Wednesday, February 27, 2008

An Ordinary Day

Today I am having an ordinary day. And, in having an ordinary day I am choosing to have ordinary courage. Tomorrow is my cardiac ablation.

Last night the baby said to me, “Mommy we are going to die. I am going to die with you. We’ll die in a couple of days.”

Gaaaaaah! What?!!! This is much different from our death conversation several months ago. And, I haven’t been talking about death. I haven’t even been talking about complications associated with the ablation. I don't want to worry the kids.

“What makes you say that?” I asked. She looked at the ground, shy, embarrassed.

“What makes you think that?” I repeated.

“My brother’s back.” she said, “my brother’s back and ghosts.”

?????????? I didn't get it.

“Have the kids been talking to you? Did they tell you something might happen to Mom?”

“No.” she replied.

“Well,” I told her, “I’m not going to die, at least not in the near future.”

“Okay,” she said, “in a couple of weeks then we will die.”

“Hopefully longer than that.” I replied, perplexed, but knowing full well that a couple of weeks is eons to a four-year-old.

I went to bed trying to gage what she had said. Likely the kids were talking, worried about me and the ablation. It rattled me. But the rattle was in my brain and not my gut. I did not have that deep abdominal do not go get onto that plane do not go forward with this procedure feeling. The rattle was more along the lines of lets get this damn thing over with so I can get on with my life kind of feeling. And I slept well. I woke up happy.

I got up at 6:30 this morning. The hubbie was already at work. I had to get five children to school; my three and two neighbors. The boy was easy. He even remembered to ask for more lunch money. Middle daughter did not want to get up. She didn’t have anything to wear. None of her clothes fit her - NOTHING! I found an outfit which she begrudgingly put on. Then she put on her brother’s snow boots. I suggested she wear her own shoes (tennis shoes, keens, crocs, snowboots?). No, she wants to wear her brother’s overlarge snow boots. And she has nothing to wear that will fit her. Fine. And her hair? She looks like a wild child and is one step away from full-on dreadlocks. I didn’t even go there. We had nothing for breakfast - NOTHING! How about cereal or toast or eggs or yogurt or oranges or bananas? NO! I don’t like that stuff! There is NOTHING TO EAT! WHY DON’T YOU GO SHOPPING?!!! I threatened grounding and no ballet. She settled on toast.

The coffee pot overflowed - grounds everywhere. I filtered my coffee through the french press. It was cold. I heated it in the microwave. We didn’t have chocolate to make a “ghetto mocha”. I decided against an outright temper tantrum and went to get the baby ready.

The baby, a parrot of her sister, did not like the outfit I had chosen. Nor did she want to choose her own outfit. She did not want to wear those socks and no she didn’t want breakfast. I didn’t go near the hair. Dreadlocks you want dreadlocks you get.

In the car the baby wanted her sister’s toast. Sister did not want to share. I told the baby she could have breakfast at school. SHE DOESN’T WANT BREAKFAST! After dropping her off she gave me an extra long hug - she didn’t want to let go. Let’s not start talking about death, not here, not now. I released myself from her grip and came home.

Now I have this pile of laundry to contend with. The sink is full of dishes. I need to make a Cost Co run and go to the post office. Middle daughter has ballet tonight. It’s watching day where the parents stay and, well, watch. I can’t stay. I have to go to work and discipline someone for slacking off. I hope to be back in time to see the end of her session. I have no plan to feed my family dinner and am skeptical of creating one between now and then.

This morning the sky was overcast, grey. The snow is melting and everything is brown. But now, as I write this, the clouds are breaking up. I can see blue sky. It’s lifting my spirits. The hubbie called. There are left over cinnamon rolls at his work. I think I’ll stop there on the way to Cost Co and get a treat. I’ll get a latte on the way - no grounds necessary.

Today I am not climbing a mountain or jumping out of an airplane. I’m not fulfilling any life long fantasies. Today I am having an ordinary day with the faith that tomorrow will be ordinary too.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This Yellow Chair

I love this yellow chair. It sits in my living room next to the green bookshelf. Both were garage sale finds. The chair cost more than I would typically pay - $15.00. Initially I left it there, in the backyard, nestled between a toilet and a lawnmower; so bright and cheerful amongst its lesser neighbors. But the price was too high and it was non-negotiable. So I left.

