Saturday, February 21, 2015

RITUAL TIES THAT BIND



DD Minus 11.  That's "due date" -- 11 days from today on March 4th.   My beautiful DIL is about to give birth to another baby girl and we are all so excited to meet her!

I was thinking back this morning to when we first met Son One's girlfriend.  In his usual way, often leaving out a pertinent detail, he asked nearly 5 years ago if we'd like to meet the girl he'd been dating "for awhile".  Well, sure!  When she pulled up in front of the house I saw her get out from behind the wheel of her car and....go the the back seat, open the door, and emerge again with a 10-month-old little girl on her hip!  Yep.  Just like that my heart was stolen by our Angel, who is now almost 5-1/2 and is the center of attention at every family gathering.  But soon the spotlight will shine just as brightly on her little sister, about to make her debut.

In preparation for this upcoming new granddaughter, I may have pushed a new idea on to Beautiful DIL, but she graciously went along with it.  I hosted a "Mother Blessing/Baby Shower" for her a month ago.  The truth is, I was more excited to introduce the idea of "mother blessing" than throw a traditional baby shower.  Been there, done that.  But thankfully Son-Two's girlfriend had talked to Beautiful DIL and let me know that some traditional baby shower activities would be most appreciated.  (Son Two also often has to rein in my, what he calls, "hippie tendencies".  Whatever.)

So between us we did a combo.  I started with the Mother Blessing and had all the guests introduce themselves with a maternal lineage naming... "My name is Susie, daughter of Ellen, granddaughter of Kathryn, great-granddaughter of Rose..."  Isn't that cool???  I was surprised and a little saddened at how few even knew their great-grandmother's names.  (I guess our legacy lasts basically two generations.)  We each told how we know Beautiful DIL and named a characteristic of hers we admire.  How often have a dozen of your friends sat in a circle and said what they love about you?  It was a warm and moving tribute.


I had slips of paper where guests wrote "Words of Wisdom" to sustain her in difficult times and they went into an oversized plastic baby bottle I had found as a shower decoration.   We also tied brightly colored threads around a "Friendship Candle" to send home with DIL to burn when she needed to feel our presence.

Each guest also brought items to put in the big basket labeled "Mommy Survival Kit" -- lotions, gift certificates, Tylenol, books, magazines, candy, etc.

We did a "Web of Support" ritual where we tossed a big ball of yarn back and forth across the room, each guest wrapping a strand or two around her wrist to connect us all in the 'web', then cutting the ties, but wearing the yarn bracelet in solidarity until the baby comes.  (I think I'm the only one still wearing the yarn bracelet.   I take these things very seriously. :)  )

When the guests left they were given a small votive to light when DIL goes into labor.

I just loved all that!!!

I also loved the cute game Son Two's GF led us in playing at the baby shower part of the afternoon -- naming all the things that go into a diaper bag and having to remember in order what everyone else had named before adding your own item.  I failed miserably at the memory test.  Then Beautiful DIL opened her gifts.  She was delighted with every item and I was amazed at how generous everyone was and how baby equipment has changed in 30 years!

Son Two's GF handled all the food and drink, for which I was most grateful -- not my thing -- and the biggest hit was the display of cake pops she and Son Two had made!

Ritual and celebration are so much a part of our family life that I take it for granted.  But I am reminded often that what we do so routinely is not the norm for many.  I am grateful that Hub and I have created these ritual ties that bind and that they are appreciated by our sons and their partners.

Maybe "Mother Blessings" will become one of those rituals that are repeated from now on.  I hope so.  It would make my Hippie Heart happy.

At least, that's the view from here.... ©


Monday, February 16, 2015

A LONGING TO DRIFT

I had been awake about ten minutes this morning, still laying quietly and appreciating the blue sky view and sunshine streaming in our bedroom window when Hub rolled over, sleepy-eyed, and asked what my plans were for the day....

Plans?  At that moment, still in a dawn daze, it was as if he was speaking a language I didn't understand, but of course I knew immediately what he wanted to know.  What will our day look like, together or apart?  Busy or lazy?  Productive or sort of wasted?  He is a championship planner and after nearly 43 years of marriage, so am I.

But my preferred mode of transport through the day is a slow meander -- I call it drifting.  Unless I have something scheduled (which is a lot of the time, to my dismay, but much less frequently that I used to) I love just seeing what my mind and spirit have in store for me as long hours of a new day stretch before me.  There is a lot of this when Hub is away, but when he's home I feel some obligation to be more intentional with my time.  And as in any relationship there is the dance of negotiation and accommodation to another's rhythms.

