Monday, March 31, 2014

Retrospective | Slice 31:31

Playing in the nursery this morning before nap, 
Grant happily climbed around on the antique rocking chair from my parents. 
I snapped pictures, for fun, but realized they go right along with where we are today.

It started off at the beginning
like a challenge
one we'd have to climb up into
making solid our footing
piece by piece

And once we were up 
it seemed like daily 
we grew
through community
Fellow writers made us strong
even when we weren't confident about
the words and ideas we'd strung together

And there were the days
in the high-teens and early-twenties
where a tired thought argued with a productive one
It'd be easy to skip tonight...
The challenge won out
Perseverance blossomed
We chose a new angle from which to write

As we drew near to 30
we stood tall
surveying our stories
noting the influences 
of friends
of mentors
of comments

And now we've arrived
March 31, 2014
We sit
the satisfaction of stick-with-it-ness
we know we can do it
And because we can keep growing together
week by week

Until Tuesday...

Write on,

Sunday, March 30, 2014

We are together | Slice 30:31

The sun is shining
through the creamy sheers
that dress the bank of windows
on the east wall of the family room
I choose to sit
in front of them
feeling each ray's warmth
melting into a hazelnut leather armchair
that angles toward its better half
which cushions my better half as we
explore summer vacations
while I write for you
you sit with us here
in this peaceful space
on this quiet morning
your feet crossed in an X 
atop the rectangular pincushion of an ottoman
sharing a corner like we do
there is so much to say
but sometimes we don't say it
we sit
we bask
we reflect
like the sun 
as it illuminates the pair of wall hangings
shining like glassy waves rolling into
an idyllic beach

We are together

Write on,

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dress-up | Slice 29:31

I do this sometimes
I disappear into my closet, and reemerge many times
as someone different
Maybe I try on my black leggings, new tunic from Anthropologie, and the suede Mary Janes I wrote about earlier this month...
the boho-hippie girl I like to be sometimes
Maybe I try on my spring capri pants (to make sure they still fit) with my mix-and-match knit shirts, mostly striped...OK, always striped...
the preppie girl I like to be sometimes
Maybe I try on my black dresses with new accessories (like pearls, or statement necklaces, or a scarf) and different pairs of heels (like round-toed pumps, pointy-toed patent leather slingbacks, or bronze peep-toed slip-ons)...
the refined girl I like to be sometimes
I consider this all homework
You know, for the mornings where I need to get dressed quickly
(which, incidentally, is most of them)
I remember
which shoes complement each
skirt, pair of pants, and dress
I remember
the combos I wore last season
and the new ones I create while playing dress-up
I found a sleeveless dress hanging in a suit bag from Parisian
I bought it four years ago when the store was still open downtown
It still has the tags hanging from the left armhole and it still fits
But when I put it on it needed something that popped
so I added my most recent purchase
this belt, a steal at $4.88, from Loft

It goes with the dress like the two were sold together
A blessing...I might need such an outfit sometime soon
And I found it playing dress-up

Write on,

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ice cream? | Slice 28:31

I am watching 'Diners, Drive-In's, and Dives', sitting cross-legged on the family room rug while my husband runs to the grocery store for ice cream. It's amazing how easily our conversation transitioned from idea to grabbing shoes, one wallet, and a set of keys...

He giggles, "You know, I'm still hungry."

"I could eat again...I'm not really full either," I throw out the way a little child does with an encouraging nod and a wink that ensures he'll ultimately get what he wants.

He bites. "Well, I could go to Marsh. If you could have anything you want, what would it be?"

"My favorite is Ben and Jerry's Phish Food. You'd love it -- chocolate ice cream full of mini chocolate fish and intersecting rivers of caramel and marshmallow cream.Will you try to find that?"

"Will it be on sale?"

Our eyes meet; he reads them like a billboard.

Then he advances a knowing glance. One that covers my tired body like a cozy blanket. One that acknowledges the strife I feel when analyzing (and over-analyzing) my next career move and lets me know that it will be alright. One that soothes my spirit by plying it with sweet treats, because even if it doesn't make any sense to my most surely does for my mental health.

Guy Fieri continues to jabber about greasy treats, cheesy delights, and desserts slathered in sauces; I keep typing.

I won't lie -- I'm looking forward to the perfect bite of Phish Food that is speckled with a little ice cream, oozing with a caramel, marshmallowy river, and built on one perfectly incorporated chocolate fish.

I think I hear the garage door opening...

Write on,

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Art lesson... | Slice 27:31

We had just finished the tough part -- peeling the final product from its waxy background.