I went to visit other garage sales. I love garage sales. Yes, it’s about getting a good deal. But it’s also so much more. I love being outside, wandering about town and exploring new areas. And, I adore those little glimpses into people's lives. You can tell a lot about a person by the books they read, the clothes they wear, the tchotchkes they gather. It’s like walking after dark and peering through the windows of lit up houses; precious snapshots of how others live.

And on that summer day, the day I left the chair, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Other people’s houses were no longer a distraction. I wanted that yellow chair. I went back and it wasn’t there. I felt as forlorn as the toilet shlumped in the backyard. I walked back through the house telling myself it just wasn’t meant to be. Then I caught something out of the corner of my eye, something yellow. In the corner was the yellow chair. It had been moved inside to a place of honor. I bought it on the spot - full price.

And now the yellow chair sits in my living room. I see it right now as I sit in my reading nook and it makes me happy. I am reminded of warm summer days, wandering about town and glimpsing people's lives. This chair was definitely worth five lattes. Definitely.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Some Days...

Some days I wonder why I am in this profession. Other days it is perfectly clear.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Knit Wit

In thinking about what to post I realized I’ve yet to write about knitting. I am a knitter. I also have granny glasses. For my husband’s sake I try not to knit and wear the glasses simultaneously. I taught myself to knit. Somehow a beginner’s book, cheapo needles and bargain-bin yarn miraculously morphed into a scarf. Next came a hat. I was hooked (no pun intended; that’d be crochet which I do not do).

At first knitting was difficult. It took a lot of concentration. Now it’s cake (stated as if cakes are easy to bake). Of course I still have to focus when knitting fair isle or other difficult patterns. But, to be honest, I stick with the easier stuff. To date I’ve made scarves, hats, gloves, leg warmers, felted bags and cupcakes. Yes, you heard me - cupcakes! I’ve yet to try a sweater; the underlying thought here being that my children may be reticent to walk to school in apparel with one sleeve at their elbow and the other at their toes.

I have baskets and baskets of yarn; some with patterns in mind and others waiting for divine intervention; that seraphic ahhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhhh moment where the heavens and earth align, the angels sing and a project is born.

And books too - I have a lot of knitting books. My latest acquisition is Dogs in Knits. I figure Walter won’t be too critical if one sweater leg is longer than the other. And he really needs a garment to protect him from the snow.

But Walter will have to wait (can anyone say winter ‘09?) because I’m currently knitting a felted bag. It’s similar to this diaper bag only it’s for me (it’s mine, all mine!). And no, I’m not preggers. I need a bag to hold my current projects as my knitting goes with me where ever I go.

Knitting is the perfect in-car activity while waiting for school to get out. At the allergist it wards off fear of impending anaphylaxis. At work I can throw a few rows in between clients. But knitting isn’t just a way to pass time. Knitting is Zen. It brings a sense of peace and calm to the core of my being no matter where I am.

Knitting also comes with a sense of accomplishment. I’m not wasting my time watching television - I’m knitting. I’m using those little moments, those specks of captured time to create something tangible. Five minutes here and five minutes there; it’s amazing what one can create.

If you care to see my knits you can check them out here. Strangely enough I also like to photograph knitting. My husband calls me wonkers; I prefer Zen Knitting Momma thank you very much!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Yoga Friday

Today’s a yoga day; something I manage twice a month. Bi-monthly yoga does not get me into shape. Rather it’s just enough to remind me I’m out of shape. I’m doing yoga to be healthy; to feel energetic and alert. But, I’ll admit it, I’d love to have a yogi body. Yogis are fit. They have muscles - beautiful muscles! (I’ve had a muscle infatuation since visiting the Body World exhibit. The shear beauty and strength of a skinned human is amazing.) My own musculature is deeply embedded beneath a protective layer of fat. I’d like to get to know those guys under there - the ones between the bones and subcuticular tissue. Hello! I know you're there - somewhere. I don’t want a jacked up anabolic body; a young Arnold Schwarzenegger with a pony tail. No, I want a long lean strong body; a yogi body.

