For Santi

I know, little boy.

I know how you feel.

It’s hard to share the spotlight.

And i tell you now, he will hog it.

He is new

And small

And smells like powder.

And there will be days when you feel like your achievements are overlooked

Because he is all those things.

But i promise you,

They still love you.

They still think you are wonderful.

He is no threat to your awesomeness.

You don’t need the spotlight for you to shine.

And when he is always younger than you

And gets scared

Or worried

Or sad

You can be his nightlight~

Casting a bit of brightness into the dark.

Til then, know that you are seen.

You are loved by your parents.

You are special.

And every first born who knows how you feel

Is there for you.

We’ve got your back.

Welcome to the firstborn club.



If My Weedlings Only Knew

Over the weekend, my weedlings had some big stuff going on. Watching them adventure make me a wee bit jealous and anxious to have an adventure of my own, but it also makes me so proud of them and how full-on and large that they live life. Their hearts and minds are so open and beautiful that it makes my own heart bubble over. (Ok, that is sappy as hell, but i swear it is true none-the-less.)

It started Thursday. My son, who was headed out for some jROTC adventure and competition in another state, was desperate for some old-school comfort food before he left. I would have made my meatloaf, his favorite, but i don’t keep meat in the house anymore. Besides, he wanted Cheerwine – Like, wth? Who drinks that on purpose? Anyway, we decided to go to this awesome diner downtown that has food we can both eat, and great desserts besides. We ended up parking in front of the soda shop, 8 blocks away, so he could stock up on Cheerwine. As we were walking from the shop to the diner, we get approached by a – i assume – homeless man who asks for spare change. My son says, “Sure,” with a sweet grin and hands the man a dollar. Mind you, my son probably only had $5 in his wallet. But he gave it, the man said thank you, and we walked on.

At the diner, we talked and laughed. He got his meat, and i got a Greek vegetarian platter. And of course, we both got the half-pound slabs of cake that they call dessert to take home. (For the record, he got Coke-a-Cola cake, and i got tiramisu cake.) Then another 8 block walk back to the car.

We pass another down-and-outer on the way back to the car who asked for spare change. Again, my son smiled and gave him a dollar. No hint of being annoyed. No pre-programmed message of blessings or reproach. No diatribe pro or con – A feat for the kid who lives to soapbox and debate. He just gave and smiled and walked on.

As we walked, i told him that i was proud of him. Proud that he would give a bit without second thought. That he had such a kind heart. His response was calm and nonchalant. “It was just a dollar. No big deal, but maybe it helped.” I told him that made me happy.  What i didn’t tell him was that i was a little surprised at his generosity.

Boys his age can be real schmucks. Selfish and self-righteous. And mine has a dream of a future in the realm of politics… With the ego, sometimes, to suit it. Don’t get me wrong, he is incredibly bright and has great ideas, but he hasn’t learned humility yet. Or, at least, i didn’t think he had. Obviously, i was wrong. He is at least on his way there. He idolizes Justin Trudeau, and it made me proud to see him grow towards that kind of politician.


On another note, my daughters are off on an adventure this week. nearly 10 years apart in age, they haven’t always been terribly close, but have been growing closer as of late. My middle weedling is still in college and on spring break, so she and my oldest decided to take a trip together. After a couple months of planning, they headed towards Spain.

On spring break, other weedlings are consumed with heading to a booze filled resort – Heading to a place where they will spend most of their time at a pool talking only with those who came with them. They might as well have found a good hotel in their own city. My daughters, however, opted for someplace off the usual track. They are exploring a smaller city at an air B&B and enjoying the local flavor.

I am pleased that they have my love for travel. The thrill of trying new foods, seeing new places, meeting new people – These are what i want my daughters to spend money on, as opposed to chasing the fancier house and glittery lifestyle. Getting to know fellow humans broadens the mind and heart and soul. And the deeper the understanding and appreciation,  the less likely we are to marginalize and hurt each other. On the grand scale, if all of us traveled more, there would be fewer wars. It’s hard to kill people you have visited, even if you disagree with their leaders.

But on its most basic level, this is two sisters, drastically different in vision, beliefs, and aesthetics, learning to appreciate each other and who they are. The love they have for each other as family being deepened as they build a strong friendship. As a mother, it makes me so happy. It means that long after i’m gone, they will have each other to lean on.

