Friday, July 29, 2011

Oh, The Things They Remember!

(originally posted Jan. 18, 2010)

"A child enters your home and for the next twenty years makes so much noise you can hardly stand it. The child departs, leaving the house so silent you think you are going mad. " ~John Andrew Holmes
I never really worried about having an empty nest. Knowing that my kids were going to grow up and leave someday was possibly music to my ears at times. No more fighting over clothes, curfews, MTV blaring, exorbitant grocery bills, lights left on in every room, and the day to day struggles to keep them all on the straight and narrow.
And, most importantly, I knew that my heart would never be empty. I had peace knowing that I gave birth to these children and their lives would always touch mine.
They might have left the nest, but we're all still roosting in the same family tree.

"Your children vividly remember every unkind thing you ever did to them, plus a few you really didn't." ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966
Recently, my kids starting talking about the memories of their childhood. Warm thoughts about special holidays, fond keepsakes, family vacations and sweet bedtime stories.
I smiled continuously while I listened- nodding in satisfaction, and basking in a pride that swelled my head enormously.
"Do you remember how Mom used to yell at us?" the middle child asked.
"Oh...all the time,"my son agreed.
"Like a mean witch," the oldest chimed in.
"What???" I choked, practically falling out of my chair,"Are you kids delusional?
I was a good mother.
"We know that. You were a great mother," one of them said with a smirky smile, "But you used to tell us that if we didn't do something, you would beat us to a bloody pulp."
I laughed.
And laughed.
Isn't it funny what kids remember?


A mother becomes a true grandmother the day she stops noticing the terrible things her children do because she is so enchanted with the wonderful things her grandchildren do.
~Lois Wyse

I have been blessed with grandchildren. And one goal for 2010 is to spend more time with them. One on one time. When they visit as a team, they veg out in front of cartoons, eat continuously or compete for my attention. I would love to be able to treat each one to their own special day. One child loves to paint, one loves reading, they both enjoy walks around the pond.
I think it would be great to be able to spend the afternoon playing with them. Curling up in a big soft chair with potato chips and Dr. Pepper- a giant story book- and no deadlines. No schedules.
...Or spread newspapers out all over the dining room table with tons of paints and brushes and canvas. To just let them swirl and dab and create- not worrying if they dip the black into the yellow or their fingers into the blue. No rules. No restraints. Just pure fun.
I want them to remember those times. Times with NaNa. Soft, inspirational, unforgettable days when they bloomed into being.
They will look back on it someday and realize how much I loved them.
Even if I may have, once upon a time, threatened to beat their mother to a bloody pulp.
"Most grandmas have a touch of the scalawag." ~Helen Thomson

Becoming a grandparent is like falling in love. You never really understand until it happens to you.
For years, my older sister drove me crazy with the photographs and stories of her darling grand kids. I secretly rolled my eyes - thinking how in the world could it be so glorious and perfect?
Well, now that I am a grandma, I am sure there are people who avoid me. Who detour behind the soda display or the shoe racks when they spy me coming.
It doesn't help that I practically have a rolling suitcase in hand- full of pictures and drawings and video-
ready to whip out at a moments notice.
"Oh- you have grandchildren?" someone will say.
And after an hour of cooing and giggling and smiling insanely over the pile of mementos, I realize that no one is really listening. No one really cares. They are secretly rolling their eyes.
And, in fact, they are ready to beat me to a bloody pulp.
"My grandmother is over eighty and still doesn't need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle." ~Henry Youngman
My grandmas were always very stern looking. Wore dresses. Hosiery. Rarely carried on conversations. Never took photographs. Never tucked us in or read us books.
I like to think my grand kids consider me fun. And funny. And easy to talk to.
I do wear jeans, utilize my camera at ever available chance, and read bedtime stories. I like to cuddle on the couch with them, watch Sponge Bob Squarepants, and share M&M's. I like to encourage them, compliment them and challenge them. All the while, having them gain respect, adoration and affection for me.

