Thursday, January 22, 2015

Peas and corn

Mid-morning snack, today. Boiled peas and corn. Frozen vegetables are a great invention, especially for a parent who's just raised herself from a influenza-ridden sickbed to prepare food, nauseating food. Jared's out covering a garden club presentation I was supposed to do.

"Momma, your cooking is the best," Beren says as he scooped another heap of peas and corn onto his  spoon. 

"Why, thank you," I say. "When I was a girl, I thought my momma's cooking was the best, too."

Toothy, pea-y, corn-y smile. "Why?"

"That's just the way it is. Everybody thinks their momma's cooking is the best."


Now that dinner is approaching, I think I'm craving my Mom's spaghetti, meatballs, and sausage. How does she make it so good? I think I'm starting to feel a little better. Mom?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Time Transformation

"When will I be at the belt line?" Beren sometimes asks me. He stands at my side and looks up, the crown of his head reaching the top of my thigh.

Belt line. It must have been a phrase he learned from Jared, or maybe my parents.

"Soon, perhaps at the end of next summer," I tell him.


Today, he asked, "When will I be as big as you, Momma?"

"Mmm. When you're a teenager. Maybe ten, or probably more years from now," I said.

His face foreshadowed tears, and then they came. "But, I want to be me. I always want to be me!" he wept.

"You'll always be you, no matter how what size you are. You'll always be my Beren, and I'll always be your Momma. I'll always love you," I said. I was surprised.

"I always want to be me!" he said climbing into my arms and clinging to my neck.

"Oh, you're always you," I said again and again, trying to soothing him.

His bone-rending sweetness filled my heart as I gently rocked him. I wondered what I could have said.


Only now I realize I said he'd one day be a 'teenager'. Perhaps he supposed he'd no longer be 'Beren'. 


Jared and I filled up the drive to a friend's memorial service chatting. 

We arrived and I couldn't help the tears. "I'm such a wimp," I said. It's not so much that I meant that I was a wimp, but that I regretted how close my nerves run to the surface. "You're not a wimp," Jared said.

We spent two hours in the beautiful Quaker service, listening to stories and remembrances about our friend. It was desperately sad and incredibly inspiring. The room was filled.

Leaving the Friends Meeting House, the sunset was as fiery and sparkling as our friend's life. 

I felt I wasn't the same person as I was two hours before. Maybe sometimes we become someone else, even if for just a short while.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Global Burden: Why I'm Signing Off, in a Way

I occasionally write about things digital, "electronic", and "social" media. When I was a child, a youth, and into my very young adulthood, I had few interactions with things electronic and digital. Of course, I can and will gladly count our stereo (with a dial tuner and VU meter), television, my brother's video game system, and my precious Walkman.

I did not use a computer until I was 18 years old. I used typewriters to write high school papers. Excepting a typing class in middle school, in which we also played computer games, I had nearly twenty computer-free years.

Hardly a day goes by now that I don't use a computer. As best I can, I avoid using a computer excessively in front of my child. I started a Facebook account for our business, and I use my personal account to post about my blog and describe infrequent achievements of note or of little note. I check in on friends, and along with anywhere between 3 and 138 or more other friends, I 'like' my friends' frequent or infrequent achievements of note or of little note.

Of late, I've had the feeling of being stabbed electronically. Blessed with friends, electronic and real, who believe strongly in social and environmental justice, and possibly the sense that social media can profoundly change the world, my social media ticker tape feeds me deeply disturbing news.

A blip in geological time, I spent the last five hours reeling from a particularly upsetting news item. A trip to a succession of box stores, a long hug from my husband, building blocks with my son, and kitten play time did not lift the veil. Only a few sips of a flower essence laced glass of water stilled me.

Social media can and has changed the world, as well as individual lives for better and worse. Electronic intrusions and interruptions are constant. For me, there's a push and pull. Did anyone 'like' my blog writing? What about my latest post about my business? And, then the phone rings and I'm startled. Silence that pesky thing. Back to the computer. Any emails from someone other than L.L. Bean's marketing department? Alas, one 'like', a junk text message, and 10% off on glum windbreakers.  

Then, from across the world a wrenching image and accompanying a dire news item comes. my experience likely differs from those with televisions and newspapers. I don't have either, and so news media grips me. While I listen to the radio and am moved by some of the stories I hear, somehow a visual image sinks the electronic knife deeper.

Global local news is infrequently good news. It is unsettlingly awful and monstrous. It affects me personally and global politics affect me in ways I can hardly understand.

Tiny me is a small player on the global stage with my shopping cart full of organic items. Really? It often seems the weather (and I mean weather, not climate) affects me more than even 'local' news. Hearing about global social injustice via the internet has taken my head away at times, and I think I'm going to sit on my couch with my husband, son, and kitten for a little while and just be. Trust me, it will be just a little while because none of us sit still for long.

So, my dear family and friends, you'll see me on social media, but I'm not receiving anyone else's ticker tape for now. You will have one less 'like'. Be assured, I still do like you. I like you and pictures of you, your children, your activities, and your frequent and infrequent achievements of note and of little note. I do. I've been charmed and inspired, cheered and honored.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


One of my herbal teachers recently departed this world. I was touched by the day I spent with her and Jared, tasting and making. 

