, a line of trees full with dark red leaves. Beautiful, if not out of place in December. On the outside, the Christmas cards begin to arrive. Two addressed to Mr. and Mrs. I take the envelopes, wonder how they got past the letters I wrote last year.

On the outside, I take a deep breath, consider this hammock between losses past and future. I walk through the door. On the inside, she's calling out for help.

I sit beside her, wrap my hand around hers.

Are you okay, Mom?

I'm dying.

She closes her eyes purposefully, then opens her eyes and sighs, dissapointed to be here.

I wish I was dying, I want to die. She looks up at me, asks, Will you help me?

Mom, no, I cannot do that. I hold hold her hand tighter.


Mom, you need to talk to God.

She gives me a weak smile, says, I have. She pauses a second, then continues. I asked him to hurry, but he's not.

Mom, do you really want that? Do you really want to die?


She closes her eyes again.

This is what it's like. This is where she is and who she is. Her body is failing and failing her. She'll not try anymore, she wants out. It's like watching a baby, the need, the hours, the love and attention, the feeding and changing. The depth of feelings in the heart. But there's no hope and promise for the future, no delight at forward steps. The future has been had, there's a different direction now, a different position between mother and daughter. On the inside, there's a heart filled with love that can make no difference to a heart filled with desire to exit.

On the outside, a red leaf relinquishes its hold on a branch.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

They do work, those alarms

When I decided to skip out of work on Thursday and head to the cabin for an early weekend, I was thinking that this trip would be a relaxing one for me because I was all too aware of the hazards that can lead to fires and would surely avoid those hazards since I'm so in the know about that subject now.

Friday morning, a neighbor joked with me that my brother had called him the night before and suggested he put a smoke bomb under the house. You know, just for the fun of flipping me out. Ha ha ha, I laughed along with him. I'll never live that down, I thought to myself.

With the temperature hovering at freezing, and sleet coming down, I decided to allow myself to build and enjoy a fire in the fireplace. Where fires belong.

The ambiance set, safe and warm inside while the weather was cold and miserable outside, some food was in order. And here is where my troubles began. Again.

Placing nachos into the oven, I thought that I should check my email since I had work to get done, whether I was at the cabin or not. Sometime later, when smoke was pouring from the oven, I remembered the nachos. And then the smoke alarms went off. Something they did not do just a few weeks ago, so I will say that I'm glad to know that at least they work.

And I'll leave it at that.

Kiss kiss Sit and think
Happy dog Autumn Blaze Maple

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Where there's smoke

A few weeks ago, two friends and I took our cars and our dogs to my family's cabin for a weekend of relaxing (us) and insane playing and fetching (the dogs). Early that Saturday morning, while one friend slept in peaceful oblivion to impending danger, the other friend and I set out with our dogs for a long walk around the property, which it should be said is a small island off the Colorado river, accessible by cable car. No bridge, no means of, say for instance, any emergency vehicle reaching any emergency while said emergency could be considered current.

It was cold that morning, the first temperature drop of the season. After being outside about five seconds, I ran back into the house, up the stairs and into one of the guest rooms to grab a sweatshirt from the closet shelf where I keep all my sweatshirts and sweaters. I turned the closet light on, grabbed the sweatshirt, shut the closet door and we were on our way.

If you raised an eyebrow at a missing step there, you're onto something.

At one point on our walk, my friend asked if we could let the dogs swim. Not wanting to have two cold and wet dogs to deal with when we got back to the cabin, I gave her a look that needed no words for clarification. One that clearly said, hell no.

Sort of a save the day response, that.

When we returned to the house, I smelled something, something yummy. But ever so quickly, my brain jumped from the oh-so-pleasant thought of Mmmmm, someone is roasting marshmallows to the terrifying realization that no one roasts marshmallows at 8:00 in the morning, that something was BURNING.

