Tuesday, October 30, 2012

While we wait

After all the storm preparation is complete, the laundry folded, groceries stowed, vaccuum put away, animals prepped and porch swing taken down off its chain there is nothing left to do but wait.  Sandy took her time coming and she's taken her time in leaving and churns over top of us dumping buckets of rain, causing destruction. 

I thought she'd never come.

The big trees waited. 

We all waited.  I am grateful for a warm, dry house and all that fills it.  Returning here after being out in the storm is true comfort, home.

It is on these cooped up, holed up, days of turning inward that we look to each other for our collective strength.  We do what we do to fill rainy days.  We play games, watch movies, go stir crazy, make messes, clean them up, get lazy, take naps, pick up a little crochet--a brightly colored granny square throw made from stash yarn to liven up the window seat, you know, the usual.  This simple, family life.

And on this day of waiting a little blog revamping was done, I hope you like the new look.  Please subscribe via email, follow, stay in touch however you see fit.  I'd love to have you back.  Oh, and leave your comments, let's keep the conversation going.

{added: for those of you having trouble leaving comments, I've disabled the comment moderation piece.  let's hope the Chinese sex-trafficking website comments continue to go to my spam box.  if they don't, please continue to disregard}

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Knees to the floor

{a recurring series, a post between friends, inspired by a mini-meditation retreat led by Karen Maezen Miller.  we are grateful she showed up.}

I woke up early and made the coffee, went to my office, lit a candle and waited for Clair.  If you've read the past couple of days worth of posts you may know we've committed to something, I'm not sure what.  It involves meditation, yes, I know that much, but the rest I'm leaving open-ended so we can just watch together and see what happens.

I'm sorry if you've come looking for big answers or a great miraculous event, some wide awakening, one great stone unturned, the result of two people sitting together, breathing in and out in the quiet of early morning before the rest of the world is awake. I can't deliver.  But on this morning with the uncertainty of a hurricane working her way inland and two busy mothers both with husbands and three children apiece and jobs and flooded lives the miracle was merely in the fact that Clair showed up.  Well, we both did.

She came to my house at 6:30 on Sunday morning in her pajamas with cushion in hand, book, camera and zen timer on her iPad.  She looked freshly showered and bright, and me, like my kids do after a week with the flu.  I think I scared her and her perfect hair.  "I hope you don't trip over anything," I said.

I had prepped my husband the night before.  "Is it okay with you if Clair comes over at 6:30 tomorrow morning?"

He paused, turned and looked at me with hesitation, "Sure, but I don't think I'll be up, is that okay?"

I smiled, "No problem.  It's probably best."

And that's how it started.  We readied ourselves and sat for fifteen minutes and I heard every tummy gurgle and swallow and gust of wind blow through the trees and car pass by and rooster crow and the cat jump up and down off the ottoman fifty times.  I waited for a child to stumble in. I slumped and straightened and fidgeted and pondered my poor posture and brought myself back each time with the counting, like Karen had said, in, out, one, two, one, two and at some point there was a shift.  My cupped hands felt huge like they usually do, no longer part of my body, like they were carrying something big and whole and the shadows looked shadowy-er and the lights looked brighter and I knew I was relaxed so I kept at it. 

I waited for something to happen, I guess that's what we all are waiting for, some sort of answer, a remedy for our shortcomings, the cure for our ailments, some great opening of the clouds and a lightening bolt scribbling out the ultimate enlightenment in the driveway gravel, the one, big answer, but it didn't come.  It won't come, I know that and as frustration feeds my persistence as it did when I was teaching myself to knit, I am sure I'll be back tomorrow.  By then, I won't have any more idea what I'm doing than I did today.


Friday, October 26, 2012


I know the storm is coming, not because the weatherman tells me so...

but because the farmers came and took up the beans yesterday.  There was nothing I could do about it so I set up my favorite line and played in the warm weather.  In two days we'll be inside, hunkered down, listening to rain pound on the metal roof waiting for trees to fall.

The roosters were sad to see the beans go.  Oh, and one hen, finally, a late bloomer, the irony.  One hen, four roosters, nothing to do but laugh.  Where's that fox when you need him? Come Spring, a redo in the hen house.

I was sad to see the beans go too, but it's that time of year.