On a superficial level, it gets me jazzed for a trip with both my girls together. The three of us taking on a new place. Seeing it through each others’ eyes. And maybe sometimes after that, including my son as well. The whole caravan on adventure together. Learning about others and about each other.  The hippie, the leader, the politician, and the gypsy (Me). All together on an adventure!

And on a grand level, they will go on to touch people and spread what they have learned. That we are all one people. That in spite of our differences, we all enjoy sitting down to a good meal in a beautiful place. And when we do it together, we grow to appreciate the differences in each other, or at the very least, we take a step towards understanding them. Maybe even hand them a dollar when they need it, a smile on our face, and no judgement.

They may have gotten their love of adventure from me, but i have gotten so much from them. Their understanding. Their compassion. Their ability to forgive. Their willingness to fight for what’s right. If i never do another thing of value, i made these weedlings possible. I hope, tho i have told them the words, that they someday understand the depth of the pride and love i have behind those words.

No Ma could be more thrilled with her own weedlings than i am of them.

Extreme Makeover: Bird House Edition

After spending the week in Wisconsin for work, i came home to beautiful weather here in Chattanooga. Yesterday was so perfect, in fact, that i went and picked up some wooden birdhouses and painted them for the springtime nests. This is something i’ve done before, and it always catches me off guard when people find it such an amazing feat.

I always get a lot of, “I’d never think of that”s. Especially from people my own age. I don’t understand it. I mean, we all did things like this in art class, or scouts, or Sunday School, or 4-H. It was a common craft for the Garanimals set back in the day. Maybe too many of us associate it with kid stuff? (And further, think of kid stuff as things we aren’t allowed to do as adults.)  Or maybe our heads are so full of the extremes – Hard work and sleep – that we forget there are things in between. Maybe we forget that creating, on any level, is good for both our brains and our souls. Maybe we forget that it is important to show the younger generations that we can have fun without electricity or screens. Maybe we forget how fun it is.

The other remark i get a lot is “I can’t paint.” Ummm – There are pigs and elephants selling paintings for hundreds of dollars, and they don’t even have opposable thumbs. I’m pretty sure you can paint a bird house for your own yard. Just sayin’.

And this is where i get on Momma Hol’s Soap Box #3.

Nowhere, in anyone’s religious text (Or motivational text, if you are not religious) does it say you must be “good” at something to try it. God/Goddess/Universe only asks that you make a joyful noise… It never said you had to be Streisand or Sinatra. Creativity is one of the few areas of life where you score points for effort. And i am thankful, as my efforts often come out looking like a Pinterest fail. But sometimes not. Sometimes i really nail it.

And before you shake your head and say, “Well, mine would turn out ugly,” i remind you that the birds don’t care. They don’t read Martha Stewart, and i’m pretty sure they don’t judge each other on the paint job of the shelter. They just want a protected place to lay and set their eggs. And they will be grateful you did it, even if all you did was paint it all one color. They aren’t living in some decorating reality show. They are living in your yard. Just your average bird looking for a safe family haven. It will still be their home.  Besides,  i’ll bet you do a better job than you think you do…

At least when you aren’t criticizing yourself and worrying about it.

I have a bestie who teaches art. She tells her students, “The difference between (her and them), other than schooling and practice,  is that at some point, most people start believing the kid or person next to them. They stop believing they are an artist and give it up.” They get negative feedback from others, or start comparing themselves to others, and they devalue their own work as a result. Granted, Rembrandt is Rembrandt, and we are not. but we all have our moments. That one picture that came out just right. The meal that was perfect. That one well-turned phrase where you feel, “Ya, those were perfect words.” But that doesn’t mean that our other efforts don’t have value. Even if that value is just an enjoyable afternoon with some cheap paints and a bird house.

And if you feel silly doing it all by your lonesome, invite some kids over. Or do it as part of a wine and cheese thingy. Or don’t tell anyone. But i really hope you take a bash at some of these simple arts again. Get in touch with your inner artist. Your inner child. Build yourself a bird house. Or do like i did and buy one to paint at the craft store. Whether you make it look like a flower covered cottage or keep it simple, it’s still a place for the birds to place their eggs. And i like to believe that the love you put into making it will be felt when they move into it.

Or maybe that’s the artist in me talking.



