23 April 2009

Me and Cat.

my sweet little boy & i have had the most miserable spring colds all week long. it is worse for him because he's not altogether skilled at nose-blowing and can't completely articulate what hurts. mostly, he's just been raiding the popsicles to get through it, while i have been pouting on both our behalves. one of my dearest friends gave birth to her daughter this week and i still haven't felt un-germy enough to go by for a visit; for me that has been the most frustrating part of the whole thing.

today i decided i at least needed to leave the house for a few minutes, if only to breathe some fresh air and change my mood. so with Eli napping in his bed, wearing the daddy-appointed combo of a royal blue mickey mouse t-shirt and burgundy sweat pants with a bulldog on the thigh, i headed out.

i decided to take Maude, my aunt's old VW bug. [i still can't get used to the idea that it's mine.] good Cat Stevens was already in the cassette player so i opened both of the smaller side windows, angled them at my face and zipped down the driveway.

there is truly nothing like that old car and some familiar tunes crackling from the speakers to bring me out of a funk and into a nostalgically happy place. i drove the curvy snake roads at a medium pace, scooting over to let faster cars pass so i could enjoy the scenery. the hills between here and White Bluff, the next town over, were edged with pink and white dogwoods arching out over the road.

for two minutes i felt like i was back in Palo Alto, on the winding California roads where this car spent most of its life and where i spent just enough of my childhood for it to feel like home in my memory. then a hint of some scent came through the windows and reminded me of how melting eskimo pies smelled at the neighborhood pool snack bar in Houston, where we sat on damp towels and let our shoulders bake in the sun, ice cream dripping down our arms. i made a circle and came back down Craggie Hope road, passing the entrance for Bethany Camp and then a yard with two shiny black horses eating afternoon grass.

my head felt a little less cotton-stuffed, at last, so i drove to Sonic for a small diet vanilla coke because who can beat their crunchy ice on a hot day when you have the sniffles? i thought about that Nanci Griffith song, the one about the five & dime. i puttered along behind a trailer hauling a backhoe, and knew that if Eli was with me he would have shouted, "mama, look! a digger!" with such excitement despite his stuffy nose. that made me miss him, so i almost turned back when i saw that the Sonic lot was packed with rows of cars and several dozen high school kids hanging out of the windows yelling to each other. but once you have a vanilla diet coke in your mind, especially with the special ice, it's hard to let it go, so i waited. it was rather toasty, sitting in Maude with no a/c and no wind to blow through the slanted windows. i turned down Cat Stevens so the kids wouldn't think i was listening to old people music. in retrospect, i should have turned it up.

ten minutes later, home again with a slightly clearer head and a better perspective. jeremy was waiting to take me out to the vegetable garden he planted yesterday. he grew tiny sprouted corn and green beans from seeds. we have tomato plants too, in several varieties, and i'm already thinking of oven-roasting a big salty pan of whatever we can't eat fresh or give away. want some?

spring is good, i've decided, even with a little annoying sickness. sometimes a quick change of scenery is all you need. the ranunculus i planted a few weekends ago have uncurled, bloomed, and multiplied. when my nephew jake was born, there were beds full of bright red and yellow ranunculus outside the hospital waiting room window. it was such a happy morning and i remember thinking those were the prettiest flowers i had ever seen. almost like poppies but with extra layers of beauty. i've been wanting them ever since.

06 April 2009

april 6.

today is my husband's birthday and he's away in new orleans, working for us, his family. he just called from the french quarter, one of his all-time favorite places, to say that he's not particularly enjoying himself because we aren't there with him.

in honor of jeremy's 33 years of life, i've compiled a list of things that make him so unique and lovable, and that always make me miss him when he's away.

