30 June 2008


When she died, I knew my step father would be lost. He was. He barely knew how to run the washing machine let alone how to pay the bills. She took care of everything for him and suddenly he was alone. At 66 he had to learn how to cook and clean and all the other things she did.

Thankfully, my sister lives about 20 minutes away and she took up where Ma left off on a lot of things. He came to dinner. Often. He heartily drank whatever booze was at K's house in an attempt to drown his pain and emptiness. We all did that. My sister nursed him back to stability. She and her husband and children filled that void.

Beacause I live nearly 6 hours away all I could do was be an ear on the other end of the phone. He'd call me after he got home from K's all spicy and warm from the night's libation. He cried about how he missed my mother. How lost he felt. I cried too. I can't imagine his pain; so different from mine. But equally disabling.

It didn't take long for his phone to start ringing. He's always been a bit of a flirt - even when Ma was alive. How she tollerated it I'll never know. So now, under veiled excuses of offering sympathy, the divorcees and widows came to call. He bit - hook, line and sinker. He's one of that generation that can't stand to be alone. He went to dinner parties and other social gatherings; trying to find his way alone in this new world. He had his pick of beautiful, charming, interesting and often weathly women.

He chose to be with someone not even 10 years older than me. Her "issues" run deep. There's the needy son out west somewhere who she's constantly going to bail out of some mess; The Ex who she somehow can't let go. The sketchy skiing trips with the "friend".

My stepfather really doesn't have much to say about her but when he does he doesn't have much nice to say. "She's troubled" and "She has some things to work out". He spends all his money on her and then whines to me that he's broke. They actually got "engaged" last summer. He bought her a very expensive ring. They have since called it off - broke up and are now back together.

I still haven't met her.

And really, I don't want to. The day my sister met her the first thing she said was, "I'm sure you're wondering how old I am". Um. Yeah. No. My Aunt asked me if I was interested in meeting "her". I said no. Not especially. I'm kind of hoping she dries up and goes away. Aunt G, in her wonderfully sarcastic tone agreed and said, "Yes. She seems utterly uninteresting." Indeed.

Deep down, I want him to be happy. I do. Really. I just hate the fact that this woman is sleeping in my mother's bed and taking advantage of his generosity. It would be one thing if she was "good" for him (will anyone be good enough for him? No one can replace my mother). But I think she's a cancer that's slowly eating him alive. This is not a healthy relationship for him.

I'm tired of his empty promises to come visit. Every time I talk to him now he says he's planning a trip to see us. It's been 18 months since we've seen eachother. I sent him a picture of the boys for his birthday and he was astounded how big they've gotten. Hmm. Imagine that. These kids. They actually grow!

Even though he is "only" my step-father, he's been so much more than that in my life. I'm blessed that our relationship has been so strong and close. But now it seems hollow. I miss him.

28 June 2008


I don't know what it is about grapes, but I will only eat the ones still on the vine. If they fall off it's sort of like the clam/mussel that doesn't close when you tap on it. Those are the ones you toss before cooking. So somehow the grape must be unhealthy if it isn't strong enough to hold on the vine anymore.

Yeah, I'm weird like that.

27 June 2008

Where do they learn this stuff?

We had the baseball game on the other night when Finn walked in to the room.


"That's right!"

"The Ankies are the bad guys."

Ahhh, daycare. A full service institution.

26 June 2008

Summer Breeze

Last night was one of those glorious summer evenings: Hot and humid but with just enough of a breeze to keep you completely comfortable. I sipped a glass of wine on the deck, silently lamenting that June is almost gone - again. It was hard to go inside - especially knowing the next week or more proves to be "unsettled" as they say.

I love a good summer storm though. I miss watching the incredible weather roll across Lake Champlain from the deck of my apartment on College Street in Burlington. I loved to sit out there and feel the breeze suddenly kick up and grab your attention. Something big was going to happen. Then, almost in slow motion, the clouds would sweep in and hug you with their cool, clammy embrace. Pow! The rain dropped like cement from the sky, powerwashing the heat and humidity away. It was gone as quickly as it came, but left me full of energy.

