Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Taking Matters into Their Own Hands

Ansel hates the way his hair sticks up in back.  He inherited this cowlick from his father.  Sometimes he will walk into school with his hands clasped over the back of his head hoping to keep his wayward locks under wraps. Unfortunately, this tends to attract more attention to his problem area.  I think his non-conformist hair is recklessly perfect and have ignored his requests for "product".   A few weeks ago, he decided to try and fix it on his own.  
He took the scissors and started chopping away.  I stopped him before he got too far,  but you can see the damage.  I  wish   I had let him go for it.   
And  when I questioned his decision to use SIX of his carnival tickets to color his hair at the school carnival, he knew what he wanted and rebelled against my practical advice.  

He also gets this unbridled determination from his father
The sticking out of the tongue when working on an important fort operation is completely his own. 

Emmy recently had a huge project due at school.  She wouldn't ask for help or even give us a hint as to what she was doing.  When we got to the school and saw all of the parent led projects, we wondered if we should be concerned or proud that our child wouldn't allow us to be a part of her endeavor.

I am grateful for each and every night she still wants us to tuck her in. 

Savanna doesn't need me to tuck her in, but I still try.  Sometimes I watch her while she sleeps.  

Corey has been taking a mountaineering class the past few months.  He decided that he didn't want to rely on anyone else for outdoor recreation.  He is taking matters into his own hands.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Making Peace with the Circle of Life

An owl ate our cat.

For the past 9 months, Ansel's stick-figured family drawings have included a small black figure with a long tail and whiskers.  Moki was a member of our family.  When we adopted Moki in late July  I blogged about my tentative feelings toward having a pet...the fur, the poop and pee, the claws, the smell, the responsibility, and the preparation for  it's inevitable death.   Recognizing the positive experience it would be for the kids, I recessed my hesitation and jumped right on the teeter totter of pet ownership, knowing that there would be ups and downs on this ride.

To my surprise, the ups outweighed the downs quite liberally and the teeter totter rarely moved.

I had to hide the butter dish and continually scolded her for jumping on and prowling the counters.  She and Ansel had a few tangles and Emmy once tripped over her coming down the stairs.  But other than that, she was a purrfect cat (sorry, I couldn't resist).

After just 3 weeks, I let Moki wrap her little paws around my heartstrings.  I began to recognize her language and could translate her meows.  She had one for when she was hungry and one when one of her toys was stuck under the piano.  She had a meow when she wanted to go outside, to come inside, and a meow for when she was looking for the company of a human.

She could slapshoot dice across the room better than Wayne Gretsky.  She was cuddly, but not in an annoying way.  She wanted to be next to someone, not on top of them.  Her first few months here, we made her sleep in the garage.  But as the weather grew colder and we grew fonder,  we couldn't stomach leaving her in the concrete jungle.  Savanna would tenderly collect her before she went to bed, stroke her a few times, and leave her at the end of her bed, where Moki would stretch her paws and yawn for few minutes before falling asleep at Savanna's feet.

Corey often ridiculed me for having lengthy conversations with the cat and I retorted that she was the only one in the family who never rolled her eyes at my ramblings and who would even often respond with an acquiescent meow.  She would accompany the family on our hikes and follow along at a playful distance.  Our neighbors commented at the scene, saying it was a most amusing phenomenon.

Maybe this loss has been so hard for me because my maternal instincts drive me to fiercely protect anything that is in my care......and I failed Moki beyond repair.  I was the one who opened the door for her, even after hearing the soothing cooing of the owl.   And maybe I have been repeatedly inhaling pain this week because I loved her and I shudder at the thought of a violent death.

My relationship with Mother Nature, up to this point, has been soundly positive, even constructive, in my opinion.  I have humbly prostrated myself in earth crevases, patiently waiting for threatening lightening storms to pass at high altitudes.  I have frozen in reverant awe as a Cougar crossed my path on a mountain bike ride.  I  routinely relieve Her residence of beer bottles, cigarette packages, and candy wrappers.  I thought we had an agreement.  I feel betrayed.

I couldn't bring myself to go in the back yard much of last week.  Just being outside felt heavy and dark.

