And As You Walk Through The Valley Of Death….

28 03 2007

I have mentioned before that my Mom should be considered for the job of “Patron Saint of Dead and Dying Animals”.

She can bring back animals from the brink of death with nothing but warm milk, a blanket and her obvious super powers.

I however can never save animals. Ever.

Last night the girls and Grace exploded through the door to breathlessly tell me that there was a bird in Grace’s backyard that was not doing very well.

“Mom! Come see! It’s so pretty. It looks sick. Can you save it? Hurry!”

So, I hurried. I found the bird (a starling, maybe?) lying on it’s back in the wet grass. It was limp but breathing heavily. Nothing seemed broken. There was no blood.

I had brought with me a cotton place mat in expectation of needing to pick the bird up to examine it. I wrapped it up, explaining that I didn’t think there was anything I could do. It seemed pretty sick. The only glimmer of hope that I gave the girls was the fact that I could make sure it was warm and safe from predators.

They know the deal by now.

I put the wrapped bird in the midst of the dead petunia in the hanging basket on the back deck. We all spoke softly to it…”Don’t be scared. We’ve got you. It will be okay.”

The girls gathered flowers and sprinkled them over the bird. They were overwhelmingly okay with just being there to make the dying a better experience. The desperate “Why Does It Have To Die!” attitude that I always had was not there with them. My expectations for the prospect of life was always much greater, having the Patron Saint for a Mom.

I think this is better.

There is no unrealistic expectation involved. The circle of life thing seems well understood.

Miracles are definitely put in their place at my house.

We don’t mind being the Animal Hospice anyway. That Saint business isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.





Verna

23 03 2007

My good friend Dave sent me an email:

Shari,

I noticed you hadn’t logged into your MySpace since 3/6 so I’ve attached and am emailing the photo of my Grandma. I think it looks like you.

Dave

At first I thought maybe I should take offense. I look like his grandma? I’m 35 for chrissakes. But then I opened the attachment and was pleasantly surprised to see Verna, Dave’s grandma, circa 1926:

Nice, huh?
I forgave him for comparing me to his grandma. But in a phone conversation later in the week he did say, “When I was at your Mom’s house I saw a picture of you when you were younger and it reminded me of my Grandma. ”
And later….”I have a picture of her right before she passed away and she looks like the crazy professor from Back to the Future.”
So basically, I looked like the circa 1926 Verna sometime ago, but I am rapidly approaching the point where my white hair will sticking out in all directions from my head and I will be running down Main Street yelling, “Marty! The Flux Capacitor!”
Just in case you wouldn’t recognize me otherwise.




Good Over Evil

19 03 2007

I have been thinking and thinking of how I was to approach this post.

I have gone through every emotion I had – both ends of the spectrum – and I have finally come to a calm, logical stage.

Calm and logical is good. Trust me.

Imagine, if you will, the girls and I at home after our day of fun on Maya’s birthday. We are whiling away an hour between dinner and heading off for tutoring by playing Maya’s new Cranium game. Maya had called her Dad to come down to see her for her birthday. He arrived and sat quietly on the couch tuned in to nothing but his never ending basketball game.

I continued playing, wondering when he was going to give her a present.

About 10 minutes before we had to go I instructed the girls to put the game away because we only had a few minutes. John remarked, “Where’s the cake?”

I replied that we had decided to forgo the cake until Friday night and her sleepover.

“Then why did I even come down, then?” he asked.

Hmmm.

As we were getting coats on, he hugged Maya, walked out the door and drove away.

No happy birthday. No present. Nothing.

I was absolutely shocked. Normally he tends to go overboard, so this was not at all the norm.

I looked at Maya, and she must have read the shock on my face. “Oh, I kinda expected it Mom.”

What? At 10 you expect that you Dad won’t give you a present?

I tried not to show my shock and anger….”Why did you expect it?” I was able to strangle out.

“Oh, he said that if I didn’t read more he wouldn’t give me a present for my birthday.”

“Honey, did you tell him you are just finishing up a 507 page book?”

“Yeah, but he didn’t believe me because I tried to tell him what the story was about and I don’t think he understood what I was trying to tell him.”

She shrugged it off. I know somehow that it has affected her, but there was and has been no sign of her caring whatsoever about his slight.

I on the other hand have been seething. The next day I was planning exactly what I would tell him when I excommunicated him from our lives. The things that I would do to absolutely make sure I would never have to see him ever again.

And only one of these things involved chopping his head off and putting it in the freezer.

And, through some thoughtful counsel of a friend, I have backed off my instincts. Would it really be right to do something like that at this time? At a time when she would probably look back on and only see that she stopped seeing her Dad because of HER birthday?

No. He will dig his own grave.

They already know. They see him for what he is already. And although that is sad, it is also a place of strength for them.

Case in point: A few days later Sophie was talking about what she wanted for her birthday. She noted that her bike was getting too small. He immediately said, “I’m not getting you a bike!”

And she said, “Oh, I know. I’ve been saving my money in my school savings account. I already have enough to get my own bike if I want to.”

I could not have been more proud.

They both know that as a family we can do without him. Not only getting by, but we are better that way. And now, they are learning that they can get anything they need on their own. They are strong, sweet, good-tempered, money-saving girls.

Whatever the world has to offer is theirs.





