Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I'm not sure why I've always wanted to be a bird. But I have. Every time someone asks whether I'd rather be a fish or a bird (I think it's a question in the Book of Questions) it's an easy answer. Being able to soar above everything. Flying free. Using the wind to buoy me up and learning how to control it to drive me higher.  Birds are used in many instances to 

So when I found a package at my door two days ago with a gift from my friend Kat, it seemed fitting to find a nest carefully wrapped up in the packaging.

It wasn't a surprise to find the nest. I knew she had been working on it and that, in the end, I would be the grateful recipient of it.  However I was surprised at how overwhelmed I was to actually hold it in my hands and then place it on, above my heart.

See, the draw for me to the life of the bird comes from the notion that it would bring freedom and peace. In the midst of this place I'm in right now (both emotionally and physically) there are moments where I long to walk outside, spread my wings, and take off.

The nest reminded me, so sweetly with it's two small eggs, that my choices to stay at home with the boys, provide them with my own version of refuge, and make an attempt to raise them, are valid. As we've investigated new directions for our family, and I've tried taking out my wings again, the nest has been a welcome reminder of the real one that exists and the decisions that brought it to be.  The freedom that I've had this whole time.  

Thank you Kat.  

Monday, September 15, 2008

His heart is a feather.

Notes from the wall near the spa. Grandpa's hand.

Most mornings at my grandparents house you'd find my Grandpa, Bob, enjoying the early morning in his spa. Built as an add-on to the house the spa room reminds me a lot of the house I lived in when I was a kid, if only because it has dark paneling. The lid to the spa itself is the covered in brown vinyl. It smells musty, and after the spa has been running it smells a little like a sauna. The spa came with the house and while I doubt it was a buying point for my Grandpa, it sure turned into a treat for him. Which made it a treat for all of us.

Some mornings, when I'd rise early enough, I'd find myself sitting in the kitchen eating Honeycomb, which was always on supply at their house, and listening to the soft sounds of my Grandpa singing from his spa. Now, you had to be careful. Grandpa sometimes treated himself to his spa time al fresco. Since the kitchen was adjacent to the spa room he'd come wandering in the room, still humming, with his towel around his waist. "You're lucky Shellgirl. I remembered my towel this morning." His skin was always so white and pruny. His gray-white hair would be swirled in different directions and it always made me wonder if he might have ben swimming out there, instead of soaking.

Then he'd walk through the house, finishing his song. He'd usually tease my Grandma by grabbing hold of her, twirl her around a little, and sing her a line. Always the same song. In the spa. In the hall. With her. Eddy Arnold's Cattle Call. Silly and simple song.

And my Grandpa thought himself a silly, simple man. At least in the years I knew him best. The truth is, as usual, much more complex. A devoutely religious man my Grandpa had a quick wit, an active mind, and a sharp tongue. He once chastised me publicly during a discussion about parades and then marched out of the room in a successful move to end the conversation. I still have a mix of emotions when I think back on that moment. It stung like a slap.

Yet I couldn't have asked for a better man to have in my life. Every child should be able to get love from whoever is willing to give it and my grandparents shared it with us in large doses. Mediated of course by smaller doses of life lessons and discipline. Some people are lucky enough to have two sets of grandparents who love and treasure them - at least in some version. My Dad's parents never played a large part in our life. Mostly because my Dad's Mom died when I was young. And because my Dad was never close to his Dad. It made us even more fortunate that my grandparents were willing to love us and share their life. Add to that the close proximity in which we lived for the first 14 years of my life, until they move out of state.

I realize that my relationship with my grandparents is not the same one that everyone has with their own grandparents. And that even within my own family there is disconnect and discontent. I cannot control that though, even though I've tried for years. Grandpa knew about it and it weighed heavily on his heart. In his own way he tried to love everyone. I know it wasn't easy for everyone to see past his expression of religion, or his stout opinions. Trust me, I know. Still, you knew what to expect.

You knew to expect the cattle call in the morning. You knew to expect that he'd offer you strange conglomerations of juice. You knew he'd offer a sharp retort to something you said but then always squeeze you extra tight when you left.

And you knew, at least I did, that when he left it would be life changing.

Happy Birthday Grandpa. I know you are happy wherever you are. Just wish you were here still.

Random thoughts...

I just finished that lengthy post, and as posts do I started off with a different idea to write about than what I actually decided to do.

