Posted in an appreciative life, tidbits and babblings

sheesh, time, where the eff did you go…

Okay, so this is always a busy time of year. But still…where the hell did these last two weeks go?!! Yep, school started. Max off to high school for his 9th grade year. Gray and I embarking on another year of homeschooling. Rich and Annie back at it with new schedules. It’s always an adjustment. We’re nearly in the swing of things, I think. And honestly, school stuff isn’t really what has thrown me off. The day school started, my dad found out he has to have his thyroid removed. They don’t know whether it’s cancer or not, but it has to come out either way because it is so enlarged that it’s soon going to be causing problems. The very next evening, my brother ended up in the ER. Is admitted because his gall bladder needs to come out. Usually a pretty simple surgery, but there were complications and he ended up with a whopping 15″ incision and 4 day stay in the hospital. And yet that wasn’t the shocker. In fact, his gall bladder crapping out on him was likely a blessing. Because an astute ER doc ordered a CAT scan because all his symptoms didn’t line up with the gall bladder issues. And this scan caught the mass in his kidney. Which is cancer. And as soon as he has recovered from this surgery, he has to have a kidney removed. Rich and I drove down to see him in the hospital–this was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Both because I felt so much better after seeing him doing okay for myself, and because, though he’d never say so, I think he was really happy we came. My mom must have told me four or five times how much more talkative he was with me than he had been with her and my dad over the previous couple of days. Obviously, was great to see Mom and Dad too. Though omg, was not at all happy to see how hard a time my dad is having getting around. It wasn’t all that long ago that I last saw him, but the difference was frightening. He’s known he has to have his knees replaced for a while now, but he keeps putting it off. Don’t think he can put it off much longer. Anyway, there was even icing on that trip-to-my-hometown cake: I got to see my dear sweet wonderful friend Karen who happened to be in town for the weekend on one of her moving jaunts. (She’s moving back to the area permanently, which means I shall be able to see her much more frequently! 😊  Of course, it’s not hard to get more frequent than once, or now twice!, every 20 years, is it?)

Whew. Feel like I just dumped a big fat pile of stress on my dear old blog. Hopefully my dear old blog will forgive me, and hopefully so will any unfortunate soul who happened to read this. I had fully intended to make this an RIP post, but perhaps it would be better to just make that a post for another day…

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Posted in stuff that matters, tidbits and babblings

I choose love.

To be quite honest, I haven’t known what to do with the seemingly ceaseless waves of emotions that have been pounding me over the past couple of days. I have not known what to do or what to say. I have felt at times like I couldn’t breathe. I have felt especially lacking in my ability to process the hatred we’re seeing every day. And I cannot for the life of me understand how we in this country are allowing this hate to become legitimized by the far-right–being full of hate is no longer something one has to keep hidden unless among select company but instead is now something that can be worn with pride in public. The massacre in Orlando–the haters are taking full advantage. They’ve found a way to take the tragedy of people they hate anyway, the lgbtq community and Latinos, and use it to foment yet more hate for Muslims. Can’t help but get the feeling that they sort of view what happened as a win-win-win for themselves. I know that hate is nothing new in this country, just ask any person of color or lgbt person or non-Christian or…

It’s just that shocking, completely heart-breaking events like these batter at the hope we build for a more loving, more just world. I know we all need to fight against losing hope. It is both easier, and harder (because fear can be overpowering), to do that when I think about people like my beautiful, brilliant, loving, ridiculously witty lesbian daughter and my generous, compassionate, give-of-himself-till-he-drops gay bestest friend. But aside from clinging to hope, what can an inarticulate, introverted person who suffers from social anxiety do? I wish I had a voice that could make a difference. I don’t, but I’m so incredibly blessed to have found voices that have not only helped me grow as a person but have continued to build my hope in the future of this world. Voices like Ana’s and Bina’s and Eva’s and Natasha’s and Chris’s…and honestly so many more. Before I discovered book bloggers, my reading was so very narrow in scope, but now my reading is so very rich and wonderful and fulfilling. And all it took to so vastly enrich my life was the effort to seek out diverse authors and diverse stories.

I know I’m rambling. And maybe this isn’t the place where I should be trying to process my thoughts and feelings. But it is the most public place I have of declaring: I choose love over hate. Always. Always. Always.

 

Posted in list-mania, tidbits and babblings

53 things I want to do in my 53rd summer…

I normally don’t let myself get excited about summer until the school year is out (and that doesn’t happen for another 2 1/2 weeks). But this year I can’t help myself–I’m in the summer frame of mind and want to celebrate all the fun that summer brings! Decided to make myself a list of things I want to fit into this summer. Because lists are glorious things!

