Monday, April 18, 2016

A Tale of Love

During my twenties, I knew I lacked the maturity for motherhood. At almost thirty, no hint of an imminent transformation presented itself. I finally made decent money and planned a trip to Jamaica. My restless husband awaited my decree of readiness. One night, after several glasses of wine, I said okay. The next day I changed my mind, but it was too late.
A doubtful contender for motherhood, I visited the parenting section of the library frequently. Little by little, I came to terms with my changing body and gained confidence in my future parental abilities. I cancelled the trip to Jamaica and assured myself I could manage children as well as any other administrative position I’d conquered. Besides, surely I’d be blessed with a daughter. Had I not done my time playing army and touring car dealerships as the sister of three brothers? My mother, eager for a granddaughter and more female companionship, mailed me a tiny pink sleeper laced with dainty rose petals. I fingered it daily while daydreaming of nursing Meg, as I would call her. I envisioned a lifelong friend.
When the leaves fell in late October, I pulled a light blue sleeper from the third drawer of the dresser and buried the pink one under the stack of yellow and green. I dressed my newborn son, Jacob, in the blue sleeper and nursed him as he melted into my heart.
In stores I closed my eyes to the little girl dresses, Mary Jane shoes, and Easter bonnets and instead purchased jeans, cowboy boots, and baseball caps. I bypassed the dolls at the toy store and walked directly to the fire trucks.
Each afternoon of my second pregnancy, I pushed the stroller down to the beach at the end of my street and sat on the break wall while my little boy threw rocks into the ocean for an hour -- or two. Caressing my growing belly, I watched his tossed stones disappear into the sea and pictured him walking beside a stroller carrying his baby sister, Caitlin, dressed in the lacy pink sleeper.
When the trees budded that May, Jacob walked beside the stroller from which his new brother, Jordan, smiled upon the world, and me, who loved him in spite of his male equipment.
As the years passed, my days of peaceful walks and dreaming the time away disappeared.
“Will you pitch to us, Mom?”
Dirty dishes and clothes baskets filled with grass-stained jeans played second fiddle as I took my pitching position in the middle of the front lawn. I covered first, second, and third base, too, as the small feet of my sons and the neighborhood boys further etched the base paths into the grass, so unlike, I imagined, the lush lawns of houses with little girls.
We visited parks and nature trails, where my two free-spirited sons swung from the highest heights on jungle gyms and made forts of brush and mud. I scrubbed dirt out from under fingernails and plugged my nose after trips to the mudslide. At the pool, one son scaled the fence in hopes of petting the puppy running freely on the other side while the other discovered the diving board, without my watchful eye. At the library, one picked out books on dinosaurs and rocks; the other chose stories of Vikings and war ships. Though I read them Black Beauty, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Trumpet of the Swan, they preferred Hank the Cowdog, The Indian in the Cupboard, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
On Sunday mornings, one boy sat on each side of me in church—at least, initially. On more than a few occasions, one or both spent part of the service out in the hall with strict instructions not to further misbehave or I’d have to kill them in front of God and everybody.
As I cooked up play dough, my swollen middle brushed against the front of the stove. Once again, the rose-petal sleeper took a prominent place in my thoughts, and I added a touch of red food coloring to the mix. I watched as my sons molded the light pink dough into cars and guns and snakes. While I collected wild flowers with Jordan or coached third base at Jacob’s baseball practice, I mused about the new life harbored in my womb and prayed for a little girl named Michaela. In my thoughts I took her to dance class and braided her hair.
After the Easter bunny came that April, I placed a sky blue sleeper on Ian, my new son, who smiled at me for the first time on the night of his birth. I passed the little pink sleeper off to the lady down the street.
When my father in Wisconsin cleaned out his basement, he shipped me six boxes of Barbie doll furniture that my grandfather had built me in my childhood. I stuffed the boxes in the attic for a granddaughter to play with someday. Maybe.
Jacob, Jordan, and Ian grinned when I walked into their classrooms to help or pick them up. They hugged me after I tended their scraped knees and mended their broken hearts. They instinctively reached for my hand when we crossed streets. Sometimes, they kept their hands in mine well beyond the crossing.