"Mommy, let's hang your new sticker over here," he headed toward the dining room window while padding around shiny pieces of All-Clad that dotted our kitchen floor thanks to one toddler who likes raiding cabinets far more than toy boxes. I followed with baited breath and a back-pocket "Why this window, Reid?" just in case he didn't offer tantalizing details, such as this one. I'm always so curious to see how his line of thinking unfolds...

"Here we go," he slid behind the white wood blinds with the colorful dragonfly sticker pressed into one hand. We had made it together over the past two days, thanks for a kit my parents mailed him on Valentine's Day, and had waited...and waited...and waited for each component to dry before moving on to the next. 

Reid's little creative heart swooned as he found just the right spot on the lower half of the casement window. He used his soft fingertips to pad it into place.

Time to pull it out. The question du jour. "So, Reid, why this window for your beautiful dragonfly?" His answer came before I took my next breath.

He walked toward the antique chair closest to the window, patting its black leather seat pad. "Well, Mommy, you sit at the dining room table this do school work on your computer, so I wanted you to have something pretty to look at. You can look at it and think of me."

He teaches me with his dried-goo artistry...
that none of us is done growing and changing, child or adult
that we can be transparent, allowing His light to shine through us 
that we can bless others with our gifts, stickers or words

Write on,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Roadtrip!?! | Slice 26:31

If I were a drinking girl, I would've been bellied up to a bar -- mine or someone else's -- by the time our blessed Jeep was ready to leave for Grandma and Grandpa's house this afternoon.

Each little checklist item took more effort than it should to accomplish. I will spare you the painful details -- I'm not yet ready to fashion them into crafty words -- so an overview will have to suffice.

Each little temper tantrum escalated past normal ranges. The elder, by the way, not the baby.

Each little momentary escape to be in a room by myself was interrupted by "Mooooooooommmmmmmmy?!?"

Each little glimpse of progress dimmed in the shadows of a new mess.

Each little job to do devolved into some variation of this exchange:
"I'll do that for you, Mommy."
"Thank you, this is so heavy, I'll just go ahead and do us both a favor by carrying X out to the car."
"Moooooommmmy! I said I would do it!! (insert fit here)
"Thank you -- that's so sweet of you -- but I'll find another job for you."

And finally, the three of us stood in the kitchen...ready to take the last bathroom break, grab the last snack, sip the last drink, and give the house the last once-over before cozying into car seats.

"Hey, Mommy!" the elder little started as he squeezed his applesauce packet dangerously. "I can eat this faster than two elephants eating hay!"

I never would've thought.

In a few minutes, I can jump into the Starbucks drive-thru line for a grande chai faster than you can disagree with me...

Write on,

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Google it... | Slice 25:31

I needed a diversion. A time-filler while I raced upstairs to rescue the baby bouncing around in his crib like a misguided rocket following his healthy nap this afternoon.

"Would you like to play something in your folder on my iPad?"

Eyes a-glow, "Yes!"

"OK." I served him the tiny technological wonder with his 'Reid's games' open before loping down the entry hallway and up the stairs.

"Mooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmy? Mommy?!? Mooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmy?"

"YEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS..." I answered back over the upstairs banister toward the kitchen where he sat bellied up to the island. It had been ten seconds.

"How do you spell -ing?"

Remembering I gave him a tip from the Phonics Dance this spring I began singing the chant, "i-n-g. -ing, -ing, -ing..." as Grant and I bounced tread by tread toward him.

"Mommy, I can't type."

"What do you mean? If you want to type, let's open 'Notes.'" I multi-tasked while grabbing a warm bottle. (That's an affirmative -- Grant still takes a bottle before naps and sometimes after. I know.)

Two seconds later, I peeked over to find this:

"It won't go anywhere, Mommy. Where are the pictures?" he sat tapping his megaword as any remaining patience disappeared like the fickle snowfall this afternoon.

Slow on the uptake, I finally connected the dots. "If you want to look online for something, we need to go to Google. What do you want to search for, Reid?"

"Riding mowers. I want to find Daddy's."

I smiled.

Write on,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Chew... | Slice 24:31

Like spokes on a wheel, we sat around the cherry dinner table, then Reid, then Tom, then little Grant in the booster seat attached to one of the chairs matching our dinette. As the homemade fried rice and teriyaki drumsticks splattering our white scalloped plates cooled, I situated myself from the most recent trip to the refrigerator (this time, for juice) and ate, determined to finish before the next "Can you get..." request. But, with each bite, my mind traveled deeper into my career quandary and farther from the cheerful banter that convenes when we sit down together each evening. I descended into my modus operandi (over-analysis) by fashioning this week's events into an ESPN '30 for 30'-type episode. I prompted myself to chew, ironically...

