Archive for December, 2011

It’s a Wonderful Life

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

We had Christmas Eve at our house today.

We ate lasagna and drank wine. The kids fought and whined and cried and laughed. We let the kids open a present each. They loved it.

The kids were all riled up.

The kids were all riled up.

We snuggled on the couch. Lisa and I even took a nap on the couch together.

We snuggled on the couch. Lisa and I even took a nap on the couch together.

And the kids, did I mention they were cute and all riled up? They were crazy.

And the kids, did I mention they were cute and all riled up? They were crazy.

I got to hang with my two favorite girls.

I got to hang with my two favorite girls.

And then tonight, Todd and I played Santa, and stuffed stockings.

And then tonight, Todd and I played Santa, and stuffed stockings.

This guy helped. And hindered. I miss Q, but I am glad to have him here, even if he is a fat pain in my ass.

This guy helped. And hindered. I miss Q, but I am glad to have him here, even if he is a fat pain in my ass.


And then we ate camembert and summer sausage for dinner, and drank more. We ate cookies and laughed over the letter Tiller wrote to Santa.
 She is a sweetheart. (page 1)

And read the letter Tills wrote to Santa. She is a sweetheart. (page 1)

Page 2: You have done well.

Page 2: You have done well.

And page 3.

And page 3.

And then we watched my fave - It's a Wonderful Life.

And then we watched my fave - It's a Wonderful Life.

I watch it every Christmas Eve. Something new is revealed every year – This year it was when Clarence died. After Tom Sawyer was published, but before Huck Finn. And this year, it rings just a little more true. Perhaps it is my age, but i think it more likely that it is the past year, which has taught me how fragile life has been, and that we all have, at most, a tenuous grasp of life on this earth, and it doesn’t matter whether we are plant or animal, young or old. We are at the mercy of things completely out of our control. To pretend otherwise is ridiculous. As is the very real desire to worry ourselves sick at the thought.

I cannot stop time and make my dog forever young. I can’t stop someone from murdering my loved one. I cannot stop a car wreck from taking a child away in mere seconds, or keep his parents for suffering as he lingers for weeks, holding on to life by a thread, against all hope.

It is all completely and totally out of my control, and all i can do is try to enjoy the now, because while we have it, it’s a Wonderful Life.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

Part II, a.k.a. Shotgun Blast of Thanks

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

I am thankful that I happened to come across a blog post i wrote two years ago on the Winter Solstice. I am thankful that I spent that lovely evening with my dog, Quint. I am thankful that I wrote about it, so I can remember what it was like to sit in the cold on the lake with him and watch stars. I am thankful I still remember what his ears felt like.

This year has been rough and a lot sad, and it has made me even more sad that I haven’t written as much as I normally do. This is part two of looking on the bright side, so that two years from now, I will maybe look back and remember the good things, not the sad ones.

I am thankful for this little guy, and that he likes baseball.

I am thankful for this little guy, and that he likes baseball.

That I had the pleasure of seeing Harmony at baseball games, and know the strangeness of old friends having kids play sports together. Always surreal.

That I had the pleasure of seeing Harmony at baseball games, and know the strangeness of old friends having kids play sports together. Always surreal.

Thankful for the wonderful people who always step up to the plate and coach my kids' teams. This guy cracked us up by coming out to pitch the last inning of a v. close final game dressed as Braveheart. I am thankful for the weird and the absurd in people.

Thankful for the wonderful people who always step up to the plate and coach my kids' teams. This guy cracked us up by coming out to pitch the last inning of a v. close final game dressed as Braveheart. I am thankful for the weird and the absurd in people.

Thankful for Yankees in rural Georgia. They make me laugh.

Thankful for Yankees in rural Georgia. They make me laugh.

And for quiet, woodsy solitude at sunset.

And for quiet, woodsy solitude at sunset.

And that I had time to play hair with friends. I miss those simple time-wasters.

And that I had time to play hair with friends. I miss those simple time-wasters.

And good Chardonnay. Don't get the good stuff nearly often enough.

And good Chardonnay. Don't get the good stuff nearly often enough.

For a sunny cool day spent shopping with friends.

For a sunny cool day spent shopping with friends.

A day spent trying on hats.

A day spent trying on hats.

and being reminded of my long-gone hat collection and how much joy it brought me. (i am a freak!)

and being reminded of my long-gone hat collection and how much joy it brought me. (i am a freak!)

And girls drinking in trucks.

And girls drinking in trucks.

Thankful that I rarely forget to take in the view.

