7:18 PM

I Got Your Goat

It has always made me uncomfortable - this gated property in the valley.  Ominous somehow in it's silent vigil by the railway track.  Bu...
6:40 PM

Prayer For A Stranger

I saw you.  I saw you bent there at the end of your driveway.  Bent over like you were repenting.  Bent over like your spirit had been ripp...
12:09 AM

She Will Always Be My Baby

The house waits in darkness while I'm cast in the glow of the Wal-Mart lamp, gore-deep in a literary gem (if zombie fiction can be call...

Friday, April 26, 2013

When The Good One Isn't

Her plate sits before her and she worries over her dinner roll, tiny pieces dropping onto the table top.  My own dinner has gone tasteless and I'm begging her to be honest because the words Liam drops among us can't possibly be true.  These guilt crumbs gathering up and her picking picking picking but never speaking speaking speaking.  I'm fighting for clarity over the situation because I am not the mother of a bully... could I be so naive?

"The principal had to talk to Noa today," and he tells it like it's juicy - like I'll reward him for his gossip - like I'll be pleased to hear it.

"Why?" and I hold up a finger to still Liam and look to her because this is her story to tell.  "Why Noa?"

But she's broken.  Like a doll who's pull-string is tangled and no matter how you fight and tug and persuade you can't even get it to whine out one little 'Ma-ma.'

[Guilt crumbs]
The massacre of the dinner roll continues and her eyes can't land on mine and she bites at her lip and looks at the ceiling and I finally have to let Liam tell me because he's practically dancing with it.  And he does.  And I try to catch her glance but she's lost in the ceiling fan and it's like my throat is swollen and my neck is hot and I WILL NOT BE THE MOTHER OF A MEAN GIRL!  "Is that what happened, Noa?"

Her gaze flits to me and far away again and she nods slowly and there are crumbs surrounding her plate like a picture frame and there is no bread left.

"Would you ever call someone ugly?" I ask.

She shakes her head.

"Would you ever call someone stupid?"

She shakes her head again.

"Noa, you can't ever call someone fat! That's just as hateful and cruel as ugly or stupid. Do you understand that?  It's what a bully would say."

She nods.

"You can never, never say something like that - it's so hurtful!"

She nods.

It already been a hard day and I still have to face going back into town for worship practice and I feel every little bit of any wind I had left leave my sails and I slump back to my dinner and she still won't look at me.

The boys are already done eating and I excuse them.  "You have to eat, Noa.  We have to leave soon." And we eat in silence.

I finish first and fill the sink and rain is falling outside the kitchen window in huge sad splatters.  She brings me her dishes.  Silently.  I bend down to her and pull her tight against me and and I speak to her hair and she's holding my neck tight like I might save her.  "I want to always be proud of you, Noa.  I want to know that you will always be kind.  You are too sweet and too good to be hateful to other people.  I want you to always be your very best and be the kind of girl people want to be friends with.  You can't be mean.  You're so much better than mean."  She's nodding against me.  "Do you know how much I love you?"  I untie her arms from my neck and hold her back to see her face and her eyes are shiny with silver tears and she sniffles and wipes her nose on the back of her hand.  "Do you know how much I love you?" I ask again.

She nods.

"How much?"

"To the moon and back?" And she's got apology in her tears and sorry has never been so pretty.

"To the moon and back!" I kiss her head and send her off to wash her face.

My hands sink into the hot dishwater and my eyes burn and tears leak out and I cry over the spaghetti pot and I can't understand where this cruelty came from and I can't remember ever feeling more disappointed and I don't know how to do a better job than what I am doing.

And what I really want is to crawl under a blanket and sob until I'm empty but I have to pull myself together and finish the last cup and wash my own face and pray that all the redness will be gone by the time I get to worship practice...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It Can't All Be Roses


It's one of those days you just wish you could blink and disappear it into the ether as if it never happened and it's not even over and it doesn't matter that it's April because April is stupid and every day it holds is made for fools because the skies are open and beating us with massive wet snowflakes like the spittle of a hell hound and I raise my fists to those wide grey heavens and scream it good like a Costanza, "SERENITY NOW!!!"

And the house is a mess and I forgot to get milk and I don't even know what I can feed the kids tonight and sometimes it's so hard to be a part-time single parent and I wonder if I'd even get a response if I sent a letter to Hogwarts: Dear Head of the House Elves, could you spare one 'cause I could sure use one? Signed The Fetal Positioned Momma Under The Basement Stairs.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Country Confession

2013 kind of caught me by surprise and here we are already in April and I'm four months older and we've survived the winter and we can taste the summer on our tongues like it's only a prayer away.  I am not made of the stuff that clings to resolutions.  I really haven't given them any thought.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that I was sound asleep when the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve - dreaming through that moment when magic catches wishes and breathes some motivation into them.

But something happened.  Because I was done with the darkness and this big bad world and every news story about people being hurt and political nonsense for monetary gain and anger, anger, anger.  I was over it.  I didn't need it.  YOUR PROPAGANDA?  IT BE BRINGING ME DOWN!