As time went by, I drove to six baseball practices and six games a week. My van smelled like a locker room. I camped in a tent in both the heat and the cold. I sat through three sets of guitar lessons and I ran laps with all three sons during the weekly three-mile physical education marathon.
Never did it occur to me that every mom didn’t have fourteen boys playing basketball in their driveways, three more upstairs building Lego contraptions, and two others wrestling on the living room rug. I rarely noticed the looks of sympathy as I walked through a grocery store with three boys screwing up behind me. I traipsed through natural history, science and industry, and air and space museums. I smiled and thanked the man at the art museum who gave me a discount when I showed up with my three boys and a couple extra in tow. Rain at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park didn’t faze me; I had remembered the rain ponchos.
I taught my boys to cook, to garden, to use chlorine bleach in the white load, to chew with their mouths closed, and to write thank you notes. I didn’t say a word when, out of the corner of my eye, I spied them crying while I read of the dog’s death in When the Red Fern Grows or when Beth died in the movie Little Women. If they noticed they were the only boys in a theater filled with weeping mothers, daughters, and granddaughters, they never said.
Despite my efforts to incorporate less stereotypically “manly” things into their lives, some classic “male” attributes remained constant. I repeatedly explained that it wasn’t necessary to fart, burp, or discuss bodily functions at every meal. I often found myself drawn into races down ski slopes when my first choice would have been a leisurely run. And I was talked into skipping Phantom of the Opera for tickets to the Alamo Bowl.
I did, however, pass on boat shows, rattlesnake roundups, and paintball games. I was often alone, sometimes gratefully, while my husband taught such skills as oil changing, lawn care, carpentry, and car washing. (Apparently, there is an art to the latter.) Sometimes, I was present, but still alone, like when on a hike we came upon a waveless lake amid hills engulfed in a quiet fog. Not fifteen seconds had elapsed before my family of men broke the serenity with a boisterous game of rock skipping. Then there were the countless times when a lovely dinner at a restaurant turned into a sports event. A tightly folded paper napkin works great as a mini football. Thumb-tips placed together with index fingers held upright? Goal posts, of course.
On days when the testosterone flew too wildly about my house, I planted myself on the doorstep of a friend with daughters only. No one there played soccer with balloons in the living room or washed the car with the best bath towels. No one there tromped through the flower garden in search of errant golf balls or leaped over four full steps of clean clothes in need of a trip upstairs. No one there disregarded what I had to say simply because I didn’t have a penis. In the company of those of my gender, I filled myself back up and then headed home to my household of men.
When Jacob turned eighteen, my heart turned over. Watching him one Friday night as he laughed with his friends at the high school football game, I questioned whether I could survive not seeing him everyday after he left for college. When I noted the confidence in Jordan as he led his scout troop, I marveled at when he had grown up to become such a fine leader. When Ian, with the aroma of too much cologne trailing him as he paced the kitchen, asked my opinion regarding a girl at the sixth grade dance, my eyes flooded. How quickly my years of raising boys had passed. What would become of me when they left to build their own lives?
Over a bottle of wine -- or two -- I laid my heartache on my husband. Certainly our sons will marry and go off with their wives’ families forever. That’s what men do, isn’t it? Who will carry on the tradition of making Swedish coffee bread at Christmas? Will any of them invite me to Christmas dinner? Surely their wives will hate me. If only I had a daughter. A daughter would never leave me out in the cold. She would be my friend for life.
On a day when my future plight particularly depressed me, my youngest son came into the kitchen, where I stared out the window at the leaves fluttering from the trees. He stood silent beside me for a time before touching my arm and saying, “You want to come out and shoot baskets with me?”
I looked at this boy, his concern for me engraved on his face, and I figured it out. How silly of me to have thought I’d be alone after raising three kind, caring men. The rock-skipping and other male-exclusive events I’d silently observed had prepared me for the changing unity of our lives. Standing aside didn’t mean being apart. They had always known I was there. Now I knew I always would be, too. Family -- and friends --for life.
As I pulled my hair into a quick ponytail and followed my son outside, I also decided that there had been a reason I wasn’t blessed with a daughter to dress in the pretty pink sleeper, way back then. Someone knew I’d be much better at shooting baskets than braiding hair.