Maya’s Birthday

8 03 2007

Yes. Yesterday was Maya’s birthday. As per the usual routine, we skipped school and work to head out on a great day of adventure.

It is well understood that I am just along for the ride – the day is planned, within reason, by the birthday girl.

So….I give you “Maya’s Birthday 2007” (10 years old – OMG!)

It is 5:00 am and we are opening presents. 5:00 AM!!

“The 1506 to King Street Station will be arriving in 6 minutes.”

We were lucky enough to ride the train half-way with my friend and co-worker John. He, by the way, tried to get the conductor to wish Maya a happy birthday over the loudspeaker, but it didn’t happen. It was a valiant effort and John gets huge kudos for it in my book.

We are off the train and headed into the International District to cause trouble. You don’t mess with a gang of girls with Spongebob umbrellas, no-siree-bob. (Or is that no-sireespongebob?)

Finally, to what I consider the most important stop of the morning – Seattle’s Best. (Starbucks is terrible and highly overrated and is bitter and doesn’t add the delicious white chocolate shavings on the whip cream. Just in case you needed to know.) Check out Maya’s Strawberry Steamer Moustache!

Of course, the inevitable picture at Pike’s Place Market.

And ferries. Can’t forget about the ferries.

Sophie’s face in this picture is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time. I just had to include it.

We walked through Seattle’ s new Sculpture Park down along the water. Yes, I know, it’s grey – but I love, love, love this area anyway. Our sunshine seems to mean it more when it decides to come out.

The Seattle aquarium down at the waterfront was our next destination. It’s always been one of my favorite stops. These are the same kind of anemones that we saw on our Kalaloch trip.

The INSANELY cool fish dome thing. I could sit in here all day.

Who knew that ferns came in orange? These were my favorite things at the aquarium this year.

The aquarium is undergoing a renovation and has now finished it’s new “Touch” exhibit. It is humongous and is actually two separate areas. This one was great – hermit crabs, starfish, anemones, sea cucumbers, etc. The other one has rising tides and crashing surf and is a bit more “involved” than we really wanted to deal with.

This cool ramp was worth almost an hour of Heely (those irritating roller skate shoes – you know the ones) entertainment.

We always stop at “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop” to look at the mummies, the shrunken heads, the two headed calf and the pickled pig with two heads, three eyes, eight legs and , strangely enough, two ears. This gentleman wishing Maya a happy birthday is “Sylvester”. He is famous.

And this is Sylvia who might look, in her mummified state, to be screaming – but I am actually almost sure she is yawning. No need to be scared.

And now, I present three of my most favorite pictures of the day. Look at them in larger form because they are totally worth it……

The Viking and the Pimp

Hours of fun in this hat section. Literally hours.


Ha! This makes me laugh like an idiot every time I see it.
I hope you all had a fantastic March 7th.
Sophie’s adventure will be April 4th for anyone keeping track.





Playin’ Hooky

7 03 2007




The White Whale

5 03 2007

Many people have favorite authors that are romantic or poetic or political or philosophic. Bronte, Hemingway, Dostoevsky, Pirsig.

Overall, I am a Melville fan.

Herman Melville. Moby Dick. The great documentary before there were documentaries. The one book that I pick up over and over.

When I don’t have the time to read it I love to get the audio version of it from the library. It is even better read aloud. I listened to it when the girls were small and Sophie, at 4 years old, introduced herself to her preschool class by loudly and gruffly exclaiming, “Call me Ishmael.”

I decided to spoil myself a bit and buy the audio version to keep me company on my commute. Eighteen CD’s and I’m almost finished. Again. Already.

Whenever I read or listen to Moby Dick I have the overwhelming urge to narrate my life in Melvillian prose.

Take this weekend, for example. The girls and I had returned from a great night spent at my friend Megan’s at midnight. It was a full moon and the night was balmy compared to the nights we have had lately. I had taken a second trip out to the car after the girls had been tucked in. Something caught my eye.

Maybe it was the slug that caught my eye first. It was a normal Washington State slug – pulling itself along the bottom step – nothing outside of the norm there. But a similar sliminess shimmered about a foot away on the edge of the yard.

Two large earthworms were, shall we say, romantically engaged. I am assuming that they were having earthworm sex – but who is to say there is even such a thing? I thought I had read somewhere that they were able to fertilize themselves….

But I digress. They were obviously enjoying themselves. Their brown skin was flushed red in spots, there was a foamy whiteness surrounding key areas…. they were doing it like they do on the discovery channel.

I sat on the step to observe. (I know! But it was interesting….) And the Melville narrator in my mind started in….

Ah, ye great leviathans of the loam! Ye great moist, undulating creatures of the mould! How ye show your soft bellies to the shimmering of the spring moon. How you squirm and foam your love.

Out of the depths of the earth you crawl your eyeless, limbless bodies to quietly – aye, almost solitarily – perpetuate your great numberless race.

Why, thinks I, do you care for such embraces? Does the moon lend this deed a magic that you could not attain underground? Do you crave the feel of your earth twin’s sticky affection? Is the everlong caress of the earth not enough for you?

How quickly you part from her. Slinking away to the underground like a thief. Ah….you, the dark one retreating to deeper and colder darkness. Hath not the moon warmed your heart?

See? I am mad. My brow is furrowed with the deep and unerring haunt of the white whale….

I can’t stop. Help me.