Biscuits

22 Apr

 

Vivi and I were clowning around in the parking lot at Lowe’s the other day.  

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you more.” 

“I love you the most in the universe.”

“I love you all of that, plus one.”  

“I love you eleventy fifty zillion billion more much.”

“I love you all of that, plus one.”

“I love you more than mac and cheese.”

“I love you more than butter…but a little bit less than biscuits.”

A grandmother, loading flats of zinnias into her car, had been listening to us and smiling.  When she heard about the biscuits, she hooted with laughter.  She giggled, “Imma have to get that on a t-shirt.”   

  

biscuits

 

 

 

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The Alone Part and the Adventure Part

21 Apr

boxcarVivi and I went to the library today.  She chose seven books from The Boxcar Children series.

I never read these books when I was a kid.  Did you?  They were mentioned this week on The Writer’s Almanac:

The Boxcar Children series is the story of four orphans, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny, who range in age from six to fourteen. Their parents die, and their grandfather is granted custody. But the children are afraid that he is a cruel old man, and so they run away and set up house in an abandoned boxcar, supporting themselves and living an independent life.

Gertrude Chandler Warner said that after it was published, many librarians objected to the story because they thought the children were having too much fun without any parental control. Warner said, “That is exactly why children like it!”

As we were driving home, I told Vivi, “You know, when those books came out, some people didn’t think kids should read them because they didn’t think it was right for children to read about kids who lived on their own and had fun adventures without any grown-ups around.”

I looked in the rearview mirror and she was gazing out the window, nonplussed.  I asked, “What do you think about that?”

“Well,” she said, “I don’t think about the alone part as much as I think about the adventure part.”

Huh.  That pretty much sums up the first three years of therapy for me.  When Fartbuster and I divorced, I spent at least a year staring at the alone part instead of at the adventure part.  

The Alone Part–that’s the part where you end up sitting on the edge of your bed and asking yourself, “How did I get HERE?” (to quote my friend, Heather).  The alone part is the part where you can’t breathe or sleep because your brain is hashing up every NEVER AGAIN and ALWAYS that it can lay hands on.  The alone part demands logic and reason and a really sound explanation.  The alone part asks, “WHY?”

The Adventure Part–that’s the part where you end up sitting on the edge of your bed and asking yourself, “What do I want to do today?”  The adventure part is the part where your whistle comes back and you get some jig in your giddy up.  The adventure part sleeps at night and dreams during the day.  The adventure part demands leaps and giggles and doesn’t care to explain itself.  The adventure part asks, “WHY NOT?”  

Sunday Sweetness–Happy Easter

20 Apr

 

spring

Happy Easter from my favorite chick!

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Saturday Snort–Nice T-Shirt, Fartbuster

19 Apr

lying

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Wordless Wednesday–Flowers

16 Apr

The Earth laughs in flowers.

Two Convertibles, Some Azaleas, and a $3 Tiller

15 Apr

Friday morning, the strangest thing happened–I was early for work.  Significantly early.  I’m so used to chasing my tail in a rush that I decided to enjoy the 20 minutes of peace and sit in my car.  That lasted about three minutes.  As I stepped out of my SUV then paused to pick up the Diet Coke cans, peanut shells, unsigned permission slips, and My Little Ponys that came rolling out onto the pavement, Cindy pulled up in a white BMW convertible.

Y’all.  Her car is so CLEAN.  I peaked inside and the only thing on the passenger’s side was a little net with a nicely folded shopping bag tucked into it.  Of course, the car is also so small that she had to pop the trunk to get her book out.

I blurted, “I can’t wait to have a tiny car that only has room for ME!”

She said, “Well, when my son turned 16, I gave HIM the minivan and bought myself a convertible.”  Awesome.  And so much easier on the insurance budget.

Drooling over Cindy’s tiny white convertible took me back to a hot Saturday afternoon in April, 2004.  Richard had found an old rotor tiller at the dumpster that only needed a $3 spark plug.  He would have torn up every inch of lawn and put in tomatoes if I had let him.  On Friday night, he had tilled up a space for a vegetable garden and an herb garden.  He was thinking about putting in CORN, but ran out of daylight, thank goodness.

So there we were on a muggy Saturday morning in the bugs and the heat, ripping out the flower beds that run allllllll the way across the front of this house.  Monkey grass and ivy snarled every inch that wasn’t covered in old snaggly holly bushes.  All of it was coming out.  Every blade.  Every prickly leaf.

The $3 tiller lasted about another hour.  Pretty good for our investment, but it left us with hours of work left to do.  We each got a spade and started digging up monkey grass and cussing.  Four, five, six hours later and we finally had the beds cleared down to red dirt.  Then came the cow manure–15 bags to stir into the red clay.   Hoeing, raking, shoveling, stinking.  Ah, homeownership.  And it was HOT.  H-dammit-O-dammit-T.

Richard was never one to quit halfway through a job or to say, “This can wait until tomorrow.”  So as soon as we had the cow manure mixed in, it was time to plant azaleas.  We toodled on over to Cofer’s and dropped a bunch of money on deciduous azaleas, native azaleas, and two little variegated specimens that he bought because they were called “Ashley Marie.”  Sweet.

