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The pope has now said there may be times that using a condom isn’t such a bad idea…prostitution, for example.

Why isn’t the pope’s okaying of prostitution the bigger story here?

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Last week, the gamboge maple began disrobing from the top down.  I figured I’d wait until the only deciduous tree in our front yard finished stripping before worrying about raking.  However, by Friday it was only half finished and I was tired of looking at the mess so I assigned the task of raking the leaves to TallGirl.  They were kind enough to have puddled in a planting bed around the tree, so I didn’t think I was asking too much.  By nightfall, half the leaves had been raked out of the planting bed and strewn over the driveway.

“How’d you manage that?” I asked.

“It wasn’t easy,” she deadpanned. 

By Sunday the tree was completely bare and I directed TallGirl to the front yard again.  Watching her awkward management of the rake made me take pity, so I shoved some things around in the garage until I found the leaf blower.  My intention was to move the leaves into a nice, easy to scoop pile, the way What’s-His-Name used to do it.

I mixed the gas with the oil, just so.  I moved the blue lever to ‘choke.’  I primed the pump.  I pulled the string.  I pulled it again.  And again, until I was dizzy and winded.  But the blower only blew raspberries at me.

I said to TallGirl, “We can do this tomorrow.”

Monday, I tried to start the blower again with the same results, but sometime after 9pm ShirtlessRoland[1] started the blower for me – just to prove it could be done.  I figured now that it’s been started (for the first time in 2 seasons), it would yield to me Tuesday morning.  Tcha.  You know what?  Uh-uh.  I woke up Wednesday morning determined to try again after my fistful of appointments.

I must admit I didn’t like the toll this was taking on my confidence.  In the last year I’ve discovered that the daily task of getting life done not only does not require a man, but is in many ways much easier without one.  Had I just hit a snag in my independence?  Am I, after all, a weak woman incapable of something as simple as yard work?[2]  This didn’t seem to fit.

I repeated the mantra that got me through my early 20’s; Adapt and overcome.  My arm may not be able to pull start a leaf blower, but I’ll be damned if it can’t do something more powerful than that; it can swipe a credit card.

I am now the proud owner of a Toro Super Blower Vac.  And you know what’s cooler than blowing leaves into a pile that you still have to bag?  Vacuuming them into a shredder that spits them into a bag for you, that’s what.

Forget Army Strong.  I am Woman Strong.[3]


[1] ShirtlessRoland is the alter ego of my lover.

[2] And conversely, does this mean man’s only useful purpose is to start small, gas powered motors for me?  I hope not.  That’s depressing.

[3] And that roar you here?  That’s my Toro.

Until two weeks ago, I was convinced that my two youngest children were fluent in Wingding.  ShortGirl speaks it, but TheBoy wrote in it.  The penmanship surpassed atrocious.

And then I took him to an optometrist.  The poor guy is sevely far sighted.  His glasses have only left his face for sleep since they arrived.

Sadly, he only had one week of clear, clean, legible handwriting before his 3rd grade class made the switch to cursive.  But you know what?  He’s doin’ alright.

ShortGirl still speaks Wingding, but I am thankful for and proud of my son’s academic improvement over such a short time frame.

Today, I met a woman.  She had a kind face, a soothing voice, an understanding demeanor, and she spoke lovingly to my children and, less importantly, to me.  Even though she didn’t look at all the part, I knew who she was and why she was here and still, I couldn’t help but wish I could invite her in for tea.  She handed me a plain, manila envelope and said, with a wavering voice, “I have a very special letter delivery for you, dear.”

She looked sympathetic as she spoke words of comfort and support.  Her mouth was a tad bit drawn and wrinkles sprawled out around her eyes.  I wondered just how many variations of this scene those brown eyes had witnessed, and I wanted to sit down and pick her brain for stories about each one of them.  But more than that, I wanted to tell her it was ok; I am ok; the kids are ok.

Today, I am thankful that when I one day reflect upon the day I was served my divorce papers, I will have her compassionate face and words in my memory.

We all have unpleasant tasks that we must carry out every day, some more undesirable and more frequent than others.  I wonder, if we approached them all with the same humanity that Marie embodied today, how much better might the world be?

Also, I am thankful for one more milestone reached.  It’s looking to be a very, merry Christmas, indeed.

The same democrats who voted to disallow any cost of living increases for Social Security recepients for the last two years they’ve had control of the house, the senate, and the presidency are now poised to push for $250 checks to be mailed to each of the 58million recepients when the reconvene on Washington. (see: http://money.cnn.com/2010/11/13/news/economy/social_security_payment/)

Republicans can either be the bad guys and oppose the move, or be the bad guys and approve another $14,500,000,000 in democrat spending.

Politics sucks.
That is all.

This weekend I am thankful for two safe trips to and from Richmond.

I am thankful for all of the friends who came to celebrate nothing in particular with TallGirl last night.

