Summer Break is Near. Thank God.

me

Dear Hours that I used to Have to Blog,

It’s been a good, but busy few months. I miss you, and apologize for ignoring you.

Here’s the thing – I’ve been trying to balance an increasing work schedule and am now going back to college.

None the less, it is You (Hours that I used to Have to Blog), my darling, and you alone who was responsible for being able to still my spinning head and heart after our big move to the banks of the Mississippi. Fear not – I remember. And, just like my mom did, I’m saving my favorite other thing for the summers now that my school years are locked and loaded. Her favorite other thing was her garden. Art of course was her favorite thing.

8

Now that the moving truck dust has settled, I am clear that learning is my favorite thing.

grad

And, like my father – solitude is what keeps me sane. So – I’d like to R.S.V.P. a date with you for approximately whenever school is out and before we start our summer of many travels….

It will only be a few weeks for us to enjoy the silence and stillness, but I promise to do my best to listen to you and make the right call.

Rosie Red card

 

Sincerely,

Your friend,

Kate

Advertisements

I Have a Lenten Plan…..

image
(image from This Quiet Lady by Anita Loebel

In a flurry of trying to call in sick to work and the college class I’m taking, two of the texts I got back said:

1: Yikes!

and the other:

2: Feel better.

I’ve decide that these three words are going to somehow become my theme for this year’s Lenten observance. I’m not sure what will come of these thoughts. But, one of the good things about having bursts of unthinkable busyness is that it gives something to reflect on when those calendar pages are done and turned.

If life were different I would challenge myself to blog along the way to this Easter.

My intuition tells me to stay focused on the marathon spring ahead for our family, and enjoy that circus until school’s end.

A teaching mentor and dear friend who held me on his shoulders when I was a wee lass sets those boundaries to prevent total exhaustion. Creative juices go wild in the summer. This was my mother’s creative calendar too now that I think of it…

In any case. I miss the solitude of connecting with others and the spirit while writing and posting, yet am so thankful for the way life has fallen together for me and interrupted my blogging journal tool.

My Family Brought Me Home From the Beach

20130630-084422.jpg

Oh.

And this is what they got me for Mother’s Day 2013. I call my sweet new to us ride:

“Monsieur Percy PanFromage”.

In English that means

“Mr. Bread Cheese”.

Don’t tell anyone, but our first trip “to the store” was an accidental side trip to Le Claire, Iowa.

We got a pizza on the way home.

Safe travels to all.

Lucky Girl am I

family 005

Psalm 96:7-10
New International Version (NIV)

7 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.

The next couple of weeks mark a couple of important anniversaries for me. The first one is that today is my mother’s birthday. The other is that our youngest son was born eleven years ago, as of this month.

This youngest son asks frequently which ancestor he is more “like.” He has so many great shoes to fill, so I try to down play the question when I can and apply the “Free to Be You and Me” values that my brother and I were raised by:

(Hedging what I’m really thinking) :

 

“Well, let’s see. When Uncle Mike was your age he would have been complaining just like you did a minute ago about only having a hand full over friends over to play rather than the entire dah – gum neighborhood. Go get dressed, we’ll talk about this later”.

What I often think when this one

behaves, misbehaves, entertains and confounds me is:

“Good Lord this one reminds me so much of mom.”

Here is where I’m coming from: outlandish, outspoken, gregarious to a fault most days, ready to debate to the death if it is an issue they value, and expansive at a minimum. They both are, and were the kind of smart that frustrates a kid because he is, and she was the type of child who stays in constant motion. I don’t mean hyper energy as often as the kind which is about finding a personal dance groove while the rest of the world is saying “line up time.”

As a matter of fact just yesterday after school he was relieved about the ending of another school week and was doing a little shimmy in the front seat of the van and telling me to watch, but not really watch. (“Like it or not mom, I’m a preteen now.”)

Payback for having gained those sort of “watching while not watching” skills with his brothers was that after we got home, out there kind of guy that he is, he called me aside to showed me the exact dance move that he used in gym yesterday. I was impressed actually. He also said that they are currently doing basketball, so I said a quick Hail Mary for his young gym teacher and went back to wandering in circles around unfinished chores.

