Upgrades, Blog Skin, and Patience

Count yourself lucky, because today, you were going to be subjected to either a commentary on last night’s “So You Think You Can Dance, ” or a scathing review of that book I’ve been trudging through. But I decided to do a bit of work under the hood, so to speak. I’ll subject you to the tortures mentioned tomorrow or the next day when you’re supposed to be out and enjoying the weekend.

Yes, it’s that time again. Time to pardon my dust. I’m working on a WordPress upgrade today, and most likely, a blog skin change. You might remember that not too long ago, I asked people about whether the Tree was doing it for me. I had lots of great responses that ranged from, liking the minimalist aspect of the blue against the white, to considering it presents a sort of Forrest Gump meets Andy Warhol. One person invisioned me sitting on the bench while thinking “all this stuff up,” and other questioned the relationship of the blue tree to my “science of grasping life by the short hairs” to my Warholled self. Schizophrenic sort of covers it. But the two column design is really not what I’ve wanted from the beginning, and the grey, very small font — although tasteful — is difficult to see for some. And I agree. There has to be a good mix of aesthetics and functionality. I’m more wrapped up in writing than playing around with the design because it’s a great excuse to effectively avoid learning how to do the CSS properly, or design my own. I have absolutely nothing but time, right? So what the hell.

Anyway, everything’s changing. Yes, again. Because I can. I don’t have many options for changing the furniture around in my house, or the clothes on my body, or my hair, or…..well, you get it. So why not take out my frustrations on my blob — which it could end up being a blob again if I’m not careful.

So I’m embroiled in reading WordPress support for the down load and reviewing installation guidelines on my hosting service, digging out my FTP client and wondering about the connectivity of all this and potential baldness.

But just in case you’re wondering what this may end up looking like, I’m thinking of: (and click on Test Run) under the image that comes up on the links if you want to check it out…)

  • this, because of the changeable header, the three columns, general organizational quality, and clean-white look.
  • this, because of the header again, the columns again, and the interesting addition of the two sections at the top that I could have some fun with; or
  • this because it’s very different, the organization is cool, the font is very readable on the dark background, and I like how it’s set up for del.icio.us plus more in the post.

Who knows. I downloaded a bunch of others just to mess around with.

So cross your fingers.

How did Emily Know?

I was tagged a week or so ago, and haven’t reciprocated. Well, I have, actually, but I guess you’d have to pick it up by inference. If I remember correctly, the meme had to do with letting people know more about myself through an interview of sorts. I had already done the meme, as I was tagged by someone else first. So, I’ve been constructing a few posts that essentially do the same thing, but not in meme form. So Jo! I’m reciprocating — it’s just may not look like I am.

Well, I couldn’t ask for a better transition…

IMG_1850 Last night while we were watching House, one of the characters said, “He’s not afraid to be you, he’s afraid of who you think you are.” I don’t want to get involved in which character said this, or reference about whom. That isn’t the point. Do you like how I’m circumventing that one? Because I probably don’t know their names. I know I should, because I often watch House, but they’re really only fictitional characters, right? So what difference does it make? Like I was saying, that isn’t the point.

The point is…that I immediately thought of my oldest son. The one who seems to be trudging through life — or flitting, depending on the observer’s perspective. My bets are on trudging, but I’ll get to that later. So what would make me instantly connect to him after hearing the line spoken? Because as a parent who has already raised two children to adulthood, I often wonder whether I did a good job. You know, whether the whole effort of creating two more humans has been a good thing for society. Of course I’m going to say yes immediately, but that’s the easy answer. IMG_1845

IMG_1848 When my oldest son was about the age of 15 or so, I remember him saying that we — the MoH and I — made working look very difficult. That it was all we did, and that it seemed we weren’t very happy about it. My reaction was a combination of, “Wow, he noticed,” and “Crap, what the hell is that all about and what kind of an example is that to set for your kids?” My oldest son — MoS — is an amazing artist. He draws. He doesn’t sketch, or paint, or sculpt. He draws. He picked up a pencil very early, and just began to draw things he saw. He went through odd phases, where all his drawings were of empty intersections with complicated arrangements of stop lights and light posts. He also developed a very early fascination with how things work — in particular machinery, and buildings. So I probably don’t have to tell you about the number of Leggos we own, right?

