Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I also started homeschool with the other boys this week. Normally, I don't start with them until after Labor Day because I have a philosophical problem with school starting before then. But, considering it was August before Will finished up the 9th grade, I thought there might be some wisdom in starting a few weeks earlier this year!
It's been nice - really nice. The house is quiet and there's not nearly so much squabbling and ruckus. Ben was an utter pill a week ago Friday, so I yearned intensely all weekend long for Monday to arrive. I haven't been disappointed!
He is loving school. He came home the first day and informed me that "School is so much better than home, Mom!" Um - thanks? Actually, I could retort and tell him that Home is so much better when he's at school, but I haven't. His teacher and one-on-one seem to be bending over backwards to make things go well. I've gotten several phone calls from this week about various things, which I appreciate. They started a home/school notebook where they write notes about his day and then I can respond with any questions or comments I have. They're going to regret that. Today I sent back 3 pages of questions! That was because they sent home his schedule yesterday and it didn't look quite right to me so I had tons of things to ask about that. I felt kind of bad doing that, but I am the mom and I have to be convinced that Ben is being well cared for in my absence.
Ben told me today that he was given a job at school. He's delivering newspapers to all the classrooms. I think that's terrific! He is totally loving art class. It sounds to me like they are doing pottery or something with clay right now. Ben commented, "You never did anything like that at home, Mom." I've never done anything artsy with Ben. Some of it is just "me." I don't like messes. I'm not one to pull out the glue and glitter and construction paper and tell the kids to go at it. I'd rather they rot their brain on tv, because I don't have to sweep that up. But the other reason is just as much because of his cerebral palsy. Ben has only just mastered (and not quite the right way) scissors. He doesn't have fine motor control. So turning him into a Picasso has never been one of my goals for him. But mostly, I just don't want the mess! So, school is good!
I had an ultrasound and biopsy of my thyroid today. That's why I couldn't have any vitamins this week, as I talked about it earlier - or aspirin or probably allergy pills (but I took those anyway). I might have cancer. But I probably don't. And if I do, it's very unlikely I'll die from it, anyway, so don't get too worried. A week ago I went in for my annual hearing exam with Dr. Greiman. The next thing I knew, he had his hands on my throat, palpitating my neck. I hate having my neck touched, so I was not amused. He explained that he has recently started giving thyroid checks to all his female patients. He said that thyroid cancer is one of those things that sneaks up unannounced (don't all cancers? I mean do we get a note saying, "Hello, I'm breast cancer and I'm about to invade your previously unbothered bosom."??)
The short story is that he found something so today I had to check myself into the hospital and have it looked at. I really don't think there is anything to worry about. In my thinking, if I have cancer, I'll know it. But I feel just fine. So, I had the ultrasound, which is just like a baby ultrasound, only a lot higher up and with no happy news. I was completely confident that would be the last of it. The tech. would show the results to the dr. and I'd be on my merry way. But she came back and said, "Uh, you have to have the biopsy - now." Drat. Apparently, Dr. Greiman did feel what he thought he felt and I have a growth on the left side of my thyroid. But the dr. who did the biopsy told me that, more than likely, it's just a benign growth. Apparently, they're not uncommon. If it isn't cancerous, they will just leave it in there.
So, I had the biopsy. They had to take blood first. Then, about 20 min. later, with me sitting doing absolutely nothing and being totally bored, the staff finally came in to work on me. Ok, I learned something new today. Getting a thyroid biopsy is not pleasant. Oh, it was awful! They numbed up my neck, but that didn't stop the pain from when the needle would brush against nerves inside my neck. The dr. said that I have absolutely no fat on my neck and that's probably why it hurt so much. He said my windpipe is right underneath the skin and it was impossible to avoid nicking it with the needle. And he had a hard time, too, getting the 3 cells needed for the evaluation. But eventually it was over and I was never more thankful!
My neck is swollen and battered and it feels like I swallowed a wad of gum that won't go down. The dr. said it will look like I have a hickey for a few days...nice... Afterwards, I met Paul for lunch. He couldn't come right away, so I cheered myself up by going out to Victoria's Secret. I needed a new bra and I just got one of their $10 coupons, so it seemed like the right time! I had thought to go out there next Mon. while Will is at class, but I'll have David with me and he's bothered by nearly naked women (may it always be so) so it probably was best for me to go alone.
Since this was all in the interest of keeping me alive, I guess it was a good thing that I went.
Oh, I found a birthday present for Ben this week. He wants an mp3 player. But Will advised me that there was no way Ben's clumsy fingers would be able to manage the dials on the ones that he and David have. So I did some internet research and I found a place in Canada that sells 2G players. They're marketed to children and to disabled adults. They're larger than typical players, which is good, since Ben loses everything. Rather than dials, they have just 3 large buttons. The best feature, I think, is this: parent controlled volumes. In a way that the consumer cannot see, the parents set the volume. We have had such a problem with Ben using his cd player too loudly and now we're hearing reports of children losing their hearing because of the continual too-loud use of ear buds and their mp3s. Will looked over the product and thought it would be good for Ben, so that's what we'll order.
