Who Am I?

Who Am I is a popular ice-breaker game for groups.  Each person goes about the room asking yes or no questions until they think they know whose name is pinned to their back.

This is a game we play all through life, testing different viewpoints and personalities, and continually asking the question, Who Am I?

Blogging is no different.  Writers publish posts and seek feedback through likes and comments.  We may start out thinking we are one type of blogger, but evolve to find out we are someone completely different.

I began blogging after writing an amusing story to a work friend.  With just a little encouragement, she convinced me I should start a blog.  The time was right for me to learn something new, try something gutsy.  I had become disenchanted with life.  Everything seemed rather pointless.  So I began putting my thoughts on the internet and asked the brazen question, Who Am I?

As it turns out, this writing thing is a great therapy.  Better than a journal, the public medium insists I keep my words in check with honesty, respect and kindness.  As the tagline reads, I write about life and all things peaceful, balanced, whole and precious.  For me, these are the segments of happiness which, when joined together, bring meaning and purpose.   If I can make you laugh while doing all the above, it is most certainly the buttercream on my cake!

While I write for the therapy, for posterity, for love of the words, it is my sincerest hope that I motivate you to turn inward asking the question, “Who Am I?”

Peace . . .

 


The Best Gift Ever

My oldest child, a daughter, turned 28 today.  Before she was born, I had no experience with young children.  I didn’t have younger siblings, I didn’t babysit, I didn’t even talk to the younger kids in the neighborhood.  We didn’t have those What to Expect When You’re Expecting books, or even the internet, so I had to rely on my Lamaze classes and old wives’ tales.  I was entering a foreign land.  I remember our birthing class instructor telling us that not everyone bonds immediately to their baby, so if it doesn’t happen right away, don’t worry — you aren’t a bad mom.  I stored that sentence away for future use — you know — just in case.  As it happened, I needed it.

The delivery itself was pretty typical.  My husband was with me.  My parents were close.  It took all day, with a few hiccups — dehydration, labor induction, hyperventilation, a shoulder caught on the umbilical cord — nothing exceptional.  I still remember the relief when she finally surged into the world.  I felt done.  Spent.  I wanted to be left alone.  But there was a placenta to deliver, and an episiotomy to stitch — complete with novocaine shots in a most sensitive area.  I just wanted to be left alone.  And there was this baby they held next to me as if she were some type of magical pain reliever.  But I was still in pain, and this expectation being placed on me wasn’t helping.

Scan 1Later they fed me the best food I had ever eaten.  I think it was a cheese sandwich.  I fainted in the shower, I was wheeled to another room, and I tried to sleep.  They brought her to me for feeding, and showed me how to swaddle her, how to hold and burp her, and always asked if I had any questions.  If she cried, they came.  If I cried they were there wanting to know why.   After one has a baby, there are tears.  There just are.  And not knowing why made me feel like I had failed another test.  I just wanted to be alone.  There is no way to be alone in a hospital.

A day and a half later they told me I was going home . . . and I was taking this breastfeeding, crying, pooping person with me.  There were things to arrange, papers to submit, a car to bring up, and finally they left me alone.  Me and this . . . person.

Sitting in our hospital room with the sunlight filtering through the blinds, holding my baby exactly as I was instructed, I looked down at her.  I shifted her so that she was lying in front of me along both arms, looking into my face.  I called her by name, and told her about all the things waiting for her; the home, the flowers outside her nursery window, the little outfits folded into a new dresser, and the crib that had been waiting vacant for so many weeks while she grew.  I apologized for not knowing a whole lot about being a mom, but that it would be okay, because we would figure it out together.

Scan 2In those few minutes, a special place grew in my heart that exists to this day.  It is the place where I hold everything that belongs to motherhood — the love, the memories, the heartache, the sacrifice, the ferocity, and the wisdom.

For all the times I’ve wished that I’d had this motherhood thing from the onset, I have this one perfect memory of finding it all at once; like opening a door you never knew existed in a house you had lived in all your life.  The three children who followed had a mother who, before they took their first breath, already held them in that very special place in her heart.  But my first has the honor of planting it there.  Of all the gifts I have received from her . . . or anyone in the world before or since . . . it was this first gift from my newborn that I hold most dear.

Peace and Love on your birthday, sweetheart . . .


