Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Retrospective Introspective

Thanks Super Rob!

20 years ago I was newly married, at the great U of I studying Biophyics and figuring out how to teach Freshman Chemistry.

15 years ago I was happily living in Ithaca, truly God's Country, studying and using God's true science (local density approximation, for those of you that didn't know this) to prove it was doable to use a computer to model chemotherapeutic drugs.

10 years ago I was a single mom, living with my parents, embracing a new career in QA engineering and realizing my life wasn't over, but a fantastic page had turned and the best was yet to come.

5 years ago I was delightfully remarried, a mom now for the third time and realizing that the best of life is filled with children's wet kisses and snuggling hugs.

A year ago I realized that the dream of having a kitchen bigger than a postage stamp was going to be a reality.

Yesterday I said good bye to a good friend who is moving a way, went shopping with my littlest one, who said, "Mommy, how can that be my Christmas present, I'm here when you are buying it." I replied, "Trust me, it is." (From the clearance bin at R.E.I., down-filled slippers, and really cool wool socks)

5 snacks I enjoy... what snack food don't I enjoy... that is the problem. Hummm... chocolate, nuts, crackers with hot artichoke dip, sushi, most fruits

5 song I know all the words too... I know a lot of songs when they are on the radio, but can't think of the titles now.

5 things I would do with a million dollars - I would share the money with my family and friends, set up a publishing house and publish the fantastic books, stories, and essays that pour forth from the world's most wonderful writing group. Then I'd go to Paris, pour une tasse de cafe, and maybe buy an apartment so I could go home more often.

5 places I would runaway to - Paris, Paris, Paris, Seattle and Seattle (If I'm not home, you only have to look in these two places)

5 things I would never wear - the list is endless, but anything that is tight and makes me look like a bowling pin in spandex.

5 favorite tv shows - The weather channel while I'm doing the treadmill thing. Other than that I watch movies.

5 bad habits - very little patience, over eating, trying to run the world, not saying "no" enough, PMS.

5 biggest joys - my family, my writing, my photography, cooking, enjoying life through the eyes of my children

5 favorite toys - my camera, computer, treadmill, stove, and US-122

5 fictional characters I would like to have dinner with - Martha and Charles Boss, Didi's Helen, RB's April, Stephanie Plum

5 people I tag to do this: Do, or do not. There is no tag.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Road Less Travelled?

Along with the billions and billions of others we will be travelling over the river and through the woods to feast with family and friends. Usually by now, except for the toothbrushes, everything is packed and ready to go. Not so this year. This year somethings are gathered, but for the rest... it seems to be a catch as catch can. I have a list of things we need to take, including the turkey, stuffing, the pan, a few appetizers and crackers and cherry pie. I packed a few items for the girls to share with their cousins and made sure they know to grab hats and mittens. But that's it. That's all I've done. I think I've skipped over the vacation panic mode and have slipped into the vacation relaxed mode even though I have a mountain of prep work ahead of me. Maybe it's denial. Maybe it's because in some social circles I am old enough to be a grandmother and those calming grandmotherly brainwaves are kicking in. Or maybe it's all that yoga and I've inadvertantly discovered a new way to go through life.

Regardless, it's one of life's gifts and I'll keep it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Is there writing after the book?

Actually the title is misleading. It's not after the book, it's between drafts. I've decided to put Sarah and her woes on the shelf until after the New Year. I figure the distance will do us all good. After the holidays I'll be able to edit without being so emotionally attached to every single word.

What will that do to my word count? As things stand now I've only penned 48,000 or so beauties. Two thousand short of that required for the impressive "Write a book in the month of November" gig. It took me 6 years to write "my baby", that's 8,000 a year, which translates into a vowel less than 22 words a day. Am I slow or what?

The fact remains that since finishing the draft I haven't really latched on to another writing project. I have two small irons in the fire, an essay and an old children's picture book, and of course this blog. None of which is ready for prime time. I will say I have started to carry around paper drafts of the two tangible pieces and have resorted to using a pencil to brain storm edits.

Hopefully at one of these sessions I will become enamored and start productively writing again. After all I'm only looking for 22 words a day.

(Blog word count 217)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Today I Found Time

Kid-free from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It was almost too quiet, almost. The house to-do list as long as ever and nagging at me. So what did I do? Whittle away at an odd job or two? Did I find the wood filler and caulking gun and start working on the kitchen trim? No, I read.

