Category Archives: childhood

looking ahead without falling behind

something from 2012 that I thought you might like…

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The moon is somewhat of a sliver tonight and the air is heavy but soon there will be a front that moves in and tomorrow morning will be crisp and fall – like. I look forward to that.

I felt somewhat discombobbled today. All day I had thoughts going on in my head, words I wanted to put together to tell you something but I was not here. Now, I am here and the words have vaporized. It is so difficult for life to align itself, for everything to be synchronized; components seem to be missing many times. Or are they? Maybe we just don’t see them.

The fronts are struggling to find their way into this delta but change is in the air for certain. The ground is mottled with intensely colored leaves and the woods are tinted with ambers and burgundies, all under an azure sky that darkens suddenly now instead of the slow dimming brilliance of the summer one– Nature is busy preparing this glorious season. It is the last autumn of childhood for me; next fall only Skip and I will remain here in this house, everyone will be far away in school and at work. It is just as it should be but somehow, so challenging a passage for a mother to go through. They were all just upstairs playing or sleeping, rumbling around through childhood, a safe time I thought would never end. Now, it’s a plane ride to see them and a faceless voice when I hear them. They are (wonderfully) grown. Once again, I think of my mother and something she told me. When the twins started Pre –K, I was feeling like this – happy but shadowed by melancholia – and she enlightened me by referencing her own path as mother and told me how she looked forward to each new chapter of our lives. I suppose it is the best way to look at life, to focus on what is up ahead and just use the rear view mirror for an occasional reminder of how wonderful those yesterdays were.

I go forward with that thought and share it with you while I fill my heart with the wonders of yesterday and wait to embrace the gifts of today. And like my mother, I will celebrate each new stage and try to keep my sentiment on the pages of this blog – I so thank you for sharing this place with me and allowing me to get soppy sometime.

 

“A mother’s happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories”.

Honore de Balzac

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in memory of…

         

photo 2The weather did not allow much time for the garden this past week. It seems the enthusiastic implementation of my last post was abruptly halted by the unwelcome return of Old Man Winter. I was disappointed, but soon realized there was much muddle to unravel and unload inside. My unlikely target was the bathroom closet – three shelves and 30 years of pile up. I managed to fill a tall kitchen garbage bag full of expired “drugs”, Band-Aids that didn’t stick anymore, and miscellaneous items that had no names. I could not let go of baby thermometers, a pink bottle of baby lotion for Elizabeth, and a little bottle with an instruction label concerning “teething” for Matthew – just not ready to toss.

 

But what I did find, and is the reason I am posting, are four items that got most of us through the ailments of childhood. The only things missing are the Pepto Bismol – that was kept in the refrigerator and the Creomulsion, it was all gone. Just thought you’d connect to this pharmacy from the dark ages. I thought about these little “go to” items, little cans of soothing serum, that I used again and again throughout the childhood of five children and I wondered when was the last spray or drop used – whose burn or cut was it that brought me here to this magical closet that healed the hurt and put the Band-Aids on  to hide the graphics and then gave the kiss that made it all better – when did each of these have their final call to duty? I know it’s a small thing, this homage to these ancient and obsolete containers but that’s what it’s all about for me – the little things and these four things were the little heroes of our day for many years. I cannot say goodbye without a mention of  “mother’s little helpers” and immortalizing their final show.

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p.s. I know they look pretty shabby and slightly disgusting from the drips and spills of their content but it was a MASH unit in there and they were the stars! LOL

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it comes and goes

8470_10150340493549959_1292572160_n written on June 9, 2013 🙂

It’s over now; it’s the fabled “day after” and I am left with surges of melancholia and stretches of sadness – the “company” is gone and the occasions are over. It was all very anticipated  – Elizabeth’s graduation from high school { following 28 consecutive years of having one to  five children in school}, a first time visit from Julie, Matt and Drew coming home after being gone 17 months, the end of yet another school year for me , Skip reaching the last year of his fifth decade and me, soon after – it was a lot of stuff, at least for me, me who likes the day to day of life plain and simple and the meaning of life deep and apparent.

 I am creating this entry for me – I suppose this is where I think to go when I am a bit taken over by soppiness, here at the keyboard pecking at the still unknown order of the keys as I reel into a journey of sentimental thoughts and nostalgia. I don’t feel comfortable bothering anyone with my overzealous sentimentality but, then again, there may one of you that gets it, that gets this somewhat disturbing part of motherhood that allows you to remember all of those heart tug moments that take you to these places of tears and longing as you torture yourself with memories of holding tiny hands and rocking them to sleep, so I will write and post; here it is in all of its gooey glory. The bonus for me is that by the time I toil over finding the right keys, I never learned to type, and have thought a million mushy thoughts, I will be “okay” {until next time}.