That being said I wanted to through a couple of things out there that are on my mind:

I cannot quite decide how I feel about the people who failed to heed hurricane evacuation warnings and are now begging for help. Part of me is pissed at them. Part of me feels sorry. I keep reminding myself that I live in an earthquake prone area where, when one happens, we received state and federal aid. Yet if I had specific warning I'd be outta here. Yet, haven't we had warning? Hum....this is a tricky one.

Watching all the Lehman Brother's employees file out of their jobs makes me sad. Reminds me of the Enron movie. Again I'm torn. Am I saddened by this or am I unsympathetic given that the failings of Lehman are being blamed partially for participating in the huge housing bubble that I've disliked since day one?

Jillian Barbari. Really? I'll borrow some observations made by Matt at WTHIM when I say she seems solipsistic.

Comparing the Metrolink train crash to America's 9/11? Please stop. Please.

Fwd. Accountability

So this morning I made a huge mistake. I turned on the news.

I rarely watch tv. Even more rare is the time I take to watch the news. And this morning I remembered why.

The first fifteen to thirty minutes are filled with despair laden stories that both break your heart and keep your finger from pressing the channel change button. I've already been teary this morning about Lehman Bros. (not their actual 11 filing but the filing out of all their employees), the cute old man on GMA who talked about his unpaid oil bill, the final number of deaths in Chatsworth, and the damage in Texas.

I hate the news. Not the actual happenings, both good and bad, but rather the machine. And this includes all of us. See, every time I turn on the tv to watch the news I'm telling them that I need them to bring me the messages of the world in the way they deliver them.

One of the other ways we fuel the news machine was discussed in two fascinating stories by NPR's On The Media this weekend. Called Stick Up and Pass it On the pieces focused, using the current election campaigns, on two of the most effective ways that news gets spread, often times with a heavy twist away from fact. Having seen and read more forwards than I've ever wanted to I am still never surprised when I open one. I have intelligent friends and family, and yet I receive emails that are sometimes just absurb, and other times dangerously factless and illogical.

Now I do not want to sound hypocritical. I've forwarded things. Usually heartwarming stories about what kindergartners say in their classrooms, but sometimes a political message. Every time I've sent something I've read it carefully, and added my own comment at the start. And I check my facts. But as the story Pass it On mentions, even with several options to check facts (i.e., Snopes) people still fail to do this and send on potentially damaging information (political or not). I am unsure why people pass on stories at all before checking facts. As far as they can. I mean, there are so many stories out there that I wouldn't want my name attached to, even in an email.

It's so easy for us to get mad at the news for their sometimes skewed stories - but why aren't we held more responsible for the news we've spread?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I have a feeling that this period of time will be one, several years from now, that I look back on and smile at.  Smile because the boys were at such a wonderful age.  That I could take them on the bus, hide under the kitchen table, or teach them the words to ABBA's Mamma Mia and every experience they eat up.  Then they look at me with their bright eyes and smile.  I won't always get that smile.

But mostly I think I'll look back at this time and smile because I'll remember thinking that I'd never get past this point in my life.   This point I'm at right now.  Where decisions need to be made, plans laid, and actions taken.  Yet with each one I feel as though I'm at a stalemate.  For me, it's a crummy place to be.  I like beginning and end.  I like problem and solution.  I like checkbox and check mark.  

One of the hardest things is organizing my mind.  I am usually an incredibly organized person but right now I feel like the right-side of my brain is in protest with the left.  And my mouth is in mutiny with the rest of my body.  

With all of that floating around it was brilliant to read Liz's comments about organization over at backwards attraction.  Now not only do I value her because of her life-saving kill.the.gluten recipes but also as a kindred spirit in this world of mental disorganization.  Her words illustrated, all too keenly, the place I feel.   I do exactly what she refers to - a list of 500+ things I could do, some that I should do, but few that I will do.  Then I end the day wondering where my time went, what success I found, and how to gear myself up for another day of openendedness.  

So here's my list for today.  Don't scoff at it.   Hopefully I'll end the day with a clear vision of what I've done and it will all help to move me from a sense of stale to the place where I can look back and smile.  Thanks for the inspiration Liz.

To Do List:
- thank you notes for Walker's birthday/UT trip
- 2-3 blog posts on AinB
- drop off overdue "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" movie to library
- one hour of job search stuff (preferably during nap time)
- dinner
- put pictures on CD for Neighborhood Church class
- swim with the boys (and hopefully Eric too!)