1. he is a connoisseur of coffee and is fanatical about Peet's. he makes the coffee every night before bed so that all we have to do is flip it on in the morning.
2. he eats as much pasta as your average italian on a weekly basis, and especially likes spicy tomato sauce.
3. he keeps our monthly budget on a spreadsheet and has things figured to the dollar at the top of every month.
4. he possesses a large collection of bags--backpacks, small shoulder bags, mountain bags, computer bags, travel bags, bags to put inside of bags, bags.
5. he is handy with a hammer.
6. he loves to collect patches, even if they don't necessarily get sewn onto anything.
7. although he never wears it, he still has a very old, fairly oversized, faded jean jacket circa 1992(?) in our closet.
8. he loves being home and is a creature of habit.
9. he is a scholar of history and knows an astonishing amount of random but useful facts about almost any subject you might throw at him (much like a Jeopardy contestant). last night just before falling asleep, for example, he told me all about how thatched roofs are made and how they function when it rains.
10. he rarely watches any television except for news, but is an avid LOST follower and will restructure the day's events in order not to miss it.
11. his idea of a perfect day will always include a bookstore.
12. he also likes a good cup of irish or english tea.
13. he is one of the best fathers i have ever known.
14. he is not afraid to say he's sorry first in an argument, and often does, even if i'm the one more noticeably in the wrong.
15. when playing any board game involving words, he is more inclined to invent non-existent words just to amuse himself than to try to win the game.
16. he appreciates John Denver as much as I do, but prefers John Lennon or Johnny Cash.
17. he is a loyal friend and is not afraid to hug another guy or tell them he loves them. i've always admired this.
18. he is into trees.
19. he is not very good at keeping surprises because he can't hold it in for more than a few minutes. on the day of my 30th birthday SURPRISE party, he asked a friend right in front of me: "so are you coming to the um....shindig...tonight?" (thinking that would be subtle enough to keep me from catching on).
20. he almost always uses #2 pencils to write (ironic considering #18).
21. he has very nice teeth.
22. he wishes we had a yard full of chickens and a few goats.
23. he works much more than he rests and almost never asks for help.
24. he often reads the end of a book before he gets through chapter one.
25. he was raised in Pennsylvania but detests being cold.
26. on road trips, he usually tries to find a Bob Evans restaurant to stop and eat, even if he's by himself.
27. he always makes sure his family is taken care of before himself.
28. he almost always writes music before lyrics.
29. one of his most prized possessions is his vintage J-45 guitar.
30. he has been to Australia.
31. he always makes sure that the car is clean and has plenty of gas.
32. he thinks i am unusually short for a human, even though i'm 5'3".
33. he is my closest friend.

02 April 2009

observations on a lawnmower.

Our upstairs bedroom has become my favorite spot to sneak away in the afternoons. Especially afternoons like this one, when the clouds are hovering and the thunder is beginning to rumble. Our bedroom is a bit cave-like anyway, but it’s just the sort of room I’ve always wanted. The walls are silver-grey and angled. Our lofty iron bed is covered in white, and is high enough that if I stood atop the mattress, my head would almost skim the ceiling. (I wasn’t sure so I just tried it.) The old grey velvet sofa is for once not piled with laundry to be put away, so were it not for the tangled springs beneath the surface, it would be a perfect place to curl up and read. We have only one very low window draped with something sheer enough that I can see the sky darkening fast.

While Eli naps, I huddle here atop the covers, surrounded by a mound of pillows, and catch up on writing or steal a few pages of a book before he wakes and calls to me again. Last night, I started reading A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. My friend Melissa just finished it and it inspired me to dig out my unread copy. After a few days of sporadic excavating in piles of dusty books, I gave up and bought another copy for $3.60 at the used bookstore.

It seems very still right now, and eerily quiet. I think this is the literal calm before the storm they talk about. I like rain on days like this, when we’re all home and tucked in, Jeremy downstairs with a hot mug of afternoon coffee, working away in his office. The dog is terrified of storms and is nestled deep on his polka-dotted bed inches from his master’s feet.

Not thirty minutes ago, the whole group of us was outside in the backyard, swatting at bees and scraping grass clippings from our shoes against the pavement. With the entrance of spring, Jeremy has resumed lawn mowing, and for the first time, Eli has taken a special interest in this activity. He insists on watching the entire process, as his father weaves even lines up and down our acre lot. Two weeks ago, we bought him his own little toy lawnmower that blows bubbles while he pushes it. He proceeded to mow our entire lawn and our neighbor’s too.

Today, upon seeing Jeremy lace up his work boots in the kitchen, Eli put down his fork mid-bite, pushed his plate away and insisted it was time for him to mow the lawn also. So off they went, and then completed the bonding experience by clinking their cups of Gatorade together an hour later. I do love raising a little boy.

Lightning is flashing now and the thunder is definitely causing the dog to shake downstairs. I know this without seeing him. He is a boy too, but somewhat cowardly.

Watching the grass being mowed twice, simultaneously, (once with a blade, once with bubbles), I couldn't help but feel really proud of Eli for choosing such a great man to look up to. I know he's only two, and maybe at that age every little boy sees their father as the most fascinating person to ever walk the earth, but regardless, their mutual admiration is my very favorite thing to observe.

Every morning the two of them have a few minutes in the office listening to music (usually "Bono" or "Coldplay", at Eli's request). This morning, it resulted in coffee being spilled all over Jeremy's desk--and onto some expensive recording devices I don't know the names of. Eli said "Sorry, dada" without prompting, and offered a hug into the mix of flying dishtowels. In the evenings after I feed and bathe Eli, they watch fifteen minutes of a Disney movie together, bundled up on the couch while his hair dries.

I'm not sure how long this season of Jeremy working from home will last---though we've never known anything different---but I know there's something important and possibly rare about Eli having the chance to begin and end every single day knowing how much his daddy loves him. Even when the coffee spills.

*better point out in case my mother is reading, he's not as close to the street as it appears. there's a little hill, and then a ditch filled with leaves.