I glanced upward to discover several streams of smoke coming from where the side of the house meets the eave of the roof. Stating with a bizarre calmness to my friend that something was on fire, I ran inside the house to get the fire extinguisher and investigate. Trouble was, the extinguisher was extinguished. And I couldn't find the source of smoke. Neither could she. We yelled across the house to each other and we were both empty-handed. It wasn't on the third floor, or in the attic, or on the second floor. Racing through my head were the desperatre words, Where in the hell is it?

Brilliantly, I called a neighbor to tell him that I thought our house was on fire and was unsure what to do other than to call someone and make it their problem because I was clearly not dealing with it very well on my own.

And, conveniently, and sort of medicinally, I thought, At least the phone works.

Back upstairs again, I opened the door to the guest room and discovered thick smoke. Then I began to act out every single thing you are not supposed to do in the event of a fire. 1) Walk upright through the smoke and breathe deep and through your mouth. 3) Open a door that is hot (in this case, the closet door) - suggesting that fire is on the other side of that door, and 4) Feed the fire by giving it oxygen (in this case, opening the window to let the smoke out and allow the fire-feeding oxygen in).

I found it! I yelled, gasped and coughed as I ran outside for smokeless air, and the now on-the-scene island caregiver heroically ran inside. Almost immediately, an airborne handfull of flaming sweaters and sweatshirts followed an airborne window screen he'd knocked from the open window. Then another handfull. And there in a small and pitiful heap was half the problem that, thanks to my sweatshirt-grabbing carelessness, had connected with the other half of the problem: the lit bulb that I did not turn off.

I looked at my sweater, now nothing more than a pile of wet soot, and at the house I've spent so many good times in, time shared with my family, time shared with my friends, time shared with my father. I looked at that house which my parents built together. And prayers of gratitude poured from my heart that we caught the danger in time, before it became an emergency that could not be answered.

As we stood around in a circle shaking our heads and thanking our luck, my friend looked at me bug-eyed and said, We forgot to wake up Chris! Who, let it be said, was never in any danger whatsoever because she was in a separate house entirely, connected only by a walkway.

But still.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lazy post

The term is Lazy Blogging. My friend coined it - so to speak - for when I post photos and not my words. I think she would say in lieu of.

But sometimes I just do not have the words. Sometimes a photo is all that's needed. Say, for instance, this one of Cheyenne doing her best imitation of a fruit bat getting electrocuted.

Fruit bat

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bullying the brat

On page 24 of the front section of today's Houston Chronicle is about four inches of filler under the Around the World header that caught my eye and gave me my first What's the world coming to? thought for the day. Seems that Kim Jong II is fond of all sorts of pricey lifestyle toys. Our current administration wants to use trade penalties to (I'm going to quote) "personally aggravate the foreign leader." So, here's how we're going to hit him where it hurts: No more cognac, Rolexes, cigarettes, artwork, ipods, plasma tvs, expensive cars, Harley Davidson motorcycles or Jet Skis.

Oh yeah, that'll show him. Leadership.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Change in the air

And what a telling title that is, but more on that later.

Fall hit Houston so suddenly that on Friday morning it was all over the yards and roads in the form of fat flat yellow leaves that were not even threatening to drop the day before. The reds and oranges are holding on - the tree outside my office window is showing off a full crown of red. While it's not quite (okay, nowhere near) what I experienced in Vermont several weeks ago, it is what we get here. They don't always arrive, the colors, but they're here now, and they slightly change, slightly punctuate the whole of this city. And me.

And then, there's this little change:


Jingle Girl!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Little brown heart healer

Cheating mechanism Little Brown Acorn Hunter Turning Returning Chasing


The first freeze of the season set upon us last night. This morning, the little brown dog and I set out at sunrise and discovered frost on the grass, steam rising from the bayou. All around us, little treasures everywhere. Acorns on the ground, browning leaves, a feather. Quiet, and the two of us.