Right now I'm tired all the time. It’s hard to get going in the morning. I shlump in the afternoon. How different would I feel with daily exercise? Daily yoga? I know I’d eat better; I always do when on an athletic binge. I move towards foods that give me energy. I eat less sugar. I drink more water and less alcohol. Coffee becomes a smaller staple. I feel better, inside and out.

And, really, I still think of myself as an athlete; the one who played varsity tennis, the varsity swimmer, the lifeguard. It’s hard to reconcile that person with the one in the mirror. Where did I go?

It seems I went to Mommy Land. Mommy Land is much different from Neverland (and I mean Peter Pan not Micheal Jackson!). Mommy Land is a place for self-deprecating middle-aged workaholics who forget they, too, are important. But today is a yoga day; a hall pass to escape screaming toddlers and messy houses. When the class is through I will take a moment to thank myself for doing good things just for me.

And tomorrow? Well, maybe I’ll go to yoga tomorrow too.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Matters of the Heart

Today I’m having blood work done. It’s in preparation for a cardiac ablation next week. You see, I’ve been having trouble with my heart - something called AV nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT). Essentially, an extra pathway exists between the atrial and ventricular regions of my heart. Premature beats lead to erratic electrical impulses which circle through this pathway causing a rapid heart beat. I can be sitting in my chair, calm and relaxed, and suddenly my heart rate will jump to 200 beats per minute. I have no idea what triggers it. I know stress plays a role. But these episodes don’t always occur during times of stress. I’m supposed to be avoiding caffeine, alcohol and illegal stimulants (damn - no speed for me). But, avoiding caffeine is 1) not practical (decaf and night jobs don’t go well together) and 2) not curative. Plus my medication seems to be doing little other than giving me dizzy spells. So, my cardiologist (actually, he’s an electrophysiologist) is going to thread a catheter through my femoral vein and into my heart. He will find that aberrant pathway and zap those cardiac cells into oblivion. All that and a night’s stay in the hospital. What a lucky gal am I?!!

The procedure is relatively routine (at least for the specialist who performs it) and complications are few and far between. But complications can occur. Do you ever listen to the fast talking fine print on drug commercials? Complications include rare but serious side effects including infection, bleeding, deep vein thrombosis, acute need for a pacemaker and, oh, on very rare occasions, death. And there it is - death. A pacemaker I can live with. But death? Probably not.

Truth be told I have a greater chance of dying in a car wreck on the way to the hospital. But I've been in a car before. This is my first (and hopefully last) ablation. And , safe as it may be, that word - death - looms out at me; it floats above me like a Charlie Brown cloud ready to pour at a moment’s notice. Death. The cloud of death. I’m watching that cloud. I see it out of the corner of my eye. It knows I know it’s there. And I’m keeping it at bay. I don’t want to be drenched in public. Really, I don’t want to be rained upon at all.

And then there are matters of lesser importance; the death of my dignity. These people are putting a catheter into my leg; my inner thigh. Of all the places to have a team of people this is not one of them. I already did that for the birth of my children. I’d rather not do it again. I have visions of bumping into the ablation team after my procedure - probably downtown, someplace with lots of people. The team will see me. They’ll whisper and giggle. As I get closer they’ll start to chant, quietly at first then louder and louder. “She has cheesy thighs, she has cheesy thi-highs!” Second grade all over again - only with slightly different insults.

And there is yet another matter to contend with. When is my period? I don’t know. I’m not an obsessive menstrual documentarian who marks the date on the calendar each month. It happened sometime last month. I’m pretty sure it’ll happen again sometime this month. But pulleese not next week! I’ve made a deal with the universe. If I can start my period this week then I will document it faithfully from now on. I’ll even chart it with the pull of the moon if that is what it takes.

Indeed the universe may be listening. I’m feeling some menstrual twangs; those early abdominal signals of what’s to come. And that’s a good sign, right? It means the cosmos is on my side. It’s got me covered. And if menstruation is covered, well it stands to reason that the rest is too. So, I’m going shoo the cloud away, get my blood work done and get on with the rest of my day.