  1. Meet and hang out with Ana!!! 😀 😀 😀
  2. Go to the Strand with Ana. 😀
  3. Take Ana to Niagara Falls. 😀
  4. Take Ana to Mount Hope Cemetery. 😀
  5. Explore more of NYC with Rich and Gray.
  6. Read at least 20 books. (#20booksofsummer)
  7. Build a blanket fort out in the yard and spend the day reading in it.
  8. Check out at least 5 new walking/hiking trails.
  9. Write and send off the last of Gray’s 10th grade progress reports.
  10. Send LOI for next year’s homeschooling.
  11. Write and send IHIP for next year’s homeschooling.
  12. Get all homeschool prep for September+ done.
  13. Drink frozen margaritas. Plural. 🙂
  14. Go blueberry picking: restock the frozen blueberry section of our deep freezer/restock the pantry with blueberry jam.
  15. Finish getting the garden in: build cucumber trellis and build pumpkin and/or melon mounds.
  16. Continue harvesting the rhubarb: freeze more/bake more tarts/try making rhubarb jam.
  17. Build trellis for blackberries.
  18. Go raspberry picking: freeze a few pints/make and can jam.
  19. Make and can oodles and oodles of pickles.
  20. Can oodles and oodles of sliced jalapeños.
  21. Can oodles and oodles of tomatoes.
  22. Make and can oodles and oodles of salsa.
  23. Freeze shredded zucchini and chopped jalapeños.
  24. Pickle and can beets and turnips.
  25. Walk the entire Genesee Riverway Trail in bits and pieces.
  26. Eat at Sinbads.
  27. Eat at Sticky Lips.
  28. Eat at the Beale Street Cafe.
  29. Make Long Island Iced Teas.
  30. Shangri-La beneath the summer moon.
  31. Go back to Ithaca.
  32. Visit a library branch we haven’t been to yet.
  33. Go to Central Library.
  34. Have the septic tank pumped. 😉
  35. Build our little patio.
  36. Finish watching the first 7 seasons of Columbo with Rich. (We’re currently on season 2.)
  37. Finish Chris’s slightly moderately ridiculously overdue Christmas present. 😉
  38. Finish “ugly blanket.”
  39. Bring in flowers from outside every week.
  40. Finish listening to The Twelve with Rich.
  41. Go wilderness camping.
  42. Ride bikes.
  43. Eat watermelon. And fresh corn on the cob.
  44. Get frozen yogurt.
  45. Reorganize my craft/gift/storage area in the basement.
  46. Drink iced tea. Every day.
  47. Make at least one scrapbook layout/Project Life layout/memory-keeping project a week.
  48. Get 10 Christmas gifts made.
  49. Visit a state park.
  50. Send loads of postcards.
  51. Get at least 2 1/2 more 6-block-wide strips added to quilt top.
  52. Read at least one essay, one short story, one poem, and one fairy tale each week. Read as many outside as possible.
  53. Drink 10 different beers, 5 different mixed drinks, and 3 different wines.

Yep, that has the makings for a fun, happy, and productive summer. What are you most looking forward this season?

Posted in in the reading room, tidbits and babblings

looking inward…

love that boyI still haven’t written an update on the books I’ve finished over the last few weeks, and yet here I am feeling the urge to write about a book I’ve only read the introduction of thus far. Or really, it’s not so much the book itself, but some of the thoughts and reactions I’ve had to it. I read for a lot of reasons: to learn, to feel, to grow. I just love seeing the world and experiencing the struggles and joys of life through the eyes of people whose lives are far different from mine. But sometimes, I pick up a book because I think it will validate my own feelings and struggles. You know, just hoping that someone will “get it.” And I think that’s part of the reason why I picked up Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me about a Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier.

In this introduction, Fournier talks a bit about his son Tyler, his son’s Aspergers diagnosis, and what led to the string of road trips he takes with Tyler. But he also talks about the expectations parents have for their children. As much as I’d like to think that I don’t project my own expectations onto my children, to really believe that would be lying to myself. I’ve had this inner mantra about the four things I want for my kiddos: 1. I want them to be kind. 2. I want them to take responsibility for their choices. 3. I want them to be happy. 4. I want them to be who they are. I can live with those expectations without feeling too guilty; I wish those things for everyone. But it doesn’t end there, I know this. Every time I find myself feeling disappointed in Max for doing poorly on test simply because he didn’t study, or I find myself feeling frustrated because Gray doesn’t bring up the dirty dishes from his room in a timely manner, or I find myself feeling annoyed that Annie sleeps until 1:00 on the weekend–at these times and many more, I have to face the fact that I do have expectations of them that really are largely about me. So yes, I am not blameless in this expectations game.

