where the heart is

Waking up

A year ago I left my job at The Pub and, after our road trip, came home to find a job that would be enough. I had a good amount of money saved in Unemployment and I resolved to use it, giving myself a year to get by and avoid the pressure to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

My year is over.  
My Unemployment insurance ran out. 
And I'm still working part time with no idea what to be when I grow up.

Time to wake up, folks.

Those who define love

3generations

Last time I bothered to write, it was about the impending loss of my Grandmother, which hasn't happened yet. She's holding steady. The last couple times I saw her, though, I couldn't understand her speech, she didn't appear to have any idea who I was and spent most of the time I was there agitated. The girls have no idea how to be with her and honestly, I don't either. I have never been any good at sitting still. I have to be talking and doing all the damn time and with her, that's not always the way to be. Clearly it's a skill I should learn.

But it's my Grandfather I really came to write about today.

Sunrise

I find myself at the edge of another emotional precipice.

This one is spelled "Alzheimer's".

For me, it's only a shallow fissure, running up and down the map of my skin, parts crumbling painfully while other sections are almost imperceptible. I see it more clearly in my Aunt, the Designated Power of Attorney, or the DPOA as they sometimes refer to her at the care facility. She is heavy in this. She carries a binder so dense it has its own gravity, within it every medical decision, note, symptom and complaint for both of them, going back to 2006. "Someday," she tells me, "You'll have to make a binder like this for your parents."

I solemnly swear to tickle my kid

she's in love
Lily with one from the latest batch of chicks

You know how you can know something about someone, but not really realize what you know? Parent teacher conferences were a couple weeks back and I've been intently mulling over what I learned about my kids, specifically Lily. What I learned came not from her current teacher but from the teacher she had for the last two years (our school does multi-age teaching so students are with the same teacher for two years in a row from first to fourth grade). Ms. K told us that Lil's new teacher had come to her about the first project of the season, making pet rocks. Lily had refused to do it. Flat out. And Ms. M wanted to know why a child would ever refuse something artistic and fun.

Annual Turkey Roast

Welcome

We had our annual Harvest Party last weekend and this time, I didn't live blog it like I have in the past. Instead, I live Facebooked it. Because I'm awesome. But I did want to share the time-line here as I've discovered that when you only do something once a year, you totally forget how. EVERY SINGLE YEAR. And that's where this here blog gets useful. Also, I'm trying to blog more. Win-win.

SO!

This year we had a total of 15 adults and six kids (two of which were under two). We set up inside again as November can be chilly, even in Sunny SoCal. Here's how the day went down (in FB status updates & photos):

Froote * Vegdable * Snak * Main thing

first: Kindness
Photo and mug by the very talented Bethany.

Yesterday, Anya woke up with a fever. Considering the Mister left a few nights before for a six day gig and it was the day of my final exam for the class I've been taking, it was... not good. I called up my mom, explained the situation and then said, "I don't know what to do. How do I do this? I can't do this!" She, having spent many a year single parenting, knew exactly how to fix this.

"You will bring her to me. You will go to class. You will take your final exam. Everything will be OK."

Or something like that. The point was, she fixed it.

So I told Anya what the plan was and she instantly went into meltdown mode. She did not want Grandma, she wanted MAMA and nothing else would do. Lily walked in on the meltdown and I instructed her to please get ready for school. "Find some breakfast, baby." And she bolted for the kitchen while I rocked a sobbing, fevered child. Have you ever tried to talk an unreasonable little person out of throwing a fit? It is not what one would call a "good idea". But I tried. And after a while, the enormity of everything slammed down on me and I realized that there was no way out of this moment unless something big happened. What could possibly work? And then, I found my answer, quite by accident.

I burst into tears. Big, sobbing, ugly, choking tears. The kind of tears that makes sane people look away and whisper, "Bless". I told Anya, through gulped words, that I was so sorry. That I wanted to be with her too. That I didn't know what to do. 

Anya became very quiet. "Mama." She whispered.
"Yes?" I sobbed.
"I'm going to pack some things for Grandma's house."

Later, when recounting this to my Mister over the phone I confessed, "I think I broke her little psyche."
"NO!" He practically shouted. "You showed her that some things are bigger than her. You showed her that sometimes you need help, too. You showed her honesty. She snapped out of it, because you put things into perspective."

Or something like that. The point was, he fixed it.