Home Renovations – The It Episode

Due to some excessive rain (I started to say “Unusually excessive rain…”, but excessive rain IS the usual here), the power was going on and off for a bit this morning. My son’s room was unusually cluttered because we are doing some renovations on his bathroom (More about that later), so the towel racks, towels, and assorted accessories, along with my ladder, are stuffed into his fairly small bedroom. And to note: The kid keeps it as dark as a cave.

So as various household appliances are switching on an off with the indecisive power surges, they are all making different noises. The humidifiers beep. The temperature gauge clicks. And something in the house made an upward sloping attempt at middle A.

It was the last that creeped my son out.

He recounts to me after dawn that laying there in the pitch black, unfamiliar shadows from the extra stuff stashed in his room, he was seriously rattled. All the added flotsam, plus the emptiness of a bathroom devoid of part of its floors and walls changed the acoustics such that the poor kid couldn’t tell where the noise was coming from. He tried to convince himself it was the heat, but given that it was unseasonably warm, he couldn’t get that  thought to solidify.  He ended up staying awake til morning.

He comes in my room when he hears me waking and playing with Siridog. he tells me about the storm and the dark and the noises. He especially points out that the strange, eerily musical hum really rattled him. It sounded like song notes. Like a half scale. It didn’t sound random. It freaked him out. I can tell by his expression that he wasn’t exaggerating – The kid had been really scared.

“You just need to take a deep breath and remind yourself, ” I say to him, “That this is a safe neighborhood and that it was unlikely to be a bear or criminal.”

“Criminal?!? Ma, I was afraid it was a clown!”

I couldn’t help it. I busted out laughing.

“I’m serious, Ma! If a clown had shown up, I’d have beat him with my lamp and then wet my pants.”

Truth be told, if I’d been in that situation, and a clown had jumped out of the closet, I’d have wet my pants before beating him with the lamp.




So about the bathroom renovation…

My house is ancient, and the people who lived there before did most of their own repairs. Which is to say, a lot of stuff is totally jerry-rigged. Makeshift. Mechanically creative. When I decided I was ready to replace the shower stall in the back bathroom, I knew better than to expect it would be pristine underneath.

First, the contractor, a friend of mine, tells me he is there to start the demo. Then he sends pics of some wood rot around the drain. To be expected in an old house, I remind myself.

Then pics of some wood rot on the bottom of the wall behind the shower. No surprise there – The back wall had a bit of a crack in it.

Then some pics of wood rot around the perimeter of the shower pan. No surprise there either. There is no air vent, heating vent, or fan in that room. It gets damp easily.

Then a pic of the joist and crawl space below the shower section of the floor. In the center of the photo, there is a mushroom… A cream colored, beautifully topographically sculpted fungus, big enough to feed a small country, or at least a large city, for a day.

THAT was a surprise.

It wasn’t a clown, but it was damned unnerving.

It has since been pushed down into the dirt and been broken, sprayed and sterilized (Pretty much everything short of set on fire). The room will get fixed, my son’s room will go back to normal, and hopefully neither of us will be tortured any more by thoughts of clowns, or mushrooms, or clowns with mushrooms, or mushrooms shaped like clowns.

Effing clowns.

Stupid mushrooms.

Please, let us not find anything else.




Less Talk, More Action

What is wrong with you?

You don’t listen to the whole opinion before you declare it wrong:

A stomp on your rights.

A disgrace to our forefathers.

Closed to compromise and blind

To your own rhinoceros hide.

If you are so committed to your view,

What are you doing to help it come true?


What is wrong with them?

They are supposed to be representing us to the ersatz leader

In the Big White Building.

Huge conference rooms set aside for compromise and action

Plates of donuts and stale coffee

Aides and press and soundbites

But no change.

If they are really there to serve the public,

Why don’t they translate our anger into action?


What is wrong with us?

We are outraged on social media

Screaming at our inflexible friends who won’t hear compromise.

We post news articles and memes and

Send up thoughts and prayers for victims and families.

Crying as we hunch over our laptops.

Wishing things were different.

If we are so horrified at the atrocity

At the deaths,

Why aren’t we more involved in life?


What is wrong with me?

All these years of wanting to see change.

But work and weedlings and life took so much time

That i felt i had none to offer.

Now in my silver years, that is no longer an excuse.

I am intent on making change

In myself, to start

And have put in some effort to get involved.

I can’t do everything

But i can do something.

