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.


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.



Next Week, It May Be Pink

So, i’m in Ulta killing time while my son shops for comic books. I notice they are having a great deal on some Urban Decay lip glitter, so i am trying the testers to find some colors for my oldest daughter who embodies that Urban Decay look. When i see one that i can’t find the tester for, i ask the salesperson. She points out one that would look good on me. So i explain that these are for my daughter… I am far too long in the tooth to be wearing that kind of statement lip color.

“But, ma’am…” She says, with a duh look on her face and a rather pronounced eye roll that you could almost hear, “You have purple hair.”

Ok, yes, i have purple hair. This week. It was blue last week. But that’s beside the point. My ultra-short funky-colored hair isn’t as noticeable as full-on silver glitter lips. Is it? I mean, wouldn’t that put it WAY over the top? I’d look like some sad woman trying to recapture her youth.


It’s a fine line between being a silver-age woman with independent and funky style à la Iris Apfel… And being a joke.

I’d prefer to be the former.

But truth be told, i am a bit of a joke. Case in point:

My son and i are watching his new favorite show, Designated Survivor. An ad comes on for some new drug, and as expected, at the end a bland male voice lists the common side effects: Fungal infections, false test results, elevated liver enzymes… And my son and i start adding on our own…

Excessive flatulence

Bad breath

Suspicious hoof growth

Elevated gas prices

Hermaphroditical tendencies (I swear he made that word up)

Lack of Christmas spirit

Inexplicable craving for hockey and cottage cheese

You can imagine the rest. We have so much fun with things like that, as nuts as that may seem. I know it is more expected to have a kind of Tom Hanks humor (Which we love, don’t get me wrong…), but in reality, my family is more Coen brothers and Eddie Izzard. Smart, dysfunctional, sometimes daft, sometimes sick. It’s the liquid in the glue that holds us together. Not surprising, i suppose, to anyone who reads me regularly. And probably adds credence to the purple hair and glitter gloss.

Or maybe not.

Maybe there is nothing that explains a 51 year old woman with purple hair. Glitter gloss or not. One who takes up tap dancing instead of joining a gym like normal people. One who, after raising three amazing weedlings, makes an effort to live life unapologetically. One who writes a blog saying a bunch of stuff that probably would better off if left in my head.

But then, the few of you who get it might not know you aren’t alone.

Besides, my head might explode from holding all this in.

And my weedlings, just like their Ma, aren’t the best at cleaning… I can’t leave them with that kind of mess.




Just An Everyday Sunday

Work has been insane, and i needed something that would totally take my attention away from it for a bit. Thankfully, i snagged a couple of great end tables at a yard sale a few weeks ago to team up with my coffee table, and all 3 needed a makeover, so i had something that fit the bill. On advice from The Creative One (My oldest weedling), i decided what i wanted to do and had bookmarked some videos on the technique i was going to try. I went out yesterday morning to get the necessary supplies, and spent a delightful half day sanding and base-coating the pieces.

I was up past midnight last night thinking about the project and how i was going to approach it. I have been mad busy with work lately and haven’t done much creating, so the excitement of a new project was hitting me like the first snowfall of the year. It was right before i shut my eyes that i remembered i was still missing one key ingredient.

So bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning, fresh out of bed, with only a teeth brushing to distinguish me from the living dead, i head out to the dreaded Walmart. I am surprised that i didn’t fall victim to Murphy’s law and run into some stunning love interest while i was looking homeless. That is usually what happens. Not today, tho. I grab what i need and start to head back when i remember that my son had mentioned yesterday that he was craving a bagel.

There happens to be a Dunkin Donuts next to WallyWorld, so i go thru the drive thru, grab us each coffee and bagels and drive back towards the house. I am about 4 blocks away when my son calls…

“Where are you?”

“I’m just around the block. Why?”

“I made you breakfast. I was going to surprise you and brought it to you in bed… But you weren’t there. I got worried.”