"Here are some flax seeds. Chew. Are you getting the slippery feeling in your mouth?" Not me, but Jared did. "Rosemary. Taste some. Is it warming or cooling?" Cooling, I thought. Warming, Jared said. He was right. We sampled Damiana tincture, which has a reputation for being an aphrodisiac. It was possibly the only thing I got the "right" sensation from. It was a little unusual, but if I were to get anything "right", why not the carnal? 

We inhaled a crock of Rosemary infusing in olive oil. Delicious. We perused Susun Weed books shelved beneath a flowering parsley plant. "I love parsley," she said. We stared into mason jars of macerating echinacea.

A generous spirit, Jeannine taught the class even though only Jared and I signed up. Maybe because she knew us, maybe because she knew our path, possibly before we even did. She'd turn out to our first guide among the healing plants.

Thank you, Jeannine. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dial 2-1

View of parents from 39 1/2"

Today, we went to Yonkers to look through Jared's grandmother's belongings. It was a little sad, but the the busy nature of the day carried me through.

As Jared's sisters sorted through items, I thought of myself, years passed, sorting through my own grandmothers' things. At the time, I felt as though I wanted to take many things. Some clothing I left in plastic so I could smell my maternal grandmother's perfume. My paternal grandmother's scent I was less  able to capture. She was a smoker, but it's not cigarettes that remind me of Grandma. Good Polish food on the boil does. I can smell it now.

We decided to not talk about death with Beren. He hadn't seen Nana in a long while.

He has some ideas. He watched a car kill a chipmunk this summer. He's smacked bugs and said, "I deaded it." He has not yet made the connection between delicious chicken and feathered, pecking chickens who lay eggs.

Well, this writing was interrupted by stomping footsteps and banging at the door by a not yet sleepy four-year-old. I was hoping for an earlier bedtime, but I did learn two important things that I will share with you: "Dial 2-1 to make bad dreams go away. 2-5-9 brings good dreams," so says one sleepy four-year-old.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Back to the rhythm

Driving around, I've noticed that outdoor Christmas lights have lost their shine, though they still drain the same wattage. Perhaps the anticipation is gone. We still have our tree up, and I'll let that Fraser fir go until the needles begin dropping like a winter coat in April. Our menorahs are gathering dust, but I'm not ready to put them away either. Anything that means light is welcome during these cold days.

In the days before Hanukah Jared came down with a bad cold that lingered through new year's and then morphed into sinusitis. He laid on the couch like in a way he hasn't in years. I barely held the house together, motivating us from family function to family function.

Moving from place to place with lots of desserts and presents made for a wild month. "I didn't get enough presents!" Beren exclaimed one evening. I searched for celebratory holiday things to do. Most things had a shopping element or involved standing in the rain or possibly parallel parking our huge truck with a four year old strapped in the back. I gave up. Keeping our basic rhythms seemed more practical than teaching some likely abstract meaning of not just one, but two holidays.

Then, Jared's grandmother died on Christmas day.

Beren dove into a bad case of the croup as soon as Jared recovered. He coughed and wheezed. I bundled him in blankets and stood on the porch with the December rain all around us. In the moist, cool air the cough abated. I opened the door to our warm, dry house and back came the cough. We canceled a few engagements.

The day Beren started getting sick, we brought home a kitten. The kitten was contentious. It knocked down Beren's blocks. It scratched, "No!" either Jared or I would say. We coached Beren on how to hold a kitten - a kitten is very different than the calm, cool adult cats that Beren has adored. Beren found it all infuriating, disruptive and disturbing. So did his parents. It's taken about 10 days, but we're all getting used to each other.

So, let the light shine longer just a little longer as we get back to our rhythms.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Does this child need a t.v.?

Does this child need a television?

We don't have a television. Officially and Truly.

We had one in the basement up until a couple months before we moved. Until then, we'd tell people, "We don't have a t.v.," if the subject came up. "Well, we have a t.v., but it's in the basement. We don't watch it," I'd add. Jared would say, "We don't really have a t.v. just because there's one in the basement. It doesn't work." "That's true, but still it's there," I'd say. "But, if you plugged it in, it wouldn't get reception," was Jared's final word. "True, true," I'd say, my final word.

He was right conceptually, and I was right materially. That's a difference in our personalities and perception. We both also like having the last word, or maybe that's just me. Next time, I'll try to pay attention, but I'll probably be formulating my last word.

The last time we watched t.v. was most likely in a hotel somewhere. The last time I remember watching t.v. was when we lived in Queens and really needed to 'zone out'. I tuned into reruns of The Simpsons, adjusted the rabbit ears, and we watched through the fuzz. Our finances and our lives were in the red. Television offered a reliable half hour of peace.

Jared didn't watch much television when he was a child. When his classmates talked about television shows and characters, Jared had nothing to add.

As a kid, I had a t.v. and watched it regularly. I enjoyed cartoons and other shows. I probably could have been doing something else, but I don't look back with regrets.

We recently wondered if Beren might one day wish that he lived in a house with a television. I certainly wished my parents' television also included a cable subscription. We wondered if he might feel like an outsider.

We agreed that there was little to worry about. There often is so little to worry about. Looking back at the things I worried about regarding Beren, there was little to worry about.