Oct 272009
 
Here’s our backyard, where we come to take deep breaths.

Below is the place from which we will make our next 911 call and finally receive our set of free steak knives from the ER! Fingers crossed!

This is where the neighborhood kids come to roast marshmallows and sing camp fire songs. Actually, that has never happened, and never will because it seems like a lot of work. But doesn’t it LOOK like that’s what happens here?

Mission accomplished.

 


I can’t show you the front of my house, because my mom loves my children very much and she’s afraid if you know where I live you will come steal them. After reading some of your emails, I’m actually more afraid you’ll come steal Craig.

So I’ll just tell you that it sort of looks like this. Our driveway fountain is a different shade of yellow, but you get the idea.

Actually, that’s 50 Cent’s house. Our house is relatively small, compared to most in our area. You can’t tell in the pictures, because the camera adds five inches. But it’s little. We step on and over each other a lot. And Amma sleeps in the bathroom because we’ve run out of quiet rooms.

Sometimes I complain about this “space situation” to myself and others, saying “I just need more space” and “we’re growing out of this house,” and “if we only had….” and other stupid, stupid lies.

The truth is that we don’t really have a situation. This is a situation:


Number of children in the world

2.2 billion

Number in poverty

1 billion (every second child)

For the 1.9 billion children from the developing world, there are:

· 640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3)

· 400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5)

· 270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7)

(Anup Shah, Poverty Facts and Stats, GlobalIssues.org)


And in light of the truth, a baby sleeping in a bathroom is not really a “situation” at all. As a matter of fact, owning a private, warm, functioning bathroom in which to lie your baby down is a luxury for which most of the world’s mothers wouldn’t dare dream.

So when Craig and I hear each other forget the truth and get confused about what we do and don’t have, we remind each other gently to shut the hell up and kiss the ground.

And we square our shoulders and bravely carry on without a jacuzzi tub or his and her walk in closets.

And then I lay my head on Craig’s shoulder and we squint through fresh eyes at our precious little home. Our home that has sheltered us from so many storms and kept our children warm and safe. And we notice that our house reminds us of the Giving Tree, because it recreates itself to meet our family’s every need. Now it’s a newborn hospital wing, now an urgent care for recovering relatives, now a preschool. Our home wraps its arms around us, takes us back in again and again, and adjusts us we change and grow.

As St. Anne says, sometimes heaven is just a different pair of glasses. I don’t know much, but I know that’s the truth.

So we keep those glasses of gratitude firmly in place and we remember to complain right. Instead of “we don’t have enough space for our stuff,” we say “we have too much stuff for our space.”

And then we throw away some of Craig’s stuff.

Because he needs to learn to simplify, people.

Thanks for visiting.

Ya’ll comeback now.


Welcome Morning

Anne Sexton

There is joy

in all:

in the hair I brush each morning,

in the Canon towel, newly washed,

that I rub my body with each morning,

in the chapel of eggs that I cook

each morning.

In the outcry of the kettle

that heats my coffee

each morning,

in the spoon and the chair

that cry “hello there, Anne”

each morning,

in the godhead of the table

that I set my silver, plate, cup upon

each morning.


All this is God,

right here in my pea-green house

each morning

and I mean,

though I often forget,

to give thanks,

to faint down by the kitchen table

in a prayer of rejoicing as the holy birds at the kitchen window

peck into their marriage of seeds.


So while I think of it,

let me paint a thank-you on my palm

for this God, this laughter in the morning,

lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,

dies young.

Oct 282009
 

A few months ago, Craig decided that we were going to grow our own tomatoes in the backyard.

SOUNDS GREAT, HONEY. SURE, I said, after laughing hysterically.

He and Chase ignored my skepticism, as always, and went to the store to buy these funny things.


They explained that out of these little teeny thingamajigs would grow big stalks of some kind that would sprout huge, juicy tomatoes. Uh-huh, I said. And then will we climb the big stalks and visit a giant who lives in the clouds and then ride our unicorns back home? Because that scenario seemed more plausible than our family actually growing anything edible.

But as always, my forever optimistic husband and son forged on, while Tish and I mocked them. And by God, it started looking like they might actually pull off the magic bean trick. Those tiny beans actually turned into little sprouts, which turned into stalks, which the boys planted in the backyard and pruned and loved and “checked” constantly. After school everyday Chase ran outside to check the plant progress. NOTHING YET, he’d report.And then one day he ran back inside giddily and yelled, MOMMY! THERE’S A TOMATO ON ONE OF THE STALKS!!! And I said NO WAY and followed him outside and he was right, there was. And it grew and grew and others popped out and they grew and grew but then the weirdest thing kept happening. The tomatoes would get big and turn yellow and Chase would beg to pick them but I’d say …no, no, they’re not ripe yet – tomatoes are red, honey… so we’d wait and wait. And then one day we’d go outside and discover that our yellow tomato had fallen off the stalk and turned into mush on the ground. And this same thing kept happening over and over again.