Morning path Ray of hope Looking good Heavenly scents A different set of colors Roller coaster

Monday, November 20, 2006

Raise a white flag if you love me; a black flag if you don't

I sat in my father's footprints Sunday morning, with my hands in the moist soil of the flowerbeds in front of my parents' house. He liked those beds filled with flowers of the season. On Friday morning, I had looked a the Vincas and Begonias that had grown tall and leggy over the summer and decided to do something about them. On Sunday morning I planted pansies. The little brown dog slumbered in a select patch of sunlight while I dug and planted. I felt close to my father, felt him with me. For an hour, my morning was peaceful and sweet. It felt good and steady to have my hands in the soil, and my heart with my father.

When I went inside the house, I reached for my phone. A message waited for me, one with tone of voice that flipped my stomach upside down and gave me a dark and cold feeling. It was just a minute or two after I returned the call and left a message that he called back. He was cold, distant, spoke very few but direct words. Words so direct they went straight from my ear and into my heart, where they exploded and the bleeding began.

Just like that.

I learned pretty early in life that love can be painful, that while love is a tremendous joy, in loving we are vulnerable to heartache. And that is where I am now, heartache. In rapid time I went from the mysterious and wonderful experience of love living on, the awareness that I can keep my father in the present and live out loud the love I have for him, to that very same heart being ripped open, torn of hope, forced to feel the light and life fade on itself. Broken.

And yet it beats on, the love alive. Amazing thing, the heart.

I could have done without the sadness of yesterday, and I could do without it today for that matter. And tomorrow. And so on. I could have done without that phone call and all the questioning and doubt it leaves behind for me to sort out alone. But maybe, just maybe, I was not alone when my heart broke. Maybe through the time spent with my father near me in heart and spirit, he was somehow with me when I received the phone call that changed everything, again. Maybe I wasn't alone when I hung up the phone. And maybe it's him reminding me that whatever pain goes with loving, for a brief spell I lived it again and loved a certain someone again, and for that, I would not have changed a thing. Save the outcome.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

For the love of Labs

I was tooling around ebay this morning when I should have been working but admit right here and now to the world wide internet that while I may have been sitting at my desk and I may have been on the computer and I did have a phone in my hand, I was not working. I wasn't, okay?

What I was doing was searching for Christmas gift ideas for a particular friend of mine. One thing we have in common is a love for Labrador Retrievers, so I started there. Way too broad, something like 14 kajillion results and that started with a sno-globe described as Real wood looking resin labs nestled in a snowy atmosphere for year-round special memories. Read that again. Where does one begin?

Moving on, I found a quilt (with matching shams) of different scenes with Labrador puppies. To the word, it was horrific. For a moment, I thought about getting it, you know, as a joke. But never have I seen a homelier item priced so high, so I had to rule that out. The next item was socks with Labs all over them, and believe it or not I have that exact pair of socks, but I know there's no way this friend would be caught dead wearing them.

I clicked onward.

At this point, I was jumping around from link to link, obsessed with the oddities I was finding. Somehow, I landed on decals. I liked the one that said, If it's not a Lab, it's just not a dog, [insert here a respectful nod to JustGolden] but is the 13" size really necessary to make the point? I also liked, My lab is smarter than your honor student, but in the case of both labs in mind, friends would laugh us out right out of the city limits if either of us tried to pass that off.

The thing that stopped me in my tracks though was a 2.5' x 3.8' decal that screamed in a sort of in your face font "Labrador Retriever on Board" with menacing bear-like paw prints to each side. A basic enough message but the font and size making it a tad high volume. And right here, buried at the bottom of this post, is the reason why I started writing in the first place. The decal was shown on the back window of an SUV. The vehicle in the photo? A HUMMER. Ladies and gentlemen, let me say right here that Hummers and Labs don't go together, okay? They just don't. That's like lions sleeping with zebras, like loud strolling with soft, like bling courting sophisticated. Labs are old school and Orvis, over-stuffed beds and bellies, rattling snores and enormous paws stretched out by the fire, old trucks and cold air, leather collars with brass tags. They're wagging tails and eager eyes and they are never, ever brazen. Labs are too refined and their breed-representing owners (hopefully) more reserved than to have their presence hollared from the back window of the biggest joke of a gas guzzling, environmental trashing, ego boosting, piece of pecker-extender on the road today.