A Man of Integrity

Seldom do I mention my father in my writing.   I loved and feared him, as I believe most children do, or at least did when I was a child.  Have things changed, or does that remain?  He worked a lot.  He built a business from the ground up to become a very successful machine shop owner.  He provided more than enough.

Unlike the memories of my mother, memories of my father are vague.  He was either at work, at golf or bowling, or home.  When he was home, he often had dark periods that I now recognize must have been anxiety or depression.  Often, it was me who could bring him back out in the light, a daunting task for a child, and one I accepted with honor.  When he was at peace, we would listen in the dark to a ball game on the radio, or go for a ride on a hot night with all the windows rolled down.  He was an animal lover and a philanthropist.  He was a man of integritiy.

P.C. Goins, section foreman, and family eat di...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I wrote The Kitchen:  Heart of the Home, my father’s spirit revealed himself at the dinner table, where he’s been since my youth.  It is, in fact, where he entered my life before I was born.  An early story I remember hearing dates back to when he was wooing my mother.  She was a divorced mother with two boys living on a meager income.  She cooked a meal for him on a couple of old pots she probably got from the dime store.  The next time he showed up at her door, he brought a gift of pots and pans.  My mother knew then that this was a man who may not romance her with flowers, but would always make sure she had what she needed.

On another occasion, a date ended with him bringing her to his mother’s house and waking her up to cook a late dinner for them.  I can’t remember what she made, or maybe she just warmed it up, but my mom had never tasted anything so good.  Unfortunately, I never knew the woman who shaped the culinary skills I use today.   As they dated, and later married, everything my mother learned about cooking she learned from my father, who learned by watching his mother.

So many nights my father arrived home long after the pots and pans were washed and put away.  Maybe this is why I remember so vividly how he liked to eat his dinners.  I watched him eat, me in my pajamas, him exhausted from the day. He ate white bread slathered with butter and strawberry jam at almost every meal.  Ketchup was not reserved for hamburgers.  He dowsed beef stew, meatloaf, and pot roast with the stuff, holding the fork in one hand, balancing the jam-bread on the other.

Dad was an early riser.  He was also the breakfast chef.  At our cabin in Wisconsin, my bedroom was in a loft above the kitchen.  It was a rare morning I was not awakened by the aroma of bacon or sausage frying on a griddle.  Every now and then he could be found with a bowl of cereal or berries, swimming in half-and-half and sprinkled with sugar.

A yearly morning treat was waking up Thanksgiving morning to watch Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the television while my dad washed and stuffed the turkey.  He added butter, sage, eggs, whole milk, and more butter to the dressing until the rich bird was slid into a hot oven, and basted with more butter hourly.  He was the sole chef of the scalloped corn.  No Thanksgiving was complete without him grumbling about how poorly it turned out.  (It was always delicious.)

Ketchup, or catsup if you're a cat.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a rule at our dinner table.  Everyone had to try one bite of everything on their plate.  I highly suspect it was my mother’s rule, because it was my father who would help me find a way over the obstacles.  Sugar was sprinkled on fresh tomatoes, ketchup helped just about anything else.  One night I sat alone at the dinner table for what seemed like hours staring at cold canned peas on an otherwise empty plate.  Just one bite . . . just one.   Eventually Dad came in and picked me up.  He sat me on his knee and we talked about the peas.  He said, “You know, sometimes I like to mash them with the back of my fork like this.”  And he squished a bite of the pale green spheres.  He asked me if I wanted to try them like that.  It wasn’t long before the whole serving was gone.

Food wasn’t the only thing we learned about at the dinner table.  I was taught to say please when I wanted something, and nothing was passed until I asked for it correctly.  We learned to keep our elbows off the table, and to hold the utensils in the correct manner.  When we complained, my father would tell stories of how his stern German father would hit their elbows off the table to make them mind.  We also heard stories of how his mother would never sit down to eat until after the rest of the family had been fed.

The dinner table is where I learned about business.  Mom ran Dad’s office, and work was often discussed after hours.  I was like a sponge, learning the ins and outs of being a good employee, keeping a good image, reputation, product quality, profit and loss, and workplace safety.  The employees in their growing company were like family, and I heard the updates on babies, deaths, and illness all while sitting at the dinner table.

There are other memories of my father that don’t involve food; cross-country vacations, boating and snowmobiling in Wisconsin, banjo before bedtime.  But to this day, any meal of beef stew, pot roast or meatloaf is not complete without jam-bread and ketchup, and when faced with a dish of canned peas there is only one way I will eat them.