It was really depressing actually, and horrifying to Chase, who had worked so hard to bring the magic beans to life, and who has so much faith in the system. Any system, really.

Last week my mom was visiting and asked how the tomatoes were doing. I told her the whole story, how none of the tomatoes would ripen – how they’d just go straight from yellow to mush, how they never even TRIED to be red… how we had the laziest, most clueless tomatoes ever.

And she said … “Honey, do you think maybe they were yellow tomatoes?”



I just need to pause for a moment.




Kay. WHAT IN THE SAM HILL ARE YELLOW TOMATOES? AND WHERE DOES ONE LEARN ABOUT THEM? Where? How? When?

I’m tired.

Oct 292009
 

This post is dedicated to my new blog friend, Joelle.


My college experience was a little….vague. I am told that I had an excellent time, but I can’t be sure. Mercifully, I mostly recall college as a seven year black out, but sometimes a memory of something I did, said, or worse, WORE, hits me like a wave of nausea, and I marvel at how I made it out of there alive.

Throughout college I had this sweet little ritual where I’d enjoy a couple dozen drinks and then go for a walk, perhaps at 3 am. And then, usually, I’d get lost and decide to go ahead and sleep in a cozy parking lot or under a tree somewhere in town. It was like camping, except without a tent, clue, or functioning liver. There must have been a strict No Camping rule in my college town though, because I was often awakened by annoyed men and women with guns. These uniformed bandits were not my parents, although it would take me a good three minutes to understand this. They would ask me why I was on the ground and I would assure them that I planned to explain just as soon as they told me where we all were, and also, my name.

Fortunately they actually would be able to teach me my name because, well, we’d met before. We went way back. And they’d invite me into the back of their cozy car and put shiny silver handcuffs on me. And I would sort of settle in and ask them how their families were, and they’d tell me. They liked me, and I liked them. I went to school in a sleepy little town, and so I like to think that maybe the night police shift was glad to have the company.

So we’d continue to catch up and all would go smoothly, but inevitably during the ride to my new camping spot my officers would get frustrated. Because every time they turned around to check on me, my handcuffs would be off and placed in a tidy pile on the seat beside me. So they’d stop the car and put them back on. And I’d take them back off. My wrists are very small and I had decided that while it may have been silly for one to sleep under a tree in January, it was ridiculous for one to PRETEND that one is handcuffed. I just couldn’t fake it, though I did try for the sake of my police friends. I have a paralyzing respect for authority, so I was always vehemently on their side. But they really were going to have to do better with the handcuffs. I understood that they weren’t arresting child sized people often, but still. I explained that it was probably important to be better prepared.

{A few years ago, Craig and I were watching Cops and I noticed that police forces had started using plastic cuffs that look like garbage bag ties which close more tightly. I got very excited and told Craig that I was positive that the plastic tie handcuff innovation was inspired by me and my mini wrists. He stared, as always, and then asked me to never share that theory with anyone. But it’s hard not to discuss what may have been a real contribution to the law enforcement community on my part.}

When we got to the station I would say hello to Tom and Carla, who were often in charge of checking me in. “Booking,” I believe they called it. They were lovely people, just lovely. And they’d lead me into my very own private cell which made me feel like a bit of a celebrity, to tell you the truth. Special treatment, you know. One time, after having been there for a few hours I called Carla over and asked her if I could be released early for good behavior. I’d been quite well behaved that night, if I did so say myself. She said no, it didn’t work that way. But she did agree that I was being especially good, so she shared her granola bar with me. I was deeply touched.

Eventually I’d fall asleep and I’d awake in the morning and call my long suffering friend Dana, who had always wisely slipped an index card with our phone number into my back pocket. And she’d pick me up and we’d go to Waffle House and discuss what we were going to wear that night.

Wow. Strange, but true.

I started thinking of these stories yesterday when I got an email from a woman who is a sheriff deputy and reads this blog daily. In her email she thanked me for inspiring her. I was up all night thinking about her and how proud I am that she’s reading my blog. I forwarded her email to my dad with the subject line: DAD- THE POLICE ARE READING MY BLOG! which was probably so much more enjoyable for him to receive than my usual announcement “DAD- THE POLICE ARE READING MY RIGHTS!”

You guys, I don’t want to sound boastful, but I think I’m finally coming up in the world.

Joelle, Tom, Carla, Grandpa, and every other kind and dedicated officer. Thank you. Thank you for protecting me from bad guys, even when the bad guy is me. Thank you for serving so bravely and honorably. Thank you for improving all of my camping experiences exponentially. And thank you, especially, for the granola bar. I was really hungry. I appreciate you.