She’s Gone (Again)

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Four days later, and the tops of both thighs still burn, sensitive to the touch. No, nothing to do with running, which is another sad story, left for another day.

I load my canons, yes one “n”, and fire.

  • The Tort: “You entered into a verbal contract. You said you would stay.”
  • The Economic: “Manhattan is nose bleed expensive. You’ll drain whatever savings you have.”
  • The Nostalgic: “I’m turning your room in an extension of my Den, and calling it my West Wing.”
  • The Desperate: “You know in Italy, kids live with their parents until well into their 30’s.”
  • The Fear Mongering: “I’m cutting you off Netflix, Amazon Prime and yes, AT&T Mobile Service.”

Nothing works. And we’re off.

The family caravan departs in the Resettlement. Eric (Son) drives the U-haul with two friends. Mom, Dad and Rachel are up ahead in a separate car.  Waze estimates 44 miles – a whopping 1 hour 42 minutes to lower Manhattan.

The rain falls gently, setting the appropriate back drop.

It’s a five-floor walk-up. I now know what a 5-floor walk-up means. No elevators and narrow stairwells. Walk-up means walk-up. With furniture, furnishings and oversize and overweight boxes, all up five floors – on foot. With adequate resistance provided by non-ventilated, A/C-free hallways. The musty carpet fibers are pulled deep into the lungs with each trip up and down the stairs. [Read more…]

Ruth & Eve

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Artistic collaborations can happen in unexpected ways—just ask Ruth Oosterman. She has found a unique, creative partnership with her 3-year-old daughter, Eve. Together, they produce beautiful works of art. Through Eve’s vivid imagination and Oosterman’s talent, the colorful paintings are a mix of unrestrained creativity and small, intricate details. The Toronto-based mom calls the ongoing project Collaborations with my Toddler.

Together, they produce beautiful works of art that display both the vibrant, unrestrained creativity of a child and intricate details that could only be done by a talented artist. The tag-team style paintings are often started by Eve who doodles on paper with a pen or paint. Then Oosterman takes the lead, transforming the abstract marks into animals, landscapes, or portraits. With both of their contributions visible, the results reinforce the idea that two heads are better than one.

For Oosterman, the artistic journey is more important than the final product. “Through collaborating with Eve, she is teaching me how to paint all over again,” she writes on her website. “I treasure this bonding experience more than words can express.”

For more Oosterman Mother – Daughter collaborations:  Ruth Oosterman


Notes:

I’m listening.

moon-full-moon

There are many such assignments one can give. When Janet Fout’s daughter was a little girl, the two of them used to spend time together out of doors, playing and inventing nature games. My own favorite was listening for the sounds they could not hear, which Fout called “The Sounds of a Creature Not Stirring.” Examples might include: sap rising, snowflakes forming and falling, sunrise, moonrise, feathers, dew on the grass, a seed germinating, an earthworm moving through the soil, an apple ripening, wood petrifying, a spider weaving its web, a leaf changing colors, a salmon spawning.

~ Christian McEwen, World Enough & Time


Notes:

The Line and Beyond

vizsla,dog,pet,cute,

Don’t get misled by the floppy ears and the deliciousness.  He’s a wild beast. A Wild Beast.

My eyes take inventory of the damage.

There are four swollen puncture marks. All on the same hand.  One gouge on the bulging vein on top of the right hand, two side by side on the wrist two inches above it, and one lightly visible on the fatty part of the skin above the thumb and index finger.

I slide my thumb into the palm in my right hand.  I grip. Pain shoots up my hand, wrist and arm.  Self-inflicted. Sort of. Not really.

It was all triggered by my step counter flashing red, urging me to get up off the couch – Walk! Harmless enough.

Rachel is glued to The Bachelor. (Mind numbing trash). I’m catching up on the morning papers. And Red Lights are still flashing.

I get up.

Zeke eyes me as I make a loop around the kitchen, the living room and the family room.

I make a second loop, and I pick up the pace heading into the third.  Zeke jumps off the ottoman and gives chase.

I run. [Read more…]

Dear Klara / / Love Mom


[…]
So what is important.
To a person sitting in front of their computer I would say,
Be grateful for your warmth and comfort,
The earth provided it.
Be grateful for your fully belly and quenched thirst,
The earth provided it.
Be grateful for your family, friends, neighbors,
We’re all in this together, no matter how we choose to live.
Everything we have comes from the earth.
[…]

A small, sweet, plosive sound comes from his lips, after each entreaty the same noise, a breath out and a consonant mixed with spit.

baby-drawing

Four days later, Ev starts to talk. His sounds have been buffering at meaning for weeks, but now they emerge as his own handiwork and he sets them gently one beside another in lines. […]

Children are born into language. They understand the nuances of speech at birth and Ev has been listening to our ceaseless chatter for months in the womb. He has been read to and sung to and laughed at. He knows the pattern of our voices and by its cadence he knows too that something is happening. My face signals it, and the sudden sparks of urgent conversation, the gaps that follow.