The drive home from Louis Armstrong Airport yesterday was the beginning of this emotional binge I am currently on. I was very tired, however, and this exhaustion kept those sentimental thoughts at bay all of last night – there was no room for any contemplation of that sort. This morning however, I made the trek upstairs and went into the twin’s empty room and the first thing I saw was a pair of black socks on the floor…years before I would have possibly, but probably not, gone downstairs and said something like, “ You need to pick up your dirty socks  guys”, this morning they were a shrine – a memorial of their brief but wonderful visit, a visit that put them back in their beds, their clothes on the floor, the sounds of the TV seeping through the looseness of the door, and a “Good morning mom” the next day. Funny how those socks, a one-time source of minor irritation, became the catalyst that began this plunge of my heart.

I went outside and went with it – I picked a magnolia and I let its fragrance remind me of the summers we spent here and of the seemingly endless days of their childhood, the muddy boots, the skinned knees, stepping in red ant piles and water hose rescues, the rainbows over the field, and the afternoons that seemed to go on and on. There were a few berries left of the bramble of thorns and dried canes and they reminded me of the cobbler I made for all of them, my visitors, and the many others I made throughout the years. I walked around and I thought of it all and appreciated the gift I had just received, their company. IMG_0198

It seems that while these “things”, these events, are happening you are so overcome with the physical that the emotional trails behind and goes unrealized.  When the last one is gone, when the plane disappears into the clouds or the tail lights turn the bend, the emotional part quickly appears…and there you are feeling like I do now. There is much joy in my heart and I would be ashamed of myself to ever complain – it is not those feelings of sorrow or loss – it is just those feelings you develop with time, with age – this understanding that time is so fleeting and these moments, moments like I have just been granted, are indefinable and precious.

Anyway, I will end my sentimental journey here, at least for now. I have more socks to wash and flowers to pick and most importantly because I, like you, have been gifted with the most wonderful children in the world, I will spend the rest of my day in gratitude and ponder a funny but, sadly, true thought written by Holbrook Jackson: “A mother never realizes that her children are no longer children.”

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just juicing

 

And so the day ends with a few small kitchen chores…drying a few dishes, wiping the crumbs from the cabinet space near the toaster, and popping lids back on spice bottles and almond cans. While putting away some extra-large salad bowls in the cabinet beneath the candles, I met with some obstacles – a messy and out of order condition within the cupboard that kept me from stacking an oversized red bowl. I decided that “now” was a good time to straighten it up a bit. I reached in to take out everything (just a soon wipe the shelf down while reorganizing) and saw something from long ago in the corner. It was a juicer – not one like my mom used, the glass one that required squeezing an orange over its pointed protrusion, this one was electric – simple, but electric; it was mine.

My Darlin' Clementine

 

 

 I instantly thought of summer days long ago when boredom was lurking and kids were little and twitchy as the minutes sometimes crawled. Luckily, I kept a few things in my bag of tricks to cure monotony, one was the performance of this dutiful device. I’d take out a sack of oranges and this fancy juicer and some little fellows would take turns juicing. I had a little wooden stool to scoot up against the cabinet and their chucky little legs would hang from the seat as they had their turn turning navel oranges into a brew. The time passed, the orange juice, what was left, made it into the glass pitcher, the rinds to the compost and boredom dispersed.

When I saw that old appliance in the corner of the cupboard, I went back “there” so quickly. Back to a summer afternoon with little boys looking for something to do and the solution being so simple – just a distraction to reroute the afternoon.

Now, a professional Vita Mixer has a place of honor on my kitchen cabinet and every morning Elizabeth and I make green smoothies and when we really get ambitious about juice, another commercial appliance is taken from the cabinet over the stove. While oranges and kiwis go into the big and powerful Vita Mixer and a glass of very nutritious juice suddenly appears, the journey is not key here – there will be no moments to remember, just juice to drink. There is no lifting little boys up on wooden stools to reach the old juicer that mesmerized and entertained on a long summer afternoon in the country. It now sits still in a dark corner of my kitchen cabinet hardly remembered and never used but it has had many a vessel filled with delicious OJ and a simple life filled purpose.juicer

 

 

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for real

It was a picture taken in 1962 that prompted this post. There was a Christmas tree in the background with a little girl in front. The tree was so real – the icicles were thick and sparkly and had been put on by a child, the lights were big and the branches were random on this ordinary Douglas Fir. A special time had been created there with magic and tiny hands – nothing was perfect except the moment and the baby doll she was holding was one like I remember,  the eyes sort of clicked and rolled, the hair was etched  and she was wearing a long gown with tiny buttons – so real and pure. I felt that Christmas morning, that place before now when the emphasis was not on materialism and the world was still so big and “virtual” was not something I spoke of.