"If I had my child to raise all over again, I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later. I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less. I would do less correcting and more connecting. I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes. I'd take more hikes and fly more kites. I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play. I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars. I'd do more hugging and less tugging." ~Diane Loomans, from "If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again"

Despite their distorted memories, I know that I have raised some wonderful children. And that their children are being raised in good homes- with good values.
Even at my age, I am still trying to be a better mom. It doesn't stop when they turn nineteen, or leave home, or have kids of their own.
Being a mom is a lifetime process.
It means having your heart broken a hundred times, but finding it can always be mended.
It means changing with the times, even if it's uncomfortable or ridiculous.
It means giving them space when all you want to do is cradle them.
It means letting go when you can't see where they're going.
It means letting them build their own nest, hoping it is secure and warm and won't fall out of the tree.
It means letting them remember things that you never really said-
and forgiving them if they insist that you did.
"It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. " ~Joyce Maynard
I am hoping that the new year is a year of family time. Of renewed spirit. Of immense sharing and growth. Of reaching out and knowing my children and grandchildren for the people that they are. To learn their hearts, their dreams, and their hopes for the future.
All I can do is be here. To listen. To laugh, To occasionally give advice.
And to beat them to a bloody pulp if they disobey...
I'm still laughing about it kids! 

You warped little spoiled brats! lol

"Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting. "~Author Unknown

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Couch Test

(Originally posted Dec.9, 2008)

While reading a current ladies magazine
the other day, I ran across one of
those so-called "Love" tests.
There were five places
that most couples share
and that test their bond-
along with their ability
to communicate properly.

The first two places were the Bed and the Car.

We've had three children
and gone to Disney World with all of them.
So, that takes care of the first two.
(Passed that with flying colors!)

Third was the Kitchen.
No problem there, either.
We have no friction or fights here.
I cook. He eats.
I do dishes. He naps.


Now the fourth place got me nostalgic.
It was the Couch test.

I remembered back
when my husband and I
would curl up on the couch together
in the evenings
and listen to
Gordon Lightfoot albums
or mellow out to Jackson Browne
or watch the new Saturday Night Live.

There we were.
Entertwined like a huge
blue-jeaned braid
on the couch.

And you know what?
We were comfortable.
It was roomy.
We had no desire to move
or twist
or find an alternate place
to chill out.

So, without letting him in on the
magazine test,
I convinced him to share the
couch with me one evening.

I don't know what happened,
but I think they are making couches
smaller and smaller now days.

"Can you scoot over any more than that?"
I asked,
trying to wedge a place for myself in front of him
so we could both watch TV.

"Watch your elbows, will ya'? he warned,
trying to flatten himself
into the back of the couch
as I held my breath
and attempted to grab the cushions
to keep from rolling off.

I had to keep two toes on the floor
at all times to balance myself
and my husband gasped for air
during every commercial break.

I flipped the coffee table over twice.
He elbowed my ear a half dozen times
and I accidentally scratched him.
He gouged my ribs reaching for the remote
and I bruised his shoulder
straightening the pillow.
The couch springs made a "boingggg" sound
and we started getting sweaty.

But somehow we pretended
that it was all wonderfully comfortable.
Somehow we pretended
it was thirty years
and a hundred pounds ago.

Our love has passed the Couch test.
That is a sign of true comfort
between us.

But, I am not completely sure
we get an A -plus on the Love test.
We thought the Couch test was hard.

Place number five is the Bath Tub!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Broken Promises

(Originally posted Aug. 31,2009)

I promised I'd stop crying-
I promised never to be blue.
But I never keep promises to myself-
I never do.

I promised that I'd smile again-
Laugh and play again, too.
But I never keep promises to myself-
I never do.

I promised if the sun came up
I'd take control and live.
I'd stop trying to find myself
and just sit back and give.

I'd forget about time
and tomorrow
and all that is new.
But I never keep promises to myself-

I never do.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Up, Up, and Away!

(Originally posted June 11, 2009)
Today is the official start of
Superman Week.

I have yet to figure out why they
insist on calling it a week
when it only lasts till Sunday.

But, hey- I'm not going to
question Superman.
He's entitled, you know.
He's saved mankind countless times.

The whole super hero thing
got me to wondering what it
would be like to be
married to Superman.

(Daydream video starts now....)

It's evening. At home. I'm sorting laundry.

"For heaven's sake, Clark- if you outgrow another suit, I'm going to have to put you on a diet! Those things aren't cheap, you know!"

He pouts in his chair,
watching the competition on TV-
Batman and Spiderman.

"I sure wish we could afford some of those cool gadgets", he says,
feeling sorry for himself.
"These guys have webs and wings and neat cars. All I have is that freakin' phone booth!"

