Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Isn't It Good; Underwood

It's not just a world famous typewriter used by crazies, poets, playwrights, elitists, kooks, gonzos, disheartened, disenfranchised, devalued, desireables, and whirling dervishes.

It's a "meat spread" in a can. An anonymous mash of mixed meats. Pop it open and smell the possibilities.

(that's all I got today folks!)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Explaining War To A Four Year Old

Lola wanted to know if school was open today. "It's a home day babe." Her reply is a hearty "Wooo Hooo girlfriend!" I told her today is Memorial Day, a holiday. "You mean like Valentine Day or someones birthday?" "No, not really. This is a sad holiday for those who have lost loved ones in a war." I sometimes forget she's only four. I knew what her next question would be. "What's war?" "Well, do you know about soldiers or when your friends play shooter, and pretend they have guns, or when you play bad guy.......War is when people fight over.............Sometimes people are injured when they fight for........................It's to commemorate the death of those who have fought hard for us to have...................

How do I explain war to a four year old. How do I explain those who volunteered, or were drafted in the past. Those men and women who died to secure freedom, land, borders, rights, to make the life we live more secure? I've never considered myself patriotic. I've never really thought about Memorial Day as a holiday that had anything to do with me. Then 9/11 shook every single one of us to the core, laid us bare, scared us, made us fear each other, made us love each other. I used to say "I don't believe in war!" What a ridiculous utterance! What the hell was I thinking. Because of those who have given their lives, or more accurately, have had their lives taken, I can freely say those glib statements.

Thankfully, Lola's only experience with death was her discovery that Donut wasn't swimming in his usual spot on the kitchen window ledge the other morning. "Mom, remember Donut? Where is he?" "He wasn't swimming so well, he was just kinda floating, so I let him go swim in bigger water where he's happy." "Mom, can I have a Popsicle?"

I didn't explain Memorial Day as best I could for Lola. I don't seem to have the right words for her so she'll understand. She just wants to have a picnic and have Daddy grill some steak and kielbasa tonight. That's just what we're going to do, and have the glorious freedom to do it.

Chardonnay, Riesling And Reasoning

I drank way too much last night. We finally hauled the wicker out of the basement and set up our side porch. It's our favorite spot in the summer. We have two sets of french doors, on either side of the fireplace that lead out to the porch. I love having those doors open in the morning, bringing fresh air and the songs of birds into the house. The view opens up to Poet's Seat Tower, a brick tower, castle like in appearance, on top of a mountain. It was named so because of a glut of local poets in our area around 1912. Fourth of July fireworks are set off from the tower every year. Really fantastic "WOW!" fireworks.

Back to the binge. A beautiful evening was unfolding. I had a pile of Gourmet and Bon Appetite dating back several months and Sean had a cigar. Lola was running back and forth to the porch to admire the hanging flower baskets we purchased earlier in the morning. "How about sushi tonight?" I was thinking the same exact thing at the same exact moment. Sean and I do this almost on a daily basis (not have sushi) think and then say out loud what the other was just thinking. Usually it's a song. I'll have an obscure song playing in my mind, for instance Smithereen's Cigarette; and the next instant he's singing it!

I was feeling quite relaxed after two, or maybe three glasses of Chardonnay Riesling blend. I was happily ripping out recipes and filing them in my binder. The sushi arrived and we continued our lazy evening on the porch. Gibson was noisily bouncing in his bouncy and Lo had joined us outside to color. Hours later, the kids are in bed. The sushi was fantastic. Hours later I was in bed. I remember bolting up from bed and bumping my way to the bathroom. Oh man did I feel hazy. Summer has a way of sneaking up on you. I'm paying for it today. I think later this evening I'll just stick with Gin & Tonic.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Better Fences

My husband and I bought our house in 2001. It is situated on a circle in a quiet little part of town. The street is missed by most only because it leads to residential settings. My husband called me from a pay phone, he had forgotten his cell and said "I think we just found our house!" It was for sale by its current owners and the sign in the overgrown lawn attracted my husband like an Irishman to a pint. Sean knocked on the door. The owners seemed hesitant to sell and we wondered why the For Sale sign then? We toured the home three times and each time feeling the house wanting us as much as we wanting it. After pre approval and bank approval, copious amounts of paperwork..."Sign here and here, initial there and there, one last page..." we were finally the overjoyed, over anxious owners of a 1901 Colonial home.