We may be pouring concrete this weekend. Maybe. There's still the problem of not all the dirt being yet dug out of the basement. Poor Paul. He's so frustrated. We were to go camping this weekend, but are delaying that by a week, which is a relief to me. Instead, we're going to go next weekend with Paul's sister and her family. Plus, they have boat, water skis, and tubes, so we'll be able to have some fun on the water.
Tomorrow night we'll be the first football game of the season. This is new. I had not planned on going to any games until this Mon. night when the JV team plays for the first time. The first Varsity game every year is against the Carlisle Wildcats. They're not in our division, but it's a Hwy 5 rivalry game that everyone enjoys. Will got asked to play in it! He's so excited and so am I! Go Trojans!
That's all my news. Time to open the fridge and see what leftovers (for supper) fall out...
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Tossing the clothespins into the nearby basket, I pull the bed sheet off the clothesline, bunch it up in my hands…and inhale. Mmmm - it’s the smell of sunshine, a job well-done, and the assurance of a restful sleep tonight.
As I press the sheets against my face, I find myself thinking about all the relatives before me who have done exactly what I’m doing now. How many of my great-grandmothers buried their noses in clean cotton sheets as they labored? Granted, their sheets weren’t washed with electric washers, but with wringer washers and even scrub boards. But this simple act of inhaling the fresh scent of my washed laundry ties me to my past.
I don’t know an awful lot about the women who came before me. I knew my grandmothers, of course. I know that two of my great-grandmothers immigrated here from Germany. I know another one was a sturdy woman of the Kansas plains. And I know that one of my ancestors was an American Indian -- something that greatly intrigues me. But that’s about all I know.
Sometimes I wonder about these women whose blood now flows through my own veins. At times they seem like mythical characters to me out of the historical novels I enjoy. I wonder -- what things did they smell as they went about their daily lives, as I now am?
No doubt they smelled plenty of sweat since they were all hard-working farm wives. I imagine their kitchens teaming with the combined smell of baking pies, sauerkraut, sausage, and of course, the underlying smell of human odor. This was in the days before deodorant, central air, and daily showers! I rather imagine their houses all had the scent of burned wood, either from the wood burning stove that would have heated them in the wintertime or from the cook stove used for food. In the springtime they would smell the rich scent of the black Midwestern dirt as it was turned over by the plows. My Indian grandmother probably smelled the scent of her leather tee-pee and moccasins. I would love to have more knowledge of her life, just to get a glimpse of where I came from!
My twenty first century life is so different from those of my forebears. I do have a pretty old house, and like all aged wood, it has retained some of the scents from the past. But other than that, I don’t think the women before me would recognize too many of the smells I experience. I have automatic deodorizers in every room of the house, decorative candles let out pleasant scents, and some of our furniture still has that “store” scent. I daily experience the smells of pizza, bleach, chocolate, and body lotions -- things that would have been a rarity, or more than likely, something my ancestors never smelled.
But the smell of my freshly dried sheets draws me to the past I never knew. While my grandmothers and I had vastly different lives, there are certain things -- and certain scents -- that transcend generations. We all inhaled the precious scents of our new babies. We all delighted in the smell of freshly cut grass every spring. And I know my grandmothers had to have loved the Christmastime scents of evergreen and cinnamon.
And as I bury my face into my sheets I know that my grandmothers did the same thing. And despite the decades and centuries that separate us, I suddenly feel very connected.
Friday, August 20, 2010
I won, I won, I won!!! We ended up not being ready to leave yesterday until 8:53 am. Sighing, I headed out to the van. Paul was sitting on the porch swing and suggested that I go sit in front of the computer, saying that another 7 minutes wasn't going to make a difference. So, I got to check FaithWriters before leaving after all!
I knew my story wasn't bad. When I submitted it I knew that people would either love it or hate it, thinking it was way over the top. I put myself in the shoes of a mother who is losing her only son to a brain tumor and I wrote from there. I ended up getting 4 positive comments prior to judging and so I began to have some hopes for my story. After reading all the other stories in my division I thought there was a good chance that my story might make it into the top 5 of my division.
It got FIRST PLACE! I saw that and I couldn't breathe. I jumped up and ran to find Paul, squealing, "I got first, I got first!" Then, I zipped back to the computer and checked the Editor's Picks. I seriously quit breathing when I saw that not only did I make it into the top 10 Editor's Picks (the stories that will be published in an anthology) I got FIRST PLACE there as well! Holy, holy cow!
I've only made it into the top 10 twice and the second time I get first?! I had to go through and count - there were 110 entries, total. I'm thinking I did pretty well! But I'm starting to sound braggy here, so I need to wind down. My friend Kristi, who got me started with FW in the first place, reminded me that getting a first place win with the Editors means that now I am in competition for what they call the "Best of the Best" awards which are given yearly and come with cash prizes. Definitely NOT holding my breath on that one!
So, needless to say, I had a very, very good day yesterday! I kind of floated all day long through Adventureland - and it wasn't only from all the hay fever meds I had to take (the ragweed has definitely bloomed!). We got home around 10 and I had to sit down as soon as we got home and read all the nice comments that people left about my story. What fun and oh, what a blessing!
