Friday, February 27, 2015

Taxing

Source: http://www.tgdaily.com/

I don't know how I would have made it so far through "daughter-hood" had I not made it through the rigors of "parenthood" and come out alive to tell. But, alas, I must admit, being a mother was so much easier than being a daughter.

I recall how many times I heard the words "motherhood is a full time job" and then "it gets easier" and "what do you expect...he/she's only ____years old!". I also recall times when I wished that my babies would grow up, get to the next developmental stage, just so that they would understand what I was asking and I would understand what they wanted.  I loved having babies in my life, I truly did, but during those moments of complete frustration, I took comfort in knowing that as each day, week, month and year went by, things would change and most of those things, for the better.  Surely, I have used my own experiences as the foundation for the guidance and, hopefully, support,  I have handed to my daughter as she winds through the twists and turns of motherhood and deals with the inevitable drainage of her patience.  I already see that life with her two "babies" looks somewhat easier, more enjoyable in a different way than it appears when those babies were under age five. Yes, we all get nostalgic, even sad, when we look at photos, think back to the crinkle of Huggies and the warmth of a tiny person just waking from sleep.  Were I able to turn back the clock, I surely would, if only for one day but I would not want to advance ahead, knowing that the rest of the time would fly by.  I would hug, squeeze, kiss, caress and not unlock my embrace for one second of that day.

Roles, they change.  Now, instead of me giving my sage advice to a fledgling mother, I often times find myself on the opposite side, taking advice from a seasoned mother, one who more recently than I, found all the adages to be true and came out of the rabbit hole all the wiser.  It's me who vents.  It is I who is frustrated and in need of guidance and support. I used to fret about the prospect of my daughter getting ill, having babies who needed her, and a husband who travels for work and might not be able to help. Her girls, even at their young age now, could easily come to her aid and hold down the fort until Daddy came home or grandparents arrived. Little did I know that the anxiety about illness and inabiltiy to deliver care would once again be mine.  I used to feel her pain when she would repeat herself over and over to be understood by a toddler to deal with the fallout when  toddler did not understand her demands and chose to act out in a way only a baby could. Little did I know that I would spend hours and hours again, re-explaining the basics of life, knowing that my words were going into a brain where they would not be processed as they were intended and that I would have to start all over as if I had never said one word in the first place.  I used to wonder how any of us, as young parents, endured through the constant repetition of baby songs, baby stories, and questions, questions, questions, so many that simply did not have answers.  Little did I know that I would, at this age, be listening to the same stories, answering the same questions, explaining the same things that did not have answers. Over and over again.

Parenthood.  Babies grow up. Parenthood. Parents grow old. And that is where the analogy sadly ends. Parents, in growing old, do not become easier.  As each day, week, month and year goes by, it only gets harder.  There is no sun in the Sun Room.  And, instead of looking forward to the wonders brought by developmental stages, I, for one, find dread in anticipation of what's down the road, what's next. And, my one day at a time attitude, the only management tool I can dredge up, is telling me that today is one of those days.  Today, I have to tell my baby that he must pay a handsome sum of taxes because my yesterday was spent with an accountant and my Power of Attorney.  And, I have no idea of how I will explain the whole thing, get the check written, and prepare for the next tax season by making the necessary changes in withholding.  I know that my words will result in the frustration of not being able to understand one thing I say and that, of course, I will be feeling that it is my fault that he has to pay taxes, and that there isn't a lollipop big enough to quiet what I know will ensue.  I just wish my Mommy were here to give me some advice.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Marching Along




Snow again. 
We’re getting through this. 
On the better side of the drifts now. 
Actually, we've grown accustomed to it all and we’re ignoring it, checking days off as we’re heading closer to Spring…March…the month of hope and promise.
 And, I’m reminded that forty four years ago, at this very time,
I had already past my due date with my first child, and I was impatient and all I could do is wait and prepare and that is what I did. 
I’m waiting, preparing, trying new things.
  Returning to that long-lost world of happiness through domesticity.
 I’m cooking good and healthy meals, making yogurt, growing sprouts.
Today it will be a batch of granola!
 I’m enjoying time with  myself and time with friends who share the need to get out every once in a while.  Discovering “local” places.
 Really thinking things through. 
Letting go of some things, catching hold of others.
 Nesting?
 Getting ready for what I am sure will eventually happen, the arrival of Spring. 
It’s all okay.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

