Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Guppy's Life

Let me say right up front, I'll never understand guppies. At first, our six little fish were great to watch. Then after a while we realized they were sexing, birthing, eating their young machines. So we became adept at rescuing the live bait before breakfast, and now have a tank full of still sexing, birthing, and eating their young fish. What's up with that?

Last week I noticed the males not giving the females, regardless of size, a moments peace. If there there is such a thing as sexual violence in a fish tank, we were watching it. Seeing enough, I got out the nursery net, scooped up the females and offered them sanctuary. They didn't say, but they seemed to be delighted not to have to race the tank anymore. The next day, I released them back into the wilds. The males seemed calmer. But lately I've noticed they are up to their tricks again.

Making matters worse, three days ago, I found the matriarch of the tank swimming belly up, her coloring had darkened, and the oldest male chewing on her fins. Now what's up with that? Once again, it was back in the nursery net. If she was dying, she'd do it in peace, on her own terms.

We've kept watch. Then my eldest said, "I've heard if you put peas in the water a fish will start swimming correctly again." I said to try it. It couldn't hurt. And sure enough she is swimming right side up, her coloring has improved, but she is weak. The poor thing; before all this started she was the biggest guppy I had ever seen in my life. With a nice big round belly, fancy fins, and shiny scales.

What to do? Should I intervene in the tank? Do I really know what's best? It reminds me of Star Trek and the prime directive.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Life's Schedule

Lately, the schedule is like a whirling dervish, or a fast moving ball. If I don't look at the calendar each day, than chances are I won't be where I need to be. Crazy. I'm craving a day just to clean. A day to finally get the folded laundry off the dining room table and away. A day to test the theory of whether dust is there to protect furniture, or not. A day to see if my mudroom floor is really that horrid shade of gray. A day to see if the vacuum still works. Five days to finish staining, etc... the trim.

But it's all good. Since this rolling ball is all about the kids, their school, their parish fair, their scouting. And in a blink, a flash, a fast paced moment, they will have their own dust and laundry to lament over.

Rolling, rolling, rolling... keep the schedule a rolling.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Last night I learned a friend is pregnant. It's not her first, or her third, but still there is excitement. A baby, oh wouldn't it be nice to have another? We toyed with that idea, a million gray hairs ago, and decided no. Our clutch is fine with us. But still, while enjoying everything about every stage of their childhoods, it's the baby stage that sticks with me.

It's funny really. The first, I couldn't wait for the smiling, talking, crawling, walking. The last, I hold on to her lingering toddlerism, but-cept, for it is gold. I still cozy them, despite some legs being as long as mine. Blanketing them with kisses and full squozy, (the squeezing cozy) hugs. Attempting to keep them small. Knowing that childhood is but a smear. For soon it will be college, and then I doubt they will let me crawl into their beds and hug them for all of time. Or maybe, if I'm lucky, they'll indulge a very old woman. I can only hope.

P.S. What I wouldn't give for a tripod. Christmas list so far, Leg Lamp, tripod... and it's not even Halloween.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Purgatory Chasm

Sidestepped the dusting, dishes, laundry, trim staining, and went for a walk. Purgatory Chasm, who knew it was here? Not me. I've lived in this state most of my life and never knew. What other gems are around? It's now a goal to find other great places to go for a walk. Mommy fieldtrips should take in more than the grocery store.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bro' this one's for you

Thanks for the shirt. As you know, I love it! And for the ring, I'm having it resized. I'll be as evil as new in the morning.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Guardian of the Garden

It's a amazing that one little patch of land can provide so much for so many creatures.

I hum the song, "it's me, nobody else but me..." harvesting tomatoes, peppers, basil, eggplant, melons and sunshine.
While the slug silently slithers to the same. Slurping up succulent juices flavored tomato and cantaloupe.
Is she sensitive to the toad, lips wet with slug, who tangoed with the taloned, and won?
Perhaps brushing the brightly buzzing bee beating from basil to beef steak bloom. Careful to bequeath space to the Guardian.
Whose woven web, waves with the wind. Waiting to welcome the windswept wayward.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Proof that children listen

Late at night, mother drives to pick up daughter from a school thing.

Daughter gets in car, all happy and announces, "Mom, a boy asked me out."

Picture mother's eyes widening, skin turning a pale moon white, jaw bouncing off of steering wheel, all to the sounds of a missed second gear.

"What did you say?"

"I said, 'No.'"

Color comes back into mother's face. Death grip relaxes on steering wheel. Car limps into third. "And what did the boy say?"


Large sigh of relief, still being heard around the world.

"Yeah, I told him, my mom said a boyfriend just complicates things."

Mother is still smiling.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sometimes I wish I had a big tub

Sometimes I wish I had a tub big enough to completely submerge. It wouldn't have to have fish in it. But it would be nice to sit at the bottom and think. The noise of day to day reduced to some far off gurgling; easy to ignore.