I wrote this essay many years ago. It was almost published a few times. Something about a penis scared off a few publishers (I did offer to alter that.) 

I thought of this long buried away piece recently, for come July that oldest son of mine and his wife are having a baby. Yup, I'm gonna be a grandma. 

My husband and I have a few projects going to get ready for second son's big wedding shindig in June. While putting new boards on the picnic table, we also dug around in the attic for a few things.  Found this stuff and we're working on getting it back in good order.

 So here is the question. Am I going to need toys like this for that new grandbaby?
Or will I finally get to pull out those boxes of Barbie doll furniture?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April in Texas

Spring is nature’s way of saying, "Let’s party!"  
Robin Williams

April in Texas. Best time of the year for me. After the brown of December, January, February and most of March, I've escaped from winter's hold on the bleak. Perfect weather has arrived. I sit outside and I'm not hot. Nor am I cold. The sun on my skin provides much needed Vitamin D.

Everything sings green. My garden grows.

Best part? No bugs.

Doesn't get much better than that. Except for when you head out in the car for a Saturday adventure. Country roads. Beautiful vistas. Wildflowers.

In the 1960's First Lady Lady Bird Johnson began a beautification project throughout Washington DC and America. Since she lived in Austin and also in the nearby Hill Country, her efforts are seen in abundance here as she saw to the spreading of wildflower seeds to enhance the landscape. You can read more about it here.

The roads surrounding us in Spring are filled with camera toting families, oil painters, and flower lovers cruising the countryside to find the best fields of Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush along with many other species of yellow, white, pink and purple persuasions.

On Saturday my husband and I joined the masses and headed out with our friends Mike and Bonnie. I planned to drive so I could go as slow as I wanted and stop whenever to get a better photo. However, that bad wife in me felt sorry for my husband as I know he likes to drive. I offered him my car keys and listed the parameters of his task ahead.

1. This isn't a race.
2. We will need to go slow.
3. You will have to listen for "What a great place to stop." or "Slow down." or "Go back, go back." and comply.
4. This isn't a race.

He agreed.

Off we went.

 Passed by the strawberry picking place and

headed onto the highway and then many country roads.

All of those merited a Stop the Car shout.

But this one, this one was just perfect. Took a turn onto a road that ended up a dead end, but, oh, my. Overwhelming find.

Let's see that again.

We came around this corner and found a perfect spot for a vista view.

Any time you guys are ready...

Shortly thereafter, my husband forgot the mission of the trip. I opened my window to take a photo and he sped up. Bonnie said, "Wow, what a perfect place to stop." He turned up the radio.

But gotta love the man for shortly thereafter he took a quick turn into a long drive that took us to this view

and a winery. Nothing like finishing out the drive with a wine tasting and a view.

After that, all we saw was just icing on the cake.

Ended up in the metropolis of Marble Falls for a big hamburger at Bill's.

Thanks Bob, Mike, and Bonnie. Fun day.

Happy Spring Northern Hemisphere. 
Loving the Bluebonnets.

And the paintbrushes.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Vroom, Vroom

Let me silent be,
For silence is the speech of love,
The music of the spheres above.
Richard Henry Stoddard

Yesterday, while sitting on my bed with my books and journals, I heard the distant drone of a lawn mower. That sound has long been a favorite of mine. Growing up in the harsh winters of Minnesota, a lawn mower's music meant the long days of summer and I most likely had bare feet. I love when my feet are bare. Warmth.

My brain filled with memories of days with no school structure and adventures made where my mother often had no clue as to my whereabouts. Bike riding. Swimming. The county fair. Vacation at a lake. My toes in the grass. Library books read under the shade of a tree.

I closed my eyes, happy in my content recollections.

As my meditation approached peak nirvana, the pull of a rip cord and the blasting rev, rev, rev of a power blower eradicated the gentle din of the mower. My neighbor's lawn people had arrived.

Blowers unnerve me. The firing up of the machinery. The warming of the motor bypassing the sputter. Rev. Rev. Rev. The finger on the trigger testing the strength of the mower as it moves through the yard. The blower taking for-ev-er to complete its route.