Anyway, it was just a snapshot of “then” that made me look at “now” and while some things are much better, I do miss the purity of life that was “then”– the wholeness and the understanding that the things that matter have nothing to do with marketing and consumerism, it was the solid structure of family that was just assumed, and the glory in the everyday things that made us happy. I choose to remain there in that place where Christmas trees had big colored lights and imperfect branches and happiness was  warm socks and hot soup in winter and dragonflies on  clotheslines in summer.

dad and I

 a snapshot of real happiness – balloons and a dad

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auld lang syne

 

Ok, I’m going with, I’m posting the syrupy mawkish mess of diction that describes how I feel right now and judging from some of the FB entries, I am not alone, some of you guys are feeling “it” too. I guess it’s part of the “seasoning” package.  “It” all started yesterday morning; these surprise feelings that come with being human. I walked into the living room, the front room, the room where Christmas morning happens and “it” was over. It was already gone except for a few boxes to recycle and some red ribbon I wanted to keep. The people were gone; people that came from faraway places and places nearby, the Christmas lights on my dried out tree were even over, a fuse blew. The day went on and the evening came and I found myself in my studio painting and listening to Classic Country on the Dawg (just like I do every Saturday night) and the Highwaymen came on, Willie started singing and I suddenly realized my four sons are gone too. I know that sounds really silly because they left a long time ago but it was one of those moments where something that seems very obvious isn’t really and all of a sudden it registers.It re-registers with the heart, this thing that the mind has known for a while, now the heart knows and it doesn’t have the linear reasonable thoughts of the mind. It doesn’t care that that’s how life progresses and all things are as they should be – scheduled and precise, no the heart doesn’t think those things, it just feels those little bits of sadness when a mom realizes her children are all gone, even though they physically left a long time ago.

 


sweetheart rose from my mother
 These feelings transcend time; they just show up in seemingly random spots triggered by something – a fragrance, a picture, a conversation, or a Willie Nelson song. Then the heart takes a tumble and there you are in this sentimental mush missing someone. I think it’s necessary though, this random passage through mush,because I want to remember all of the people in my life past and present and this time of year is a hotspot. My mother died on August 20, 1997 – right before the holiday madness. I thought I would not be able to get through Halloween- that’s where my kids trick or treated and she dressed like a witch and how could we have Thanksgiving, she prepared the tom turkey and we sat in her dining room as a family and forget about Christmas Eve, going to her house each night before Christmas was the tradition. Obviously, I did get through those times; we pulled together as a family and it was okay. Whew! Well, at about 11:00 New Year’s day 1998, I was walking to the wood pile in my yard and it hit me – this sentimental feeling that is hitting me now. There was no warning, no real cause, just a flood of emotion hit and it was all about her – it was all about beginning the first year of my life, 1998, without my mother in it. It brought on a stream of tears and a consequent river of memories, all tied to her. I spent most of the day there in that soppy place but after it was over, I felt much better. These bouts of extreme sentiment are here for a grand purpose – they cause you to reflect and remember and that is how we keep people with us – through reflection and memory.I call it a spiritual visit. 

I suppose nature knows how to bring on these bouts of emotion when they are needed. We are too busy, it seems, to go there on our own. So, we run into situations that force us to get knee deep in sentiment and when we do, I think we need to just go with it and be there for a while. Anyway, just posting this because I can guess that everyone reading this has a sort of void in their hearts on this cusp of the New Year,we all miss someone, I get that from reading your posts on FB. Isn’t it beautiful to remember though and if it means stopping a bit and crying or calling someone and telling or sitting here writing, it is what we should do. It’s how we keep people in our hearts when they can’t be here physically. Or, like our children, when they have gone into their own lives, as they should, and things are not as they were, it helps to remember those times that were their childhoods and admit that this passage is both joyous and disheartening for parents. We easily celebrate the joy but the counter emotion of soppiness should be addressed also, for it is just as real.

 Writing this has helped me through this sentimental journey and I feel much better as I type out these last words. I hope to begin 2013 with a stronger take on how happy I am for my four sons, how happy I am that they are having their own lives. I know, like you know, I will always miss some of those moments when life was different. I will go with these seemingly random bouts of emotions that old songs and New Year’s Eve can cause and then I will go on into the “here and now” remembering that today will one day be yesterday.
there are so many memories to find inside of a fireplace…
 
 

“We drank a toast to innocence we drank a toast to time
We’re living in our eloquence, another old lang syne”

dan fogelberg

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"Where are you Christmas"

Today was warm here, not very Christmassy but kind of nice to go outside and find some December gifts. There is nothing as beautiful as nature, there is nothing in a store to buy that comes near that beauty.

