Friday, April 24, 2009

The Times They Are A Changin'

I'm moving. Not me, really, but this blog. To

See you.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Yeah, I know that lately this has been little more than links that send you elsewhere, but I've always liked collages, so let's just say that this is some newly-honed mosaic style of blog writing (rather than the cheating shorthand that it is).

This week's story in the New Yorker, though, Chris Adrian's "A Tiny Feast" — is so lovely I can't help myself.

There are of course plenty of lovely stories out there (most of them desperately seeking homes, but that's whole 'nother topic) but the subtitle of this blog is "mixing the oil and writing" after all.

Way back in the very first entry posted here, I opined:

We all behave as if the choice about how to talk about parenthood is easy, lies either in sentimentality or its inverse, some wry jocularity. I have to believe that the truth is more complicated than that, that it resides elsewhere, spreads and deepens, shifts and shimmers; watery enough to both sustain and drown.

Adrian's story attacks this question, and I, for one, am left speechless before it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth

Because, after all, a single parenting book title is worth god knows how many thousand words:

Your Seven Year Old: Life in a Minor Key

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Coffee Break for the Day

It takes me a while (a week?) to get around to it some times, but Judith Warner's latest in the TImes is very nice.

SOMEBODY'S got to do it....

A couple of weeks back, when my mom spent the weekend in the hospital, once things calmed down and we all settled into a hospital routine of sorts, I went off to run some errands for my folks. One of which was to buy groceries so their refrigerator would be full once she got home, because what else am I but a mom myself, and that's the sort of things that moms do — make sure people are fed and clothed and have clean faces.

While I was standing in the check-out lane, I picked up a Martha Stewart Living and tossed it on the conveyer belt, figuring it would give my mom something to read while she was convalescing. I'm not actually all that sure she wants to flip through Martha Stewart Living, but it seemed better than People, at least.

And the magazine did do what I'd hoped, and distracted her. Especially the section on April Fool's tricks that a person (meaning 'a mother') could play on one's family, which gave the two of us fodder for at least fifteen minutes of conversation.

When Martha Stewart tackles April Fool's Day, she does it as only Martha can: one of her proposed "tricks" (which was bee-you-tifully photographed, let me tell you) was to fry up quail eggs one by one and place them gently on tiny cocktail toasts which then could be served for breakfast on April 1.

Quail eggs?

Lady, you do know that Rome is burning out there, don't you?


One of her other suggestions just happened to contain materials that I... just happened... to have on hand: milk and gelatin.
And the basic idea was to make a sort of milk jello and serve it in glasses for breakfast April Fool's morning.

What was I going to be out if I went down this path? A packet of gelatin purchased in 2003 and a cup of milk. And so, dear Reader, I presented my loving family with three glasses of "milk" this morning.

We usually don't drink milk with breakfast.

The Husband looked at his, bemused. Why did you give me a glass of milk? he asked, as if it were a vodka tonic or something equally unusual and forbidden.

The girleens, oh the girleens, they did exactly what they usually do when presented with a glass of milk — and ignored theirs.

Breakfast was winding down, the glasses sat untouched.

Have a sip of milk before you go get dressed, I urged Elder Girleen (knowing Younger Girleen was even much less likely to reach for hers).

She reached; she lifted the glass.

It's solid! she cried.

And then my long-suffering family turned and stared at me, their mother, the silly one, such a complete April Fool.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Weather Report: March 25, 2009

The tree guys under contract to Georgia Power have been out for the past week or so, trolling the streets of the neighborhood with their bucket trucks; their orange flags and cones; they are paring branches to keep the power lines taut and unsnapped — too late for the "blizzard" three weeks ago but just in time for another growing season.

A few nights back some strolling pranksters spray-painted the word "riot" beneath the sign they set out that warns: men working.

On the cusp right now, and the leaves are little more than a pale green haze haloing the tree limbs; so tender.

Every year, our neighbor Blue House Joy requests a driveway’s-worth of cast-off chaff straight from the chipper for her garden and its beds. And in service of that exchange, what a hour ago was part and parcel of the scrim between us and the sky has been turned into a six-foot pile of mulch, newly dumped and steaming gently at the bottom of her driveway.

All that's left — mere wood; it's had the life crushed from it; possesses a manure-like smell. Wisps of steam slip from it as if it were a live thing, a bulked big-shouldered cow standing patient for the farmer outside some Midwestern barn at twilight, breath visible and rising from its nostrils.

The denuded trees are black in the rain, grieving their rended selves, and I am walking past, fidgeting sorrows like coins worn by long handling in my pocket — I do not do enough, or well, or have enough time; I am aging, gaining, tiring, I have worries and gray hair, I have not turned out to be the person my younger self expected. This is the currency the middle-aged sometimes carry with them; how exactly do we spend it?

When I was eleven, I watched an older cousin, tawny-haired and tan, change into her swimsuit during a family trip to the beach and thought: I will never reach the place where she is. Meaning: grown. Thought: well, maybe it's breasts that do it.

When I was a senior in high school, I thought maybe college would make me an adult. In college, I felt sure it would come with the 9-to-5. Once there, I thought surely it came falling in love. Once there, I figured it had to be a side-effect of marriage. Once married, I decided it was kids that would do it once and for all.

But now, maybe, I really know: it's parking in the hospital lot when one's parent has been admitted inside that takes you closer to grown than anything else that's come before.

The regional hospital that's become, as they age, my parents' own, reminds me that I live in Georgia. Itl succors anyone in need from the surrounding little towns; there are cars with plates from five counties in the lots. A guy in overalls outside the sliding entrance doors, talking on his cellphone, and let me tell you, he's no hipster who pulled them on ironically this morning.

There are three generations holding vigils in the waiting rooms: brothers, sisters, wives and husbands; children; grandchildren; two women holding newborns about the same age — are the two mothers sisters? cousins? Are the two-identically cashew-curled babies cousins themselves, and how many times removed would that make them? One of the woman is already noticeably pregnant again; I flip through old Better Homes and Gardens and try to do the math.

The heart floor is always busy, as is the new wing for babies. We should all get jobs in health care!

All over the hospital there are families dodging bullets, or taking them, and people talking seriously on their cell phones.

My mother was discharged, with admonishments to slow down; the dogwoods began to unfurl their creamy white blossoms;
the mulch pile at the end of the neighbor’s driveway steams, so wispy and quick, like something alive.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Coffee Break

This site made me laugh. Especially myth number eight.