Archive for June, 2014

It’s the little things that you’ll miss the most.

Our beach day got rained out yesterday, so we decided to hit a movie instead. We were driving to our favorite theater, down this long county road that is hilly and full of potholes, a road that we always seem to end up on, in spite of its perpetually awful conditions, a road that, incidentally, was the road we first took seven years ago, when we found this little town and decided to stick around. As we’re bouncing along in my minivan, swerving here and there to miss the really bad potholes, radio blaring, my 11-year-old says:

“You know, I’m gonna miss this road.”

Me: “Really?”

11-year-old: “Yeah. It reminds me of every single horrible stomach ache I’ve ever had.”

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Ten Days and Counting.

Ten days left until we all board a plane for Colorado.

The movers arrive on Monday. They’ll take two days to pack this house, and one day to load it. Then they’ll start driving west and meet us there in about a week’s time. I am continually grateful not to actually have to pack. But experience has taught me that movers will PACK EVERYTHING. Including any of your trash. They can’t make any assumptions about what you may or may not want to keep, so they just pack whatever they find and send it along for you to deal with later.

Back when we moved here seven years ago, I occasionally opened a box that was filled with nothing but trash. One box contained only a bunch of styrofoam blocks that once protected some new computer we’d bought way back when. Another, from my office closet apparently, held a full trash bag I must have forgotten to throw out at some point. Inside the bag were quite a few empty cigarette packages from when I used to smoke. At least there weren’t any ashes. Ick.

So, armed as I am with the knowledge that the movers will pack EVERYTHING, I’ve been spending as much time as possible going through cabinets and closets, tossing what needs tossing, donating what needs donating. Yesterday, the girls and I went through the DREADED COAT CLOSET. For such a small space, it sure did hold a lot of junk: mostly outgrown winter wear and sports gear. For about two hours, the chaos that is my normal living room reached higher and higher levels of disorganization as we sorted through the unbelievably overwhelming amout of CRAP that’s been collecting in there for the past six years.

Peppered in with all that junk, though, were dozens of pairs of outgrown shoes, along with an extra dozen or so shoes that couldn’t find their matches. We started lining up all these shoes and boots, and the line stretched across the room towards the back door. We exclaimed over the littlest ones, and each girl stole an old tiny favorite pair to keep as a memory, hurrying up to their rooms to hide them away. In the interest of being able to walk around in the house, we designated the back half of the dining room as the Shoe Recovery Area:

shoes-dr

All these shoes have a story behind them. That lone black flip flop in the front center, for instance, lost its mate to a friend’s puppy last summer, when said puppy stole it and chewed it up. My younger daughter came home wearing only one shoe, but giggling the whole way. That black boot-ish looking thing all the way in the back at the top right is actually a walking cast my older daughter wore for half of one summer when she damaged some ligaments jumping barefoot off the swings CONSTANTLY for weeks on end.

And there there are the little pink princess crocs:

princess-crocs

See them there behind the white dress flats my daughter wore to her first communion? It’s not that there’s a really cool story behind them, but I had just been reminiscing about these little shoes with a blogging friend of mine last week, and then suddenly, there they were in the closet. My younger daughter wore them all summer long a few summers back, along with a little red dress and white hat we’d found at the thrift store. Now she’s almost as tall as me, and I’m not sure where that little red dress ended up. But here’s how she looked back then:

red-dress

And here is a close up of her feet in those little pink princess crocs:

chalk-bunny

We were jumping rope on the back porch that afternoon, and the rule was: you couldn’t land on the bunny. No matter what. Look how close she came. Those were good days. Good Pennsylvania days.

So, yeah. Yesterday I cleaned out my coat closet.

I may never recover from it.

 

 

Post-Rainstorm Backyard Drama.

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MR. MALLARD: Good morning, dearest. Isn’t it lovely that the rain has finally stopped?

MRS. MALLARD: Yes, it most certainly is a glorious morning, if not a little overcast.

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MR. MALLARD: Would you care to join me for a morning dip in this most glorious, private little pond?

MRS. MALLARD: Of course, darling. But first, I must do my stretches.

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MR. MALLARD: Of course, dearest. Take all the time you need.

MRS. MALLARD: Thank you most kindly, darling. You should join me, you know. Remember what the doctor advised.

MR. MALLARD: Yes, I remember, dearest. You are so kind to think of my health.

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MRS. MALLARD: It’s only because of my most deep affection for you, darling. Now, doesn’t that feel better?

MR. MALLARD: Yes, very much. Are you ready for our dip, dearest?

