Hello, friends. I hope you’re well today. I’m sitting here in the living room typing away as pinto beans boil in a big pot on the stove. Boiled beans do not emit the most enticing of aromas, but they’ll taste good once they’re salted and seasoned, with diced tomatoes added to them. Writing that, my stomach just growled. I’ll divvy ’em up and stow them away in the freezer for whenever I want to use them as dip for taquitos, especially with avocado and fresh salsa. They’re a MILLION BILLION times better than the store-bought canned stuff.
After lots of sunny days in a row, today feels like winter again so I’m happy to cozy in and do homemaker-type things. I’ve been doing lots of that lately anyway, even when it’s sunning outside. Springtime, stereotypically, always makes me want to organize, clean out, pack up, give away, replace… My motto has been, lately: Bring One In, Give Another Away. I get a new mug? I give away an old. That type of thing. This keeps our smallish apartment from closing in on us. I thought this philosophy would help me detach further from material objects but, ironically, what it’s actually doing is making me really-really love the things I end up keeping. It’s kind of backfiring on me.
Contrary to what I just said, however—my upcoming grandson, Sol Beren Walsh, will be here in about a month, give or take, and we’ve all been squirreling away stuff for him like crazy, much of it dinosaur-centric. He’s the first grandchild on both sides so the child will have no chance for invisibility, even if he wants it, which trust me, he will at one point or another.* Too many doting relatives, for one thing. ME, for another thing (or, the same thing, only more of). I was trawling through my bookshelves the other day and felt a genuine frisson of panic that there’s no way in the world I’ll ever be able to introduce to him all the books I want him to know and love. Thankfully his dad, my son Jesse, is an enthusiastic and devoted reader-aloud so he’ll be taking care of the problem on his end, and in fact, already is. In utero, Sol has been introduced to Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, among others. He’ll be well-versed in nonsense, even before his first breath of air. That’s good preparation for life.
I’m so excited to meet him! Or see him again, if we’ve traveled together before. (If I’m going to hope in any religious tenet, that’s one of the better ones.)
*Sol is one lucky boy and doesn’t even know it yet. In his bedroom there is a small door that leads to an attic storage space that, when I first espied it, made me fall to my knees and weep with joy amidst the singing of angels. It is EFFING AWESOME: spacious, with a low angled ceiling on both sides and an arched window at the end. Spectacular. I started writing a book about a boy named Martin who had a secret room like this, and never finished it, but now I’m thinking I might. Maybe my muse is about to be born? (Though I’ll never tell him that. How’d YOU like to be your grandma’s muse? Hinky.) Anyway, my whole point to this aside is that he’ll have a place to escape to anytime he wants. Jesse and I were laughing the other day that it would be the place he’d normally go to sneak a joint, but we’d all want to join him, so instead it’ll be where he hangs up his vintage posters of George W. Bush and studies law.
So… it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday. Anybody else thoroughly detest these media-imposed holidays? I love my mom, and my kids love me, but the pressure to produce a Norman-Rockwellian experience is too much. I thought about telling my kids to skip over that day, just pretend it isn’t there, but then I knew I’d still be doing something for my mom, and if I was doing something for my mom, that meant I was acknowledging the Day and would then feel sad that my kids were skipping it. Completely illogical, but these things are.
On holidays, I wish I were a citizen of Tonga.
I’m still devouring novels like nobody’s bidness, probably a book every two days. Yesterday I started another Tony Hillerman, Sacred Clowns, which falls somewhere in the middle of the series featuring Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. The books aren’t great literature and the stories are only your typical crime thriller fare, but the characters have caught my imagination, further enhanced by the fact that I can picture Wes Studi as Leaphorn and Adam Beach as Chee, thanks to Masterpiece Theater. I’m also reading the Lynda LaPlante series about Anna Travis, all because I stumbled upon Above Suspicion, the British show starring Ciaran Hinds (who makes everything he’s in 100% better) and a very beautiful young woman whose name escapes me. (I just looked it up and her name is Kelly Reilly. Ha! Trust me to forget my own name, tch.) Now I can read the books with them in mind, as well.