What is planted must be harvested.  Instead of worrying we played, enjoyed the last bits of warm weather, the golden trees. Now we wait.

We draw, read, wonder about this storm.  The generator is currently in a thousand pieces, it won't be much help.  How bad will it be?

The peace of the moment gives me no clues, just an eerie sense of something big coming our way.

Sitting commences tomorrow, join us?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The invitation

                                                                        {still hazy}

It's a long story so I'll try to cut it down.  A very few of you may remember when I read the book below.  I was introduced to this blog by a kind friend.  I've been reading what she writes for years.

I had kept it all fairly close in, until Clair (pictured above) seemed interested. Occasionally someone walks into my life, takes an idea and runs with it along side of me.  Clair snatched it up, bolted with it and never looked back.  I had to sprint to catch up with her.

Conversation led to action and we took a road trip.  The goal, to hear Karen Maezen Miller speak and give us some instruction on meditation. Of all things.

I  picked Clair up early.  The idea was to have plenty of time for coffee and a bagel before we arrived. We were only traveling from the Richmond, VA area to Washington D.C., typically a two-hour drive, but instead got lost.  I don't mean once, or a little lost, I mean turned around, loop-de-looped, every-which-wayed, back-tracked, wrong-turned, countless times kind of lost. Monumentally lost. Detoured by a huge footrace with roads closed kind of lost. It was the perfect beginning.

Were I not nauseatingly persistant (and a little lucky with my phone) we might not have made it.  If Clair weren't so patient with such a good sense of humor I might have left her on the side of the road. I may have referred to myself as flaky once or twice.  I was pretty sure she'd never agree to a road trip with me again.

Perhaps getting turned around just gave us more time for conversation.  Perhaps that was why we got lost in the first place.

"Clair," I said at one point, "you're Catholic."


"Not a little bit Catholic, you're really Catholic. How do you reconcile going to hear a Zen Buddhist priest teach us how to meditate with Catholicism?"

"I don't put God in a box," she said, "he's bigger than any of our boxes."

And with that the trip could have ended for me even if we hadn't ever found the place.

I believe I described my upbringing among other things as icy, cold and "severely Lutheran". And there we were. The very Catholic and (former) severely Lutheran lost in a tangled mess of highway in search of something neither of us could define.

 We found the studio. Hazy. We walked in.

My butt landed right where it was supposed to be.

The two hour session began.  Clair was immediately in.  Open-armed, open-eyed, open-hearted, enthralled.  I was my usual self, closed, protective, quiet, skeptical, trusting on a very delayed schedule.  Uncomfortable in my skin.

I'm not sure what happened next.

Really, it's a blur.  A soothing, calming, gentle wave of warm ocean kind of blur washed over me.  Profound concepts filled the space.  Acceptance too.  The sameness that unites us all was palpable in the room.  I was no longer the "poor miserable sinner" of my upbringing begging for mercy and forgiveness never really feeling worthy of receiving it.  There was no room for self-flaggelation, harsh words, condemnation.  Refreshing doesn't come close to describing the feeling.  Karen describes it as the sensation of coming home.  Perhaps she's on to something.

We left wanting more.

Clair wanted an autograph.

                                                  {I really like you I think you're so great!}

                                              {that's your cell phone number? sweet!}

This is where the rest begins.  We plan to see this thing through.  To sit each day.  To practice regularly what we've only begun to discover.  We'll sit alone, we'll sit together, we'll try the local scene and see what happens.  We'll drink tea and hairy chested coffee and I'll make her slack line with me afterward.  We'll sit in the open country air by the soybean fields at my house with the chickens and roosters roaming.  We'll post, we'll share our experience, you're all invited to bear witness, to join in, both.  Won't you?

Monday, October 22, 2012


The sun came up again today on schedule and without my help. The light was bright and dim equally, not allowing me to see everything and that was probably best. 

There is something new in the works but I'm not sure what.  I can't promise any answers, mostly just haze, a record of a joint effort and perhaps an invitation.  Details to follow.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I drove so fast yesterday to get the kids to the orthodontist on time one of my daughters said it made her body hurt on the turns.  A proud moment indeed.  The orthodontist chuckled with understanding.