A faint sputter, that grew more pronounced, turned into a cough..that turned into a red-faced baby... catapulted me out of my arresting thoughts and toward him, my palm rhythmically tapping the top of his back. Pat. Pat. Pat. Firmer. Pat-pat. Pat-pat. Pat-pat

"It's not working! Look -- his face is getting redder! He can't breathe!" I appealed while Tom ran around the table and unhooked Grant's tray (strewn with succulent pieces of chicken, juicy peas, stranded grains of fried rice, and shards of mini pretzel twists shedding salt) before I even finished my words. Reid sat quietly, his eyes like coffee brewing...developing depth with each passing moment.

We both fumbled with the booster seat's harness, while Tom's finger swiped over Grant's tongue. Nothing. But 'nothing' certainly wouldn't elicit the sounds he was now creating, nor the pall changing his complexion from reddish-scary to grayish-REALLY-scary. I patted the butter-soft skin under his wispy white-blonde hairline. Harder. And harder again while Tom propped him between his chest and right knee. I blinked in disbelief -- this ordeal played out at my Amish-made dinner table, sitting on my burgundy floral rug, in my L-shaped kitchen where Tom demolished the previous owner's floor and painted the walls Stonehenge Greige with my parents' help as I sat, big and pregnant, in a royal blue fold-out chair more familiar with baseball games than home improvement projects. Just a couple months before this little one joined our family...

I focused in on his thick silver wedding band that flashed like a streak of lightening as he raced against time to free Grant's airway. My eyes zoomed toward his, peaceful as a sun-drenched river in springtime, which seemed in direct opposition to the intent revealed by his pursed lips. He held our baby like a shepherd cradling his sheep. 

Pat. Pat. Pat-pat-pat-PAT.

Like an answer to prayer, an impressive hunk of gummied pretzel appeared and downgraded Grant's cheeks toward fair-skin flush.  

It wasn't until then that I heard Reid asking questions about where food goes when we chew and swallow. It wasn't until then that I heard the neighbor's black and tan dog barking in the backyard. It wasn't until then that I heard the suppertime traffic wheesh past our front door after a short stop-off at home to grab the family before heading back out for someone else's cooking.

"Here's your sippy...have some water. It's cold." His little hand, powered by the whole of his diminutive frame, pushed the the blue and green cup back to me while the other ran from his tummy toward the left diaper tab. Today I realized he can unhook them. 

"Want some applesauce?" I slipped into the pantry grabbing a pouch to sway his vote and unscrewed its lemon yellow lid before offering a sip.

"Drink," I encouraged. Wash it alllllll down.

He did, between giggles and goo-goo eyes. I cradled him, nuzzling the satiny hair that framed his satiny forehead. And for the second time during tonight's dinner, time stood still...

Write on,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Train track epiphany... | Slice 23:31

This post is a continuation of my thinking from 'Clarity: Slice 22:31'. The backstory here is that I just found out my instructional coaching position will be dissolved for 2014-15...

I kept my word this afternoon.

After dishes
and grocery shopping
and sweeping
and laundry
and a FaceTime coffee break with my mom
and fluffing pillows.

I went downstairs to the basement to work out. Like I told you I would last week. Or was that two weeks ago now?

I had a willing accomplice too. For him, the chilly basement's draw is our almagam of Thomas the Train TrackMaster sets. If you have a little boy, this term needs no decoding -- you can imagine what this blessed elbow of the L-shaped space looks like...and sounds like...and well, I digress.

While I shimmied, and jiggled, and danced, and sweat, he created. I looked back sparingly, as not to invite "Mommy, I can't..." and "Mommy, can you come over here and..." I know this kid -- when left to his own devices, he can be brilliant or a four-year-old hot mess.

As Mari and I winded down, his sound effects became more emphatic. Stepping toward a sea of smaller track sections, I became his life preserver...buoying his little spirit from fantastic frustration.

"Mommmmmmmmyyyyyyy, these pieces don't fit together. I need more straight pieces to make these two tracks connect. And I don't have them. Now what will I do?"

Like the angel on his shoulder, "Did you check the laundry basket full of spare wood pieces?"

"No, I forgot."

"Let's look together; I'm guessing we have something that will work. If we don't, we'll just try another design. That's what we do when we're stuck."