Storms here aren't nearly as interesting though occaisionally we're blessed with a stunning rainbow after a gentle rain.

25 June 2008

Math Lesson

Armed with a crisp $5 bill for the very exciting field trip this morning, (the kid barely slept a wink last night!) Finn buckled himself in to his car seat.

Dad: "I'll trade you a one dollar bill for that five."

F: "No deal, Dadda. Five is bigger than one."

Dad: "How about two dollar bills for that five?"

F: "No Dadda. Five is bigger than two!"

Dad: "Ok, last offer. I'll give you three two dollar bills for your five."

He hesitated for half a beat. His face lit up with a giant smile.

F: "Deal Dadda!! Six is better than five!"

Maybe we can skip preschool afterall.

24 June 2008


O loves public safety vehicles. (Don't all little boys?)
Whenever he sees a police car or ambulance go by he screams "Woooowoooo!"

Today, when I put on his new shirt he looked down, then back up at me with a huge grin and said, "Fire Fuck!!"

His speach is coming along nicely.

19 June 2008

First You Cry

I found a card the other day that my mother sent to me in 1998. It was tucked inside a book that hadn't been touched for some time and fell out when I lifted it off the shelf.

It was a shock at first to see her handwriting. Like this was a note that had just arrived. I loved to get cards and letters from her. It was so exciting to see her handwriting on an envelope in my mailbox. Something good promised to be inside.

She was incredibly thoughtful. She had an amazing gift to find just the right card for you. Like she had created it herself; like it had been created exclusively for you. She'd send cards just to let you know she was thinking about you. She always made you feel like you were the most important person in the world. So special that I would have to call her to tell her how much she meant to me; how incredibly blessed I was that she was my mother.

This card, she sent after my then boyfriend of 9 years dumped me. Needless to say I was feeling down. It was sappy and sweet and was perfect:

"First you cry.
Second, you...well,
OK, you cry second too.
Eventually, you stop crying.
Time passes.

Then, one unexpected day, something happens,
and you find yourself
with an old, forgotten friend--
your smile.
When you catch yourself smiling,
you stop.
You feel guilty, maybe.

Until, finally, laughter.
It feels as good as it ever did.
You want to laugh again,
so you do.

And you live on.
No matter what stage you find yourself in today,
remember that I care."

She signed it: I got pretty teary when I read this in the store - it makes me think so much of you AND me. Take care of yourself Rabbit - we'll talk soon. xox Mema

It's still the perfect card. It's like she sent this, so many years ago knowing the sentiment would hold true for so many occaisions and that she'd always be there to tell me how much she cares... I just wish, so very much, that I could call her to tell her I know.

18 June 2008

Tis the Season

Man I love this time of year. It's not too hot and the sun sets so much later. We sit on the back deck with a glass of cold wine and listen to the Little League games in the fields just beyond our yard. We watch the birds feeding and teaching their young to fly until well after 8:00 - when... the mosquitos come out! (BOO mosquitos!!)

The grill is our main source of cookery these days and the food choices are about to explode. Come on fresh tomatos and peas and beans and lettuce and corn and brussles sprouts and on and on and on!

There's just nothing better than fresh veggies roasted on the grill. Last night it was asparagus. Even my somewhat veggie-phobic husband snarfed down all he could. Now if only I could convince Finn to eat something green....

16 June 2008

Doctor Finn

Still reeling from an unintentional whack to the bridge of my nose by the O-Bomb, Finn enters the room and sees the tears in my eyes.

He takes my head in his hands with a gentle touch.

"What is it Mama?" he says with great concern.

"Your brother accidentally hit me with his hockey stick and it really hurt." (Thanks Uncle Mike!)

He pulls my face closer to inspect.

"I'll make it better Mama!"

And he plants the biggest juiciest kiss on my sore schnoz - therefore guaranteeing a briuse. So sweet, my boy.

10 June 2008


Why do I do it?