I still have to place in the top 10 for Editor's Picks one more time before bumping up to the last level, "Masters." I'm thinking more than ever, that I really need to be doing more writing for venues other than FW. And that's where I'm drawing a blank. I can write articles and I know there are places that will take them. But I have found that my real delight is in fiction writing. Aside from novels, where would I began to find an outlet for fiction? I know there are answers - it's just finding them.
I began to pray in earnest about my writing some time ago. And I've seen that answered through my success with FW. But now I need some more direction. And a few extra hours in every day wouldn't hurt either! I don't have enough time to do what needs to be done and write, too. But somehow there has to be a way. If only I didn't need to sleep...
Paul told me yesterday that he'll be happy to quit his job so I can go to work writing full-time. Ha, ha, ha! Before we went to sleep last night he told me he was proud of me. That felt really good. But, I have to continually remind myself - it's not me. God gave me this extra ability with words. And I guess if He needs some things written through my pen, He'll direct my steps. But, even though I know it's not really me, it still feels awfully good!
Again, I won't be putting this one on my blog, but if you want to read, "Loving Luke Good-Bye" let me know and I'll send you the link to the story.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I had forgotten that Sam is not the most cooperative when it comes to having his picture done. I should have waited until a time that Will could have come along with us. Actually, Sam did just fine - for about the first 5 shots. Then, all of a sudden, his shoulders started shaking and great big teardrops began to roll down his cheeks. I have NO idea what the matter was! In fact, I had just had the thought that the shots they would get later would be better because he'd be more warmed up then. Little did I know, there would be no later shots.
So, this is what I ended up with. It looks like Sam and it's a good picture of him. The viewer gets a nice shot of his accident scar from last month (when he fell through the tarp)! I even bought him the most adorable Osh Kosh Gosh outfit for this picture - and he didn't need any more clothing. But I wanted something cute for his photo. And we get to see the whole collar. You'll have to trust me - it was a cute outfit!
This is for Sam's 3rd birthday, which is still 2 months away. But I have to stagger our portrait sessions in order to take advantage of their $9.99 specials that they only allow once every 3 months!
Tomorrow we are going to Adventureland. I'm really battling with my attitude tonight on this. I had planned to leave after 9 am since the park doesn't open until 10. The FaithWriter results will be posted at 9, so it was going to be perfect. Well, now Paul needs to swing by Wayne Dennis (HVAC supplier) for a side job he is working on. These poor people have only had their air intermittently all summer long because of their geothermal system that has had Paul scratching his head quite a bit. He keeps going over there, tinkering with it, getting it running and coming home with money from them. And then they call him again a few weeks later. So it's important. But the thought of having to be gone all day and not knowing the FW results is killing me! How am I supposed to enjoy my day? On the other hand, if I don't do that well, then I might be depressed all day long, too, and unable to enjoy my day. I think I'm starting to get obsessed which isn't good. Really, a little success and I've become a megalomaniac!
This week Sam came up to me and told me he needed my phone. He grabbed it and commented, "I need talk to my mudder." Just who does he think I am?
We picked up a dresser for Sam last night off Craig's List. He's only almost 3 - guess it's time to get him his own dresser! I was trying to save space after he was born so I put his clothes in some Rubbermaid drawers I have up in his room and the rest went in our room. It's worked out fine but his clothes are getting bigger now and he really needs his own space for them. Soon, the fooseball table will be out of the boys' room and in the new basement so there will be room for additional furniture up there. In the meantime, we'll just squeeze. It's really nice and even bigger than David's and Ben's dressers.
Anyone noticed how bacon prices have shot up? I sure did, the last time I was grocery shopping. There was an article in the paper Sun. that I found quite interesting. It explained that what happened is when the whole H1N1 fiasco - er, sorry - pandemic - happened it was initially referred to as "swine flu" even though it had nothing to do with pigs. So, people drastically cut down on their pork consumption. As a result, Iowa farmers couldn't get much money for their pigs, so they didn't raise as many the next year. Well, now consumption of pork is back, but there aren't enough pigs to fill the need. Ergo - price increases. Although, I did notice that Hy-Vee has their Corn King label on sale for $2 a pound this week, which is a really good price. I should stock up.
Paul attacked my bathroom yesterday. Now I have a hole in one wall and he ripped out half my linen closet. I just painted that thing this summer! If I had known he had such destructive plans, I might have let that wait. Grrr....
For my Iowa readers: I had something interesting happen to me. One of my FB friends commented yesterday about intending to vote for Jonathan Narcisse, an independent candidate for governor this fall. I commented back that I was thinking about voting for him as well. Then I went on to talk about the "angry Republicans" who are really ticked off that the establishment candidate has made absolutely no conciliatory gestures towards the social conservatives (of which I am one). I have heard it said that a number of them are planning to write in Bob Vanderplaats on their ticket this fall. He, of course, was running for the Rep. nomination, but lost to Branstad. My initial plan, I mentioned in my FB reply, was to vote for Branstad, but as the weeks have rolled in my conscience just won't let me. More than likely, if the polls are spot-on, he will win on Nov. 2. But I don't like him. The only difference I see between him and Chet Culver, the soon-to-be-ousted-one-term-Democratic-governor-of-the-great-state-of-Iowa, is the "R" after his name. Seriously.