Peace . . .

——–


The Metaphysical Mini Donut

IMG_20140822_145007_148

Yesterday included my annual pilgrimage to the Great Minnesota Get-Together, otherwise known as the Minnesota State Fair.  For most, this is a venture into the exploits of gluttony; corn dogs, pork chops on sticks, buckets of chocolate chip cookies, and mini donuts washed down with all the milk you can drink for a buck.  For me, it is a metaphysical event; laced with spirits from the past and traditions not yet established.  Yes . . . and a temporary lapse into the exploits of gluttony.

I can sense my mother is within me when I start to hum the theme song from  State Fair.  It was our song on the drive from Fridley to the fairgrounds every year.

http://youtu.be/VSKa29E4T7o

Mom actually called in sick for me at school, just so we could go together when the crowds were lower.  We arrived before any attractions opened, and sometimes before the kitchens.  After eating breakfast at the Pancake House, which no longer exists, we would head straight to the Creative Arts Building.  If we timed it right, we would be among the first to enter.  There she strategically surveyed each and every piece of handiwork on display, critiquing the judges as much as the crafters.

This year I passed up the Creative Arts Building.  Experience has taught me that it no longer holds magic without the magician by my side.  But I smiled at the women waiting patiently outside the unopened doors early yesterday.

I ate breakfast sausage on a stick, followed by a double latte with sugar-free vanilla. Really?  Sugar free?  Was that a feeble attempt or force of habit?  I dipped the breakfast sausage corn dog in real, full-strength, high fructose-laden maple syrup.  Nutrition is a balancing act, after all.

I only walked another block before the tears came.  What set them off, I can no longer remember.  But they came, and I searched for a direction to face in order to hide my sudden display of grief.  This is an expected reaction, a tradition since my mother’s death; merciless in its timing, yet cleansing upon its arrival.

Giant slide, Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heig...

Giant slide, Minnesota State Fair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My kids visited the fair with my mother and I a couple times.  Those years Mom always went twice, just so she could spend more time seeing the things she wanted to see.  When you have children in tow, there is a different perspective of the place.  Sailing down the big slide is something I hadn’t done since I was a child, and probably not again until I have grandchildren.  One year we saw piglets being born.  The kids and I had our own song we sang on the way to the fair.

http://youtu.be/9HFdQ9O8drA?t=1m45s

Bubba thought about coming with me.  Everyone thinks I’m crazy for going alone, but I prefer it.  My favorite parts are the talks and demonstrations.  Sometimes I can hardly make it from one to the next, weaving through the crowd from the Agriculture Building to the Progress Center in ten minutes flat.  If someone is with me, I won’t put them through that.

I learned a lot about pollinators and rain gardens yesterday.  I gained resources and education on things like systemic pesticides and edible landscaping.  I logged over 20,000 steps, necessitating a half hour break in my car with my shoes off and feet out the window.  I texted and Tweeted, took selfies and Instagrammed.  I’m just not one to let being by myself hinder my fun.

 

One of the things Mom used to do before we left the fair every year was to have a beer.  She would say that nothing tasted better than an ice cold beer on a hot day at the fair. And so I stopped in the Beer Garden before heading out.  I sat there, by all outside appearances alone, and drank to memories, to tradition, to sore feet, and to next year.

I do believe that nothing has ever tasted better.

Peace . . .


Lay no flowers where I die

It is not uncommon to see, as one travels, monuments of crosses and flowers where loved ones have met their death.  They stand as a solemn reminder to slow down, stay wary, and buckle up.  Perhaps placed there in hopes the dead were still near.  They are displays of love lost, shackled memories, grief.

 

English: Wild Flowers in the Rape Field, near ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With all due respect to the dead and their grieving, when I am gone, please lay no flowers where I die.  I don’t want silk or plastic flowers, or cut flowers that die and only remind you that I, too, am dead.  Place flowers where I lived.  Scatter seeds along the bike trail, at the dog park.  Plant a perennial in your garden to remind you and make you smile.  Plant a tree that will outlive us all!

 

Throw seeds out a window and let them grow like Jack’s mother with their beanstalk in the clouds.  Instead of memorial pamphlets that get saved in a box or recycled at the curb, pass out seed packets.  Let the world grow after I cease to do so.