One of these mornings the children are going to find me soaking in our thimble of a bath. My eyes closed. My head lopped over. A ear lying just above the surface of the water. And when they ask, "What are you doing?" I'll tell them, I pretending I'm a hippo at the zoo, without the fish. And they'll say, "Yes, I can see the family resemblance."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mother by day - Taxi driver by night

Truly words can't describe the state I'm in. Well maybe if I said, periods of scheduled intense madness punctuated by laundry, food shopping and cooking.

The morning routine is much the same as it's been for nine years. Raise the children, feed the children, make sure the children have a lunch when they head off to school. The time between 9 and 3 are for all those motherly duties that come with the lowly job title of stay-at-home mom. I get it. I'm the one that shops, cooks, cleans, stains woodwork, paints bathrooms, composts, gardens, weeds, seldom vaccuums, writes articles, blogs, sidesteps my book, and folds laundry.

Three o-clock rolls around and I'm the escort service from the bus to home, ( if we are not following the Patriot Trail). Followed by a stint as homework cop. Religious ed. will be poking its head in around four, stepping on the toes of dinner. Then five o'oclock and it's pick up the sport fanatic time. Along with setting the second seating for dinner. Six brings with it choir, dance, more sporting events, and music lessons. Eight is yet another drop off and delivery of note.

What night is it, and where am I going?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I mean compost. It's black gold. Really, what else can you put in your garden that comes complete with nutrients for another growing season and the seeds? From compost, this year, we have ten tomato plants, at least, and including the one growing under the compost barrel, and many many melons. We have cantaloupe, watermelon, and musk melon -- all growing from seeds planted via composting. And then there is the wee little apple tree tucked in among the stalks of corn. Be still my heart. There's an orchard in the making.

Compost, you've got to love it. (Just don't smell it.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Great Circle of Life

I don't need to travel to Africa to be reminded of the great circle of life. I don't need to listen to Disney soundtrack. One quick glance into one of our two compost barrels and I see it, and smell it. At least the first half it. You know, that part about how one person's refuse is another person's compost, errr.... I mean treasure.

But we came full circle today. We picked one of my melons. (Grown from a seed in the compost.)As BigMama instructed, it had the sweet aroma of a cantaloupe. We carved it up and ate it. Putting the lovely sweet meat in a bowl to share at dinner. The leavings, the rind and the seeds, placed ceremoniously into the kitchen bucket, now await the return trip back to the barrel. So it goes; the great circle. No air fare needed. No passport either.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lighting the Way

BigMama dropped off a candle to shed light on the road to heaven. "Keep it lit for three days," were her instructions. It reminds me of Indiana Jones when he threw sand on the camouflaged bridge that spanned gorge. One flick of his wrist and his escape was in plain sight. Of course it was there. Where else would it be?

These days, heaven seems like that to me. So yesterday, I half-heartedly read by the candle, while sipping an endless cup of hours cold coffee. I even worked on last Sunday's Suduko. But most of the time I quietly watched its flame dance. Wondering if it was a sign. A suggestion that with a few light steps and poof, one can find themselves in heaven. To be embraced by loved ones who danced before.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Even before she said her name, I knew who it was. The breathless way she said, "Hi, this is..." and my heart sank. I couldn't ignore the call; pretend I hadn't heard the message. She was asking if I had reserved the.... it's not important. But I knew from the message that my name was being mentioned. No, dragged through conversations. Not in the nice way a name can be dropped in with a smile, but with a bite, and an acid claw.

Why are people like that? What's to be gained?
I had 15 minutes before the bus. She'd know it. I took a breath. I dialed the phone.
"Hi, it's me," I said.
"Oh, hi, I was at the bank and I asked two people and they never heard from you."
"I never said I was going, and I emailed our fearless leader and told her I couldn't do it."
"Well at the bank they didn't even know what I was talking about."
"That's probably right. I saw the email where I got signed up for this, found the phone number, and before I could call, had to leave town. It was an emergency. It still is. So I emailed fearless, and removed myself from the task."
"Well, I talked with the vice president and he said no one had come in."
"Probably true, and since you know him, maybe you could go back and talk with him. I don't even bank there."
"OH..." She went on, "and the house... he knew... the mess... I've been cleaning... had to call in for help..." She knew her latest prey is my friend, and still she went on. I've seen her smile at him. She even smiles at me, but when backs are turned, there is that evil lashing tongue.
"Listen," I interupted. "the bus and all... I have to go." I had heard enough, again. I didn't want to hear anymore.
And a day later, I'm still left asking why?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

