Faith, Hope, and Charity

20140215-203534.jpgMy grandmother Emily, my mother’s mother, was the only girl in her family of five. Yep; she had four, count ‘em, four brothers. At least, that was what I thought when I was a girl. When I got older, she told me that she actually had three sisters. Triplets. They were named Faith, Hope, and Charity. Whether it was because they were so little when they were born, or that the family lacked enough cradles to accommodate three infants at the same time, they were bedded in three bureau drawers.

Unfortunately, their lives were short. They only lived about three months, I believe, when they succumbed to pneumonia. When she told me the story, I thought: Oh! that is so sad! Oh! There were really four boys and four girls in her family!

I also thought: Oh! I would have so many more cousins if they had lived!

Anyway, I thought a lot about those three short lives. I loved their names. I loved the story about the bureau drawers. I wanted to honor them in some way. Here’s what I do: Every time I knit something, I knit “Faith, Hope, and Charity” into the piece by repeating their names as I knit or purl, so that many times over I have wished these thoughts for the recipient of whatever I am knitting. I hope it makes them feel amazing when they wear it. I hope my triplet grand-aunts in heaven know that even though their lives were brief, all these years later, I am thinking of them and they are making a difference in my life, as well as (this is my hope) in the lives of the people who wear the FHC articles.

The kindness of strangers

My daughter was working in a project for her history class that required her to do a Jackie Chan impersonation. This required her to wear a gi ( full disclosure: until I googled it I was spelling it ‘gee’-my bad). Izzy did take karate years ago…for about 5 minutes. Needless to say, we did not own a gi.

So first, I put the word out to the Wells Women Facebook page but got no responses.
Next, I called my brother, who took judo and/or karate for years. “Sure, I have one,” he told me, “but I have no idea where it is,” he finished. “I know I didn’t throw it away,” he added, helpfully. No good. We needed it right away.
Then I had a sudden impulse to ask my friend Teresa. I don’t know why. I just did. And although Teresa didn’t have one, she knew someone who did.
Angela was willing to let my daughter borrow her gi, no questions asked. Because of the kindness of one friend and one stranger, my daughter’s Jackie Chan rocked!
Thank you Teresa. Thank you Angela.
:)

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Cardinals

cardinalI recently spent a few minutes (okay, hours) trolling the Facebook news feed and something caught my eye. Someone (sorry, I have no idea who or what or when exactly) posted that every time you see a red cardinal, that is a sign that a loved one that has died is saying hello to you, or something to that effect.

That’s nice, I thought.

Then a funny thing happened. I started noticing red cardinals.

  1. My friend Christine at work has a tapestry hung up in  her cube that depicts multiple red cardinals.
  2. I went to the movies to see The Nut Job (skip this one-see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty instead) and the bad guy’s side kick was a red cardinal. A squat, mean, nasty caricature of a cardinal, but still a cardinal.
  3. Today, I went to brunch at The Good Table in Cape Elizabeth and there in the foyer was a fake tree with cardinals all over the branches.

So, maybe this is just that phenomenon that happens to you when you are pregnant and you suddenly start seeing pregnant women everywhere you go.

On the other hand, this is the time of year that my mother and father died (mom 2/29/96 and dad 3/15/98) and so I am already thinking about them.

Maybe they are thinking about me, too.

Still becoming

The_Secret_Life_of_Walter_Mitty_1274874When my mother was 51, she was busy getting ready to die, but she didn’t know this yet. Well, maybe she did know it on some level, but she never talked about it with me pre-diagnosis so I really can’t be sure. Certainly none of us, her children, her husband, knew it yet.

I’m 51. At 51, I feel like I am still becoming who I am. At 51, her life was drawing to a close.

Seeing  The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has me thinking about things like this today. Walter Mitty is about  many things. It’s about living your life, but also it’s about how you live it. You can spend it offsides, thinking about what you wish you were doing or imagining all that you’d like to (someday) do. Or, you can, at any time, decide to actually do the thing(s) that you thought you could not ever do.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

― Eleanor RooseveltYou Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

In the movie, it was a fine line. Walter Mitty crossed it. I don’t think that my mother ever crossed it. I am wondering if I have crossed it.

Interwoven throughout Mitty are images of his past that are meaningful to him. They are there to let him know that a) he is on the right track and that b) both of his parents, his dad who had died when he was 17, and his mother who was still alive and baking clementine cakes for him, were there supporting him every step of the way.

For me, the real message of this movie is this: No matter what, we are always our parents’ child.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

hair 2I have long hair. Whoops, I used to have long hair.  I have a tradition. Every few years, when my hair gets long enough, I cut it off and donate it to Locks of Love. I have done this for years. My daughter donated her hair from her first hair cut.

I wasn’t sure how long it took me to regrow my braid so I checked back…had it been 3 years? Four? Nope. It’s been  less than 2 year this time! Who knew my hair could still grow that fast?

The minimum required to make a wig is 10 inches, which is just what I gave this year.

This time, for some reason, my daughter tried to talk me out of it. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was, so I asked her,

And she told me. “Mom, I don’t think you look good with short hair.”

Once again proving that some things are better left unsaid.

Library book sale

Friends of Library Book SaleMy daughter and I ventured into new territory together last year when we volunteered together for the Friends of the Wells Public Library annual fundraising book sale.

We had such a good time volunteering last year that we are planning to do it again this year.

We mostly sorted and carried books to their proper spots on the tables that we helped to set up first thing in the morning. There were plenty of people of all ages there helping out along with us, including The Boy Scouts!!!

