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photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

...And What a Lovely Bouquet I'll Make

We have a board game, a silly board game called "Imagine If".

You write the names of people in your family on the board, and roll the dice. Once a person has been chosen, one of the question cards is read. For example-

"Imagine if __________ were a food. Would he/she be
a) ice cream
b) t-bone steak
c) potato chips
d) broccoli

The agreeing majority get to move ahead, while the rest must stay put.

It can actually be a pretty fun game, especially since at least one of our family members listed is not human, and it was an interesting exercise in imagination to decide exactly what crime best described Conrad the sheep (most awesome answer was Ward's- tax evasion).

So that's what I was thinking of when I started thinking about flowers today.

If I were a flower, which one would I be? Or like to be?

Now in a previous life I was a florist, so I'm reasonably up on those domesticated objects d'amor- the roses, carnations, daisies, orchids and the less known but even more lovely alstromerias, wax flowers and stock. They're all pretty...except one.

Madame Delbard roses. Every year those damn things are pushed to the max as the ultimate expression of capital L Love and they are AWFUL- huge trunks of stems several feet long crusted with the most vicious thorns created and to protect what? Giant bullets o' blooms more clenched fist than flower. It's not unusual for them to not even open- just sit there all balled up and angry looking, then one day shrivel up and fall off the stem in spite of the green wire impaling them and holding them in a garishly natural position.

And they're not even red. They're this evil smoldering maroon-with-a-black-varnish shade.

The worst part about them?

They don't smell. Not one bit. How the hell can anyone buy a rose that doesn't smell like a rose?

So people would come into the flower shop and say "I want some of those Madame Delbard roses I saw on the TV- nothing but the best for my sweetheart". And I'd say "No. If you care even a tiny bit for this person there are a thousand flowers more deserving of being a symbol of your affection- here- let me show you a few".

But I digress...

What kind of flower would I be?

I love the old fashioned flowers- the Grandmother's Garden flowers- hollyhocks, peonies, tiger lilies, morning glories, columbines...I can't choose.

I love the wildflowers- bluebonnets, indian blankets, honeysuckles, trumpet flowers, wisteria, trilliums, may apples, jack in the pulpits...I can't choose.

I love the weeds- goldenrod, dandelions, clovers, day flowers, thistles, milkweed...

...wait a minute.

There is one. One flowering plant that thrives everywhere, especially in poor soil, that laughs at drought and grows green and lush while even the cactuses wither and disappear,that possess both delicate white flowers and deadly poison-tipped hairy leaves.

That one. I choose resilience, beauty, determination, wildly effective defensive protection despite being rooted firmly at the lower end of the food chain.

I'd like to be a bull nettle, please.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

We WILL Have This Heartwarming Family Experience Even If It Kills Us

It's here again.

The pre-vacation madness.

Every year it's the same, and every year it surprises the hell out of me even though every year it's the same.

Oh, it starts out innocently enough- "Honey, lets go _________ on vacation".

We take traveling very seriously in our family. Vacation is not so much about commercial destinations (Disneyland, Six Flags, Sea World) but about enjoying the people we'll meet and/or visit along the way, absorbing the history and scenery of the places we drive through and relishing the truly quirky shit we come across.

Since we home school, we consider "road trips" to be the 4th R.

We endeavor to not repeat a route, and Alec has been to 25 of these United States in his 11 years. We won't be adding any new ones this year- we'll be going to my hometown.

I haven't been back to Wisconsin for at least 5 years, meaning I haven't seen my mother, father or brother in that long. My dad's 80 (?!) and July 4th is coming up and there aren't any decent parades around here- with marching bands and garage bands and corporate floats (Racine is home to Johnson Wax, Case Co, and a few others) and Shriners and stilt-walkers and politicians waving from tricked-out convertibles and horses and baton twirlers and fire engines and tanks and (shudder) clowns.

My son needs to see his grandparents and his uncle. My son needs to experience a kickass parade. So off we go.

The First Phase is fun- "We're going to Wisconsin". The entire concept is shiny and innocent and pruny as a newborn babe.

The Second Phase is fun- "How will we GET to Wisconsin?" That's where the atlas is consulted like a Ouija board. "Oh Great Spirit- who can we impose on...errr....visit on our upcoming sojourn?" People we know and people we want to meet are all included- we're insatiably curious, naturally gregarious, ridiculously cheap.

