Friday, July 31, 2009

Writer's Block Friday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

1. I can't stop playing the laundry game on You scavenge for laundry items on other people's pages and then wash them when you have enough. Like I don't have enough real life laundry . . .

2. It's date night!

3. My beloved hairdresser is changing salons again. This is salon number four in 12 years. I am fiercely loyal and the new salon looks nice. The place before last was straight out of Steel Magnolias, which would have been fine if it had been a little less steel and little more magnolia, if you know what I mean.

4. Tried to get Big Daddy to serenade me with Bee Gees this morning. I was hoping for "More Than a Woman." He chose "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart."

5. Is it time for school to start? ECFE? Yes, it's come to that. I'm even ready for ECFE.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Let's Just Be Nice

When I was pregnant with Toddler D, I made a list of things not to tell a pregnant woman. Number one was, "Are you sure you're not having twins?!" I have also created a list of things not to tell a depressed person. My new list is things not to tell a woman heading into her 40's. It's only got one thing on it so far is:

1. Ha! That's nothing. It's going to get a lot worse.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On the Phone

It may be there will be a few someones (my sister, my mother) who disagree with the truth of this statement, but I have something to admit. I don't really like talking on the phone. There. Perhaps you wish to quit reading. You, no doubt, have your cell phone attached to your pocket or purse for easy access.

I do have one, but I don't always know where it is. I certainly don't know my own cell number.

I don't understand the need for certain people in my life to only call me when they are in the car or on the move. It's as though I am not worthy of their at home-sit down time. And maybe that's part of my problem too. I'm just not very good at walking, driving, cleaning, etc, on the phone. I have to sit down somewhere quiet and concentrate. I have a friend who would call pre-cell while she was washing dishes, so there was a constant clatter and rinse going on. Now she only calls while she's driving, or checking out at the store, or ordering at the restaurant. "I'll have the shrimp gumbo. Oh no, not you."

I'm a very good email-er. Almost freakishly compulsive. I hate to think you're sitting there waiting for my reply. Sometimes I tell myself to wait a minute so my reader doesn't think I have been laying with my head on the keyboard waiting for that little chiming sound which means an email has arrived . . . which I have.

I should learn to text better which would be an nice combination of people's cell phone obsession and my email obsession, but I find it too pokey. I'm not coordinated enough with my thumbs. I like to write words out. I like punctuation.

Iv gotta gt W d tyms or gt lft Bhnd

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Good heavens, it's halfway through the day and we haven't had our poem. Colin and his grandma are going to the ballgame this week so let's celebrate with this one:

Casey at the Bat
by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
Taken From the San Francisco Examiner - June 3, 1888

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, "If only Casey could but get a whack at that —
We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat."

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat;
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped —
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one!" the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted some one on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said "Strike two!"

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer has fled from Casey's lip, the teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Post Festival Time

And here we are this year:

I was pretty proud that I thought ahead and had Jeremy take our picture before we got all sweaty looking. We decided to take the photo in front of the planter on the front steps. Yeah, it's right there behind us.

I went out for my walk hoping to find hundred dollar bills left behind by guests in a rush to get out of town. Alas, all I found were beer bottles. I walked a few to the garbage. I'm sure that was a sight -- me striding along with an empty beer bottle in hand.

I have sort of an itch to get back on a festival committee, but as I told our blog reader-sister Molly yesterday, I'm sure if I lay down, it will pass . . .

Friday, July 24, 2009

Festival Time

It is festival time in my Lake Woebegone. In the "real" Lake Woebegone, they celebrate Toast and Jelly Days. Ours has a water theme. I think I've told you before that Brent was the president or Admiral a few years back. They call the spouses First Mates. I've only met one spouse who actually enjoyed being called First Mate.

Jeremy is on his way minus girlfriend Cute As A Button who is on vacation with her family. Shelby has to work. My uncle comes from North Carolina. The town is full of old classmates who are fun and not so fun to see.

I will announce two parades. Brent is emcee of the coronation. My father, the mayor, is highest government official allowed in the parade. Everybody takes part somehow.

Here we are after last year's coronation:

You'll probably laugh at me, but my favorite part is . . . the city cleans the streets. You know, like you might clean your house for company.

Then on Monday, they clean them again. You know . . .like after your company leaves.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

They're So Dear

We had this visitor to our bird feeder last week. That's a photo out the kitchen window. I didn't see it, but Brent said she very politely stuck her tongue out and got a few seeds. She was very welcome to them, but then she walked through my flowers on her way downtown or wherever she went after that.
I'm not a huge gardener. I really like to plant the flowers, but I don't care to tend them. I'll pull a few obvious weeds here and there.
I don't need anyone walking on them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Here's a poem in homage to my town's water festival this weekend.

