Monday, October 31, 2011

Seasons on the Block

Yesterday, some of our neighbors had a Halloween party for the kids on our block. With winter just around the corner, I realized that we're about the enter the four or five month period where we just don't see our neighbors that much, except for the times we have to dig out our street together to move cars for a snow emergency. When we resurface again in April, the kids will all be bigger and the adults (and our houses) will seem a little more worn around the edges. This the yearly rhythm on our block. After a couple of nights of raucous candy gorging, we are about to slide into the quiet time.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why Is It Funny? I Don't Know. It Just Is.

In my first job out of college, I worked for a large corporation. The work wasn't particularly exciting, but I had a lot of fun because I shared a workspace in the cube farm with three other twenty-somethings who were just as misfit for corporate work as I was. We made each other laugh a lot, often by inventing silly games. One of my favorite games we played was called "Names That Are Verbs."

The rules were simple: shout out any name that you could think of that was also a verb. Of course there were the obvious ones: Rob, Pat, or Sue for example. Because it was an oral game, the homophones were particularly delicious: Phil, Wayne, Carrie, and (one of my all time favorites) Russell. I also loved Bea, the only intransitive verb, lovely in its existential simplicity.

I hadn't thought about that game for a while until recently during our explorations for names for our current baby-to-be. I had the magnificent delight of discovering a new one: Neil.

I still giggle when I think about it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Birthdays and Half Birthdays

I spent the morning of the day after my birthday listening to the heartbeat of the baby that's growing inside me. If all goes as expected, we'll welcome our sixth family member somewhere around my half birthday at the end of April.

I'm happy to be firmly planted in the second trimester now. The first one was a little rough and I didn't feel much like going on adventures or writing or taking pictures or pretty much anything besides lying down to calm the seasickness and fatigue. Charlie was very patient, especially when Mama would randomly fall asleep during the day. He's also been a really fun side kick to take to prenatal visits. He's got some very cool ideas about what exactly the baby is doing in my belly right now. I think that he's going to be a natural at being a big brother just like our other two seasoned big brothers.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

I like 38

I've been looking forward to this birthday. There's just this feeling I've had that this is going to be a good age for me. I like being young enough that my body still mostly does all the things I want it to do and old enough that it's not all about my body (or face, or hair) any more. I can't say that I've achieved any sort of perfect zen-style enlightenment, but what I have developed is a cool, calm governing voice (the inner wise woman) that counters my swirling emotions with a level head and a great deal of compassion. I like that woman. She helps me like me, and she helps me like others.

I can't say I have a bunch of goals for this year or this time of my life. Mostly I'm just grateful for the way every day seems so rich, especially the ordinary ones. I'm savoring the place that I'm in right now and know things will change when it's time for them to change. It's funny how as you age and have less time, the less of a hurry it all seems.
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Friday, October 14, 2011


I find that when I am seeking answers from the back catalogs of human wisdom I tend to consult artists rather than "experts." The priests of religion and the priests of science, the pundits and self-help gurus forget that their task is to construct useful paradigms to describe the indescribable. They practice idolatry when they mistake their frameworks and tools as ultimate reality itself. Artists have the good sense to merely point to the thing - "Look at that!" Artists remind me, when I am lost, that living my life is how I'm supposed to find the way. When the world has knocked off the glasses from my myopic eyes, the best way to achieve clarity is to take a few steps closer to what I want to see.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Butterfly Weed Seed Pod

While playing ball outside with Charlie yesterday, I noticed a stage in the life cycle of my butterfly weed that I'd never seen before. Once again, I am grateful to live in a neighborhood that doesn't mind the fact that I care way less about landscaping than I do about the amazing canvas of plant biology that is happening in my yard.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011


"It isn't until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems - the ones that make you truly who you are - that you're ready to find a life-long mate. Only then do you know what you're looking for. You're looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person - someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, 'This is the problem I want to have."

Andrew Boyd, Daily Afflictions

"True love is not the kind of thing you should turn down.
Don't ever turn it down."

The Avett Brothers, "January Wedding"

I have to be careful in the fall. Transformative stuff can happen in my life when the leaves begin to turn red because sometimes the universe has things in mind for me. Maybe it's because I was born in the fall, or because I'm so sensitive to the decline of the light, or because it's a natural time of transition. I don't know, but I have spent a lot of autumns in extreme emotional turmoil, extreme passion, or both. The three most significant romantic relationships that I have had in my life all began in the fall.

Seven years ago this October, I was stuck in a crappy job and an increasingly unhappy marriage. I hadn't had a full night's sleep in at least eighteen months. It was warm that year, like this October, and the trees were amazingly vivid during one sunny day after another. To me it felt like the sky had opened up and like the ocean of my unconscious was roaring to the surface. I'd blame it on the sleep deprivation, if it weren't for the fact that it happened to him, too.

Sometimes when you think everything is lost, you get a little help to see things differently. Sometimes you realize that the person that has been the best friend you've ever had isn't so far out of reach, and it's pretty likely that you were meant to save each other. Sometimes you're standing on a street corner with him and he says, "I want you to come with me," and you realize that you don't know where you're going, but there's no way in hell you're turning down that invitation.

Seven years later, I'm even surer that we made the right decision.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More Charliespeak






What do birds eat?
What do Charlies eat?
Inside food that is not for animals.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In the Autumn Garden

I've enjoyed watching the life cycle of the flowers in my garden this year. Right now most of them are brown or golden with dried hard seed heads. I'm trying to decide whether to cut some of them down later this month or leave them alone for what the gardening books like to call "winter interest." I imagine because I'm a big fan of just letting the plants, especially the natives, do their thing (which is not exactly the same as being a lazy gardener) that there will be a lot of interest out in the yard this winter.

The way things are going this month, I think I will go through yet another year without realizing my goal of planting some spring bulbs. It always seems like such a great idea when I'm at the height of planting fever in May and June. Then September and October roll around, the kids go back to school, we all get sick, the hard frost comes, and the next thing you know, it's bulb planting fail.

The good thing about gardening is that there's always next year.
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Monday, October 3, 2011


Thank you, asters, for being blue
When the rest of the world is dead set on being orange.
Here's to non-conformists everywhere.

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