Well, I didn't know it, but Narcisse is one of my friend's FB friends. So, he then replied to me personally about his candidacy for governor. He sent me this link - http://aniowaworthfightingfor.com/ I checked it out and that sealed it for me. My vote is going to Jonathan Narcisse. I would urge all my Iowa readers to carefully consider their vote this fall. Jonathan knows the Lord and he very humbly shares the depths to which he sank before being rescued. He has a workable plan for reorganizing state government and he's fiscally responsible - things I do not believe Branstad is and know Culver isn't. Sure, I was flattered that he took the time to address me personally. Although, I am a vote, so I guess I really shouldn't feel that way! But more than that now I know I can vote with a clear conscience this fall. Like millions of Americans I held my nose in '08 and voted for McCain. And like millions of Americans, I wasn't really voting for him, but rather for Sarah Palin (although my admiration of her has dimmed somewhat in recent years) and against Obama. I'm not doing that this time.
Well, time to knock some more stuff off my to-do list. I also need to get organized for our trip tomorrow. I think I'll need to get up bright and early and make pancakes for the family so that they're not begging for snacks as soon as we step foot inside the gates.
My neighbor, Jenn, is going to babysit Annie for me. That kitty is getting rather annoying. If she's not in her box, she now insists on climbing up my ankles and legs - which are both scratched bloody. And she gets so excited when I give her the bottle now that she has shredded the skin on both my forefingers and thumbs. I'm not liking this! As I recall, I suggested we snap her neck, but no, mister feline lover thought we ought to keep her. I'm not noticing any bloody body parts on him though! She's 5 weeks now, though, so I'm thinking it won't be long before she'll be able to drink on her own and handle kitten food - then she's outside!
Monday, August 16, 2010
My great great grandmother was a full blooded Choctaw Indian. You would think, that in all fairness, some of her dark skin would have been passed down to me. Even with all the white spouses in the interim between her and me, still you'd think I could have attained at least a bit of leftover Indian color in my pigment, which would give me a nice, light, year-round tan.
But no. My grandma (other side of the family) was a red-head with the fair, freckled skin to go along with it. Apparently her genes dominated and, while my hair is not red, I did get her light skin. That means that while other woman glow in the summertime, exposing their beautiful tanned legs and firm arms, I simply look like a wilted white lily -- a lily that someone stepped on. And now that I am getting older, my white legs (that I usually try to keep covered) are gaining a collection of unsightly purple veins. Every year their number grows and every year my pants get longer...sigh...
Interesting note on skin: I have often seriously wondered if David got some of his great-great-great grandmother's Indian skin. That boy is SO dark, especially in the summer. His brothers and Paul and I look like the Cullen family standing next to him.
Yesterday our high was about 80 degrees - sunny and gorgeous. It is supposed to be that way all week long. As one of my Facebook friends commented, "This is what summer is supposed to be!" Indeed - and if it was, you wouldn't hear me complain nearly so much!
Friday, August 13, 2010
I hate the heat. There is not a lot of fun that comes from sweating and having one's undergarments stick to them. I hate picnics. Again - where is the fun? All I see are flies and potential salmonella poisening. If there's enough wind to make the heat bearable, then paper plates and potato chips are flying around. In mid-August, the hottest time of the year, the ragweed blooms and I'm a sniffling, sniveling, snotty mess until it freezes. I hate that everything grows and the weeds soon overtake my yard. I hate the dirt that gets tracked into my house. This year, my first year of not homeschooling year round, I'm finding that I even dislike the lack of schedule.
But there are some good things about summer. And to be fair, I'll list them:
1) summer shoes, and along with that, cute summery tops and capris
2) laying curled up in bed with one's husband, underneath a ceiling fan, with central air, and drifting off to sleep with just a light blanket and sheet
3) the drowsy, post-day-at-the-pool feeling
4) not having to hunt down mittens for little hands
5) not having to bundle up and risk death by simply going to get the mail
6) thunderstorms (as long as they aren't accompanied by a tornado that blows your house away)
7) corn on the cob
That's all. Nothing else is good about summer.
Now, also to be fair, winter has its drawbacks, too. I don't think anything hurts worse than a bitter north wind biting at your cheeks. It's a bit of a pain to have to bundle up to go anywhere. It's annoying when you have made plans and a blizzard gets in the way (like Christmas this last year). Losing electricity to an ice storm is horrible. And I'm not a big fan of driving on ice and snow.
