Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Farewell, Pink Dresser

I develop irrational attachments to things.

I once had a light blue Tshirt that advertised some business or other and was covered in handprints made with white paint. I wore that Tshirt to sleep in every night for four or five years. At least. It was somewhat compulsive behavior, I admit (I've always slept in it; I can stop now!), but the Tshirt held significance. It held the memory of time of service and laughter, one of the last times I spent with a childhood friend before I moved ahead to high school and she moved away. And, as you can imagine, after a few years in, it was like slipping into a second skin.

Most of the handprints faded away. The ones that lasted were the multiple ones that had been placed by slapping my butt, and those handprints rose to the small of my back. Holes appeared and the Tshirt became more or less transparent. My mother was horrified by it. She once threw it away but foolishly in her bedroom trash can. My father saw it, rescued it, and hid it under my pillow.

I think I reached a point in college where I realized it was indecent. But I never parted with it. It remained folded at the bottom of my Tshirt drawer and then later, in a plastic, zippered bag in the attic with all the other Tshirts that held sentimental value. But they didn't make it to Maryland. I don't know where that bag of sentiment landed, but I can't locate it.

Yesterday, I moved a new dresser into my daughter's bedroom. Her old one was one my mother picked up off someone's curb when I was a toddler. It was yellow in my childhood and then at least three shades of pink over the years. The drawers are made of flimsy wood and barely held together with old, rusty nails. In spite of my prolific use of wood glue, the thing's decrepit, and my daughter can't even open one of the drawers.

Then one of our neighbors offered up a free dresser. I let my daughter choose its new color (a violent shade of purple of which I heartily (but silently) disapprove). I exercised my own taste by decoupaging colorful paper to the drawer sides. And I moved the knobs from Old Pink to New(ish) Purple. The drawers are much deeper, and they slide in and out with ease.

But the sight of Old Pink on the curb, forlorn and denuded of its hardware, twists my heart. I actually considered keeping it. I thought, "I have more wood glue. I could probably figure out how to hold it together." Isn't is possible that it has feelings? That it feels abandoned by the woman it saw grow up? Whose threadbare blue Tshirt it held for so many years?

I'm going to hope, instead, that someone else will find it and use it. That someone else with wood glue and patience will give it a fresh coat of paint and new knobs and fill it with clothes. But I'll give it a kiss before it goes.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

TToT45: Sniff, Honk, Sniffle

Yeah, those are the sounds I'm producing these days. It is cold season, after all, and I am one of its victims.

So, short and sweet so I can squeeze in a bit of nap before the evening's events.

1. I made chalk paint! It kind of worked. Enough that I'll try again.

2. I'm nearly entirely caught up on The Good Wife. Season Five has been...astonishing.

3. I dragged myself to the farmer's market and found a cauliflower--just what I wanted.

4. I get to go out to dinner and see a play tonight!

5. I took both kids to the park with a neighbor and her son yesterday. We had a great time.

6. I got to sleep in this morning.

7. Holiday baking has officially started with Rosh Hashanah.

8. Challah makes excellent French toast.

9. I found a bag of Reese's peanut butter cups on my dresser.

10. Surely, nine will do it this week, right, SGV?

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

TToT44: From Texas

I am, at this moment, in the San Antonio airport and must type fast to make that title true. Leo and I flew in to see my parents receive an award, and it was worth every penny (and a good bit more) of the $22.50 we spent in airfare.

What, you say? $22.50? Without further ado, my number one thankful is having married a man who is ever-vigilant of frequent flyer deals. And to whom I say, "I'd like to fly from this day to that day at about these times of day." Aside from the final decision, he takes care of the rest.

And I am thankful for my father's fabulous coworkers and their spouses. It's funny. My parents only moved to this town (for my father's job) after I was an adult and living on my own. This has never been my hometown, but I feel an affection for it and especially for the people who work with my father (and their spouses...and children). They seem to have more than a collegial relationship, and the lengths they went to to pull off this award with secrecy were heart-warming.

I am thankful that Delta required that I fly into TX one day early because that meant I got to spend some extra time with my aunt and uncle. I don't see them frequently, and almost never in a small group, so we actually got to have conversations. I'm so happy that even though I am grown-up and far away, those relationships remain close and loving.