I suppose it goes without saying that the seasonal thrill deserted me at that, and today was not the day that I found my friend a Christmas present.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Reaching into confusion

That chill across my elbow, along my arm, circling my cheek, is that you? I’ve waited a thousand nights and still you do not come. I skip a stone across the surface of dark water and know the thud with which it drops through the wet, murky color to the soft mud beneath, but I can’t keep my eyes or my dreams off the ripples across the surface.

I stand still, gaze down at the concrete path beneath my feet. Which crack is you? Where does it come from and where does it lead? How can I help you? Which door, which path out of the dark?


You bleed late into the night, without a sound, not even a whimper. And there’s nothing for us to see but dark stains and the shadow in your voice, the saturation of your thoughts. I call. Your answer is there, I know it's there. But you don't speak out loud. Not to me, not to her. Not for you.

I would crush the light in my heart, throw it onto the street, hope for a few sparks in the skids to light your way. Isn't that what friends are for?

There is no answer, save what’s caught up in your mind. Your beautiful, unreachable mind.

Not what you do with children, or unwanted bits of paper (or, two easy steps to ruining the morning)

At the red light we waited, Cheyenne and I. I was scratching her behind the ears when I noticed the man in the school parking lot beside us. Faded orange t-shirt, a blue number three on the back. Jeans, sandals. His young son was standing on the running board of his gray Suburban, two A&M stickers on the back windows. From inside, I heard a little girl yell, presumably at the young boy, Mooove! The man grabbed the young boy at his elbow and flung him off the truck. The child landed on his feet, immediately in tears and rubbing his elbow. The father looked at him and harshly told him to Grow the **ck up. I couldn't believe my ears. The little girl got out of the car and stood perfectly still, her eyes fixed on the ground. It was evident they were familiar with this behavior. The man leaned into the truck, grabbed the young boy's backpack and tossed it to him. The boy did not move. The backpack landed on the ground. Put it on! he barked. He retrieved the young girl's backpack and tossed it to her, harshly demanding, You too. She scrambled to put it on as fast as she could and, I imagine, get as far away from him as soon as possible.

When the light turned green, I yelled, Way to raise your children, nice guy, and moved forward slowly. He knew the words were for him, turned around in huh, what? recognition, but I was already past him by then. And flipping him off wouldn't have made a difference in the end.

In line at Starbucks, the woman in front of me rolled down her window and tossed out an empty packet of cigarettes. My window was down, the radio off, I heard it hit the dirt in the landscaping. Right there. WTF? I had a small meltdown in my car.

I don't put that man and that woman in the same category, I don't, but because of their behavior, after only being awake for about fifteen minutes this morning, I not only had tears in my eyes, but I was sick to my stomach. Six hours later, I'm still shaking my head.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Happiness is Sycamore trees and a brown dog

I could talk about the fire, which by now in my mind is blowing out of proportion as strongly as the winds on Saturday morning. I could talk about how beautiful the drive down to the cabin was, how settling I found the views. I could write about how deeply I sleep there, with the windows open and the cool air blowing across my face. So many options, but right now, I just want to post some pics of the one who undoubtedly had the best time at the cabin this weekend, the one who wore herself out playing so hard the past two days that she slept the entire drive home, and is snoring on the couch as I write this.

DSC_0007 DSC_0025
DSC_0002 DSC_0008

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Walking backwards and keeping strong

I thought I would, I knew I would. Everything about me said I would.

I did not.

I did NOT vote.

I know, I KNOW.

I went there. Well, I went within a mile. I intended to exercise my voice, speak my freedom, my belief of, well, my beliefs. But when I took a right on the street that leads to the school, I realized how much my single vote had to do with my heart and how much the big bad world.

On scale of said world, not much.