"Oh, Honey-don't be silly- you have X-ray vision, excellent hearing, and those red boots are kinda sexy!" I say to him.

He smiles across the room at me.

"New underwear?" he asks, suddenly staring.

"Quit it, you Silly! That X-ray vision is to be used only for save-the-world purposes!"
I slap him with a dirty cape. "If you've not got anything better to do, tune those ears into the neighbors next door and see what gossip you can come up with!"

"Maybe we ought to go to the store instead", he says,
changing the subject, "I'm out of hair oil and I need a pair of new tights. I got those caught on a skyscraper last week and they've got runs all over them."

We drive- not fly to the nearest store.
Mr. I've-Got-A-Big-S-On-My-Shirt
is too tired to fly. (What a big baby- if his
friends only knew...)

Inside the store we fill our cart
with all sorts of energy food
and he X-rays the apples for any
hidden worms.
Then we pass a beautiful girl-
(You know the kind-
all boobs and blondness).

Of course, he has to stick his
bullet proof chest out and start
a conversation with her.

I watch for awhile, but I'm used to it by now.
I keep a little kryptonite in my purse-
for occasions such as this.
He'll be a blubbering shrinky-dink
in a minute or two.

Yeah- it's not that great being married
to Superman.

I mean. even in bed
he's faster than a speeding bullet.

Enough said.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mr. Rogers

I had been out all day-
My nerves were shot,
my feet were tired-
but my long list of chores
was finally completed at last.

I couldn't wait
to get home and relax.

I hadn't thought much about it before-
this routine that I go through
when I get back home from some place...

...I usually toss off my uncomfortable shoes
and replace them with sneakers if I'm
going back outside...
I'll hum a little tune...
and I put on my favorite old sweater...

And today for the first time
I realized
that ...
I've turned into Mr. Rogers!

It's crazy, I know-
but hauntingly real at the same time.

My husband is so much like King Friday
and my sister sometimes acts like
Lady Elaine Fairchilde!
And my mail lady
is suspiciously starting to
look like Mr. McFeely!

I'm starting to speak softer,
dream about field trips,
and sing silly songs!
And sometimes I imagine myself
in the Neighborhood of Make Believe.

God help me if I go out
and buy a little trolley car!

So-upon this sudden realization-
I decided to do a little research
into the role-model
I had apparently morphed into.

Here's what I found out :

Every sweater that Fred Rogers wore
was hand knit by his mother.

Upon meeting Mr. Rogers for the first time,
Koko the Gorilla, (who learned
up to 1,000 words in sign language),
greeted him with a big hug-
then proceeded to take his shoes off of him!

Mr. Rogers weighed himself every single day.
He stayed at 143 pounds for the last
30 years of his life.
He found peace in the number 143.
He explained it by saying that
it takes one letter to say "I'.
Four letters to say "love".
And three letters to say "you".

He was genuinely kind.
While on a trip to a PBS executive's house,
he discovered that the limo driver
was expected to wait in the car for 2 hours.
Mr. Rogers invited him to come in and join them.

Later, Fred rode in the front seat
and he asked to meet the driver's family.
They went to the chauffeur's house,
played jazz piano and
talked throughout the night.
The two shared notes and
stayed in touch the rest of his life.

maybe it's not that bad-
-Me turning into Mr. Rogers and all...
(Except I haven't got the weight thing
going for me yet ...)

We could all aspire to be like him.
With kindness toward others
and positive thoughts,
we could actually improve our quality of life.

...Just wake up one morning and realize-
it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

(Originally posted March 18, 2010)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why is it that male hobbies
are so complicated?

Take hunting, for example.
My husband bow hunts.
And every year his sport requires
the placement of various tree stands
throughout the woods and fields.

This morning I was selected to help
him in this endeavor.
"I need your help," he stated in a most
unflattering tone.
Me- the woman he never asks
about placement of the sofa
or bedroom set
or which drawer the silverware
should go in.

Of course, he had to have
a Holder of the Rope,
a Balancer of the Ladder,
a Fetcher of the Tie Straps,
a Eye Out for Coyotes,
and an Opinion that Doesn't Count.

Yes, today-
when the thermometer read
somewhere below freezing,
I bundled up head to toe
and set off on a
tree-stand makeover.

