Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advent Is Here? Christmas Is Coming? Huh?

C.S. Lewis used the time after his wife's death to write A Grief Observed. It isn't one of my favorites of his, but it's pretty good—and "pretty good" for him is "astoundingly wonderful" for anybody else, in my book.

But I'm not C.S. Lewis. (Shocker, huh?) I feel numb, and I have trouble using my words, which is a strange thing for me. I just feel numb. Tired, too, and maybe a bit sick, as if I have a cold that stuffs up my head with cotton, hay, and rags, as are women's heads in Professor Henry Higgins's world.

O come, O come, Emmanuel? Who's that? What could come to this fog? Why is everybody else putting lights up when there will never be any more light, ever? How can everybody outside my family be excited about something that will never be the same for the rest of my life?

How can I sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Stuff They Said

Because Rosie challenged people to write up their favorite kids' utterances, I need to put down some of the things my own kids said. They're part of family lore and so I'm sure that Patrick (our firstborn) will take issue with some or all of them.
Speaking of Patrick, check out my favorite story about him. I can't write it up any better than he did! By the way, in the story, "Charlotte" is actually Rosie.

Patrick is also known for another wonderfully embarrassing story. When he was about three (and no, Patrick, I don't remember exactly how old you were), he and I were at a wedding rehearsal in a church that we did not attend. I don't remember why we were there, but I know we were waiting for somebody to be finished. So we marked time in the back of the church. We were right behind somebody we didn't know, somebody with shortish dirty-blond-gray hair and a corduroy blazer.

Patrick got more and more interested in this person. Suddenly, he asked, "Are you a man or a woman?"

If only the earth could have opened up and swallowed us both! But no, my world continued to exist. And I couldn't say to Patrick, "Honey, how can you say that? S/he is obviously a woman/man." Because I had no idea! Talk about Pat of SNL! So I apologized profusely to the person. Thank God, he was nice about it! He responded kindly to Patrick, "I'm a man. What are you?" Patrick responded helpfully, "I'm a boy." And they went on to have a pleasant conversation.

If I had been a more experienced parent, I would have known that embarrassment was about to ensue; I would just taken us to another part of the church. But then I would not have this story to tell, so it's just as well.
A very young Meg once referred to her Aunt Miriam's cat as Minganoose. Her name was actually Marigold. We still refer to that now-deceased cat as Minganoose.

When she was about three, she had diarrhea and we needed to check her poop every time she went on the toilet. We had to see if she was ready to eat fiber-filled food again.

So when we were at her paternal grandparents' house and she used the toilet, she rejoined the family by saying loudly, "Daaaaaaddy, wanna see my good poooooops?"
In our family, Rosie is famous for her many non sequiturs. We realized later that she had several tracks of conversation going on in her head at once and figured that everybody else was like her. She has now learned to harness that talent for good and not for eeeeevil. But when she was six, in 1992, not so much. While we were all in the car and her parents were looking for the correct exit, Rosie piped up: "Why does Ross Perot have such big ears?"

This one comes from when Rosie was about three. "Mouses don't have bottoms. They pee on a shark." We still have no idea where that came from.

Some more Rosie-isms:
bret-thixt (breakfast)
nose-ills (nostrils)
fidgerdrater (refrigerator)
Timmy has always been very protective of his sisters, especially Rosie. When the kids were two, four, six, and eight, Patrick and Meg were on a softball team. We all went to their games, and Jonathan generally took the younger two somewhere nearby to play. It was high summer, and Timmy was wearing nothing but a droopy diaper. An older boy, maybe five years old, hit Rosie and walked away. Little Timmy ran after him as fast as he could, which wasn't very fast. When he finally caught up to the boy, Timmy yelled at him, "Boy, don't hit Yodie!"

The boy ran to a woman who was probably his mother. Jonathan didn't hear exactly what she said, but he could see the boy crying and pointing at Timmy. The woman pointed at Timmy, made a gesture indicating how short Timmy was, and then seemed to ask her son, "What, that little boy? That one? You're worried about him?" Hey, lady, you don't mess with Timmy's sister!

The summer between Meg's ninth and tenth grades, she was assigned to read Hiroshima, which is about exactly what you would think. Timmy was not yet twelve and a prodigious reader. Before we knew he was reading it, he had finished it. He told his daddy, "Don't let Rosie read it. It is too sad. It would make her upset."
Okay, nothing really cute there, even though my kids said many, many cute and funny things. Maybe I'll remember them some other day. In the meantime, as Rosie says, go to Rosie's blog and "[a]dd a link to post about funny things your kids (or husbands or friends or you) have said—we could all use a little more laughter!"