Oh I did a bit of food shopping and then made a fantastic batch of lamb curry, but for the rest of the kid-free time I read and worked at pushing back a sizable amount of sitting on my expanding backside guilt. Afterall, I was learning how to write cleaner transitions. Evanovitch is a FANTASTIC author and her transitions are masterful. And like me, she started writing after her kids went back to school. So I feel a kindred spirit when I read her material.

So, at 1:30 when I had to re-enter the real world, I had dinner made, 2 gallons of milk and other food stuff, and an overwhelming sense of wanting to write flawless transitions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It Escapes Me

Time escapes me. You would think being a stay at home mom that I would have more time to write. But no, I get up, do the treadmill thing, then the yoga thing, (which I am loving), the shower thing, and then the kids up and ready for school things. I get them out the door, do the laundry, the cleaning, (yes, I do clean), the shopping, run errands, and in the warmer weather I do try to do the gardening thing too. I start each day with a few hours , GOD FORBID, home alone, and the next thing I know I off the collect my loves with all their homework, Christmas pageant rehearsals, playdates, brownies, music lessons, sports and dance. And let's not forget someone has to cook dinner.

My heart goes out to all the moms that don't have the option to stay home. I don't know how you do it. I can't.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fall Leaves -- A Sign of Whats To Come

For two entire weekends we have been raking leaves. The last count on bags lugged to the compost dump was 35. And the front yard needs to be raked again. But really I'm not complaining too much. All our trees are Maples, and in early spring when the sap starts to flow those trees produce the most wonderful maple syrup.

The sugaring season is months away and already I've taken stock of our supplies. I have a mental note to put in an order for 6 more taps, and 10 new buckets. I think Santa will leave them under the tree.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Why is it if one child is allowed to circle possible picks on a book order form that all others must, at that same moment, circle the books they want? Do they think the form will self distruct when there are a billion and one circles draw over the entire booklet? Have they ever not had the chance to inform me of their latest gimme list?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Swimming Part II -- The Swim For Life

For as long as I have known our wonderful neighbor, Sunny, she has taken on the Swim For Life, a 1.4 mile swim across Provincetown Harbor. (Actually she has participated for longer than we have been neighbors as this year was her 10th swim.) The money raised from this event goes to help people with AIDS, and for youth programs. As it is a wonderful cause, every September we would sponsor Sunny and wish her well.

This year after I swam my first half mile in the local pool I started thinking about joining Sunny instead of sponsoring her. I remember the early June afternoon I crawled out of the local pool and said to her, "I just swam a half mile. Think I could do the Swim For Life?" Sunny smiled and said sure. I figured if I swam every day, building up the mileage, that I would have a chance.

So everyday, hot or cold, rain or shine, I was swimming. Believe me it was no sacrafice. I love to swim, and I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment as I was quickly able to swim a mile without much effort, and then a mile and a quarter. Then twice I swam 1.4 miles, figuring I only really had to do this distance once, in Provincetown Harbor.

While training I mentioned my goal to family and friends, figuring I was letting them know I'd be looking for sponsorship. I got that and more. Another friend, Mrs.G, decided to join us. So we swam and swam and swam the summer away. Actually, Sunny and Mrs.G, are very strong and fast swimmers. And usually they would be finished their laps and I would still have several to go. But the Swim For Life was not a race for me. My goal was to finish. Go into the water at the light house and come out on the other side.

The morning of the swim we met up at the registration booth, got our numbers, and found wet suits. There were over 250 other swimmers doing the same. There was even a dog, Spot taking the plunge with his owner. The sun was out, the atmosphere filled with excitement. The announcement was made for the swimmers to make their way to the ferries so that we could be taken to the start. The support people were urged to get their boats into position in the harbor.

It was on the ferry ride that I first saw and felt the choppy water. Still my spirit wasn't dampened. The opening speeches over, the signal was given and I entered the water with the other 250+ humans and Spot. I had heard from several people that the beginning of the swim is the worst. Its not the cold that gets you its the fact that you swim towards the water tower and it doesn't seems to get closer. And that was how it was for me. Making matters worse was that everytime I went to take a breath I was getting hit in the face with a wave. So I started to alter my breathing and stroke, and soon realized that being in the middle of a harbor was no place to start a new training regime. So I slogged on, and finally I found my rhythmn. I was swimming and breathing and felt good about my situation. But when I looked up I was being pulled way off course by the current. And for all the smoothness and good feelings I was experiencing I had not made much progress towards land. I wasn't tired, and I wasn't cold but I also knew I had only swam about six tenths of a mile, not even half way, and having swallowed a lot of water, I called over a boat and got fished out.