By the time we reached
the woods on the 4-wheeler,
my hands and feet were numb,
my sock cap had blown off,
and my long underwear
were giving me a wedgie.

I was so ready to just pick a tree and say,
"There, that looks good.
We're done.
Let's go."

But, no....
As with everything my husband does,
it had to be methodically,
mathematically, and logically
figured and measured.

His mind works something like this.....

If the arrow travels at X mph
from a height of X ft,
what are the odds that this
particular tree will offer
the proper wind elevation
and aerodynamic boost in order
to meet the designated target
with perfect accuracy?

So, while he was doing
geometry, algebra, and physics
in his head,
do you know what I was thinking?

I was wondering how Paula Deen
got that pie crust to look so flaky
and just where I might have lost
the match to my favorite pair of socks.

Yeah, things like that.

Watching him freeze in thought-
scouring the horizon for the
best specimen to house his stand-
made me wonder why men
are so strange that way.
Why does it have to take so long
and be so difficult?

"Should of brought your laser level,
100 ft tape, and a calculator..." I mumbled,
trying to tease him out of his trance.

"Level would of been nice," he mumbled back,
serious as I've ever seen him.

Did I turn the coffee pot off?
Will the hamburger be thawed by supper?
Did I write down my last deposit in the checkbook?
My mind wandered....

I barely heard him yell at me
to hold the ladder steady
as he climbed to the top
to secure it.
I scrambled to grab it as he
scaled the flimsy metal rungs
to a place far up in the clouds.

That's another thing.
Why so high?
Why not just a few feet above target height
and be happy with that?

I drifted off again into a la-la land
of grocery lists and household chores
and episodes of Prison Break.
I also looked at the amazing winter trees
and little acorns
and listened to the leaves rustle in the wind.

"Hey!" I heard him shout as he began to descend.
"You can move now, it's stable."

As I scraped the frost off my brows,
and chipped an icicle from my left nostril,
I got to thinking about how
women have nice seasonal hobbies
like golf and bridge.
It's always warm and cozy.
They're out a few balls
and a deck of cards now and then-
that's all.
There's no scientific purging of the brain
or excruciating calculations
in order to enjoy simple female sports.

Tonight I unpacked the holiday storage
and asked my husband
if he would help me put the lights on the tree.

"Can't you do anything yourself ? " he moaned.

That got me really thinking....

If the boot travels at X mph
from a height of X ft,
what are the odds that this
particular foot
will offer the proper butt kicking
and aerodynamic boost in order
to meet the designated target
with perfect accuracy
the sweetest revenge?

(Originally posted Dec. 15, 2008)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Porch Party

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
~e.e. cummings

Nature is a wonderful thing-and there is no better place to enjoy it than a porch. It is such a vital part of every home.
It's a free seat to a sunrise, a dry place during a rain storm, and a vantage point for experiencing the seasons.
No matter if you perch on the step, a rocker, or a lawn chair- the miracles are still the same. It's just Life- floating by your door in colors and sounds and scents and textures. Ready to put on a show. Willing to pull you in to the beautiful world of nature. Hoping that you will stop. Take time. Indulge your senses.
Nature is man's teacher. She unfolds her treasures to his search, unseals his eye, illumes his mind, and purifies his heart; an influence breathes from all the sights and sounds of her existence. ~Alfred Billings Street
Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise! ~Wallace Stevens *****Even though it is only February, I can see the earth changing. Almost as though everything is getting ready. As though the birds are giddy for a new nest- the sky is awaiting warm winds- the trees are hiding their excitement of blooms.
And things we can't see are preparing. Daffodils are reaching closer to the surface, the sun moves ever so slightly in the sky, and animals begin to awaken from their winter sleep.
A porch gives you the very best seat for the performance...
And you will never be disappointed.
The sun and the moon always rises. They always set. Grass turns green again and spring returns. These are promises never broken.
No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. ~Hal Borland
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs

I am guilty myself of not taking the time to step out on my porch and watch the sunrise. Just what am I doing for those few minutes that I cannot stop to look- to experience- to share? Every single day we are blessed with signs that prove we are alive- that God has given us another day- that we are not subject to eternal darkness and indifference.
Everyday we are made new again. And so is nature.
Forever moving- changing- morphing-growing-playing... And for what other reason than to bring us joy?
There are wonderful gifts beyond your porch. Have you unwrapped them yet today?
Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