And Lily fixed it, too. When I got into the house after this breakdown I found that she had eaten a bowl of cereal, had made herself a list with little check boxes that read:

* Froote
* Vegdable
* Snak
* Main thing

And she was carefully cutting up a carrot with a very sharp knife for her "vegdable". She had found the mango I'd cut up for her the day before and checked off the word "Froote". She was getting out what was needed for a peanut butter & honey sandwich and was chattering away about how all she needed now was to figure out her "snak". Later I watched from a doorway while she leaned down and tenderly kissed her sister's forehead and then made her a little coloring kit to take to Grandma's. Best of all, she was thrilled when I suggested that I drop her off, rather than walk her onto campus. "YES! I've been waiting for this!"

Where did Little Miss Totally Independent come from?

No matter, it's a beautiful thing.

The rest of the day showed me more examples of how well I am loved:

  • When I called a friend about making sure the school chickens got fed, she couldn't do it but took on the task of making sure she found someone who could.
  • My mom made me breakfast when I arrived to drop off Anya and then took care of my sick girl all day.
  • When I arrived for class, the teacher told me to go home if I needed to take care of my kid, that I could make up the class and do the text next week if I needed to. "Family comes first" he insisted.
  • Another friend picked Lily up from school and held onto her until I could come get her after my class.
  • And at the end of the day, I enjoyed homemade cookies and tea in a mug made by Bethany.

Considering that I haven't done anything remotely baby-bookish, I'm grateful for this blog (despite the fact that it's not so active anymore). I can put this down and be able to show Lily later, "See this? This was the day you grew up a little more. This was the day that you made it better." And I can be reminded how awesome my life really is, especially when I finally ask for help.

Nice.

half space OR hiding under the dining room table would be nice

365 | 81 | hiding

You know that place?

The one where you find yourself in deep service to nothingness, thinking only of what comes next, but not in a hopeful way.

The space where you cannot do much more than what is required unless it is utterly selfish.

Where you find yourself watching TV, half asleep, brain disengaged in the middle of the day.

Where you watch your partner working and think, "I should be helping" and then instead put on a yoga video and try to find a way to stop physically hurting.

The place where your body is sore from stress and standing and you want to just sit down but know you will have trouble getting back up.

When you find yourself doing what needs to be done, getting by, but not actually nurturing anything.

This place.

This place I've been in for a while.

It comes with bricks on the shoulder called "worry" and "fear".

Despite what is clearly good steps for our future, the fear of "what if" and "how will we possibly" come flying by when you least expect it, robbing you of the moment.

I find myself gathering bits of hope and comfort, knowing that all is OK but damn if it isn't scary sometimes.

And then there is the personal bits that get set aside: writing, photography, art is left behind so that basics are met.

Oddly, I know that there isn't more than I can handle.

I know that my life is beautiful and poetic and peaceful and full of wide, vivid brush strokes that make you want to weep from all that perfection.

I know that while I am working to keep things afloat, it cannot help but get better, because of all the work we are doing.

I know that while the garden lays bare, it will not always be.

There will be time for gardening.

And goats.

And cooperative living.

But right now it is nothing but selfish steps to survive each moment as I find myself bathed in fatigue.

I'm so tired of being tired.

The possibility of my life, of my family, of the love I get to share with my Mister, of the land, of the chances offered, of the work, the pain, the simple moments of every day, it's dizzying! So much that can be.

I just need to wake up.

Wake up.

Dammit, but I'm so tired.

 

when your 5-year-old drops a love bomb on your sick head

365 | 22 | yep, that's my kid

So right after I blog about keeping yourself well using Elderberry syrup, I get stupid sick. The kind of sick where you wake up one morning with your face as white as a sheet, your voice run off, and your breath dragging in and out of you like low tide across the rocks. It was ugly, at best.

I'm the kind of person who takes antibiotics every 10 years or so, but one thing I don't mess around with is respiratory infections. When breathing is compromised, I compromise my ideals and let Western Medicine do what it does best (which is emergency medicine, by the way). Especially sine I have the super fun job of single parenting this week while the Mister is away on a gig.

Which leads me to the photo above. First night Mark is away I ask the girls to go get ready for bed. This is what Anya comes up with. And then the child who never wants me to take her picture starts posing and acting silly and does not run and hide when I grab my camera. 

You know what this is? A gift. Mama is sick and tired and alone and my beautifully silly child gives me the greatest giggle I've had in days AND lets me photograph it.

Who is the luckiest mama around?

I AM.