Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Cookie of the Year

A new year--yet another new year! They seem to get faster as I get older.
Aaaaand I just aged more as I wrote that.

In thinking about this year I have to focus on my amazing gift of a daughter and the trip Chad and I have taken getting to know her and getting to know each other in our new roles. I have to say, I adore where we have landed on the last day of 2012. And I know next year will bring really exciting things.

I didn't have time on Thanksgiving this year to list all my thank-you-very-muches. So I'm going to start this year doing just that. (You may notice a family theme. Predictable but true.)

1. I am thankful for each and every moment with Grace. There were so many years I thought having children would be impossible. I am reminded of that with every giggle....and I try to remember that with every tantrum. Try.

2. I am the luckiest wife, period. My man is a treasure.

3. My mother's mothering, while I knew it was stellar, has been indispensable this year, for me and for Grace.

4. My sisters--both my own and Chad's, bring small miracles to our lives every day. Where would we be without them? Probably rocking in the corner.

5. My father read The Night Before Christmas to us this year...the first time reading to his daughters AND his granddaughters.

6. I am so thankful to have known my Grandpa Bernie: his quiet humor, his loving smiles, and his unforgettable voice. I miss him but I am thankful he is now with Muma again.

7. In a similar vein, I am thankful to have known and learned from a truly special person, Donald. He is missed.

8. I am so thankful for horses. Especially Captain.

9. I am thankful for my FableFamily, for all the laughter, all the time.

10. For my mommy friends: Abby, Lucy, Kate, Janet, Amy W, Amy G, Cyra, Joy. To you all, I say Namaste. And I love you. Going through this first year of motherhood with you has made it all possible.

11. I am thankful for Tracy for capturing all the biggest moments of my life thus far.

12. Grandpa Don, you made it to 2013. I am so thankful for your toughness and your naps.

13. I am thankful that this year I did not need a single one of these drugs:


14. To those who have brought a harried, tired, raggedy lady back to herself in big and small ways: (including but not limited to) Robin for the horses, Leigh for the magazines, Mandi for the face cream and hugs, Premal for saving the world one trial at a time, Renee and Keith for getting married, simply, thank you.

The End.
(of 2012)

Photo by Tracy Emanuel

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Grandpa Don (Part 1)

I had the pleasure of meeting Don Munson as my Grandpa Don. I've never known him any other way. As Grandfathers go, he's a classic. He has silver hair styled in the air of Carey Grant. He is tall and long and has wise, worn hands. He turns every single moment into a lesson of some sort, from respecting nature, to cleaning up for your mother, to driving a safe distance away from the car ahead of you. He wears plaid pants and has a clip on holly bow tie for Christmas eve and Christmas day. When Grandpa Don said he was proud of you, it was the best kind of pride. It was the kind that made you want to go out and do even better. He is everything a Grandpa should be.

I very rarely went to visit my Grandfather's regular, every-day house. We always saw each other at his home in North Chester, Massachusetts, which is 2 hours from Boston, 40 minutes from a gas station, and 20 minutes from a corner store. The house sits on the top of a mountain in the Berkshires, on a thousand acres, with no indoor plumbing and a history so old that even the wild turkeys can't tell it all anymore. The floor in the living room is scarred with worn edges from when a porcupine got in and ate it for several meals. The wood stove, a Round Oak Duplex, has windows made of micah that reflect hundreds of flames from just one. Grandpa bought this home when he had a very young family and they spent every summer there, evident in the small labels you can still find on trees that say: Garry's path, or Marl's Meadow. My mother and her siblings planted the apple trees in the back when they were small--the same one that and one late summer morning, at a very safe distance, we watched a baby bear eat his fill and shimmy back down the tree, bum first.

As a child, North Chester was a magical place where things were backwards from real life. We didn't need to wear shoes except when we went swimming in the river. Grandpa often woke us up late, late at night and we ate ice cream while everyone slept. We walked for miles, just us kids, with no adults in sight. We wanted to eat fruit because we picked it ourselves. The rules were never contested because they were rules for very important reasons: no candles upstairs. No exceptions. In the middle of the night we peed in chamber pots in the hallway. We were allowed to sit on our parent's laps and steer the car, all the way down to the swimming hole. It snowed in April.

These things changed who I was to be. Today, I squish the spiders. I clean the cat puke. I can saw apart large limbs that fall in our backyard. I know to never leave the house unprepared for anything. I see a stone wall from a country road and know that it will lead to a house. I can build a fire. I love the sounds of floorboards creaking. I eat handfuls of blueberries at a time. I love waking up hearing nothing but the birds.

My Grandfather is slowly ebbing away from us these days. It's a pain so massive that it is hard to prepare for. But his 5 children and 10 grandchildren at least have a factual understanding of what is happening, if not an emotional understanding of the vacuum it will create.

I recently went to North Chester with my husband and baby girl. It was the first time my daughter, Grace, had been there. I watched her run down the dirt road picking up fat sticks and handfuls of leaves with delight. I put her on my shoulders and pointed out all the important things: birch trees, sunshine, outhouse, fire pit, ferns, stove, wood, pine needles, mushrooms, caterpillar, birds. And periodically it was hard not to cry, because I knew, if my Grandpa Don were there, he would be so proud of his home, of his family, of his great granddaughter. And he would tell her so, as he always told me. I can still hear him saying it, his hand tight on my shoulder, his lips pressed firmly with smiles in the corners.