I need to believe that the dishes can wait. That what is going on outdoors is of greater importance than the laundry- can bring me more sincere happiness than the television- and can relax me more than a shot of liquor or a lazy nap.
Someday when we are stuffed into a nursing home -or our lives become contained in a small room with a lumpy bed- when we are someday unable to enjoy the porch or the yard-
we will mourn it with a deep sadness.With penetrating regret that we were not a good spectator
during those days when our eyes were able to see, our hands feel, our noses smell and our ears hear.
Don't wait too late.
Spring will be back for encore performance.
But you may not be.
Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~Langston Hughes
Where does the white go when the snow melts? ~Author Unknown

Meditation is something that could benefit us all. Moments where we turn off everything and open our souls to the things around us. A chirping bird, the wind in the pines, a fish jumping on the pond- to see lilac streaks upon the sky- a firefly beating in the darkness- the feel of moist earth and green corn- the smell of hay and honeysuckle and rain....
I vow to take more time to open my eyes. To inhale the sweetness of the seasons.
To rock on my porch and applaud what I see- and be thankful another new day has arrived.
As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world. ~Adabella Radici
Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel. ~Author Unknown

Originally posted February 3, 2110)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's Alive! It's Alive, I Say!

Well, the time we have anticipated for months has finally arrived! Those tiny little seeds that we pushed into the soil, nurtured with our sweaty palms, fertilized with our last dollar, and protected from the elements- have matured. The garden is in full harvest.

My husband and I shrieked in joy when we spotted our first zucchini! Like a baby toe, it wiggled from the plant all shiny and sweet. We couldn't wait to savor it, watching it daily for the perfect time to pluck it from the vine. How wonderfully delicious it was! How proud we were of our creation! We licked our plates clean and smiled at one another.

But suddenly, our plan for a manageable garden backfired.
Those little baby vegetables aren't as innocent as they seem. Beneath those leaves and stalks and vines is a Frankenstein of sorts. A man-made monster that has taken on a life of its own! Just when I think I've picked all the cucumbers, another one lies hidden- ready to ambush me the next day with a bigger-than-my-arm smile.
Those still-green tomatoes turn red overnight, the okra shoots up like bamboo in two days, and the green beans keep producing more, more, more! I fill up sacks and bushel baskets and barrels- but still they come. Still they invade my table, my freezer, my fridge and my life!

Of course, as they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Well, you might as well call me Bubba Gump Squash! I have boiled, fried, sauteed, steamed, breaded, battered, smothered, candied, mashed, chopped, diced, deep fried and dunked every piece of squash that I can pick. But like an Alien, it keeps coming back - seemingly stronger and more menacing than ever!

There are nights that I make three different squash dishes. We have fried zucchini, microwaved zucchini, and zucchini with brown sugar and cinnamon.

It's hard to lick our plates and smile lately. But, you know, it's our own fault. That's the hardest thing to swallow.
I glance outside and it is raining now. I see the garden full and green and soaking up the rain like vitamin-induced hormones. The little monsters are growing as we speak!
I know, I know- I'll be pleading for those plants to stay alive,come about September. I'll be crying for a ripe tomato and fresh green beans. I'll be craving a cucumber salad and fried okra and sweet corn sweeter than cotton candy.

I'll probably even be wanting some squash.
(Originally posted July 22, 2008)

Monday, July 18, 2011

What Doesn't Kill Ya' -Makes Ya' Stronger

If my husband was a doctor, I'd be the person
wiping his sweaty brow or handing him
the scalpel.
If he was a race car driver, I'd be the person
on pit row changing his tires
or fueling his car.
If he was a magician, I'd be holding the
magic hat or be stuffed inside the wooden box
that he was cutting in half.
For the most part, I have been my husband's
companion, assistant, guinea pig and gopher.

Therefore, I hesitate when I need jobs
done around the house.
Because I will always be required
to shadow him every minute,
find lost tools,
drive miles to town for a wing nut,
or asked to hold still while
a hammer or hatchet
is in the vicinity of my fingers.

Years ago, I wasn't so quiet about things-
(before I wised up).
I complained loudly that the house needed
insulation or the water pump was
on the blink or repairs needed done.

And, unfortunately, my husband listened.