We were the third family to inhabit this house. Two sisters, then in their 80s had lived there until one became ill. She died and her sister lonely for her companionship shortly joined her. The second family had several children and needed a house with a swimming pool for their convalescing son who needed physical therapy, the result of an aneurysm during a youth softball game. On the day of closing we drove up to our house only to see the family still moving out! As our locksmith was changing the locks, the children were carrying out their books and toys and giving us mournful looks. We stood on the sidewalk shivering in the December cold feeling as misplaced as them. They left behind a dreadful mess as well as several of their cats.

I asked Sean if he thought it odd there were so many cats wandering around the neighborhood, more precisely, our porch and front lawn. We pulled up outdated Imperial Blue shag carpet and hired workers to sand and varnish our floors. I received a call at work from one of the men. "Hey, it was pretty cold out so I let your cat in, it was crying at the front door." Through gritted teeth I explained that we did not have a cat and no, we did not want one! That night we crept up the stairs "Here kitty, here kitty?" We heard a pathetic meowwww and spotted the cat hunched in the corner of the room. We grabbed the stray fur ball and escorted it out the door. When the sun shines at just the perfect angle, you can see frantic kitty prints on our upstairs landing. It adds character to the home.

We had only to look to the right of our house to see the source of this kitty camp. An elderly couple had them streaming in and out of their house. Bowls of food and water were set out round the clock for their dining pleasure. This feline festival drove us nearly to the brink. The cats were rendezvousing in our yard, peeing all over the porches and finding their way into the garage and napping on our cars.

Tom was out in the yard gathering branches and twigs and absently piling them at the end of his driveway. He had odd little habits of saving bits of discarded junk and stockpiling them in his garage. These piles would artistically rise then topple over on themselves only to be rebuilt over and over again by him. I learned he was a retired physicist who had taught in Florida years before. I assumed he had brains and might bend his ear toward reasoning. "Hi, I'm your neighbor, I haven't had a chance to introduce myself." I extended my hand only to be regarded with a cold stare. "Wow, you do have lots of cats, I don't want to sound rude, but could you keep them off my porch?" He was dressed in a lined plaid shammy shirt and looked a bit like a twisted garden gnome, suspenders holding up his well worn denims. On his feet were navy blue slippers aged to a dingy grey, holes where his bare toes poked through. "If anything happens to these cats, I'll know who to blame!" "Look, It's just they never leave my yard and I was hoping you'd want them to stay in YOUR yard." He stepped closer, shuffling his slippers along the sidewalk. He had the audacity to raise his fists, boxer style and propel them at me. I was certain other neighbors were watching from behind their lace curtains, quickly aborting should their spy mission be realized.

Barbara, his wife heard the commotion and joined him at his side. "Tom! Stop that! Get in the house!" He dropped his fists but continued to pummel me with his expression. "Now! Tom!" His wife's voice broke his trance and he turned his body away from me, lumbering down the sidewalk. Several of his feline minions followed at his ankles. "I'm sorry, this really is an awful way to meet, I'm....." "He gets a bit overworked. I'm Barbara." I shook her paper thin hand. She was birdlike, tiny, frail, with a close curled head of white hair. She could barely stand, a Dowager's Hump on her back cruelly submitting her body low to the ground. She welcomed me to the circle and then retreated into her house.

