Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Light Burdens

Alain Delorme

The burden which is well borne becomes light.

-- Ovid

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Garden that My Dad Built

My parents left today and I feel blue. Not sky blue but gray blue, the blue of childhood melancholy. Whatever our differences, my parents and we girls are twisted together with love.

Thanks, Mom, for being with me this week during one of the most difficult periods of my life. And thanks, Dad, for being here, too, for all the work that you did and your wise words.

I love you both.

Queen Mary

Yesterday, we drove to Long Beach and visited the historic Queen Mary ship. My parents, particularly my mother, are World War II fanatics, and this ship was used during that war for the troops.

We went on a real Russian submarine which made me think, naturally, of that old German movie Das Boot. It's hard to imagine what sort of living hell it must be to work and live on a vessel that is submerged in the ocean.

Here's my mother, the boys ahead of her, on top of the sub and walking toward the entrance.

 And, yes, my mother and I both crawled through about eight of those holes that you see above. But I won't post those pictures because I'd like you to remain convinced of my inherent self-worth and dignity.

I did have the teeny tiny thought that it might not be too bad to live in one of these teeny tiny bedrooms, for a bit, by myself, far from the madding crowd. Honestly, the end of the bed is the end of the room. It was sort of like a Russian male kiddle house. I'm just saying --

And I do love a porthole.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Incredible Mr. Aquino

Yesterday, my father, nearly aged 75 did the following tasks:

1. Repaired the screen door that Sat Nam, the crazy dog we "adopted" for one week tore up that infamous day. If you need a reminder, read here.

2. Fixed and made more convenient several electrical outlets in our house

3. Went to nursery, bought an 8' X 4' raised garden bed and installed it with Oliver in our backyard, complete with lettuces, herbs, Swiss chard and strawberry plants.

4. Climbed on roof of guest cottage and re-tarred areas that were causing leaks inside.

How awesome is that?

Here are some random pictures from our day:

The Husband was working but made us EVERYTHING beforehand.

The two Mr. Aquinos (Michele, my father, and his twin brother, Anthony)

Mom and Dad

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

What is the secret to being grateful?
Right now you are breathing, you are
alive, and you are full of life. If you start with that, you
will be prosperous, you will be rich,
and you will have many opportunities and friends.

--Yogi Bhajan

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving #24

I'm thankful today for my Postcards from Penguin box that came in the mail.

I opened it up and practically jumped for joy. It's a neat box (I love a well-designed box) filled to the brim with postcards, each one a replica of a famous Penguin/Pelican book. I probably won't be sending them out any time soon but rather flipping through them with probable ridiculous pleasure. Already, I've pulled these to show you:
My life right now

my favorite writer, perhaps, of all time
What would happen if this book were to be published today?

It's the small things.

A Comedic Break

My friend Shannon gave me this card for my birthday back in August, but as Thanksgiving approaches, I thought I'd share it here. Partly because it's a break from the stress around these parts (The Husband's entire chef's tool kit with old German and Swiss tools and knives that he's owned for over twenty-five years, was stolen from his car the other night when someone threw a rock in the back window, shattering glass all the way up to the front seat) and partly because family get-togethers always seem to highlight the angst of family as well as the love, and I know some of you out there are going to be looking for the humor in the day, right?

My own dear parents are in town to celebrate Thanksgiving, and I'm grateful to have them here. I'm not sure they'd necessarily be on this tree, though, so don't think I'm dissin' them by putting it up there.

It's really just to make me laugh.

 Actually, I look at myself on that tree as either Hard or Lard Ass.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving #23

Two down, one to go.

Days that is. Yesterday was IVIG infusion day one and today was MRI sedation and test.

That's two down.

Tomorrow is IVIG infusion day two.

My heart is pounding and I'm tired. Sophie is exhausted.

How do chronically ill people do it?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving #22

I'm thankful, today, for nurses who get the stick on the first try.

Just call me a hero

for taking my sons to the Los Angeles Car Show at the LA Convention Center along with thousands of other car-crazed, nacho-eating, beer-drinking, consumer-driven humans. Whoever said the car culture of this grand country is dead should have been there.

I hated every minute of it.

O.K. -- the Aston Martins were beautiful.

Blog Gems - Air Your Archives

The National Archives Building

Over at the hilarious Big Daddy, I learned about Blog Gems where you join a group of blog hoppers and provide the link to a post that you might have written so long ago that no one even read it. Or maybe you just want some more comments -- that's actually the prompt for this week's Blog Gems. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to do it for a bit, since as I slog through writing into the thousands of posts, I realize that I haven't really written anything of late like I used to do.

Go on over HERE and read something I wrote a few years back. Sadly and perhaps absurdly, life hasn't changed too much since I wrote that, but it still makes me laugh. I hope you'll laugh, too.

And if you're so inclined, you can join Blog Gems, because Jen from The King and Eye posts interesting prompts every couple of weeks or so. Read more here.