That set us off into a Twilight Zone of
handy man projects that seemed
to have no end.

One project I remember most
is the time we insulated the attic...

The old house we bought had an
overhang above the porch and
the space was too tight for my husband
to maneuver.
I was smaller than he was-
(and still am, thank God),
so I was drafted into climbing the
ladder into the attic.

But let me set the stage for you.

It wasn't just any old attic.
It happened to be the hottest
and most humid day in history.
The attic was inhabited by stinging,
biting, and gnawing insects.
It was the home to rabid squirrels
and crazy raccoons.
It was a virtual Disney World
of creepy crawlers and cobwebs.

To stuff the itchy pink rolls of
fiberglass into the corners, I had
to lay on a piece of plywood-
on my back-
and manipulate the insulation
with a two-by-four.
I held the trouble light close by
and tried not to look at what
might be hovering in the darkness.

About five minutes into the ordeal,
the light bulb burnt out.
I held back a scream as my husband-
who was perched on the top rung of the ladder-
reassured me that everything was okay
and he'd be right back with a new bulb.

I heard him downstairs searching for
the light bulb-
walking from kitchen to bathroom
to bedroom -
to every closet.

I started breathing harder
and sweat started rolling down
my face and neck like little bugs.

Or was it really bugs?
Was that some animal in
the corner above me,
or just a shadow?
Would the wasps find me in the dark
and target my flesh?
Did I hear a squirrel chatter?

I tried to hang on and be brave.

Then I realized my husband was
on the phone.
The phone?
Why was he on the phone while
I was in intimate danger?

I yelled loudly as I heard him
mumbling to someone that
he was supposed
to be getting a light bulb.

I was soaking in the sauna of the attic
for what seemed like hours.
The varmints were making plans
to get rid of me
and the fiberglass was itching me to death.

Either way, I just knew
I was going to die up there
in that dark, lonely attic.

Suddenly, my husband's face
popped up the ladder
and he had a light bulb in one hand-
and a half-eaten bologna sandwich
in the other.
Apparently he got a little hungry
down there in the air conditioned house
and took the time out to
feed himself.

And here I was-
being cooked and baked to perfection
for all the furry attic creatures to feast on!

I will never let him forget that day-
and it's been over 20 years.

But now, when the house gets a little drafty
or the faucet starts to leak-
I just stay quiet-
pull on a sweater,
curl up in my recliner,
and smile over at my husband.

It's always a good day
to do nothing. 

(Originally posted Oct.22,2008)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coffee Talk

In my world, 
there's only one thing worse
than running out of toilet paper-
and that is
running out of coffee.

I will put on a pot of coffee
before I even comb my hair,
find my slippers,
or look outside to see the weather.

I am not really sure what happens
if I go without caffiene any
great length of time-
because I always keep back-up coffee
in the pantry.
For snow-bound days
and forgetfulness 
and all-nighters.

But, this morning, 
as I scraped the last grain of grounds
from my Maxwell House can,
I panicked.

Did I even have reserves left?
Was there any off-brand, generic,
Big Lot brew to even substitute?

Like a bear after honey,
I scoured the cabinets for coffee-
shaking canisters and opening crocks
and digging way back-
past the outdated baking powder
and the petrified garlic salt.

"Whoo-Hoo!" I shouted,
as my eye caught sight of
two small cans of flavored coffee.
It had been a gift years ago-
one of those Christmas packs
of coffee, tea and cocoa.
Luckily, I had the forethought
to store away what hadn't
been used that holiday season.

Even though I had never heard of
Zavida brand Affters coffee,
I was willing to consume anything
that would take the edge off
my ever-increasing homicidal mood.

"What's this?" my husband asked, 
setting his coffee cup down with a
look of nausea. 

"Duh. It's coffee, you silly," I perked up,
not yet tasting mine.

"Where did you scrape it up at?" he puckered,

"Another one of your rummage sale finds?"

"Well, Mr. Smartie Pants- I'll have you know
that it's 100% Arabica coffee, 
roasted and blended in Canada", I advised him.

"Kinda far from Columbia, wouldn't you say?'
he tested me.

"The label says that the flavor 
will go straight to the heart 
with comfort and joy," I read.

"Really?" he said sarcastically,
"And just what flavor is this?"