 

Please don’t remember the date of my death.  Remember the days I lived.  Remember the date I came into this world as a screaming, writhing newborn, desperate to clench life in my tiny fists.  Remember the things that brought meaning to me — laughter, beauty, kindness.

 

English: Cut Flowers - Eden Project Pretty sha...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See me in the tiny things around you.  I’ll not be in the place that I died — the hospital bed, the roadside — I’ll be there inside you.  In the things that make you smile — a laughing baby, a bumblebee , the sun on your face.

 

And you’ll find me in your darkest hour.  When you need comfort, solitude, a hug, wait for me quietly.  I’ll be there as sure as those who left before me are there when I need them.

 

When you find these places, scatter seeds.  Plant them in remembrance, in honor, in joy, but never in sadness.

 

Peace . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

 

 

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Little moments can have a feeling and a texture that is very real.

 

Be part of The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post.

Be part of The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post.

  . . . and check out some of my favorite textures . . .

From my Canadian friend . . .
Texture found in Montreal | That Montreal Girl

Texture of human skin . . .
Photoworld 8-8-14 | ~~~ nur ein “Klick” ~~~ ein Kompendium

Texture of animal skin . . .
Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture | scottseyephotos

The soft texture of feathers . . .
Duck texture | Katharine Asals – Photography

A “jumble of textures” . . .
Textures-WP weekly photo challenge | Third Person Travel

Architectural textures  . . .
Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture Edinburgh | Chris Breebaart Photography / Whats in the picture?

Slimy texture  . . .
Texturize this! | The Seeker

Handmade texture . . .
MY CROCHET PROJECT for WPC: Texture | MY WALL

Texture in the cosmos . . .
Hard, rough, grey with holes | Alien Shores

Zooming in on texture . . .
Weekly Photo Challenge : Texture | Memories are made of this

 


What Happened to Dens?

The Brady Bunch opening grid, season one

The Brady Bunch opening grid, season one (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do real people have dens anymore?  The Brady Bunch had a den.  We had a den, but not until both my brothers stopped using that room as a bedroom.  We set up two chairs facing a t.v. placed in the corner.  Behind one of the chairs sat a desk which also faced the t.v.  Behind the desk was a clothes-closet-turned-storage.  I don’t remember what was in there.  Probably papers.  Back then people used to save a lot of papers and canceled checks.

The Brady’s den belonged to Mike, the man of the house.  I think our den belonged to my mother, who paid the bills at the desk and watched t.v. until way past my bedtime.  But my father also fell asleep watching baseball in there and after school it was my favorite place to sit and watch television while eating a snack of kippers and diet soda.  No . . . that’s not a typo.

There are lion’s dens and dens of iniquity.  Basically, I guess, dens are a place to find trouble.  Mike Brady was always scheming up something in his den, and Marcia once got in trouble for using Mike’s den without permission.  That begs the obvious question, what was Mike hiding in there that the kids couldn’t be in there unsupervised?  I always knew there was more to those Brady’s than reading magazines in bed.  By the way, Marcia was forgiven once Mike realized she was secreting away to write a nomination for Father of the Year.  Man, I’ll bet he felt like a cad.

What happened to the dens?  Did they turn into family rooms?  Home offices?  What rooms will we have in our homes of the future?  How does a room just disappear like we never really had a use for it?  Are rich people the only ones with dens and formal dining rooms anymore?

We have a room in the basement that we sort of re-modeled.  We put in new tile flooring, restored the baseboards, eliminated moisture, and painted.  Bubba has a really cool desk space with all his favorite things crowded around his computer.  I put some scrapbooking things in there and packed it so full I can’t even use it.  Some decisions need to be made . . . and I’m talking dumpster duty here.  But Bubba knows better than to touch my stuff, and I wouldn’t think of rearranging any of his shit.  Because as George Carlin taught us, all his stuff is shit and all my shit is stuff.

Now all this room needs is a name.  It’s not really a home office.  It isn’t a craft room.  Bubba sometimes calls it the Bat Cave.  I called it the Situation Room for a while.  I’m thinking it might qualify as a den.  After all, I’d be pretty pissed if Marcia messed around in there . . . even if she were crafting a letter of nomination for Mother of the Year.

On Friday morning, March 21, 2003, President G...

The White House Situation Room  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our Situation Room

Clearly, Bubba has the cooler space here.  At least he can get to his.

Peace . . .


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