In between people we know/want to meet are generally a few spans that (amazingly) don't include anyone we know/know of. Then to the internet for Independently-owned lodging. We've stayed in everything from little cabins to a tiny hotel perched at the top of a small mountain to a historic lodge in Kalispell...all for the cost (or less) of a sketchy Days Inn on the interstate. This year we'll be staying in a yurt in Hot Springs, a historic hotel on the square in Topeka, a loft in Tulsa and a llama farm in Wisconsin.

Phase Three is where my family becomes scarce and silent- the "Arranging for Farm Sitters and Getting Work in Order" phase. This year we have who I think will be an excellent sitter, but we are smack dab in the center of an audit at work. Through clenched teeth I mutter "It'll be fine it'll be fine it'll be fine" handily frightening everyone within hearing well out of range of my personal space.

Phase Four- gathering funds. We don't have credit cards. We work on cash. Some things I had planned on worked out...some didn't. We leave on vacation in 5 days and will be gone for 10. I have enough money to get us through...day 7. When Ward and Alec went into town to run errands this morning and I was freaking out about this he said (jokingly) "Hmmm...think we'll go to a movie this afternoon". (Because that would keep them away from the crazy woman at home a little longer). I'm not sure, since I wasn't in front of a mirror, but I believe flames actually leapt from my eyes as my voice morphed into that deep echo voice TV reserves for possessed people- "WE DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY FOR A MOVIE".

Here's the thing.

We never have enough money for vacation. We've taken a yearly road trip every year but one for the last 15 years. We always go and we always wing it and we always pinch pennies and we are always able to slide into home base having covered thousands of miles of meeting wonderful people and seeing awesome things and the gas tank on E and with about 27 cents stuck to the bottom of the cup holder in the car.

(The previous paragraph has been printed off and taped to the inside of my eyelids for the duration).

Tomorrow starts Phase Five- the actual build-up. Stocking the barn so the critters don't run out of food, walking the farm-sitter through the chores, cleaning the house(s), working extra to make up for the days I'll miss, and packing.

My family loves vacation time. It's sort of a swimming-with-sharks, dancing-in-lava, poking-a-honey-badger-with-a-short-stick invigorating personal growth experience.

And what kind of a mother and wife would I be to deny them THAT?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

All the World's a Flock, All of Us Merely Flockers

The head of the English department at William Horlick High School, Racine Wisconsin circa mid-'70's was a short, stern man of few words with the incredibly UN-English name of John Barootian.

Mr. Barootian loved his students. They were fresh minds, keen intellects, full of potential and incredibly easy and cheap labor.

Because you see, Mr. Barootian was a mild mannered English Department Head during the day, but by night and weekend he was a farmer. Not just any farmer, a poultry farmer who supplied area restaurants with tasty menu items- pheasants, quail, partridges, chickens, geese and ducks.

Good god, the ducks.

Muscovy ducks were the mainstay of the operation and there were literally a thousand of them. I volunteered to be the person in charge of the twice daily feeding and watering of the poultry which then excused me from that one day at the very end of their lives when he lined up anyone willing to make the $3.35 per hour minimum wage was back then by gutting, dunking in hot wax, peeling and packaging all the feathered entrees Mr. Barootian quickly dispatched at the head of the line and Mrs. Barootian packed in ice at the other end.

My first day on the job I learned many things.

Muscovy ducks don't quack. They have yellow bills and pink feet and they squeak- which is sort of cute, and hiss- which is really disturbing.

Muscovy ducks in large numbers and close quarters produce a horrifying amount of duck shit, which is without a doubt, the slipperiest substance on earth, unless it's been rained on and then it's a million times slipperier than that.

Baby chickens are assholes.

If one gets a tiny boo boo the others waste no time in cannibalizing him/her. They also don't mind smothering, stampeding, squashing the others without regard for the piteous cries of the victimized.

You could say they're almost human.

Geese generally have a leader.

I'd go into the goose pen, which was short of shade and long on geese, and I'd be carrying the water hose.

They wanted the water.

They'd all (there were 50 in the pen) huddle in the back for a moment. Then one would take a step towards me...muttering. The others would follow just a pace behind, giving him confidence and taking from him bravery. I learned to bring the golden retriever in there with me- without his accompaniment they'd overrun me and those damn birds are BIG.

Pheasants aren't meant to be kept inside.