I love you, Grandpa Don. I will always try to make you proud.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

4 Year Old Cookie

I found this today, as I was going through the hard drive of my old computer. It was written almost exactly four years ago, two months after we moved into our house, and just days before my niece, Maddie was born. Sometimes there's nothing better than seeing what can change over the years, especially when your hopes have become reality.


June 17, 2008

I am sitting upstairs in my very own tree house of an attic, a bit too warm and still cluttered with stacks of papers and boxes of glitter pens and wrapped wires. Hannah the cat is calling out to find out where I am; Chad is on the train back home to Salem, where we have decided to plant our roots.
It hasn’t been easy to find myself lately. I haven’t had time to figure out how not to be scared. Or angry. I’ve been angry. I am stifled by my health. I am frustrated by my health. I am petrified of my health. I ask myself constantly if I have a future with children, if I have a future with my husband, if I have a future at all—or if my TN pain will take all of that away from me. And then I get scared and I cry. And then I get mad and determined. And I make phone calls and doctor’s appointments and I talk to Chad. And then I’m okay for another few weeks and then it happens all over again. I so hoped to have a summer off—to not have to think about pain or be scared of pain or feel paralyzed by pain. But it’s not looking like that is going to happen as the nerve pain has settled in my teeth. And honestly, it’s not as bad as the Trigeminal pain, so maybe I should just take it. But it scares me that there is some large wormy brown slime lurking under the gums—ready to take over my whole body. And it scares me that I can’t find anyone who has answers for this brown slime. No one wants to claim it or name it or kill it.

I love that this is our house. I love that I get to sit up here and watch Hannah skulk around the boxes, ready to pounce on anything that blinks. I love that there is a yellow peach rose out front, bright and fat. It is our first rose. Our first one. We will have so many roses, Chad and I. So many roses that we will forget what it was like to not have roses. So many roses that we will take them for granted. We will be able to fill our vases with them and smell them wafting in from the open windows. We will put the petals in our baths and we will sink into the water and sigh. 

Bubbles is coming soon. I can’t wait to meet her. I can’t wait to show her my roses.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sneaky Peeky Cookie

I've been working on a project for a while (longer than I should have...) and here's a sneak peek. It's a very small peek. But I'm nervous about the rhyme. Is it working?


As Howard went to sniff it, his face landed on top,
And he tumbled over, forward and sideways with a plop.
Inky jumped back, and Stinky said “Eeeeep!”
Howard rolled and snored because he was fast asleep.

Inky and Stinky looked, laughed, and gave a shrug.
“Let’s keep him.” Stinky said as Inky caught a lightening bug.
Howard was funny and smart and would often stop and drop;
Sleeping on a stump, under a bush, in a belly flop.

Howard brought more to Inky and Stinky than just naps.
He loved to salsa, enjoyed literature, and used the word “perhaps”.
Stinky showed Howard where to find the best goose eggs.
Inky taught Howard to sauté frog legs.
And every evening they’d share the last daytime light,
before sleeping under the stars every single night. 


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

That Houston Cookie

(I know this is a very strange thing to write about, given I haven't posted in months. But about four times a day I think of something that I want to write about, and I decided if I don't start doing it on the fly, I won't be able to do it at all. So polished these new posts will not be, but at least they'll be here!)

Our daughter absolutely adores music. Her favorite toy right now is a rattle/maraca that she shakes constantly. Her entire body wiggles when I give it to her. At three/four months old, she used to "sing" when I sang to her...she doesn't so much anymore. Now, at seven months, she laughs when I sing to her. I like to think it's because she's happy to hear the song, not because I sound hilariously awful when I sing. I'm just going to continue to believe that.

Given all of this, I know the time will come when she will, like my sisters and cousins and friends and I did, create dance routines to our favorite songs, and re-create musicals in our playrooms and basements. I know Chad and I will wind up sitting on the couch, watching the carpet "stage" and our little girl belt out "Maybe" from Annie and "Doe, a deer" from The Sound of Music. And I'm actually excited about it.

My sisters and I did this all the time. And last month, it all came back to me when I heard that Whitney Houston passed away suddenly. Because there was nothing better to create hilarious dance routines to than Whitney's songs. Not only because, with such titles as "Run to You," "I Have Nothing," and "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," you could do literal interpretive dance to them, but because they were always on the radio, so you could drop everything while setting the table, and do your dance together. Always laughing so hard you can't finish, of course. (I wrote a poem about this, here.) When I was in the 5th grade, a few friends and I were going to start a Whitney cover band. We fully believed people would hire us. I think we even talked about how we would get our parents to carpool to gigs.

When I heard Whitney had died I talked to my sister and we laughed at our small, ridiculous selves. Then I got an email from my Mom asking if I remembered when she used to sing "I Will Always Love You" in the car, every DAY. And oh, did I remember. I was really glad I learned how to drive soon after that. I can't call myself a Whitney Houston fan these days, but it is amazing to me how she was a thread in the fabric of my tweenhood, as I'm sure she was for many, many girls (and boys, I'm sure) who could close their eyes and feel the heat of the spotlight on their faces as they gripped their wooden spoon mics.