Saturday, December 29, 2012

Furry and Frivolous- The Saga of the Drips, a Pictorial

So I had some time on my hands, and my pet was around doing silly things.  Hence this.

Sit back and relax for some kitty antics.

Natural curiosity attracts the wild creature to her prey...the evil drip.

Being a natural detective, she goes straight for the origin.
"Starts here..."

"comes out of this shiny"

"I'm goin' in!"

"You gonna help, or you just gonna sit there with that phone thingie?"

She decided this was a better vantage point.
"I got this!"

Catlike reflexes engaged!

Evil, yet delicious drips acquired!

The End. 

Hold your applause. :P

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe

One thing I can do is dream. I've always had it in me. I'm a daydreamer who just takes it to bed and keeps it going.

When I was dreaming of a white Christmas, I wasn't really picturing being forced off the expressway into whiteout conditions between cornfields with ravines dug on either side that our car could slip into at any moment.

Sometimes my heart runs away with my mind and creates pictures. Some I've seen before...maybe I'm Zuzu, and Daddy can scoop me up and give me the petals and make everything ok again.

Maybe I'll be restless and wander out to get a sandwich, and I'll sit down at a piano with that special someone, and he'll sing a whole song about counting your blessings instead of sheep.  Maybe we'll go to the window and he'll ever so gently slip his arm around my waist as the snow falls serenely outside.   Maybe we'll sit by a fire and sip cocoa.

Maybe everyone I love will be in the same place and we'll all get along, and there'll be music and meals and laughter.  The tree will be beautiful, and everyone will linger and talk and have a glass of wine and stay for awhile.  Maybe some grinch will change their mind and carve the roast beast.

Sometimes it does you harm to dream.  Sometimes you need to put your feet on the ground and realize life isn't like that.  You don't always get the Red Ryder carbine-action 200 shot Range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.

Sometimes I'll be Home for Christmas is playing in the background, and you're alone, and you've lost someone.  You're sad for what could have been, what wasn't, and what your life will be like.  Christmas is sometimes just hard, and lonely, and reminds you of the things you're missing.  I'll admit, I've been finding Christmas a little bit that way this year.  I was trying to enjoy it, but coming up short.

I'm down here in Jacksonville.  I've been here for Christmases past, when I was younger and my cousin Laura and I dressed up in identical nightgowns and every piece of costume jewelry in the household, added some shades and sashayed down the creaky old stairs to the adults.  I've been in secret spy clubs with passwords and laminated cards where our only task was to find the presents and figure out what they were.  There's a lot of history here.

This year, we came down early.  We sat in the front room with some much needed wine after the harrowing drive and chatted.  We formed a search party for a dying phone.  We met Louie, the new pup, and patted Toby, the old pup, on the head.  We watched White Christmas and we putzed around and we retired to our couches or beds or air mattresses.

We did the shop til you drop, and then we had a wonderful dinner of prime rib at the same dining room table we've had big family meals at for as long as I can remember.  My cousins and I stayed at the table awhile after, chatting about shows and movies and people.   We exchanged gifts and had another glass.  It was really nice.

But it wasn't til tonight that I got there.  My uncle and cousins came up after the Illini game ended, my aunt surprised me with birthday cake, and everyone piled into the living room.  My uncle pulled up a chair, grabbed the remote and polled the audience for the Christmas movie we'd watch.  Same as always.  All 3 dogs joined us, sometimes creating a Christmas Vacationy sort of chaos, sometimes sitting quietly.  We settled on the end of the Grinch, and something about hearing everyone recite their favorite parts made me smile.  When that was over, we put on A Christmas Story.   Somewhere during that, I took this picture.  Because when I looked around me, I saw that no, maybe I had no dad to scoop me up and make everything ok.  Maybe this year wasn't the one for gentle snow and handholding and singing.  But there's such a safety and a comfort in unspoken tradition- in that gather round we have.  People pull up chairs, corners of sofas, slices of floor...and we just sit together, and watch something we've all seen 100 times.  And that's Christmas, and that's family....and that's perfect, for me.

I've been thinking about it a long time this year, because some of the people I love the most are suffering, and this season tends to get salt in those wounds, even when you try hard to fight it.  I've got wounds of my own, some new and some old.

But to whomever reads this...I hope you can find your Christmas.  I hope you can hold onto something that makes you feel safe and loved.  That's what I wish for you.

And to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Million Little Pieces

The first time I ran across a pomegranate in the "wild," (y'know, the grocery store...) I knew that I liked the flavor.  And it looked exotic, and it was different, and it was something to do.