Don't forget to check out Love Thursday at Shutter Sisters! Today's photo inspiration courtesy of lizgrandmaison over at Flickr.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Scrabble Night

Last night we played Scrabble; the hubbie, myself and our two older kids (seven and eleven-years-old). The baby, at four, had her own Junior Scrabble game spread over the kitchen floor and was busy singing a ballad to the letter X. I played with my laptop open to It didn’t help. My big words for the night were “taken” and “tier”. I should have visited BigDoggy’s Scrabble Strategy Site before embarking upon this venture.

We used a sand timer to speed things up. Three minutes of sand and one tired husband equaled the word “me”. Shortly thereafter the hubbie gave up and left to watch television. The kids and I finished with my son claiming victory and I joined my hubbie in the living room.

He wanted a foot rub. I declined as these were the same feet that just exited his workout shoes. His feet, he claimed, did not stink. “Prove it!” I challenged, “Sniff them!” This man could not touch his feet to his nose if his life depended on it. He was clearly in dire yoga straits. So, I taught him the downward dog. He almost fell over. “Come on!” I chided, “this is a resting pose!”. He wasn’t buying it. Well, maybe now he’ll admit yoga is a challenging endeavor (dare I say sport?) and not just a foo foo girly thing like knitting or ballet.

Finally, we were ready to call it a night. The kids snuggled in our bed and we read a chapter from The Magic Meadow by Alexander Key. Teeth brushed, PJ’s on and saltine crumbs wiped from the sheets it was time to sleep. I drifted off wondering what words could be formed from K O J A E E and Y. Anyone? Anyone?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


For a long time now I’ve held the theory that if I keep my house clean then all other aspects of my life will fall into place. If my house is clean then I’ll have time for creativity; time to write, time to finish that story I’ve been working on, time for photography, time for knitting. If my house is clean then I’ll have time to learn the piano or Spanish or both. If my house is clean then I’ll have time to exercise. If my house is clean then I’ll be happy, fulfilled and rich beyond my wildest dreams (or something along those lines). But, I’ve never had the opportunity to prove this theory. My house is never clean. At least not all at once. When the kitchen is clean the bedroom is dirty. If I tackle the living room then kid’s rooms get out of control. And, really, what do I expect? I live with three kids, three dogs, two cats, two tanks of fish and a husband. My house will never be clean.

And there’s another component to cleaning. The more you clean the more cleaning there is to do. It’s something akin to Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. If you do the dishes you’ll notice the window sill is dirty. You’ll get some Pledge to clean the sill. While cleaning the sill you’ll decide to clean all the window sill’s in your house. You’ll start in the living room. Walking to the living room you’ll bump into a basket of laundry. You’ll remember you are out of towels and need to wash some. You go to the bedroom for dirty towels. In the bedroom you notice the carpet is filthy. You decide to vacuum. While vacuuming you notice the floorboards are dusty. You go to the laundry room for Pledge. While in the laundry room you remember you need to wash a load of towels ... etc, etc.

So, what to do? Why not marry chores and artistic desire? Housework and creativity are, after all, are not mutually exclusive. I’ve pledged (ha, ha, get it? pledge?) to write daily. And I like to have my own photographs accompanying my blog. But, in order to take these photographs, I need a space to shoot. Therefore I must clean. Today’s photograph is the perfect example (inspiration by the way from the lovely Maya at Springtree Road). It was shot on the butcher block in the kitchen which was, until recently, covered in junk; mail, recycling and dirty dishes. I cleaned off the butcher block and took my photos. While downloading them onto the computer I decided I might as well get a load of dishes done. I put on some music and tackled the the rest of the kitchen; all the while thinking about what to write today. And now, my kitchen is clean, photos taken and blog complete.

