Friday, March 26, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Wild

Last weekend, Dean discovered tree climbing (see him in there?). The combination of physical strength, a healthy degree of risk-taking, good sense about how to approach it safely, and a desire to be up in his own place culminated in many happy hours spent in the activity. We have pines like this all over our yard which really are just perfect for climbing; the branches start right from the base of the tree and fan out, all the way up, in just about boy-sized intervals.

It's fairly private in there, too. I have these plans in my head for how it would be possible to build a small platform up there, just big enough for 2 people to sit, with a pulley for bringing up the books, beverages, and snacks. Nothing as grandiose as a "house." And I actually think it would be safer without a railing (because I think that would give a false sense of safety and encourage standing when sitting would really be the purpose). I'm trying to decide if this is a case of my trying to over-engineer something and if it's better just to let Dean make his way in the trees as they are, or if having a perch up there would make for a more magical summer.

The forecast is calling for very cold temperatures toward the end of this week and into the weekend. The upside would be proper conditions for one more fire in the fireplace; the downside could be the shock to the poor plants that have been brave enough to send up shoots....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


This Friday we welcome the vernal equinox. With open arms. I am completely awed by the miracle of spring that's unfolding all around me; I think I am especially reveling in it because I especially need it this year. Rebirth. A fresh start.

It's in the quality of the light, the return of the birds, the bits of green coming through all around.

And it is in the absence of snow. There is still a bit of snow around the edges of our driveway, where the drifts were once as tall as me. But it's disappearing steadily.

Christmas Club members, I will be giving you a reminder and admitting that I wasn't up to it last month. I've been sewing quite a bit lately -- 2 pairs of fleece pants for Dean (yes! just in time for warmer weather.... Oh well!), a jacket for me (the wrong-season thing doesn't matter as much since I won't outgrow it, and I'm not talking about the silly one from my previous post), some small bags, a little quilt and bedding for a doll bed that's going to the school auction. Although none are for Christmas, they've got my sewing/crafting energies flowing and the Christmas stuff WILL follow. I'm going to attempt to learn to make ties -- one for Ken, one for Dean, and more if they work out all right. I've been saving up tins to decoupage for use as gift containers.

Dean's birthday is coming up in a few weeks; I've never been so far behind in getting ready for that. It's fortunate for me that planning a birthday party for a 12-year-old is a lot less complicated than those pony parties I used to give for him when he was younger, but I still feel bad about not being as on top of things as usual. His birthday is the same day as Easter this year, which also has to be prepared for and celebrated.

We were supposed to be heading to Chicago next month as well, to visit my brother and his family and to carry out a memorial service for my mom. For many complicated reasons, it's not going to happen -- my brother and I came to terms with the reality that the service we were envisioning wasn't going to happen (disheartening beyond words that the church in the parish where we lived for 20 years, where the 4 of us went to school, where my mom taught and worked tirelessly on behalf of the church just isn't interested in having us hold her service there -- one of several roadblocks). Also some very complicated family issues in play. I had been so focused on the service as the means for processing my grief, for celebrating her life and moving ahead, that I'm struggling now to figure out what to do with all of this instead.

The thing about me is that I am an intensely private person. I process the big stuff internally. Not even Ken has a clue as to what I've been going through for the past 5 weeks. The benefit of an open, public service to me would have been a way to bring it out and put it someplace in a healing way. We didn't have a service for my dad (also a complicated family issue, revolving around the same person who's made it so difficult this time) and I know that's left a piece unfinished for me all these years. So once again, I'll be dealing with this in a private way for my mom, not working it past my own head and out into the light. I was the one to scatter my dad's ashes and perhaps it will come down to that again this time. One of my brothers was with me when I fulfilled my dad's wish to have his ashes scattered in the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps the other brother will be with me when we figure out the right thing to do for my mom (unlike my dad, she hadn't said that part).

Well. I am back to the beginning, so entirely grateful for the miracle of spring -- for the arrival of it just when I need it most.

Friday, March 5, 2010


People keep asking me how I'm doing. And I appreciate that. I appreciate the concern and the care. I just don't know what to say. I'm all right -- I get out of bed every day and I get showered and dressed in clean clothes. I go to work and I actually accomplish things -- I do my job. I've been doing better at making dinners. I'm eating. Sleeping isn't great, but that's not news.

The thing I can tell you about the pain of losing a parent is the acute sense of grief does ease with time. It gets to the point where you can acknowledge out loud, even to people you hardly know, that your mom passed away, and that, yes, your dad died a few years ago. But the fundamental hole in your heart does not go away, and it's another level of depth, of sadness, once you're an orphan.

Even there, I know I have been fortunate. I know people who lost both their parents when they were much, much younger than I am -- people for whom "orphan" was really true in a more fundamental way.

So here I am. I get through the days and sometimes I smile and Dean makes me laugh pretty regularly. Just figuring out what comes next, and how I get there.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to catch up on all the things I've let slip. I started falling behind in December, to be honest, and am not quite out of that hole yet. I'm trying also to clean up and clean out stuff in the house.

Can you blame me, really, for culling a bunch of scraps to make this jacket? Do you dare me, actually, to wear it out in public?

Yes, we still have that much snow. No, it's not too cold today -- about 40 degrees f. Yes, I'm smiling. (Photography by Dean)