In the ongoing months I felt I was being watched. I would look around, walking to the garage, shoveling sidewalks, bringing groceries into the house, the hair on the back of my neck would stand. Then I spotted her as she was spying on me. Another white haired elderly woman was watching me from her kitchen window. She didn't wave, nor did I, we just continued to stare at each other. This went on for a few more weeks until spring, she was sitting on her front porch. I introduced myself. She was in her mid 80s and was a widow. Her husband Edward died 15 year earlier, he worked for the railroad. Elenore had lived in this house for 22 years. She was quick witted and affectionate. She told me she awoke every morning at 6 to use the bathroom. "That Irritable Bowel Syndrome, can't eat salad." Her hair was always done in a white, blond confection. Her eyebrows always drawn on just so. "Don't over pluck!" dispensing beauty advice to me. She had a colorful assortment of clip on earrings to match her shirts. She preferred men's white dress shirts and would add a silk scarf or sweater vest. She thought it romantic that Sean and I shared our evenings on the side porch with candles and a glass of wine. She soon became my lunch partner who favored Pete's Seafood and their shrimp and pasta. She became family, spending Thanksgiving at our home. She became Lola's honorary Nana. Elenore's only daughter lived in Maryland and she was not blessed with a happy marriage, leaving Elenore bereft of grandchildren.

Elenore's upstairs tenant Dot, owned the house and was raising three teenagers and had kicked out her husband on her return from a solo trip to Cancun. We missed Tobey. He was the Zen Master of the charcoal briquette. On weekends he'd treat himself to a steak dinner, with Budweiser in hand and a KISS THE COOK apron snugly hugging his beer belly. He would wield his tongs like a skilled ninja. He had no hard feelings against us when our dog Newman bolted out the back door one twilight summer eve and grabbed raw steaks awaiting the open flame. Dot was going through some sort of revamping after kicking Tobey out. While I was unloading groceries she announced out her upper window "My psychic business is doing great!" She had taken to wearing her daughter's Led Zeppelin t shirt and a crimson velvet robe in near 90 degree weather. Dot said scarlet was a healing color and she'd love to read my fortune. She said she was helping her nursing home patients get in touch with their final destiny. The noon day sun bounced off her pentagram earrings as she bitched about Tobey, he didn't like to go out and go dancing. She found someone on vacation, someone new who made her feel young. She began listening to music many decibels more irritating than her kids.

Dot no longer lives above Elenore. She moved her new boyfriend in, then he left less than a year into their relationship. Dot sold the home to a new owner. Mike seems like a nice guy. He's done some painting to the place and landscaping. Under new ownership, Elenore's rent increased and she too felt the financial constraints. She worried aloud to me how she could afford rent and heating next winter. I helped her pack her boxes, looking around her apartment at the bare walls and naked hutch that held her photos and bowl of fake grapes. I too felt her emptiness of moving on.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What did my asparagus ever do to you?

I need to rant! As far as issues are ranked, this is my biggie, numeral uno! Don't people know how to bag groceries!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I picked Lo up a bit early from pre school today. She's had a wracking cough and runny nose for a few days. She's started a slight ear and sinus infection. Not a bad track record, this being her first ear infection. We waited in the room for over 20 minutes for the doctor. "You're late!" Lola scolded Dr. Roberts. We had been playing with the blood pressure cuff and knee hammer thing when he wrapped on the door.

We left an hour later with a sticker and a prescription. Off to the grocery store. I had planned on making chicken alfredo with local asparagus and broccoli tossed together. "Mama can I have a donut?" "How about two Munchkins instead of a big donut? Wouldn't you rather have TWO Munchkins instead of one donut? This kid of mine is too smart. "Mama, I'd rather have a big donut because it's actually bigger!" She munched her two Munchkins as we made our way down the isles, Gibson dropping his pacifier along the way.

"Register 7 is open!" My lucky day. There is always a glut of loaded carts and impatient shoppers but nary more than three lanes open. I unload my groceries from the cart the way I think they should be bagged. I'm of the opinion this helps the bagger. I place all paper goods together, all freezer and dairy together, cleaning products usually last. I hand over my recycled, earth friendly totes and the bagging begins.