But wait. I’m not finished. There’s a photo I want to take for Shutter Sisters - an image inspired by a favorite song. I chose Tank Park Salute by Billy Bragg. I need to put a light on at the top of the stairs and photograph it. Only, first, I need to clean the stairs...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nothing Says President’s Day Like Bribery and Velvet Encrusted Wall Art

Last President’s day I was a domestic goddess. I baked homemade belgium waffles with fresh strawberries and peaches, homemade whipped cream and real maple syrup. My son had a friend spend the night and we all had breakfast together at the kitchen table. I’m embarrassed to say that was the last time my waffle maker was put to use.

And the year before last? We took a long weekend trip to Seattle (a trip, by the way, that made an indelible mark upon the kids - they still talk about it). We went to the Public Market, rode the ferry, went up the Space Needle and had our very own personal goldfish from the Kimpton hotel. The weather was perfect and we avoided a serious sub-zero spell in our own town.

Clearly President’s day is a revered holiday in our house; a time to do something special. What? What’s that you ask? What did we do this year? This year we went to Target. We bought velvet encrusted coloring sheets; a bribe promised to the kids in exchange for playing upstairs. Last night Mommy and Daddy wanted to watch their movie - Super Bad (this is what I get for sending him to the video store with one simple instruction - nothing violent). And, what else? Well, this morning I managed to exhume the coffee pot from the mess of last night’s dinner. I even did a load of dishes. Spectacular I know. Obviously it was a cold cereal type of morning, no fancy waffles today.

Note to self - do not open bottle of wine until after the dishes are done.

But, really, this weekend was much more than bad movies, bribery and cold cereal. We kept our children at home. We did not allow them to be kidnapped by their friends. We insisted on family time (except for the Sunday night movie). We went bowling. We got suckered into giving the kids money for video games. We walked downtown and had pizza by the slice from a local shop. We went to the pond and fed the ducks. We played at the park. All five of us went to see Juno - a treat as we rarely go to the theater. We planted flowers. I took the labradork for a five mile walk. We had a great, great time doing the little things. We were a family.

This weekend I’ve realized it truly is the little moments that make family life special - fancy food and weekend trips not required. Right now we are headed back to the park. And, you know what? I might just make waffles for dinner.

Happy President’s Day!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sowing the Seeds

Last week I bought myself these gorgeous tulips; inspiration courtesy of bean*mama over at flickr. I almost passed them up. I stood in the floral department having a huge internal debate. Flowers are so pretty. They make me happy. And, yet, they are fleeting. In the purely practical financial sense they are a waste of money. I don’t want to work for the rest of my life. I want to retire. I want to live on the World Ship (yeah, right - it’ll take more than flower deprivation to get me there). And, there are so many floral choices it’s overwhelming; $14.99 for a full bouquet, $9.99 for long-stemmed tulips, $1.99 for a single gerber daisy. I nearly bought a living gerber for $7.99 thinking it might last longer. But, I had tulip envy. Finally, I choose a simple bouquet of five tulips for $5.99 figuring it was worth two mochas (for those of us who love our coffee - mocha money is an appropriate financial calculation).

The tulips came home closed, buds shut tight against the world. I trimmed the stems and placed them in pitcher of water. Within hours they began to open - a birth, an out-stretching of petalled arms reaching to embrace my soul. And it worked. Those flowers made me incredibly happy. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much they lifted my spirits. Every time I walked past the table I glanced over and got a little spark, a rush of adrenaline pulsing through my chest, a burst of floral love. And the tulips are still there energizing my being. But they are fully open and on the downhill slide to the worm bin. So today I want, I need, more flowers.

But, again with the finances. Twenty dollars a month is $240.00 a year. Invested at an 8% return over 10 years it would be worth $3703.31 and in 20 years it’d be worth $11, 878.94 (this is really my father talking through me. He seems to have the ability to channel himself into my psyche at the most inopportune moments. But we can’t help our parentage so bear with me. If you so desire you can do the calculations here).

As my mocha money was spent I brewed a pot of coffee while debating the financial ramifications of botanic desire. I went to the fridge for some milk and glanced down at the fruit bin. In the bottom drawer was a forgotten bag of bulbs; flowers purchased this fall and never planted, saved for a later date. Well folks, that day is today. But these guys are not going outside. These babies have won the flower lottery and will have a sheltered existence within the confines of my home; no wind, no frost, no monstrous flower eating deer. And I already have potting soil, fertilizer, empty pots and bulbs. It didn’t cost me a cent, at least not today.