Even though their barn was plenty big enough for them- indeed they milled around together leaving 75% of it empty, and it let in all the natural light through the screened windows, they turned neurotic and ended up turning on each other out of boredom, frustration, despair, the not-quite-squelched genetic memory of being a wild bird driving them literally insane.

To this day the pheasants make me the saddest.

Quails.

The quail pen was in the loft of the barn. Mr. Barootian gave one terse instruction "Don't scare the quail". I assumed that since they were the size of a tennis ball but not nearly as solid this admonition was to avoid scaring the bejeezus out of the little darlings- they may fall over from the vapors or something.

One day I forgot, and the screened door slammed shut behind me.

That's when I learned that when quail are frightened, they fly immediately and violently TOWARDS whatever frightened them, since I was instantly pummeled by 200 quail.

I learned that a cairn terrier- Toto from the Wizard of Oz was a cairn- can kill a bird every 20 seconds until caught up and re-tied in the back yard.

I learned that partridges are beautiful, and quiet, and calm, and perfect. Very little poop, no hissing, no cannibalizing, no neuroses, no pummeling. The ladies and gentlemen of the poultry world, bar none.

A partridge, with our without pear tree, truly is the perfect gift for your one true love.

The drummers drumming would, however, annoy the hell out of me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To Charles and Chuck and Norman and Ward...

My dad would be the first to say he wasn't a good one. He'd be dead wrong, but he'd be the first (and only one) to say it.

I think dad just didn't "get" kids. He's quiet and serious and shy, but also hysterical if you pay attention- his humor is very subtle but genius. MOM was the outgoing, social, take us places, do stuff with us, ruler of the household and enforcer of punishments. Seemed she was always hollering at us for something or threatening us with something and mostly it sounded to us like those old Charlie Brown cartoons where every adult voice is played by a muted trombone.

Dad is a professional photographer- a truly gifted news photographer who was wooed by every big paper from Milwaukee to Miami, but he declined them all- kept us in our home town because he believed it was the best thing for his family.

Dad never raised his voice or his hand- I remember ONCE being spanked by my dad. Three quick swats. I was about five years old and don't even remember the transgression but I'm pretty damn sure I never did it again.

*In retrospect I suspect it was either dumping my baby brother face down on the floor whilst he was still strapped into his infant seat on the sofa or sticking his tiny finger into the wall socket- after that I sorta gave up and accepted that he was gonna be a permanent addition to the family.*

Dad taught me to do the right thing even when it's not what you yourself want to do, and to care for your family even when they make you crazy... ESPECIALLY when they make you crazy.

Oddly enough (or maybe not at all) Ward shares some of the same traits as my dad- quiet, shy, subtle brilliant humor, crazy smart and courage far surpassing anything in the mortal world. He's never treated Alec like a baby or a child- always as another human, another thinking cognizant human and always with respect. He'll be the first to say he's not a good dad- he's dead wrong, and the only one to say it, but he fears it all the same.

Every single day Ward shows me by example- patience, graciousness, strength, love. And every day I absorb it all, but I'm afraid I give just a fraction back. Every morning I get up at 7am promising the Universe that I'll be patient and kind and calm and by 9am the Universe is very disappointed.

My grandfather on my dad's side was quick to tell me he was a terrible father, and he was right, quite honestly. He made some bad calls in life and he told me more than once that it always surprised him that my dad didn't end up in prison with the role model he had. By the time I came along, Grandpa Chuck was pretty leveled out and upstanding- had been married to the same wonderful woman many many years- his 5th wife Eloise who was quiet and elegant and a mechanical engineer- the first woman to attain that degree in Ohio- and he was her biggest fan- would take out drawings she'd done and pour over them amazed at the detail (which was amazing- all that was before computers and software and done by hand).

He was finally stable financially, and emotionally, and I absolutely adored him. He taught me to cook and play cribbage and place a bet at the horse track.

My grandfather on my mom's side was more like dad...and Ward. Grandpa Norman was quiet and stayed pretty much to himself- at their house he had a workshop in the basement he spent hours in- I don't even remember anything he did in it, but I do remember the photo on the wall above his workbench- a photo of himself and his 2 brothers all in uniform for WWII. They all came back- Norman and Carl to normal lives with normal jobs and families and Earl crawled into a bottle and stayed there.

