Saturday, July 28, 2007

"I'll be back"

It's just a vacation, a little R&R.
Following the sun. Climbing towards the stars.
But, I'll be back.
And then, as before,
you'll be seeing me in all those familair places.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What to write...

I'm on the verge of writing greatness...

Surely, I jest.

Today's topic has been eluding me. The to-do task list is growing, along with the piles of laundry on the dining room table. Leaving very little room for eating, or creative thoughts. There is weeding in the garden, and tonight is the last evening for our little reading group. Besides finishing The Bungalow Mystery we are making cheese crackers and popovers. I hope the girls like them.... Regardless, they are a great group of readers, and I will miss them.

Still, I'm finding myself behind the 8 ball for every task I have under the sun. Trying to pull things to completion all in the same moment. It's not working. And what I would rather be doing is writing my next novel. The idea is there. Just under my mental skin. Scratching its way to the surface at 4 AM. Some mornings I'm woken up with a brain explosion. The ideas, like a lava flow, burn as they cascade across the old synapses. It's a coming of age mystery. Girl-base, of course. I have to write what I know.

In the quiet they will fall into place. In the meantime...

Back to the regularly scheduled folding.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thank you, J.K. Rowling

Dear Ms. Rowling,

Unlike you, words escape me. I don't think I will ever be able to completely articulate all that you have given to me and my family through your writing.

We all have our key points. My oldest loves the action, of course, but really finds a home and comfort in the idea that everyone, no matter how muggle, has a place in this world. The two little ones love the magic and have hopes to attend Hogwarts themselves. Please provide a post address, as we haven't quite got our owl trained to hold a letter.

For me, it's the life lessons, the mother's love, and the fact that life is hard but with love and friendship, good does indeed triumph. Thank you for the threads woven through all seven books. The pieces that now all fit together. Thank you for Snape; he teaches us that we can be more than we first appear. Thank for Harry, Ron and Hermione. They show us that friendship and love will bring you through. Thank you for the Weasleys. Shining examples that a family is not just those to whom you are related to. Thank you for Lily Potter. She was the best. Thank you for Hagrid. After his experiences, I'm sure a rigdeback is not my dragon of choice.

Thank you so much for all that you've given us.



Friday, July 20, 2007

By the time I blog again...

We will have gone to two HP parties, all in costume.
I will have finished rereading Book 5, with 6 waiting in the wings.
Book 7 will have been owled to our door.
We will know what happens to Harry and his friends.
Will love and friendship prevail?

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One More Day and Counting

My family and I have been counting the days until Deathly Hallows since the presales started in April. Hearing the rumors of Harry dying, Harry loses his powers, and every other scenerio possible under the wizarding sky. The little ones have been singing and creating dance moves to the tune Quidditch Ball, (a morph of the tune of Pinball Wizard) by Al Yankovic, at least 20 out of the 24 hours in a day. They are preparing for the school talent show next April.

There is talk of going to two midnight parties. Afterall we can't show favoritism when it comes to our local book sellers. A reading list is posted. I get it first -- I preordered it, (I may have put two orders in -- just to be safe) then the oldest, the the manly motorcycle man, then the little ones... when they can get to it. And just to make sure we are all sufficiently Potterized, I took the little ones to the movie yesterday afternoon. The littlest one was perched upon my lap the entire time. "I'm waiting for Voldemort." was her excuse. (Note that she has no trouble saying his name.) My sweet other one was gripping my arm at all the appropriate times. It was nice to be such a source of total protection.

I know in my heart that Harry must live. After reading all the books and seeing this last movie now twice, I know in JK Rowling's world that the power of friendship and love overcomes all obstacles. I think I would like to live in her world.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Untitled Sadness

When we put our children to bed each night do we have thoughts of them not being there in the morning? Do we worry about them being swept away from the love and safety of our arms? Do we sleep propped up against the wall, facing the door, armed?

Generally no. We trust and pray that when we kiss them goodnight, they will be there looking for more love in the morning. Sleep in their eyes as they wrap their pj clad arms and legs around us, asking for chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.

I know the Jessica Lunsford case is in its final stages, but each time it is brought up in the news I cannot imagine the pain, the anguish, the horror of losing a child. Nevermind losing one as Mark Lunsford has at the hands of a neighbor. Someone who had watched her ride their bike, draw with chalk on the driveway, and walk to school. Someone who kidnapped, raped, and then buried his beloved daughter alive clutching a stuffed dolphin.