Thankful that I rarely forget to take in the view.

And for time spent in front of outdoor fireplaces. (I will have one, one day. I will!) And for the sweet gift of the MacQueen tartan scarf my Daddy gave me. I love it.

And for time spent in front of outdoor fireplaces. (I will have one, one day. I will!) And for the sweet gift of the MacQueen tartan scarf my Daddy gave me. I love it.

And thankful that I have more girlfriends at 39 than i ever did as a young girl.

And thankful that I have more girlfriends at 39 than i ever did as a young girl.

Thankful that Mom finally made it to Alaska and loved it as much as she thought she would.

Thankful that Mom finally made it to Alaska and loved it as much as she thought she would.

Thankful for the beautiful day I spent with friends in Athens.

Thankful for the beautiful day I spent with friends in Athens.

And that my husband still takes me to the game every other year.

And that my husband still takes me to the game every other year.

Even though I bark in the Auburn section, and I am usually bad luck for Todd's Tigers.

Even though I bark in the Auburn section, and I am usually bad luck for Todd's Tigers.

Thankful for my sweet, artistic girl, and the chalk drawings she does in the garage.

Thankful for my sweet, artistic girl, and the chalk drawings she does in the garage.

Sad that they are not permanent, but that Todd and I managed to capture her precious misspellings. Thankful she lists the things she loves - the cuirur green, sparkely shoes, her dog. - Perhaps she is a bit like her mother sometimes.

Sad that they are not permanent, but that Todd and I managed to capture her precious misspellings. Thankful she lists the things she loves - the cuirur green, sparkely shoes, her dog. - Perhaps she is a bit like her mother sometimes.

I'm thankful for decorative gourd season, mutherfuckers!

I'm thankful for decorative gourd season, mutherfuckers!

Because it still makes me laugh every time I think of it. It is a cornucopia of laughter.

I am thankful that I know what it means to have a daughter.

I am thankful that I know what it means to have a daughter.

And for a most peaceful thanksgiving with my parents. Also, for a husband who has the patience to show my mother how to put books on her iPad. He is worth his weight in gold.

And for a most peaceful thanksgiving with my parents. Also, for a husband who has the patience to show my mother how to put books on her iPad. He is worth his weight in gold.

And that we still do EAV Santa.

And that we still do EAV Santa.

Thankful for my husband's brothers' wife and fiancee. I am lucky we have no drama. And that we all talk when the boys are stoic and quiet.

Thankful for my husband's brothers' wife and fiancee. I am lucky we have no drama. And that we all talk when the boys are stoic and quiet.

Thankful for my sweet niece, Luci. Lucky to have a niece and a nephew.

Thankful for my sweet niece, Luci. Lucky to have a niece and a nephew.

Did I mention Tills? She is my heart.

Did I mention Tills? She is my heart.

And thankful to know what it is to have a large family. My in-laws are so devoid of drama. They are so very normal. It is nice to have something to balance out the crazy.

And thankful to know what it is to have a large family. My in-laws are so devoid of drama. They are so very normal. It is nice to have something to balance out the crazy.

I am so thankful for happy engagements.

I am so thankful for happy engagements.

And that my children will know the love of cousins.

And that my children will know the love of cousins.

For the wonderful Johnson men. It is a comfort to know that they are such a wonderful example for my son.

For the wonderful Johnson men. It is a comfort to know that they are such a wonderful example for my son.

And that I still love my husband and he still (I think?) loves me.

And that I still love my husband and he still (I think?) loves me.

Thankful for Ned and Vanessa and their sweet girl Scarlett, and for the wonderful afternoon we spent tailgating for Iron Bowl. I love that our kids experience that tradition every year.

Thankful for Ned and Vanessa and their sweet girl Scarlett, and for the wonderful afternoon we spent tailgating for Iron Bowl. I love that our kids experience that tradition every year.

And there you have it. One huge shotgun blast of thankfulness. My life is good. Really good.

Thankful

Monday, December 19th, 2011

So, damn. That last post was a real downer. Sorry about that. I am pretty good at the ostrich thing, though. I do lots of fun stuff, and I am lucky to have a healthy family, and I still have both parents, and my husband is the best one in the whole wide world ever (for me.) So, here are some things I’m thankful for . . . Think of it as one whole post about shit I’m thankful for, rather than an annoying “I’m Thankful” facebook post every damn day of November. See how good I am to you? So thoughtful . . . .

My friends Shannon and Matt had a baby and we finally visited him.