Grandpa Norman's wife, Grandma Ellen, was a bundle of energy, always busy with something or other and always fretting about something or someone. Norman just tried to stay out of her way. Norman never had to wonder if he was a good dad, Ellen kept him pretty up to date on all his earthly transgressions as she saw them.

They had a cabin "up north" they went to every weekend and Norman fished. Every day. All day. He taught me to fish, and how to deal with difficult people, and to pay attention to details and numbers- he was a retired comptroller.

Happy Father's Day Dad, Grandpa Chuck, Grandpa Norman, Ward.

Ya'll made being a daughter, granddaughter, wife and mother so very easy.



Grandpa Norman and me...round about 1963.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sideways Thursday

The dog
My dog
Normally a very good dog
Has a weakness for chickens

This morning
She killed my favorite chicken
The little feather-footed
Black and white spotted
Banty chicken
And the day began in darkness

For a while
Most of the day
I didn't know if someone I care about
Was dead
Or alive
And the darkness deepened

It wrapped around me
Making it difficult to breathe deeply

Then I heard he was fine
Still hurting inside
But alive
And going to stay that way
I took a deep breath and exhaled
Blowing a tiny hole in the darkness

My older son called
Out of the blue
Merely to talk to me
To talk
To me
And the sun started to shine

Just in time for it to set
And make way
For the rising of a
Baked Custard Moon

Think I'll go outside
And listen to the frogs
And the crickets
And the owls
And the coyotes
And if I'm very very lucky
The distant howl of the red wolves

Now that the darkness is friendly again

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Eyes Have It

Up until recently, I had perfect vision.

The family joke was always that my mom was near sighted, my dad far sighted and both my brother and myself have perfect vision.

I could see anything, read anything, thread a tiny embroidery needle with translucent thread...first try...at dusk.

About 8 years ago I was having trouble with the close-up stuff, so I broke down and bought the cheaters at the Dollar Store. Just the weakest ones, doncha know.

Every year or so, I'd have to upgrade to the higher power till almost 2 years ago, when I ran out of higher powers.

I went to the eye doctor for the first time since...the nurse came around and did a cursory eye check in 5th grade.

That's not exactly true- they test your eyes at the DMV.

In fact, I went into the eye doctor's office pretty smug and secure- I'd just renewed my driver's license and passed the exam with flying colors.

"Are you having trouble reading?" Why yes- yes I was.

"How about distance?" Certainly not- I have perfect vision (except for that reading thing).

"Please read the letters on the wall". Ummm....what letters?

So I got my first pair of prescription eyeglasses- bifocals.

Put 'em on, made my way to the car (cleverly overstepping all the rifts in the surface of the earth that weren't there when I went in there), turned the key in the ignition and looked up.

SWEET JEEBUS LOOKIT THE LEAVES ON THE TREES! THEY'RE EVERYWHERE, BILLIONS OF 'EM ALL SHARP AND POINTY LOOKING!

There was a definite learning curve for the ol' lady specs- the earth really wasn't shattered into tiny earthquake ravines, that was the difference betwixt the far-looking and near-looking parts of the lenses. And I've had to trade my regular chair in for a barstool to sit on at my computer desk so I can look down through the reading part of the lenses instead of craning my neck backwards and glaring down my beak like an offended duck.

And I got used to not being able to even go to the bathroom at night without my glasses on.

But all in all, I was cool with it.

Until...

...a few months ago I started having dizzy spells and headaches.

The boys being the boys, they wanted to cart me right in for CAT scans. Good luck with that, I say. Granted they panicked out of love and devotion and the fact that our family health history is frankly horrifyingly terrifying.

Then they decided that it was probably migraine related- that even though you don't break with a full-blown head-splitter, dizziness can in fact be the symptom of a migraine.

Then I started thinking the right lens of my glasses was always mucked up- everything looked fuzzy on that side even though my glasses were planted firmly on my face.

Hmmm...no muck. My glasses weren't fuzzy. My right eye was.

So today I went to the eye doctor who confirmed that my aging eyes are even older than they were less than 2 years ago, and my right eye is aging faster than the left one.

The boys were happy to hear there is no sign of glaucoma or cataracts or anything else icky inside my eyeballs (other than that oozy stuff that keeps 'em from pruning up like giant all-seeing raisins).

I have a new prescription. And new glasses on the way. And that should take care of the dizziness and whatnot.

Alec got his eyes tested at the same time. 20/20 all the way.

That's my boy.