Lola had run off to sit in a motorized grocery cart, so my attention was diverted to her. "1! 2!"
She's always back to me before I hit 3. "Let's rock kid." I open Lo's door and have her climb in. I finish buckling Gibby and open the back of the Volvo to load the groceries in. In one tote bag are two small containers of Haagen Daz. In the next tote, a package of runny, drippy chicken breast, cottage cheese, sour cream, a can of chicken broth, tomato paste, a bag of apples, and fresh cut pineapple. "Where is my asparagus?" I say out loud. I look in the third tote bag. A Tinkerbell Pez dispenser for Lola, babyfood, and the grocery receipt. "Where the hell......." I look again inside bag #2. There lay the carnage. My asparagus was smooshed under the dairy, canned stuff and runny chicken. I see myself dragging the kids back in and waving a baseball bat at the manager.

I've never seen myself as a crank............ I must phone this store several times a month and complain about their bagging. It, of course never comes to any satisfaction. I have learned my lesson. From now on I bag my own groceries. When the cashier says " We have baggers, the manager wants us to bag all groceries," I'll reflect on that day and imagine how that asparagus must have suffered.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

F bomb anyone?

Lola dropped the F bomb today. She occasionally peppers her speech with "shit." As in " Shit, why won't this stupid baby stand!" We were having a tea party today while Gibson slept. "This fucking cup is tipping!" She was pouring water into a porcelain cup while we played waitress at the coffee table. "What did you say?!" "Sorry mama...."

Ah, the woven tapestry of speech. So colorful, so dynamic. I had to hide my smirk. Yes I was appalled at her choice of expression and thought "Damn it Sean, watch what you say around her!" I can't blame it on Sean. I know it wasn't me, maybe she gleaned it from a cereal commercial or Sponge Bob? I bet it was one of her neer do well Pre school playmates. Now I know what they talk about among themselves while swinging and playing in the sandbox
"Mommy is such a F-er for not letting me have another Popsicle before I went night night!'
"Daddy is such a F-er for reading that same stupid bunny book night after night to me!" From the mouth of babes!

I schooled Lola on the rights and wrongs of well placed curse words. Teachers might think mommy and daddy talk that way at home. Not every occasion calls for such flowery, verbose language, and most importantly...ladies NEVER, EVER use that kind of language.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Electronic Babysitter

Have you seen the commercial for the Topsy Turvy Tomato planter? You simply plant the growth in the hanging container and watch luscious, ripe, juicy tomatoes appear. From the commercial, you hang this thing upside down on your porch. I love how they show how easy it is and how much back breaking farm work you'll avoid by sending in $19.95. Clips of Amish Farmers and their overworked brood are shown in fields lugging baskets of tomatoes. The poor little tyke's hands are bleeding from such manual labor. (This clip really isn't seen, it would appear more was my second calling.)

Then there's the toothpaste tube gadget holder for a more even, perfect blob of toothpaste on your brush every time! Lola urgently agreed the other morning we should have that in our bathroom. She suggested we get one to match "our decor." Television is so enriching for my kids. Great vocabulary builder.

TV has introduced Lola to Go-Gurt, Yo Gos, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and how to punch her pre school friend in the gut. Hats off to Spongebob Square Pants and the episode where Flats, the new classmate beats the crap out of Spongebob. A hand written note scrawled at the bottom of her report card notified me of this. Did I want to speak to her teacher about it, the note asked?

Lo's two favorite commercials as of this week, Snuggie and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. When either of those two are on she screams for me to watch it together. When she gets a few years older that will be us watching a Lifetime Network movie about teens and drugs and the terrible downward spiral of the cheerleader who ends up prostituting herself in the KFC parking lot. The Snuggie commercial is a bit disturbing. The actors clad in those robes look as if they're about to severe someones head and offer it to the mothership.

I have glorious memories of TV as a kid. My parents had a huge console style. They still do. My father added several slight modifications over the years. The tubes finally went bad and they were forced to buy another TV....and get this....he removed the old set and placed the new TV in the console! I remember watching WPIX, Dialing For Dollars, Chiller Theatre with the numerous fingered hand coming out of the ground and grabbing at the lettering. I loved Batman, Happy Days, all the great cartoons like Scooby Doo, Josie and The Pussycats, wow, Land Of The Lost, the Hanna Barbara empire that dominated my Saturdays.