He began building very complicated buildings with his Leggos by the age of 5. And then he began to invent strange things like those automatic door closers that are mounted up on the frame. So we had those made of Leggos taped to all our doors. We had Leggos everywhere. You do know what it feels like to step on one, right? It’s a very special kind of pain. And sucking them up into the vacuum? You also know that you have to get them out of the vacuum because each freaking piece costs about 25 cents. Plus if that particular piece can’t be found, hours will be spent digging through the box of Leggos. You can hear the sound, right? That “digging in the Leggos” clacking sound. And when the piece isn’t found, the “dumping the entire contents of the Leggo box on the bedroom floor” sound. You know, right? Leggos. Thousands and thousands of them. IMG_1846

I knew very early that MoS was an artist. So I made sure he had things to be creative with. But something happened along the way. This business of making work look hard caused a problem. Although everyone assumes when someone of MoS’ talent is plopped onto this Earth, that he will most certainly make a life and a living with that gift, sometimes they don’t. In fact, I know that lots of times very talented people are just square pegs in the very round hole that is our society. Especially in this country. MoS’ square pegginess is huge.

At the age of 15, he took a look at his resident role models and decided that he didn’t want to turn his drawing into study at school and then a career, because he loved to draw. That if it became his living instead of his love, that he wouldn’t enjoy it any longer. It would become work. It would be “hard.” About this time, he became extremely interested in cars as well. Yes, he drew them. Drew the outside, the inside, drew different views, and yes, drew very intricate pictures of their engines as well. Just any car? Nope. Corvairs. Go figure. And he didn’t just draw them. He could take an engine out of one and install another in the same car in less than three hours, and drive off to enjoy an afternoon. Really. He’s truly amazing.

IMG_1847 So if he isn’t drawing, then is he working on cars? Nope. He still does both these things in his “spare” time. He has very little spare time because he is in school — finally — I think. We’re never sure. And he’s paying for it himself. We think. But we’re not sure about that, either. Because he works between 40 and 50 hours a week managing a pizza restaurant franchise for someone who is no longer interested in running the business. I know how hard it is to go to school and work, and I wonder if he’s making it. Remember what I said about trudging? Are you convinced? He spends ridiculous amounts of time hiring and firing extremely undependable high-school and college-aged kids, filling in for them when they don’t show up for their shifts, and loaning them his car for deliveries, because they wrecked theirs, or don’t have one, or?

What’s he studying in school? Architecture. What he was put on this earth to do. Draw. But we aren’t ever sure he’ll actually finish. He’s so busy making sure the damn pizza place doesn’t burn down, he barely has time for anything else. Maybe the problem is if he quits the pizza place, he’ll have to dedicate himself more seriously to school and therein lies the rub. He’s not afraid to be me, he’s afraid of who I think I am.

What did Emily Dickinson say?

I’m nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!

They’d advertise — you know!

How dreary to be somebody!

How public like a frog

To tell one’s name the livelong day

To an admiring bog!

He’s not afraid to be me — a hard-working, serious nose to the ever-lovin’ grindstone kinda human. Never say die — just occasionally gasp for air — He’s afraid of who I think I am — nobody. Well, somebody, of course, but always trying to just be beige. At least that’s what I think I am. No?

Wow. That’s sobering.

Twenty Years and Blinking

Nice guy that he is, the MoH gently reminded me that I had carpool responsibilities this morning. It’s Tuesday already, and not Monday, so perhaps I was in a Monday frame of mind. The RT and I slunk to the car, I put ‘er in reverse and sat outside The Princess’ house for a few minutes until she graced us with her flowery scented presence. “Good morning,” I began, as usual, attempting to present an image of one who, although wearing pajamas and a rank sweatshirt, was chipper and ready to take the week by the horns. “How was your weekend?”

Umbrella

“Ohmygodyesterdaywasthemostbeautifulday,” she trilled, her eyes wide as I sneaked a look in the rear view mirror. “We went to the beach and everything was just perfect and you know how there are little sand places between the rocks? Well the four of us fit right in there, and well, it’s kind of a coveted location, so when we were ready to leave people were right there ready to take our spot,” she continued, rapt in her recollection of what I remembered was a pleasant day, but not that special. Oh, that’s right. I went outside late in the afternoon to pretend like I was going to finish my book, and ended up lazing in the sun, nodding off occasionally to make up for two late nights in a row. “Only 15 days of school left,” she finished, the non sequitur ending her atypical morning liveliness.

