Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lessons of the Grape Vine

When we bought our property, we inherited Concord grape vines.  Since Mother Nature decided to have a couple "up" days (of her seemingly unstable displays of behavior lately) and let the sun shine recently, I decided to tackle the vines.

I don't really know what I'm supposed to do with them, but as I sat there looking at them, I decided to just jump in.  On the outside, they were a tangled web of branches, a mess really. They haven't yet budded or blossomed and are somewhat unsightly.  

I decided to start with the obviously withered and desiccated branches, knowing that by clipping those away, more energy can be given to the younger branches.  

I saw that the grapes were being interfered with by a dogwood bush. Though these branches are red, attractive and quite pretty, they interfere with the growth of the grape vines. When they leaf out they cover and block the life giving energy the vines require.  These had to be clipped away.

I clipped away slowly, looking at each vine, choosing where to nip it.  Some of the branches were extremely long.  The extremely over-extended branches were snipped with the thought that they were so far removed from their strong foundation that they were weak and lost growing upwards into a nearby pine tree.  

The bases of all these vines are old, weathered and thick.  They are strong main stalks that all the subsequent generations of vines have sprouted.   Their roots run deep, and though they are quite tattered, they stubbornly remain.

We have lived here long enough that I have seen these vines bear fruit several seasons. Some years they have born hideous amounts of grapes, other years the harvest is sparse.  The vines productivity is usually affected by things out of their control like wind or birds and deer pecking away at the fruit.

As I thinned and clipped, I realized these vines were a lot like life.  We are all a tangled mess at times.  Sometimes the best way to tackle an issue is to just jump in.   We may or may not have blossomed yet.   We have the life sucked from us by those relationships that are desiccated and dead.

We all possess productivity and purpose but can get lost in a tangle of our own life's vines.  We get distracted by the pretty, easy and attractive things that can pull us away and block us from that which gives us energy.  We become over-extended by distractions, obligations, tasks and the need to be connected at all times.  We grow thinner and weaker, until we look down from 20 feet up a pine tree to the foundation that lies far away from us.  

Eventually we may find ourselves looking at our bases... those relationships that have weathered us and the storms we have brought.  The family members and friends that have tolerated our pecking, as the vines have withstood the irksome birds noshing on ripe fruit.  They have stood stubborn and strong, supporting  and sustaining us.  

And it just remains to be seen how we will bud and blossom and what will the fruit resemble that we will bear?  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thing #37 to know prior to having a baby.

This here is my fancy "Wine Aerator." (Note I am using water to illustrate my point, and not wasting precious wine.)  I don't really have a clue if it makes a difference in my red wine, but what I DO know is it should have been called a "Wine Lactator."  (Men, just stop reading here.) 

I can't be the only woman alive who was SHOCKED, SHOCKED I SAY, to find out that milk does not come out of a woman, like it does from a cow teet! The above wine lactator pretty well illlustrates, in stream count and force, how is DOES come out. For those of you, yet to breast feed, consider yourself warned.  And this ends my public service announcement. The more you know. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

16 things Designed to Institutionalize a Parent.

Upon cleaning up Easter grass for the 876th time in two days, I realized that many things must have been researched and developed by either extremely hateful and sadistic people, or childless people. So I compiled a list of things that were seemingly developed with the sheer purpose of driving parents to the brink of insanity.

1. Easter Grass

2. Moon dough ( sole proof of Satan's existence)

3.  Red, orange and purple Kool Aid

4.  Nerds Candy

5. Any and all things from Oriental Trading

6.  The rubbery dresses of the small Disney princesses that NO child is able to put on the princess herself.

7.  The decided upon volume of any siren on a firetruck, police car or ambulance toy.

8.  The show Max and Ruby

9.  The show Calliou

10. Glitter

11.  Slide whistles and harmonicas

12.  Ice Cream Magic,unless you like your ice cream drinkable

13.  2 foot long pixie sticks

14.  Hungry Hungry Hippos (Marbles AND noise!)

15.  Silly Bands

16.  Finally,  ZuZu pets (Another toy created by the hands of the Prince of Darkness himself.)

Even the Dog wanted the damn thing to shut up.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Decorating Dilemma

Amidst the past 6 weeks of not being able to walk well, the downstairs bathroom was pulled apart and worked upon. This wasn't a "Hey! You don't have ENOUGH crap in your life happening, lets do construction" type thing. Here is the low-down. In typical chaos in motion fashion, the night before we were to leave for Las Vegas (in mid February) I hear a "HONEY!!! COME DOWN HERE!!" from the Good Doctor who had gone to the basment for our suitcases. (Because of course it was 10pm and we were just starting to pack... at 10pm... for a 7am flight....)

I ran downstairs to see a large puddle of water on the bathroom floor.  How dare our 20-something year old water heater decide to spring a leak NOW!!??  As overwhelming as this was, I WAS happy we were still home, and it didn't happen while we were on vacation, filling the basement with 80 gallons of water.

Since we needed a new water heater, I asked the plumber how hard it would be to move it into a closet that was down there, 
and if he was going to do that, he may as well put in a water softener,
and if he was going to do that, he may as well replumb the two pressure systems we have for our water, 
and if he was going to do that, he may as well put in a shower, 
and if he was going to do that, he may as well move the toilet too.  

Anyway this was all going on in the past 8 weeks, and I think I had been downstairs about twice in that time.  Trust me when I say, there laid a small amount of fear in just exactly what I would find in the basement, left to the hands of children, and adults with power tools.  Today, tired of the 3 year old carrying sawdust back up the stairs on his socks, I decided go down to sweep and clean up down there. I was wonderfully surprised with all the remodel work, not so much at the the fact the basement had regurgitated toys everywhere.   