Just a minute ago, while grabbing some food for same said kid, I got to thinking:

Maybe it’s not that they are so much alike, although they are…

maybe it’s that this youngest son and my favorite mom draw me out of myself in the same way.

 

Both of their high fives tend to be all enthusiasm and not very critical. When they feel successful in getting me out “there,” wherever “there” may be – they tend to have a party of their own in the wings so I get a quick “woo hoo” and off they go.

I like that.

The photo above is of me and our neighbor. Pretty gal isn’t she? Lucky girl was, and still am I. Agreed?

Holiday Stress? Watch the Roches Perform Handel’s Hallelujah

Our family had a very, very challenged couple of weeks as we awaited Santa. It feels like Jesus came tumbling by way of a King’s Island roller coaster this year.

On my side of the family – no hitches: all three major trans USA move transitions went fine. All systems, go, go go! (Doing the thankful daughter/sister/mom dance in my mind because when I try to do even a mini office chair samba my brain sort of explodes and my hip dislocates a bit).

Why even try to samba? Because my people are happy and that’s the goal:

1. My brother is in proud dad heaven as my niece grabbed the golden ring of what she wants to do with her life, 2. My cousin who survived hurricane Irene on Long Isle and I still love each other more than anyone, 3. My aunt and uncle’s children seem to be doing especially well this year, and,

4. My father?! Holy smokes. When I talked to him on Christmas day he sounded happier than he has, honestly,

since well before my mother died of colon cancer eight years ago.

What favorite daughter of the best dad in the world isn’t trying to reach THAT brass ring? Eh?

John Fugiel troop Douglas McEwan photog.With a little bit of help from my brother and I, his perfectly laid out plan to organize, sell his home and move permanently to Florida is, as he would say: “Finito!” Done.

It worked! The rewards of his hard work to grieve and retire at the same time seem to be that his new neighbor Rose loves him (he killed and threw away the scary dead snake in the road), my cousins went from enjoying to adoring his company (he reminds them of our grandfather), and even dad’s doctors love him it seems. (Aka: He is being compliant to their plans and in return his kidney disease issues are at a standstill for now).

In addition, though his favorite new walking park let him down mightily by closing off a path so they could chase away alligators by draining a pond, his life seems to be moving at his perfecto pace at last. Hell. After two years of weekly poker losses, he says that he’s now even winning some card hands now.

If you’ve ever met my dad even once for ten minutes, you’d agree that his life is now wonderful indeed.

Boo, and YA world! High fives all around the globe.

I imagine that you, whoever you are: stranger or not, I imagine that you are staring at your PhoneComputerTouch screen and thinking, “and this made your 2012 Christmas a disaster because…?”

…there’s more of course.

On my adoring Sleigh Driver’s side of the family, elder care issues

have come home to roost in epic proportion.

If your Christmas celebrations have you feeling like this:

(click the word BESTBEST if you have 5 minutes to watch and hear a righteous cool Handel’s Messiah rendition.Thank you SO much @JamesMartinSJ and @suzzyroche – that tweet share last night has me confused about whether or not this is the best or worst Christmas season I’ve celebrated in my 45 years.)

Or, if you feel a bit guilty that you didn’t have a crappy or complicated holiday season, just google

sudden onset of dementia

and your heart will break just enough to empathize with my favorite husband.

He has a very, very large German family in a lovely rural Appalachian corner of Ohio. We have all helped take care of his grandmother for a couple of years now as she has had some health issues. Despite those efforts, she has suddenly become what I can only describe as a five foot GermanHandful of frustration and occasional cuteness.

She was and will always be the Matriarch of, I exaggerate not, dozens, which if you count the great-great-greats, is probably more like hundreds.

But. She apparently kept us all fooled that it was perfect apple pie that was keeping us in line and clicking our rosaries for the last 100 years. It was actually her mind.

Over the past 20 years she has become blind, deaf, and in the last year or so has developed mobility issues. We’re trying to figure out what she needs most, and my SO not an “expert at geriatric care” opinion is that “Little Grandma” has been suffering from some normal oxygen loss which results in tired thinking issues. In turn, this is creating a sudden onset of dementia that is moving faster than is easy to manage for her two daughters.

I didn’t expect that my mother in law and I would be at her kitchen table trying to figure out if all of a sudden Little Grandma has Alzheimer’s or not.