Only fifteen days left. That’s always significant if you are in any way connected to school: you’re a student; your kids are in school; or, if like me, an erstwhile educator who recognized that the countdown to summer posted on the board would get you some points from your students, whether my principal liked it or not — thinking it “negative.” Uhhhh…what rock did she crawl out from under? Doesn’t everyone look forward to summer? Why act like that isn’t the case? Ahhh….summer. The Beach Boys and “No more homework, no more books.

Dirty Looks

No more teachers’ ‘dirty looks'” or whatever the words of that schoolyard chant are. Vacation. Ten. Whole. Weeks. Of sleeping in. Of lazing around the house. Of re-runs on television and sweet oblivion.

It’s a bit strange now since I am only marginally connected to this annual ritual that has been a part of my life in some way for about 40 years. Yes — I know. Longer than some of you have been alive. Through my childhood and college years, my two older boys’ school years, my re-entry to college, and then finally my career in education. Nearly my entire life has been filled with the peculiar ebb and flow of time related to school years. The RT is of course still connected, and will be for many years even after we pack him up kicking and screaming, and throw him on a train and off to college.

It was 20 years ago that I was beginning my career as a teacher. It’s pretty frightening how quickly 20 years can fly by. In 1987, I was ready to take on my first class of Third Graders, and finally do what I had always longed to do: teach. It was exhilarating after waiting so long. From the time I was in junior high, school counselors had gently tried to talk me out of the profession. Really. I’ve tried to remember the details of those conversations, but it was so long ago, it’s difficult. Besides, do adolescents really listen the way we want and need them to when we are gifting them with our experienced advice? Do pigs fly? Does a chicken have lips? Like I said — difficult. And now I don’t need the details, because I recognize their quiet words as something designed to open different worlds to a young person — one more exotic, more glamorous, and most likely, less practical. Perhaps they were at a point where they imagined something different for themselves, so that yearning influenced their words to me.

Regardless, I heeded their advice, and went off to college declaring my major to be Family Studies and Consumer Sciences in order to become a Therapeutic Dietitian. Why this? I had to choose a different, but still practical something to replace my dream of wanting to become a teacher, and I had read something in Time magazine about careers in the health industry, so that made sense. Why not? Are hospitals and schools all that different? Um…never mind. You don’t even want to know what I think about that one.

I never became a dietitian. In fact, I changed my major to Library Science because I really did want to be involved in education on some level. And there were very few jobs available for teachers then, so why not be a Librarian? I loved books, after all, and if I couldn’t be a teacher, I could hover in their vicinity. But I ended up leaving school.

The part time job I had was paying more than what first year teachers made, so it was easy to leave the books and the routines to get married and have two boys. Easy until I felt my brain begin to rot with inactivity. So I finally found myself back in college to pick up where I left off with two young children in tow, the same part time job, and an ex-husband left somewhere in the dust — an unfortunate casualty of someone who should have stayed the school course to begin with. But my two boys were the silver lining of that detour, and they are worth it.

Completing a degree and a credentialing program with kids in tow was crazy on several levels, but lots of people do it today. What was gruelling was subjecting my kids to the insane rigors of a new teaching assignment in an inner city school, and master’s degree work all at the same time. That’s why I have such a high regard for the MoH. He helped all three of us survive those years.

“Kids come out, summer has arrived” by broma on flickr

Twenty years. Don’t blink. You may miss them. Now, I’ll have to live vicariously through the RT’s last few days of school wondering if he’s as ecstatic as I would be if I was still counting down to summer.

I know. I’ll post it on the fridge.

Weekending and All that Stuff

What a weekend. I don’t know what’s more significant — that there were what seemed to be a zillion cops manning speed traps on the way to dog beach this morning, or that the sun is finally out. Finally. And what a perfect way to end a very busy weekend. Absolutely no couch potatoing from me. But a good way to kick off summer all the same. Good thing to know there will be more money in the city coffers from all those tickets the police were giving out.