We leaned over into that lime laundry basket to find straight pieces, curved pieces, hilly pieces, and junction pieces. "It looks like we have the pieces you need, little guy. Now see what you can do..."

I should take my own advice.

I know standards. I know instructional best practices. I know workshop. I know authenticity. I know resources, lovely mentor texts, 'Choice Words', technology, personalization. I know where these intersect in some ostentatious Venn. 

I know.

So, why am I scared of a job change after five years?

Because I don't know how all the pieces fit together yet.

But I will. Yes, I will. Because just like these silly train tracks that frustrate and demand tedious revision, so does my professional life. I may need to experiment with a few designs before everything runs smoothly -- just like it was meant to be -- but it will. Again.  

So, let's start figuring this thing out. Scenario #1...

Write on,

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Clarity | Slice 22:31

I sit here now not knowing if 
the lights should be on or off
the coffee strong or weak
the pace fast or slow
the boxes empty or full
the questions
they loom like disagreeable friends
who once stood supportive
but changed
their stripes
stripes that embraced 
now separate
if I'm not careful
the questions grow
bigger and bigger
closer and closer
crowding out the sunlight
from yesterday
that carries today
that may be hidden tomorrow
people say
change is what keeps us
moving forward and 
it is true
what is to come will be better
it is sometimes
smiles that turn into tears 
without warning
musings that turn into fears
without end

I covet 
the quietness
the peace
a nap
an opportunity

They will come.

Write on,

Friday, March 21, 2014

two hours in the making... | 21:30

sleep laps at the edges of my tired body
and then lets go
and then lets go
i wake up to remember it's spring break

Write on,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Counting the days... | Slice 20:31

Gleaming like the morning sun 
it sits on the eastern kitchen sill 
as a monument to 
what will come come over spring break
when the bags are packed 
and the Jeep drives two hours north
and the boys and Mommy 
unbuckle, unload, 
and then unlock 
the door at Grandma and Grandpa's house
it is the topic before dinner and after prayers
Mommy, as soon I as get up I will tear off the next link
because we will be another day closer
to seeing Grandma and Grandpa
And sure enough he remembers this morning
bounding down the stairs like an arrow speeding toward its target
Will you help me get it down?
Thank you
Let's touch and count
7 days!

I can't wait, Mommy
Me neither

Write on,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pillow talk... | Slice 19:31

The covers snug around my face, I started one last conversation with my husband before sleep.

B: Today in a planning meeting, we talked about subordinating and coordinating conjunctions. 

T: I don't remember what those are.

B: Well, a subordinating conjunction introduces a dependent clause, like 'When I get my hair done, I will have no grey hair.'

T: Oh, right. OK.

B: And a coordinating conjunction connects words, phrases, and clauses, like 'I want ice cream and french fries for dinner.' Think FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

T: Got it.

B: Then we started talking about the Oxford comma.

T: Are you kidding me?

B: Of course not. Oxford commas are important. I mean, you've seen that poster that says, 'Let's eat Grandma' and 'Let's eat, Grandma.'

T: Yes. But it's bigger than that. I once had a whole undergrad class session devoted to its use. Not everyone agrees that that last comma is as important as you think it is. 

B: Really? Why? If you don't include the last comma, you end up putting two things together that may not necessarily go. Like not everything goes together like peanut butter and jelly, right? If you put two items together without the comma, the list makes no sense. 

T: Yes. But sometimes the comma takes up space. Word economy is critical to writers. So is space economy.

B: I still think the Oxford comma makes the most sense and I will still keep using it.

T: OK.

B: Good night, love.

T: Good night, love.

Write on,

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

18 | 18:31

years since high school graduation
books on writing instruction line my shelves
tank tops balloon from a single hanger
pairs of flip-flops long for sunshine
coffee mugs fill my too-tight cupboards
steps separate sleepers from parents who are awake
black t-shirts, turtlenecks, sweaters, and blouses lie in wait for tomorrow
jars of spices mingle in the cabinet by our stove
pairs of earrings stare out from their clear case
gallons of gas fuel my travels each week
cookies from Grandma anchor weeknight desserts
serenades at the Crosby, Stills, & Nash concert Friday
bobby pins blanket my vanity drawer
coupons pop out of my purse
colored pencils sit at the ready
post-it notes dangle from books I want to think more about

And some of you expected me to write about Peyton Manning... :)

Write on,

Monday, March 17, 2014

Smooch | Slice 17:31

We storm out of the house each weekday morning...accounting for children and car seat buckles, school bags and lunches, sippy cups of milk and show-n-tell tubs. With one eye on the clock and the other on the minutiae, we make our good-bye rounds. 