I am thankful for the family members who drove through the torrential rain from Austin to make it to the event. More people I love and don't get to see often enough and even then, usually not in a small group. Also, I'm thankful for torrential rain in Central TX.

I am thankful for a sweet, smart, and reliable babysitter.

I am thankful that it's still definitely summer in the TX Hill Country and that means pool time.

I am thankful for true Tex-Mex.
And I'm thankful I don't have easy access to it because I love it so much.

And, right this minute, I am thankful for a good boy and a matchbox car and the ability to type uninterrupted in the airport.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

TToT43: Late, Late

Ugh. It's Sunday morning, and I am just now sitting down the computer to write my TToT. It's not like it's been a bad week. It's been a good week, even exciting at times, and definitely busy. I disappeared down the alluring rabbit hole of doing this week, and all my doing has distracted me from my online life, not to mention my real one. When I realize this has happened (as it does, from time to time), I quick check to see if I've been taking my meds. Sure enough the bottle sits, gathering dust. So, back to the sertraline, back to the park, and back to the growing (instead of shrinking) to-do pile.

But not before I put that second coat of paint on the powder room walls and find some sort of clamp that will hold the washing machine drain pipe in place so I don't have to spend my time mopping water off the laundry room floor.

It's the first truly fall morning of the year. The AC is off and the windows are open. I'm blissfully alone in the house after keeping my eyes shut through the whining and waiting to descend the stairs to make my coffee until after my other three family members had vacated the house. I am sitting at my laptop in a mercifully not hot upstairs, drinking my coffee and breakfasting on Trader Joe's Cinnamon Schoolhouse Cookies.

Anyone reading this blog knows I have approached Maggie's Kindergarten year with some...trepidation (to put it mildly). At this point, I am cautiously optimistic. What she reports from school is positive, and we've had a couple of fun exchanges, seemingly prompted from school doings, such as:
Mama, do you know what zero means? I learned about zero in school. Zero means nothing. 
Mama, did you know? The Promethean Board can read stories all by itself!
And best of all, when she got off the bus on Thursday:
I had fun at school today!
 In the words of Ira Gershwin, "Who could ask for anything more?"

 I finally connected with one of the big consignment events in this area, and the sale was this week. I found some good long-sleeved shirts in my kids' sizes and even a pair of snowpants for Maggie. And because Leo had to put up with that shopping event, I found him a baggie of matchbox cars for $2.50. I love consignment sales. Now he runs those cars along the painter's tape roads I've laid down from bedroom to dining room. Our home is for playing.

We had a family trip to the dentist this week, and for the first time in ever, Maggie sat through a very short cleaning. She sat in Brian's lap, the tears streamed, and the hygienist (who cleaned Brian's teeth through childhood) wore a baggie on her hands instead of the blue gloves for which Maggie has a completely irrational fear. And we got it done. The hygienist who cleaned my teeth said, "I've worked at a pediatric practice before, and you can tell the kids who just don't want their teeth cleaned from those who have a genuine fear. This is a genuine fear." I said, "Yes. Yes, I know." But it's done.

Before I head for The Home Depot and its overwhelming assortment of stuff I need (I'm hoping to find something that makes painting behind a toilet less of the enormous pain the ass that it is--what do you think?), I'll record this poem I'm going to try to keep in mind this week. It just a trifle past seasonal for us now, but good nonetheless.

Coming Home at Twilight in Late Summer

We turned into the drive,
and gravel flew up from the tires
like sparks from a fire. So much
to be done—the unpacking, the mail
and papers ... the grass needed mowing ....
We climbed stiffly out of the car.
The shut-off engine ticked as it cooled.

And then we noticed the pear tree,
the limbs so heavy with fruit
they nearly touched the ground.
We went out to the meadow; our steps
made black holes in the grass;
and we each took a pear,
and ate, and were grateful.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

TToT42: Blackberries

This week I am thankful for blackberries. I am thankful for prolific blackberry productions at a farm just 45 minutes north of us. I am thankful for the heat of August (only produce can make me feel that) and for one of those "lookie here, I am the mama" discovery moments when I realized I was not the one whining in the berry picking fields. I was the one who picked more than I ate and the one who entertained with songs for the last thirty minutes "just to pick a few more."

I am thankful for my my memory for song lyrics. I sang everything from Take Me Out To The Ballgame to The Boxer. I threw any kind of public soloing embarrassment out the window and kept going. It kept the whining at bay, and we headed home with 12 pounds.