I start laughing. “I’m bringing breakfast home as a surprise for you!”

So i get home, and on the porch table is oatmeal and english muffins and limeade. I add the coffee and bagels. We feast and talk.

He tells me he has never been able to figure out what my Spirit Animal is. We agree that my middle weedling has Kermit the Frog for a Spirit Animal, but he says it changes to a honey badger when she gets pissed off. We discuss his grades, and i remind him again that i actually do use Algebra at work (He insists that Algebra was created solely to torture teenagers.) We recount funny family stories. I remind him that he needs to excavate the landfill under his bed. He waxes disdainfully on my preference for cinnamon toothpaste. We marvel at the beautiful cardinals flying thru the yard. We discuss the virtues of Chile versus other South American nations. He surprises me by confessing a hatred of minion memes. I impart a bit of wisdom on the topic of toasters. And he tells me a groaner of a joke…

“Hey Ma, do you know what a Splenda Daddy is?”

“It’s when you want to be a Sugar Daddy but you don’t have the money.”

He does the vaudeville smile&doublewave while the universe decides if it should throw in a “ba-dum tsss” or just let the crickets have it.

I couldn’t help it. I laughed.

All in all, a good morning. My projects are out on the porch drying. My chores are getting done. I’ve got a nice dinner planned. And i’m still smiling over the statistical anomaly that was my son and i getting each other a surprise breakfast.

Sometimes, even the most common of Sundays can be just grand.



Silk Impressions

My son takes me outside to show me something very cool…

At the bottom of our driveway is a spider web. Up at the level of the transformer on the electric pole opposite, it spans across the entire street and is probably 5 or 6 feet tall. It’s a real beauty. And in the center is a large garden orb.

We both stand and stare at the magnificent creation. I am thinking the spider must be very lonely. Here she is – a BBW (Well, BBS… BBWS?) in an enormous beautiful house all by herself. No egg sac, no little man-spider to share it with. I feel for her.

My son is thinking differently.

“So, Ma, if i start acting weird, you know why…”

I’m thinking he means if he gets the willies.

“…I was walking to the bus stop and the spider dropped down and bit me and i turned into Spiderman.”

“But, ” i say to my son, “That could be kind of cool!” I start doing my best Spiderman impression. Hopping around the street in a bad interpretive dance, pointing my wrist at things and making noises formerly only seen on the 1960s Batman TV show. Pow! Spoing! Fwoosh!

I’m sure the reclusive spider diva was amused.

My son, however, was taking this very seriously.

“Ma, that is not a good thing! He is filled with teenage angst! And he accidentally killed his girlfriend with radioactivity!”

I stand corrected.

Well, not really. I’m still doing my Spiderman dance.

When i am done with my Tony award-winning performance, we both settle under the web and tilt our heads back. Standing right under it, we can see the huge expanse of it as it billows in the breeze.

“It really is extraordinary, ” I say.

“Yea,” He responds. “It really is. I mean, how did it manage to jump and get the silk from the transformer all the way to the tree on the other side? That’s a big jump for something so small.”

We stare in silence and appreciation for a few minutes.

“Well, goodnight, beautiful woman.”

“Yes,” says my son, “See you in the morning…”

I wonder if he’ll be infected with angst this afternoon? And what will his Spiderman dance look like?


Should I Stay or Should I Go

I used to really enjoy my time on social media. I loved seeing everyone’s vacation pictures, funny memes, and dinner recipes. Sure, there was the occasional rant about how much something sucked, or the Facebook equivalent of a chain letter (For those of you too young to remember, these were actual pen-and-ink letters that you had to copy by hand and send to ten of your friends, or Hitler was going to show up at your next birthday party with near-beer and a rabid wombat and ruin everything, and you’d be left to rot in hell forever after)… But on the whole, it was my happy place. After a rough shift at work, i looked forward to seeing a video of a friend’s new grandson, or a screaming goat singing the chorus to the latest Taylor Swift song. It made me forget the stress of the day and laugh a little. It made it much easier not to kick the dog and go to bed angry….

