Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mama, is that you?

Yesterday, 11:02 AM

On my birthday five weeks after my mother's death, I spent the entire day looking for a sign, any sign, that she was somehow still with me. A moth. A few snowflakes. A sunbeam. Something.

In life, my mother marked my birthday with an early morning call filled with praises for being the cutest newborn ever. I just knew my vivacious, capable mother would find a way to note her presence on this day, because the alternative, that she was really gone, was unthinkable.

I was so highly suggestive that anything really would have worked to reassure me. As the day wore on a growing desperation crept in. In the morning I was hoping for a cardinal, but by the end of the day I would have taken a common crow.

And yet inexplicably that day of all days I saw no birds, no snowflakes, no breeze I could have taken for a caress, nothing.

When my husband came home at six o'clock I went to bed, heartbroken and finally convinced of the finality of her death.

I was thinking about that day yesterday at Goodwill, as I shopped for supplies for a youth group activity. I giggled and thought what a shame that I am no longer in that incredibly suggestive frame of mind, because then I could take the decorative plates as Messages From The Great Beyond.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


If this one were ever to go missing, we'd have to leave lots of room on his poster for his aliases.

Steamboat Willie AKA Willie AKA Will.I.Am AKA William Jefferson Clinton AKA William Shakespeare AKA Willie Nelson  AKA Williams Sonoma AKA HRH Prince William Windsor AKA William Faulkner AKA William G White YMCA

There are many, many more.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rock Star

Trade Street, Saturday, 9:37 PM

Even if we never got to see him on stage, playing to a crowd of swaying, clapping people, Michael "B" Bennett would be considered rock star in our house for the simple and pure kindness he has shown the oldest over the last five and a half years. While their weekly encounters are formally called "guitar lessons", the oldest is also being schooled in far more important things like character and honor, and I cannot thank B enough.

The B String

Friday, August 15, 2014


Sherwood Plaza parking lot, yesterday

If my little cove in Maine were a layer cake, the top layer would be the ocean itself, the gray-blue north Atlantic.

The next layer would be the massive rocks that protruded into the water, smooth edged by the waves. They were submerged during high tide but as the water receded, they were left with mussels clinging to their sides and tidepools all over their tops. This layer was my favorite playground.

The next layer would be the course grains of sand, pebbles and shells, little yellow ones and slightly larger brown ones that were common but beautiful to my eye nonetheless. If you dug down in this layer, you could find clams. Beach glass and beach china proliferated this layer, a treasure trove of I Spy.

The final layer would be the gradually sloping seawall, which curved gently around my cove, protecting the road above from the ocean below, though as a child I assumed it was the other way round. Rivulets of tar from the road seeped along the edge of the seawall. When it was Maine-hot, I never felt it because it was certainly not hot by DC standards, but I'd know it by the aroma of tar and then I'd poke at these puffy rivulets and feel them squish slightly, confirming the weather.

And so the smell of tar is forever linked in my mind to my little cove, which is why I do not mind it in the slightest and in fact inhale deeply and smile.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Little red flag signals DANGER

I've no idea what these evil looking contraptions are, but I did encourage my husband not to stay behind the truck carrying them, lest somehow a freak accident befall me.

Are they for mining? Really deep hole digging? Pulverizing of concrete?

I haven't the foggiest, but I do know the most exciting thing in this photo is beautiful blue sky, something I've not seen in nearly a week.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


noun    \ˈsü-və-ˌnir, ˌsü-və-ˈ\    something that is kept as a reminder of a place you have visited, an event you have been to, etc.  Origin: French, literally, act of remembering

Thirty-five years ago I brought home the brush I use to this day, a bubblegum pink plastic one I bought at the little camp store tucked under the pavilion.

It is so dear to me that I prickle with impending panic if I cannot find it momentarily, which happens regularly as nearly every morning I brush my hair while walking to grab something else I've only just remembered I've forgotten, then lay the brush down in place of the item I've retrieved.

The following morning brings the inevitable hunt, and when after a little bit I finally spot that cheerful pink, I reflexively smile, because not only is my brush an exceptionally pleasant brush to use, it is also the last souvenir I have left from those summers at camp.