I'd love to read anything you might want to air out --

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving #21

I'm thankful today for the community of Hopeful Parents. Come on over and visit me, leave a comment and join us.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Thousand Paper Cranes

This is my ONE THOUSANDTH blog post! 

Evidently, an ancient Japanese legend says that if you fold a thousand origami cranes, you will be granted a wish by a crane. People wished for long life, for health, for world peace, by folding cranes. The crane is considered mystical and holy in Japan and some say that it lives for one thousand years. If you fold 1000 paper origami cranes, your wish comes true.

I'm getting a late start here but wonder if you'd help me fold 1,000 origami cranes. You can probably guess what I'm wishing for, but since I'm a tad superstitious I won't tell you.  If you're good at origami, make a crane. 

Otherwise, fold one in your mind.

I'm thinking that each post of this blog might be my thousand cranes -- that through this blog, I've met you and you and you. So while you're folding, think of me, thinking of and thanking you, one thousand times.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving #19

Amidst it all, I'm thankful for the quotidian.

Oliver works on his boat for the raingutter regatta with the Cub Scouts. Unlike some of the other scouts (ahem), he does it all himself, and it shows.

Henry writes his Christmas list. He looked up and said You know, I don't believe in Santa Claus.

Sophie, enduring

 Biscuits for dinner with tomato soup

Leftover Halloween filling the turkey basket

Life in Hell

Remember the Life in Hell comics by Matt Groenig? I loved them and had forgotten about them until I decided that my post for this morning was going to be titled "Life in Hell." I went online looking for some sort of ancient painting of Dante's Hell but then found Groenig. I spent a good amount of time going through the many hilarious drawings and then I finally decided on the one I've posted above.


The black shadowed rabbit is, of course, me. The little rabbit is the nurse who came yesterday to administer Sophie's fourth treatment of IvIg. The nurse arrived on time and was a very kind lady but I won't belabor why mistakes were made. Suffice it to say that veins were punctured five times and no needle found a home. The large, shadowed rabbit called a stop during the fifth poke and demanded that the treatment be tried again tomorrow. That means tomorrow and Saturday because they're given over two days. Five hour infusions on two days. Like I said, I don't feel like belaboring mistakes, especially because the nurse was a good woman.

The little rabbit is also the whole shitty THING, too. The constant seizures, the calls back and forth to The Neurologists, the not-knowing, the no one can help feeling, the constant vigilance, the seizures, the eyes of Sophie, staring at me, the sweaty palms, the eyes, the eyes, the eyes. The whole shitty thing. One needn't live in Haiti to experience hell (although some perspective is in order but allow me to throw perspective to the winds and play the violin instead). And I just have to post the following gorgeous illustration where you can see Sophie and I lost, in the woods.

an illustration for Dante's Inferno by William Blake

Life in Hell is living with a child with a seizure disorder that is refractory to seemingly EVERYTHING.

I bet you're wondering how I'm going to figure out something to be thankful about today.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving #18

I'm thankful for this:

A poorly spelled yet astounding poem

My son, Oliver, is nine years old and struggles mightily with reading and writing. He was recently diagnosed with a learning disability, and when I sat at his IEP,  I thought to myself Really? I'm at an IEP with another child? Don't I get a pass? Evidently not, and I can attest to many agonizing moments with The Big O as we struggle together with his homework. The learning issues, combined with a personality that is about as far from meek and mild as one can get, and my own often teetering on the edge lack of patience make for blazing fires and shouts and breakdowns. The drama! The drama!

So, as I was folding laundry in my room last night, Oliver walked in with his spiral notebook and read this poem to me.

A Dream

by Oliver 

A dream isn't just anything
It is like a spirit deep down in our soul
Like a black hole waiting to be opened
like flowing water trying to escape
it opens

 I thought, for a moment, that he had copied it from somewhere and I asked him where he'd heard it. 

I wrote it, Mom! he said. It's my homework.**  And he showed me the page in his notebook that I've copied above. 

I know, you can't read it, he said, I'm a terrible speller.

I felt like crying when he read it to me again. Not because I had doubted him but because I just felt overwhelmed by him and his presence -- his strange and wild person-hood. The drama! The drama! The love. I knelt beside him and put my hands on his shoulders. He let me pull him into a hug as I exclaimed over the beauty of what he'd written and then agreed to show it to all of you.

**He is currently working on memorizing a Langston Hughes poem called A Dream Deferred and the assignment was to write a poem in that style. When I looked up the Hughes poem, I half-expected to see Oliver's poem, verbatim, or at least some of the words plagiarized. I found nothing. Oliver told me that he liked the way the poet compared things. I'm still amazed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving #17

Today I'm thankful for the words of the Buddha:

Looking after oneself, one looks after others.

Looking after others, one looks after oneself.
How does one look after others by looking after oneself?
By practicing mindfulness, developing it, and making it grow.
How does one look after oneself by looking after others?
By patience, non-harming, lovingkindness, and caring.
-The Buddha (Samyutta Nikaya 47.19)


Switzerland, 2007

Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them.