"Grantie, have fun with Miss Heidi."
He follows with a rough wave (he's still fine-tuning its mechanics) and something that sounds like "iy-dee."

"Reidaroo, be good to Mrs. Sedam and Mrs. Oslos -- it's a Rainbows class day."

"Daddy, drive safely and be a blessing at work."

The roaring engine of my husband's powerful sedan awakens, followed by the grumble of my Jeep. They slide down the driveway first, I ease out and shut the garage door. We speed away toward the neighborhood's entrance where, with patience, we wait behind other cars inching into the stoplight's growing trail. Sometimes we make it in together, sometimes I have to catch up to the charcoal muscle car with two little bumps sprouting from the backseat windows. 

I most always do though. It's like the final goodbye -- the final send-off towards the hours that meld into school and drafting and doting and learning.

There's the light at 106th Street that collects worker cars, school cars, gym cars, and the occasional semi-truck heading back toward the city. It's on the slowest timer and I usually find them there, talking and looking around, as I pull into the adjacent lane. I wonder what they're saying...I wonder if Grant has fallen back to sleep...I wonder if Reid is singing radio tunes since, most likely, my husband is listening the The Police. And then I wonder if he'll turn and look my direction...

He does and makes eyes like fireworks exploding on a dark summer night. His lips mouth, "Daddy! There's Mommy!" And then a smaller hand shoots up...with that little mechanical wave. If I could see his eyes...I know they'd be wide pools of blue, inviting me in to take a dip.

I blow Reid a kiss, his exaggerated catch overflows into its landing on his rosy cheek.  

He blows me one and I follow suit. 

The light turns green and the lanes spread us apart... The Jeep heads east and the Charger west. But that's just logistics; we're really altogether.

My heart says we are.

Write on,

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New trick... | Slice 16:31

Bundled up in his cozy fleece blanket sleeper and wrapped in his polka-dotted chamois blanket, little G's sleepy body fit perfectly into the crook of mine as we rocked tonight before bed.  Sipping on warm milk with one hand, with the other he found my nose...and then his...and then my eyes...and then his...and then my long hair (that most likely tickled his fuzzy forehead) and then his.

As a point of independence, he sat up with a start, handed me the still-warm bottle, and added his version of "All done" (which, incidentally, would have been so much more effective had I included this sound byte).

My heart melted.
But, then again, what can I say -- it always does. With each moment. With each smile.

With each new trick.

Walking over the crib, we said prayers while snuggling as he nestled into the crook of my neck. After one last kiss, I laid him down.

Now typically after saying our 'good-nights,' I sneak out of his more eye contact, no more sound effects, no more...but tonight, I couldn't resist one last peek.

And this is what I saw: one blondie with blue eyes, head turned to track my steps past the doorway and into the hall; his right palm raised toward his soft, lilly-white cheeks and rosy lips.


While his hand moved back toward the mattress, his focus never changed. Eyes locked; hearts fluttered. I had to reciprocate.

My right palm found my lips -- smooch -- and then blew my kiss toward his sweet little smile. If air kisses are like keeping a putt lined up by watching it all the way to the cup, I am pretty sure he received my air mail. And I'm more than sure I received mine.

This new trick will be easy to get used to...

Write on,

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Thank you... | Slice 15:31

The tired sun chased our car away from the pizzeria tonight. It followed us as we meandered through the Craftsman bungalows of our small downtown area. It jogged beside us passed the dormant golf course and nature trail, as well as the sleepy community pool.

With full bellies, we were sleepy too...and made the short trip home almost as if we'd promised not to say a word.

Until the silence stopped.
Which most typically is sponsored by our four-year-old's silliness. 
Or, scrapbook-sweet queries.  
(You can read about one such conversation here.)


We both glanced backward as if taking this scenario's temperature. His left cheek glowed in today's eleventh-hour light. His eyes were soft.

He continued. "I just want to thank you for taking us to a new pizza place for dinner. I really liked it and the pizza was good."

Or sometimes even, statements of affirmation.  

"You're welcome, Buddy. Your kind words mean so much -- thank you for blessing us with them."

As the sky's blue continuum grew bolder and more varied, so did our base of skills to nurture this little one.

And so did our confidence.

Write on,

Friday, March 14, 2014

There's a concert tonight | Slice 14:31

There will be a familiar guitar swimming above a familiar beat
And then, a familiar voice will intermingle
Hello, cowgirl in the sand, is this place at your command?
Old enough now to change your name, when so many love you, is it the same?
It's the woman in you that makes you want to play this game...