But, winter has:
1) Christmas, and for me, my wedding anniversary
2) beautiful white snowdrifts
3) early evenings in
4) a great, cozy wardrobe
5) no sticky, I'm-absolutely-going-to-die heat and humidity
6) hot, hot, hot bubble baths
8) the popping of a roaring fire (as long as it's not your house that's roaring and popping because of the Christmas tree that caught on fire)
I do like winter. But truth be told, if I could live in a permanent state of autumn, I would. That, truly, is the best season of all. I won't say spring because I have come to abhor the mud that comes with it. There's nothing to fault about fall, though. It's the changing of the wardrobe, crisp air, back to schedules, the smell of leaves burning, and football nights. Paradise!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Last night Will and I had an all-evening orientation at The Network in Des Moines. It's a homeschool co-op and this will be our first year of participating. I'm kind of excited about it. Will is just taking a writing class, but if it goes well this year, I may have him take something else next year. In the first session we attended the teachers all introduced themselves and explained a little bit about what subject they teach. A couple caught my attention. Will had a stinky attitude at the beginning of the evening. He has told me repeatedly that he already knows how to write and doesn't need to attend a class to learn how. I beg to differ. So, after the first session I asked him if he would be interested in adding any other classes to his schedule for this year. It would be a stretch, financially, but I'd be willing to do it for him. He looked at me as though I had suggested public castration. Ok, maybe not! But, by the end of the whole evening and after the second session, Will commented that he might be willing to take the computer programming class they offered. He doesn't want to do it this year because it would mean a 2 hr wait between classes, but it's something he's willing to consider for next year. He then commented that if they offered any meteorology or astronomy classes, he'd take those in a heartbeat. They don't; I'm going to have to find some other sources for him on those.
I came away from the meeting with a new perspective, too. For awhile now, I've had thoughts regarding homeschooling. I wonder how a homeschooler is supposed to make the leap to college life. I mean, I'm sure they will excel, academically, but my guess is that most would be weak in areas like time scheduling, note taking, deadlines. and just learning to work for somebody other than Mom. How does a parent begin to prepare their high schooler for college in those areas? They very clearly stated last night that the Network is designed to be a bridge between homeschooling and college life. I think I'm going to like this! They offer so much, too - drama, speech, all the basic subjects, chem labs, Bible, creative writing, etc. If I had the money, I could keep Will busy there all day long!
Well, we have yet another injury to blame on the basement project. Paul broke his pinky toe last Friday. He was carrying an antique jack up the ladder, when the middle fell out and landed on his toe - fully encased in a work boot, no less. It looks like a giant blueberry now (his toe does).
And, thanks to the ongoing project, I now have no downstairs bathroom. Paul disconnected the water to that room so now we are stuck using the upstairs 3/4 bath. This is not fun. It's a tiny room and there's no bathtub! I had to cart all my necessary supplies up there. I can barely turn around. Ugh - not happy! So, for that reason alone, this job must be hurried!
We rented a dirt elevator last weekend and some guys from church came over and helped, but it didn't get all done. So now we have to rent the elevator again for this Sat and hopefully the rest of the dirt will be gone. I was planning to go to Waterloo this weekend, but I called my mom today and said I thought I'd better stick around here. I felt guilty last weekend running off to Council Bluffs when Paul had all that to do. Not guilty enough not to go, but somewhat guilty, anyway!
Sunday we went to Pizza Hut for lunch and as we walked to our table, this older lady called out and asked, "Where did your boys get that curly hair?" I ended up sitting down with this couple and mostly listened to the lady. Boy, could she talk! But she was delightful to listen to - telling me all about her children, her babysitting, her grandchildren, her church, her house, and so on. As they were getting ready to leave her husband actually thanked me for sitting down with them. He said that most people run away from his chatty wife and it's the rare person that will take the time to listen to her. Kind of a different experience! But I really didn't mind doing it.
I'm caught up! I'm having my friend Gina and her boys over tomorrow so I need to do some cooking and cleaning. Thursday I am taking a meal to Jenny and her family (Jenny is the mother of Rebekah, whom I have mentioned. Rebekah is doing fairly well, but she is now in a care facility - actually at the same place where Ben gets respite care. Hopefully, hopefully, she'll be able to come home soon. She's almost 4 months old now). Friday evening Paul and I are working our church association booth at the Iowa State Fair (indoors, in air conditioning, thankfully). And then Sat. will be a big day for working under the house again. Busy days! One day next week we are planning to take the boys to Adventureland, so we'll have some fun in there, too.
Back to work for this tired mom...
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Paul had a regular neuro. appt. this week. A couple of years ago he took part in a drug study for epilepsy medications. He's no longer doing that but we liked the dr. doing the study so much that we decided to just have him continue to be Paul's neurologist. I used to go with Paul to all his study appts. because they were up in Ames and he couldn't drive his company van that far. So I got to know Dr. Moore as well. Now that Paul is no longer doing the study, he just sees the dr. here in Des Moines. I couldn't make the appt. this week but I figured that was ok - Paul's a grown man and I think he can handle going to the dr. without me. Maybe not! Because, Dr. Moore called me during Paul's appt. to ask me some questions about Paul's seizure activity. Then, he outlined to me a new plan of treatment for Paul and asked me to start keeping track of his seizures. Then, when he found out I was driving, he shrieked, "You're not supposed to talk on the phone while you're driving!" Well, he called me! I couldn't help that I had to drive just then! So, anyway, the whole thing made me chuckle. I told Paul I'll go with him to his appointments from now on.