MRS. MALLARD: Yes, I’m so very looking forward to it… but wait… what’s THAT?

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MR. MALLARD: What, my dearest? What troubles you?

MRS. MALLARD: That!

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MR. MALLARD: Oh yes, that’s the dog that lives nearby. Don’t trouble yourself one moment about him, dearest. All he ever chases is that yellow ball that makes such a dreadful squeak.

MRS. MALLARD: Are you certain, darling?

MR. MALLARD: Quite certain, my dear. See how he’s looking for it right now? He won’t trouble us at all.

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MRS. MALLARD: Well… I suppose you’re right.

MR. MALLARD: Of course I’m right, dearest. Now, let us enjoy our morning swim.

MRS. MALLARD: I don’t know, darling…. Isn’t there also another dog that lives near here?

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MR. MALLARD: Well, yes, but you know she never leaves the porch when it rains. I doubt she will bother us in all this wet.

MRS. MALLARD: But darling… don’t you see? The rain has… STOPPED!

MR. MALLARD: Yes, that’s tr——

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Learning to lift the veil.

Mom says each of us has a veil between ourselves and the rest of the world, like a bride wears on her wedding day, except this kind of veil is invisible. We walk around happily with these invisible veils hanging down over our faces. The world is kind of blurry, and we like it that way.

But sometimes our veils are pushed away for a few moments, like there’s a wind blowing it from our faces. And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love. But mostly we are happy not to. Some people learn to lift the veil themselves. They they don’t have to depend on the wind anymore.

— Rebecca Stead, When You Reach Me

While living in Pennsylvania, I had the good fortune to meet and befriend an amazing group of poets. One of them in particular had mastered the art of lifting the veil. Every time we talked, you’d get a little taste of what it was like, got a little better (braver) at lifting your own. She passed away in February. I wasn’t able to be with her that night because I was chaperoning a homeschoolers dance. I wish I could have taken a picture of what the sky looked like that night: a dense and beautiful fog had settled over everything, lighting up the snow covered fields. It was probably the most beautiful winter night I’d ever seen in Pennsylvania. But I was rushing that night, and didn’t stop to snap a picture. So, I’ll settle for this shot instead:
pams-sunset

This is what the sky looked like as I drove home from her memorial poetry reading later that spring. And for once I took the time to stop the car and snap the picture.

And just now, while I was typing this out, the sun came out for just a few moments, brightening up my office, laying a swatch of warmth across my desk, after I don’t know how many days of dark and gloom. Like she knows I’m thinking about her, and knows how much I wish I could sit with her just one more time, and watch as she lifts her veil, showing me just how easy it is.

Silver linings, brighter sides.

It’s raining.

It’s been raining all week, really. But not exactly raining. It’s been misting all week. The sky is a perpetual dull gray, and we leave the lights on all day long in the house, otherwise we’d be sitting in a dark gloom feeling like we never really woke up that morning. Here’s a shot of my gloomy, neglected garden from earlier today:

gloomy-day-garden

We’re not planting much this year: just a few tomatoes and squash to tempt a new buyer, maybe. I’ll miss my garden and all that asparagus RegularDad talked me into planting last year, but the truth is, I haven’t had much time for gardening the past few summers, mostly because of these guys:

gloomy-day-dogs-2

The one on the left chomping on the tennis ball is Jack. The other one is Lily. It’s misting out, so Lily can’t leave the porch. She might get a drop or two of water on her, and that would be THE WORST THING THAT EVER COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN TO HER. So, no matter how much I coax and cajole her, when it’s raining, she just stays on the porch.

Jack doesn’t usually mind the rain, but he’s worried that someone might at any given moment START PETTING LILY so he needs to stick close, just in case. Because if someone STARTS PETTING LILY, he’ll need to horn in on that immediately.

Meanwhile, Lily stares forlornly out at the dreadful wet day, wishing it were dry so she could go find something truly disgusting to roll in, or possibly some poison ivy to rub up against so that later on, she could pass it on to me. ‘Tis the season.

Seriously. I could be standing there holding a raw steak, and she’d be like: “But it’s RAINING. You bring it to me.”

gloomy-day-dogs-1

Other than that, she’s pretty normal, though, so I shouldn’t complain.

Jack, on the other hand, is definitely Not Normal. I stopped blogging right around the same time I stopped gardening. It was the year we got these dogs, especially Jack. In the interest of complete and total honesty, I ought to repost that first shot of them to give you a better representation of these two animals:

fur-covered-trainwreck

There. That’s better. That’s pretty much what brought my garden, this blog and a significant portion of my life as I once knew it to a screeching halt.