Queen for a Day








Okay, yes, I do spend a lot of time in supermarkets.  We have a small refrigerator.  I'm old-fashioned. We invest a lot of time and thought into what we eat. We're healthy-food conscious. I have the time to do this. I do not only my own, but my father's shopping. We don't have a lot of excitement in our lives nowadays,  I love to find bargains. I find shopping, for food, relaxing.  Shopping for clothing, I do not find relaxing - probably due to the amount of shopping for food that I do. Hmmm, correlation? But it's all healthy stuff as Whole Foods suggests, "buy goods, not bads".  We do.  But.

This is not about food. This is not about supermarkets. This is not about healthy choices or goods over bads.
This is about yet another of my observations.  This one happens to be based on what I have been seeing lately or have been seeing all along but now that scene resonates.  Here's how it starts.  I see an elderly woman or man, pushing a shopping cart, a cane lying across the cart, very few other items in the cart.  Behind or alongside that person is another person, a younger version of the elder. This person has his or her own cart and into it go the items that the elder person has either selected after many, many moments of contemplation, or the younger person has selected and, after a discussion, has placed it into the cart.  Slowly, the couples shuffles along.  Not one isle is missed, everything is scrutinized and the elder person is carefully and lovingly guided through the store before arriving at the check out counter with but a handful of items.  Like myself, perhaps the elder has a small refrigerator or perhaps, like myself, lots of time and she or he knows that the good parent will rule and the good child will follow, again and again, guiding and supporting through several trips to the supermarket each and every week.  One can see the pride in the parent's eyes.  MY son, MY daughter, taking care of ME.  And, at the very same time, the face of the child, trying desperately to maintain the patience, the look of "I have all the time in the world for you today, and for the rest of your days". Mother or Dad looks wonderful for their age. Not a care in the current world. Yet, I know that there might have been a few "moments" before entering the supermarket.  Orientation to time and place, rearrangement of hairstyles, application of make up, selection of outfits suitable for being in public, appropriate for the day's weather.  There probably was a final check list.  Do you have your keys, your glasses, your purse, wallet....your money? Have you made a list? Go to the bathroom one more time before we leave the house please. One more time. Try.

I study people.  I am keen on faces. They tell stories. I love stories.  I am not easily fooled nor am I easily impressed.  I see pages and pages of life in faces.  This has been a hard Winter and it's the faces of the caretakers, hardly able to take care of themselves, that tell bigger stories.  They shop, they tend, they cook, they clean, they comfort, bathe, medicate, they listen to the same tales, answer the same questions, over and over and over again.  And some of them, some of them are old enough to now be taken-care-of and there's no end in sight.  Read the obituaries if you do not believe me.  "Oh, she was so young.....only 90!" And I ask, who's taking care of the care-takers?  The real warriors.  You know them, they're the people in the supermarket, fake smiles, worn-out but ":happy" to be helping.  How many slips and falls have they prevented already? How many times have they shoveled the driveway, scattered ice melt along the paths?  How many house fires have they seen, about to happen? How many utterly humiliating moments have they forestalled?