 I am ending the day with a hot cup of organic coffee and a teaspoon of honey from my bees of summer – I can’t express how wonderful this moment is to me. I decided to cap it off with a blog post just to make it memorable. Unfortunately, however, I‘ve not much to say. I am waiting on a cold front to arrive early tomorrow and cause the Christmas spirit to stir – at least I hope so, for it is not here. I draw on childhood memories to help get me there. I have so many and so many different focuses.

 
 
The ones about Miss Sue are so pure and deep. They are connected to nature; they are about cutting cedar trees in the woods, trees with bird’s nests and moss in them, and getting sticky sap on your carcoat and gathering giant pinecones from a place near the bayou and bringing them home to just be. They are about giving her a gift of homemade food and a late December visit by the fire. Those memories stir me, those memories made me. She was untouched by the commercialism of Christmas.

 Another memory is about my dad and the colossal effort he made one year to put together a huge wreath made from cedar boughs from the woods – this thing was engineered and I’m sure, the source of much stress – for him. I don’t know why he did it – but I remember it.

 I remember my mother too, of course I remember her – the manifestation of Christmas for me – the giver, the miracle worker, the one who created the magic; she defined it for me.

 
 
 
 
 


 Of all the things about Christmases past, most are not about things.

Those people are gone now and so are the Christmases of   childhood but, as is evident with this post, their spirits remain a constant in my life.

I don’t have the tree up and I have not been shopping, instead, I wait patiently for the arrival of the Christmas spirit.

I gathered these gifts from the December yard today – citrus from the trees, camellias to put in vases that were a birthday present from a dear friend and narcissus bulbs dug up in my yard at Thanksgiving to be forced bloomed for Christmas.
Christmas is the day that holds all time together. 
Alexander Smith
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Time

my snowman from Berry Tales 🙂

I try to recall the details of early December of last year – what I was doing, what worries I had – funny, but I can’t remember much negativity. I know something was there annoying me, concerning me, but, I obviously got through it. This lack of recollection makes me think about time and its magical effect, its purpose, really. I think of the figurative concept of moving through time – it carrying you forward as it washes away the troubles and concerns, leaving behind the good stuff – like little pebbles on the beach after the tide rolls out – smooth and shiny and brilliant from a cleansing; that’s what’s left of December 2011. I think of the early days of last December and I feel happiness. The twins were about to embark on a wonderful journey then and I know I was filled with apprehension and worry, but now, I just naturally go to that place of happiness, omitting any negativity that was running parallel to the good stuff that went on and I attach myself to that state where I felt happy. Hmmm, those pockets of peace restore us and time protects us, perhaps time is Nature’s Prozac.

 

It seems time is a gift in many ways. It heals, we all know that – and it sometimes washes away the things that are not so pleasant, leaving behind those that are – those memories that we need to keep, the ones that allow us to go on in gladness, for we must go on. It’s built in, this spirit we have to move ahead, to get better and to look forward. Like I posted before, we all need something to look forward to, whether it is a big event like a graduation, a big move or just a simple moment like the green beans sprouting in the garden – something good to anticipate – that keeps us healthy and  makes us happy.

 

I suppose time tweaks our memories a little – those days of childhood were probably not as gleeful as we “remember” but those “photo shopped “memories give us happiness now and what could be wrong with that? The bumps and bruises will all heal and fade away and , hopefully, we will all be left with a rich golden resin that was our childhood, one that we somewhat mimic for our children. Time is our friend.

 

I write this because it is nearly Christmas; it is the Christmas that you will reflect on next year and in the years to come. These moments are so fragile and so over anticipated and in 2012, so over done – Christmas has become the biggest retail extravaganza in the world. We have come a long way since the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; now it’s diamonds, Apple, and Mercedes. I hope we can all disregard most of that hype and understand that those things will most likely be forgotten; time will not keep a list of material things. It will, however, help you to remember the warm wishes, the still and cold night when you look up at the vastness of the Christmas sky, the afternoon spent in the kitchen with a child, the smell of cinnamon and evergreens, the macaroni ornament from someone’s first grade year, and the fleeting moments with the people you love. Time will only leave behind that golden resin that was this Christmas.
 

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looking ahead without falling behind

The moon is somewhat of a sliver tonight and the air is heavy but soon there will be a front that moves in and tomorrow morning will be crisp and fall – like. I look forward to that.