Incessant pandemonium ensues as debris is pushed savagely into a new resting place. The flurry of activity continues as leaves and twigs and soil and grass clippings relocate in a cloud to the destination chosen by the invader powering the man-made wind.

The Beast
 Whatever became of the good-natured swish of a broom? The muted scrape of a rake gathering leaves and mowed grass into a pile?

This uproar of noise doesn't escape me at my home either. The neighbors and I know when my husband has arrived from work on Friday nights. First thing he does is open the shed door and fire up that beastly blower of disturbance. 

I recall finishing my work week with a place to rest my feet and a gallon of wine. But nowadays, from my most likely prone position in my hammock or from my chair inside where my quiet and silent life surrounds me, my peace is shattered. Noise has arrived.

Vroom Vroom Vroom

I understand it's not only that the walkway is now cleared of the weekly scraps that have fallen due to winds or the seasons of the Chinese Tallow trees. There is something to that Vroom. It's a guy thing.

It's why when a motorcycle passes us my husband rolls down every window in the car and says, "Listen to that."

Or when he fires up the boat and only puts the motor halfway into the water for a few moments and its blubble, blubble, blubble interrupts my content mind.

"Listen to that purr," he says.

I feign having hearing.

I've long known many men like motors more than women do. Hence all the TV shows my husband channels through on a nightly basis. The car fixer shops filled with guys (and an occasional woman in a tight t-shirt) rebuilding motors while the noise level makes the workers shout at one another.

Or the guy with the white hair and mustache who travels around the country buying expensive cars and then gets all tense while selling them at auction to guys with nothing better to do with their time and money. Collectors, my husband says.


Noise and motors obviously do something for men that it just doesn't do for me. (I could possibly include speed here, but my mother drove a car and a boat like a bat out of hell, so I won't.)

This thing, whatever it does, must have some power or shot of testosterone that I only see as an invasion and will never, never understand. Since I don't have a wanger and all.

It's not the first time I've realized that not having a penis places me in a different world. (No shit, Sherlock, but I'm trying to keep this post light.) And, not only in regard to motors.

Last year my husband was hot to replace our old boat which bought used had served us well for nine years and almost 700 hours of family/friend fun. Translation: about 100,000 car miles and still perfectly serviceable. I also didn't have to worry about jarring it if I nudged the dock while creeping into the mooring on a windy day.

Since he thinks differently than me as to what our priorities are (again an appropriate placement for a no shit) he found a new/used one at a local boat shop. He asked me to come look at it. Although I had five thousand better things to do, I did appreciate that he wanted me to see it and met him there.

I found him with the salesman in a garage at the back of the showplace. The dealership had pulled the boat into this space for his inspection.

First words out of my mouth?

"Really? No way this will fit in our dock. Way too big. And look at the rack on it."

"Yeah," said my husband and the salesman in unison, their eyes glazing over as they viewed the rack.

"Measuring tape?" I inquired.

They both looked at me.

"Tape? Measure?"

The killjoy had arrived.

After much search, the salesman proffered up my requested ruler and with collected delight the two of them declared that the width would just make it into the slip.

"Providing you can just slide it in. And the water is calm," I said.

No reply.

"Can our lift accommodate the weight of this beast?"

Killjoy, again.

The salesman suggested we call the most expensive dock guys around to come and put in a hydraulic system to be placed on the bottom of the lake that would lower and lift our boat rather than the current pulley and cable raising system we have.

"Is that in our budget?"

My husband shifted back and forth on his feet.

"And the rack," I asked. "How does that fit in our covered slip."

"Oh," said the salesman. "You just put it up and down when you come in and out."

"With all our visitors, we go in and out sometimes ten times on a weekend."

He shuffled his feet.

"You can sell racks on Craigslist," he conceded.

I don't doubt that.

I glanced at the really nice and expensive boat parked next to this one and remarked how its rack is not nearly as big. I asked why this one is so large if it serves the same purpose.

The salesman shrugged. "Some guys just like a bigger rack."

The sky opened up and I couldn't resist.

"I get it. My rack's bigger than your rack."

I took my leave.

Suffice to say, a different boat found its way to our dock. It may not have a huge rack, but it does have a motor that goes Vroom, Vroom. I hear it when my husband revs it up and wants me to listen. I peak over my hammock's edge without moving my book and nod my head.