The original broadcast of a then-popular T.V. show called Queen for a Day, was in the earliest days of television, after a successful run on radio. The show opened with host Jack Bailey asking the audience and viewer at home "Would YOU like to be Queen for a day?".  The contestants were a group of women who came to the show, seeking to win prizes after pouring their hearts out in a display of public humiliation, each recounting their stories of recent financial and emotional hard times that each had suffered.  Their faces showed their pain as each was asked what it was they most needed and why she felt worthy of the title "Queen for a Day" today.  Some needed help with a sick child or disabled family member, others simple things like new appliances that they could not afford but needed desperately.  At the end of the show, they sat in a row and the audience "voted" by use of an applause meter, on the woman found most worthy. She was crowned, given roses and a sable-trimmed velvet robe as she was escorted to her throne and told of her prizes, the top one being that for which she had expressed a need during her interview.  Following that gift, there were many others from the sponsors and of course, as each was revealed, the tears flowed from the gracious and humble, degraded of human spirit, newly crowned "queen".  As the show closed, Jack Bailey signed off with his trademark: ""This is Jack Bailey, wishing we could make every woman a queen, for every single day."  Of course, it was hokey and of course it was exploitative, but you wanna know something?  There's a part of me that would love to see somewhat of a come-back.  There's a part of me that would love to know that somehow, somewhere, someone would know the need and recognize that there are queens and kings out there who deserve the title and there will be many more to come as ninety remains the new seventy.  That there will be eighty year olds taking care of parents, Yes, there will.  And, as I waltz through the supermarket, I daydream and I see another story.  I see a younger version of Jack Bailey, marching through the aisle, right past the dairy section, glittering jeweled crown, roses and red velvet robe in hand, stopping one of the warriors dead in her tired tracks with the big question....."Would YOU like........."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chinese New Year

The Year of the Goat
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


Today is the Chinese New Year.  Happy New Year to all of you who are Chinese then.
Today is also my writers group, AKA, "laugh therapy" session and last time we met, having noted that our next gathering would occur on this festive day, we decided that we had an excellent prompt. "Chinese New Year", "China" anything "Chinese" would be just fine.  Just do it.

When I think about the celebration of the new year, I come up with visions of little parades through the streets of cities here and abroad.  I see colors, lots of colors, streamers being thrown about, people laughing and having a good time.  In my mind, I see families gathered around tables, eating strange (to me) and wonderful foods.  Children happy, elders proud.  But I don't know much more about the holiday.

I say the word "china" and I'm sorry, Vera Wang pops into my head.  Vera Wang china. The pattern my daughter chose at the now defunct Fortunoff store in White Plains.  Vera Wang glassware and Vera Wang eating utensils.  That brilliant woman made a fortune at Fortunoff's, if on my daughter alone. My thoughts drift to her wedding, almost ten years ago.  Seems like yesterday, of course.  And no, she did not wear a Vera Wang wedding gown. But I see happiness on that day and years of happiness following.  Our own good fortune.  China.  My son and daughter in law selected a pattern at the Crate and Barrel in White Plains. A pattern that suited them so well.  It was white with a yellow and blue band. Very chic at the time. Their wedding was fourteen years ago if I am correct.  It's easy for me to see families celebrating as I conjure up image after image.  This is the year of the goat in the Chinese calendar.  I love goat cheese and I have a lasting memory of a day spent at a goat farm in Italy almost three years ago. Where did that time go?

Of course, I went directly to Google this morning, to get some basics on today's goings-on in the Chinese community.  I don't want to be a complete dope.  I know that several of the members of my writing group will know all of the details and will have wonderful things, other than weddings and goat farms, to share.
I will come, equipped with some knowledge.  I looked up my own personal zodiac on the Chinese calendar and after typing in my birth date and year, the little info box popped up and jolted me straight up in my chair

Here's what it said:   You are a: Pig


I went racing in to the bedroom to tell my husband my good news.  Also, to let him know that he was a Dog.
His answer was "hey, they don't even know you!!"
My answer, "that would explain a lot of things"
Oink if you love me.





Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ashes and Avocados

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Just when I was very, very sure that I had seen almost, but not quite "everything" ludicrous this Winter, I stumbled across what I think might just be one for my Baby Book.

Today is Ash Wednesday.  How it snook up on us so fast I do not know, but it is the beginning of Lent and that means that Easter, Spring, is not all that far away.  Six weeks?  It may very well take that long for the white blankets to be peeled back and maybe there's a layer of green under there after all. 