This sense of violence is beyond me. Children are our hope, and when we treat our children this way, there can be no hope in our future. Dear God, help us all.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm not the only one

As I went around yesterday wearing my "Life Is Good" tshirt as a gentle reminder that life is indeed good, no matter the crisis, I heard from other people that they too are in a similar situation.

Tired from the schedule. Attempting to merge two or three different playtime schedules with life. Mixing camp with the desire to go swimming with friends. Is it a summer time thing? Are we trying to cram too much fun and excitement into a few short weeks? God knows I love summer best. I prefer playing and doing fun activities with my children rather than homework... with the exception of algebra. (For with algebra I'm having a long standing love affair. But that's another story.)

Yesterday, I carved out some time to learn more about spinning. My partner in wool and I visited another friend of her's that spins on a wheel. The idea was to sit on her lawn, watch our angels play, while we dicussed fibers and saw her wheel in action. Maybe even take it for a turn or two. Heaven. But heaven with a slant. My swethearts can't tie water ballons and I am a mom with a talent and skinny fingers.

The first few were fine, but then I thought they were lining up just to keep me from my roving. With each request, I was finding myself biting my tongue and looking at the other moms as if to silently say, "Even here, with all these other kids to play with..." And now when I think back, they were being so good. I am very proud of them for playing so well with children they had just met. So, really -- who am I to complain about twenty or so water ballons.

While spinning we joked about going a way for a week -- no interuptions. It sounded wonderful. Peace and spinning. And I have a weekend coming to me. A weekend away to do whatever I want, (the list is not that exciting), and go wherever I want... Paris... maybe, but I'm not the exciting either.

One mom said, her momentary dream was to go to a hotel room and read a book. I smiled. I get to read between 4 and 6 in the morning. No hotel bill required.

Life is good, very good.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Midlife Crisis?

I'm soon to be 47, so this could be exactly midlife for me. Or not... depending on life's little accidents. But since I can't predict these events, biologically, my clock could be on the down swing. The point being, I'm in crisis. And it's the strangest thing.

Lately I've been yearning for a passion. Not passion, but a passion. For example an acquaintance has archeology to fuel the blood through his veins. For others it's Colorado, reading, work, pottery, church, teaching, or gardening. I look back upon my life and all I see lately are the passions that I let slip away. The drug designing, the computer work, photography, the running, and lately -- the writing.

I'm fighting against the passion of my children. Wanting to be labeled for something more than the fact I gave birth, or that I'm the official taxi driver to my stars. I don't want to live my life through theirs, but lately my life revolves about their axis. And I'm trying to break orbit. It would be just for a little while.

For deep down inside I realize that the sun does rise and set in accordance with my girls' overall being. Everyday, read here, absolutely everyday, when I drop the lovelies off at their morning summer program, I hear, "HI, Mrs. Ptcakes!" and "HI, Dee's Mom!" and smile. These wonders know me through my children. They know me because we share our maple syrup and the art of maple sugaring with them each spring. They know me because I read to them from Mrs. Mach's bathtub. And that should be good enough. But right now, I need the litany to include more than:

taxi driver
house cleaner
short and long order cook
the person who does laundry
the person who reminds the lovelies that if toys are not put away their next home, for the toys, is the trash
house painter
building coordinator
school volunteer
church volunteer
bill payer
fish tank cleaner
life's cruise director and social and event planner
disciplinarian -- not my favorite, but someone has to do it
defender of the garden against groundhogs -- a battle I'm sorely losing

When I was younger, in my early 30s. I worked on designing chemotherapeutic agents -- ie drugs, using basic quantum mechanical principles. I worked with, talked with, and learned from some of the brightest minds on this planet. During this time I worked 20 hours a day, and slept for 4. I couldn't physically sleep for longer. My body wouldn't allow it. The excitement of the field would wake me after one short power nap per night. I was studying drugs. It was my drug. I was addicted. And this addiction only stopped when I found myself pregnant. For I knew children and this work schedule could not mix for me. No child deserves an absentee parent. So the drugs and I parted.

And it's not that I want them back. But something... so when my children are grown, and become embarrassed by all my hugging and kissing, I won't be floundering to fill my time and space. So, lately I've been asking myself: What do I want to be when my children grow up?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Two sides to everything

Like this thistle, there are two sides to everything.
A story, a wall, a bed, a divorce being wrangled out in the court system.
For this thistle, it can be viewed as something hurtful, full of prickles, and to be avoided. Or it can viewed as a lovely food source.
A minature birdfeeder on a stalk.

Interesting, you'll see what your looking for --
and prehaps miss the entire point.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Could James Potter be accused of bulling?

