the new normal?

October 17, 2020

  • This is what I look like these days. All day. Every day. And what do I feel like? I feel like a mole for one. When I step out of the clinic in the evenings I squint up at the sky and wonder, “What is that round bright thing in the sky?” And what am I doing for all these hours of each day? Lots of urine in my world (testing for pregnancies and glucose and protein levels and the like). Lots of vitals (taking blood pressures and weight and pulse and asking “How are you feeling today?”). A bit of more enjoyable activities like strapping bulging bellies into cushioned chairs and attaching probes to said bellies till echoing little heartbeats (yes, that was plural-twins) fill the room with echoes. And a bit more bittersweet activities … pleased with my ability to give an injection that make the injectee ask, after warning me she’d probably “freak out” from the pain, ‘have you done it yet? Oh! I didn’t feel anything!’ Sweet in that I did not hurt that delicate adolescent arm. Bitter in the knowledge of what sort of injection her mother was signing off on her receiving…
  • Life is full these days. Life is wild. But thanks be to God for the gift of a home and a husband to come home-happily-to!

it is good

October 12, 2020

What caught my eye this rainy afternoon, while walking in the rain and trying to simultaneous breath from my two-day scare and attempt to prepare for a week of work. Funny how beauty catches one off guard no matter how overwhelmed/anxious/scared one may happen to be in the moment. In that same moment the Creator of all creation is present. And GOOD. “…it was good.”

old enough

September 27, 2020

“I want to be an old lady sitting on my front porch and smoking a pipe.” I’ve said this for probably decades now. My husband has heard me say it, periodically, over the years. I say it when I’m overwhelmed by the stresses of life as we know it. I say it when I am weary of myself—weary of my inadequacies, of my impatience, of my doings of the things I do not want to do … weary of trying so hard and failing so often. 

I also tend to bemoan the fact that I used to own a fine ladies’ pipe, purchased for me by my college roomies after they no doubt tired of me tasting their fun tobacco varieties each time they sat down with their own pipes.

Last night my husband mentioned that he had found what looked like a reasonable way to make your own bamboo pipes. My mouth dropped open at the idea, for we have plenty of that around. “Oh wow-really? You think you could!?!?” I told him that would be the best birthday present ever. Especially if it was something that wouldn’t require any extra supplies and wouldn’t be too much work. He asked me what sort of tobacco I would want. I told him I didn’t know but could poke around – asked him to give me advance notice and I’d look around for some. And yes, that’s normal for us (I don’t like surprises so am quite happy purchasing my own gifts 😂)

Today (yes, after having said conversation late last night), while I was out trying to squeeze 10 billion to-dos into a top-short weekend, Peter texted me. “Get yourself some tobacco.”

This is what was on the dining room table when I got home. Supplies? Bamboo. A drill. And a whittling knife. That’s it.

Now I need to figure out the tobacco part.

“When I am an old woman, I shall …smoke a pipe?”

*old equating to 41 years old

**my ability to smoke is pretty lightweight, probably equating to a half a pipe’s worth, perhaps once a week 😁

under

July 27, 2020

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There are days on which the overwhelm becomes, well, overwhelming. But every once in a while, just when it feels like just too much to bear, like too great of a weight, respite comes. In the form, more often than not, in my little world, of water. In some form or fashion. I stand and let the beauty soak into my being; and the summer sun soaks into my skin. I am reminded of the hard road life has carried me through this far. And this remembrance gives me courage to keep stepping forward, with the experience gained from challenges weathered and of hardships conquered. I stand and soak it in. I take a deep breath. And then I swim.

Dad 2 . . . take 2

June 22, 2020

In honor of this holiday, it seemed fitting to re-post this blog entry from last year. It feels like an eternity ago, somehow . . .
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His name is Christopher. He’s 12 going on 13. “Going on” more precisely meaning October 6. When he told me his birthday, I exaggeratedly gasped. “Nuh uh! That’s crazy . . . I’m going on 40, and my birthday is October 5! Isn’t it crazy?!?” He mirrored my own wide eyes as he agreed that, yep, it was indeed pretty crazy. Is that why we bonded today, over balogna sandwiches and milk boxes? Maybe.