Will they bloom? I don’t know. I still have this chrysalis in my bathroom hoping for a spring awakening. I am an optimist at heart. I can’t wait to see my floral babies sprouting from the soil, reaching for the sky, growing and blooming. Until then I’ll satisfy myself with photos of flowers past.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's All Good...

Today I’d like to write about grief and love, mourning and compassion. For those of you who don’t know me - I am an emergency veterinarian. I work all the odd hours (nights, weekends and holidays) and I see the bad stuff. Most of my patients are very sick or severely injured. People are not happy to see us. Crying is a common occurrence; among both the clients and the staff.

Last night we got a call- a pitbull, an intact male hit-by-car. They were coming in - ten minutes out. We set up; clippers and scrub, IV catheters, fluids and oxygen. Ten minutes later we got another call - the dog was too big, they couldn’t lift him. Police dispatch went to assist with transport (kudos to the police in my area - they are awesome when it comes to animal welfare). The dog arrived shortly thereafter, muzzled and in a large kennel. He was dead on arrival. The officer thought he was likely dead on the scene but wanted confirmation. The dog had no form of identification, no collar, no microchip. Fortunately, his owners had been the ones who called and they followed the police to our clinic.

The owner’s were prototypical pitty people (at least those portrayed by the media) - a young couple, broke, pierced and tattooed. They walked with a shrug in their shoulders. Their slouchy gait, I suspect, was a general commentary on life. My receptionist put them in an exam room and I told them their dog had passed - his injuries were just too severe, it was likely quick, and I doubt he suffered much if at all . They were quiet and polite - kids really, probably not much older than 20. I was relieved. I expected more drama. The boy asked to see the dog. We brought the dog into the room. By this time a third person, a girl, also in her early twenties, arrived. She was bawling and couldn’t catch her breath. For a moment I thought she might faint. Then she started screaming, “WE HAVE TO TELL HIM. WE HAVE TO!” Uh oh - here comes the drama. It turns out the real owner of the dog was at work. The people in front of me were his brother, his brother’s girlfriend and his girlfriend. At that moment the real owner called via cell phone. The three in the room tossed the offending phone around like a hot potato. Finally the distraught girlfriend took the call and through horrible gut wrenching sobs told him his dog had passed. The brother and brother's girlfriend slipped quietly out.

The dog’s owner left work. He came to the clinic. He was distraught, maniacal. He did not want to see the dog. He wanted his collar, a leather Harley-Davidson collar. We explained that the dog did not have a collar on when he arrived at the clinic. We suggested that, perhaps, his brother had it. We arranged for transport to the humane society for cremation of the dog’s remains. The owner went outside to call his brother. I went into my office to type records.


My heart leapt into my throat. All I could think is this is not good for my health. I picked up the phone to call the police - and not about the collar. The girlfriend dragged him out of the lobby.

The same officer was back on shift this morning. He did not have the dog collar. He went to the scene to look for it. It was not there. He transported the body for us. He could not convince the dog’s owner that neither we nor he wanted the collar. Honestly, we don’t have a black market e-bay account where we sell collars - really! The police have dealt with this man before.

For all the effort from the police and my staff - there were no charges accrued. Every thing we did was out of compassion and a sense of duty. And this man’s behavior irks me. We were there to help. But, I know he’s grieving. I know he is sad and lost. I know his life’s circumstances are such that he has a multitude of problems. And now I’m at home, snuggling with one of the most precious people on the planet. As my neighbor would say, “It’s all good.”

So I’m giving this owner a reprieve. He is understood and he is forgiven. And, in his honor, I’ll go out of my way to do something nice for someone today. I want to make a deposit in the universal bank of happiness to counteract last night's negativity.