I am thankful for pink, tired faces smeared in blackberry juice and sweaty hair and even small, stinky feet. I am thankful the employee let us have an extra box to protect my floor mats from blackberry juice (even if it still leaked through). And I'm thankful for baths and showers as soon as we got home.

I am thankful for cobbler for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I am thankful for bear, bow tie, and star cookie cutters and baking with my daughter. I am thankful for sneaking "just a pinch" of raw batter or dough.

I am thankful for blackberry muffins and my first foray into canning. (Christine, it's not hard at all!) I am thankful for jars on hand and a pot large enough to cover them. I am thankful for vague recommendations like "it's jammed when a spoon held horizontal drips twice." I am thankful for blackberry jam full of seeds that crunch and stick in my teeth.

I am thankful for pints of frozen berries in my freezer and blackberry sauce for pancakes and waffles. I am thankful the waning days of summer with its loads of produce. Peaches next!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Modern Mama

My aunt sent me this post the other day. You might have seen it on Facebook recently. I know I did, though I didn't click over to read it because it was one of those times I was hastily scrolling through my feed (read: sitting at a red light).

Perhaps my musings as a crunchy-granola mama prompted her share, or maybe the photo from the early 80s that I posted on Facebook earlier that week, but probably just her own observations of how times have changed.

For kicks, though, here's the photo I posted on Facebook. It's me (squinting) and my next door neighbor, Jessica, on the first day of Kindergarten in 1981. (We have one from our senior year in 1993--frosted lipstick and all.)

I got over 80 likes on this photo which is some kind of Facebook record for me (not that I pay attention to things like that), and all thanks to tagging Jessica who clearly is more responsive to friend requests and suggestions than I am on Facebook. Among the comments, my mother said something about just picking up a lunchbox on sale for me. I didn't choose it; it was the cheapest one she could find.

And, it made me think through and compare (congratulatorily and cringily) my daughter's school preparation to that of the 70s and 80s.

For instance:

I carefully researched lunchbox and backpack options before ordering both online several years ago. Neither contains nasty materials or chemicals, and the lunchbox is nicely insulated to keep her food reasonably coolish by lunchtime, and yes, the backpack has her initials on it (I bought it on clearance, you see; I felt I could splurge on a monogram).

She's allowed to choose from among several organic lunch items I try to keep in stock, including cheese, yogurt, lunch meats, fruits, and veggies, though I portion out a healthy ratio of protein to fruits/veggies. I fill her metal (BPA-free!) thermos with filtered water and plenty of ice as I sip my coffee, freshly ground from organic, fair trade Colombian beans (dark roast, please) that I order especially from farmers who have turned from the cocaine trade to the coffee one.

I peek at my phone in the down moments between breakfast preparation, lunch packing, clothes dressing and hair brushing. I check news headlines and information on my friends' lives through Facebook and Bloglovin feeds. Blog posts pile up mighty quick, and what's Garrison Keillor's poem for the day?

Both my children wear highly supportive New Balance sneakers with special orthotics for their pronated ankles. Other than that, their clothes are hand-me-downs, thrift or consignment store finds. I believe in recycling, you see--none of that fast fashion waste (or, um, in actuality, we're poor after spending so much on organic food and fair trade coffee).

I wrote my daughter a back to school letter about strengths and weaknesses and about the importance being brave and asking for help as well as helping others (that she refused to let me read).

And on the first day of school, my daughter lined up at the bus stop with all the other neighborhood kids with her supersafe backpack filled with all those school supplies and requested germ-killing donations. I took dozens of photos and stood, swallowing my tears, with all the other overprivileged, like-minded parents waving and blowing kisses as the bus drove off.

Oh, and did I mention that once a week my daughter sees a therapist for her anxiety? Don't worry, I'm not a hypochondriac; it was doctor recommended!

Roll you eyes, if you will. Or, perhaps, you're thinking, "That sounds remarkably like our house." I admit I have an avid, if not consistent, interest in ecological matters, I'm often stricken with anxiety and fears, and I am clearly swayed by the trends of our time (though I don't do anything I don't believe in).

At the end of every summer, I feel like a modern mama. I'm proud of some of my decisions, and some I wonder about. Which is probably how all those 70s mamas felt, too.

 Hosts Kristi, Stephanie, and Kerri.