In case you haven’t figured out that this post is about the weekend — here, let me say it one more time, this weekend, I went shopping with the MoH who has a tendency to wait an entire year before he replenishes his supply of work clothes. He doesn’t like to shop and doesn’t like to spend money. I would agree with the first thing, but the second? Sheesh. You gotta be kidding. I’m thinking it should be an olympic sport. And the big question that needs to be answered about this shopping excursion is — How long does it take to pick out a tee shirt? News at eleven. Me? I didn’t buy one single thing. In fact, I’m seriously thinking about going green on my wardrobe. You know, wearing recycled clothes. Okay, well, how about consignment shop clothes? You get the idea, right? Save money and the planet all at once.

Saturday night, rocking to ’80s tunes at a local, but smoke-filled *cough-gasp* casino while listening to the MoH’s brother’s band, The Reaganomics, was very fun. Very. Almost as fun as it was watching the 60+ crowd get up to shake their boo-tayz to Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. Girls just wanna have fuh-hun.. The groupie with the black and white striped tards was a hoot, too, givin’ the MoH’s bro a serious hug during a break between sets. Have you ever hugged someone who’s been rockin’ for an hour like there’s no tomorrow? S-W-E-A-T-Y.

Table's Set And we had to get together with friends to eat of course. So we rubbed our sleep-lacking and scratchy eyes, dragged our butts out of bed and stopped by the farmer’s market to cruise through the rows looking at veggies, Farmer's Market Fruit flowers, bread, Bread at the Market and drooliscious things like roasted artichoke hearts and garlic was perfect. I was able to get a pretty good start on part of the menu for dinner. Squash Blossoms Although courgettes weren’t exactly on that menu, I couldn’t resist buying some and finding a recipe to try. Thank goodness for friends to tolerate food experiments. Fried Squash Blossoms Surprisingly, the recipe wasn’t bad (stuffed with ricotta and parmesan, then batter fried)– at least better than the Pappa al pomodoro I’ve been wanting to make for many years that could give “mush” new meaning. Go figure. All that tells me is what I already know. Sometimes, planning isn’t worth beans. Although beans would definitely have been more tasty than the soup.

Today? Lots of food blogging to post this and this. One of them will make you fat just looking at it, and the other is so you can lose the weight you gained by looking at the food porn. It’s a Salad ‘Stravaganza I’m co-hosting with a fellow food blogger, Lis from La Mia Cucina. Check it out and get involved. The more, the merrier.
Now, I’m out to enjoy the sun before it goes away. I gotta finish that stoopid book I’ve been trudging through that is so totally not worth it, and seriously reinforcing the idea that if a book doesn’t get my attention by page 40, then screw it. But I said I was going to read all those books, remember?

Adolescent Milestones and The Geometry Teacher

Ninth grade is one of those really big milestones for me. No, I’m not talking about my completion of ninth grade, but as I think about this, perhaps so. Tenth grade signaled the end of an awkwardness that took up residence around the age of 11 and sowed many seeds of doubt about who I was to become in this life. But it’s the RT I’m talking about at this point, and not me. With just 18 or so days left of school this year, I find myself taking stock of this very soon to be young man — the youngest of my three, and the only one I’ve had the pleasure of “mothering” for the past six months without the distraction of my own career.

So what has brought this on? It’s one of those things that has been on the back burner, simmering, festering, wanting to be put down in written words. Spoken words have all been used throughout the year — and some not so kind. And now it’s just a story. Another story that will sit alongside so many others in the volume we’ve created as parents of the RT. And it’s unique, because neither of my other two boys ever had an experience with a teacher quite like that of the RT and The Geometry Teacher. Yes. Her.

Photo 6 When the RT got in the car after school a couple of days ago, it took little time after he had slung his 80 lb. back pack into the trunk before settling into the passenger seat and exclaiming, “Today was the most efficient day I’ve ever had in school.” Well. If that didn’t stop me in my tracks, then nothing ever would. It was one of those moments that had to be written down, as monumental as it seemed, or become lost in all the others that accumulate over time. One, because they — adolescents — just don’t say things like this often; and two, they aren’t often recognized for routinely sharing their revelations — especially with one of their parents. Whether the relationship with the parents is a comfy one, is a completely different issue.

