Archive for October, 2010

That I feel like collapsing on Fridays right around three p.m. is a habit I’m trying to break.  But by that time–usually before– I’ve reached the end of my words or at least words that make any sense, and I just want to sit.  And answer no questions.  Especially those involving paint. 

Only that didn’t happen yesterday.  Not with a six year old who came home enthused about her art class and couldn’t sit still until she’d asked 43 times if she could paint.  Which was a reasonable request, say, the first time.  But the mess, aggghh.  That’s all I could see.  Until I realized the child was going to ask a 44th time, and I figured I could handle the mess more than I could handle that.

And so she painted.  With vigor.  And explained about Georgia O’Keeffe, whom she said painted flowers up close with oranges and reds and whom she said she wanted to paint just like. 

Which was great until I realized all our oranges, pinks and yellows had been mixed together.  And which completely didn’t matter (a conclusion I’d reach an hour later).  Because she was painting.  And loving it.  And had promised somewhere in there that she would put away all the paints.

Here she is with her finished piece.  The one she called “Beginning Morning Bloom of a Poppy.”


And here is her brother who also painted.  Whatever he wanted.

And whose piece he’d call, “Connecting Walls and Closing Windows.”  As we all scratched our heads.

Which is why I don’t claim to understand everything that happens around here.

And most certainly not on Fridays.


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Two weekends ago when it was sunny and the chances of finding a parking spot at the pumpkin patch or an unclaimed pumpkin were near nil, we stepped on the gas to Eastern Washington for something completely un-pumpkin.  Something close to heaven.  Something apple. 

Something called Cider.

That my parents have apple trees and more recently a cider press is something I can probably only fully appreciate now.  I grew up in Wenatchee.  And well, there were always apples.  Much like rain in western Washington.  Only in western Washington, there are also apples.  They’re just at Fred Meyer.  And you have to pay for them.  Staggering…

Well, here’s where the cider making began.  With these apples.  The ones my parents spent the two previous days picking and hauling up the hill in the backyard.  And which made them a bit tired before we even began. Which doesn’t mean that making cider is hard.  But it’s work.   Only it’s worth it.

If it matters, these are Red Delicious apples.

And this is my brother-in-law washing apples. One at a time.  He’s gonna be there a while.


This is my son arranging the apples.  Very important if you’re three.

And this is what the cider press looks like.  My parents have it set up in the back of their truck, which sort of isolates the process and saves everyone from bending down.  At least I think that’s the rationale.

This is my mom with the motor’s plug in her hand.  No motor, uh…no cider.  Or at least no shredded apples–the easy way.

So here we go.  With the motor plugged in, the first thing to do is put the apples in the hopper.  The whole apple.  Stems. Seeds.  Everything but the branch it came from.

There’s the little cider press motor.  And… the car I drove in college.

Here’s the hopper where the apples go.

And here’s the inside of the hopper.  Where the apples get chomped.

And here’s what chomped apples look like, sitting in the bag and bucket that catches them.  Like coleslaw.

Only once the bucket is full, we slide it out from under the hopper, tuck the bag inside, and put the lid on.

Then that bucket with the lid is moved down toward the end of the cider press where the actual pressing part takes place, while the second bag and bucket slide in to take its spot and the shredding continues.  The lid (on the bucket with all the shreds in it) has a metal disk on top to protect the wood as the piston–the thing with the handle that my husband is spinning– comes down to press on top of it. 

And behold…cider trickling forth!

Which is then carried in the ‘catching’ bowls to my mom who then dumps the cider into a pitcher.

So she can pour it into the jugs.  Beautiful, frothing, cider.


So here it is again.  Apples from my parent’s trees.

My brother-in-law still washing ’em.


Some tired apples taking a nap.

Proof that it doesn’t matter your size. 

Only your enthusiasm.

And a few muscles.

Then here it is… the fruits of our labor…

Tasting like gold from heaven.

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Found in Translation

Other than the addtional weight in the back of the cart, the lack of space for groceries and the occasional snicker, it was as if my daughter wasn’t even in the store.  Her bulky coat hung half over the side, as she held a Garfield book up to her face and read.  She was easy.

My son, however, was a pinball, boinking in one direction and then the next.  When I’d corraled him close enough, he jumped on the front of the cart in mid-push, hung on with the tips of his fingers and leaned his head back.  Then before the cart had stopped he dove toward the produce.  There was lettuce to touch and peppers to finger.  Both things we did not need.

When he ran in front of the cart on our way to the eggs, we had a small visit about his enthusiasm.  Which kept him in our cart vicinity, while I stuffed the eggs in around my daughter and back pedaled for milk.

It was in this momentary stasis that he spied the stack of orange, coffee coupons and snuck across the aisle to get one.  He beamed as one who’s found a treasure and can’t contain the joy. And so I asked, “what’d you find?”  And he patted the coupon on top of our eggs and recited with certainty what he knew it said. “God has placed you where you are.” 

Only my crinkled eyebrows puzzled him, so he said it again. “God has placed you where you are, mommy.”  And, as if in proof, he crept across the aisle and snagged another coupon.

We did not get out of the store without walking back a lone mushroom or without swinging the trail mix bag against the cart until the sunflower seeds spilled out. Or without touching every first shirt on every first rack on our way out the doors.

But we got out with that coupon.  

And not for the promise of coffee…but of purpose.

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Four years ago I mistook myself for someone who wore a bathrobe, and I bought one.  A big ol’, fluffy, white thing that could hide a car, if necessary.  Which is what it felt like I was doing when I wore it that single afternoon for six minutes or so.  I’d taken a full look at my pregnant self in what was clearly more tent than bathrobe, and had remembered instantly who I was.  A non-bathrobe wearer.