I saw The Order of the Phoenix last night, and when Harry reads Snapes mind we get a glimpse of young James Potter tormenting a seemingly very insecure Snape. All a long Snape has been saying James is not all that he appears. We know they were rivals. That there was very little love lost between them. What's the real story?

I'm rereading the Order of the Phoenix. BTW: Excellent movie.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer Quiet

Air scented with splashes of dew
Feathered serenades
float on silken wafts,
wander in through the open window.
Cooling my warmth
as sunrise licks the bushes and the bees.

I'm up early. Refreshed, knowing that
life is not all humidity and stain.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Take Two, Thank You

After our family vacation, eleven of us, to Disney, I offered to put all our photos into a digital slideshow. I mean how hard could it be... I do it all the time for other people. Wouldn't it be nice to do it for us?

The trip was in April. I finally cleared my desk off enough to put it together in June. Better late than never. July 1 rolls around and we have everyone over for the showing. Four hundred and fifty two pictures -- over a span of 23 minutes. It was a great experience putting it together, going over and regoing over our vacation. Being reminded of just how much fun we all had. Seeing the smiles and the reliving all those roller coaster rides. Please Daddy take me back!

At the end of the showing, amid the cheers and laughs, my brother says, "I have a few more pictures, could you add them?"

"Sure, no worries." But there were worries to be had. I had failed to save the project in a format that could be editted at the picture level. (I'll not bore you with the details.) Needless to say, I had to reconstruct the whole project from scratch.

It took me two weeks to get over the shock of starting over again. But I did it, yesterday. And in the meantime I gathered even more pictures from the family. Not that I would use them all, but it's nice to have options.

As of right now, 10 working hours later -- I'm slow, it's almost done. Four hundred and seventy eight pictures, I lost track of the songs, and many many relived enjoyable memories. I'm greatful for the opportunity to relive the trip all over again. And I want to go back even more.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Thoughts on life and gardening

I was out in the cool of the morning staking up our tomato plants. We haven't had an official garden for a few years. Unofficially we've grown cherry tomatoes that come up from the compost. But tomatoes growing among the Brown-Eyed Susans or Purple Cone Flowers for the purpose of snacking, doesn't constitute a garden, officially.

But this year, I put in a garden. And most mornings I'm out there surveying all that I planted. Weeding and thinning, which is hard for me as I hate to pull any plant up that might produce fruit. I'm always thinking that even the little guy deserves a chance.

Anyway, I had forgot about the need to stake up tomato plants until last week when I noticed our's were all laying over. At first I figured that commercial tomato farmers mustn't stake up all their plants, so do I really need to. But tradition got the better of me. So this morning I dug out the old stakes from the corner of the garage, and then tore up an old white t-shirt from the manly motorcycle man.

I can remember helping my mom to stake up our families plants when I was younger. She'd hammer in the stakes while I would sit on the sidelines and rip soft cloth strips from old shirts. Then carefully and gently she'd tie up the plants so their fruit wasn't lying on the ground.

It's strange just how long familiar family ways stay with you.

Later, I was talking with my oldest about whether you can teach an adult new tricks. The Myth Busters recently showed you could teach an old dog, but can you change a person's ways? I told her no. You can't make an adult different from the way they are. They've spent their whole life being that way, and unless THEY want to change, they won't. No matter how good your argument for change is.

Just like the desire to stake tomato plants. Old habits are hard to ignore.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Last year we set up an aquarium, complete with pirate ship and skeleton captain. We populated our little water world with tiny guppies from BigMama's tank. Since those first days the girls have been asking, when will the guppies have babies? And I was able to push off their queries by saying, "They're just babies themselves."

But that answer only held water for so long. Still no babies -- for over a year. That is, until a month ago. One day I noticed a baby swimming about. But two days later, it was gone. Then a week of so after that, when we came down for breakfast we noticed the one of the females was actually giving birth. And right after a little one popped out one of the males would eat it!

Shrieks of, "Mommy save them!"arose.

Quickly we scooped her out, placed her in a mixing bowl full of water --- and then watched her give birth to twenty more little ones. After she was done we noticed she started chasing her own babies. Before she could eat them, we put her back in the tank.

That day I went to the pet store and bought a nursery net to hang inside the tank. That way I got my mixing bowl back and the babies would have a safe place to grown up. They have been in there, growing for over a month.