I was an idiot this week. And I have pink carpet to prove it. I have several gallons of paint under the back room buffet. They are all going down to my new basement once it gets built. But in the meantime, they have to stay in the house because it's too hot to store them anywhere else right now. So, I was moving the paint cans around when I knocked over a can of red paint! It shouldn't have spilled though. However, it was a can that I forgot to hammer the lid back on, so it did spill! So, I immediately scrubbed it which just made it worse. The paint stain spread all over and lightened to a coral pink instead of barn red. But I fixed it. I bought a big rug yesterday! Oh, eventually, that carpet is coming up once we knock out the wall between the two rooms. But that's still a few years away. In the meantime, I now have a very pretty woven rug in my back room! Dumb, dumb, dummy...
Oh, I was going to mention - I'm not reprinting my winning entry here in my blog as I normally do with my FW pieces. I haven't checked the rules yet, but I'm guessing that since they are publishing it, they would prefer to keep the piece to themselves - first rights and all. But, I'd be happy to email the link to anyone who desires to read it. So just let me know if you want that link. Or not! I won't be offended. In fact, I'm always a bit awed when people do take the time to read my writing, whether here or other stuff I put out. That takes time and that is often a precious commodity. And I know I'm wordy. I was talking to my friend this week. She and I are very close, although we operate with opposite sides of our brain. You all know how my brain works and her strength is in mathematics and science - stuff that makes me go "huh?" She always shakes her head when I talk about writing and says she can't comprehend wanting to write. She was telling me she has been trying to keep up with my blog, but added, "You just have so many words, Sarah!" Ha, ha, ha!
Will got a new leather coat this week. I had been mulling over in my mind what I ought to do for him for a winter coat this year. Last year he ran around in a hooded sweatshirt all winter long, which drove me nuts. He had a perfectly nice down filled jacket but wouldn't touch it. I was thinking of taking him to the store, being willing to buy something new and expensive, even, if it would just be something warmer that he would actually wear. Well, Friday evening Paul and a couple of the boys went over to a realtor friend of ours. He helped us with our house and has advised us about selling vs. not selling. And he's sent a lot of side work Paul's way. Paul has been working on his AC and so that's where he was Fri. night - getting it running for him. Well, this friend has some rental properties and apparently one of his tenants left a whole bunch of stuff when they moved. He sent it home with the boys - all kinds of kids dvds, toys, a bunch of pants for David (some with tags still on them!) and this coat for Will. The zipper doesn't work, but I figured I'll just take that to a tailor and get it replaced. I mean the coat is genuine leather, not the plastic stuff. Will was thrilled with it and had to show me right away. And he's not one to get excited about clothing at all! So, I guess I have the winter coat thing taken care of!
That's it for this post. I've been informed Sam is "leaking." Why is that always my job?
Our kitty, Annie, is still alive. She's still a house cat, although she is not content to remain in her box for long, any more. She likes to roam and that makes me nervous because she's still so tiny that I'm afraid somebody will step on her and kill her. I'm also not excited about having to chase down kitty poop or having her decide to sharpen her claws on my furniture. As soon as she learns to drink from a bowl, she's outside! We believe our other female, Mittens, is pregnant again. This is the third time she is showing obvious signs of that. But, we have never seen any kitties with her in the past. I don't know if they don't live past birth or maybe she miscarries. Or maybe she kills them herself. Some female cats will do that. It's just as well. I really don't desire to have a slew of cats around here. There are enough strays as it is. But we're keeping Annie - until the day she wanders out onto the road or crawls up under the hood of the van. That's why I try not to get too attached to our cats!
Sam calls Annie, "Kitty Baby." One day this week she was sleeping, which she still does quite a bit of. Sam started shaking her box and I cautioned him not to, lest he awaken Annie. Sam grinned and replied, "She already 'wake!" Yeah, no kidding - wonder why?!
One funny from this week: I was listening to one of my cds and there was a song on there from the Jackson 5. As I'm sure you know, Michael Jackson used to have an even higher voice then as he did as an adult. Well, Sam heard that and exclaimed, "Sounds like David!" Ha, ha, ha! David actually has a lower-pitched and soft voice when speaking normally. But when he gets excited - which is often - he does have a certain Michael Jackson type pitch!
Well, I have more to report, but I need to go feed the kitty again. She's pretty insistent when hungry. But, despite the claws, it's still easier than nursing a human baby - takes less time and no cracked nipples!
Friday, August 6, 2010
So what am I talking about? I'm going to tell you!
A week ago I submitted my piece on the topic of "See." It was fun to write, but I didn't think it was all that great. In fact, as the week progressed I only ever got two comments on it and I wasn't surprised particularly after I made my way through the other pieces at my level - lots of amazing writers there! I wasn't checking my in box every 15 minutes to see if someone had stumbled across my story and left a comment. In fact, I really didn't give it much thought at all.