Ward's going on Friday- he hasn't had an eye exam since they found the cancer recurrence in the muscle behind his right eye five years ago, so he's WAY overdue.

We need to take care of our eyes- on accounta we're all so damn cute, and on accounta not being able to look into each other's eyes, each other's souls, to see the history and joy and pain and love reflected there would be a terrible loss.

And we've had enough of those.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"All Stand for the Pledge"

And we did- every single day at the beginning of school. Put our little hands over our hearts and faced the flag that hung in every room and recited the Pledge.

Even as a tiny child, I had a hunch the phrase "Under God" didn't quite fit- by using linear thought I couldn't help but wonder if we say "Under God" in the Pledge at school, why don't we say "In America as it is in Heaven" at church instead of "On Earth as it is in Heaven"?

Yep, complete Trouble from the very beginning.

And lo and behold, I was right. The original pledge as written in 1892 by Frances Bellamy- a man of God-

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

It's great. Short, to the point, very very powerful. So why the hell did they have to go and muck it up by adding 2 words about God?

Well, it was during the Commie Scare of the '50's, see? We needed to differentiate ourselves as much as possible from those Reds across the Pond- the Godless Reds.

So there ya go. Insert God into a Pledge to our (as specified in the 1st Amendment)Higher-power-neutral nation. And we're instantly weaker.

If I remember my history even half correctly, our Founding Fathers were trying to base a country on freedom from all sorts of oppression, and the stickiest wicket always seems to be religion.

Starting in 1865, "In God We Trust" was ALLOWED to be printed on coins, but not required. The same Commie scare prompted the requirement on all our money in 1956.

I like the idea of the "Disclaimer stamp"- I'd get one and use it if enough money actually passed through my hands to make a difference...



"Well, then, little Miss Separation of Church and State- howz about the 10 Commandments being posted in our government offices? They're carved in marble and everything so it MUST be legal".

Ummm...not really.

According to the Supreme Court (and alot of smaller courts as well)"the posting of isolated religious texts and symbols in any public buildings is unconstitutional".

Period. No comma, no asterisk, no parentheses. Period.

If an individual student or politician or any American citizen wants to carry the Ten Commandments with them, paint them on their own personal vehicle, shit- have them tattooed on their forehead- go for it.

Pray in school or at work- bow your head and utter a quiet respectful heart-felt prayer of thanks or forgiveness or plea for help with the test you didn't study for.

Our country's in trouble, folks. We need to rally ourselves and not fight against each other- rally around what our Founding Fathers REALLY wanted for their brand new country, and not all the bullshit that's come since and still being spewed as (pun intended) Gospel Truth.

Every religion and faith and spiritual teaching- shoot, the basis of every civilized society has at its base the Golden Rule- "Do unto others"- empathy, respect, knowledge, balance.

Because letters like the one below? make my eyes bleed, my brain hurt and my heart sink.



Take us Home, Bill-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8Q1fDf0GeY

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I Take You, Ward...

...to have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.

We've run the Vow Gauntlet and come out the other side still strong, still together, and still very much in love.

You are, and always have been my strength, my safety, the calming force that keeps my head from exploding on a daily basis.

My knight in shining armor.

I did.

I do.

I always will.

For always and forever.

Happy Anniversary tomorrow, Gomez-

"NOW can we go to the zoo?" *wink*


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Something I Get A Little Worked Up About...

Back in high school everyone had Weed. It was the '70's yanno.

Now I've told my children that I never ever smoked any pot, and I'm standing by that statement with a clear conscience and an open heart. I never ever smoked any pot.

Smoking is bad for you.

Brownies, however, are God's gift to mankind.

And I may or may not have been part of the group of school newspaper students who crawled through the window of the newspaper office, into the (supposedly locked from outside) greenhouse and planted a small crop there- hidden in plain view so to speak.

(My mom's finding out all sorts of stuff about me this week, what the hell.)

Once I got to be a grownup, I really never gave pot another thought- liquor was legal and accessible, and I even outgrew that once I gave birth the first time. Nothing dries you out quicker than a poopy diaper on a hangover morning.

Then along came Ward and his cancer.

Last year's ride on the Cancer Complications Train nearly cost him his life and he came out of it much much much worse for wear- 50 pounds underweight, in a huge amount of pain, and with a whopping dose of depression from, yanno- almost dying and whatnot.