I am thankful for the wonderful neighbors who threw a party this evening, and for the time spent getting to know better the neighbors I’ve already met, and for the opportunity to meet a few more.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have served in the United States Army, both in active duty and in the reserves.

There are many reasons a person might have for joining the armed services and I’d hazard a guess that pure, unadulterated patriotism is rarely ever at the top of that list.  Myself, I’ve always become teary when placing my hand on my heart to sing the national anthem and even as a child I felt the pinpricks of pride running up my arms and down my spine when hearing stories of courageous men and women who’ve fought to keep me (me!  Wow!) safe.  But alas, that ultimately had absolutely nothing to do with my decision to enlist.

I did it to get out of calculus class.

I didn’t have the prerequisites for a class I wound up in at ASU (not the one in Arizona.  The other one) and math scared the bejesus out of me anyway.  So I withdrew from school and called a recruiter.

It proved to be a good means to an end.  It prepared me well for a career that still takes very good care of me.  I am fortunate.

Many have joined for sillier reasons and many for more altruistic ones.  But whatever it is that lands our brave men and women in their foxholes, I’m thankful for their willingness to serve.

And I’m thankful that we have this day set aside every year to remind us to thank them.

I cannot help it. I have strong feelings about some of the damnedest things; politics, the proper loading of toilet paper on the holder, sticky rice (it should not glisten), and boxers v/s briefs – just to name a few. I’ve spent a lot of time not liking this about myself, but just today I changed my mind. Today, I am thankful for the gift of passion. I feel deeply, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Leboyer Method of childbirth is reported to have been established in the 1970’s but after reading a bit more about it, I suspect this is how cavemen and cavewomen were delivering cavebabies way back before things like prenatal vitamins, basic hygiene, and medical intervention became trendy.

The particulars are quite simple:  Don’t yank on the baby’s head (it almost seems like this doesn’t even need to be said, right?), keep the room quiet and dimly lit, wait to cut the umbilical cord until it stops pulsating so that the baby can take his first breath when he’s good and ready, and immediately massage your baby to encourage bonding between mother and child.  The idea is that babies born in less stressful environments become more content children and adults.  Be it C-section or vaginal delivery, what argument could one possibly have against reducing stress in the delivery room?

I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about childbirth lately; my three birthing experiences are cemented in history and I won’t be doing it again.  Having had one medication free, one induced and with epidural, and one by C-section, I’m not really sure there’s anything new left in this department for me to experience, anyway.

But I’ve also been thinking about relationships – particularly, the romantic variety – a lot lately, but not with the fall-in-love-and-get-married-and-have-lots-of-babies connection you might think I’m about to make here.  That would mean life is like a ladder, “with a progression of tasks to be completed.”  I feel I’ve clearly established my objection to this and Jess agrees with me.  No, that’s not where I’m going with this.

Bringing a relationship into being is giving birth, in a sense.  It takes two people, and what is created takes on a life of its own.  There is an infancy in which promise and awkwardness blend beautifully together, often resulting in a puddle of drool.  There is a toddler stage when boundaries are established, like closing the door when you go pee-pee.  I believe many relationships (both free-range and those that are bound and sealed with a legal document) don’t survive past the teen years, though.  With antics like questioning authority, sneaking out, and seemingly an inability to recognize the squalor it creates in its personal space, it’s easy to understand why one or both people in a relationship ends up wanting to ship the kid off to boarding school until it reaches adulthood.

But relationships don’t work like that.  They require constant feeding and care just like a human child, but sadly, they lack the voice to ask for attention.  You can starve a union to death and never once hear its tummy growl.  Likewise, it can be slimy and rancid in the corner for years before you even notice its passing.  A postmortem is, of course, necessary.  But the longer it’s been dead, the harder it will be to determine a cause of death and probably, you’ll just end up blaming it on the office whore.  It’s easier that way.

If a relationship can make it to adulthood, well, that’s a beautiful thing.  It can stand on its own two legs and the people who nurtured it have something to be proud of.  But despite the 500 words or so that I just spent as evidence to the contrary, the lifecycle of a relationship is not what this blog post was intended to explore.  It’s specifically about the birth of a relationship.

If you can bring a relationship to life in the peaceful calm of a contented heart, then do it.  But if a relationship requires deceit, sacrifice of integrity, suffering to innocent others, constant placating, and alienation of loved ones to keep alive…well, maybe it’s time to eat that baby in its crib.

I am thankful to all of those who have supported A Mother’s Heart in the six years since its inception.  You know who you are.  You have made it your mission to raise awareness, prod your own doctors into learning about Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM), help the newly diagnosed mothers find current and accurate information, and champion research opportunities at every turn.  Sometimes, you’ve even picked up the slack and handled the administrative duties and complete day-to-day running of the foundation when I have not been able.

From the bottom of my great big, floppy heart – THANK YOU!