Fall woods

Fall woods

Sunday, August 21, 2016


He lost his left leg well above the knee six or seven years ago in a motorcycle accident.  As he put it, the bumper of the car that hit him (and the jeans he was wearing at the time) went through his femur.  Younger than me, maybe in his mid-thirties, he's very fit-looking, his muscled arms bearing the kind of tattoos that made me wonder if perhaps he'd lost his leg while in the military when I first noticed him standing near me in the hallway.

He spent six months in a wheelchair after the accident.  During this time, his ex-wife left him.  He now has his kids only eight days a month and desperately wishes it were more.  Remarried to a psychiatric nurse, he hopes for more children someday and has taken up meditation and tai chi to help him deal with the physical pain that is a permanent legacy of the accident, since he does not want to go the pharmaceutical route.

I'd never laid eyes on the man before that conversation, and I didn't start it.  I certainly didn't ask any personal questions.  I may not ever even see him again, who knows.  But I am convinced that the universe intends for me to listen to people who need to talk and I've come to consider that an honor.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Petunia had her regular well visit on Tuesday morning. She was measured at 4'6", which makes her all of two inches shorter than Simone Biles!  I can't even begin to process the fact that this astonishing gymnast is for all practical purposes the same size as my rising fourth grader.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Words To Live By

Stolen shamelessly from the Love What Matters Facebook page because it spoke to me.
"I work in a decent sized, local, indie bookstore. It’s a great job 99% of the time and a lot of our customers are pretty neat people. Any who, middle of the day this little old lady comes up. She’s lovably kooky. She effuses how much she loves the store and how she wishes she could spend more time in it but her husband is waiting in the car 'OH! I BETTER BUY HIM SOME CHOCOLATE!' She piles a bunch of art supplies on the counter and then stops and tells me how my bangs are beautiful and remind her of the ocean ('Wooooosh' she says, making a wave gesture with her hand.
Ok. I think to myself. Awesomely happy, weird little old ladies are my favorite kind of customer. They’re thrilled about everything and they’re comfortably bananas. I can have a good time with this one. So we chat and it’s nice.
Then this kid, who’s been up my counter a few times to gather his school textbooks, comes up in line behind her (we’re connected to a major university in the city so we have a lot of harried students pass through). She turns around to him and, out of nowhere, demands that he put his textbooks on the counter. He’s confused but she explains that she’s going to buy his textbooks.
He goes sheetrock white. He refuses and adamantly insists that she can’t do that. It’s like, $400 worth of textbooks. She, this tiny old woman, boldly takes them out of his hands, throws them on the counter and turns to me with an intense stare and tells me to put them on her bill. The kid at this point is practically in tears. He’s confused and shocked and grateful. Then she turns to him and says 'you need chocolate.' She starts grabbing handfuls of chocolates and putting them in her pile.
He keeps asking her 'why are you doing this?' She responds 'Do you like Harry Potter?' and throws a copy of the new Cursed Child on the pile too.
Finally she’s done and I ring her up for a crazy amount of money. She pays and asks me to please give the kid a few bags for his stuff. While I’m bagging up her merchandise the kid hugs her. We’re both telling her how amazing she is and what an awesome thing she’s done. She turns to both of us and says probably one of the most profound, unscripted things I’ve ever had someone say:
'It’s important to be kind. You can’t know all the times that you’ve hurt people in tiny, significant ways. It’s easy to be cruel without meaning to be. There’s nothing you can do about that. But you can choose to be kind. Be kind.'
The kid thanks her again and leaves. I tell her again how awesome she is. She’s staring out the door after him and says to me: 'My son is a homeless meth addict. I don’t know what I did. I see that boy and I see the man my son could have been if someone had chosen to be kind to him at just the right time.'
I’ve bagged up all her stuff and at this point am super awkward and feel like I should say something but I don’t know what. Then she turns to me and says: 'I wish I could have bangs like that but my darn hair is just too curly.' And leaves. And that is the story of the best customer I’ve ever had. Be kind to somebody today."
Credit: Christine Turel

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


So I blinked and another one of my kids had a birthday.  This time, Thing Two.  (I don't feel any different...wonder how they are getting older while I manage to stay the same age??) 

