Quiet moments, and some blather


Yes…yes, I’m still alive. It’s been awhile since I posted, but I have to say I was a running fool. Seems like the whole summer has flown by. While I feel like I have nothing to show for it, I’ve actually been pretty busy. That’s ok…It’s better than sitting around, I guess.  And then, when I have time to take a breath, all the fabulous things I had found to blog about evaporate like flood water on a hot July day.  Amazingly, I was sitting in the living room alone with no sounds other than my Wood Wick candle burning, the traffic outside and the noise of Younger Son taking a shower. It was a lovely quiet moment, albeit brief. Apparently that was just enough to break my writer’s block. Strange, the things my brain will respond to.

The flood situation in Minot is no longer all about being wet, but now about recovery. Most everyone who was displaced has been allowed back into their homes, and the gutting and cleaning has commenced.  We have heard that there is a plan being proposed that will straighten out the river, and provide protection from the river for up to 30,000 cfs (cubic feet/second).   We dealt with upwards of 22,000 cfs this go around. Whatever plan they come up with, it will take a long time to put into place, but Minot will be better off for it. More on that as things progress.

Right now we are sitting in the living room watching a movie called Escanaba in da Moonlight. It’s an old family favorite that we got through Netflix. It’s one of those shows we all agree on, and can have a good laugh over.  There’s nothing like sitting around with your kids having a good laugh.

Speaking of kids, I had the last three days off so I could get them registered and set up for school, which is starting very late for us this year. The flood took several schools in town so the State has forgiven five school days, plus there will be three more tacked on to that will be made up throughout the school year. As a result, instead of starting school August 24th, school won’t start until September 6th. Older Son is a Senior this year, and so come all things associated with that: Senior pictures, applying to colleges and graduation…amongst other things.  Older Son isn’t too hip on the whole graduation tradition, and would rather skip all of the pictures and ceremony. Well, he’s just going to have to tough it out. Some traditions just need to be observed. I think he’s feeling a little overwhelmed with the end of school coming and having to make choices. I don’t envy him…it’s no easy thing to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. I still am not sure what I want to do when I grow up either, and I’m 42.

Younger Son cooked supper tonight. It was a <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/t1IiUAtoNBk“>grilled,  bacon wrapped, vegetable stuffed meatloaf. OMG. That kid is going to make me fatter than I already am. He’s also going to make some nice girl a fine husband one day. He’s got that cooking thing down for someone who’s only 16 years old. This is the third time in the last month I’ve come home to find supper grilled and ready to eat. I’m truly spoiled.

My lovely kitty, Harley, got declawed this week. As lovely as he is, he’s got a taste for scratching everything but the scratching post, including box springs, the dish washer, the heat vent in the bathroom, the living room furniture, and anything Older Son owns. It’s not something I had planned on, or liked, having to do, but it was either that or he’d have to go. The good news is that he is making a remarkable recovery and is up to the usual mischief…except without so many scratch marks.

Now it’s quiet again, and all I hear is my tapping on the key board and the wooden wick of my candle crackling away. Pretty soon I’ll have to get up and put my laundry in the dryer, and hit the rack, bringing  my rare quiet moment to an end, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

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What makes a Mother?


I’ve been sitting here for about an hour pouring through the internet looking for some inspiration, as I’ve been dealing with some writer’s block issues lately.  After all of that, I came up with nothing. Zilch…zero…nada.

And then, I saw Older Son curl up on the couch with my afghan. I ran right over, smoothed it out and took this picture:

This rainbow afghan is one of my favorite things in the whole world. My Aunty B. made it for me as a gift for my tenth birthday, and I have hauled it around with me for the last 32 years, always making sure that it is left out on the couch or the bed for quick use. Just now are some of the threads beginning to let go, so I’ll have to take a hard look at it soon and make sure I get any loose ends tied up good and tight.

She’s been gone fifteen years now, but I hope that she still looks in on us once in a while and sees that this beloved item is still in use. I think it would make her happy to know that it held together so long and was used by my children, and will most likely be used by their children too.

Someone commented once that this particular afghan wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but they just didn’t have the right eyes with which to really see it.  Aunty B was quite a jack of all trades. She could do anything she put her mind to, and she was always the life of any gathering. Everything she made, she made with love. She was an amazing person who had a lot to give, and would have made a spectacular mother. Unfortunately she was unable to have children of her own, and that breaks my heart.

So, what makes a mother?

Usually it takes either a blood relationship between a woman and child, or a legal relationship. Some times people just step up and BE mothers, though. Some people come by it naturally, like Aunty B. She helped raise one of her husband’s nephews when his home life went sideways and he needed a place to live. My Dad spent many summers with Aunty B and her husband. By the time my brother and I came a long, she was a kind of grandma figure to us, but she didn’t treat us like we were grandchildren…she treated all kids like they we her own.

Some people, like me, have to work at being a mother. I wasn’t born with any maternal bones in my body…I had to build them from the ground up.  Aunty B didn’t have to work at it…she just always knew what to say and what to do. What a travesty that she wasn’t able to have her own children, especially when there are people in the world who get pregnant effortlessly and don’t care so much about their kids.

I write about Aunty B today, not because she was the only good example of motherhood I have in my life, but she is the one that finally woke up my Writing Muse today.  I am very fortunate to have many fine role models, starting with my own Mom, who taught me how to be fierce on my children’s behalf, and who always has a ready answer when I have questions about how to cook something. My Grandma G taught me all about baking, how to navigate family politics, and how to stay in touch. I could go on ad nauseam about all of the wonderful people in my life who present good motherhood role models. I’m thankful for them all.