Wednesday evening, my friend Kristi sent me the link to the story that she had submitted for "see." Now, that was good! I laughed and enjoyed that thing so much! So yesterday morning when I knew the results would be posted I went to the FaithWriters website purely to check to see how Kristi did.
To my complete and utter amazement my story, "What About France?" placed SECOND in the Advanced Level. Kristi got 3rd. I was absolutely stunned - totally did not see that coming. So, I had to call Paul and tell him. As I was chatting with him, my phone started beeping but I ignored it. I think call waiting is rude. Plus, I don't know how to switch over to another call. So, then I wrote my mom an email telling her all about my surprising win and sending her the story, since she is one of my biggest fans. Well, then I saw I had a new email in my box and it was from Kristi and she wrote, "Hey - I was trying to call you!" I was excited because I've never actually talked to Kristi in person. So I immediately returned her call.
We started talking and Kristi said, "Congratulations on placing 3rd in the Editor's Pick!" I said, "Wha-a-t?!" Kristi laughed and said, "Sarah, you're getting published!" You know how in movies and on tv shows someone gets amazing news and they have to sit down because the news is too great to absorb standing up? Yep - that was me! I had not even looked at the Editor's Picks yet. But as I've penned on this post, to make it into the Top 10 Editor's Picks has been my goal since starting FaithWriters.
As I understand it, there are two judging bodies within FW. One is a group of judges that rate the work in each of the 4 levels and assign winners. They also pick the top 30 overall, which is posted on Thurs. evenings. Then, there are a group of Editors that pick their top 10 favorite from all the categories combined. Those top 10 make it into a published anthology. That's where you start earning cash prizes, too - by placing first a certain number of times within the Editors Picks.
I felt like the screaming contestants on The Price is Right or Wheel of Fortune. Only I didn't get lucky by guessing prices or spinning a wheel. I wrote a story. I did what I was created to do (besides being a mother and wife - also things I was created for) and I won! I cannot adequately express the exhilaration of this! What a pick-me-up and awesome way to start a Thursday!
Paul called me later yesterday and when I answered, he asked, "Can I have your autograph?" Hardy, har, har. To be honest, I'm still a little baffled as to why I won. I still think my Eve story was much better than my France story. Oh well. Who can know the mind of a judge - or editor?
I know that someday if - when - I get 1st place in the Editor's Picks or I get a contract for a book of mine that some publishing house wants, I'll look back on this little win and just smile at my excitement for something that can't even compare. But for now, for today, I'm excited. And that's ok.
I still have squabbling children, a husband who doesn't always listen, a leaking toilet, and a dirty carpet. I'm still me and I still have this very, very normal life. But now I can also say that I'm a published author. And that feels, really, really good!
Oh, and Kristi got 6th place in the Editor's Picks. So we're on our way together (although, to be perfectly honest, she's a better writer than I am. Her name is Kristi Pfiefer. Watch for her. She'll have her name on a book someday).
It's a good day!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Well, Saturday, David reported that the mama kitty had moved all the kittens - except for this gray one. I told him she'd be back to get the last one. But Sunday morning came and poor Annie was out there, mewling away. So Paul brought her in and tried to feed her, but she was too little to eat on her own. So, we de-flead her and got a baby bottle made for kittens. Now she's living in a box in the kitchen. She's made remarkable progress in just the two days since Paul rescued her. She's sleeping a lot more and drinking really well from the bottle. She's very anxious to explore the kitchen. The boys are having a blast with her and David, especially, loves to feed her.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Deceived to Death
The ground is hard beneath my mat and I shift uncomfortably. I am thinking that my day will begin early, as, again, sleep eludes these old bones. It wasn’t always like this. I can remember the sleep of the young. Actually, I remember a sleep even sweeter than that.
My thoughts take me back to the beginning. Adam and I spent many glorious hours sleeping in each others arms, our heads resting on the cushion of the plants that surrounded us. We’d awaken only after our bodies were sated with sleep. Plucking fruit from a nearby tree, we’d laugh as the juice ran down our chins and sometimes we’d even wipe our sticky hands on the coats of the lions and sheep that roamed around our feet. We laughed, loved, and spent our days exploring our paradise. We completely reveled in the glorious creation into which our Father had placed us.
As the days would wind down, our Father would come to us and we’d all walk together. I still recall the sweetness of those times. He’d murmur His love to us and we gloried in His presence. We loved him with all our hearts and He loved us. It was perfect fellowship. Of all that we lost, I think I miss those times the most.
Of course, I can never forget that day. I was alone when I saw him. At first, I thought it was just another surprise from our Father. He delighted in giving us gifts and I thought I had just stumbled upon another! This creature was unlike any other I had seen in our garden. I had never seen anything so beautiful. The creature’s skin shone as if covered in millions of jewels. His eyes flashed with the brilliance of diamonds and his voice seemed to be the softer than all the leaves in the garden, cloaking me with its sweetness.