Corey wanted me to capture some photos of the Camas that has showered our land with delicate blossoms.  Next week the Camas will be gone and the Balsam Root will make their short appearance.  I reluctantly got my camera and took some heavy steps down the slope to our backyard.  I wedged my elbows in the dirt and came face to face with this intricate monocot.  I noticed that an arachnid had the shortsighted hubris to attach its web from one stem to another.  These flowers will be dead by next Friday.  

Some verses from Walt Whitman's The Compost  have never been so relevant.

Something startles me where I thought I was safest, 
I withdraw from the still woods I loved.
I will not go now on the pastures to walk
I will not touch my flesh to the earth to renew me
O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead?  
The grass of spring covers the prairies
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward, 
The apple buds cluster together on the apple-branches
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves
Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions.  

I know that I will eventually make peace with Mother Nature.  She is, after all, a soul mate of sorts.   Just today, I was able to roll down the windows in the car and swallow gulps of soul-satisfying spring air.  Just like the spider, I attached myself to something that had a fleeting life.  I will remember the beauty that Moki brought into our lives.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring Broke on Spring Break

My youngest sister, Camille, got married on March 25th. She is the only sibling whose entire day of birth can be replayed in my memory in detailed movie format and not just montages of moments.  And this would be a movie that people may pay redbox money to see.  Being that there is still a possibility that I will be a filmmaker when I grow up and June 16th, 1984 will be the title of one the real life events that I bring to the big screen, I won't ruin the entire plot of the movie.  But the trailer would include a mother of 9.9 going into labor at a city parade,  a son running away from home at the announcement of sister #8, and an ambulance being called to our house (completely unrelated to the brother or the mother).   Needless to say, Camille was not born into the most serene of circumstances.  I have imagined the Angel of Birth giving Camille a glimpse of the chaos in which she would be engulfed by coming into being at the tail end of the Porter Decathon, urging her to possibly reconsider her placement. I then imagine Camille chuckling in the face of the concerned Angel and calmly pronouncing, "Bring it on."   

It would, to most humans, be disheartening verging on devastating when his or her wedding day is met with gusting winds, hail, rain, snow, power outages at the reception, a few people stuck in an elevator, a dog licking the wedding cake, etc. etc.  I don't want to spoil another one of my movies, MARCH 25th 2010,  and will thus refrain from further detail.  The point is, Camille was not married in the most serene of circumstances.  She still calmly chuckled and said, "Bring it on."
The freezing flower girls did their best to chuckle and say 'Bring it on'.  Not quite up to Camille standards, however.

Camille was also, uncharacteristic of an engaged woman, considerate enough to plan her wedding at the inauguration of our Spring Break.  We were able to stay for another week at the base of The Canyons Ski Resort in Park City where  ee enjoyed a few days of sparse snow skiing and a few days of deep powder skiing.  We could only get the kids to disentangle themselves from cousins for one of these days.  

My brother in law helps run a snowmobiling touring company at the edge of the Uintah Mountains and graciously spent one of his day's off......back at work.  Thank you, Jeff.

Just seeing Corey in this one-piece jumpsuit made my entire day.   

The higher we climbed, the colder it got and we were soon hit by bitterly cold winds and blowing snow. Jeff had taken Corey on a Man-date at higher elevations and my sister and I sought refuge in a circle of trees while we waited for the men to return. (This is starting to sound like a bad made for TV Lifetime channel movie). 

The kids were not happy.  Just as we concluded that the men were probably dead and that we would head down the mountain on our own, they returned.  

The kids were happy once they could enjoy Cheetos Roasting On an Open Fire

And then the kids have NO problem swimming at night in the midst of blizzard.  Go figure.  

We were able to have several sleepovers at the hotel and the favorite activity was riding the gondola up and down the hill.......

and lounging in huddled masses.  

And we were also able to squeeze a few concerts into our week....Fishbone and Patty Griffin

But now we are home and Spring Break is Over and I am wondering why Spring is Still Broken.  It is Freezing.   I do NOT chuckle at the wind and the hail and say, "Bring it on".