To all of my 18 Faithful Readers who are mothers, I hope that you are as fortunate as I have been to have so many good role models for motherhood, and that you shine your light for the next generation to use as an example in their own lives. Happy Mother’s Day!

Hope really does float…grab it and hang on tight.


Yes…I’m alive! I’ve been away for several weeks, alternately running like a lunatic trying to keep up with life, and then having time and not being able to write. I just sit in front of my computer and wonder what happened to all of those interesting things that skittered across my brain during the day. It all just evaporated, right into thin air.

I had no intention of blogging today, but I read a blog post of a close friend who is going through divorce, and it inspired me to write about something that I hadn’t thought of in a long time. Her comments reminded me of something I felt, similarly to what she’s going through now, when I was  just beginning to go through the same process two years ago.  She described how she felt like she was in fast-rising, deep water…feeling overwhelmed. Here is the picture she posted as an illustration. I found it interesting for a couple of reasons, but I’ll get to that later:

I remember very well when I discovered my husband had cheated on me and then decided to leave me and the boys to be with her, rather than try to work things out, I felt like I was literally in over my head. I guess I really was…I had no idea what to do, how to deal with him, how to help the boys get through it, or what the future held. I remember very clearly waking up many mornings immediately after the initial blow and wondering what the point to breathing really was. It was probably the most demoralizing thing I’ve ever been through in my entire life.

Something I discovered after a month’s worth of flailing about was that life is a lot like swimming. I remember very well taking swimming lessons as a kid, and having a hard time with it. I really didn’t believe that I was going to just float in the water as effortlessly as the other kids did. My disbelief was the whole problem. I don’t exactly remember when I made the cross over from disbelief to swimming like a fish, but once I realized the water would hold me up if just let it, swimming got a lot easier.

Getting through divorce is so much harder than learning how to swim for a few reasons. For one, it’s not just you that you have to keep afloat when there are children involved. Secondly, a pool is a pretty well-defined area where you can see to the bottom. Getting divorced, especially at the beginning, feels a lot like having to tread water in the ocean, where you can barely see land.  And, if you’ve never done it before, the navigation of it is a bitch. How do you get to your destination when you have no map, and no idea what the landmarks you need to find look like? How do you know when it’s done, or does this hell go on forever?

Just like when I was learning how to swim, I can’t remember exactly when I let go and realized that I wouldn’t die if I just believed that everything would be OK. I do remember discovering that making small plans for every contingency gave me a measure of a feeling of security. Each and every single time I made a plan, or found a way to make things the tiniest little bit more stable, it gave me a little more hope that I would survive. I hung on to that hope, clung to it with everything I had. The alternative, hopelessness, was nothing I wanted to revisit.

Once my (then) husband moved out, after four months of having to endure him living in the house after I caught him with the other woman, the air suddenly cleared and I could breath again. The oppressive atmosphere evaporated and, while I was still left with a lot of uncertainty, I finally felt like I made it a long way closer to shore. I was no longer flailing about in the ocean looking to find purchase on a whatever sand bar or rock I could find. After that long, awful summer, I was finally standing up in the water, walking towards shore. I might still be  in neck-deep, but the end was in sight. I had a lot of hope that things would be OK after that.

Even though I felt better immediately after he finally left, it was a pretty horrible year for both of the kids and I. There were a lot of financial issues, and I was still reeling from having been dumped out of a 17-year marriage without so much as a heads up or an apology. Two years have gone by since the initial shock of discovery, and I’m still angry…but I feel more pity for him than anger a lot of days now. However, after all of that, I’m still standing, and so are the kids. We survived, and we’re doing well. I still have a lot of hope that things will get even better.

Another thing I learned while surviving divorce is how to spin something bad until I’m blowing sunshine out of my backside. No kidding…I am a full-fledged subscriber to the “Fake-It-‘Till-You-Make-It” theory of thinking. Even on days when I could barely hold my head up for feeling lost, when people asked me how I was, I would tell them “Good”, or “Fabulous” and do my best to mean it. I did my best to count up all the blessings I could find, even the smallest things count. There were many days were there weren’t enough blessings to tip the balance and allow me to feel half-way decent, but a lot of days I could dredge up enough good things to ponder on that would give me some hope to float up with. It takes some practice, but it works.

Back to the picture my friend posted on her blog. At first glance it appears that the woman is in deep water, all alone. But, if you take a closer look at it, you see that the water is crystal clear and well-lit, and you can see all the way to the bottom. Not only that, but her face has broken the water and she’s breathing without difficulty. She’s in a prone position suggesting that she’s relaxed and is moving as though taking a long relaxed swim in the morning sun…if she were struggling, the water would be frothy and broken with her movements. The woman in this picture is purposeful in her motions, has confidence in the water to hold her up, and is not alone… she’s just taking time for herself. The peace of this picture is really striking and inspiring to me. It’s my fondest hope that my friend sees the peacefulness in this picture, and can find peace for herself after long time of not having had any.

Have you ever seen the movie, Hope Floats, starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr.? If you haven’t, give it a look-see.  For those of you who are struggling through bad times, hope really does float, so grab on tight, rise to the surface and take a deep breath. It might not seem like it now, but everything will be OK.