...and counting

38 days until this home is transformed into a Halloween nightmare. A place where, pumpkins go under the knife, and ghosts, goblins, and prom zombies shriek, tumble and roll in racing sacks, and perhaps bob for apples. It's that time of year, when catalogs aren't unceremoniously tossed in the recycling. Instead, they're scoured for the next, best, disgusting decoration, or stomach turning gummy treat. I love this time of year. When the air is cooled by the promise of winter, and the hint of the maple sugaring season on the other side.
The planning has begun. We'll have all the usual games, with a few more. And on my daily garden visits, I've been wondering if there is someway we can share our giant gourd bounty with our little goulish friends. I've even thought about planting a hillside of pumpkins next year. Wouldn't it be nice to send our guests scampering out to pick a pumpkin from our very own patch? Of course, Rocky would miss my order for 20 beauties, all about 13 pounds; not too big, and yet not too small.
Like any great feast the food is of utmost importance. The jello brain is a given. The litter box cake -- expected. But I've seen some new magazine boasted ideas, like the apple, peanut butter mouth with candy corn for teeth. I like we'll have a plate of yappers this year.
Next to Thanksgiving, this event is my favorite. We gather friends, and family for the fun of it. To enjoy eachother's company. To relax in the cool of the evening. A ghoulish brew, slimy with lime jello in one hand, and a plate of edible eyes in the other. To have our own eyes feasting upon the stunts and silliness of our zombies, werewolves, or petite Luke Skywalkers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Military Paintings

You have to watch this.

A Lesson Here

When I went out to the garden I noticed my little gourd growing between a rock and a rock was quietly offering some more words of wisdom. Without raising a fuss, after all can a gourd truly do that, she gently pushed back, and a rock gave way.
Now if I had asked, "Which is stronger a rock or a gourd?" which would you have picked?
I need lessons like this. I need to learn to be myself, to remain true, and in the end all might not be perfect, but is life really suppose to be that way?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Houston, we have a toad

About a week ago I saw this guy hanging out underneath a tomato plant. I was so excited. In my wildest dreams I never thought I'd see a toad in our backyard. I mean where did it come from? We don't live by water. What's the big draw to our backyard? Whatever it is, we've made the grade in this toad's eyes.

Today when I spied him relaxing among the weeds, I noticed he has a cut on his right hind leg. I got down on the ground and took a close look. The laceration is about an inch long, pretty significant for a toad, and goes completely through the skin, stopping before the muscle layer. I asked how it happened. The toad was not forthcoming, but he didn't bound away either. For about a minute he looked at me and I looked at him; the poor little guy.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Wading Through Memories

Since returning from my father-in-law's I've been slowly flipping through 10 years of pictures: Christmases in Florida, a cranky middle one finally asleep in his arms, picking oranges, grapefruit and lemons by the basketful, eating turduken, tourtiere and boulettes, feeding the little one whipped cream, washing the cars, chasing lizards and ibis, doing puzzles, making marmalades. I've seen the grandkids grow up, while the rest of us remained seemingly unchanged, until this last visit.
And now, my heart beats for any link or connection, that would return me to him. To feel his hand gripping mine. To see that sly smile tease at the corner of his mouth, and light up the yellowing whites of his eyes as we talk about possible character developments. The greatfulness of having his latest writings. The promise to share them with everyone.
I listen for his laughter as I replay snipits of our last conversation over and over in my head. With tears in both our eyes he said, "I never thought I'd love an Italian." My reply, "It's worse. I'm Sicilian." It's true.
Each time the phone rings, I suspect it is that call. The one that will bring the expected news of passing and release. I'll pick up the phone and say hello, only to hear the silence that is required to bolster such news: a quick stilted sentence. Having been repeated a dozen times. And a promise of more will follow.
As I wait, I'm wading through the memories. Allowing the love to lap at my knees, and swirl around my arms.
Unlike my daughter who said, with confidence, "Say hi to Memere," I don't know what is beyond the veil of eternal rest. But if there is a place, a heaven prehaps here on earth, then Pepere you're more than welcome to stop on by here anytime. And bring along Memere.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My Melons

BigMama came over, and gave me a lesson on melon maturation.
"Get down there and give them a sniff," she instructed.
"All I smell is tomato." The fruits were resting among rogue tomato plants.
"Give them a squeeze," was her next instruction.
"Rock hard, kind of like my gourds."
BigMama smiled in only the way BigMama can. My lesson was over for the day.
Come back tomorrow BigMama, when we're picking and drying corn.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Between a Rock and a Rock

Sometimes life can put you between a rock and a hard place. At these times I end up wandering around the house in circles. Not getting much of anything done.
This morning when I went out to water the garden I saw this gourd. It made me smile. Stuck between a rock and a rock, it's made the best of its unsettling situation. And when it's harvest time, because of its predicament it will have a unique shape. Isn't that what happens to us all?
And for its heartache, it will be my favorite.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lights, Camera, Photography!

I love taking pictures as we drive along late at night. Swaying to the beat of the music.

Monday, September 03, 2007

No Words

Is it the love of a father that brings us through? Or the love of the son? I believe it is both.

The father reassures the son. "Don't worry my son. I'm not afraid."
And the son, devoted and strong, offers a hand, to ease the journey.