Another familiar voice, this time with a psychedelic organ in the background
If you smile at me, I will understand
That is something everybody everywhere does in the same language
Wooden ships on the water, very free (and easy)
Easy, you know the way it's supposed to be

And another...sweeter, more contemplative voice 
accompanied by the grand piano's simple chords
I'll light the fire, you place the candle in the vase that you bought today
Staring at the fire for hours and hours as I listen to you play your love songs
All night long for me....only for me

And then, the magical triumvirate will unite
Dododododo, do, do, dodododo
Dododododo, do, do, dodo
Dododododo, do, do, dodododo
Dododododo, do, do, dodo
(Are you humming 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' yet?)

It'll speed up
And there's a rose in the fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with
Love the one you're with

It'll slow down
All along the lee shore, shells lie scattered in the sand
Winking up like shining eyes at me from the sea
Here is one like sunrise, it's older than you know
It's still lying there where some careless wave
Forgot it long ago

It'll challenge
From the bottom of the ocean to the mountains of the moon
Won't you please come to Chicago
No one else can take your place
We can change the world
Rearrange the world

It'll remember
Guinnevere had golden hair
like yours, mi'lady, like yours
Streaming out when we'd ride 
through the warm wind down by the bay
Seagulls circle endlessly
I sing in silent harmony
We shall be free

It'll galvanize
Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming
We're finally on our own
This summer I hear the calling
Four dead in O-hi-o

It'll encourage
Teach your children well
Their father's hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they pick is the one you'll know by

It'll connect
Though we rush ahead to save our time
We are only what we feel and I love you
Can you feel it now?

Just a song before I go, to whom it may concern...

There's a concert tonight

Write on,

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Where I am... | Slice 13:31

This is where I am today...

I'm clunking down my tall, straight stairway in too-big shoes
Almost missing treads I usually make
Slipping around the toe box looking for just the right spot
the familiar spot
with time-worn impressions
to cushion my steps
and bring me back to the places I know best
As twilight fades from cornflower to navy
I search for reminders
to guide me
to nestle my heel
as it sails free
in the shoes of another

But now I've made it
down the treads
past the spot where the stairway angles
and puddles into the cherry-stained floor
despite the bumpy ride
I'm here in
the shoes I have made my own
as I dream of 
another trip up 
on another day

Write on,

The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.

- William Faulkner

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Looking forward, looking back | Slice 12:31

While Grandpa hobbled up two steps into the house and straight toward the great room to nest in the leather armchair with the men, Grandma stood in the sunny entryway eager to explore my family's new house with the ladies. At 89, wrinkly skin hugged her warm brown eyes naturally drawn to detail. I followed her small steps, cradling sweet, sleeping Grant, and listened to her musings.

"Look at the stairway. It's so tall and straight."
You know, I used to have an upstairs like this when the kids were growing up...but now, no more stairs for us!

"Look at the tweed couch. It's so comfortable and new."  
You know, I used to have fresh, cozy furniture...but now, my 'new' couch numbers a decade and is uncomfortable and outdated.

"Look at the countertops. They're so beautiful and sturdy."
You know, I used to have a nice kitchen, my dream kitchen, that we remodeled...but now I just imagine cooking in the fancy spaces I see on Food Network each afternoon. Have you seen Giada's? It's sooooooo pretty."

"Look at the appliances. They're so shiny and modern."
You know, I used to love new gadgets...but now, I don't have room to keep any of them except my coffee maker and egg cooker.

"How do you like your dishwasher?"
You know, I've never had one.

I didn't realize...

Write on,

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Elusive curls... | Slice 11:31

At mid-back, my hair is the longest it's ever been
Anymore when I go through my hair-drying routine
of plotting my head like a familiar subdivision
and drying each lot one by one around a bristle brush
and letting each curl set before moving onto the next phase
All I get is volume, with a little curl that falls flat
post haste

It's time for a new solution.

Sunday night, I showered before bed
and formulated a secondary plan:
If my old routine isn't working because
I never have enough time to let my curls properly set
what I need is to invite my hair to work
while I sleep so
I divvied, and rolled, and jimmied
the so-called 'handy' foam curlers'
velcro straps
and went to bed looking like my grandmother

Monday morning, I finished drying the too-big
loops of hair cascading out of the too-small curlers
Unrolling each package felt momentous
but tinged with disappointment
More curlers?
More drying time?
More skill?