And in a quest for joy - in seeking a little sunshine through the shadow - I turned from news and debate and CBC and PG13 reporting and stumbled upon the most honest thing in the world: country music.  Is there anything better, truer, rawer?  Is there anything lovelier than naked truth, tell-it-like-it-is, 'I sure's'do look sexy in this here cowboy hat, missus'?

There's something to be said for knowing the goings on in the world.  I don't wish myself ignorant.  But I do wish myself happy.  It seems, at this particular moment, that I can't have both. So I choose happy.  Without regret.  (That's not to say that Lee Brice hasn't made me cry on the way to work before.)

So there you have it, my country confession.  I'm looking at the world through a new, red-dirt-road lens and I like it just fine.

You reap what you sow.  You are what you eat.  Save a horse, ride a cowboy.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I Got Your Goat

It has always made me uncomfortable - this gated property in the valley.  Ominous somehow in it's silent vigil by the railway track.  But nature mocks my misgivings, sun shining warm and welcome against the chipped red barn wood - this barn in which people obviously make their lives - and he walks past the No Trespassing and approaches the haunt.

"Hello?" he hollers.  "Hello?"

It's only a rooster that answers him.

I'm waiting at the road with the children.  And a goat. 

I had seen her as we passed the tracks, head bent down at a fresh spring shoot.  "What is that?" I'd asked.  And her head had popped up and I thought at first she was a sheep but she trotted along the path right up to us, rope around her neck and bleating out a sorry, 'Haaaaallllpppp Meeeeeee, I'm looooooost.'  (Yes, I speak goat - doesn't every body 'round here?)

"Hello?" He's still hollering, round behind the barn and then back out to us again.  He shrugs.  Nobody home.  "There's a bunch of pens and a shed full of feed and old bagels..."

We resume our walk and she obediently joins our family like a leashed pet.

"Can we keep it?" Zander asks.  "Please???"

A shiny white truck crests the far hill pulling a red trailer.  Two men in the front are pointing and waving and when they slow we ask, "is this your goat?"

But, of course it is.  And they point back to the trailer where we see the head of an alpaca and some sheep hunkered down in the depression of their quickly lost freedom.  Their English isn't pristine by any means but they say it over and over, "Thank you, thank you."

A tiny Vietnamese woman climbs from the back seat, she nods her head at us and smiles as I hand her the rope and we watch our new friend walk away to the gated property.

"Why couldn't we keep it???" Zander asks.

We continue on our walk.  The children are collecting beer bottles for spending money and we linger around the stream because there seems to be a few among the long grass.

When we finally turn for home and walk past the red barn nothing has changed.  There is no movement.  No face in the upper window.  No sign of life but the motion of the wind in the trees.  Like it never happened.

We begin the climb up the hill and then we hear it - one long bleated note to mark our farewell... 'Thaaaank Yooooooou!'

(This was not my first goat experience - that's me on the left - back in the day when my dad decided to try his hand at some goat raising.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Prayer For A Stranger

I saw you.  I saw you bent there at the end of your driveway.  Bent over like you were repenting.  Bent over like your spirit had been ripped in half.  Greying hair buffeted by spring winds and arms wrapped tight around your middle like you needed to hold yourself together.  Bent over that blond and matted and flattened piece of fur.  Bent over wondering how that could ever be the sweet kitty you snuggled before you left that morning.  Bent over with your heart on your sleeve, frozen there upon the gravel. Oh, how your back must have ached.  How your heart must ache now.  How broken you must be to see this brokenness cast upon the earth like nothing worth a hearts notice.

This is my prayer for you...

That this be your lowest moment.  That nothing worse than this pain should strike against your heart.  That memories soften grief and grief becomes a pale scar - not unlike a faded photograph in a golden locket.  May you sit with a steaming cup of tea and remember fondly his soft head beneath your hand and the way his purr would rumble through your chest when he lay beside you.  May your back become straight and your home happy with the richness of whatever time you had.  Be blessed.  Find joy.  Seek delight.  Know hope.

This is my prayer for you...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Then Came The Dark

We are made for sun.  We are bent for light.  And yet, roots of history dig us deep into this Canadian soil and we wouldn't dream of leaving for more than a heartbeat.  The storm rocks our foundation and shudders our walls like a haunting and we sleep like babes through the first assault and wake to...silence.  No hum of the circulation fan, no buzz of a light bulb, no vibration of the deep freeze or drone of the refrigerator.  Everything looks the same.  But everything is different.

Outside, ice lays her weighted head on winter-weakened boughs and sudden cracks burst upon the stillness as branches give way to this mocking seasonal oppression and fall to litter the lawn - wooden bodies martyred in their search for spring.  Nature is grey.  Chill seeps into our bones.  I build up the fire and feed it logs.  I feed it circulars.  I feed it Walmart and Home Hardware and M&M Meats.  I find my largest pot and brown ground beef over the fire and I am a pioneer.