Now, I do believe in religious freedom, would never comment or condemn one for their beliefs and how they practice their faith unless they crashed airplanes into towers and/or beheaded people, all in the name of Allah. No, I doubt that there's an entrance ticket to Heaven awaiting those folk. But, I do believe in organized religion, in traditional rites and passages and some parts of Lent and the need to use the next six weeks to step things up in the holiness department. If you don't go to church, I will still be your friend, trust me.  

So, here's what I saw this morning....in the front entrance to the Star Market in Harwich and every single word of what follows is absolutely true because I could not and would not make this up....I see a woman standing next to a card table.  She clearly has received her ashes, there's a huge black cross on her forehead. I think she's maybe selling raffle tickets or asking for some kind of donation or maybe even a survey.  Maybe she's handing out flyers for today's specials? So, I read the sign that she has propped up:
 ASHES TO GO.
Ashes to go???  Ashes to go!!!!!  My face, as you can imagine, gave me away, my surprise and indignation was written all over it. She's a Minister and she's distributing ashes, right here, at the supermarket.  So, sweetly, she addressed my need to know more.  "It's for people who can't make it to church today."  Of course it was.  For people who could not make it to church but could make it to Star Market  Couldn't help myself from blurting out. I gave a bit of an "oh no!" and walked into the produce department where I caught the ear of the young man who was stacking tangerines.  Funny, I think they were called "Halos." I felt so much better after telling him, in a nice and jovial way of course, that what I had just witnessed HAD to be THE most ridiculous thing I've ever seen, at least in a supermarket.  We shared a moment and then I went on about my business, collecting the ingredients for an Ash Wednesday dinner. As I exited, the nice clergyperson, who by the way had apparently done some business because there were lots of folk with huge black crosses on their foreheads doing their shopping, smiled and said "have a blessed Lent" to me as I scurried past.  "And same to you" I replied.  Contrary to what my husband would have thought, I did not stop and discuss why I found this all so ridiculous and so wrong. I did just want to ask one more question. Lady, why are you making it so easy?  What ever happened to words like "intention" and "commitment" and "sacrifice"? 

If getting anointed with ashes at the start of he Holy Season has any value, it is in giving pause, making the faithful think about death, the journey ahead and the preparation for a death and a resurrection. They are a public statement, one that tells us and the rest of the world that we are sinners and we are ready to change a few things in our lives in the next few weeks. We remind ourselves that we were once dust and one day, we will return to that state, in our own inevitable deaths. This is heavy stuff, don't you think? So, the Ashes To Go-lemonade-stand was utterly ridiculous, at least to this sinner.  All I could think of, for hours later, were little snarky thoughts, certainly nothing pious.  Me, I thought that drive-in flu shots were bottom of the barrel (not safe) so, the thought of grabbing a bunch of broccoli with a quick, thoughtless anointing of ashes really hit the bottom hard. What's next?  Baptisms at Dunkin Donuts?  Just drive by and pass the baby.  You might even be able to use an app and get a discount.  Maybe they'll throw in a box of Munchkins for your little donut's special day!  Nothing would surprise me.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Give me a Break. Please.

I'm missing something here, right?  I mean, all hygge aside, this is one crappy Winter here in the bowels of the great Northeast. I'm not enjoying one single moment, not delighting one bitty bit in the fact that it is snowing again today and has been since early this morning. I checked the Weather Channel and there I found some uplifting information, it will not stop until six o'clock this evening. And, oh, yes, it also snowed a good part of the day yesterday. Which,of course, would not have been half as bad had it not snowed Saturday night into all day Sunday on top of the "blizzard" just a few days before. So, I figure that I am not the only one who is feeling like jumping out the freaking window, head first into a snow bank. But nooooooo. I'm wrong.  I have nobody with whom to commiserate.  I keep in touch with friends who are living under the same sky, getting equally wet and cold from the same snow storm, figuring that there is something still left to be said for "misery loves company" and perhaps we could at least on line, share our misery but all I get is how everyone is knitting and purling and reading and loving the opportunity to sit in their houses while their fuel bills and electric bills climb higher and higher by the minute.  So, what's the deal with me?  Where am I going wrong?  I'm so lost in the white out I cannot see the forest or the trees.