I lose a few pounds and I get all cocky. Like I deserve something special.

I made meatballs for the boys last night and when they were finished there were four left.

I couldn't let them go to waste could I?

So. I. ate. them.

And I felt horrible.

What's different this time though is that I didn't immediately dive in to the ice cream tub that's been calling for me every time I open the freezer. I didn't open the box of cookies or binge on cheese.

I stopped, realized that all wasn't lost, and moved ahead.

09 June 2008

Jill Bolte Taylor: My Stroke of Insight

I'm not sure how I found this, but this woman's story gives me chills. To be so in control when you're so not in control is - wow. I don't have the words.

06 June 2008


If you have time to spare this is fun!
(via sheshe)

The concept:

1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into flickr Search.
2. Using only the first page of results, and pick one image.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

The questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food? right now?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. What is your favourite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favourite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. What is one word that describes you?
12. What is your flickr name?

Have fun!

05 June 2008

Strong and Silent

Owen is the strong, silent type.

Well, not exactly. He speaks fluent Vietnamese (or is it Cambodian? The dialects kill me.) But he doesn't say much that we can understand. His pediatrician said he's at about an 18 month level. He's not overly concerned.

I had him "assessed" last week because he's "supposed" to be speaking more at 2. I'm not sure I'm being fair to judge him like this. I want him to do things at his own pace - not what the book says he should do. But I also don't want him to fall behind if there is a problem. He was early with everything else. He walked at 9 months. He's coordinated. His daycare teacher say's he's "freakishly strong". Other mothers shoot me horrified glances at the park as I sit and watch him climb up the ladder unattended. And then they shriek when he jumps from the three foot high landing to go do it all over again.

He certainly isn't "delayed" in anything but his speach. The assessor asked me if he spoke 50 words. 50? Are you kidding? Well, last night I started a list (I wish I'd done this with Finn because it's really kind of fun.) and, low and behold, he has nearly 40 words. Not all of them exactly clear, (POK = pocket) but 40 just the same.

So, he's not as far off the mark as I had feared. The assessor was on the fence, but recommended further testing. I don't think I'm going to pursue this yet. Maybe it's realated to "Second Child Syndrome" where he doesn't get as much attention from us as his brother did. I want to spend more time with him practicing his sounds; encouraging him to speak. He loves for me to sing to him (Finn not so much: "Mama, please stop singing") And he's really discovered his love of books in the last month or so. Perhaps a little more attention will help.

It certainly can't hurt.

04 June 2008

I Did It!!

I ran 32 miles last month!

I know, it ain't much to real runners. But I'm not a runner. At least not yet. As I've said before, I'm really good at starting things, just not so good with the follow-through. I really can't believe I'm still doing this.

14 pounds gone so far. The only bad thing about this: My favorite pants are too big.

Did you hear that?!?!?! TOO BIG!!!!

Sorry. I'll shut up now.

02 June 2008

The Origins of The Green Rug and Other Unanswerable Questions

Why didn't I have the forsight to ask her when I had the chance?

I'm sure it's been around for a long time. Its simple green and gold design is reminiscent of an earlier era. I can't remember where it was before she helped me move it to my bedroom in 1973. It lay on my floor until the summer of my freshman year in college when we rolled it up and packed it in to my car and I drove it to my first apartment. I moved that rug 9 times before I rolled it up in 2001 and stored it in the basement of my current home.

Last night I rolled it out again in the spare room we have been renovating for a few weeks now. I think she'd be happy to know that it's been given a new home; that everytime I look at it I think of her; that every time I think of her I smile. One day, I will pass this rug on. Hopefully one of my sons will love it as much as I do.

I just wish I knew it's history. I love having family artifacts: Grandpa McAllen's "Griffin" table. Granny Hun's wine goblets. Gaga's trunk. These things come alive when I think of who touched them and where they have been.

Thankfully my mother documented quite a few of the things that were passed down. And as much as I do know about these objects, there are so many questions I wish I could ask her now.