Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring to Winter and Back Again

I have a fairly rich tan from swimming outdoors at noon (yes, here in Colorado). On Monday I was hanging out on the deck in my suit, laughing with friends and basking in the 70 degree sunshine.  Today we received as a spring gift not daffodils but 18 inches of snow and a snow day. We dug out the shovels and (after three attempts) dug out our driveway. We also colored Easter eggs and prepped for spring break trips and visits.

My kitchen mirror is as schizophrenic as I feel. A palm frond is tucked behind the right corner, a "Happy Birthday" banner drapes across the front, a leprechaun colored by Daniel is taped to the center and Easter cards swing by their scotch tape along the bottom.  I took a video of the egg coloring and panned from the daffodils in a vase to the eggs and dye, to the window showing a foot and a half of snow, and had to turn the darn thing off it was making me so dizzy.

And what is WITH the early Easter? Can't a body find time to breathe around here? Daniel was angry with me because I didn't decorate for St. Patrick's Day, forgot the corned beef and cabbage and failed to purchase any bright green trinkets for the kids.  How to explain that I've barely got his birthday under control, Rob and the kids might be eating Qdoba for Easter dinner, and between us, the cat is the sanest mammal in the house?

Rob is stuck in Virginia and hopefully gets home (a day late) tomorrow, just in time to swap parental places with me so I can fly out to Montana on Friday. Prayers welcome, if you have any to spare, and Easter blessings to all. I'll be driving West out of Truckee on Easter morning with Mom and Dad, the sunrise behind us and the mountains all around us, and I'll give thanks for a good life with the ones I love. It goes fast, and it's precious.

Monday, March 21, 2016

To Build a Platform

I have about nine months left in my masters degree program, during which time I want to work hard on my writing, submit a number of pieces, embrace a few acceptances amidst the rejections and write a capstone (or thesis) paper.  The writing is hard work and I know I am not a natural, but I don't mind multiple drafts and long hours. What perturbs me is the need for an "authorial platform" - the general requirement that an author demonstrates visibility and expertise in a field (also, an audience which will buy her book) before an agent or publisher will consider her viable.

My only platform right now is this blog, which attracts a small but loving (and much appreciated!) audience. I claim no expertise and very little visibility through this medium, and I know why I haven't climbed the charts of the blogosphere - I hold back.  I am reluctant to expose any real truths about my children, my parents, my siblings, or my husband. I'm happy to rat out myself in most areas, but draw the veil discretely over others.  Without raw honesty, I can't hope to attract a huge audience.

So I am not sure what to do. I would like to increase readership and comments / questions, but don't want to write a shocking truth that might turn around and bite my family in the butt. (See, even there my fingers forced me to type "butt" instead of the more satisfying "ass."  I'm just not meant to be famous.)  I'm on the fence, with fenceposts sticking into soft tissue that would rather not be stuck.  Please weigh in if you have thoughts or comments, or if you are just waiting for me to lift the veil.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Easy or Hard?

At 6:08 am Aden asked me if I thought my life was hard or easy.  Given the recent switch to Daylight Savings Time, I was tempted to say the former, but honesty compelled me to say that life was truly easy - in a physical sense, anyway.  It's not like we have to walk for miles to get a bucket full of dubious quality water each morning.

She thought for a moment, and nodded. "I sometimes wish I had been born in the 1800's, because life was so simple then, but I know I would probably either live on a farm or in a poor neighborhood in  a city, and either way I would be working really hard. It's just - at least life would be less complex."

I'm glad that she carries a sense of realism along with her historical reflections, because life in any other age - or in any other place on earth right now - would be much harder. Still, I can't argue with her assessment; though our lives are physically easy, they are mentally complex and often rigorous. I hear about high school seniors suffering panic attacks from repeated questioning on their college plans, I see middle schoolers suffering from the onslaught of social media, and I watch my fourth grader stress out because he is in a lower math group - and other kids won't let him forget it.

As a mom, I cope with a list of odds and ends each day. Yesterday included the Perpetually Leaking Shower, the Dodgeball Conundrum, the Braces Marathon, Math Tutoring Techniques, Drivers Training Requirements and my own capital H Homework. Aden and I also got new phones yesterday, which my husband worked on for hours. I'm grateful for the upgrade, but concerned that my mental circuits can't handle the adjustment to more new technology. Perhaps I'll let my daughter figure it out and have her teach me.

Easy, yes, but simple, no. I'd like to see Laura Ingalls Wilder take on the list of tasks we face each day. She'd revel in the dishwasher and washing machine but overload on carpools, computers and cell phones.  The headlines alone might do her in.  On the other hand, I would hate to churn butter and bake bread by hand, and certainly love the indoor plumbing. Guess we'll have to take the age where we landed.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Cat Bellies

I took William to water polo practice on Tuesday night and sat in the 'parent section' outside the pool, chatting with other moms about diet and nutrition. As we glanced occasionally at our treading children, we discussed the merits of healthy fats, low carbs and exercise. Avocados became a consensus favorite food and walking the default exercise for aging knees. Though the conversation was light, the pressure existed - as always - to stay trim and eat well, suck in the gut and tighten the butt cheeks.

What relief, then, to return home and witness the greeting of our cat, who sprawled out on the welcome mat with his belly extended - a furry, white version of the red carpet. Rex gazed proudly over its rolling expanse, yawning in welcome as we shed coats and shoes and towels.  When William moved to the kitchen for a post-workout snack, Rex slowly shifted to his feet and jogged as if through molasses to his food bowl, the belly swinging casually underneath.

Rex is actually on a diet, carrying a few extra pounds despite our care with his food, and he haunts his bowl as if starving, as if his girth showed ribs instead of hiding them under a layer of cushion. His supreme indifference to standards of body size and shape provide comic relief and sharp contrast to the American person's obsession with those topics.  He licks and grooms his belly fur with pride, glorying in his rolls and exuding self-satisfaction. Time for us to do the same :-).

Friday, March 4, 2016

Bumper Stickers

Saw a crazy combination of bumper stickers the other day:

"ARMS ARE FOR HUGGING" was right next to "IF YOU CAN"T STAND BEHIND OUR TROOPS YOU SHOULD STAND IN FRONT OF THEM" with a picture of a man holding a rifle. Do you think two very different people drive that car or just one extremely conflicted one?

[People are most likely amused by my "Believe in Love & Peace" bumper sticker; especially when they see me slam on the brakes, pull over, and threaten the children with a long walk home if they continue to argue.]

Two more good ones: the ever popular "NVER ONCOS" which made me pause for a moment, wondering if this person had sworn off oncology or oncologists, before I realized that of course they were cheering for our Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos with a very faded sign. Also this (my personal favorite): "ASIAN WOMAN DRIVER: GOOD LUCK TO THE REST OF YOU."

Makes me think I could write my blog eternally off the wisdom of car stickers...