Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Remembering the Good Mom Stuff

*When I was just a tot, I'd get to stand up on a chair pushed up to the kitchen counter to watch her cook. And I thought she didn't know when I poked my little finger into a bowl to get a taste of what she was making.

*Going shopping to choose fabric for new dresses that she sewed for me to wear to school. Yes, I'm that ancient. Yes, I have the sewing machine that she used to make them.

*Realizing as an adult that she didn't do well with the sight of blood, a feeling of gratitude to the mother lioness in her that bandaged me, and my siblings, so many times when we were hurt.

*She showed up. With great pride. For pretty much anything and everything us four kids participated in.

*The benefit of the doubt she gave all of us, as long as we were honest with her. I know I was pretty unusual among my friends, particularly as a teenager, that there were really no secrets I kept from Mom. In exchange for staying out of trouble, I was granted privacy.

*When none of the other moms were willing to lead my Camp Fire Girls troupe, she volunteered. A single mom with four kids who worked full time took the time to do this for eleven year old me.

*In April 1995, Mom and I went on a road trip to see the Eagles Hell Freezes Over concert. She loved their earlier, more country-rock music and wasn't quite prepared for the later and louder rock they performed. She was a good sport about the noise but didn't approve of bass player Timothy B. Schmidt's long hair. Nor did she like Glenn Frey's two-toned black and white loafers. She did get a kick out of the fact that Don Henley was wearing a henley shirt.

*When my elder son, Michael, was born, she declared him just perfect. Four years later when Reid was born, she declared him just beautiful. And to differentiate herself from their paternal grandmother, she encouraged the boys to call her Crazy Grandma.

*Years before she became a grandmother, she wanted a motorcycle. We discouraged her from getting one. She said she wouldn't bake cookies for her future grandchildren, but thought it would be cool to drive up on her Honda and take them for a ride.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Yes! I am barely capable of speech today. Due to my lingering cold, or perhaps the very large frog, or very small ho(a)rse, lodged in my throat. Meaning that I am at home rather than at work. Drinking tea and tackling the mess in my office. And listening to Elena Kagan's senate scrutinizing on NPR. Meaning also that due to my laryngitis, that I actually have to be quiet and listen! I am incapable of shouting epithets and opinions back at the radio! There is a certain serenity that comes with my speechlessness, and this surprises me. I would expect frustration at being muzzled, but instead am rendered thoughtful. Hmmm. Acceptance and serenity so early in the day. Is this a sign of maturity? Okay. As long as I still get to occasionally have Orange Milanos for breakfast.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Woodstock, Walking on the Moon, Love & Other Improbable Things

Yes, I'm throwing my own tiny Diane Lane Film Festival this week. What I remember from viewing this film several years ago, was primarily a really hot sexual encounter between Pearl (Diane Lane) and Walker (Viggo Mortensen) in a waterfall. What I'd forgotten was a very complex, multi-generational drama played out between interesting and engaging characters. It's a coming of age story for both a mother and her teenage daughter. Twined throughout this examination of a marriage in quiet turmoil is an alternately interfering and supportive mother/mother-in-law/grandmother who has visions of the future and makes a few dollars on the side reading tea leaves and tarot cards. The first time I saw A Walk on the Moon, I watched it with my husband. At a time when I was still laboring under the illusion that we were happy. Now that I have viewed it as a single woman four years past her divorce being final, I've come away from the experience with a much different perspective. Ten years ago, it was, WOW, sex with Viggo in a waterfall!! Today, well, yeah, it's still sex with Viggo in a waterfall. But it's also watching a marriage in crisis, a crisis that tests the marriage relationship to the breaking point. Lies. Violation of trust. Blinders that were formerly firmly in place are stripped away revealing unrealized dreams and unhappiness covered over by humor and distraction. It felt familiar. At the end we don't know for sure if Pearl and Marty are able to keep their marriage together. But we do see a desire to make that effort, to try to see each other in a new light and move forward with the lessons they have learned. It was hopeful. Reflecting on the fact that my own marriage did not survive its crises, I found myself rooting for their marriage to heal and persevere. And to mourn just a little bit not the failure of my marriage, but the complete lack of incentive to save it when the time came to make that decision. I had already lost hope. But I'm always happy for those who find it.