He's limited as to what he can take for pain, but they've got him dosed as high as they can on what (sort of) works. He's already on medication for depression. I'm feeding him up like a fatted calf for cripes sake.

The medically-allowed lab created THC pills are not recommended- they're very harsh and have more side effects than the other drugs. It's the entire plant, and its unique mix of organic materials and chemical properties that do what it does. The doctors flat-out stated that they wouldn't consider the pills- said it would hurt more than help and generally be a waste of money.

One doctor looked at us in perfect seriousness and asked "Have you ever considered marijuana?" He then told us that he's got a fair number of elderly patients who take it for pain or cancer or glaucoma. They get it from their grandkids.

We have no grandkids.

I asked about CPS- we have an eleven year old son. Well, CPS in Texas has a pretty strict policy about removing from a home where there are drugs so there went that. I lost my older 2 children in a dirty custody battle and that almost truly absolutely killed me. Ward watched me go through that and is adamant that nothing will happen to cause that again. Even something that would ease his pain.

His constant, gnawing, soul-eating pain.

So here we are- a year later and he STILL has trouble keeping weight on, STILL has bouts of depression, and is in pain EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF EVERY SINGLE DAY despite the pain killers, anti-depressants and MY COOKING.

Alcohol kills more people and families and brain cells than pot ever has. Cigarettes kill more non-smokers and pets and lungs than pot ever has. Hell, Big Macs and Whoppers kill more middle-aged people and diets and childhoods than pot ever has.

Shut up. Legalize it. For everyone. I don't give a shit.

Here's what I want.

I want every single pot-related convicted "criminal" in jail released because 99.999% of them are absofuckinglutely HARMLESS to society.

I want all the sanctimonious "Oooooh- it's a Gateway Drug" bullshit-spewing holier-than-thous who have their Just Say No To Drugs event planning meetings with a glass of wine and a cigarette to kiss my ass.

I want my husband- my Knight in Shining Armor- to have ready access to something that everyone KNOWS will help- that medical testing has SHOWN will help. Because anything else is ridiculous and inhumane.

And I want every person who looks down their nose from up on their high horse and says "Well, it's an illegal substance, wrong is wrong" to have to look into the suffering eyes of a loved one and KNOW you could help but not be able to because your CHILD would be in danger of being taken away if you did.

Make. That. Choice. Assholes. Then tell me what's right...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sure Is Quiet All of a Sudden

Yesterday morning at 7:30 the axis shifted a bit at our house.

Joe and his friend Karen pulled out of the yard for a month + trip to Wyoming and Montana, Molly happily slobbering out the back window.

As of tonight, they've landed in Wyoming, where they'll spend the next week or so before heading to Montana for the duration and the wedding of Joe's friends Bruce and Maryann before turning the truck south again.

It's always mildly alarming when Joe leaves. Like the silence you notice because some sort of background noise has stopped. Not that Joe lives in the background- he's very much a part of our family, of our home.

So much has changed since his last summer migration.

Last year we had just returned from our nightmare in Houston. He had single-handedly run the farm by himself, not a small feat and one he wasn't prepared for- we were supposed to be gone a mere week, not almost six. Ward was very weak and very thin and very fragile and even though Joe really really wanted (no- more like he needed) to escape for just a bit he stayed till he was sure we were going to be OK.

When he left, Ward was slowly mending, Alec and I were still shell shocked, we were foreseeably forever in our old beloved but hopelessly large and cluttered farmhouse and the new place was just a dream and a drawing on graph paper for all of us.

In the fall, he came home to a house being built and his cabin already delivered and set in place- waiting for him to finish out as he wanted to. Ward was stronger and gaining weight, Alec happier and I was focused with a fierceness on getting our log home up and us moved in...as though afraid it would all disappear if I didn't keep things in forward motion. Truth be known, I was afraid of that.

So he kept telling me this year he really didn't want to go- his heart's not in it anymore, this migration he's taken every summer and had planned on taking...forever.

I know a lot has to do with his little cabin- his place designed by him and for him- his Home. Where before Montana held his memories and his friends and all the trappings of Home for him almost 40 years deep, now that's shifted, with every wall erected and every picture hung just a little farther south with each vestige of a nest until now he visits up yonder, but he lives...here.

The last few days have seen some "issues" arise with our blood relations- issues that have made us sad but resigned, mourning with a veneer of acceptance.