"Well..." I said, suddenly feeling
rather Lucille Ball-ish,
"I mixed some different kinds together
to have enough for a full pot.
It's Eggnog, Almond, Gingerbread,
and Hazelnut-
with a pinch of Pumpkin Pie
and Peppermint."

"Taste it," he commanded.

"Oh- it can't be that bad!" I scowled.
"Coffee is coffee. 
It's all made from ground beans.
And in this case, a bit of flavoring added."

I put my cup to my lips-
"Smells Pine-Sol...
tastes like...well...ugh...
it's not that bad..."

The drive to town this morning
helped wake me up.

I bought ten pounds of real Colombian coffee.

And when I got home,
I was out of toilet paper.

(Originally posted Jan. 5, 2010)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bittersweet Boxes

I made up my mind this week
that I would do some major fall cleaning.
I figured I could make a giant donation
to Goodwill before the cold and
rainy season starts.

I was really getting pumped up about it.

The "I'll Get It Later, Mom Stuff"
had overstayed its expiration date!
And I was needing storage space.

"I will be cleaning closets this week!"
I told my grown son.
"Everything that's yours is coming
back to you. It's gonna be picked up
or pitched out!"

Yeah, I was quite proud of
my firm attitude.
I walked away feeling that he was
actually fearing my wrath this time
and knew I meant business.

I set out in a mechanical method-
pulling out hangers of clothes,
tugging on boxes and bags
setting aside Christmas lights
and luggage
and lamps.
My plan was to take everything out
and put very little back in.

I sorted that pack-rat pile
of worthless rummage
with no reservations whatsoever.
I was on a roll!
I was getting it done- and nothing
was going to stop me!
I was a cleaning robot on steroids!
I was a heartless, mean mama-
extracting teenage junk
from its dusty resting place.

It felt so good.
In a few hours, the closet
would be beautifully mine.
All mine!

But the hardest work was ahead of me.
Now I had to sort through the boxes of my son's stuff.
I was positive that I could reduce the
two giant Rubber Maid totes,
three storage boxes, ten shoe boxes,
one trash bag, and a laundry basket -
into one or two good sized cardboard
containers that would fit perfectly
in my son's trunk.

At first it was easy.
I made myself a systematic assembly line.
I tossed out old magazines,
school notes, junk mail and dead batteries.
I stacked up school papers, note cards,
ink pens and board games into a new box.
I kept the ping pong balls, loose change,
hunting gear, and baseball cards
for another container.

Then, I opened a shoe box.
What are these, I thought ?
There was a rainbow colored stack
of ribbons from his grade school track meets.

It suddenly took me back to days when
I watched him from the sidelines
and cheered him on.
When I kept saying,
"You can make it- you can make it!"
It seemed like so long ago,
but yet, like it was yesterday.

Then in another box I found photos of him
in his Ninja Turtle shirt-
that somehow turned into a football jersey...
And the four-wheeler magazines
that turned into college curriculum catalogs...
And the bag of marbles
that became old car keys.

All of a sudden,
I felt my heart melt.
My "Mean Mom" persona quickly wilted
into a pitiful, weak woman.

I started crying as I found old ticket
stubs he had saved,
his first wallet,
and his baby book.
There were his art class drawings,
expired hunting licenses,
old cologne bottles,
and used-up watches.
And in a folder I found
all the letters and cards we had sent him
while he was away at school.

It was like holding a baby in my arms
right at that moment
that transformed into a boy-
and then into a man-
right before my eyes!

What I realized is what I always knew-
but never truly accepted.

My son wasn't ever really coming back to his room-
wasn't ever really going to live in this house,
play in this yard,
giggle with his dad
or be
little boy again.
Even though I am glad he has grown up,
it is hard to accept that his happiness
and survival doesn't depend on me.
With tears in my eyes,
I folded everything back
into the corner of the closet
and quietly closed the door.

I didn't need that space after all.
They say that there are happy tears
and there are sad tears.
Well, today, I cried a mixture of both.
I am sad to see the years slip by.
Knowing that my mothering days waning...
That my only son has grown up and away...

But I am proud that he is a good man.
(That he can still find his way back home
to give me a hug when I need it.)
...that he looks toward the future
with excitement 

and with promise.

And I hope he knows
that I am still on the sidelines
cheering him on -
Forever positive
he will make it.

(Originally posted Nov.5, 2008)