Two wonderful women and Stella, a water dog, came to my rescue. They offered me a towel and Stella for warmth. Indoctrinated into their support team I watched over other swimmers. And when we got closer in, where the chop had settled down I opted to finish the swim under my own power.

As I crossed the finish line, Sunny and Mrs.G were there waiting for me, cheering me on. And despite the fact I had taken a boat assist I felt great; now cold but great.

Now when I think about doing the swim next year, and each year after that I will know about the chop, and I know now that I can finish. I'll just take it slow, don't panic and the water tower will get closer.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Perfect Gift

Not to sound trival, but gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes you can see them coming. Sometimes you don't.

Yesterday my middle child came home from school complaining of a headache. When I reached over to give her a hug, my arm wasn't even touching her when I could feel the heat emminating from her body. "Get the thermometer," was all I said.

Two minutes later, and a temperature of 101.4, I called the school, reported her illness and told them she wouldn't be in school the next day, today, my birthday.

Last night, as I was falling to sleep I wondered what today would bring. Would I get to work on the last of the three doors I need to strip? Would I make headway raking up the pine needles that are raining down from our trees?

Five years ago, my middle one took it upon her self to close the lock on a foot locker I had been lugging from life to life since 1978. I remember getting mad and yelling, "NO, I don't have the key." But it was too late. The latch was locked. Not wanting to deal with it right then and there, the foot locker was pushed to the side and over the years buried under life's other essential valuables.

Every year we have a Halloween party. Where we decorate the house like crazy and the kids get to invite a few friends over to carve pumpkins, play games, and eat Halloween food like Cheesy bat biscuits, Eye of Newt sandwiches, jello brain and the highlight of grossness , Litter Box Cake. This year, for the party, we decided to set up an area in the kitchen dedicated to Harry Potter. We set up brooms, wands, glasses, a cape, and a snitch. As we were looking at our little display I remembered the old foot locker. "Let's unbury it, and pretend its Harry Potter's." So we shifted heaven and earth and dragged it up from the bowels of the basement. The lock was still holding fast, but it didn't matter. It was the prefect flat surface for a friendly game of Wizards Chess.

This morning, the oldest and youngest off the school the house was quiet except for a little bit of hammering that I thought needed investigating. There in the kitchen was the feverish one with the meat tenderizer banging on the lock. "Mom," she said, "I might be able to get this open."

I smiled, and left to find our oversized screwdriver that has more uses than the boring task of turning a screw. Meat tenderizer in hand, screw driver poised, the two of us hammered until the locking plate hit the floor.

Inside was my life. A life I hadn't visited since my post graduate days. There was a rather professional looking slide presentation on my forays into Molecular Biology and using a gene gun to blast DNA into unsuspecting plant cells.

There was a hefty stack of overheads I had used to present my work on using Pseudopotential Theory to calculate the bond angle, and length, of a hydrogen bond created between a pair of water molecules, to a group of pure solid state physicists in Belgium. There was something in my hand writing about Hartree Fock, Electron-Electron coulomb energy and The Hamiltonian. I had filled three overheads with more Greek letters than I ever thought or remembered I knew.

Inside the chest was a mountain of stencils (plus all the brushes and paints) I had created of all different kinds of animals after my oldest one was born and I wanted a crafty diversion until I returned to work.

There were patterns I had drawn for building planters that looked like a Pelican, Canada Goose, and a Great Blue Heron.

We laid everything out on the floor. It was fun to watch my middle one looking through my sketches and stencils. She seemed amazed that I might have had talents beyond folding the laundry or emptying the dishwasher.

Then my little birthday buddy asked if she could stencil one of her shirts. I felt her head, the fever minimal at best; I nodded okay.

We spent the rest of the quiet, peaceful morning putting a horse stencil on her shirt. It was the best birthday present this Mom could ever ask for.

Today's The Day

Today's the day the calendar advances for me. A day for reflection, taking stock, planning, fixing what is broke and for appreciating all those truly wonderful little things. Today I kiss my girls really big and hug them extra tight.

Its a day for saying thank you and for smiling.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Will this be a year of finishes?

The book is done, okay just the first draft. But its out there in black and white.
Next is the doll house. Another 6 year project. I have two courses of shingles to stain and put on. Can I get this done before December 31, 2005? What about running the wiring, wall papering. and putting down flooring?

And the cross stitch, a 7 year project... And let's not forget the kitchen that still needs to be painted.

Wouldn't it be nice to have all this closure for the start of the new year.