Don’t get me wrong. The RT is an exceptional human — if you can get over his slovenliness — but that’s really not anything we pull our hair out over. It just makes him more warm and fuzzy to us. I know. Gross. But it’s true. He’s a nice kid. Very. And his outlook on humanity is a model for others to consider. If you ask him about what he thinks the biggest problem the world has to deal with, he will tell you that it’s global warming. He can also tell you why he thinks that, throwing in the scientific theory behind the concern. He will also say that he believes obesity is our country’s biggest concern because it’s creating significant health problems for people who aren’t getting proper care. He genuinely likes people and sees good in everyone. He has absolutely no expectation that many people can be very cruel, and like spiders, ready themselves to dart across carefully crafted misery webs to trap unsuspecting humans and wrap them in darkness. Oh…*ahem*…got a bit carried away there. Still… The Geometry Teacher. The award goes to her for being the first person — not just teacher, but person — to have alerted the RT to another kind of human in this world. IMG_0842

I knew things would be less than great when the MoH called me at school one night very early in the school year while I was still at work. He had attended another Open House without me and when my cell rang, I glanced at the clock and thought it odd, because he had only been at the school for a short while. What could be going on? “The Geometry Teacher’s a freak,” he began, in a very terse voice. I could tell he was walking as he spoke because he had that shaking kind of sound going on with this voice. Either that or he was ready to blow.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Nothing. I just walked out in the middle of her presentation. She’s a complete freak,” he continued, clearly pissed off. And that’s odd, too, because the MoH never gets that worked up over school stuff. Well, except for that first grade teacher. And maybe that one math teacher in middle school. Okay. So I lied. Anyway…it quickly became evident that we’d have quite the discussion when we both got home that evening.

How can I explain the feeling of being between a rock and a hard place with a teacher who:

  • Puts a zero on homework because the notebook paper we purchased for the RT was not exactly 8.5″ x 11?” That’s right. The paper was 10.5″ x 8.” Three different stores sold paper this size, so you just don’t think about it because, hell, maybe it’s about conservation — you know? So the RT received many zeros before we realized that we were at fault here and that his paper was a half-inch too small on two sides. Wait. I could give you the difference in area…..
  • Won’t respond to emails because of some phobia about having her writing in print like evidence that could be used against her in a court of law;
  • Makes her students copy the problem. No, I’m not just saying that she asks them to copy the algorithm — I mean like, “The given vector represents the velocity of…” You get the idea. Some of these scenarios are almost a paragraph long and when there are 20 or more problems to complete, what is the kid spending most of his time doing? Copying the problem or doing the geometry? Right.
  • Takes points off if she can’t read the part that was copied, so when the grade comes, it isn’t clear whether the kid is being evaluated on his knowledge of geometry, or copying. And since the RT has dysgraphia, I can guarantee you her routine red-ink evaluations have been on his ability to copy — not do geometry. Oh! But you can photocopy the “problems” and paste them onto the homework paper if you’d like. Uh….I’m supposed to go out and buy a photocopier and do this nightly? Didn’t cutting and pasting happen in Kindergarten? Oh, I forgot. All I ever really needed to know I  learned in Kindergarten.
  • Allows students to make 3″ x 5″ cheat cards for quizzes and exams, but collects them at the door when students are done with their exams. That means that instead of being able to reuse the cards for future tests — because knowledge is built on what precedes it, right? — they have to create new ones. I created the RT’s cards on the computer just once and it took a very long time. His handwriting is so illegible,  he can’t even read it at times, so my eyeballs were popping out of my head, and my drug store glasses not getting the job done with their .5 magnification lenses.
  • Won’t attend meetings that the parents request and the school holds to discuss student need. Like, we get it that our kid has a problem, so what can we do together to help him? But the instigator, the one making it worse, can’t even come to the table to work out a solution? This is extremely challenging when I’ve done what she has done — been in her situation — had teachers on my staff in her situation -and never — EVER — have I seen this kind of unprofessional behavior. Ever. In the real world, she would have been fired so long ago.
  • Review test answers with students the day after the test by working out problems on the board, but does not allow them to take notes so they can actually LEARN from the experience. And they’re not allowed to have a pencil out when this whole thing is going on. Huh? So this would be an exercise in long term auditory memory — well visual if you count being able to memorize what she had written on the board — and not geometry.