My teeny-tiny life is not city-wide, state-wide or even country-wide. Forget the worldwide repercussions of that. To me, it's much larger than the enormity of now, the expanse of borders. It's about my broken heart. It's realizing that one single line could turn me upside down. One single line in a sign-in sheet in a single school cafeteria in a single voting district. One.

I couldn't do it. I could not face his name present, or his name absent. My father, understand, is not here. I did not, I do not, want to see his name and have the voter registered reminder that he's not here. I already know. And I did not want to experience the absence of his name and be reminded in a way that would scream to me that his death has reached the details. His name, present or absent, is still ever-present to me. If you think that's circular, then you are here-and-now blessed with the in-the-flesh presence of someone you love.

Later in the day when I could still vote but knew there was no way I was going to face that particular monster, when I knew I should but didn't feel bad and therefore was wondering what was wrong with me because surely anyone who is breathing and has at least a single opinion floating across their brain would go out and vote, and if they didn't should at least be made to make amends by being forced to listening to the Paris Hilton's CD while picking up discarded political signs throughout my neighborhood, well, after a sentence like that, I have to breathe. Pause. But my point is that later in my day, I heard some supporting words. Granted, I pay him to support me, but it's deeply validating to hear that when you've been doing well, feeling strong, regaining your personal power, that it's best that you preserve that and not provoke situations, that it's best that the decisions you make are in your best interest.

I scribbled his words in my notebook. To me, it was a permission slip I've worked long and hard to earn. Still, from the time I've first been permitted to vote, I've done so. My father today would be disappointed in my choice. I'm wrestling that within, this emotional and passive response I've coughed up today.

I believe that whatever I do is based on the lessons he taught, even those he would not have supported.

And so it is.

Let's go back to the cafeteria. Did I mention in my previous post that after lunch we were given 15 minutes to rest our weary little heads before returning to our lessons?

Right now, I would like a carpet square to sleep upon and awake later in the day to see what other people have decided for me.

Some of you, a few of you, I'm sure you understand. The few who do not? With all my heart I say to you that I'm so sorry that one day you will.

Looping my signature across election day memories

To one end of my elementary school cafeteria, a stage upon which we produced annual Christmas pageants. I remember being an elf one year. Never breaking out of supporting cast, I was a stocking another year. Both years, Jingle Bells was a featured song and like every other kid, it was one of my favorites. I'd sing my heart out, seeking my parents' proud faces in the audience, singing right to them, for them.

We ate lunch by our grade. Our plastic lunch trays were sectioned and pink. We were offered milk or juice. Sitting on the bench of the lunch tables, we were too young for our feet to rest on the ground. I remember swinging my legs back and forth while I ate, my first memory of a lifetime being for the most part unable to sit still.

Through reasons that are more about staying connected to the neighborhood in which I was raised, and less about procrastination, it's to that same school cafeteria that I go to vote. It never escapes me that I go to a room from the past to cast my two cents for the future.

There were a couple times that voting was a family outing. I'd meet my parents at their house, and Dad would drive Mom and me to the school. Afterwards, we'd return home, have a cup of coffee, then move out into our days. A couple times, I arrived after them, smiling at the signatures there that I recognized as their own. We all took particular pride when my niece voted and placed her signature there among ours for the first time.

I'll return today. Sitting in my kitchen this morning, I'm anxious about what I'll find there. Will my father's name still be beneath my mother's? I'll pause at the blank signature line. And if his name is not there, I know it will hit me and I'll be saddened by seeing three names and not four. This year, the niece has voter apathy, and my mother isn't able to vote. It will be my signature alone in the little group of names that says family. And so it goes in this little room in my life, this room that has been the backdrop to lunches, pageants, and now voter signatures both present and remembered.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday colors

Returning to the rumpled and still warm bed with the Sunday paper in hand, and reading it by the light through the window: cream, and sleepy