Halcyon Days
Ogden Nash

How pleasant to sit on the beach,
On the beach, on the sand, in the sun,
With ocean galore within reach,
And nothing at all to be done!
No letters to answer,
No bills to be burned,
No work to be shirked,
No cash to be earned,
It is pleasant to sit on the beach
With nothing at all to be done!

How pleasant to look at the ocean,
Democratic and damp; indiscriminate;
It fills me with noble emotion
To think I am able to swim in it.
To lave in the wave,
Majestic and chilly,
Tomorrow I crave;
But today it is silly.
It is pleasant to look at the ocean;
Tomorrow, perhaps, I shall swim in it.
How pleasant to gaze at the sailors.
As their sailboats they manfully sail
With the vigor of Vikings and whalers
In the days of the Vikings and whale.
They sport on the brink
Of the shad and the shark;
If its windy they sink;
If it isn't, they park.
It is pleasant to gaze at the sailors,
To gaze without having to sail.

How pleasant the salt anesthetic
Of the air and the sand and the sun;
Leave the earth to the strong and athletic,
And the sea to adventure upon.
But the sun and the sand
No contractor can copy;
We lie in the land Of the lotus and poppy;
We vegetate, calm and aesthetic,
On the beach, on the sand, in the sun.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moving Day

Saturday we loaded up my sister Cyberspace Sarah's moving van, so she could move to Wisconsin, which isn't even in Minnesota.

I appointed myself in charge of packing and cleaning the kitchen. I made myself very busy mocking her storage techniques. She stores her groceries like a little chipmunk. Boxes of Jell-O here, here and there. I teased her about her food expiration dates. "When's the last time you had oatmeal? I'll tell you. It was 2002." I found a can of cardamom with a stamped price on the bottom. Not a stamped sticker -- an actual stamp in ink like in pioneer days (not quite) -- and, no, I didn't save it. Certainly it belonged to my mother or grandmother because I would be very surprised to learn that Cyberspace had a need to purchase cardamom during the time they were still using this technique to mark prices.

Then I started to clean -- no, thoroughly scrub every available surface. To say I have shed a few tears over this move is the understatement of the year, but on Saturday I took out my angst by scrubbing.

Then we shut the back of the van and sent them on their way . . . to Wisconsin . . . which isn't even in Minnesota.

This is a good move for them. I'm sure I'll get used to it. One of these days I'll figure out that they aren't really on vacation, and they aren't coming back to their little house across from the elementary school.

One of my fellow movers said, "I don't like this." I tried as gently as I could to say that I didn't think it was really about what we did or did not like. It was about Sarah and Brennan. He didn't buy it . . . but I still think that's probably the truth.

Friday, July 17, 2009

VBS Day 5: Reenlistment

On Monday morning, I went to the website of our VBS company because I wanted to check a couple of things. I thought to myself, "Maybe I will retire from Vacation Bible School. I get so tired. Everything on home gets put on hold. It's just so crazy." As I thought this a tiny window popped up on the website with a preview of their 2010 theme.

A large pelican sailed by on his Bible voyage ship.


I can't miss that.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

VBS Day 4: The Lightbulb

I realized yesterday that although I was getting up bright and early for VBS, I was not going to bed any earlier. If you have ever lived with me, you know I am an 8-9 hour sleeper. The way it was this week I was getting maybe seven hours. This was bad and did not work and was bad, in case you missed it the first time.
Last night I went to bed earlier and things went much, much better today.
I have quite a bit of education, you know, but that doesn't mean very much real life, does it?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

VBS Day 3: Starting to Snap

I was really looking forward to our closing group time today. I was to pour an entire pitcher of water over a child standing in a pool holding a red umbrella. This was all symbolic of the Passover. Unfortunately as I started to pour the water trickled off the umbrella, over the pool and onto the tarp I had thoughtfully placed under the pool.

"JUST DUMP IT ALREADY!" some kid shouted. I almost walked out into the crowd and dumped the water over him. This wasn't going the way I planned.

Oh, I wouldn't have really done it, but we are getting to that stage of VBS when some of the bloom is off the rose. They want bigger, better, faster entertainment and I am starting to lose my sense of humor. When I asked for applause for the little volunteer under the umbrella some boys booed the poor thing. We stopped and had a teachable moment.