 I felt somewhat discombobbled today. All day I had thoughts going on in my head, words I wanted to put together to tell you something but I was not here. Now, I am here and the words have vaporized. It is so difficult for life to align itself, for everything to be synchronized; components seem to be missing many times. Or are they? Maybe we just don’t see them.

The fronts are struggling to find their way into this delta but change is in the air for certain. The ground is mottled with intensely colored leaves and the woods are tinted with ambers and burgundies, all under an azure sky that darkens suddenly now instead of the slow dimming brilliance of the summer one– Nature is busy preparing this glorious season. It is the last autumn of childhood for me; next fall only Skip and I will remain here in this house, everyone will be far away in school and at work. It is just as it should be but somehow, so challenging a passage for a mother to go through. They were all just upstairs playing or sleeping, rumbling around through childhood, a safe time I thought would never end. Now, it’s a plane ride to see them and a faceless voice when I hear them. They are (wonderfully) grown. Once again, I think of my mother and something she told me. When the twins started Pre –K, I was feeling like this – happy but shadowed by melancholia – and she enlightened me by referencing her own path as mother and told me how she looked forward to each new chapter of our lives. I suppose it is the best way to look at life, to focus on what is up ahead and just use the rear view mirror for an occasional reminder of how wonderful those yesterdays were.

I go forward with that thought and share it with you while I fill my heart with the wonders of yesterday and wait to embrace the gifts of today. And like my mother, I will celebrate each new stage and try to keep my sentiment on the pages of this blog – I so thank you for sharing this place with me and allowing me to get soppy  sometime .
A mother’s happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.
Honore de Balzac

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life marches on

It was a very early rise this Saturday morning in September – my daughter has ACT and she and her best friend were up and stirring before 6. That was a good thing, however (not ACT, yuk to that rigid one dimensional humbug) getting up early on a Saturday morning. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with those few minutes before sunrise – sit outside with coffee. It was so connecting; I felt part of the whole as I listened to daybreak and contributed my small sounds to it. Mostly, it was the birds that I heard – I suppose I never realized how many different sounds they make – how individual they all are – I don’t think nature intended us to all be alike either – this blending concept that is all so politically correct these days and these generic looking people in advertising (you know what I’m talking about – those people that could be of any ethnicity – a marketing tactic to reach as many “victims” as possible), for me is unnatural. Being equal and being the same are two entirely different concepts. I think society does a great job trying to make us all look the same but it falters dramatically on making us all equal – the cookie cutter looks are just ways to distract from the harsh reality of inequality. I love the differences we all have – I would never want to paint a picture with just a tube of blue.

 
 
 
Anyway, the morning was transcending. I suppose I will soon have much time to re acquaint myself with the sunrise and the sounds of the earth waking up – for like the birds, my nest will soon be empty too. That’s a bundle of mixed emotions there. As we always say, where did the time go? I am happy about the lives my sons are carving out for themselves – they are independent lives – they have gone away and found their way, their own way. Hopefully, my daughter will be able to do the same. It is what we want as parents, right? What an internal conflict we feel – we try to raise them to be independent of us  and when they finally are, we are happy but we also feel this …whatever “this” is.I suppose without really knowing, we begin from the very first day of their lives teaching them to be independent of us. Well, after about 20 or so years of that, they, hopefully, are – it’s what we wanted, it was our job.
 

 

 
 
It seems I am doing a bit of rambling here – sorry. I hope, as always, there is something within this post that finds a place in your situation. This motherhood/parenthood topic is something paramount for me and I have a feeling it is important to most of my readers also. Our children are our lives and they are our gauges that read the happiness or sadness in our hearts. There have been times, one recently, when one of their worlds was upside down and it consumed me, it paralyzed me until they were straight again. It’s what we do; it’s who we are. I told a friend recently that I feel as though mothers are like human size filters – everything flows through us as we try to make the lives of our children the best they can be and these heartfelt efforts take their toll and leave the impurities there with us so that our kids can move on.

 

 I refer to my mom many times and I think of her always. She is there in those early mornings when I sit quietly by myself and I can still draw from her wisdom. She once told me – I suppose it was when one of my children had reached a milestone ( like going to pre – k J ) that she was never sad about the “closing door”, instead she looked forward to the next thing we would do. I remind myself of that often and aspire to be so positive towards this natural and inevitable evolution of life.
 

 

 I end with a public expression of gratitude and humility for the experiences life has given me thus far and I do not take one moment, one gift, for granted as I look ahead with the anticipation of the next chapter and I wish this appreciation and courage for you also. Thanks mom.
 
 

 

 
 
Let go
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