Hurry here, rush there, grab it and go, let's go, let's go, let's go.  Run.

An hour earlier I had wandered the field out back and taken these photos.  I had settled momentarily but couldn't keep the peace.

Hurry here, rush there, grab it and go, let's go, let's go, let's go.  Run.

There are thousands of excuses for hurrying.  Probably none good, habit foremost among them.  I am good at making excuses and at operating based on mindless habit.  I am robot.

Hurry here, rush there, grab it and go, let's go, let's go, let's go.  Run.

But today I'll take these images with me, the delicate fuzz on the soybean plant that goes otherwise undetected unless I stop.  And look.  Take a breath.

No dangerous speeds today, no turns that hurt, there is time enough.  So much goes unnoticed otherwise in the frenzy.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Girlfriend Confessional

"I confess my sins to you," I said.

"You don't need to, you didn't do anything wrong," she told me.

"But I need to get it off my chest, into the light of day."

"That's fine, I'm glad you told me, but you shouldn't feel bad."

"Ok, but I do."

"I can tell, I can hear it in your voice.  No harm done.  Move on with your day."

"Ok, thanks for listening, I knew you would."

And with that, the conversation was over, but my struggle to forgive myself is agonizing.  The worst of it are the facts:

1.  I did nothing wrong

2.  Nothing bad happened

3.  Circumstances changed and were out of my control

4.  I can't let it go  (I can't let what go?)

5.  I don't know why  (Ok, maybe I have some ideas)

One of my worst struggles is that of self-forgiveness. But how great is the church-of-the-understanding-girlfriend, where being forgiven freely allows us to learn to forgive ourselves, where love, compassion and acceptance are a sure thing, where we hear what we need to hear, the good, the bad, the ugly? 

It was my turn yesterday, next week it will be hers, in that way we trade.  And it is here that some of life's greatest gifts are given and received, lessons are learned.  If only I wasn't so slow on the uptake.

Monday, October 15, 2012

One foot

On the trail there is only one way to the end. Well, I guess there are two:  forward to see new places, create new experiences, or backward going only where you've been.  Must put one foot in front of the other. Must keep moving.

The creativity in your approach is entirely up to you.  Oblivion can be your ally.  It can be incredibly silly and fun or it can harm you.

But overthinking the issue, trying to control the outcome and pouting is surely a miserable experience.  This is the road to nowhere.  We all have our own unique approach.

Change comes anyway, we cannot grab time and refuse to let it go.  Opportunity is readily upon us, must put one foot in front of the other.  Must keep moving.  Forward.

Friday, October 12, 2012


As the pile upon us deepens, gets heavier, harder to dig out from under, life goes on.

I read a story penned by my youngest, about her life as a superhero, with superpowers.  She was super great, even in the title, her name written in large bubble letters followed by as many bubble exclamation points as she could fit. She breathed under water.  She flew.  It was perfect.

"I like your story," I said.

"I really wish I could fly," she answered with a big grin on her face and wishful eyes.

"Me too. I wished that a lot when I was a girl."

"I want to be able to breathe under water too."

"Wouldn't that be great?"

And she cackled, tumbled and flipped and flitted and carried on about our bed until we made her stop and get ready to go to sleep.  I do not wish to be a child again, only to think like one from time to time, especially from under the weight of it all.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Old schooled

The rainy school holiday turned into family game day.  We pulled out the original, 35-year old board game, kept pristine somehow by my mother-in-law, the same one I'm desperately trying to keep my kids from ripping apart.  But it was competition as usual in our house.  A full-body-contact sport involving tumbling, tackling, grabbing, throwing and the ripping of dice out of other players hands.  Personalities were on full display.  The spacey, the compassionate, the unforgiving, compromising. 

There were two teams.  One parent on each.  My husband tends to trade, compromise, spend, mortgage.  I hoard, save, amass, annihilate, pummel beyond recognizability.  Needless to say my son and I won, ending up with all of the money and property.  The first time in my Monopoly game playing history.  It was beyond ugly.  It was one of those moments I wanted to break the reflection in the mirror.  Ever been there? 

Monday, October 8, 2012


Packed and snuggled in the back of the car, tailgate up, wrapped under an assortment of quilts, we managed to stay (mostly) awake through both movies.  Note to self:  next time bring pillows and Thermarests and be kind to the old bones.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Insert fun

People do the craziest things.