I haven't taken this boat out by myself yet as I'm waiting for my husband to put a big dent in it first.

Meanwhile, as I sit with windows open writing this incredibly substance-filled blogpost, I've taken a few minutes to listen to the quiet. I hear the twitter of a visiting bird calling, "Cheater, Cheater, Cheater." The gentle coo of a Mourning Dove and the settling of the falling Live Oak leaves as they land on the patio. I hear the pansies saying hello.

Yet I prepare. For as the day closes in and my quiet world escapes me, I hear in the distance a small plane passing overhead as it approaches the grass landing strip across the lake. A weekend fisherman roars by in pursuit of the perfect fishing hole, before anyone else finds it. A lawn crew fires up its motors a few houses down.

Vroom Vroom

Blubble, Blubble, Blubble

Cheers to my male readers. Please note I said 'many men' not all of them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hang Another Hook on the Mantle

Let your love be like the misty rains, coming softly, but flooding the river. 
Malagasy Proverb

The night before the night before Christmas, I stayed up until 3am. Not because of cards to address, food to prepare, or presents in need of a bow.  No, nothing as easy as that kept me up two hours past my bedtime. Something much bigger. I had a Christmas stocking to finish and time was running out.

Granted, I have procrastination tendencies and time does fly away while I'm listening to the birds sing. But I hate when I'm time crunched and finishing this stocking was important.

Years ago when my husband and I married, he had the Christmas stocking his aunt had knit for him and his siblings. His brother's wife, Cathy, and I decided we each wanted a knitted one also. We found a store where we could purchase a stocking kit and we learned how to knit.

We often swore while searching for lost stitches and comparing progress.

Where Cathy was more prone to the detail work, like sewing on sequins and outlining, I seemed to be the more apt knitter. Hard to believe, I know. When her daughter was born, we discussed the stocking tradition. After inquiring as to how many kids she planned to have (I had no intention of ever having any) it was decided that I would do the knitting and she would do the adorning.

Five more stockings and many years later, my oldest son brought his bride to our fold. I ordered a kit and found my knitting needles. Not having knitted one in 19 years, I wasn't quite in sync. I didn't know for certain if my daughter-in-law, always most kind, indeed didn't mind that her stocking ended up ten inches longer than everyone else's. Or much wider. Note to self: Read the directions on needle size.

Will full intention to redo that stocking one day, I asked my husband to spread the hooks out on the fireplace. With his precise engineering head, he got out his measuring tape, his sticky note pad, pencil, and all his swear words.

Looking at this photo seems I've had a consistency problem more than once. What can I say.
Early last year we received the delightful news that the middle son wanted to add a stocking to that fireplace.  He had fallen in love and a lovely woman had accepted his offer of marriage.

Elation on my part. After three brothers and three sons, my woman numbers were increasing once again.

For an exciting engagement gift, I gave his fiancee a Christmas stocking kit, then immediately took the gift out of her hands. She, a beautiful knitter herself, could certainly have done much better work than me, the cursing needle fumbler. But getting a stocking on the mantle had become a right of passage in our clan. I would do the honors once again.

I began at once, impressed with my early start. Somewhere along the line, the project got buried under several New York Times Book Reviews, a few unread books, a blanket and a box of Kleenex and all the other goodies that are stockpiled beside that chair I live in.

When stuffing the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers into my mouth brought the realization that it was time to decorate for Christmas, panic struck me.  Ten months had passed since I last knitted a stitch on that stocking.

I rummaged around in the basket to find the project. I feverishly poured my soul into the knitting. Twenty, twenty-five hours or more I knitted through a massive color change mess to make my future daughter-in-law her own special stocking.

When I began the toe section, it dawned on me that something was amiss. I held it up to the others. Where the other six had the foot going to the left, this one went to the right.

I cried. My husband said it was okay. Just to finish it. That no one would notice.

Yes. No one will notice that six stockings point one direction and one points to the other. No one.

A frantic search for the same kit ensued. A week and a half before Christmas (when no one has anything to do) I received it by mail, reversed the pattern, and worked at a pace that had I been running I'd now be skinny.

My ultimate goal? That on Christmas Eve when the family gathered there would be seven stockings hanging on the mantle -- all facing the same direction. In unity.