I also started Faust: Parts I and II by Goethe, but it’s hard to want to pick it up when I have easier, more salacious reading at hand. Whenever I make the effort, however, I enjoy it. The trick for me is to read it as prose, even though it’s in verse; otherwise I get stuck on the form instead of the content. I like poetry; it isn’t that: I just read it differently, absorbing each line instead of taking in the whole, and that isn’t handy when you’re reading a story. Or at least when I’m reading a story; I’m sure others can handle it.
You know, one of the nicer parts of growing older is accepting one’s limitations. I have to, otherwise it’s way too frustrating. For me this doesn’t mean simply falling into a heap on the ground and giving up, but instead continuing to walk forward, one step at a time, sometimes gingerly and with great gentleness, at other times more carefreely; the pace no longer matters. There are things I will simply never be or do in this lifetime, I see that now, and in the seeing, I feel tenderness toward myself and my tumultuous humanity. Nobody on this earth gets every single thing they want—it’s impossible, I don’t care who you are. But we can cultivate an appreciation for everything we have.
Our minds get broader as we get older, which happens even if we don’t want them to. My parents have had to accept things in my life, in my kids’ lives, that have made them very uncomfortable, but I appreciate their effort to do so. I have had to watch my kids go through stuff I couldn’t even have imagined when I was their age, and difficult as these things are, I’m embracing them because I love my kids with all my heart and want to walk alongside them. I will never in a million years tolerate parents who reject their children for not following their beliefs or paths or whatever-else. I am unabashedly intolerant of this brand of intolerance.
It’s pouring now; at this time of year, the weather changes every fifteen minutes. I don’t mind, as when it’s gray I feel more like watching a movie or episode of something. With our tax refund, we bought a giant TV (giant to us is 55″). I tend to suffer from buyer’s remorse after any large purchase, but other than the first night we had it—when I couldn’t sleep because I kept envisioning it filling up one entire wall of our livingroom, until I finally got out of bed and saw to my relief that it was nowhere even near doing that, and was just sitting there friendly as anything—I’ve enjoyed every second of it. We spent the first week or so agog at how big and sharp everything was; for example, we were literally blown sideways by how we were actually sitting across from Sam and Dean Winchester, eating with them, as we slurped our spaghetti and they chomped their burgers. It was surreal. But now we don’t even think about it. It’s fun. I watched Psycho the other day, for the first time, and it was heaven. (By the way, Anthony Perkins was simply brilliant in that movie–it’s by far my favorite Hitchcock.)
I was pretty sure that having a giant TV would tempt me into watching it more, but the opposite has been true: I guess it feels like more of an occasion now. Or it could just be that the weather is warmer and the sun is shining and the little breezes are dancing winningly throughout the house… most days. Not today, so I might find something comforting to watch. Maybe a new show on Acorn. I’ve been thinking of trying Line of Duty. I like to watch an episode of something while I eat lunch.
Creatively, my efforts have been pretty random. There are two unfinished paintings resting against the wall on top of my supply hutch, and an unfinished novel lying fallow on my desk. Not to mention the one tucked away in a file on my flash drive. My jewelry-making and papier-mache supplies are neatly tidied away. Instead of these, I’ve been focusing on my nest (bought a frame for my Narnia poster! am covering couch pillows with new fabric!) and on baby things. I started crocheting the back to a pillow I’m going to make from a needlepoint Jesse had made when he was in second grade, and I’ve been plotting the doll Jesse asked me to make for Sol.
Years ago, when we moved from Oregon to North Carolina, Jesse was eleven years old and incredibly lonely, so lonely that I was very worried about him. I can’t think of any explanation for it other than divine inspiration, but one day I suddenly got it into my head to crochet him a stuffed frog. By the time I was done, it didn’t look much like a frog, but I lay it on his pillow anyway while he was sleeping, with a note that said something like, “Hello, will you be my friend?” The answer was a resounding yes, and I truly believe Murty saved my son’s life. I am so pleased and touched that Jess wants me to create something for Sol to hang onto, too. Peace to all! xo