If i knew it was this important to give even a little,

Why has it taken me so long?




Making the Rounds

I took today off from work because i had planned a barrage of routine medical appointments. I figured i might as well get them all over with at once.

Well, except for the oh-shit-do-i-really-have-to colonoscopy that was recommended. I’ll hold off on that until i need to lose 5 pounds fast.

My day started with my first routine physical in a couple of years. First stop: Height and weight.

The nurse asked me to hop on the scale. Because, you know, if she had just asked me my weight, i would have lied and made myself five pounds lighter. And apparently she knew this. Then she took my height. I have to say, i haven’t been this excited about growing 1/4 inch since before the Age of Disco.

I was forced to switch doctors for this exam, so this office and its staff had never met me. Had no knowledge of me whatsoever. It was good, in a way, because their opinions were gloriously unbiased. But on the other hand, because they had no knowledge of me, they didn’t know my norm.

“Ummm… That can’t be right. Let’s try the other arm.”

“Ummm… I still don’t believe it. Let’s try the first arm again.”

“I think something is wrong with the cuff. Let me try a different one.”

“I’m just gonna get someone else to try…”

I finally decided to speak up…. “You probably heard right. My heart rate runs low and my blood pressure runs high. But i feel wonky when it gets outside my usual range, and i feel fine now.”

She still got another one to take it. She shrugged when it only came up marginally lower and typed it into the record.

Next it was an ekg, which, as usual, takes five times as long to set up as it does to run.

“You sure you feel ok? Any fatigue or light-headedness? Your heart rate is rather low.”

“Yup. I’m good. I promise.”

“You must be in great shape. What do you do for exercise?”

“Ummm… A few sit-ups on my inversion table. And i just started learning to tap dance.”

This brought out a look of incredulity. Then, once she realized i was serious, she giggled. “You have blue hair, tattoos, and you are learning to tap dance. You are an interesting woman.”

Oh, if you only knew…

The doc comes in and starts putting her hands in places  that haven’t been felt up in far too long. It would be awkward and invasive except for the fact that  she is sweet and listening intently to my answers to her questions. This turned out to be pointless, since i realized at every point after that, that i had forgotten to give the staff half of the relevant information. Way to go, Ms Electronic Medical Record.

The rest of the day was a cavalcade of lab work, nurse questions, doctor pokes, and for the last thing, the recommended boob portraits. Because, you know, no woman’s physical is complete without squashing the shit out of her tits and taking a picture. (I wish they would send us snapshots on our phone. That way, when someone obnoxious asked for a nude pic, you could send him your mammogram as a passive-aggressive coup de grâce. It would be way more fun than just telling him to piss off.)

I survived it all.

And then i came home and tap danced.

At the end of the day, it is most likely my results will be as they usually are: Mostly healthy. And for that i am grateful. I can’t help getting older. And tho i don’t like it, it could be worse. What is worse than getting old? Getting old and decrepit. In spite of the aches and pains, the wrinkles and sags, and a blood pressure you’d expect from Ralph Kramden, i’ve got a ways to go before i get to the decrepit stage. My heart rate may be low, but my enthusiasm is high. It’s a good life. Even if i forget to tell them half of it.



Do These Words Make My Ass Look Small?

I won’t be bullied into going that road.

It’s a slippery slope that i’ve slid down before:

You get what you want and i

Get broken.

Each pitch off the edge taking a bite from

My ego, My pride. My self.

Your look that says,

“Your ass is mine.”

With a sexual bent devoid of feeling,

As if those vile words are a gift

That i don’t deserve.

I know you think i like it.

You think my silence is some kind of benign acquiescence.

A deliberate surrender.

An affirmative capitulation to your exemplary manhood.

But it is anesthesia, pure and simple.

The somnolence of cultural propaganda

The  paralyzing fear of loneliness and discord.

And your failure to see that tells me you are

To be trusted with neither my flesh

Nor my soul.

Your blind insistence that my ass is yours

Belies the truth that you are my ass:

The stubborn and id-driven


Who cares only for his own wants.

I’ve no need for a pack animal who refuses to carry

Any burden.

Any responsibility.

Any truth.

I am choosing not to be broken.

I am choosing not to be silent any longer.

I will be strong.

And true to me.

And your narcissistic self can

Kiss my ass in your mirror –

Which is the only place you’ll ever see it again.