You’d think since my mother in law is a librarian and I’ve mostly been a teacher or student we could combine our tired noggins and figure that out at least a little bit.

Not so much over just one cup of lukewarm peppermint tea.

For now, my approach is going to be to watch and re-watch that music video of the Roches singing Alleluia that I found on Twitter while finally giving myself a Christmas sixty minutes alone.

Joy Comes With the Morning

Photo by David Roncolato

Psalm 30:5

 

“Weeping may linger for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.”

A few of the things that have never failed to bring me joy are:

~ groups of noisy chirping birds that I can’t find

~ being a back up alto for James Taylor

~ staring at old photos

~ reaching the end of a good novel

~ waking up before anyone else

Writing.

I like to write.

And now, I like to make friends with other writers. Many of them are being nice right back to me.

Your best writing reflects your genuine heart.

~ Jim Brennan

That hasn’t been my experience with all artists, and I am lucky enough to have friends of each variety: actors, musicians, potters, photographers, dancers…

I’m sure that after some thought I would figure out that one type of artist isn’t more generous than the next. People are just who they are when it really comes down to it all.

But, I’m starting to wonder if part of the reason I am really starting to enjoy writing is that it is like theater. Unless it’s a grocery list, there needs to be an audience for most writing worth the work. So, having the confidence to either ask or give feedback is not that different from having the confidence to hit the stage and find out that the audience either loves or doesn’t love the performance.

With that thought, I’m now remembering how during those theater days of my childhood until early adulthood, experiencing joy was as easy as saying yes to my sons when they ask to play in the rain.

What did I have to lose after all of those hours of rehearsal? Not much. Most things were fun, exactly for the sake of being fun.

Joy doesn’t always come easily.

I guess that is what I’m trying to say. Life is full of complex and tough stuff.

Some days and life stages can seem like a sad night that will never, ever end.

And other times, can be as light as the photo of my friends who found a water fountain amidst the heat wave last week.

These are my thoughts this morning, and guess what? The sun is up, the birds are making a racket outside, and (shh), I have a few more minutes to myself.

Forgiveness Friday: James W. Riley about Happy Boys

Nothing Like a fresh diaper to make a brother coo.

The smiling face of a happy boy

   With it’s enchanted key

Is now unlocking in memory

My store of heartiest joy.

And my lost life again to-day,

In pleasant colors all aglow,

From rainbow tints, to pure white

snow,

Is a panorama sliding away.

The whistled air of a simple tune

Eddies and whirls my thoughts

around,

As fairy balloons of thistle-down

Sail through the air of June.

Oh happy boy with untaught grace!

What is there in the world to give

That can buy one hour of the life

you live

Or the trivial cause of your smiling face!

If James Whitcomb Riley is not on your list of sweet guys (besides Twain) that came from the midwest, you might want to rearrange your post-it notes and move Riley to the top.

I’m fairly biased because my grandmother grew up next door to his house in Indianapolis and was one of the neighborhood children that he taught his poems to and shared readings with back, back in the day.

In turn, my father learned how to read Riley’s poems from his mother with intonations that were intended by the author himself, well, golly, are we talking a century ago? Yup. ’bout that!

The good news is that my father is en route to visit me here in Iowa, today’s windstorm has passed and I’m almost done mopping the floors.

The sad news is that a friend of my father’s, a best friend really, died last weekend. They were coworkers who taught at Allegheny College in Meadville Pennsylvania. They taught them to, of all things, speak! Jim taught speech, and my father theatre.

So, part of our visit will include looking up a particular poem that my father will be reading at Jim’s memorial service.

I do appreciate boys with untaught grace. What a lovely turn of words, yes?

10,000 Maniacs

I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday.

I’m working on a Forgiveness Friday post called, umm. I’ve forgotten what it is titled, but it is about my efforts in the new year to plug into my sixth grade powerful writer self.

Sorry, but the post will be belated, as it is Saturday, we got a beautiful dump of snow that has yet to be played in, the house needs to be cleaned, and, and…

Want to see what I found when I was checking to see if I’ve scanned any photos of me during my First District Elementary days?

10,000 college maniacs

A pack of wild college kids…looks like an after the show party. Who knows what we were proud to have performed.