So the RT’s very excellent and efficient day? Well in spite of The Geometry Teacher — or because of The Geometry Teacher, part of the thing we’ve been working on since I’ve been at home is to encourage, support, cajole, reprimand, and force him to be aware of and responsible for his learning. That is huge. It isn’t that we weren’t working on those things before, because those are things that have to be worked on. But it doesn’t mean sitting down with him as he does his school work — although we’ve done that. It doesn’t mean digging through his back pack to find missing assignments he has completed but hasn’t turned in — but we’ve done that, too, finding 4 fermented apples and all. It doesn’t mean that I ever do his work for him, which would mean that I’d have to relearn it myself — although I, too, have at least done the “copying” of the completely ridiculous geometry problems so Her Highness could read his papers. And it absolutely doesn’t mean that I paid a tutor $75 an hour to tutor him. But that was the next thing on my agenda. Of course, I’d have to get a job to afford it, but goodness. I could tutor middle school students in English for $75 an hour and then use the money to pay for the RT’s tutoring. Or barter — you tute my kid and I’ll tute yours.

It means he finally took himself to the library to work with junior volunteers after school — kids who actually like math, and understand math differently than the RT may, and who have survived THE GEOMETRY TEACHER. They survived her — not just her class.

And you know what? The RT got a B+ on his last test — only 2% from an A-. Woo-Hoo! Now are we sure that means he understands the concepts? Who knows? But what it does mean to me — his mom, and erstwhile English Teacher? It means that I suppose you can force your kids to do what you want — what you believe is good for them — like these folks — but ultimately, I think it’s about persistent talk, nudging, suggesting, telling, expecting, and relentless questioning, so they’ll get there themselves. So they feel it was their accomplishment, because it should be theirs. They deserve that very important feeling as they mature into adults.

The Geometry Teacher will always represent this important time in our lives when my youngest, and very accepting son, not only realizes that life is often like a game, and that sometimes, there are people who make it more challenging for us to succeed, unlike others who thrive on supporting success. Ironically, the unsupportive people we happen upon exist to help us learn more about ourselves. It’s not especially pleasant to realize, but sometimes, those who are supposed to help the most, don’t.

Sobering lesson for an almost 15-year-old to learn, but he’s feeling “efficient,” so heartfelt congrats to the boy who was just a baby not so very long ago.sc00b2fe69

Crack of Mother’s Day Dawn

I’m supposed to be in bed sleeping — languishing for at least a few more hours in semi-slumberland and waiting for the MoH to bring me that strong, black coffee that he likes to make in the French press. But no.

I’ve been awake since about 2:30 engaged in a rather extended session of flashing, sweating like a pig, then freezing my rear end off.

Oh, and the random thought parade is in full swing with every person, idea, or “thing to remember” jockeying for position front and center. I just decided to get up. I could read — if the book I have been trudging through was actually enjoyable. But no.

It must be fairly close to sunrise, because I can hear the first tentative chirp of a bird through the open window. I could at least be rewarded with the possibility of a rosy dawn since I’m here and everyone else is sleeping — well except my doggo who is semi-dozing a few feet away, disgusted that she isn’t on her pillow next to my side of the bed. I could. But no.

It’s overcast and grey. As grey as the lint that I peel off the screen in my dryer. Or that record-sized hairball the Yack Star hacked up in the night that I still haven’t picked up. No rays of brightness creeping up over the distance today. Nope.

I’m reduced to doing Google searches for the spam caught on my blog, and sucking down my second cup of Irish Breakfast Tea. I should have hair on my chest by the time the MoH comes looking for me and telling me I should be in bed so he can bring me breakfast and give me my present.

So Happy Mother’s Day to me, and to you. Hopefully you’re at brunch somewhere, and not reading this stoopid post.

Hopefully yours is as excellent as ours was yesterday. How do you spell calories? Mmmm…

gratitude = sum of the parts > the whole

We used to live in a house 25 miles east of Paradise. Yes, still Paradise, but worlds away from here for all kinds of reasons. It was about as beautiful as the suburbs could be in a place that should still be a desert covered with scrubby bushes and hillsides speckled with strangely rounded boulders instead of houses and neighborhood malls. We were fortunate enough to happen upon this house at a time in our lives when we needed more space: my two older boys were just entering their adolescence, our youngest was still not one, and my mom was getting pretty tired of her life and wanted a change. Only one family had lived in this house before us — a family of three. The man had died 10 years earlier, so the woman had stayed until she could no longer care for herself and was moved to a care facility somewhere near her daughter on the East Coast. For the longest time, the house still felt as if it belonged to her. Her child had grown up in the house, and they had lived there for almost 50 years.