So I bought it and I took it home, and when a friend came over, we tried to crack into it. Keep in mind I knew nothing about the fruit.  It was completely alien to me.  I didn't really even know which parts were edible.   I found out that it was tough to get into.   So I got out my big knife, and I sliced it in quarters the way you'd do with an apple or an orange or really, most any other kinda-spherical fruit.

As soon as it was sliced open, rivers of almost bloodlike red poured out.  It immediately stained the counter, our hands, and the wooden cutting board, and the stains seemed rather indelible. We laughed and picked at it and we tried the skeletal, tough whitish part, in case it was edible.  It wasn't.  We gnawed on it all of 30 seconds before we discovered this. It was bitter and had no redeemable use.  So we tried to tear it apart.  This just resulted in more bleeding, more staining and more laughing.

Eventually, we decided even though the wifi was spotty up in White Rock, googling might do us some good. It turns out if you soak the pomegranate when it's cut like that, it's easy to separate the little alien seeds from their little alien pods.  It turns out also that the little alien seeds that contain the ruby red juice are where all the good stuff is.  Seemed like a lot of work for a bunch of tiny seeds.

Still, we soaked it.  We brushed off the arils into the water- they sink while the pith floats, making it relatively easy to separate what you want from what you don't.  A few minutes later, hands still slightly pink, and counters still stained, we got the prize- tiny little gems bursting with tangy juice.

I was separating one of these suckers tonight, and it made me think.  I always think in metaphors, and there's a lot to think about this week.  There's a lot of pain and a lot of confusion and a lot of....stuff.

I guess I was thinking about the things you do and why you do them.  Usually it's worth it to you in some way.   Then I was thinking about people, and the people that are worth it to you- the relationships.  I think it starts out a lot like this situation did.  You know nothing.  You know there's something there that's attractive, and you want to get at it, but you don't even know how.  Maybe you pass it up or maybe you take it home and stare at it awhile.  Then you get inside of it.  The friendship forms and it stains, hopefully indelibly. This is the first part where you can tuck and run, because this is the first time it's ever risky.  Sitting on your counter, you can stare at it or let it go bad.  Open on the counter it's gonna start to affect your life.

But you're not done yet.  It's a part of you, but you haven't figured out how it works yet.  If you put in that work, you find 530 (if the Greeks were right) perfect little reasons it was worth all that work.  It's sweet and it's tart and it's good for you. And you're probably still going to keep getting stained, but it's worth it.

For me that's how it works. And if I find those 530 reasons, I'll take the stains and I'll take the soak and I'll take the work.  Because it's worth it.

I don't find pomegranates often. They're not always in season. They're expensive.  They're rare enough to be a special treat for me.   And I guess...that's how I see the most important people in my life. Or it is tonight.

Sometimes you have to sort through and figure out why.  Why are you gonna let yourself get hurt? Why are you gonna keep trying?  Why risk it?  Why run into pith and gnaw on bitterness and ruin some of your own things?

And I guess you have to figure out how far you'll go for those 530 reasons, and if the sweetness inside of the thing is worth enough to you to risk it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Things I Learned from My Mom is my Mom's birthday (and in her honor, we won't say which one)

I thought it would be neat, since she's joined the blogosphere, to make a different kind of birthday card, and tell whoever is out there reading this some things I've learned in thirty years with my mom.

30. If you don't want to heat all of Illinois, you need to SHUT THAT DOOR!
29. Why wouldn't a woman be able to change the oil in a car?
28. Road trips are a good thing.
27. You can still have fun on a kraft mac and cheese budget.
26. But eventually, you gotta switch from Kraft Mac and Cheese to Lunchables?
25. Do what you do because it's what you do.
24. Go potty before you leave the house!
23. Brush your hair so you look presentable whenever you go out.
22. It's ok to be an individual- you aren't like anyone else.
21. Don't forget to be good to people though.
20. Everyone's got a little artistic streak or creative side in them.
19. Creativity is important, and you should be proud of it.
18. Travel.
17. Look out the window or you'll miss a bunch of stuff that was just outside your window.
16. Don't be afraid to be smart.
15. SOMETIMES it's ok to just do nothing.
14. Hard work is important.
13. Scrub under your nails.
12. Make your bed.
11. Thank people
10. Believe in little miracles (and big ones)
9. No matter what happens to you, you can get through it.
8. You need to learn to be independent.
7. Even though you can do it on your own, it doesn't mean you shouldn't let people help you.
6. Don't take too much medicine-let your body get strong enough to fight it.
5. Do what you have to do even if it hurts.
4. Love.
3. Remember that your family is important.
2. Remember that you're loved.
1. You can be a strong, amazing woman who can do anything you put your mind to.

So thanks Mom, and Happy Birthday!