Back to 3am on the night before the night before Christmas. I finished the toe and off came the stocking from the knitting needles.  By 7am I was up and sitting in bed double stitching the name


onto the cusp. I mattress-stitched the sides together and yelled at my husband to get the hooks rearranged.

Just let me say he didn't quite understand my vigor. For the middle son and wife-to-be were not even coming for Christmas Eve. They were in New York City spending the holiday with that youngest son, the Bama Chef Boy. But, dammit, her stocking was gonna be hanging on Christmas Eve.

It brought me great pleasure to send Leigh a text photo of said stocking hanging with the others to let her know just how much we welcome her to our family.

Yup, wedding coming up in June. Which also means I need to enlist that gaggle of friends to drag me to do my favorite thing -- shopping for a dress.

Long-time readers of this blog may recall my enthusiastic attempts at choosing a dress for that oldest son's wedding. You can recall it here and here. And, yes, I have the same problem -- I still ain't got no tits.

More overwhelming than the thought of shopping is the reflection of how could this beautiful child that was just born yesterday be 27 and getting married?

Even more overwhelming is that such an incredible young woman will share his life.

Nope. That's not the dress.

Welcome to the family, Leigh. We love you.

Tales of shopping to come.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Compass Lost -- Finding a Solution to our Gun Situation

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.  
Raymond Lindquist

Finding your way in unfamiliar territory requires an excellent map. For if you want to know where you're headed, you might want to know the general direction to undertake your journey.

In elementary school my classes did a great deal of map work including not only the geography of the world, but our own neighborhoods. We mapped our routes to and from school with landmarks and street signs. Since I always walked to school, it didn't seem such a difficult task. I'm a saunterer so I tend to notice things while I walk. The detail is what counted in our maps. The detail is what made it workable.

Each map required a compass placed in a prominent place on the page or a failing grade was guaranteed. A compass provided the measure to which one might first locate themselves. To get their bearings. To know which way to take the first step.

Since I lived in a small town divided into quadrants in regard to the numbered street address (NW, SW, NE, SE) direction was an easy issue for me. I lived in NW. My grandparents lived in SW.  The Hormel plant was in NE. The bowling alley in SE.

When I moved to Denver at 13,  I only had to look around and find the mountains. That gave me West. Easy from there. Same thing in Salt Lake City. Wasatch Front. East.  Connecticut - Long Island Sound at the end of the road. South. And then, of course, there is where the sun rises and sets.

Seemed when I knew one direction, I could easily figure out the rest. 

I recently traveled to Ireland. I had prepared. I made a guidebook with maps, hotel reservations and transportation info. I had a general knowledge of things I wanted to see and had printed out the directions from each stop in the country to the next stop. However, I didn't do that for Dublin. I knew places I wanted to see, but I hadn't studied the map. I shouldn't say that. I did study the map. But the map that had fixed itself in my brain couldn't comprehend the lay of the land when I walked it.  I felt like someone had swirled me around in a circle while I wore a blindfold and then sent me out. I had my north and south confused. My east and my west not even in my mind.

My traveling companion had a grasp of the area much better than me.  Also, the city was not that large so aimless walking still provided many a wondrous experience. But losing one's way can be most unsettling. Especially when it has been a strong point in the past.

When I arrived home, I pasted the brochures and mementos from the trip into my homemade book to accompany the journal entries made while there. I came across the Dublin map I'd used. Studying it and recalling my disorientation, I noticed the city was not a perfect grid of north/south/east/west. And the map did not have a compass.

Failing grade in my elementary school. No directional assistance for the walker. For the disoriented.

I share this long tale of direction as I struggle with the current state of my country. I'm more than troubled by the mass shootings aka terrorism (it's terrorism to me no matter how you paint it) involving guns that take place each day in this country. Where more than four people are shot or killed in a single incident by a perpetrator -- each day.

I'm even more troubled when the solution heard most loudly is spoken by those who want to put more guns out there. Who say after tragic loss of life that if the people had been armed, the loss of life would have been less.

Isn't the problem that there was any loss of life at all?