Happy Friday to all! I wish you a joyful and productive day!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine's Day Story

Typically Valentine’s Day is a quiet holiday for us. We say I love you. The hubbie might bring home flowers. He might even buy me that grill pan I’ve been coveting. I’ll make him a card. But, we’ve both agreed we’d rather express our love daily rather than only on the 14th of February. Our love is through the simple things - the nine loads of laundry that disappeared while I was working, the skinny extra-hot grande mocha delivered to breakup his workday, the friendly evening competition over Jeopardy (at which, by the way, I kicked his derriere last night. It was the teen tournament but a victory nonetheless). Our unassuming celebration leaves few tales to spin -no romantic whirlwinds or spectacular gifts. But I do have a Valentine’s story to share - a brief moment from my childhood.

I was a teenager; fourteen-years-old. I did not receive a single thing for Valentine’s Day. Nothing from my parents. Nothing from a boy. Dejected I used my allowance to buy a heart-shaped box of chocolates. If nobody else was going to love me I was determined to love myself. My family then loaded into our van and we left for a weekend trip. The chocolates provided much needed consolation (as only chocolate can). I savored them and ate only two wanting to extend the pleasure through the entire weekend. Vegas was our halfway point. We chose a cheap hotel off the strip to spend the night.

As often happens in Vegas our van was broken into. And, no, the thieves did not steal my chocolates. Much, much worse. They stepped on them. My gift to myself, my heart, was stomped into the ground. I felt so small, so violated and completely unloved by the entire universe. The world was utterly against me.

What the universe did not tell me was that later that year I’d receive my first real kiss. And in a mere five years time I’d meet the man who was to be my husband and the father of my children. Nearly twenty years later we are still going strong.

The moral of my story? You may feel unloved and despised by the world. But know beautiful things and beautiful people are just around the bend.

Happy Hearts Day Everyone!

Don't forget to check out Love Thursday at Shutter Sisters!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

If I Only Had Twelve Months To Live

If I only had 12-months to live what would I do?

I’d leave the doctor’s office numb, stunned. I’d stop and stare at the handicapped parking spots and wonder why I wasn’t given a handicapped sticker. Is impending death not a handicap? Does it not come with some special privileges? If nothing else a decent parking spot? A place in the front of the line? I’d continue to my car, still numb. I must’ve done something horrific in a previous life. This must be hell. Once home I’d break down, sobbing, snot rolling down my face and wiped up with my sleeve. Like a petulant child I’d stomp my feet and scream, “I DON’T WANT TO DIE!” Then I’d start to clean. I’d make it into the kitchen and see the rice cooker with dried out crusty rice, a glass of half drunk lemonade, a sink full of dishes and I’d know I failed. I’d absolutely failed at this life. I couldn’t even provide my family with a peaceful clean living environment, let alone, teach them to provide it for themselves. The knock down drag out bawling would start anew. I’d resume cleaning determined to organize the whole house top to bottom and keep it that way.

I’d call work and tell them I was deathly ill and I could no longer come in, even if it wasn’t wholly true. I would not want to waste another single minute away from my family. I’d haul loads of stuff to the Goodwill; all but the most comfortable clothes in my closet, the old TV stand in the garage, the torn apart couch in my son’s room. I’d trade them in for any and every intact board game available. I might pick up a few books while I was at it, especially ones I could read to the kids.

I’d cook every night, except Friday which would be date night. My kids would rotate through the kitchen learning to cook. We’d make homemade pasta - corn tortelli with tarragon butter, crab ravioli in a red pepper cream sauce. We’d bake bread - chocolate cherry beer bread, ciabatta rolls and sourdough starts. We’d explore the world with our culinary endeavors; Asia, Russia, Africa, South America, India. I’d put a map in the kitchen. We’d mark all the places we’d sampled. We’d research these foreign lands as we cooked - the beauty of the internet and a laptop computer. I’d also make fresh muffins for breakfast and fill the house with cookie aroma every day after school. I’d start a book of our favorite recipes and attach little notes; anecdotes of our adventures in cooking.

I’d plan a trip to someplace exotic, someplace I’d never been. A place with a different culture and history and green, green plants. Maybe Vietnam. We’d go for at least a month. I’d pull the kids from school to travel during non-tourist periods. We’d avoid big hotels instead choosing small local establishments. We’d bury ourselves into the culture not just observing like visitors in a zoo but experiencing. We’d take lots and lots of pictures.