Breakfast with my mother this morning: yellow, and musical

Cleaning the house: grey, and sweaty

Shopping at Target with my niece: purple with yellow stars

Grocery shopping with my niece: Okra and squash

Laundry going all day: white, and clean

A connected phone call: gold and orange, lifting

Making green tea for my niece and her boyfriend: blue-green, nurturing. Putting honey in the tea: silver, and sweet

Talking with my nephew on the phone: Sky blue, and happy

Coming home on a night after so many Sunday nights away: All the absent colors of a cool and cloudy day, but shimmering

Today was not a mountain top ecstasy, or a stunning show of dawning colors, but a middle ground of chores, solutions, smoothed wrinkles. Today was the calm in the normal. The connections between high and low. It's been a day of satisfaction and feeling well. A day when I'm reminded that the views from the middle ground, the views from an average day, those colors are deeper, richer, more meaningful than any fleeting glimpse of what might be perceived as knock-your-socks-off otherwise. Yeah, it's good to be back to the normal of my home.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The underside of leaves

The coolest thing about tonight - and there were many cool things about tonight - would most certainly be the love she gave, the words she spoke, her hand reaching for and connecting with mine, the compassion, the excitement in her eyes. Sometimes the dice you roll, come right back to you in spades.

Have a little faith, that's all. I hope that I return that to her as well.

And this song I've listened to over and over again tonight has nothing to do with that, but everything to do with me.

For you, there'll be no more crying,
For you, the sun will be shining,
And I feel that when I'm with you,
It's alright,
I know it's right

To you, I'll give the world
To you, I'll never be cold
cause I feel that when I'm with you,
It's alright,
I know it's right.

And the songbirds are singing,
Like they know the score,
And I love you,
I love you,
I love you,
Like never before.

And I wish you all the love in the world,
But most of all,
I wish it from myself.

And the songbirds keep singing,
Like they know the score,
And I love you,
I love you,
I love you,
Like never before,
like never before.

` Songbird, Fleetwood Mac

Blond moments

Her: I got a new monitor today, it's flat screen. Seems so much bigger, makes things look cartoonier.


Her: Is that a word?

Me: No. It would be cartoonish, more cartoonish.

Her: Oh. And it tells me when I have new email.

Me: Um, I think that's the settings in your email program, not your monitor.

Her: Oh.

She's one of the most intelligent people I know. And at times, through absolutely no effort on her part, also one of the most amusing. I like my friends this way. Unfiltered.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh hell yeah

New black car. Little brown dog. Happy blond girl. That's it, that's all I have for show and tell today.

DSC_0039 DSC_0033
DSC_0046 DSC_0045

Monday, October 30, 2006

No, seriously

Sunday was a LONG day because I did not get home from the office until 1:45, and that's actually Monday morning, which was 16 hours after I arrived at the office on Sunday morning, and since I worked all weekend, except for the parts where I was either driving to work, driving home from work, driving an hour north to have lunch with my nephew or driving an hour south to the office after that lunch, or sleeping in my clothes on top of the covers so as not to waste valuable sleep time by putting on pajamas, I realize that I've spent this entire weekend either in a car or at a computer, so I've decided to buy a new car today. Because I don't need a new computer.

How's that for feminine logic? Makes perfect sense in my world.

I'm a bit on the fence with the color. Which should it be?

Glacier Blue Metallic with Gray Interior
Nighthawk Black Pearl with Black Interior

Keep in mind that the black one is waiting for me, meaning that it's at the dealership right now, has my name on it, and I could pick it up tonight. TONIGHT!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Little Brown Birthday Girl

Because today is her 6th birthday, and because I'm never able to figure whether it's her face or her self that tickles me the most, and because I can't look at that face without smiling, even if it's her guilty face or her tough girl growling face, but especially her grinning face, and because she will be spending the day at my office with me, meaning not only that we both have to work on the weekend but that she has to work on her birthday, and because she makes me laugh, often, and smile even more, and because she's my Tiny Hiny, Cheyenna Banana Monster, Shorty, Sugar Butt, well, of course I took her to Starbuck's for a sample cup of whipped cream for her birthday breakfast. Of course I did.