By dusk, we had it all done.  You know how gardening is in the early stages–dinky and spindly.  I was left underwhelmed after all our efforts.  Neither of us could move.  As we lay there, prostrate on the reawakening spring lawn, one of our neighbors drove by in a tiny white Miata with the top down.  Her strawberry blonde hair sparkled in the last light of day.  She was smiling, and as she drove past, slowly, she checked to make sure we weren’t laying dead in the front yard.  Richard and I each raised a hand in a weak wave and she waved in return before cruising down the hill in her convertible, into the sunset.

In that moment, I so envied her car and her freedom and the energy she had to be kind.  I rolled my head over towards him and said, “I bet her azaleas are already established.  Pfffffft.”  I felt myself looking forward, into the spring days ahead that wouldn’t require all that back breaking work.  The days where I would awaken to a yard filled with flowers and a tiny white convertible all my own.

I still don’t have the silly car, but I do have the flowers.  Every spring, they make me smile, remembering all that sweat and toil.  Working on something together.  I think he would have loved how they turned out.

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Sunday Sweetness–A Teapot on a Rainy Day

13 Apr

Sunday Sweetness is all about the quiet moments, the gentle times, that make life sweeter.  Today, click on this teapot to read a sweet story about a kind man who used a teapot in an act of kindness.  Enjoy!

 

blue-transferware-teapot-604x402

 

Saturday Snort–What the Alarm Said

12 Apr

duh

One time, I was teaching a 7:30 a.m class in a portable trailer classroom. Typically, Security would turn off the alarm system on their early morning rounds.  But on that day, when I arrived at 7:00 a.m. and opened the door with my key, the alarm began to shriek.  BLAP!  BLAP!  BLAP! BLAP! BLAP!  

No worries.  I picked up the phone and called Security. 

“Hey.  This is Ashley.  I’m down here in the trailer and the alarm is going off. Can you tell me the code to disable it?”  

The security officer said, “OK, ma’am.  What’s the alarm saying?”

I paused for a second.  What a dumb question, right?  

I said, “It’s saying BLAP!  BLAP!  BLAP! BLAP! BLAP!  Can’t you hear it?”

The officer chuckled and said, “I mean, what’s the error code on the alarm?”

Ohhhhhhhh….

 

 

It’s Not “Cancer” Cancer!

11 Apr

July 1, 2004–a day when I said one of the dumbest things I’ve ever uttered in my life.

Richard lay half reclined on a hospital bed in the oncology ward, his khaki-clad legs crossed casually atop the neat white blanket and his shoes suspended carefully off the side.  Not one to make a mess.  The ambulatory center was full that morning, so they had to put him in a regular room for his transfusion.  It had been 12 hours since a hematologist/oncologist here in town had confirmed that Richard had leukemia.  And not the good kind.  In another 12 hours, he would be in Baltimore, admitted to Johns Hopkins, but he had to receive some platelets before any doctor would allow him to make the trip.

We were both in a blind panic, but pretending that everything was going to be fine.  Just. Fine. (smile)
His contract at the university had expired on June 30, the day he got the news.  He had a new contract sitting on his boss’ desk,
ready to be signed.  What if she found out that he wasn’t going to be able to teach that semester and pulled the contract…along with his health insurance?  I, in panic mode, suggested he run over and sign it before anyone said a word.  Richard, being honorable, called her to explain the situation.  His boss, also honorable and kind, told him that he was cool–he had a job and insurance and her full support.

Here’s where the stupid utterance comes in.  While Richard was on the phone that day–with his parents, his friends, his boss–he broke the bad news over and over and over.  Even while putting a chipper spin on it, he kept saying, “I have cancer.”

After he hung up with his boss and we took a deep breath about his health insurance coverage, I said, “Stop saying ‘I have cancer.’  You don’t have cancer cancer…you have leukemia.”

He looked at me across the IV pump pushing blood and platelets into his body and replied, “And leukemia is….what?”

“Cancer.”bob ross

We laughed, but I’ll never forget the feelings that were piling up inside me as I sat there by the tidy white bed watching someone else’s blood drip into my sweetheart.  All while he called person after person and said, “I have cancer.”

All of those feelings added up to NO.  No no no no no.  NO.  I refuse to believe this.  No.  Nope nopety no.

I don’t want this to be true.

It’s called denial, and it exercises a powerful pull.  If I can just prevent this from being true for a couple more hours…NO.

I’ve been thinking about the “cancer cancer” conversation over the last few days.  When I wrote about my fears regarding Carlos’ speech problems, several of you who are educators (or with-it moms!) commented about the tendency for people to deny that their child might have a problem.  “He’ll grow out of it.”  “Boys will be boys.”  Teachers dread having to break the news that a kid needs extra help.  I hear you.  I blanched when I got a packet of forms on his first day at the new preschool and the header said “Special Education.”  That voice of denial in my head said, “What??  No.  He’s getting specialized education. Not…that other thing.”

bunnyLa la la la la…my kid is in Specialized Education.  It’s tooooootally different.

Well, regardless what we call it, Carlos will be getting every kind of education we can find for him.  In the words of his pediatrician, “We don’t hide from this.”  I hold on to that.

Being afraid of a word is OK, I guess, as long as I’m not afraid of the work.

 

Pooh Has a Potty Mouth

10 Apr

For at least 20 years, this has been my favorite quote from Winnie the Pooh:

winnie the pooh sure of you

 

but after the last few days, I’m kind of leaning towards this one…

winnie the pooh what day is it

 

 

 

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