Of course, when not traveling, I would insist the kids continue their studies and attend school. I’d straighten the house while the kids were at school which wouldn’t take long because it was done every day. Then I’d take long walks listening to the ipod, Norah Jones, U2, Snoop Dog. I’d listen to everything but country. I’d always have one or two dogs by my side. They’d be off-leash, running up the trail to explore and checking back periodically. I’d flip off the old man who yelled at me about the leash law. I’d tell him life was too short to be such a crab ass and suggest that he get laid.

Afterwards I’d come home and write. I’d write every day, without fail. I’d write to my children. I’d tell them about my childhood growing up in the desert. I’d recount how I met their father. I’d tell them my dreams for their futures. I’d go to the dark places too; the time my younger sister beat me, pounded me, in the bathroom while my parents were at work; the time I opened up my cockatiel’s egg thinking it was a dud, only to discover the baby bird was still alive and me sitting helpless in the backyard watching it die.

When the kids got home we’d sit down together and do homework; me writing, them schoolwork. We’d make dinner and eat at the table. Tuesdays and Thursdays we’d go to family yoga, one that emphasizes meditation and living simply in the moment. Mondays and Wednesdays would be game night. Fridays, of course, date night.

On date night my husband and I would go to dinner. We’d linger over good food and good wine. We’d walk downtown, hand-in-hand, window shopping. I’d tell him it was okay for him to move on with his life. It’s okay to love again. All that I truly want out of this world is for my family to be happy; to live, to love, to embrace life, to accept sorrow and defeat with grace, to seek the beauty in even the darkest moments. I’d hope and pray he find peace and serenity, if not for his sake for our children’s.

Saturdays the kids would cook breakfast. We’d eat in front of the tv watching political shows. Then we’d head outside, playing frisbee golf, going to the park, hiking, relaxing at the pool. Sundays we’d go out to breakfast, walking downtown along the pond, feeding the ducks. We’d admire the swans, so beautiful and yet so mean. We’d agree we’d rather be a plain amiable wood duck. After breakfast we’d walk to the flower stand and buy a fresh bouquet for the week. I’d always have fresh flowers in my house. Sunday afternoons would be reserved for reading; each person their own book. Drawing would also be allowed. Sunday nights - music, an instrument for everyone. Let the neighbors suffer. Life's too short to care.

I've just described my ideal twelve months. If I were truly sick I'd probably not be able to do all the things I'd like (except maybe quit my job). Now is the time to make a change. My real life is far from this ideal. But for two days in a row I’ve written something down. Last night my son helped to make dinner. My bedroom and bathroom are clean. The laundry is in reasonable proximity to being finished. There are fresh flowers on my table. Baby steps towards the life I want to live. I need to live my best life today. Because, really, I could die tomorrow. Thank you Jen B. for the reality check. You are more amazing than you’ll ever know.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I've wanted to start a blog for quite some time now. Only I haven't been able to pinpoint why I've had the urge to open up to complete strangers. There’s no doubt I’ve got things to say; not necessarily important things, not necessarily life changing things, not necessarily anything anybody cares to read about. But I do have a constant internal dialogue pulsing through my head. Whether washing dishes or driving to work I constantly detail the importance of zen living, debate the validity of cleanliness is next to Godliness and wonder how in the blanky-blank to teach my children fiscal responsibility. It'd be nice to transfer this internal dialogue to the virtual world and lose my schizophrenic second self.

But, there is more to it than that. While surfing for ideas, I came across a startling and very real reason to write. I encountered The Comfy Place. This blog is written by a tremendous mother with oodles of courage. It chronicles her battle with bowel cancer. She recently asked people to write about what they would do if they were told they only had twelve months to live. And in this my life has changed. At the top of my list I would write - daily. I would set down my story, express my thoughts, let someone, anyone, know who I truly was inside. And, I would hope against hope that through my writing my children might someday feel they truly knew their mother. And if I didn’t die? If I outlived everyone? Well, then, my aged self might like to meet my thirty-something self in cyberspace. So here it is. My blog. Welcome to all who choose to come and share and live for whatever time we’ve got. Welcome.