I guarantee you next Monday, I will have promised to do it all over again next year.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

VBS Day 2: Still Tired

I have the best job at Vacation Bible School. I lead the opening and closing large group times. I don't mind getting up in front of a group. I don't mind doing silly actions to a song. I don't mind preventing Skeeter, the Bayou comedic relief, from spraying "skunk spray" over the preschoolers. I don't even mind telling the adults over and over and over, "For the safety of the children, please do not use this door. No really. No, I am talking to you. No, not today either. Is there some other way I can say this?"

And you know it takes quite a bit to get my "precious meter" going, but standing in front of 250+ kids watching them sing songs from their hearts makes getting up at 6 a.m. all worth while.

But it takes a lot out of an introvert like me. People think you can't be an introvert and stand in front of large groups. Not true. Not true. What better way to avoid one on one conversation?

I had a meeting at church after VBS today and so I was scrounging up some lunch for myself made out of left over snacks. Robin, who is in charge of snacks (a job I would not want -- all those kids, all those food allergies, all that pickiness, all that prep work) said, "Mary Lisa, there's a Diet Coke in the fridge." Oh, friends and loved ones, it was though the heavens had parted and I could see a sunbeam of angelic light on Robin's face.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Let it Shine

Vacation Bible School (VBS) started today. I got up at six, so I could get my morning walk in and then I was as exuberant as I could be to lead opening and closing exercises. (They don't call it that, but you know what I mean.) Now I am tired.

I've always liked VBS. I even liked Ellen Swanson VBS. Ellen was our "church lady." We sang endless, endless choruses of God is So Good. (He cares for me . . . I'll do His will . . . I love him so.) We also sang endless, endless choruses of This Little Light of Mine, (Hide it under a bushel . . . . Won't let Satan . . . Shine it all over Glenwood . . .Pope County . . . Minnesota, etc, etc.), so when I discovered that This Little Light was going to be one of our songs this year, I cringed slightly.

As you saw from the Toddler D video, this version of Little Light has a bayou back beat. The kids are supposed to stomp their feet, then clap. Oh, the poor dears. This was too much. They clapped, then stomped. I tried to get them to practice. They did beautifully . . . then we'd start the music. Back to clap - stomp.

We have all week to practice.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Birthday Pre-teen

It's a good day to turn 11 which is what Colin has decided to do today. He makes a very good 11. He has started a little eye rolling. A little foot stomping. I've seen it with Jeremy and Shelby, so it doesn't surprise or particularly offend me. He's a very good boy. A very talented kid. I'm terribly biased.

It was a stinky hot day when he was born. I started labor around midnight Wednesday night. I got up at the crack of dawn and took a shower to get ready to become a mother in what I assumed would be a few hours on Thursday. It was early Friday before Colin decided he would consent to be born. It took two doctors and a vacuum. I was exhausted and thought, perhaps, I had changed my mind about the whole thing.

I remember getting in the car with him in the back seat. "I've never been a mother before, but you've never been a baby either. If you'll be patient with me, I'll do my best." And I have tried with more success sometimes than others. There have been times my temper got the better of me and I forgot who was the mature adult and who was the child. There have been times when I have been too strict and times when I have not been strict enough. Together we have made it through babyhood, the toddler years, nursery school and the first day of kindergarten. Colin has done things his own way and in his own time. So have I.

I've no doubt the "tween" years will be the same.

Happy Birthday, my very special promise from God.

Photo by Rachel, AKA Cute As A Button.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Man in the Mirror

A bit of a sick sinus headache had me propped up in bed for all two and a half hours of Michael Jackson memorial Tuesday afternoon. I told you last week, I was a big fan back in the day. I am of the opinion Michael was probably "not well" and I don't mean in the physical sense. He had enough money and yes-people around him, so it didn't really matter most of the time.

In spite of my lack humor over being in bed, I found myself chuckling quite a bit as each and every performer came out to try and out do the last.

Mariah Carey clearly does not know what a gal wears to a daytime funeral. Her dress was sequined with cleavage down to there.

Singer Usher movingly sang his way down to the casket for a perfect photo op.

Brooke Shields does know what to wear to a funeral, but as I watched I thought maybe even her tears were rehearsed. "And now I cry here."

Rep Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas came out in blazing white and rambled on about . . . oh, I stopped listening . . . and then presented the Jackson family with a beautifully framed House resolution . . . that has not yet passed.

Even Stevie Wonder chose red sunglasses to offset his black suit.

Every person did his or her best to have loved Michael better or to have sung his song prettier or to wear the clothes that will capture the attention of the Associated Press photographer.