"Ice Storm Chili," I yell and the children come.  We eat from paper cups left over from a birthday party.  Because we can't do the dishes.  Because water has never been so precious.  Because you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

The bathroom door must remain closed.

Night comes so early.  Candles burn so low, wax dripping over the lip of the liquor bottle.  Darkness is total.  This is country dark.  There is no perforating light from a passing car.  There is no soft red glow from the clock radio.  There is no time.

Her voice calls out in the darkness, heavy with sleep and fear and the stumbling over the toys she didn't put away.  I throw my feet over the edge of the bed and find the carpet, chill seeping through from the cold floor beneath.  My eyes are wide but the blackness is thick and ink and we are all blind and we are all invisible.  I feel my way through the darkness and my hand finally lands on her warm head and she is 
trembling and has always slept with a night light and this reality around her defines her fear.

She hides with me beneath the quilt and this is somehow safe and good and this darkness is no different than eyes closed in sleep and she falls into it quickly, her warm little body tucked up against me.

Minutes? Hours? Sometime later she stirs and moans and, "Mommy, I think I'm going to puke..." And I'm jerked awake and struggling to strike a match in the blackness and light the candle at the moment she lets loose upon sheets for which I have no means to clean and I want to cry.

Morning takes longer to come than any other morning before and all I want is to shower.  Ice falling off the roof sounds like an earthquake and the boys have eaten all the cereal and the bread box is empty.  We eat canned pasta cold and feed the fire logs and Foodland and Shoppers Drugmart and pray for the lights to come on.

We play Uno.  We roast hotdogs.  I read a whole book.  We smell like cabin fever.  Keep The Bathroom Door Closed!!!  My cell phone might only last another hour...

It is nearly night again when a familiar hum breezes through our house and I throw down the second book I'd just started and run to the bathroom - hallway light fluttering to glorious beaming above me like a halo of rescue - and I set the bathtub to fill (just in case this is not but a tease) and I flush the toilet - Oh, HALLELUJAH! Back in the kitchen I fill the kettle and bounce with the brilliant need to hold a hot cup of tea in my hands and I cook us a real meal with meat defrosted after two days in a disfunctional freezer.

And then the shower.  The glorious, wonderful, steaming shower.  And sheets in the washer and hands lost in hot dishwater and nightlights and charging the phone and the computer.  And...And...And...

We are so spoiled.  Ruined by the pleasures of modernism.  Is a lamp not beautiful, cutting down the darkness with a comforting glow?  Here I am with arms wide open - ruin me!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Don't Raise Them Weird - They Do That All On Their Own

He teeters on the precipice of a preteen nightmare, stuck in this tango of child and mini-man and I find myself relishing the moments he is all child: wild, ridiculous, unreined, glorious child.  Like this:

He holds up the baggie, proud like it's full of something spectacular - like gold he panned by his own sweat, or moon rocks found in the south field, or a minecraft cheat code that turns simulated water into simulated jello.

"Today we learned how to extract banana DNA!" Something about mushing and blending and salt and dish soap and rubbing alcohol.  "I wanted to bring mine home to show you...we already got the DNA out of it but it just looks cool."

What it really looks like is what a body would look like if you sealed it up in plastic and left it to decompose down to soup.  Rank, brown, little-bits-floating-around, if-you-drank-it-you'd-die soup.

"That's gross, Zander.  You can't keep that.  It'll smell up the whole house."

"But I want it!  His name is Steve!  I have named him Steve. You can't throw him out."

"I'm sure Steve's feelings won't be hurt."

"Steve is a person too, you know!  Don't you have a heart???"

And poor Steve lays on the table all DNA-less and soupy and the whole thing is just ridiculous.

"Well then can I make a Stevesicle? Can I put him in the freezer?  Can I freeze him?  And then I'll bury him in the garden and we'll have a funeral and everything."

Ridiculous.  But loveable.

Stay out of my freezer.  There's a banana cadaver in there.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

She Will Always Be My Baby

The house waits in darkness while I'm cast in the glow of the Wal-Mart lamp, gore-deep in a literary gem (if zombie fiction can be called 'gem') and I hear her plodding gait against the carpeted stairs, not unlike the main character wooing me towards bedtime.  Her feet shuffle heavy - all bent down with the weight of the world on those wee four year shoulders, breathing hard like a chain-gang captive with her heart on the sleeve of a bright orange jump suit. 

She comes right to me.  Trying to keep her heart pieces together.  Trying.  Trying.  Failing. 

I reach out for her and brush sleep hair back from her face.  "What's wrong, baby? You can't sleep?"

She takes a breath that exerts her whole body - shudders through like pain - and a huge tear leaks down her cheek, eyes shining like the moon and lip trembling furious.  "I dust...I dust...I'm dust going to miss you when I'm at stool to-mow-woah." And it all lets loose - this torrent of momma-need, salty and broken, and I gather her up and kiss her tears and band-aid her heart with my momma-love and take her back to bed where she takes not but a moment to fall back to sleep.

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