Today, I tried put a few of them into the greater tank population. No sooner had they started swimming about when the males started circling. I gathered them up and put them back in their sanctuary. It was then I noticed one of the female's fins were all chewed up. She would swim a bit and the then one of the males would come over and nip on her again. I scooped her up and put her in with the babies. Hoping neither would try to eat the other. So far, both babies and female are coexisting.

I now realize that my tank needs some intervention. They need to learn that fish are friends and not food. Maybe I should show them Finding Nemo. Maybe not...

Fish are friends, family -- not food.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Kids will be kids?

While reading the news at the other day, I viewed a video about two preteens that kidnapped a toddler from its crib and left a ransom note for $200,000. Their stepfather said, and this is a quote, "Kids will be kids." He went on to say, kids deal drugs, use drugs, and engage in prostitution. It was a freak accident.

I'm sorry but that doesn't do it for me. Why is it that parents just throw up their hands and pretend they don't have any influence over their children? Why aren't parents willing to parent anymore? It's a tough job. And I admit it, there are somedays I could just walk away. But somebody has to do it. Children can't parent themselves.

I tell my kids, "I'm not your friend. I'm you mother." And I mean it. I am in a position of authority. I'm one of the two people on this earth that you are guarenteed will correct you, praise you, and love you. But as a parent, if I don't teach and show them right from wrong, WHO WILL?

Kids today have enough friends. What they need are parents. Parents who make them pick up after themselves. Parents who give them chores. The fact that they are apart of a family, means they have jobs to do. I tell my kids, when I became a mom the word MAID was not automatically branded onto my forehead. And if I didn't play with the crayons then I'm not putting them away.

Of course, this leads to a messier than I like house. But eventually the mess gets picked up by little hands. Especially if the owners of those little hands would like to do something else.

Yes, kids should be kids.

Kids who pick up after themselves.
Kids who do their best at school and at home.
Kids who share.
Kids who care about others as well as themselves.
Kids who play board games instead of video games.
Kids who read.
Kids who color.
Kids who have their friends over to play.
Kids who ride their bikes.
Kids who help out at home.

Kids will be kids, when parents start being parents.

Friday, July 06, 2007

This Old Tree

The other day while sitting in the shade of one of our maple trees, I got a little misty thinking about all the wonderful things we get from this tree. Right now, in the heat of the summer, we get shade and plenty of it. From under its bows I can watch the kids playing. It's nice to have a shady spot. To be out in the air, but away from the heat.

I love to watch the birds and the ambitious squirrels dining at our birdfeeder that hangs from one of the many branches. Their songs are a welcome wake up call.

Late last summer, at a natural history class, we learned that you can eat roasted maple seeds. A few days ago we opened one of the developing helicopters and the seeds aren't quite ready for planting or eating. But soon, we'll be harvesting a new treat from old reliable.

Then in the Fall we'll get leaves... tons of them. I get exercise raking while the girls have fun playing. How many pictures have I taken of the kids throwing the golden leaves up in the air? Countless. And hopefully there will be countless more to come.

From winter to early spring, there are lessons in patience, as I wait those cold couple of monthes between November and February for the start of the maple sugaring season which will take us into April. Even now, in the shade of the summer, I count the tap holes, (there are four), and think about next season. Wondering if it will be early. Will I recognize its arrival?

The tree doesn't need the Weather Channel to know when the season is upon us. She is the weather. She and her sisters are the guardians of the backyard. Their roots tap into the goodness of the earth and bring it forth all seasons long.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Nana's clock

"When she wakes up, she'll think it's tomorrow, and want breakfast."
"She will?"
"Yeah, whether she naps for ten minutes or an hour, it's the same."

When my Nana was older and napping more and more, whenever she would wake up, she'd ask for breakfast. For me, the casual visitor, it was cute. And we had a few extra coffees as I told her, "No, it's still today." And we'd laugh about her clock being reset to morning, regardless of the time of day.

Good memories, regardless of the circumstance.

Having the 4th of July on a Wednesday, was like having a mini weekend, or a nap. For this morning when I woke up I thought it was Monday and proceeded to pick up where my last Monday cleaning had stopped. Instead of going out to the garden to water or weed, I washed the kitchen, bathroom and mudroom floors, before emptying the dishwasher, and vacuuming the living room. All the while, I was thinking about Nana and her clock. And maybe if I'm lucky, I'll grow up to be just like her.

All the best, to you Nana. And when I wake up, will you be there to greet me? Holding a cup of coffee. Hope so.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I Love A Parade!

What is an Independence Day celebration without a parade?

A Wednesday. Plain -- no sprinkles, no chocolate sauce, no nuts.