Tills and DannyBoy

Tills and DannyBoy


We have beer on Main Street now.

We have beer on Main Street now.


I got to spend an afternoon with my sister and our kids. Sadly, that almost never happens anymore.

I got to spend an afternoon with my sister and our kids. Sadly, that almost never happens anymore.

Tills broke her arm, but I still got to go to NYC with Todd.

Tills broke her arm, but I still got to go to NYC with Todd.

I had breakfast that i bought at Union Square Greenmarket. I ate it on a bench and watched schoolchildren.

I had breakfast that i bought at Union Square Greenmarket. I ate it on a bench and watched schoolchildren.

I drank coffee and rode the Staten Island Ferry just for the view. I didn't care that it was cloudy and was repaid with some sunny patches.

I drank coffee and rode the Staten Island Ferry just for the view. I didn't care that it was cloudy and was repaid with some sunny patches.

I ate a pear in Trinity Church Cemetery, where my 5G grandfather was buried in 1786. Or at least records say he is. His grave is lost to time now. I thought about that while I ate my pear.

I ate a pear in Trinity Church Cemetery, where my 5G grandfather was buried in 1786. Or at least records say he is. His grave is lost to time now. I thought about that while I ate my pear.

Todd and I had dinner with my friend Harris and his girlfriend Anne. I am still always surprised that Harris wears button-downs to work. In my mind, he is always wearing a navy blue hoodie.

Todd and I had dinner with my friend Harris and his girlfriend Anne. I am still always surprised that Harris wears button-downs to work. In my mind, he is always wearing a navy blue hoodie.

And then we all went to a bar and played shuffleboard.

And then we all went to a bar and played shuffleboard.

We also stayed at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Tres fancy.

We stayed at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Tres fancy.

Posting these so that Harris can see what the rooms were like (he was curious):

The room had FOUR windows. And a beautiful rug. And original hardwoods.

The room had three, count'em three, windows. And a beautiful rug. And original hardwoods.

And here's the bed. Nice linens, velvety headboard, good lighting.

And here's the bed. Nice linens, velvety headboard, good lighting.

Pretty sure the bathroom was bigger than most NYC apartments. However, for the cost, i think they could have worked in a tub. (My only problem with the room.)

Pretty sure the bathroom was bigger than most NYC apartments. However, for the cost, i think they could have worked in a tub. (My only problem with the room.)

Even the closet was fancy.

Even the closet was fancy.

And here is a view of the sitting area from the front door. We had a SETTEE, y'all!

And here is a view of the sitting area from the front door. We had a SETTEE, y'all!

The rooms also come with access to the park. It is a private park that you have to have a key to get into. That’s pretty cool. And snobby and elitist. . . but cool.

So, the next day it was cold and pouring down rain. I made plans to meet Anne at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was so god-awful crowded, and wet and damp, but we had a lovely afternoon. I forgot to each lunch I was enjoying myself so much. We mostly wandered, took in the current exhibitions. (Romare Bearden was one Anne really wanted to see and I thought it was great, and was also surprised I had not heard of him in my Harlem Renaissance class in college).

Anne and I both checked out my favorite part – Arms and Armor. I think when she suggested it to me, she must have realized how much I would love it. She probably didn’t realize that I would take so long that she would get hungry and have to leave me there. (Sorry, Anne!) I could have spent all day there looking at the amazing things people have killed other people with over the years! They even had a helm that was (probably erroneously) said to have been worn by Joan of Arc – I have had a preoccupation with Joan since i first read about her as a child. (I also have a weird interest in Marie Curie, Belle Star, Annie Oakley, and Bonnie Parker, among others. I know. I am a freak.)

Joan of Arc Helm

Joan of Arc Helm

There was an interesting Stieglitz exhibition, about him and his artists (O’Keefe, Matisse, etc.) While I enjoyed it, i was way more interested in this tiny little exhibit of his early art photography collection. I could have looked at it all day.

And best of all, I found some new (to me) artists to adore: Like Francis Bacon; Like a painting entitled, “End of the Hunt” by Dale Nichols (Anne, that is the one that you loved!);

The photo doesn't do it justice. The light is so amazing in it in person.

The photo doesn't do it justice. The light is so amazing in it in person.

Or these two huge pieces by Stephen Hannock. You totally can’t see it online, but he put all this writing and mixed media collage stuff in these two works. I almost wanted to cry it was so cool. Oooh, actually, if you go to this link then click on the photo, then zoom in, you can see the writing. Awesome.

Like this one by Paul Cadmus.