As usual, I got up, dressed, headed downstairs for my first cup of coffee and a peek at email, online news, and Facebook.  It's my morning routine for waking up to the world.  Then I puttered 'round the kitchen, found an article I wanted from an old newspaper, did a few dishes.  I went to the laundry room and sorted clothes, threw a load in the washer.  Back in the kitchen I wondered what I might make for Family Dinner this week and put that thought on hold since I hate meal planning and cooking....."Later..."

My eyes fell on a new book of poetry by Billy Collins and I grabbed it off the desk and walked to the living room.  Looking out our big window I stood for several long minutes just taking in the view -- fog settled lazily over the river valley, mountains to the east and north peeking up through the mist, sun shining on the bay, a new ship in port stacked high with bright orange containers ready to offload onto rail cars.

My gaze drifting to the birds at my front yard feeders made me smile with the recollection of yesterday morning when Angel and I sat for at least 30 minutes in front of the window, Birds of the Northwest book in front of us (she calls it the Hummingbird Book), identifying as many feeder birds as we could.  She was so excited to find a bird in the book that matched one at the feeder -- Pine Siskens, House Wrens, Junco's, Spotted Towhees and, yes, Hummingbirds.   It was a moment in time that I will always treasure -- spontaneous and timeless.

Finally I opened Collins and settled in on the sofa, randomly flipping through the book to  delight in poem after poem, marveling at his skill with language and imagery.   I scolded myself for spending so much time on tasks and responsibilities and commitments and so relatively little on pursuing and honing creative pursuits.

But the attic needs to be cleaned and organized so I can finally put away the bins of Christmas decorations.  And the yard is a mess of twigs, dead leaves, and growing weeds as it comes awake after winter's wet gloom.  The floors need vacuuming, the toilets need scrubbing, and the ongoing tasks of the church Stewardship Steering Committee need to be prioritized every day for the next month or so.

With these thoughts pushing to the 'fore I got up, closed the poetry book and came to my office to write this post as a transition from my morning drift to the day's steady tick-tick-ticking away of minutes and hours spent in productive activity.  Tonight I'll look back at my to-do list with items crossed off and feel a sense of accomplishment.  But I'll also lament that my "drifting" time seems so short and, consequently, so precious.

At least, that's the view from here....




Saturday, February 14, 2015

VALENTINE'S DAY LAMENT

Seems like I write about my mom a lot.  An armchair analyst wouldn't have to stretch far to intimate that I may be working through a few issues.  Nothing major, mind you.  I just have a few teeny tiny regrets about how impatient I was with her at times.  She didn't "get" me and my feminist ire, social justice protests, and committee meeting priorities -- and I thought I was oh so insightful about her.  Ah, youthful arrogance.

Well, anyway, the other night as I stood over the stove stirring curry for one (Hub was away on a snowboarding adventure), I felt pretty lonely and my mom popped into my head.  I could hear her say to me, as she often did on the phone after my dad died, "I get so lonely sometimes."  Here's a good example of my lack of compassion and understanding..."Well, why don't you get out and make some friends?  What about those ladies at the church?" (My parents moved 4 years earlier to a small town away from the city they'd lived most of their lives in order to be near my brother and his family; they never really made good friends there.)  I said it nicely, encouragingly, but still.

I've come to realize that even when one has tons of friends, and I am fortunate enough to have a goodly sum, there is still loneliness at times for the intimacy and comfort of a partner or housemate who is there for you, who brings you joy and companionship without it seeming like an occasion for chatter, laughter, a project to work on, or an event to share.

Then it hit me.  My mom and I could have been those friends.  We could have been roomies, comfortable together, if life had dealt that hand.  Not as we were back then.  But as I am now.  I figure the me in my 60s has a lot in common with my mom in her 70s.  I wish we could share stories of having grown children, being grandmas, go over old family photo albums, write, crochet, sew, clean out cabinets (I'd let her cook and bake...still don't have that in common), watch a little TV, go for a walk, practice some Yoga. (She did Sun Salutations every morning for 20 years or more...before I even cared a whit about Yoga, which is now my passion).  All the things I find myself doing now as an empty-nesting, retired woman heading toward elderhood (OK, fine, already there, I suppose) are things she enjoyed too.

I think I miss her so lately because we finally have so much in common.  Believe me, I never saw that coming!