Rain

One of the things I loved about the house was the view. Nearly every window provided a pleasant treescape, or views of distant hills that, if you woke up early enough, afforded a gorgeous sunrise. And I was up early quite a bit in those days, because 6-month-old babies do wake up earlier than most of us want them to.

As my life became more crowded with the kinds of things we all grapple with, I found myself feeling put upon, and frazzled. At times, I swore that I could feel the person I was supposed to be sinking farther and farther away, as if drowning. Before bed each night most often after everyone else had long since retired, I’d quietly venture out into the yard and look into the dark sky to say my penance for spending so much of my day being dissatisfied with what I had.

Moon

I knew there had to be something up there willing to hear me list all the things I acknowledged I was thankful for — because I didn’t want to give the wrong impression. “I love my kids, I love my husband, I have a job, I have a nice house, we’re all healthy, we have food…” the litany went each night, attempting to seal in what I was thankful for.

Although I remember this with tiny shards of sadness, I reluctantly drag it to the surface as a sort of measuring stick. So much is different now. Time has a way of doing that. But time isn’t enough. Many other factors must be considered to acknowledge what I am truly grateful for without it being an apology to the night sky. I realize that if I hadn’t lived those days, I would be less than who I am now. It all adds up. So this is my contribution. Thanks to Dave for passing on the opportunity to convey my gratitude, although perhaps not as eloquently expressed as his.

So if you are someone who finds your cup a bit empty instead of full, take the time to make your own list. And if you’re someone who likes to create two lists — one with plusses, and one with minuses, I guarantee you’ll never get to the minus side of things if you always start with the plusses. Come on. Pay it forward. Do it now. There. I nodded in your direction.

I have gratitude for my family — but specifically my boys.

Men Men Men

Mmmm….b-o-y-z. I love my men, men, men, men…because they are just flat out different. Refreshingly not like me. They just don’t get caught up in all the total crap that females do. They make life so much easier unless I want a reason to get worked up, and then they’re really good at being the reason I get worked up — because they’re not like me. You get that, right?

I’m thankful — so very thankful for the relationship that the MoH and the RT have.

Time Flies

They truly like one another. The MoH still gets warm & fuzzy attention from the RT who is very comfortable with hug & love stuff. The MoH and I must have done some pretty effective modeling in our spare time. I didn’t have a relationship with a father, and didn’t get to observe my brother having one, either, so I’m curious about the whole Dad thing. Curious — which is different than wanting, needing, or wishing. Or hoping. And put a cork in the guilt while you’re reading this, Mom because that’s a complete waste of time. Ahemmoving right along…

Though my intensity would rival that of a laser, I’m grateful for my ability to notice small things

Wall

that bring me to a screeching halt long enough to breathe and wonder about nothing in particular —

Leaf light

— like the way sun comes in to brighten up the house after so many days of grey.

Blinds

Things sparkle, shine, and amazing shadows emerge for just a minute or two, and then are gone.

Golden Reflection

Somebody has to notice those things and share them with others, right? So I guess my tiny digital camera gets the nod as well. Now if I could only figure out the macro thing, I’d be set.

I’m grateful for that old Betty Crocker cookbook and a mom who shoved a cast iron skillet in my hand and said, “Make dinner for the family,” when I was still pretty young. I never cease to find pleasure in thinking about food, cooking food, serving food, and eating food. Oh — and the people who eat my food. Mmmmm…..food. I absolutely love it — and them for enjoying it.

 

So that leads to gratitude for my developing relationship with my scale, and the respect I have for my control or lack of control, which can be pretty powerful. Boy that’s a constant argument I have with myself. To have more, or not to have more…simply more…More tasty is working better than just more…Having a brain that processes this factors in here somewhere.

And I’m grateful for people like this who make me smile on my less than exciting walks,

 

because I just wonder, “What were they thinking?” and then have to be even more grateful that I could never be as hateful as the person who then threw something corrosive on her driveway and ruined the prettiness she was so proud of, and not wanting people to spoil with their “turning around in her driveway” tires.

And I would be even more grateful if people like that didn’t exist. But that’s asking too much, right? Because we’re all supposed to be thankful we aren’t them. But cockroaches are small enough to step on, so someone could have figured out how to rid us of the mean folk.

In my next life, I would like to hope and wish to be grateful for patience. If there’s a line for that somewhere, help me make sure I get in it.