Like put their kids on a two-inch strap strung between trees and let them walk across.

And fall.

And try again, and again, and again.

It brings out mischief (note purple shorts ready to shake the line), and creativity.

It is persistence on display.

And ingenuity, soft landings are more pleasant.  Mottos spring forth out of thin air: "plan your land" is one we now strive to abide by.

I started out thinking there was absolutely no way I could stand on the thing for longer than a second, but have graduated to walking from one tree to the next, turning, going back, turning and even walking halfway backward.  Mind you this is on the beginner line for kids 12 and under.  I am so impressed with myself I'm not sure what to do (note the sarcasm).  Only thing I can think to do next is to ask for the real one for Christmas, and have a few slack line get togethers with my forty-something year old girlfriends.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

New mistakes

I won't talk about politics.

I don't mean I won't talk about politics publicly, online, on Facebook, Twitter, with friends, out at dinner...I mean I don't talk about politics...ever.  I don't discuss things with my husband, my kids, his parents, anyone.  It's a touchy subject.

The topic comes up and the hairs rise on the back of my neck.  Fear and terror take over.  My stomach churns, my skin crawls. I want to run far away and hope and pray no one will ask my opinion.  I want to be accepted, liked, not hated for my...politics.

I grew up in the house-of-the-one-track-mind-and-you-dare-not-have-your-own-opinion-because-the-one-being-yelled-constantly-is-the-only-good-one.  Dare to share a varying view and you were ostracized, belittled, shunned.

I don't speak of my politics.

My husband, this lovely man, understands.  He could care less about cramming his opinion down my throat when it comes to which box to check in November.  We have a beautiful understanding that goes like this:  when election day arrives I remind him to go vote.  We both do, separately, end of discussion.

At this point the ones who want to judge are squirming with thoughts like, "What about your kids?!  Don't you care to educate them?!"  The answer:  Of course.  When they have questions, I respond, and try my best to let them formulate their own opinions.  But while I am quite content that I will not make some of the same mistakes of the past, I fully accept that I am destined to make new ones.  Such is the awakening of the honest parent.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Over the hurdle

Tuesday did not suck.

There is a common misconception that Monday is the worst day of the week but I disagree.  Tuesday takes that honor and you'd have a hard time convincing me otherwise. Tuesday is the nondescript black hole somewhere between one weekend and the next.  As Sunday draws to a close its sweet taste lingers.  The late mornings, leisurely meals, playtime are long gone, and next Friday seems impossible to grasp.  My blog readership is it's lowest on Tuesdays. When my Etsy shop was open sales were usually lowest on Tuesday.  The world is in a funk on Tuesday. 

I have three standout memories of getting in trouble in my younger days, decent-sized trouble, the memory-making kind of trouble and two such events happened on Tuesdays. One was in college and one in graduate school and my parents never found out.  Thank the heavens.  I was in trouble with myself (mostly), and no one got hurt, I just ended up the fool.  Lessons learned.  Neither was anything serious like a DUI or unplanned pregnancy so don't even let your mind go there.  My point is merely that they happened on Tuesday nights.  What is wrong with Tuesday?

But yesterday was a rare, effortless, even pleasant Tuesday.  It rained and was dreary which I usually hate but yesterday I found I didn't care.  It was a dreary, pleasant, rainy, seamless, easy day where calling work to offer extra help came naturally, effortlessly up through the phone.  Why are some days just so hard, others so uncomplicated? Why are some Tuesdays, Tuesdays and some not?

There was something in the air yesterday I'm convinced.  My husband called and reviewed his list of items-crossed-off.  It was lengthy, involved, but he'd gone through it one item at a time, and had accomplished much, even his voice sounded cool.

Yes, there was probably something in the air, some supernatural force directing traffic and untangling life's confusion, but all I found were gnats and humidity on an afternoon run.  Thankfully I'd worn a hat and kept my mouth shut.


Monday, October 1, 2012


We shouldn't have gone.

The schedule had filled up,

plans were thwarted,

everything pointed to no.

But we went anyway so we could do some really important things.

And whaddya know, everything was here just as we left it when we got back.