What I don't remember is my parents telling me to turn it off or "you're watching too much!"
I do recall my mom telling my brothers not to sit too close. "Sit back, do you want to be sterile?"
Sunday night we would watch Walt Disney and Animal Kingdom then take baths and go to bed. I still can smell my bath soap. It was a Christmas gift when I was about 5. It came packaged in a school bus and the soaps were shaped like little kids.

A neighbor has been coming over in the evenings, just before dinner, un announced with her little boy. I'm usually getting Lola unwound from her day at school, cooking dinner, giving Gibson his dinner when I hear the doorbell. Of course the TV is on, beaming its seductive glow out the living room windows onto the street. Lola's little friend adores her, but because the TV is on and larger than life, 41 inches I think? He starts to drool. He is mesmerized. He falls into a catatonic state and stops blinking. I find myself saying "Oh that damn TV drives me crazy! I turn it on once in a while for her as a treat." By now the clouds should part and a bolt of lightning should find its way down my chimney and smote me for lying.

Why am I embarrassed that the TV takes up almost half my living room? What's so wrong with TV? You see the bumper stickers all the time KILL YOUR TELEVISION. I bet those hybrid car driving, Whole Foods shopping, mom and pop business supporters unload their organic groceries and sit down to share a meal in front of the TV! HA!

When Lo and Gibson and I are together, yes the TV may be on at times. I'm a news junkie. I do prefer music to TV background noise any day. I don't follow any of the popular shows. Idol, Lost, the dancing show my mother in law loves, the one with the celebs. I don't have a series I have to watch. "I'm so sorry to hear about your upcoming lung transplant and no donors, but I really have to go Grey's Anatomy is on!"

Lola loves spooky movies. She gets that gore gene from me and her Grammi. She snuggles with daddy in the leather chair and watches until it gets too creepy. She and I watch classic Disney movies together. She still craves sitting in my lap. Her teachers marvel at her expressive language and vocabulary. I'd like to think her parents have something to do with that. I was making dinner last night, she ran into the kitchen about to burst. "Mom, mom, the commercial said to ask your parents. Can we get it, can we get it, it would be so cool!"

Operators are standing by. Act now and we'll send you two for the price of one!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just a few photos from time to time

I've been thinking about Gisselle a lot lately. Mother's Day was sweet for me. Lola picked out a silk lei and a very grown up card for me. Sean was trying to show her cards with cute babyish motifs, thinking those were more representative of her. She insisted on a more ornate card and the lei which she calls an "ooohlah."

Lola's pre school friend had a birthday party Sunday morning at the Y in the gymnastics room. It's pretty much the same set up. The parents arrive with wound up kids in tow, then stand around not really talking, watching or photographing their kids running around working up a sweat. Lola and I jumped around on the trampoline until her ponytail burst forth, hair getting tangled in the wad of gum she was chewing on. We both climbed into the foam pit with the other kids and swung on the rope until our hands were raw. I think I end up having more fun than most of the junior invitees!

We met with some friends for a lovely Mother's Day brunch and everyone around our table wore the ooohlah. Lola made several dizzying trips to the dessert table and prided herself on heaping strawberries onto her fine china. I held my breath every time she wobbled back to our table. After a brunch burn off walk, I was surprised by flowers and plantings on the front porch. It was a very sweet Mother's Day.

I was thinking how Gisselle was spending the day. Was she thinking about it, she must have been. I feel certain her mother was thinking about it. Gisselle is the birth mother of our adopted son Gibson. I can only imagine she felt how I felt after my first miscarriage. I was five months along, we had named our baby. Then everything disappeared, floated away like a balloon. That first mother's day after the loss I though I would go mad. I wanted to drown in my tears and wallow in the heartbreak. That was something I could hold, cradle to my breast.