His Seven Deadly Sins were awesome! This is Lust.

His Seven Deadly Sins were awesome! This is Lust.

Looks like a really cool graphic novel, right? He made it in 1945. Mind-blowing.

When i left the museum, I was starving, and it was raining cats and dogs, and todd wanted me to meet him for a beer at some place near his conference in Times Square, and i was all like, “Ugh, Times Square.” But the bar was actually pretty awesome, with cheap beer, and seemingly no tourists other than myself. It was warm and the barmaid was kind of bitchy, which I can respect, and I sat next to a guy who makes full-length concert DVDs for a ton of bands, some of whom i thought were crappy. But he also worked with Chrissy Hinde, and so I was all interested in hearing about that, because I heart The Pretenders.

Then we left and had to make it back to the hotel to change for drinks with work people, and it was raining and i felt kind of sorry for all the working sad sack new yorkers just trying to get home, but there is something very romantic about a rainy evening with my husband, and taking cover in Grand Central Station to get away from the rain, and just watching the people.

Blurry, rainy evening at Grand Central Station.

Blurry, rainy evening at Grand Central Station.

And then i put on my nice stuff, and we went to The Standard Hotel for drinks, and damn, they have a really nice view from their rooftop bar, which, i kid you not, is called The Boom Boom Room. Sometimes I think New York comes up with stupid shit like that just to make me laugh at them. The bathrooms in the bar were rooms with no lights and no window coverings, where you could look out over the skyline while you are taking a shit. Ridiculous, but fun. I was luckily warned first, or I would have thought I was trippin’ in some crazy house of mirrors.

I had my jeans down around my ankles and I was peeing while I took this.

I had my jeans down around my ankles and I was peeing while I took this.


After that? Yummy burgers and home to bed because we were both wet, cold, and exhausted.

A lovely trip. I’ll end here for now, as I have gone on and on, and will never click publish at this rate. It shall be a two parter.

Inoperable Ostrichism

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Okay, not really. But i have not really been able to write ever since losing the Q-man and my cousin this past summer. (Apologies to those who are offended for lumping them together, but in my heart, they are both gaping holes. Do not judge my pain.)

I am not usually one to avoid difficult subjects, or as my sister and I call it, “ostrich” (the action of sticking one’s head in the sand), but I keep finding reasons not to write about the things that have been on my mind this year. I will be glad to see this year go – it has been painful in so many ways, and it seems that every time I turn around, i see someone near me affected negatively by some circumstance or accident, or unforeseen crappy event. I think maybe part of that is that the events of this year for my family were so negative that I have on my dark lenses when I look at anything going on around me. I hate that.

I am usually one to try and not get bogged down in negativity. I come from a family of . . shall we say, ‘realists.” We are not a positive people. We save for a rainy day. We look at things with a critical eye. But i am aware of it, and I try, day in and day out, to be thankful for the things that i have and that are going well. But it is and always will be a struggle for me to do that. I have to work at it.

If you think i am irreverent or i make too many jokes when things go awry, you are seeing me fight my basest instinct to get bogged down in the shit.

Maybe that is why i haven’t written about losing my best friend this year. Yes, he’s a dog, and yes, I loved him so very much, and when I think of him, all i can think of is . . I am not ready to write about it yet. I am hopeful that I will get there. Or about what it means to live with the thought that someone you love was brutally murdered, and most likely knew what was happening the whole time.

I will never write about that.

I will continue to push that one down. It seems to get almost more unreal, yet never goes away. I think of it almost every day, in that quiet time when the kids are in bed and i am doing dishes. Every night.

I don’t write about these things because I don’t want to get lost in them. I want to look on the positive side. I want to be positive. Sometimes? There isn’t a positive side. So i ostrich.

And so I don’t write, because i have almost always sat down at Dogwood Girl in the mornings to write about the things that were foremost in my head. It was my therapy. I wrote them down, just as if I had cut my skull down the hairline, pried it apart, and pulled out the malignancy in my brain. But the issues weren’t so heavy before. These thoughts and images are inoperable.

I will get to the dog. I will write about him. The other? It is terminal. Not in the sense that I will die from it, but in the sense that I will die with it. [wipes tear from cheek.]

p.s. Wow. I started to write about what I’ve been up to since Halloween. And this came out. I guess the writing is good therapy after all. If you are still reading my blog, thank you. I know I haven’t been funny, or sentimental, or nostalgic – all the things that people say they like most about reading my blog. I want to be her, Dogwood Girl, again. She is still here. I promise.