Eudora Welty

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving #16

Thank you for Karen. 
(I was hard-pressed for gratitude today, but this shining person helped me more than she could ever imagine)


I woke up this morning and lay in my bed looking around my room. I have stacks of books and papers everywhere. There are boxes with Christmas gifts sitting next to my bed because there is no place for them in our tiny house. In the corner are two knitting baskets, filled with wool and needles, some from college which was a very, very long time ago. I have a tote bag filled with scarves and wraps sitting on a chair and all of Halloween in giant orange plastic bins ready to be swallowed up by the hole in the ceiling to the attic above. My desk is covered in books and papers and cards that I love, my leadership training materials and binders, cords from the camera and the jump sticks for the computer and a bottle of hand lotion and a tiny picture of Sophie when she was five. I am lying in bed, wondering if perhaps I'm slowly disappearing whether I'm a potential hoarder although when I discuss this one hour later on the phone with my best friend she tells me that hoarders have toilet paper smeared with feces that they can't throw away and I'm nowhere near that so I'm relieved but still there's all this stuff and I love it all, I do.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving #15

I'm thankful for the relative ease of a visit to the osteopath with my two sons, for their good health and the opportunity to feel even better through her treatments.

The Middle of the Road

I've always felt uncomfortable when admonished by those more moderate than I to, well, be more moderate. What is moderate? What is middle of the road? What does it mean to be in the center? Whenever I try to do so or be so, I squirm uncomfortably. I am able, usually, to hold two opposing views at once and fairly comfortably. There's some back and forth but, generally, something pulls me one way or the other and it's generally to the left when it comes to ideas about government, morality, etc. It's the call to the center that is especially difficult for me and counter-intuitive.

That sounds like a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo, I guess. But I read this excerpt at the blog Hullabaloo and decided to think about it for a while. What do you think?

This isn't a childrens game despite the efforts of these idiotic Villagers who are determined to pretend that there is an easy answer to the huge ideological gulf between the left and right in this country. These aren't two "extremes" of some mythical middle. They are the two competing American political belief systems, period. People who vote for Republicans know very well that they are voting for low taxes for everyone, including the wealthy, and they believe sincerely that everyone would be better off if they fended for themselves and let capitalism sort it all out. (How that plays out in their own lives is different,of course, but they are persuaded that most of their tax dollars are wasted on people who don't deserve it and they aren't going to change their minds.) Democrats believe that taxes are a price you pay for a secure, upwardly mobile society and that the wealthy can easily afford to pay more for the privilege of of living in a stable country with a strong middle class. Republicans are hostile to social security, medicare and all government programs designed to help the less fortunate. They simply do not believe it's an appropriate or moral thing to do because it makes people dependent and lazy. Democrats believe in egalitarianism, social justice and social welfare. However hypocritical these people are as individuals (and they most certainly are) they vote on the basis of competing worldviews that are not reconcilable by a bunch of accountants hashing out a compromise. Those differences are real and they're not "childish."* These are very distinct ideas about what government should do and how it should do it. What's childish is pretending that isn't so and insisting on some kumbaaya magical thinking that we can work it all out if "the extremes" would just stop being so unreasonable.

A Virtual Baby Shower for Maggie

Baby Face

WHITE MOON comes in on a baby face.
The shafts across her bed are flimmering.

Out on the land White Moon shines,
Shines and glimmers against gnarled shadows,
All silver to slow twisted shadows
Falling across the long road that runs from the house.

Keep a little of your beauty
And some of your flimmering silver
For her by the window to-night
Where you come in, White Moon.

-- Carl Sandburg

Today is a day of hope and expectation for our blogger friend Maggie of Flux Capacitor.  Such is the beauty of the blog-world that friendships are made, relationships deepen, bonds are found and tied ever tighter even as we live in different places at different times. Maggie is a poet and a mother and a wife. Her words knit together joy and hope and sadness and grief. She writes of love and parenting, sex and dreams, despair and honor and truth. She gives of herself freely, and I am grateful for her friendship.

I wish Maggie an easy and powerful birth of her Ever, a drawing-together of her beautiful family, an extended peace and forEver health and happiness.

If you'd like to give Maggie a baby gift, either click on the PayPal donate button at the top of my sidebar (highly recommended as Maggie will be on baby leave) or go directly to BabiesRUs and use Registry #46171571.

Other hosts for this virtual baby shower are:

Ms. Moon from Bless Our Hearts
Steph at UnsweetMama

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thanksgiving #14 -- Churches of Los Angeles, etc.

Weird church, Vermont Avenue
Evangelical Church, Vermont Avenue

Temple for Self-Realization, Little Armenia

The wiggly tooth finally fell out

The Church of the Incredible Sunset, 3rd Street

I'm thankful for the sights seen with a nine-year old's eye as we drove home from soccer at sunset on Saturday.


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