In less than 3 weeks, I’ll be putting these two on an airplane, along with our three cats, and flying them one way to Colorado. According to airline rules, I am not permitted to medicate or tranquilize them. I’m all: Okay, dudes: YOU deal with them, then. I’ll be up in coach wearing headphones, and when people starting wondering what that noise is coming from the underbelly of the plane, I’ll scratch my head and pretend I’m just as perplexed as they are. And then I’ll pretend to take a nap.

So, yeah, anyway… it’s raining. It’s been raining for days. It will continue to rain and mist and be generally gloomy for a few more days, according to the forecast. Here’s my 13 year old waiting for a ride to her call time.

gloomy-day-waiting

She’s been performing in Richard III every night this week. The final scene is the great battle between Richard and Richmond and their armies. That scene takes place outside in a field across the street. Each evening, we members of the audience follow the actors outside into the gray drizzle and watch Richard die his terrible, inevitable death. So far, the skies have been kind to the players: gray, dreary mist — perfect for this scene — but no utter downpour that would make it impossible to wage the battle.

I suppose this weather isn’t uncommon here in Pennsylvania, but I never have gotten used to it. I lived out west for twelve years, mostly in Colorado, where not only does the sun shine more than 300 days a year, but you live at least a mile closer to said sun, if not more. You get used to that brightness, I guess, because when we moved here seven years ago, the first thing I noticed was How Dark It Was Here.  Even when it’s bright, it’s still a little bit dark. All those leafy trees lend their own shadows to things.

I’ve been back to Colorado twice in the past few months, house hunting and visiting friends. And each time, the bright sun in the big sky was like this warm welcoming committee and I remembered what it was like to live in full sunshine, where 55 degrees feels like 70, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to that light greeting me most mornings, instead of this dreadful endless gloom.

So, I’m torn, I guess. I wish we could stay, but that sunshine… it calls to me. Just a little.

rte-83

 

There is no explaining a three year hiatus, so I won’t even try.

The truth is: I’m not even sorry.

Where have I been? Oh, you know… out in the world, living my little life, homeschooling the kids, writing poetry.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the trouble with homeschooling the kids is that it tends to interfere with blogging about homeschooling the kids. Har-dee-har-har.

However, there is a part of me that regrets not writing about our adventures of the past few years, because when I sift through these old blog entries, I’m amazed — not just about everything we did all those years — but also about how much I’d forgotten about things we did all those years. I’m sad now, realizing that there are countless little moments that I will never remember.

So, blogging has its uses, I suppose.

I started this blog way back when because we’d just moved and I was worried about starting smoking again, and also because moving creates a period of isolation. Blogging was a way to bridge that isolation gap, to keep me sane, while finding my place in this part of the world.

And once I’d found it, the urge to blog went away, got replaced with other things.

And now, guess what? We’re moving again. After all this time, all these years here in Pennsylvania, we have to go back to Colorado for RegularDad’s job. And I must be grateful that he still has this job — this good job — when so many don’t have theirs anymore.

So, I am grateful, yes, but I’m also kicking and screaming and having myself a right fine tantrum, because dammit: I never wanted to move here in the first place, but we did, and what happened? It was better than I ever expected it to be. It took five years, maybe six, but I found lifelong friends here, more than that: I found my goddamned tribe here. I achieved success as a poet here: became a poet laureate here, published my first chapbook here, and loved it here, and my daughters loved it here in this weird little county in Pennsyl-fucking-vania, and life was better than good, even in this crappy little split level house falling down around our ears that we never fit properly into, and we were living happily ever fucking after, and now: whoops, sorry, you need to go back, you need to start again in the same place you’ve started again in twice already, so sorry charlie, good luck with that.

Shit.

We leave in three weeks. And I’m not ready. This house is still cluttered and cramped, and full of crap that I wish I had time to throw out before the movers come and pack it all up. We’re still wrapping up our last year of homeschooling here, and for the first time, I’m starting to say no to invitations to outings, picnics, parties. We can’t, I say, there’s not enough time.

Kicking and screaming in my head. But only in my head. Because I’m the mom, and I set the tone. So, on the outside I’m all smiles and cheerful descriptions of where we’re going, and every day I sing a song called: “Everything Is Gonna Be Awesome, You’ll See!”

And all I can do is dust off my old camera, dust off this old blog even, and start saying goodbye the only way I can think of. Writing it down here.

Kicking and screaming.


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