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Twenty Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

Rabia blogged in January about this. Naturally, it takes me forever to do anything. I wouldn't be surprised if I never finish it. Anyway . . . 
  1. I spent part of a college summer counting earthworms for my dad.
  2. Cilantro tastes like soapy water to me.
  3. The smell of cooked cauliflower, broccoli, and (especially) brussels sprouts turns my stomach.
  4. On the other hand, talking about and seeing blood, gore, poop, bodily functions, etc. doesn't put me off my feed.
  5. Okay, now you're grossed out. Let's switch gears. I love doing origami, especially on those pretty, delicate, special origami papers.
  6. And snickerdoodles. Nothing comes close to my mother's recipe. 
  7. On the other hand, I am annoyed, even angered, by soppy memes about how all mothers love their kids and all grandmothers adore their grandchildren. 
  8. I can't draw to save my life, but I love great art.
  9. That doesn't include Hummels, Precious Moments, or anything with big-eyed children.
  10. I was once strip-searched. (It's a great story.)
  11. I carpeted my tenth-grade locker with actual Turkish carpet.
  12. I was confirmed by the bishop of Paris. (As an Episcopalian, that is.)
  13. If I were ever forced to go to a fancy function at somewhere like the White House, I could manage so well that you wouldn't know how much I hated it.
  14. Anapestic tetrameter, dactylic hexameter, etc.—I know the five main kinds of English poetic meter and tricks on how to identify them.
  15. I've sung in a (mostly) black gospel choir and a touring college choir. I even directed a select girls' group for a while.
  16. I am sad that I can never again visit four of the schools I attended; they've been given back to the Germans.
  17. I love the way coffee smells, but I drink it only to stay awake and only with lots of cream and sugar, because it tastes horrible otherwise.
  18. I can't stand the idea of wearing make-up or perfume, and I rarely wear jewelry other than my wedding ring.
  19. I can make my elbows bend in a way that will freak you out.
  20. If you ask me where I'm from, I have to make a split-second determination—how much information do you really want?
Now you try it! And link back here!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Always the Oddball

One of the themes of my life has been that I'm never really in the majority of a group of people. I seem to be placed outside the majority so that I can explain the minority to them.

That may not make sense to you. So let me explain.

As a child on Army posts, I was an oddball because my dad was high-ranking. (I'm not saying what rank he had. There may be other military brats reading this. Eventually, anyway.)

When I didn't live on post, I was an oddball because I was an Army brat.

At school, I was an oddball because I'm very academically adept. I'm also a social misfit.

In college, I was finally with a bunch of other academic types—but I was a Christian, so that made me an oddball.

And then I got married at 23 and proceeded to try to have babies immediately. People in my socio-economic circle just didn't do that. My husband and I were often the youngest parents in our kids' schools.

Four children? That's a bit much, isn't it? Yeah. Oddball again.

When I finally found a company to stick with, I stopped being one of the mainstream (reporter) and started being outside the big school of fish when I became a technical writer. Oddball! But this was when I realized that I was really put here on earth to explain one set of people to another.

Then I left that company to become an ESL/ESOL teacher. Those teachers are kind of oddballs, just as the students are. And I was even more of an oddball because I was 50 when I became a teacher, coming from business instead of straight from college and student teaching. Never mind that I was working on my master's in curriculum and instruction. Oddball!

Then I left that school (oh, I loved it so much!) to move 100 miles away to the Shenandoah Valley. Big city girl in the country. Guess what I am here!

Now I'm raising pumpkins, but I'm trying to do it organically. It looks like organic farmers and traditional farmers don't talk to each other. None of my Valley friends knows an organic farmer, and I'm looking for one to mentor me. I bet I'll be put in a position of explaining each group to the other.

Incidentally, I think I know part of why I wasn't able to find a regular job. My husband's health, always precarious, seems to have taken a turn for the worse. I need to be available to take him to doctors, because he hasn't driven for years and also because his memory is starting to go. I'm sure I'll find a way to be an oddball in this position somehow. Don't you think so?

Friday, September 6, 2013

What does God want?

Every now and then I think about whether I ought to have a blog so that I can get others' feedback and prayers and all that good stuff. And then I think noooooo. Because I don't have a theme. I just have my life. Welcome to it, by the way!

One recurring theme in my life over the past six years is trying to do what God wants. I never asked God about moving out here. I just wanted to come here so much that I let my heart lead. My husband (Jonathan) wanted to come, too. And we both just love it here. But God does not necessarily call one to happiness, no matter how warm and fuzzy that sounds.

Then we moved here and everything was wonderful! Except that I couldn't find a job. Then I found a part-time job that I loved, but it couldn't support us. Then after a year here, I found a job teaching, but it wasn't the kind of teaching I wanted, and it didn't work out. I loved working for the Census, but that stuff mostly ends when the every-ten-years thing ends. I kept not getting jobs for which I applied, both teaching and writing jobs, so I started my own writing and editing company. That's still going, but it isn't doing well. I started a pumpkin patch this year, and I love it, but I don't know if I'll even break even.

We do have savings, even now. However, I'm only 57, and our savings will not last forever. Jonathan is disabled with no income—even if he could get disability (for which he has been turned down twice), it probably wouldn't be more than a couple of hundred dollars a month, which may seem worth the time to you but to me is just one more thing to do.

So that's the drill. I still absolutely love living here, but I like to plan my life, and there is a complete lack of plan. What the heck does God want?