When the plumber moved the toilet, he had to break up the concrete to move the lines and pour new concrete afterwards.  I was sweeping up and noticed that the cats inspected the concrete work, because of course they would.


So now I am left to wonder... I WAS going to do an industrial chic style in the new bathroom, but maybe I should go for cheetah print everywhere?? :)

or Cougar?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Unbiological sisters

My daughter will never have sisters. For that, I am a little sorry, but we had her.  And given the fact my grandmother was one half of three sets of twins in her family, I wasn't going to tempt fate and end up with twin girls.  Don't get me wrong. I love my daughter to the moon and back, but one Leah is all we need.  She has the "skills" that in her adulthood will make her unstoppable. She will be in charge of hostile corporate takeovers, or will be responsible for spinning politicians sex scandals into sympathy inducing after-school specials.  In her childhood, the traits make me want to drink by 8am.  Besides, we bookended her with two brothers who will eventually be no less than 6'3" tall, and potential dates will have to get by them first, so we just didn't want to mess with our master plan. So there are no sisters in her future.

I have a sister. She is 13 years older than I. She had grown up and moved on by the time I was about 3 or 4, so in my childhood, I don't remember seeing her a lot.  When I was 9 or 10, she made me an aunt, which was really cool and really frustrating all rolled into one.   In my child mind, it was hard being upstaged by a chubby, cute and perfect GRANDchild.  363 days later, it happened again.  We have not had the chance to share a lot of those sister experiences I hear about from women with sisters, partly because of the age difference, and partly because of the paths our lives have taken.  But we share the same eyes and eyebrows, that remind me of our mother. We share similar walks and somehow we managed to harbor all the intelligence, most of the wit and all of the beauty that somehow escaped our brothers. 

I want my daughter to know, as sorry as I am she won't have a biological sister, she will find herself blessed with some unbiological sisters, like I have been.  I don't know where hers will come from, from which part or parts of her life, but she will find them.  I didn't find my first until probably late high school or early college. These women are a part of my life.  It is important for her to know that in terms of  friendships, it is more about quality, than quantity. Women will enter her life, and we, her parents, will sniff out the fake ones before she does, and that she should trust us.  I want her to know that if someone just seems too amazing/rad/cool/grandiose to be true, and her gut is screaming "FAKER!" she needs to trust her gut. 

What will her unbiological sister feel like? Upon meeting her, she will feel like that college sweatshirt you should have thrown out 10 years ago, but can't.  She will feel like she has known her, her whole life.  In her first meeting she will find herself talking forever, and then feeling sheepish and embarrased afterwards because she admitted in her first meeting that her best hair days are on the 3rd day of not washing her hair, and she may be wearing the same shirt as yesterday because it was just too cold to change.  She will feel an initial click with this person, like two cogs aligning.   Like a tiny piece of herself got completed.  

I have but a handful of unbiological sisters.  These are the women who get me, love me and who I would let fold my underwear, and even my husbands underwear. They are those friends.  Some I have known for 10s of years, some for a mere few months.  I am separated in physical distance from a couple miles, to hundreds of miles from them.  I have seen some yesterday, and some not for years. It doesn't matter, the bond is real, it is dynamic and it is forever.  These are the ones who, if I get knocked down, will say, "Stay down, I've got this."

That doesn't mean it is always butterflies and unicorns.  I need her to know there will be times she will fight with her unbiological sister. It will hurt, but it will be honest. Honesty is always the most important thing.  For her to be honest, and for her to hear honestly.  They will ask her those tough questions she doesn't want to answer, because she knows those same questions have been rolling around in the corner of her own head, and she doesn't have the answer to them yet. But her unbiological sisters will ask, and they will talk, and cry, and there will usually be wine, chocolate and Kleenex involved in these heart to hearts.  There will be waxes and wanes in her sisterhoods, that will coincide with relationships and babies and just the beautiful beast of life, but the bond will always remain.  And she knows she can always call them at 3am.  

She will never have to guess with her unbiological sister. She means what she says and says what she means.  When sushi night's Dynamite roll ends up causing gastronomic explosions the next day, her sisters will trust her when she tells them to go shop and eat, she will be ok, just bring gatorade later.  Sisters do not play martyr. They will help because they want to, or can, or are able. They will expect nothing in return. They will sit outside her bathroom while she bathes, in case her wobbly self decides to fall getting in or out of the tub.  

Her sisters and her will go through the trenches together.   I'm talking about surviving the dirty, hard, ugly stuff together.  I'm talking divorce, miscarriage, surgeries on babies, lice, bad relationships, job loss, depression, and grieving.  Ugly, messy situations that will require unconditional love, understanding, and a lot of chocolate, wine, laughter and Kleenex.

She will need to know that no man will or should take the place of these sisters.  Men were not created for these roles.  That is why God made them differently. They have male refrigerator blindness, and we don't.  They can write their name in the snow, and we can't.  Men are to fill a different role in our lives.  And they usually don't like dark chocolate and talking as much as your sisters do.  

She will understand why Frozen is such a great movie, and will find herself wanting to watch it by herself, with no children around.  She will, at some point, sit and wonder how she was so blessed to have such amazing women, these unbiological sisters be part of her crazy beautiful life.  And then she will also realize just how blessed she is to have so many amazing unbiological Aunts. And then she will remember she should phone her mother.