Or maybe it’s because both of us were in the waiting game. He was waiting for his “Dad 2” to be released. He got hit by a train. “Whoa! I said. That sounds awful!” He was pushed in front of the train, Christopher went on to explain. “By mom’s ex-boyfriend,” he added. I nodded, sympathetically, as if I understood what that would be like. Truthfully, my own life drama pales in comparison. And as I sat in this waiting room, feeling sorry for myself in this uncomfortable state of . . . well, waiting, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of guilt. Not that I feel like any one person’s life pain is inherently greater than another’s: rather, I believe that we each carry our own burdens, and our own burdens are great enough. Not because of the greatness of the burden itself, but because it is suited to our own unique capacities for burden-bearing . . .

But I digress. I do that sometimes. I was telling you about Christopher.

Christopher, who celebrated his birthday this past year with Dad 2, and who likes to eat ketchup with his mashed potatoes. When he told me this, I shrugged, “That makes sense to me. Like ketchup with french fries, right?” “Exactly!” he said—though the pleased-as-punch expression on his face made me suspect that he may not have actually thought of this correlation before inventing his culinary concoction. 

Christopher, who doesn’t like to eat the crusts on his sandwiches. “I don’t know why,” he said. “No wait, I do! My nanny used to cut the crusts off of my sandwiches!” I didn’t burst his revelatory bubble by mentioning that crust-removal is a rather common occurrence in kid world. I think the Christophers in our midst could use every bit of “I’m special” moments they can get.

Christopher and I shared our meal and I soaked up his presence like the dry soul of a sponge I was at the time. He filled me up with kid-normalcy.

Hours later, I returned to the same spot. I was lamenting the fact that I had not told him how special he was. Our goodbye had come a bit abruptly, as his mom had marched in and asked if he was done yet. It was time to go. But as I thought about him, in bounded the boy himself. I grinned widely and asked if I could sit with him. He nodded. We chatted some more. And then he bounded back out. But this time, before he went, I made a point of telling him that I thought he was pretty cool. And that I was pretty darn pleased that I’d been able to hang out with him today.

I most likely won’t see Christopher again—at least not in the waiting room. His Dad 2 was being discharged tonight and he was off, promised pizza to celebrate (which, he added, was being purchased by his dad’s friend, as Dad didn’t have the money for it).

My own Dad 2 will likely be in for quite some time yet. And the funny thing is that he is in fact my “Dad 2” too . . . for my PaCharley was, for all practical purposes, my dad from the age of 9 on. So I guess “Dad 2” brought Christopher and I together today, for a bit of a happy respite from the chilly reality of life on this chilly January day.

annual

June 13, 2020

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So I need to brag for a sec . . .
First off, everyone who’s been around either my hubby or I since we’ve known each other or wed (approximately, oh, 6-years-minus-4-days ago [;-)] probably knows that he’s one of the biggest green thumbs I know. He and my mom are probably neck-in-neck in that race. So our garden these days is a delight. Two years into living Stateside, and we already spend all year (no greenhouse), picking fresh greens from the garden. Summer of course is the boon. Depending when you come by, or see either of us, you may be forced to go home with Kale, Radishes, Beets, Mustard Greens, Okra, Tomatoes, Sweet Peas, Watermelon, Green Beans, Carrots . . . enough, already, I hear you say! You get the picture.
Now usually, we are a food-focused household, in that all our growings, animal-ownings, and such, are based upon how they will contribute to our dinner table. Garden=vegetables. Goats=milk/yogurt/cheese. Chickens=eggs. Rabbits=meat.
But today we had a new item of interest enter our homestead. When we lived in Ghana, in a second-floor apartment, we had a little balcony garden (or set of pots, as it were). One of those pots contained a flower that I had flipped over when biking past it, so smitten that I stopped to ask about it when I passed while a woman was outside with them. I boldly asked for a take-home bloom to put on my table. She promptly reached over to one of the plants in the yard and, rather than snipping a bloom as I expect, she tugged to uproot the tall plant and handed it to me with a smile. I gasped, slightly embarrassed at the extravagance of her response. But I accepted.
Back home, Peter quickly turned that plant into a flowering abundance, and it proceeded to adorn our table for the remainder of that final year of our lives in that country.
Fast forward.
In his future-minded, experimental playfulness, Peter included a pocketful of those flower seeds when we packed to leave the country. And about a year later, once we had begun settling into our homestead here, he planted them. This month he surprised me with the announcement that we would soon have a “Ghana bloom.” And today, on our dining room table, we celebrate. We may both be currently barreling through respective work assignments, complaining about the drudgery of homework that needs to be down; but on a deeper, soul-satisfying level, we know that we live in a land of plenty. We see that it is good.