I've lived in this town for 10 years, and this was the first time I heard that the nieghboring town of Sudbury has a parade. We found a great spot, set up camp and then waited for the fun to come to us. And did it ever. Flags, flags and flags, fire engines from near and fair, all trying to damage our hearing, waves of marching musicians -- each piece more wonderful than the last, a pitch fork brigade, bagpipes, politicians shaking hands, 100's of people tossing candy out to the baby bird children along the route, and one dentist trying to turn the tide on cavities.

Tomorrow, it's life as usual. Having the holiday midweek is like experiencing a cool breeze on a breathlessly hot and humid afternoon.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

All American Fun

Our 4th of July celebration rang in with some good ol' American fun. We went to a baseball game, courtesy of the wonderful Worcester Tornadoes. Tonight's game, a stellar preformance -- they won, 7 to 2, was topped off by some nifty fireworks.

I love baseball. I love bringing my family to a game. I love yelling, "Watch the ball!" or "Oh my goodness!" I love a miracle catch, an inventive error, an outof the park home run, or a fast worm burner. I love the fact that I can take my family to a game, in a small hometown feel stadium, and sit this close to the first base line. For a unbeatable $10 a seat we could've wiped the sweat off the batters' foreheads while they practiced on the on deck circles. I love this American past time.

What I don't love is the high cost of getting into a MLB stadium. The fact I'd need a second mortgage to touch the green monster, or feed my three children a hot dog and soda. And why? When we can get great baseball without all the hassle of heading into the big towns, with their big traffic, for the bigger, but not necessarily better game. Can I get a seat for $10 at Fenway? Would I need binoculars to the see the game? Or would I be better off staying at home and watching it on TV?

Thank God for the minor leagues. They provide exciting accessible baseball to everyday working Americans. We're already planning a roadtrip to Brockton to watch the Brockton Rox. Be still my heart, and have a wonderfully American Happy Independence Day.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Keep Breathing and Keep Hugging

Come on over -- I'm having a pity pool party and the water is fine!

For the past three years my life has been a constant struggle between what goes in my mouth and circumference of my hips, stomach, thighs. For me and my self esteem, it's a losing battle whereas for my hips -- well, they always seem to be on the gaining side. This summer I've made a concerted effort to walk while the little ones are at camp. I'm walking over 3 miles in less than 50 minutes. And usually I walk four. That, with smarter food choices, should have me over the moon. But instead of being happy that I've lost 2 pounds, I'm depressed over the looming trip to CO. to visit distant, physicaly fit and trim relatives. I hate the skin I'm in. For now anyway. For these hormone ravaged days.

But there is a bright side. And my little one mentioned it to me the other day. We were lying about on the floor when she rested her head on me. She got all cozy and then said, "I love your soft belly." It was all I could do to swallow the guffaw that was rocketing up my throat. But then I smiled.

Yes, mommies should be soft and have comfortable curves. What child wants to be comforted by a stick? Still there are limits. And to be honest, comfortable as she was, I want to fit back into my size 8 jeans that taunt me from the back of my closet.

While walking I listen to a song from the Girl Scout sing-a-long CD that touts that it's good to be you, and it's good to be me. It revels in idea that, I like the person looking back from the mirror when I brush my hair. I listen to this song over and over, because I need to hear that it's good to be you and it's good to be me. Me, just the Mom. Not the writer, not the published novelist. Not the accomplished anyone, but Mom. For this summer, with our schedule -- that is my job. And without these hormones -- most days I'm happy with being Mom. But is that unhappiness a sign of underlying termoil? Or just hormonal ugly rage that rears it's disruptive head every so many weeks.

About a month ago I read an article about a chess acquaintance who is traveling to Peru to study ancient bones. Better yet, his research will be on the Discovery Channel in the Fall. And last night we watched A League of Their Own. From both events I found myself wishing to have a passion. An interest that drove me to get up in the morning. And I wonder if I am too old to go back to school, or hone a talent. But then again my days are quite full with motherhood and the taxi service that goes with it. And I wonder more about whether it was a good decision to chose family over career. And I know with each minature hug and wrestling tickle match, it is. But sometimes, I still wonder.

There really isn't any love lose between me and hormones. Why, one day life is good, and the next -- I'd take a one way ticket anywhere. And I remember to breathe in and out. And breathe again. Keep breathing, keep hugging, and in a few days, life will be good again.

Hmmmm.... maybe minature hugs and kisses are my passion. The little ones think I'm great at it. I certainly get a lot of practice. I think I'll upstairs and practice some more.