Okay, Day One of the blizzard was fun.  We were so damned sure that we were going to lose power, and we were ready to take it head on.  I woke up early, hit the stores, loaded up on firewood, candles, batteries, food, water, wine and even spent the twenty eight bucks to retrieve my Icelandic wool blankets from the dry cleaners.  We cleaned up the Coleman stove, got two extra propane fuel tanks for the baby, and placed it on the front porch where we, much to the anticipated horror of our neighbors, would cook once the power left us.  I got ingredients, recipes, more ingredients and more recipes.  I chopped, I peeled, I boiled and put things up in containers which, of course, would fit nicely into the Styrofoam cooler that also sat on our front porch, waiting for the power to leave us.  We located flashlights, stacked scarves, gloves, hats, boots and hand warmer packets near the front door.  I threw throws over the chairs, making them easy to locate in the dark of course.  I even waited until early evening to take a shower so that I would be clean an extra day as were my dishes, all washed in the dishwasher.  No caked-on-smelly food hanging around the dishpan for dark and cold days on end.  What a check list!  No loss of power.  Just a lot of extra stuff hanging around our small place.  Most of it stayed hanging around each time we announced "here it comes again....".

I tried lavender, I made and then started daily scrubbing with, lavender scented sugar scrub.  I lit candles, probably should have lit them in a church instead.  I boiled, baked, and grew sprouts.  And more frigging snow fell.  I tried to read.  I tried to paint. I tried to finish a project or two. I tried to be happy. I tried to embrace, to savor, to love the beauty of it all. I really, really tried but nothing is or has worked. And then, all I hear is how much they're loving it (if the shoe fits....) and how great it is to stay home (it's not exactly like anyone isn't retired and staying home all the time anyway) and how much they love this shit. And, I wondering, where have I gone wrong?

Maybe I've got lavender-poisoning.  Or maybe I'm just tired of too much of your good thing.  Or maybe, maybe, I'm just a grouch who needs to see the sun.....soon. But alas, I will not get my wish, more snow is due Thursday.  Shoot me.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Extreme

I love the color blue.  But not big, bright, brassy blue, used wrongly as in a bedroom paint color choice.  Extreme blue.
I love sunshine and warm breezes.  But not hot, humid, ninety-plus temperatures on July days.
Extreme heat.
I love music, all kinds of music.  But not heavy-metal, loud to the endangering my hearing point, not too much on the violins either.
Extreme music.
I love cities, cities like New York.  But not when the tourists are in for Christmas, not New Years Eve at Times Square.
Extreme crowds.
I love beautiful scents.  Nice soaps, anything lavender, natural lavender.  Jojoba soaps. Soy candles. But not ersatz factory-made scents, over powering perfumes.  They give me a headache.
Extreme odors.
I love good food.  Good tastes, but nothing over-done or covered with cream sauces or fruits where they do not belong or production-line pies or massive portions at cheap restaurants. Or white, soggy spaghetti that comes with that order.  You know what I mean.
Extreme non-culinary delights.
I like fashion.  Age-appropriate but certainly not "dowdy". Vintage jewelry with just the right outfit at just the right time.  Good fabrics.  I know the difference.
Extreme attempts at good taste.
I like people who are thoughtful, kind and considerate, like my husband, him I love.
Extreme love and devotion.
I love a brisk walk on a brisk day, sun shining. But not walks that are so long that we can't come home in time for a coffee or a tea or a nice fire and glass of wine.  Just the right length.
Extremely far and tiring.
I like to watch the snow falling on the pond, just a bit of snow, nothing Biblical, historic, life-threatening........and I don't like February and I know that we shall be talking about this particular February for a few years until another comes along to replace our thoughts for this, this has been an extreme February and we still have weeks to go.
Extremely extreme.