Oh, I don't need to be so critical. I have no doubt all these people were mourning in their own way. They are show biz people. They were born to want to stand out in the crowd. If I would tell the truth, I like to stand out in the crowd too.

But here's the thing: For all the good things Michael did, for all the beautiful people he knew, for all the great music, for all the glowing tributes . . . he has died . . . as will we all. And I believe what Pastor Lucious Smith said in his closing prayer, "Even now the King of Pop must bow his knee to the King of Kings."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Practicing for VBS

If you can, please explain to me how this child is literally causing me to lose my hair . . . and yet also regularly sends me collapsing on the floor in fits of laughter. Here we are practicing the song actions for Crocodile Dock Vacation Bible School next week. I will be leading the large group opening and closing times. Toddler D is too young to go, so he is my number one song action learning helper. In case you don't catch it, this is "This Little Light of Mine" with a bayou-style back beat.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

I don't generally love the 20th Century poets. They lived through such hard times. All that beatnik-ing in the 50s and cultural chaos in the 60s, but I got out a book of modern verse for us to take a look at over the next few weeks. Here's one by Edna St Vincent Millay that reminded me of my own love of George Gershwin.

On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven
Edna St Vincent Millay

Sweet sounds, oh, beautiful music, do not cease!
Reject me not into the world again.
With you alone is excellence and peace,
Mankind made plausible, his purpose plain.
Enchanted in your air benign and shrewd,
With limbs a-sprawl and empty faces pale,
The spiteful and the stingy and the rude
Sleep like the scullions in the fairy-tale.
This moment is the best the world can give:
The tranquil blossom on the tortured stem.
Reject me not, sweet sounds; oh, let me live,
Till Doom espy my towers and scatter them,
A city spell-bound under the aging sun.
Music my rampart, and my only one.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Patriotic Duty Spending

We celebrated July 4th early on the 3rd. That's the way Big Daddy and I are. We are non-conformists. We had a lovely time at our friends' summer home eating tasty crackers made in a garbage bag and sipping a lovely orangey cocktail which made my headache (and any other ache I might have been having which we shall not speak of in mixed company) slip away gently into that good night. Here is our hostess, beloved blog reader-sister Molly, standing next to her mother Grandma Bonnie:

And it looks like Colin is back there if you look hard enough. A swell time was had by all and we were home in bed by bedtime. Hooray!

On the actual fourth of July we loaded the boys into the car and went to Minnesota's largest furniture store. I'm sorry. I don't know what to tell you. That's what we did. It was time for us to stimulate the economy and invest in a new kitchen table. When you like to travel as much as we do, home decorating gets pushed to the bottom of your financial priorities. That's why I have unmatched bedroom furniture which sits atop orange carpet.

This furniture store is so large it has maps, a tour guide and a model home inside it. Boys in tow we followed the map to the "dining area," spotted our new table, made arrangements for delivery in 6-8 weeks, ate ice cream in the restaurant and came home to watch A Capitol Fourth on PBS. A swell time was had by most and we were home in bed by bedtime. Hooray!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Colin mows lawn!

Just in case you are starting to worry that I've forgotten Colin this week, I haven't. The trouble is he's all pre-teen now. He's going to be 11 next week, and he's trying very hard to not be noticed lest he be pushed into service with some sort of chore.

Here he is delighted to be mowing the lawn:

"Delighted" may not be entirely the truth, but he did it.

Our dear friend Merle, who works with the airline industry gave Colin a pair of honest-to-goodness tarmac guy orange ear muffs when he was small. I cannot tell you how many thunderstorms and other loud noises those things have saved us from. Last year they were the gotta have it ear protection for a guy forced to mow lawn. This year, his concern about how he looks to the neighbors seems to outweigh any bothersome lawn mower noise.

It's a bittersweet thing. My baby is aware that some of what feels causes him to act in ways that make him stand out from the crowd. What an awful thing to understand. Yet, my child is also learning that there are times when he can take control of his behavior, even if he doesn't particularly feel like it.

It's a lesson some "normal" adults I know could use.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Toddler D: Food visionary

I've never eaten a frozen waffle that was still . . . frozen. Toddler D did yesterday. Got it out of the freezer himself. Had me open the package. He took one out and went into the other room. I took one out and put in the toaster for him. I was surprised he wanted one. I've made him frozen waffles before -- all buttery and dripping with syrup. He never ate them.

When I went on the other room to see where he had left the decidedly untasty frozen waffle, this is what I found:

Here I've been getting all crazy with the toasting and the buttering. Who knew motherhood could be so simple.

Here, kid. Lunch is served.