I think it's too bad I've only come to appreciate my mother in her elder years now that I am an elder too.  I was so busy with kids, friends, volunteer work, a career, a big house, a husband.  I loved my mom and we got along, but so often I felt we had such differing values and views and goals.  Now it's all evened out -- and she is gone.  Sort of that Cat's in the Cradle song in reverse, I guess.  That one laments a father who missed his kids' growing up years.  I am a daughter who missed years of her mother's adult friendship.

Makes me sad on this day set aside for love.  ©

At least, that's the view from here....

Thursday, February 12, 2015

NOTHING MUCH TO SAY

Oh, look!  She's back!  But does she have anything to say?

Whew...a bit of a creative dry spell in the blog'o sphere for me lately.  I was finally prompted by an out of town friend who thought she was missing my posts since Golf Porn.  Alas, there have been none.

Sometimes I am brimming with ideas that force themselves almost beyond my control to the page.  Other times, well, nothing seems worth writing about.  It makes me admire those who have to churn out opinion columns on a regular basis even when they don't have the "juice" to even have an opinion.  I guess that's why some columns are stellar and some just so-so.

Well, here are a few things that have caught my attention while I wasn't writing blog posts:

1. Interesting how commerce and art intersect and motivate.  I did prioritize my "paying gig"-- the Circling the Mat blog. http://circlingthemat.blogspot.com.  So money does matter -- as does the fact that a "boss" has an expectation of me to produce.  And I'm reminded that I have always been more externally than internally motivated.  I keep thinking that is no longer true, but I'm lying to myself when I say that.  Obviously.

2.  I did a public poetry reading with my poetry group last week.  We published a chapbook last year and were invited to be featured poets for February at a local cultural center.  There are six of us in the group (called The Five Women Poets -- because that was the original number and we just stick with it even when others come and go, increasing or decreasing our actual number).  We hadn't read publicly for several months.  It was fun.  We also sold a few books, so that's nice.  But I felt a bit like how Mick Jagger must feel when he has to sing "Satisfaction" one more time.  I'm pretty sick of my poems and realize that my essays for the blogs are in the driver's seat and my poetry has been sitting in the back, napping.  I'm taking a class on Billy Collins' poetry next month.  That should shake the poet in me awake.  He's my favorite.

3.  My local-est go-to Starbucks is closing.  Around here you can hardly go a couple of blocks without passing another one, but this one was most convenient for me and my route took me by it frequently.  Easy in and out, right in my shopping area, on the way home from Yoga (when my Outback, as if with a mind of its own, turns into the parking lot 9 times out of 10).  Other stores will do, but have their drawbacks -- lousy parking, crowded, long drive-thru lines.   It's unclear to me how they could determine there wasn't enough business at this one -- I had assumed my visits alone were keeping it in the black.  Alas, not.  (And don't tell me to use that espresso machine that sat on my countertop gathering dust for 5 years and now takes up space in the under-counter cabinet no one uses.  Just not the same.)

4.  And as if that news wasn't upsetting enough, later the same day I found out about the closure, the announcement came that Jon Stewart is leaving the Daily Show.  This news shook me to my pop-culture core.  I adore him.  Handsome, intelligent, articulate, incisive, ironic, goofy, smart, hilarious.  I counted on my nightly "date" with Jon Stewart to give me a lift from the doldrums of despair because if he could make fun of the absurdity of our current state of politics, media, and just general human craziness then all was not lost.  With Colbert gone already and Stewart on his way out, I feel lost and lonely, as if friends who remind me it's all going to be OK, if we can still laugh, have moved away.  I hope they'll stay in touch.

5.  I'm curious if my writer's block for the blog has to do with all the other, more technical, writing I'm doing lately.  Hub and I are on the Steering Committee for our church's annual Stewardship Drive.  In fact, he's the chairperson and with his organizational skill he is the man for the job if anyone is.  He's gathered a very creative and energetic group to assist him and it's a big, multi-part project.  I'm not only his "ghost writer" for most things he needs written, but with this project a friend and I are writing all the announcements for various publications, designing a mailer, an e-brochure, testimonials, and factual information hand-outs.   My head is sort of swimming with marketing strategies, details, facts, figures, and design elements.  It might be draining my creative energy for other things a bit.  But boy is it fun to work on a big project with bright, capable, and creative people and have it be time-senstive and time-limited.  My part will be over by mid-April....

6.  At which time I'll be deeply into and much distracted by getting to know our new granddaughter, who is due to make her appearance early in March -- 3 weeks until due date!  Woo-Hoo!

7.  Oh! NOW I think I feel a blog post bubbling up....I might have a thing or two to say about being a grandma.

At least, that's the view from here...©