Happy birthday my LBD.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A golden opportunity. Or not.

I could take this opportunity to wrap a rope around my neck. I could take this opportunity to pray in gratitude for the challenges I face that give me wisdom and strength. I could take it to set an example and lead the way. Or I could take it and preserve it in sacred thread and save for the dawn of a future moment.

I could take it and be less than I am, or more than I know how to be. Meaning, I could take it to shrink or stretch.

I could deny the moment and put it away, or breathe life into now and expand it for hours, days, the whole of my life.

That's the gist of the lessons I'm learning. The knowledge is obvious, but how or even if to act, that's not as clear.

I'll tell you something, there's a weight to this, a burden. It tires. It's not the brand of tired that a vacation cures. It's not the flavor of tired that sleep resolves. It is the color of tired that wonders day in and day out how it got to be this way and looks around and around and cannot find a reason, or a solution that resolves anything at all. It's a tired that is restless.

Running isn't the answer. Sleep isn't the answer. The answer is there though, right there. I can taste it, smell it, but it's around the corner, elusive like the stream of scent. Beyond me at the moment, but there. Much of my time is spent wondering where the solutions are. Much of my time is spent in prayer that I might be strong enough, patient enough, to live the questions until the answers form. Answers that will form in the shape of decisions.

Being without the answers, not making the decisions, is being without balance. And stumbling forward all the same.

When the surprises come, on these things I can rely

This house has its own fingerprint that, like all homes, you recognize after time. The upstairs thermostat clicks when the air kicks on. The third stair from the top creaks beneath your footstep. The bottom hinge of the pantry door squeeks. The piano in then entryway needs to be dusted. And tuned. The metal plate at the bottom of the patio door is loose. Familiar.

After a couple days, I settle in. My breathing matches the rhythm, rise and fall, the pulse of this house.

Hello? Is anyone there? Hello?

It's 1:35 in the morning. I hear her, jump out of bed, trip over Cheyenne and hit the floor. I want to cry out from the fear and surprise of suddenly being face down on the floor when five seconds ago I was sound asleep. Instead I scramble.

I'm coming Mom.

I fly down the stairs in the dark, only hearing my feet.

I just want to be sure that you know my new room number. I get to leave tomorrow and I want to be sure you know where to find me.

She's confused again. She hasn't had the confusion for a couple weeks now. I send out a rapid prayer that she is simply confused from waking out of a dream.

I put my fingers through her hair, I know where to find you Mom, don't worry, I know where to find you.

She looks at me, gratitude, need and love in her eyes. I sit with her while she falls back asleep. Guarding her, soothing her.

Returning upstairs, I crawl back into bed, pat Cheyenne's head, tell her I'm sorry for surprising her, and close my eyes.

I hear the air kick on and wait for the sure and comforting click of the thermostat. Three, two, one. It clicks. I breathe. The house and everything in it falls back asleep.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


When I stay at my Mother’s house, as I am doing now, there are at times long stretches of time where I feel that nothing is solid, not the walls, the rugs beneath my feet. The house itself seems a ghost, holding memories, saturated with times much livelier, times before grief, before change. Even the quiet is different, the absence of sound unbelievably loud.

There are times when I am here that I look for my father, that I seek out places he was, evidence of him. I open the door to the hall closet, run my finger along the sleeves of his hunting jackets hanging there. I touch the curve on the base of a brass lamp on his desk, pick up a folder with words on the tab written in his hand. In his closet, I open his shoe shine kit, touch the soft bristles of the brush, smell the polish. I swing back and forth along the memory of watching him shine his shoes.