Later than evening, I explained this week's experiment to my mom over FaceTime. With a sparkle in her eye she shared the solution:

"Well, Brenna, what you really need is a hair dryer like I used to have. You could sit underneath it each morning, drink coffee, and do schoolwork while your curls set. That's what I would do..."

"For how long?"
Hey, she may still have this up in the attic.

"An hour."

"Mom, I'm trying to save time, not spend more time."

"Then maybe you need a hair cut."

And that is it.

Write on,

Monday, March 10, 2014

Patience & Mary Janes | Slice 10:31

They first called to me
passing through Nordstrom's shoe sanctuary
as Indian summer played outside under signature cornflower skies
I made a beeline
toward fancy Mary Janes with
teardrop cutouts
a wedge heel
and peep toe
Their black suede exterior
made me think
I'd like to have these; I'd wear them often
At better than $90
my head silenced my heart

A few months passed
I sped through Nordstrom
Finishing last-minute Christmas shopping
Banners pointed toward one section of women's shoes
Their faint call became more pronounced
amidst the holiday hustle and bustle
Another beeline
toward triple-tiered racks
brimming with fancy shoes
knock-around shoes
glittery shoes
boat shoes
Mary Jane
Encouraging trendy clerks
to dismiss unsightly
wintry toes
hiding beneath knee socks
and tall boots
I tried them on


Today, spring teased us
with impressive warmth
my thoughts ran toward
teardrop cutouts
peep toe
a wedge heel
toenail polish and
black pencil pants
Getting dressed
was fun again
My Mary Janes

Bonus post script: They're even comfy! :)

Write on,

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pie | Slice 9:31

Her talent took on near-mythic proportion in our small town
and spread to surrounding parts
Every Sunday morning she'd rise with the sun
Building pies from scratch
Cutting lard into dry ingredients
Shaping and crimping the crust
ever so perfectly by her deft hands
before pouring in a host of fanciful fillings
Coconut Cream
Raisin Cream
Banana Cream
Lemon Meringue
Dutch Apple
Old-Fashioned Cream
Following each recipe
even those she'd memorized years earlier
to the letter
Cooling they'd sit atop wire racks
on the kitchen counter
while she and Grandpa went down the road to church

Like clockwork we'd visit
a few hours later
round about three or four
for a sliver of the pie du jour
Grandpa would eat his in a bowl, drenched in cold milk
I'd scrape every dollop of filling off the tender crust
Dad would eat my seconds as an tasty accompaniment to his own piece
the handiwork of his mother
her gift
even now
at 90
building, cutting, shaping pies in
her tiny apartment kitchen

This morning,
Grant's chubby fingers grasp his favorite new treat
dried cherries
I nibble on one too
Their tartness reminds me to add another pie
to Grandma's list
Cherry Cream
In my opinion, her best offering
Rich and velvety cream the color of amaranth
embraces each plump, rosy fruit
Baked then chilled
It's the Ritz-Carlton of pies
Flavors that explode like fireworks
pop and dazzle above their silky background
and pamper with each bite

Always looking toward the next project
Grandma will like the one
my brother and I have for her:
to collate her recipes
to share with us her tips
and well worn
nuggets of pie-baking wisdom
so we can know
and we can teach
and we can enjoy
the gift she's given us
so many Sundays before
with our own littles
and their littles

Write on,

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Welcome comparison... | Slice 8:31

Normally, Saturday stiff-arms me with
school work before the sun rises
grocery shopping
school work during the nap window
school work after the sun sets

Today, Saturday comforted me with
time to sleep in
time to meander through
Target's aisles
(Do you like my new art?)  
time to figure out a new car seat
time to freshen up this winter's
tired decor stashed around my house
time to wander through
a nearby mall
time to pick carefully and
buy confidently
time to coast into intersections
time to jog away from them

Time to breathe

Write on,

Friday, March 7, 2014

It's Friday | Slice 7:31

It's Friday

I'm home well before everyone today
And even though I always have music on, I don't now
I'm drinking in the silence
The mental gymnastics, race-running, problem-solving, and talking, all dissipate
An organic symphony envelopes me like a chamois blanket

The hum of the refrigerator switching gears
The roar of the furnace regulating the internal temperature before 5:00 pm
The water rushing through pipes
The gentle rumbling of cars and trucks as they travel past our neighborhood
The laptop's high-pitched whir

The birds chirping and playing
The neighborhood dogs barking while walking past
The mail truck breaking and accelerating, breaking and accelerating
The neighbors arriving home from work and school,
staying outside just a few extra minutes to walk, to ride, to run
before dinner, and bedtime, and bath.