It Has a Name

I have a diagnosis. After being bounced about between a local doctor who could not diagnose my hand issue, local physical therapy people who were very good, a Work Comp caseworker to whom I am just a file and case number, local HR, and a torturous neurology technician, I was referred to an orthopedic specialist at a clinic that treats problems such as mine. I have De Quervain's Tendonitis. After x-rays and an examination it was determined that cortisone shots directly into the tendon sheath near the base of the thumb on both of my hands might give me some relief from the pain and swelling. It worked. For nearly a month. The morning after the shots, I awoke completely free of pain for the first time in months. But it wasn't a permanent fix. Like the other treatments, wearing splints, avoiding certain activities, taking NSAIDs, heat and cold packs, topical medications and ultrasound, the cortisone shots provided only temporary relief. Now it seems that I am a good candidate for a surgical procedure that has very good, and usually permanent, result. Now we wait for the paperwork to bounce about between the entities who shall decide my medical fate. I just want the pain to stop, particularly the nasty popping sensations in my hands and wrists. I'd like to get ready for work in about a half hour again, instead of the over an hour it currently takes. I'd like to enjoy cooking again, instead of meal preparation feeling like an ordeal. I'd like to carry a cup of coffee across the room without fearing I will drop it. And I'd really like to get back to learning how to play the pink Fender Strat sitting untouched, except for when one of the boys picks it up for a few minutes, in the corner of my bedroom. I'd like it if pain no longer ruled my life, like those magical few weeks after the cortisone shots.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Screen Test

The true test of that new living room furniture arrangement is watching a movie. I was thinking, hmmm, Under the Tuscan Sun. Searched high and low and could not locate the dvd!! Out of sheer desperation, I posted my pitiful movie-less status on facebook. Then opened a beer. Then called Pam. Then next-door neighbor Barb shows up at the door with her copy of Under the Tuscan Sun! I watched. Furniture arrangement passes movie muster. Bravissimo!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This Mom's Day

Yeah, I know. It's Father's Day. But it's this mother's day as well. On this day twenty-two years ago I became a mother. With great anticipation and joy, we welcomed Michael into this world. I like him a lot. Happy birthday, my firstborn son. Yes, there were days when I considered trading you off for whatever riches were considered equal to first-born son status, but only for a moment or two. Never doubt that you have been worth all the love and bandaids and cookies invested in your upbringing. You are one of my very favorite people.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Martine sent a huge box of photos and mementos that belonged to our mother. I am so very grateful to her for accomplishing this task, the sorting through and dividing up of Mom's lifetime accumulation of tangible memories. I'm sure it was bittersweet and joyful for her just as it was for me when I opened the box and perused its contents. Even though there wasn't necessarily a photo of each and every memory the pictures evoked, I feel as though I have witnessed the milestones of glory and sorrow experienced by my Mother's family of origin, her extended family, the family she created with my father, and finally, of the families forged by my three siblings and me. To say the very least, I feel emotionally exhausted! More than a century's worth of human history in all its possible moments. I'm saddened by how many of these people are no longer living. It's hard to believe that I know the names and recognize the faces of family members that I met on just a few occasions. Having accumulated over thirty previous addresses before I was that many years old made me feel rootless and windblown when I moved into this house. Now, those growing up years of constant moving have come in handy, I can easily place the year and location of nearly every setting because I recognize the house we lived in at the time. Giving me an anchor in time and place for what felt like a childhood plagued by wanderlust. It's been a long, strange trip so far. And after a few days of gazing so deeply into the past, I've been pondering what the future holds. And what sort of photos my sons will pull out of the box of my life's memories when I have departed.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Last Saturday afternoon Pam dragged me kicking and screaming to her favorite nail salon, Nail Tech, located on Shallowford Road in Roswell. Okay, I wasn't kicking and screaming, I was excited with the anticipation of experiencing my first ever professional manicure and pedicure. Talk about a pampering! All manner of lotions and oils and massage! What an absolute treat. See results at left, yours truly in the pink with polka dots, Pam in the brilliant metallic blue-green with flower and rhinestone accents. A week later, I still can't stop admiring my toes! Thank you, little sis Pam, for this particular piece of fun in an unforgettable week!

Screened Porch

After spending nearly a week with Pam in Georgia, I have become convinced that my life will be much more complete if I have a screened porch. We spent a great deal of time relaxing in Pam's porch, enjoying the view of her lovely back yard. So comfy in a wicker rocking chair with a puppy resting in your lap. A cup of coffee in hand, still in our pajamas, so much of a morning can be exquisitely whiled away and feel well spent. Evenings were much the same, only replace the coffee with a beer or glass of wine. As the sun set, sparkly lit areas of the creek would shift along the surface of the water as the light through the trees became more slanted. Fireflies emerged and blinked their tiny bioluminescent glow amongst the flowers and lush green plants. This morning I'm looking over my shoulder and out the patio door, observing a good soaking rain that may well last the whole day. Raindrops splat gently on the surface of the backyard deck and the leaves of the potted plants. And I find myself thinking, what if that deck had a roof on it, and was screened all around. The roof sheltering the area from the weather and the screen keeping out all manner of pesky bugs, especially the mosquitoes. Sigh. I could sit in a rocking chair and look out into the yard in a generally south, southeastern direction, then close my eyes and imagine Miss Pam and Bella and ZuZu out on their screened porch. For a moment, at least in spirit, we will be together once more.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bloomington/Normal, Illinois