I'm gathering photos that have spanned almost a full year of Gibson's life with us. He will be a year old June 15th. A year already? These photos are going to be mailed to Gisselle. Every two months I e-mail her and ask her if she'd like updates of Gibby and pictures. She had never said no. I bought a beautiful baby book and had planned to personalize it for her with the pictures. Is she celebrating his life like we are? Does she want some sort of glossy, cutesy reminder of what she couldn't keep? From what we know of her, she wouldn't display the album on her coffee table. I imagine she keeps his photos in a box, under her bed. That's what I did after my loss. The sympathy cards, the post mortem photos of the baby the hospital took and gave me, along with her baby knit cap, all crammed in a generic manila envelope.

I have to remind myself this isn't a sad story. I will be selfish and say it is not. Not for us. Maybe not everyday for Giselle either. She has given us the most amazing gift of HER CHILD. Sean and I still marvel at this. Why us? What was it about us? She chose us from seven other families and then narrowed that lottery down to us and another family. She met us, spent time with us and never bothered to interview the others.

Never in our wildest fantasies did we ever dream we would have this amazing family, a multi racial family. We knew we wanted a boy, never imagined getting pregnant would be so difficult, never knew we would have such a devastating loss, never thought there would arise pregnancy complications and five months doctor ordered bed rest for me, never dreamed we would be amazed, knock off our feet by these kids.

I resist the path layed out for me. No matter how hard I try, things just happen and take me by surprise. I'm starting to believe this is all predestined. We were meant to meet, Sean and I. There are many cosmic levels to how that was forced upon us. That's another story for some other time. We were meant to have all the joys and sorrows in our life and those yet to come. We were destined to be the parents of Gibson Alexander. Lola was destined to have this snaggle toothed, little frizzy fro of a baby brother. I'm going to gather the pictures together for Gisselle, and for respect and love and admiration for her, I'm going to let her choose if she wants to show him off someday in a photo album.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No underwear to wear?

I warned my husband this little scenario that played out last night would be MY FIRST BLOG ENTRY! (felt great to type that one!)

I have spent the greater part of two days reading other writer's blogs and figuring out how to set one up. I called a domain service and spent over $250 for rights and hosting! I shouted out a triumphant WOO HOO! and then panicked at what I had just spent! Oh wow, I had just committed to something and paid for it! I'm a typical Gemini who has too many interests and too many undone projects haunting me. My dining room table is the recipient of those projects left undone.

By then it was late afternoon and I needed to run some errands. Sean needed new underwear and I wanted to replace a set of wine glasses. Only two were left from a set of eight. Why do wine glasses break in a sequence of three? I had yet to shower or even brush my teeth, so caught up in this blogging thing.

I called the domain provider back and said "Hi, I just set up an account this morning but I've changed my mind. See, my friends on Facebook feed my vanity by suggesting I start a blog." I was trying to let the tech down easy as if he were my stylist who had caught me getting color and cut from another salon. "Well, that's certainly not a problem, but you should really keep this package. You'll have lots of reader traffic and this package certainly supports it." "From your lips to God's ears!" I mused.

He refunds my card and I feel guilty I almost spent that money on writing! Gibson is crawling around the kitchen floor happily gnawing on an ant trap. Crap! Kids! I have kids! A time warp has me starring in disbelief at the clock. 4:30 and it's time to pick Lola up from preschool. I haven't done any laundry or domestic goddess stuff , all consumed by blogging. Funny thing is, I hadn't written one single word....just trying to set up a blog page!

Fast forward to about 7:30. Sean's home from work. "I think something is wrong with the computer?" Every time I tried to create a blog page the system would tell me I was working off line. "I wish you wouldn't do this kind of stuff without someone who knows how to do it! You probably picked up a virus!" I was shoveling spoonfuls of carrots into Gibby's mouth. In my best whiny, invisible, neglected Mommy tone I said "Hey, this is something I need to do for myself. This is really important to me and I enjoy writing!" "That's fine but I told you I need underwear for tomorrow, don't you get enjoyment out of buying me underwear?" That last line delivered with his best jovial tone.

We had a glass of wine and scooted the kids to bed. It's now the next day, and yes, he had clean underwear. I'll repeat my WOO HOO!