I'm home well before everyone today
And even though I always have music on, I don't now
I'm drinking in the silence
The mental gymnastics, race-running, problem-solving, and talking, all dissipate
An organic symphony envelopes me like a chamois blanket

It's Friday

Write on,

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Home | Slice 6:31

Counting the minutes, I race around the kitchen while the house is still quiet. I brown sausage, fill a stockpot with water to get it boiling for spaghetti, set the table, prepare three glasses of ice water and a sippy cup, empty the dishwasher and refill it with breakfast dishes, declutter, and preheat the oven for garlic bread.

It all stops as I hear the door open between the garage and laundry room. I turn toward the inviting clicks, smiling.

Little steps skitter across the slate floor, followed by ones more pronounced. And, then, like a hand that moves from behind someone's back to reveal its surprise, he emerges from the shadows riding into the house in his fleece-lined pumpkin seat.

Although G is diminutive, wisps of platinum blonde hair tumble over where his head is cradled. Extended little hands wave free, as if to join my heart's happy dance party...even before our eyes meet.

I peek into the laundry room as my husband rearranges his precious cargo from rear to forward-facing.

He sees me waiting there. Waiting for his sky-blue gaze to light up, and it does. Post haste.

He gurgles, he 'talks'. He tells me secrets, giggling all the while. I listen, I remark. My enthusiasm mirrors his. But we're not close enough yet...flip, snap, wiggly baby works his way out of the harness' confines and into my awaiting arms.

My right cheek nuzzles into his as to make up for lost time. That's my signature move. His, though, is different. Little G places his soft, full pink lips onto mine...and in one fluid motion, finds his right thumb to suck for an extra measure of comfort.

While we cuddle, he grows confidence. Just a few minutes more of riding around with me while I stir, set, gather, and serve and he's off on his own -- running, playing, searching, and finding.


At home together again.

Write on,

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Question | Slice 5:31

I click, click, clicked down the cheerful hallway's primary-colored tiles. Quiet now; kids were in classrooms unpacking bags, getting started with morning work, and asking to visit other places in the school.

You know how that goes.

Enjoying the momentary solitude, I counted permission slips filed between my fingers as I headed to the third grade pod to collect theirs for an upcoming family event.

It was interrupted though. In grand fashion.

"I know you!"  Yes, and I know you, too -- you've been the subject of many a meeting over the past few years.

"Good morning! How are you today?"

"Hey, um, everyone says you're having a baby. Are you?"

Shrink. Dissipate. Disappear.

Sooooo, I'll come clean.

I'm like the bear who hibernates when the temperatures drop -- I hunker down, I eat...I even snack, I savor the comfort of soul-satisfying dishes -- and this year has been no exception. Buying the Starbucks January Espresso tumbler, which served up a grande beverage of my choice each day during the month, didn't help my case. Oh, and we bought potato chips the past couple trips to the grocery store. Everyone knows how that works out. Especially when you're not used to having them. Binge. Oh, and there's the fact that our baby likes to hit the hay at 6:30, so usually dinnertime is an absolute blur between my attempts at efficiency and his tired protests, which leaves me feeling like I missed the meal completely...round about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. And who likes to go to bed hungry?

I know, I know. Each line item above conspires against me.

"Who says I'm having a baby?" I looked down at the tunic sweater hanging generously over my elastic-waist leggings.


A consensus?

Aaaaaand, Marie Winsor and I will begin dating again. 
Me. Her. Pilates. The fat-burning workout. In the basement. 


Write on,

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Poodle? | Slice 4:31

He reads to me while we cuddle in bed tonight. "Oh, look -- these two words have the same letters at the end," I invite.  "Th-ink, P-ink," he reads with a smile while adjusting his favorite fleece-footed jammies.

Before saying prayers, we add this week's crumpled Weekly Reader to the book mountain overtaking my nightstand. Afterward, I kiss his soft cheek that somehow seems to grow a little more taut and tough each day.

"I love you to Poodle and back." He envelopes me with his chocolaty eyes as he spoofs "Guess How Much I Love You."


"You see, 'Uth' is over here (he points) and Poodle is waaaaaaay over here (he travels across the room to indicate distance). It's the farthest planet and that's a long way from us on 'Uth.' That's how much I love you, Mommy."


I love it. I compliment it at school and treasure it at home.

I'm awestruck that he loves me enough to compare his feelings to something as infinite as space. Again and again he amazes me with his charm, his candor, his connections.

"I love you even more."

And with that send-off, we creep down the carpeted hallway and into his bedroom for the last part of his bedtime routine: tuck-in.

Write on,