Gonna be a long day on the road, but we shall get home tonight. Looks like it's raining there. We miss Newton and Einstein. Yesterday, Reid confirmed that he is indeed a cannibal when he gleefully consumed a mountainously heaped plate of bacon. Also, I miss Pam and puppies and that wonderful screened porch. Must investigate the possibility of building one at home. About fifty percent of the deck surface needs to be replaced, so maybe I should overachieve and enclose it! Then I'll need a wicker rocking chair. Will this porch thing turn out to be the decorating equivalent of putting up new curtains? And where is Ed? And who is that strange woman in the wierd hat and glasses?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Clarksville, Tennessee

Yes, this is Clarksville, and, no, we did not take the last train here. The last non-smoking room available in the beautiful Wingate hotel was a Jacuzzi suite with a king size bed and a fold out queen size couch. Reid agreed to the couch. I agreed to take the room when Heidi behind the front desk continued to pile on the discounts til the price was that of a regular room. It would be sweet if the next time I get a sweet deal on a Jacuzzi king suite that I was with Mr. NPBPFM*. Reid is the best 18yo on this earth, but this feels more like a room for a tryst than a room with a son. This is a most lovely room and I regret having to leave it. And if yours truly doesn't get in the shower soon we may have to pay for a second day!

*Mr. Not Perfect But Perfect For Me

Monday, June 7, 2010

Things I Will Miss

* Puppies! ZuZu and Bella have been so much fun! Miss Bella is nearly ten years old and is such a lovely Southern lady. ZuZu is nearly a year old and still very much a puppy, she is a little firecracker. They are both Chinese Crested Powderfuffs. So sweet and funny.

* The screened in porch. Late nights accompanied by a glass of wine or a beer and a cool breeze, mornings with a cup of coffee. Beautiful views of Pam's gardens and babbling brook.

* Miss Pamela Jean. Repeat ten times, then multiply by ten. We have packed so very much laughter, bonding, occasional tears, wonderful food, and girly fun into one week! The only thing that could have made it better is if sister Martine could have been with us.

* Jean and Larry, Pam's mother and father. I want them to adopt me! They have so completely embraced and welcomed Reid and me into their family that I feel I have always known them.

* The lush and heady beauty of late spring/early summer in north Georgia.

* This lovely, sunny room that has been mine for the last week. If I had slept in such a room as a girl I would surely have felt like I was a princess.

* Shrimp and cheddar jalapeno grits at Roux on Canton!

* And lastly, what I will take with me when we leave tomorrow. So much warmth, so many memories, and all the love I have soaked up in the last week. All that and a bag of chips, yes indeed.

Thursday, June 3, 2010



Where else in the world would you find one of these?

The view from our poolside room.

I think this used to be the hot tub.

Shrimp & Grits

Yum. Shrimp & Grits at Roux on Canton. A little bit of Cajun heaven on a plate. The heirloom tomato and artichoke salad on the side was lovely. I solemnly vow to eat shrimp and grits as often as possible while I am here. I may have to learn how to prepare this dish! Sadly, I have never seen such a thing on a menu at home. I wish to remain ignorant of what the Norwegian version might be. Lefse, anyone?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


We have arrived! Reid has discovered the not so secret secret to gaining access to Miss Pam's wireless network. This mean that I may not see him for days. I am typing to you from Pam's cute little laptop until mine is also wifi'd. Then there shall be photos! Until then, I have discovered a number of things in the past three days. Firstly, that being a recent college graduate does not mean that you are a polite driver! Secondly, I greatly enjoy the company of my younger son. Even when he is mildly sullen and removed from me via the magic of earbuds, even though he is mere inches away from me. Miraculously, he can hear me singing along with Mary Chapin Carpenter despite the earbuds, though he does not hear my request for consulting the map. Hearing, it seems, is indeed selective. Thirdly, I am convinced that there is not a single straight and conconvoluted street in the vicinity. And lastly, this is my first time at Pam's home, and I felt instantly at home when we pulled up in the driveway. Leading me to believe that home is not so much a physical location as it is a place in the heart. Something I have suspected for a long, long time.