goat speak

June 4, 2020

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Sometimes, when everything is too much . . . When the load is too heavy . . . When there are no words . . . When you wonder if you can stumble through another day …
And then, you milk your goat, and she looks at you as if to say, “You will be ok.”
All may not be well. But it will be. Some day. Some how. Lord give me the will to want to believe it …

heard

May 14, 2020

9CFDD24B-0EEB-4E23-A7D2-5BAA6CAEB71AThis morning my 93-year-old grandma got to sing happy birthday through her computer screen, to my 6-year-old nephews. They showed off their handsome faces, dressed to the nines in their button-down shirts and bowties. She smiled and waved and “wowed” their antics. From across the ocean, now face to face. Technology is amazing.
This afternoon my grandmother’s brother-in-law died. It was a peaceful passing, and I am grateful for the daughter who cared for him in the home for those final days.
I want to say that all is well. My husband and I have all we need in our home; and we have work and homestead routines to occupy us. There is much that is right.
And yet.
All is not right. I want my grandmother to be with her sister right now. When my grandfather died, I watched them comfort each other. At one point in the family funeral gatherings, I saw them together on the master bed, arms draped over each other, able to sleep peacefully in the quiet company unique to sisters. GramBea’s world had fallen apart but, for a little while at least, all was well . . .
I wish we could have spoken in person to relay the news of this passing. But we could not.
I want to be able to hold GramBea’s hand right now. But I cannot.
I can handle that.
At the moment, however, I am battling the frustration of knowing that the sisters cannot be together. I have no answers for this madness of a world we live in right now. I do the best I can to keep informed and up-to-date; yet at times it seems as if the more I learn the more ignorant I feel, overwhelmed by the rate at which things are changing and by the swirl of new, and often conflicting, information.
In my little sphere of life, though, I know one thing right here, right now: things are not as they should be.
Would that I could wave my magic wand, bringing the two sisters together for solace in the grief.
This afternoon I see a missed call when I come in from milking the goat. I call her back immediately, worrying . . .
She sounds ok. We talk about the birthday party this morning. She says she is ok. We chat a few moments longer and the conversation lulls. “I love you,” she says. “GramBea . . .” I pause. I don’t know what to say. I’ve never been good at verbalizing emotions regardless—especially not with family. What comes out of my mouth is cringe-worthy at best. Something along the lines of, “You’re in my heart.” I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, never mind why I say it.
But she hears me.

face to face

May 10, 2020

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Today I got to see my GramBea. They “opened” the facility enough to allow us to wave through the glass from the entryway. For the first time in months I saw her face; but ironically, I’m not seeing her, the past few months have given us a sweeter time of connecting than we had before. Something about being limited to daily phone conversations has opened a portal I couldn’t have imagined, considering how infamously horrid both of us are at telephone chats …or so I thought. But a gift of this strangeness of time we live in is the discovery of ways we can surprise each other, and ourselves, with realizations of ways we can adapt, with resilience, to change. And to uncertainty. So today I am grateful for this waving through the window, and chance to deliver a mason jar of wild roses; grateful for the tears prompted by a sighting …”through a glass dimly.” But thank heavens this is not it. Thank heavens that “then we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

bread

May 8, 2020

IMG_1019Today my professor asked this question:

It is the last day of your first semester, please describe how you are feeling at this moment in time.

Today my response was this:

At this moment in time I am feeling . . . all the things.
I feel afraid—fear over the state of the world’s health, physical and emotional.
I fear that this reaction we are having to the real danger of COVID-19 is going to create a devastation far greater than the illness itself. We have become a world of people drawn into themselves, living in an unreal reality of isolation. I fear that the mental toll that this is taking will have terrible ramifications when we try to re-enter society without distance.
I fear for all who have lost their jobs and who are left with no way to provide for their families—and who risk losing more than mere income as a result.
I fear for all who have lost, and will lose, loved ones to the disease—and who will lost the ability to properly grieve the loss due to distancing restrictions.
I fear the helplessness that I feel, and that we all will be feeling or quite some time, as we navigate the muddy waters of a future no one can properly prepare for, with such great unknowns and so little control.
I have no idea what to do.
So I pour flour and yeast and salt into a bowl. I add water, and I knead the dough. I take comfort in the act of feeding my little household . . . and I am grateful for our daily bread.