I reach for a sweatshirt in his closet. Faded sage green with Ducks Unlimited embroidered in yellow on the front. Slipping it on, pushing the sleeves up, I wrap my arms around it, around myself. Hugging that he was once in this shirt. Holding that connection. Warm and comforted.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Today, I head home. Though I haven't been homesick a single time on any of my travels lately, and though Houston is warm and very green, and lacks the charming personality of the places I've spent time this past week, it is a place that I'm looking forward to returning. Slightly changed, in the sense that I am calm, relaxed. That's what vacations should leave you with, absent of stress and replenished with calm. Even this quick turn around work trip has been just fine because Chester County Pennsylvania is in peak Fall colors and if you throw in that this is horse country, the birthplace of Smarty Jones and Barbaro, and my drive to work has been saturated with the view of horse farms and clusters of trees with full spreads of color, well, there's no stress to be found even if I went looking for it.

I have not once been homesick during this time, which tells me I needed the distance, just for a while, just to get my energy replenished, my spirit sated.

Still, a girl can only take just so much quaint perfection. After a while, you can start to miss the chaos that is normal to your life. So, naturally, I have missed that ill-behaved little girl of mine.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Turn around

My sister-in-law is a flight attendant. When we used to talk (we don't do that anymore) about her schedule, she'd tell me she had a turn around in this city, and then a turn around in that, meaning that she'd land and head out again on her next flight. It's tiring, what she does, I understand that. Especially because today after flying over the colors of the Green Mountains in Vermont, the Adirondacks in New York, and then over NYC, I changed planes and then we sat on the runway in Newark for 1.5 hours due to the weather in Houston. When we finally did take off, we were assured that there was no guarantee we'd arrive in Houston. So, I was not surprised when the pilot announced we were going to Corpus Christi and then we could go to Houston. I've flown from London in a shorter time.

But none of it bothered me. Not at all. Not the delay or the turbulence, the full plane, the crying babies in the seats in front of me. It was what it was. And I've had plenty of conversations with my sister-in-law to trust that air traffic control can inconvenience your plans, but, seriously, it's for your safety. And no one controls the weather.

Aside from that, what I had on my mind was these two munchkins and how silly and fun and delightful they are.


Oh, the turn around part. I arrived in Houston three hours later than what was scheduled. Nine hours from now, I'll be on another flight. Not quite a turn around in flight attendant speak, but for me, definitely. I'm heading to Philadelphia, for work. While I'm happy to return to cooler temperatures, and pleased that I packed for this trip last week, I must say that the anticipation of arriving at my destination is just not the same as it was when I was headed to Vermont.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The perfection of today

I'm standing in the middle of what they call their front yard and I call a meadow. The air smells of the sweet smoke from the fireplace, of leaves and moist soil. When I look to the north, I see snow dusted across the mountain top in the distance, to the west there are two shelves of clouds with enough space between to allow a bright orange strip of sunset to glow through. I turn towards the house, the life within framed by lights through the windows, the glow of the fireplace. Breathing deep, I think, remember this, take this home with you.

DSC_0004 DSC_0008

Today was of the earth and all the gifts of color and life, of seasons and change. Today was about little hands, wide eyes and big experiences.

DSC_0049 DSC_0010

Today we put out fingers in the dirt when we planted the bulbs that will break through in the spring, and we wrapped our hands around rakes to gather fallen leaves of autumn. We found ladybugs and rocks and even hugged a few trees. I stood still with rich soil clinging to my hands and leaf bits on my clothes, and returned to the sounds and smells from visiting my grandmother's house when I was a child. I remembered the crunch of the leaves on the sidewalk, the scratch of the rake, the joy of running and jumping into a big pile of leaves. I remembered my father standing near and delighting in my joy. I watch the girls plow through their own piles, listen to their laughter, hold tight the lines of the circles.

DSC_0074 DSC_0082
DSC_0080 DSC_0077

I glance towards Troy, in his own moment with Caroline, joy and laughter, giggles and flight. My heart skips a beat in recognition. There is nothing in this world quite like the love and trust between a good father and a therefore happy daughter.

DSC_0115 DSC_0106

I remember again that, next to love, the most wonderful, most joyous thing we do is the sharing and trust that begin there. Friend to friend, lover to lover, parent to child.