This years sale is scheduled for Saturday, August 10th from 10am -2pm and (you guessed it!), for some reason they need more volunteers than just me and Izzy. If you are so inclined and are local and want to help out, just email Susan at  susan.layne1@gmail.com. Currently volunteers are still needed from 12pm-3pm on both Friday and Saturday.

If you come to help us, bring something to drink, like a big bottle of water (or maybe keep a cooler in your car with some cold drinks and an ice pack if you are planning to stay a while-hint! hint!). Also, a granola bar or two for you teenagers wouldn’t hurt (because God forbid you eat an apple or something).

If you don’t have time to help, consider coming to shop!!! Spending your money at the book sale will also be appreciated! The book sale is Saturday at the Wells Junior High School in the gym.

Remember (like Susan says): Many hands make light work!

See you there!!

Alive and Kickin’

ipodWant to make your daughter’s day?  Sing a song from your youth. I did this today, and in front of her friend, no less. What the hell was I thinking? I don’t know. I was inspired. In my defense, the song came on after “Operator” by Lady Gaga, catching me a little off guard. Yes, it is my iPod, but it’s a few  years old and I haven’t used it in a while- maybe 6 months- so I wasn’t sure exactly what’s on it.

So, the song was Tighter, Tighter by Alive and Kickin’. When I was ten years old, my parents gave me a record player for some occasion or other (birthday? Christmas? I forget) and this was one of the three 45′s that they gave me with it.  The others were Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes by Edison Lighthouse and Band of Gold by Freda Payne.

Because I loved these songs (this was before I discovered David Cassidy), I played them over and over. Or maybe it was because I only had these three records. Whatever. The point is this:  Tighter, Tighter came out in 1970. Here I am in 2013 singing it and I remember all of the words (okay, most of them). Right? And not just this song; I remember the words to the other two songs too (and it must be said: much to my daughter’s chagrin).

Here’s what I wish: that Calculus had been set to music, because I couldn’t solve a theorem today to save my life,  despite 4 courses in Calculus in both high school and college–elective courses. Yep, I took Calculus in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s because I liked it . In 2013, however, I don’t know cosines from shinola.

Note to mathematicians: If you all had set Calculus to music. I’d be a lot smarter today.

Cicely’s Japanese Maple Tree

We have a Japanese Maple Tree in our backyard. We brought it here when we moved from another house, and we had brought it to that house when we moved from another house. Even that wasn’t its original location though. In all, moving it to this home was its third transplantation.

Cicely japanese maple

From whence did it come? When our son was little, my husband or I used to walk him to and from the bus stop when he started kindergarten. While waiting for the bus, Bill struck up a conversation with the woman who owned the house on the corner of the street where the bus stopped.

Cicely had a beautiful garden, and my husband had created one too at our house, so they immediately had something in common. Cicely was from Trinidad and lived a lone in her little house on the corner. She loved her garden and took great care of it.

She had a gigantic Japanese Maple Tree that anchored her garden. One day, she gave Bill a seedling from this tree; it had about two leaves on it. He loved the tree and took it home and gave it a nice spot in our yard. This was about 17 years ago. Since then, it stayed alive but never really thrived, despite the great care and attention that Bill gave to it.

Cicely died shortly thereafter. The people who bought her house did not maintain her garden and all the plants are gone now. Except that tree. It still lives in her garden…and it still lives in ours.

It never really thrived until this year. I don’t know what is different, but Cicely’s Japanese Maple Tree has finally come into its own.

Thanks, Cicely.

50: The year I got old

I was thinking about how I have been in a funk these past several weeks, when I realized, no, it’s actually been several months now that I’ve been feeling this way.  I realized what is partly affecting kneemy mood and my decisions is this: I feel old.

  1. My skin looks old.
  2. All of my joints hurt all the time so I don’t want to exercise.
  3. If I do exercise, all my muscles hurt the next day.
  4. My bowel pattern is a constant concern.
  5. No matter what time I go to bed, or how late I sleep in the morning, I’m still tired all the time.
  6. I don’t want to do any work anymore.
  7. I don’t want to eat “healthy” anymore. I want cappuccino whoopie pies and DQ blizzards and apple crisps and Peanut M+M’s every frikkin’ day.
  8. I don’t even want to read anymore because my expensively, progressively, trifocally, Transitions vision sucks.

How’s that for pathetic? After I read my list it dawned on me: I’m depressed. SAD probably, since this is the longest, coldest, snowiest winter in the last, what, million years.

My daughter was reading this over my shoulder without my knowledge as I was writing it. A little while later she said,

She: “Mom, it’s not true.”

Me: “What’s not true?”

She: “That stuff you were writing; it’s not true.”

My daughter: yep, think I’ll keep her.

Birthdays

bdayMy lovely daughter is turning 14 in a couple of months. We have given her a birthday party every year of her life, so there is a  fair chance that she will be expecting one this year too.

What to do?

There is some pressure not only to do something that is new and different from a)what we’ve done before, but also from b) what everyone else had done before.

No easy feat, that.

We have had all kinds of parties over the years, but the Smitty’s birthday party was my favorite. We go to the theater and everything happens there: the cake, the presents, the meal, the activity (movie, duh), the goodie bags. The employees clean up afterwards. In other words, I got off easy.

I am finding that this idea is a hard sell to my teenage daughter, who has ‘been there, done that”.

We are leaning toward a …wait for it… spa party. I have a couple of ideas and potential tricks up my sleeve, so if the planets align it might all come together into a nice day for my daughter.

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