He will have a birthday party in September when all his friends are back from vacation, but yesterday we went out for lunch and frozen yogurt and then picked up a buddy of his and went bowling.  Hard to believe he'll be in middle school next year.  Technically, he could be going into sixth grade this year, but between his late birthday and his language difficulties, we held him back a year before starting kindergarten so he's going into fifth grade now instead.  He's still old enough to play some 'middle school' sports and to possibly need the 'middle school' shots at his well doctor's visit today, though, so he still has a toe in both worlds.  

He has his annual appointment with the neurodevelopmental pediatrician next week, so we've been putting all the paperwork together for that and it's been on my mind a lot lately.  He was four or five when he started seeing her and things were not going well at the time.  I never would have dreamed that by now he'd have a solid group of friends and be functioning pretty much normally in an on-level classroom!  He's worked so hard to overcome the challenges life tossed at him.

Happy eleventh birthday, buddy.  Mama is so proud of the fine young man you're becoming.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


So, I had a dream last night about a long-ago ex.  Haven't seen him in well over 15 years, and the dream took place at my old college campus, a place he's never been.  Wonder what dark corner of my subconscious THAT came from??

Sunday, August 7, 2016


Every other year, my immediate family joins my in-laws, sister-in-law and nephews for a week at the beach.  We've been doing this since 2004, I think...going to the beach was always an important tradition in my husband's family.  This is that week.

Now, I famously don't do sun.  In the dead of summer, I'm the one out caching or soccer games in long pants and a long-sleeved shirt and a big-brimmed hat.  This isn't any Dita von Teese-like desire to be ghostly pale, just a nod to the reality that my skin is Irish but spent its youth in the sun in the Middle and Far East in the years before effective sunblock was invented.  As my dermatologist once put it, I've had my lifetime's sun exposure already.  Since I don't intend to spend the rest of my life indoors, I own a full wardrobe of all varieties of SPF50 clothing and I try to keep covered when reasonably possible.  This not being compatible with a week on the beach in summer, my husband and I made a deal years ago.

Unlike my brother-in-law, who has his own reasons for staying home, I continue to join the family for beach week.  However, back when the kids were younger, I was the one who stayed home with whichever kids needed naps etc.  I read books, did puzzles, and generally amused myself at the house.  When everyone outgrew nap time, I became free to roam during the day while they were at the beach.  I went to museums and lighthouses, went shopping, and explored, returning in the afternoons to help with baths and dinner.  Now, with the youngest child aged seven and *my* youngest almost nine, and having discovered caching in the meantime, the days are all mine for real!  I help with breakfast and dinner, organizing and still with getting Petunia's hair washed at the end of the day.  I run the errands that need to be run outside the house: groceries and drugstore runs and such.  But between breakfast and dinner, otherwise my time is my own and I LOVE it.

I spend the mornings and evenings with the family, so it's not like I spend the whole week alone.  I just don't have to sit on a beach in the sun for days on end in the interest of family togetherness.  I wouldn't want to sit still that long even if my skin allowed it.  (And you'd better believe my kids are lathered in sunblock and wearing SPF50 swim clothing whole they are at the beach.)  As an arrangement, it works for us!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Multicultural Moment

I'm in a chair outside a hotel laundry room waiting for Thing One's nice clean soccer uniforms to come out of the dryer.  He played two games in them in the rain and mud today at an away tournament; luckily, this hotel is accommodating to those who need to do laundry on the fly while staying here.
In the chair on the other side of the doorway is sitting a man whom I would have sworn was Indian (subcontinental) from looking at him.  Except that his phone just rang, and I swear to you, his ringtone was Irish pub music.  Oh, and then he answered it in fluid Spanish!