I made the comment at the dinner table last night (one chair obviously empty) that "Sometimes families just suck" to Alec, who doesn't understand why we're estranged from people who share our blood- like most children he takes it inside and assumes guilt, which he knows is irrational, but that's humans for ya.

Without missing a beat, he piped up defensively, "Not Joe- Joe doesn't suck and HE'S family". I started to explain that like other people we love and have taken to our hearts as Family, Joe's not "really" our relation, but he knows that. He remembers that Joe shares no family tree with us, that he literally pulled into the yard one day out of the interwebs- no stork brought him to us.

We have family.

We have friends.

We have friends who are truly considered Family.

And we have just two who ARE Family- Jordan and Joe.

Jordan is overseas working for at least a year, and Alec skypes and emails and chats and holds onto his brother as best he can.

Joe is in the frozen northlands (really- he said there's snow on the mountains yet) till early July- not September or October as in the past. I'm thinking he's coming home sooner mainly because considering all the changes made LAST year while he was gone, he's askeerd of what may happen this time.

Hurry Home, Joey- Your Family misses you. And I promise not to make any changes to your place while you're gone...trust me.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Some Like It Hot

Like me. I love summertime. Not that pseudo-summertime north of the Mason-Dixon line- summers of tank top afternoons and jacketed nights and mornings- that's Sissy Summer, Faux Summer, Summer-Lite.

It's June 1st and 100 degrees out on the porch. In the shade. Inside it's a very comfortable 85- we have no central air conditioning. The box fans hum in the windows, drawing in shaded air from the porches. The ceiling fans whirr and move the air along its path rising up, across and out the gable windows at either end of the house.

Our habits change with the weather, like the tiny particles of Nature that we are. Working in the cool of the morning and evening, quiet chores in the shade during the hottest part of the day.

Even our digestive tracts crave something different- lighter, fresher, quicker meals- more snacks than formal dinners- replace the quilt-heavy comfort foods of winter.

The cement floor is cool on my bare feet, the breeze warm but not stifling. Everything inside me slows- breathing, heartbeat, thoughts.

The air is not the cold, clammy, mold-ridden air from a machine. It flows through our home carrying the song of the birds, the insectal whine of a billion busy bugs, the scent of melting pines.

As I type, a hummingbird zooms in and out, now drinking from the feeder outside my window, now suspended in mid-air right in front of me. Looking through the glass and into the sun it was difficult to identify him the first few days. He hovers now less than a yard from my be-speckled bi-focaled eyes and glares at me from under feathered brows- "See??? Ruby throat- do I have to write it down for you?"

Hummingbirds are such assholes.

The dogs are deflated on the floor, spreading themselves paper-thin so every cell comes into contact with the cement.

A single blossom from our gardenia bush floats in a ceramic egg cup that was Ward's mom's, spicy, floral, I close my eyes and am back at my grandparent's house in Miami- Old Miami where the houses were cool stucco outside and louvered windows on the inside. Palm trees arched over the canal, lizards scurried frantically everywhere, then froze for no apparent reason, red throat flaps flagging real or imagined danger..

I planted that bush years ago at the old house- the 3rd attempt at getting a gardenia to grow. The first 2 I planted with great care and fertilized religiously. By the third one my heart had mostly given up- I stuck it in a mixture of road gravel and red clay next to the swing set. It flourished.

When we bought this land I transplanted it- stuck it in a mixture of rocks and red clay behind where I envisioned the house going...one day. It's tripled in size.

Right this minute I'm comfortable- gauze skirt and tank top, bare feet from April through November- I'm in my Comfort Zone, literally.

The sun has dropped below the huge cedars on the west side of the house, and I can feel it cooling, tiny bit by tiny bit- one sweated drop on the side of an iced tea glass at a time.

We'll go to bed on top of the sheets, next to each other but not touching. We'll talk some, and laugh some, and doze off warm and companionable, our hearts intertwined always, whether or not we physically meet.

Tonight the box fans will pull the cool air from the spring fed creek into the windows along with the chorus of the frogs, crickets and our ever-present lone whippoorwill, and by morning we'll be under light covers, instinctively turning towards each other for warmth, and comfort, and love.

We'll rise to an almost chilly-feeling 72 degrees, and begin again the rhythm of another day- kiss, coffee, family, work, Home.

Summertime in East Texas- my favorite season.

Until Autumn. And Winter. And Spring.
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