The relief was immediate.

Only it’s cold here now.  Nevermind last Wednesday when it hit seventy degrees and my kids, already in their swimsuits, asked to fill up the pool.  Definitely nevermind.  Because Thursday showed up with rain.  A whole bunch of it.  And, well, I’ve been cold ever since. 

Which was why I pushed back the hangers holding the skirts I also no longer wear and hefted out my bathrobe.  Cold people do desperate things.

But I was mistaken in thinking I could sneak down the stairs unnoticed.  My kids’ eyes were the size of tires as they took in the full glory of the robe.  “Oh, yeah,” I said, as I squeezed between them on the couch. “Can I touch it?” my son wanted to know.  I said he could.  “Can I try it on?” my daughter begged.  I said I’d see.  But I was still cold.

Then inspired by my robe, or somehow by me in my robe, my daughter ran upstairs to grab hers.  Here she is in mine.  And here’s her dad in his.

I mean hers.

And this guy… This isn’t his bathrobe either.  But he likes it.  And he isn’t the tiniest bit deterred by the word “Angel” on the back or the fact that the robe is his sister’s.

Cause it’s all about belonging.  And when the person you love is hugging you in a robe.  In a robe is where you want to be.

Unless you’re just wearing one to get warm.

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Library Solo

It scarcely mattered that we were at the library.  Or that the general consensus at the library was to talk in hushed tones.  What mattered was my son had a song in his heart.  Apparently bursting to get out. 

And so while others snapped up from their books or peeked covertly around the bookcases, or tore their eyes away from their computer screen,  my son pieced together a puzzle and never looked up while he sang, “This is the Day.”

Maybe you know it.  It’s a church camp oldie with two parts where the second person repeats the phrase the first person just sang.  That is, if there is a second person.  Only when there’s not, like the library version, well, you sing the whole thing yourself.  

I was two bookshelves away when my son began. “This is the day,” he sang.  And then echoed himself in the same tenor, “This is the day.” 

“That the Lord has made.”  And again. “That the Lord has made.”

“I will rejoice.”  And without a breath in between,  “I will rejoice.”

“And be glad in it.”  And now a sigh,  “And be glad in it.

And then this verson of the song crescendoed, as my son cut loose, “This is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it.  This is the day.”  And an echo as loud as the first part, “this is the day.  That the Lord has made.”

By which time, he popped his head up from the puzzle and whispered, as one who knows library etiquette, “I’m all ready to go now, Mom.”

And by which time we found his sister as well as the automatic doors and skipped out to the first verse of his second number, “Jesus Loves Me This I Know.”

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When the Potty Train Derails

As the potty training has progressed–albeit like a snail out for a stroll–we’ve gotten careless.  About the wipes.  And the fact that they ought to–under no circumstance–be removed from the van.  Which they were, uh…some time ago.  Or we ran out.  One of those.

Only tonight, twenty-five miles from home, there wasn’t time to discuss the non-wipes.  There wasn’t much to do but say, “it’s okay, bud.  If it’ll make your tummy feel better, you can poop in that pull-up.  Which he did.

And by which time the saddest scavenger hunt began.

Here’re the pertinent things I found.  Three paper towel halves, clinging to the end of the roll.  One water bottle.  A torn out sheet from a magazine with a coupon on the bottom for Opti Free.  An empty Target bag.  A size 4 diaper.

That we’d done something similar at the library on Monday, helped.  I mean it didn’t help Monday out.   Or change the fact that I was lookin’ at a nasty in the parking lot here without wet wipe.  It helped, though, that I knew no dry paper towel was going to solve the problem.

Only even with them wet, the paper towel halves weren’t enough. So with my son still bent in half, I grabbed the magazine sheet off the floor of the front seat and finished wiping him with my coupon.  Until he shrieked that his bottom hurt.  And well…it was ‘clean’ enough.  By default.

The target bag let me exit the parking lot with dignity.  And the diaper…well, it was more like finding the winning ticket after the raffle’s all over.  Maybe less depressing.

My little boy, though, the one with a mostly clean hiny and no more tummy ache skipped back into the park to count the leaves with his sister.  

We were back on the potty train.

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The Laugh to Die For

My husband gave the fake foot-stamp like he might bolt from his chair after our son whose bare bottom was wagging in the doorway.  Which was enough.  Our son squealed his way to the kitchen.  But returned quickly with his chest still rising and falling fast and his eyes dancing in anticipation.  By which time my husband pounced on his ribs and tickled him right up the stairs.

Only I don’t know the words for that kind of laughter, as it’s the kind that surpasses what you thought was funny.  The kind that even sounds different.  Like you’re in a higher gear, a higher pitch, and there ain’t no stopping until you’re all laughed out.  It’s the laugh you want to free in church, only you can’t.  Cause it’s church.  The kind of laugh that has you thinking you just might die from a split side.  The real deal.  That laugh.

Which was what my kid was doin’ upstairs.  Bustin’ his sides with his dad. 

Then before coming down the stairs my husband said, “Sleep well, Silas.  I’ll most certainly tickle you in the morning.”  And our son raised his head off his pillow, “No, dad, no!”   “Oh yes,” my husband countered.  And then he waited in the hallway for the sure signs of tiny feet.

But they didn’t come.

Instead there was giggling as a little boy whispered with certainty to himself, “my dad’s gonna tickle me in the morning!”

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