Monday, August 11, 2014



I know gobs of other exciting changes have happened, too, but this one almost makes up for having to learn a whole new set of staggeringly different item locations.



My husband and I went on the "Behind the Seeds" tour of the Epcot greenhouses this trip. It was incredibly well done, and at the end we found ourselves in a state of excitement about the future of food plant cultivation and the ramifications for global outreach, an emotional place one doesn't necessarily expect to reach during a Disney trip.

I've long craved a greenhouse of my own, due in no small part to the one at Reynolda Gardens, but now I am completely rethinking what I would put inside it.

Friday, August 08, 2014

So sorry, Donald

Now that we are back from a week at Walt Disney World, it is time for me to begin pounding the pavement in earnest in search of a job. Sadly the very cool character drawing class I attended at Hollywood Studios has made it patently obvious that I can cross satellite Disney artist off the list of career options.

In my defense, you are not allowed an eraser, and the steely gaze of a nearby Cast Member kept me from MacGyvering one. Also the complete absence of MacGyverish materials. And MacGyver style knowledge.

Anyway, we're home!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

NARS Azalea Pink

Digits, Thruway

When I was little, I'd periodically tell my mother that someday I would have a daughter and I would name her Azalea, because I loved the azaleas in our garden and to my ear, their name would make the most beautiful name ever.

That's not a name, she'd say.

Violet is a name. So's Lily, I'd reason.

Yes, but those are flowers. An azalea is a shrub, she'd reply.

My daughter will be the first, I'd declare.

And if you have a son you can name him Boxwood, she'd say.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Salt of the earth, my mother would bellow, because somehow that phrase couldn't be spoken in her normal voice at a normal volume. The person being so described would share one quality with every other person my mother defined thusly -- he or she would live on a farm. Of the earth seemed to be the operating principle rather than salt, and so the people who had little nailbrushes next to the kitchen sink, the people who used lava barsoap regularly, these were the people about whom my mother bellowed.


My father wasn't allowed salt. Instead he took a handful of pills and while he looked healthy to me, my mother would always ask him if he had taken them, did he need water. It's my blood pressure, he would say if he caught me looking. I would salt my food carefully, making sure not to shake the shaker in a way that salt fell astray. I imagined one loose crystal would be enough to kill my father, and I lived in terror of it. The salt would fall in a thick, dense layer, and my mother would say, You've put too much salt, my goodness, take some off. I would use the edge of my knife to scrape and spread, pretending it was like fertilizer for my meat, needing to be put down evenly.


No salty talk, she would say and glare in the rearview when she heard one of us use a word she believed to be leading toward profanity. My mother's definition of salty talk included oh my gosh, dumb, shut up. My brother and I would mouth our salty speak and watch her eyes in the rearview to see if they were upon us. You're stupid, he would enunciate. Your face is stupid, I would reply soundlessly. Zip your lip, he would hiss. Hey I said no salty talk, shooting eye daggers at him while I made the universal haha face of little sisters everywhere.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Or less

Behold, a young patriot looks for opportunities to invigorate our nation's economy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Because happy birthday, but also AMERICA

This weekend George went to a birthday party.

Because he loves the honoree he spent an exceptionally long time making the birthday card.

He then spent an even longer time poking around my enormous container of bargain basement wrapping materials before bringing me his very fine choices and providing clear direction for the final look he envisioned.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

At this time I'd like to thank the heavens for that Hancock Fabric ribbon grab bag I scooped up a few years ago, because I think the eagles in flight are the x factor here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

This kid

Sawtooth, yesterday, 8:23 AM

This child, born much too early, used to fit perfectly on my forearm. I would nestle his head in my palm, and he would draw his legs in, rest his tiny feet against the crook of my elbow and sleep. I would stare at him and physically hurt with love for him.

Now he is a full foot taller than I am. He drives and plays guitar and makes me beautiful things.

Sometimes late at night I tiptoe into his room and peek at him, and no matter that he has changed, a tightening springs to my chest, a dull ache of love.