Even with that admission, and the knowledge that we’ve failed in ways we don’t even realize, I can say we’ve tried hard to let our children be who they are, not who we or anyone else thinks they should be. And I wouldn’t change that for anything. But I do think that may be at least part of the reason that Gray wasn’t diagnosed with Aspergers until he was a bit older than most kids are these days. We just accepted, and in most cases, celebrated his many, many quirks. He is who he is, and hooray for it!!! The problem of course is that society is not so “live and let live” in its attitudes, is it? It was the way others treated him, most especially at school, that set him on a road that made being who he is a tough thing. I gotta tell you, it was shocking to me just how early kids can start the picking on those who are different. How can it be that a 1st and 2nd grader can be bullied by his peers?!! Well so much for my naivete. And so this sweet, happy, quirky-as-all-get-out little boy started to loose the “happy” piece of himself. By 4th grade, he’d stopped talking in his classroom at school. Let the diagnoses string begin: sensory processing disorder, selective mutism, social anxiety disorder, trichotillomania. And eventually Aspergers was brought into the mix of all these related pieces. Maybe this is too simplistically put and maybe it’s not, but I feel it wasn’t the different way that Gray sees and processes and responds to the world that was the problem, it was the way that society responded to those differences.

One thing that struck me in the introduction, was the author’s and his wife’s reaction to their realization that their son had Aspergers. There were no tears in our home over Gray’s diagnosis, because the label didn’t change anything about who Gray was. He was still Gray, but we now had some useful information to help us find ways to help him navigate this world. I am NOT saying that we’re somehow better than anyone else because we weren’t anguished over the fact that our son was on this thing called the autism spectrum. I think what I am saying is that we, in a sense, were lucky because we didn’t feel blindsided.

I’m worried that I’m sounding like this has all been easy, that I’m somehow this amazing parent who just takes everything in stride and supports her children unfailingly. And well, that just isn’t the case, no matter how much I wish it were. I fail on a far-too-often basis. And just because I didn’t sob at Gray’s diagnosis per se, I have most definitely sobbed, sometimes huge ugly snot-filled sobs, out of frustration. While I feel incredibly blessed to have this young man in my life and to get to gather glimpses of the world from an entirely foreign-to-me perspective, I’d be lying if I said it was always easy. I feel like a failure when I miss the signs of a coming meltdown. An Aspergers meltdown looks remarkably like a temper tantrum in a toddler, but it is a different sort of thing, often brought to a tipping point by too much sensory overload. And I admit fully, that I fear Gray’s public meltdowns viscerally. Maybe part of it is my own social anxiety even on a good day, but the reactions of others to my teen son’s “tantrum” can make me want to hide away in our house forever. These meltdowns are becoming a much less common occurrence as we learn to watch for stressors. Then there is this whole lack of caring about hygiene thing; I’d gladly give up the struggles over showering. Anyway, here I am back at expectations…expectations for my children, that I try so hard not to have. And yet I do. Seems my best efforts aren’t enough. And I suspect they never will be. But that realization is gold, if it leads me to keep a better lookout them.

I suspect I may have a few more posts in my future as I continue reading this book. And I realize that I will never be able to objectively review this book, with a subject that hits far too close to home. But already, I can find myself grateful for reading it, not only for the familiarity of experience but also for the distinct differences. And I’m reminded again of what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie had to say about the danger of a single story.

 

Posted in in the great outdoors, tidbits and babblings

a few minutes of calm…

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grape hyacinths in bloom

Sometimes, no matter how long the to-do list, no matter how much pain is wracking the body, no matter how many people need how many things, yeah sometimes, I just need a few minutes away. Away needn’t be far. Just down the back steps is often plenty far enough. Away is really more a mental thing anyway.

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moss on fallen tree in swamp

Five minutes with my camera can often provide that most welcome, that most needed, chance to just stop, breathe, and refresh. Not that I’m a photographer–I most assuredly am NOT. I possess zero technical skills, and I honestly don’t have the time nor the patience to learn. For me, photography is not about the result. It’s about the seeing. About the focusing on what’s right there in front of me if I’m only willing to steal those moments to look.

*****

Project progress:

#43. Take photos of 100 different flowers. (7/100)

#87. Take 100 photos of our little swamp. (3/100)

 

Posted in tidbits and babblings

switching gears…

I have been feeling overwhelmingly nostalgic and sentimental lately. Lots of reasons for that, Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon being a big one. It does it to me every time. So many things I miss about those early days, obviously, first and foremost, I miss Dewey herself. But it goes beyond that. Yep, times change, people change, blah, blah, blah. And I swear I don’t think change is the enemy. (Fuck, this world needs more change than I could ever fully expound upon…but that isn’t the point of this particular ramble.) I’ve actually lost count of how many times I’ve changed blogs. I’m not even really sure what I was hoping to make better with a fresh start. Because as I look back now, it is so freakin’ obvious to me that I was NEVER as happy with my tiny little blogging life as I was with that very first simple little blog, nothing of importance.

I tried to go back and just revive that blog this morning, but found I couldn’t. I cannot figure out how to get to that old account. So I’ve decided to just bring that spirit back here. Where I’m just my old neurotic self, getting excited (often overly so) about a hundred different things, talking about books in all my unsophisticated glory, sharing the pieces of my life that make me me, rambling and babbling to my heart’s content.

Not giving up my 100x100by100 project (’cause duh, I love my silly projects!), just not making it the sole focus of this blog anymore.