He asked, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” I told him that we were free to eat from every tree, except for the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which we weren’t even to touch, lest we should die. I have wondered many times in the years since why I embellished the truth. Our Father had never told us we weren’t to touch the tree, only that we were not to eat from it. Adding that bit made my answer sound more dramatic, I suppose. But then, the creature told me that our Father was wrong. We wouldn’t die from eating the fruit, he said. In fact, our eyes would be opened and we would be like God.
Oh! Adam and I had, apparently, misunderstood God. In that moment, it made perfect sense to me. Our Father was so loving and so generous with us. Surely, He never intended to deny us this fruit. And so I reached out my hand, and with a smile, the creature placed the fruit into mine. The sweetness flooded my mouth and I knew I had never tasted anything so wonderful before. But before I could swallow, the sweetness turned into a sharp metallic taste. I turned around, and there stood Adam, horror written across his face. Wordlessly, I handed the fruit to him and he ate it as well, grimacing as he bit. To this day, he has never told me why he ate, but I’ll always be convinced that he did it out of love for me, not wanting me to be punished alone.
And punished we were. Gone was our garden and our idyllic paradise. Oh, God didn’t strike us dead as we both thought He might. And honestly, I think we both would have preferred that. The shame of what we had done was nearly unbearable. To this day, my face burns to think of my naiveté and my willingness to doubt our Father when tricked by that creature.
And so, here I am today, a woman of many years and sorrows. Our Father has been gracious to us but I miss what we shared. As I watch my grandchildren and their children, I sometimes wonder who will save them. And I remember what could have been. And then I weep.
Eve finally fell into a restless sleep. Four thousand years later a Man would taste death because she had tasted the forbidden fruit. And by doing so, He would save all her children.
Debussy’s “Golliwogg’s Cakewalk” pealed throughout the small house on Woodland Avenue as Anna’s hands flew over the keyboard. The happiness in Anna’s music sprang from the lightness of her soul. The reason for her joy lay curled up not far from the piano. Newborn Isabelle lay contentedly as her mother played.
Isabelle was a miracle baby, the one doctors said would never arrive. And yet, here she was. Anna was completely besotted with her tiny daughter and couldn’t wait to introduce her to her other love -- her music.
Anna was something of a child prodigy. Early in her life she showed a keen ear for music and was picking out tunes on her family’s old, upright piano by the time she was a toddler. Recognizing her unusual talent, Anna’s parents quickly arranged for her to start piano lessons. By the time Anna was seven, she had surpassed her teacher’s ability to instruct her, and at age eleven she even earned an appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Anna was touring the country by fourteen and by her nineteenth birthday she had played concerts in forty three different countries.
But Anna’s touring came to an abrupt end when she was twenty-five. A quiet professor named Jeff swept her off her feet. For the first time in her life, Anna dated and felt like a “normal” woman. Within three months she and Jeff were married. Anna quit touring, took up residence on Woodland Avenue, and taught music at the same college Jeff did. Life was perfect! Anna and Jeff soon desired to make three out of their love, but that was not to be for a very long time. But finally, Isabelle had arrived and Anna’s world was complete. While Anna had no desire for Isabelle to have an unusual childhood like she, herself, had had, neither could she wait for the day that she could introduce the piano to the little girl.
By the time Isabelle was a year old, Anna regularly settled her onto her lap as she played the piano. Isabelle would would look at the keyboard and sometimes tentatively touched a key or two, but she usually quickly squirmed to be let down. Anna assumed that her baby was just too young yet to have a musical appreciation. By the time Isabelle was two, niggling concerns began to enter Anna’s mind. Isabelle did not speak, which was a concern. But Anna reasoned that all children develop at different ages and Isabelle would speak when ready. However, the day came when Isabelle didn’t even flinch as a fire engine raced down their street, sirens blaring. Anna knew something was seriously wrong. It didn’t take long for the audiologist to confirm Anna’s worst fears. Little Isabelle was completely and profoundly deaf.
Anna and Jeff dutifully learned sign language and were able to easily communicate with Isabelle as she grew. The family led quite a normal life, in fact. Isabelle was able to attend the famed American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, blossoming as she grew.
But there were many nights that the keys on Anna’s piano became slippery from her tears. What kind of irony was it that she, who loved music so much and desired to share that love with her only child, was given a daughter who could not hear? Long into the night she would play, seeking solace from the one thing that had never let her down.
“All.set.Mamma?” Isabelle’s hands signed to her mother as she helped her to a chair. Anna nodded . It had been a long day as Isabelle and her strapping sons had moved Anna into the assisted living center. Anna’s once beautiful hands now lay frail in her lap, her purple veins prominent. “I should go and let you rest,” Isabelle’s hands signed. Suddenly, Anna lifted her frail hands and signed, “I just wish--”
“Wish what, Mamma?”
“I just wish - - I wish you could have heard the music.” Anna dropped her hands. It was a thought she had never expressed to Isabelle before and why she said it now, she honestly did not know.
“Oh, Mamma” Isabelle quickly signed, “I did hear!” Anna looked at her daughter quizzically. Isabelle was still just as deaf as she had been the day she was diagnosed!
Isabelle smiled at her mother. She touched her chest and signed, “Mama, I heard the music here. All those nights you played, I heard every note here in my heart.”