Ev’s vocabulary as he presents it to us is superlatively normal. He has no words for fear. He says Daddy to mean either of us, kee for monkey and Oh no! at all upsets. Ssss serves for snake, the letter S, and any linear thing like a belt or bit of his railway track. He says click for light and sta for monster, gakator for tractor and soon has a small handy clip of words like digger, apple, spoon, butter, cardi, eye, toast, brush. Seem means machine. He can do two, three and four. And in a way that is entirely normal too, we poke him and spur him on. This is what you do with children, goad them for your own enjoyment. Make a noise like a volcano, we say. Make a noise like a firework. Make a noise like a dinosaur. His eyes are merry. A small, sweet, plosive sound comes from his lips, after each entreaty the same noise, a breath out and a consonant mixed with spit. […]

He is the size of a cat; a thing of gold fur and whitened sunshine. His hands paw and pat the textures of the food as he draws each substance one by one into his mouth: sour, sweet, char, salt, pulp, oil and leaf.  […]

He goes at food with intellectual interest and straight joy in taste. It is bonny. If I had known how much pleasure I would get from watching my baby eat I would have thought it an argument for more babies. It is such a treat I can’t take my eyes off him and I mask my keenness in case it makes him suspicious that there is something more at stake. So I eat with him, or look out the window or pretend to read the paper. He spoons up lentils, snuffles through tomato sauce with basil and surges his pasta round in it, he dips bread in spinach soup till soup and bread are one and sucks it. He holds broccoli like a cudgel and stuffs one, then two, three, four trees into his mouth. He eats liver! He eats bananas and garlic and stir-fry! We goggle at him. We win and he wins. We all triumph together.

~ Marion Coutts, The Iceberg: A Memoir


Baby Drawing: Ben Connell

 

Driving I-95 S. With Whisk Brooms and Women.

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5:17 am. 25° F.  Rollin’ down I-95 South in light morning traffic, with other insomniacs and the red tail lights of the hulking convoys.

I roll the tape back to the scene last night.

“Wow!”
“Wow what?”
“How much did it cost?”
“$55.”
“$55?”
“$55.”
“$55 per eyebrow?”
“Really Dad?”
“What?”
“Eyelashes. Eyelashes Dad. And, who would get just one eyelash extended?”

I ponder that for a moment. She has a point there. [Read more…]

through bone and rain and everything

hold,black and white

On a spring day in 1950, when I was big enough to run about on my own two legs yet still small enough to ride in my father’s arms, he carried me onto the porch of a farmhouse in Tennessee and held me against his chest, humming, while thunder roared and lightning flared and rain sizzled around us. On a spring day just over twenty years later, I carried my own child onto the porch of a house in Indiana to meet a thunderstorm, and then, after thirty more years, I did the same with my first grandchild. Murmuring tunes my father had sung to me, I held each baby close, my daughter, Eva, and then, a generation later, her daughter, Elizabeth, and while I studied the baby’s newly opened eyes I wondered if she felt what I had felt as a child cradled on the edge of a storm— the tingle of a power that surges through bone and rain and everything.

~ Scott Russell Sanders, A Private History of Awe


Image: Suzanne with a Little Part of You

 

2015: Flummoxed by the Paradoxical Commandments

new-year-resolutions

If you haven’t read Kent M. Keith’s The Paradoxical Commandments, it’s worth a few minutes of your time.  If you were looking for the origin of these commandments and the connection to Mother Theresa, look here: The Mother Theresa Connection.

In my reflection of events in 2015, I do find the commandments paradoxical.  Let’s take a few highlights for a spin.

KMK:
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

DK:   You are on a JetBlue flight. The woman sitting next to you in Coach removes her shoes, her stockings and then places her feet up on the seat in front of you. She wiggles her chubby toes to air out her dogs. (In case you were dying to know, she had a nice pedicure. The toenail polish was a pretty baby blue matching her fingernails. And there was no visible toe jam.)

KMK:
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
KMK: Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

DK:

You come home from work, its late, it’s been a long (very) day. You are eating dinner, alone. Your head is down.  (Important to note: Head Down.)  Your spouse of 30+ years looks over from the couch, sees Gaps, and asks if you’ve considered Rogaine.  You lift your head, your mouth is full – you try to validate if you just heard what you think you heard.  You chew. You swallow, and then ask: “Excuse me.  I didn’t hear what you said.”  She repeats it crossing the “Red-Line” of no communication during the first 10 minutes of the King’s decompression zone. You reel from two scuds to the chest, elect to drop your head down with no response and finish your dinner. For the next 123 days, you start your day each morning staring at the mirror assessing the speed of the backward march of your hair line. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. The Return.

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5:30 am.
A brisk walk to catch the 5:40 train to Grand Central.
28º F. Cold. Can’t touch me.
Running on a four hours sleep. Can’t feel it.
Dark. Spring forward. Fall back. Fall back into darkness, on both ends of the work day.
But today, light beams.
Thanksgiving week.
A scheduled vacation week. And here you are, Day 2 of vacation and off to work again.
And, looking forward to the day.

I find an open two-seater in the Quiet Car.
I lean my head against the window, close my eyes, and replay last night. [Read more…]

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