I have to ask how many of those touting that stout opinion of more guns have been in a situation where someone enters their domain and catches them off guard. If all their "gun training" calms their being and immediately sends them into SWAT team mode.

I don't know about you, but it's not in my nature to carry a firearm. Nor to undertake the extensive and continuous process of training to be not only a good marksman, but conscious of how to behave correctly in every shooting situation. How to assess. How to draw my weapon when caught off guard and under fire. How to not take out more innocents like, say, in a dark movie theater.

Nor am I interested in embracing a paranoia of living a life in fear. Not to say that I'm not aware of my surroundings. I do take precautions to ensure my safety. I do that whether in a foreign country or in the parking lot at the grocery store.

But let's be realistic. If something does happen to me, it will be when I least expect it. For isn't that the vulnerability an attacker depends upon?

And if attacked suddenly from behind or having a gun thrust at me while driving or finding myself in a safe environment now flying with bullets fired from an automatic weapon from I-don't-know-who, can I simply hold up my hands and say to the shooter "Can you hold on a minute while I get my gun out of my purse? Just a minute, I promise. It's here somewhere."

Then I have to remember how to use it while my hands shake for what kind of idiot walks around with a gun cocked and loaded. Safety and all, you know.

Many consider a solution to our gun woes is to improve our mental health system. Well, obviously. But how does that work in regard to the mass shooter? The loner with a stockpile of guns. Tables filled with literature of hate.  Do we (and who is we?) go house to house and give everyone a mental health evaluation?  What is the criteria?

I have long avoided taking this blog into any political or alienating place. I've used it to tell stories, share my humor and my family, road trips and my current state of life. I've practiced my writing skills and pushed my imagination to express itself through words and photography. I've talked about books and have most certainly bored you with my rambling thoughts in regard to many "safe" issues.

But today is a new day. I haven't been able to post anything for well more than a month because with all that is happening in my country and the world, my drivel seemed most unimportant.  
As much as I'd like to point out the complete stupidity of many presently taking up the airwaves, I won't. For that is quite obvious. What is missing are the intelligent voices of those who will stand up against it.

I suggest we need to draw a new map. We need to incorporate insightful, pragmatic, achievable solutions to our current out-of-control gun and ammunition debacle.

For we have most certainly misplaced our compass.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Jacob, Jacob

We've had bad luck with our kids — they've all grown up. 
Christopher Morley

Thirty years ago this Sunday, I was terrified. Not only did the natural childbirth labor I thought such a wise choice loom before me, I had to raise a kid once I got it out. I knew nothing about that. I didn't even like kids.

Half of my fears dissipated shortly after those 64 stitches earned while ending that labor began to heal. Since I'm still here apparently raising that kid didn't do me in either.  Tested me a few thousand times, but as that kid, that boy his dad and I named Jacob, celebrates his 30th birthday, I celebrate him with this brief chronicle.

So you were what was in there.
After many attempts, finally took an  experienced and rather gruff nurse to come in, grab my breast, and shove it in your mouth for the two of us to figure out how to keep you in food.
For some reason, Grandma Bernie loved that photo so much she penciled it.
Wasn't long before you threw me over for a singing Care Bear.

Discovered pumpkins were okay companions.

Tried every activity we forced you into even if you were uncertain as to the outcome. "Mom?"

Took boat rides with strangers.
Adopted a steadfast dedication to your clothing and your artistic abilities.
Napped like your old man.
Smiled even if you didn't have any teeth.
Swam in whatever swimming hole I brought you to.
Collected Christmas presents while wearing a Green Bay Packer sweatshirt (before going to the dark side and cheering for the pseudo America's Team.)

Volunteered your time, costumed of course, with your brothers.
And the years went by and are chronicled in all those albums and boxes and more boxes not shown that had you a different mother might be more organized so she might know which ones held photos of just you. Alas... fell in love in high school.
Graduated from college and got one of those rings you had to drink an entire pitcher of beer to get. 
A proud parent moment. First time alcohol ever passed those lips, I am certain.
Got a job, fell even more in love, and got a dog.

Married that lovely high school sweetheart.
Endured yet another costume I provide every Fourth of July.
Continue each day to create an incredible life.

Happy 30th Birthday, Jacob. Don't quite know how it went that fast.
Most proud of you.


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