Until last year.

While, before that, there were people who clogged up my newsfeed with conspiracy theories and mean tweets (Excluding, of course, the videos of celebrities reading mean tweets… That stuff’s hysterical!), if i wanted to stay in contact regardless, i could always hide their posts so i didn’t have to see them. But the last election turned far too many of us into partisan, uncompromising, political commentators. I had hoped it would end after the election, but it has, in many instances, gotten worse. From both the left and the right.

Now, i’m not saying people don’t have the right to be angry. And i’m not saying that people don’t have the right to post it. There is no law that says you can’t argue via the internet. And i admit, sometimes people say things, either true or false, that make me look it up and learn more about it. I consider that a good thing. I like to learn.

It’s the meanness that makes me log off.

Which brings me to tell you about my grandmothers. (I know that doesn’t make sense… Stick with me here…)

One of my grandmothers was a petite, quiet, but strong woman, born within the first decade of the 20th century. A good Irish Catholic girl (Yes, they DO exist), she strived to live like a good Christian. Like most of her generation, she had prejudices about color and lack of religion. I doubt she knew anyone who was (admittedly) gay, but she probably would have felt uncomfortable with it. She did not, however, believe in the mistreatment of anyone, regardless. No meanness. No evil thoughts. As a child, whenever i would get frustrated and shout that i HATED (Clams, tie shoes, the miscreant kid down the street…), she would gently, but sternly, say, “You must not hate. You can dislike, but you must NEVER hate. God doesn’t like hate.” And tho i certainly wasn’t a good Irish Catholic girl, i knew she spoke the truth. I knew it was wrong to hate and hurt. I knew that Love was the answer. Even if we don’t care for someone, we were to treat them as we want to be treated. And then pray for them. Never hate them. Hate was what caused people to do mean things. Hate is what caused us to mistreat others. Hate is what hurt people.

Now, my other grandmother was not like that at all. Well, that’s not entirely true. She was strong. But the other stuff? Nope. Not even close. For one thing, she was the center on her high school’s girls’ basketball team… This was right about 1940, so that should tell you a lot about the woman. She wasn’t petite, she wasn’t quiet, and her idea of religion was more about the holiness of a good lobster roll. (And if you fail to see the holiness, you’ve never had a really good lobster roll.) When my other grandmother was heading to mass on Sunday, this one was preparing to settle in and watch the Dolphins play. She could swear like a sailor, and she loved a good bet. But it never mattered who she was betting, or watching the game with, or sitting next to at the bar. Your validity as a Dolphins fan was not questioned if you happened to be from another human category. That never mattered to her. Case in point, i had the pleasure one day of sitting with my grandmother and the remaining women from her basketball team at their regular get-together for coffee. They told me about how difficult it was to find other female teams to play… They would have to travel hours to games… And how angry they would get when they would arrive, and someone would question the fact that their power forward was a black woman. To them, they were a team. Period. That was all that mattered.  And they wouldn’t tolerate mistreatment of their friend, classmate, and teammate, even if that meant refusing to play a game if she wasn’t included.

As i said, these women weren’t perfect. They each had their own social circles, and like others of their generation, didn’t cross the tracks to other neighborhoods very often. (Many generations later, this is still a widespread issue.) But neither of them ever knowingly mistreated someone because of a skin color, religion, political affiliation, whathaveyou. Maybe it was because they were both forced into single motherhood at a time when there were no allowances for that. They knew what it was like to be refused a job simply because you were female and a mother. They knew looks of disapproval for something that was outside their control and had no bearing on their worthiness.  Maybe because of that, they chose to override their socially-nurtured prejudices and try to treat all people with fairness and equity. Your worthiness for trust, to them, was based on your behavior to others and your willingness to work hard. Your worthiness as a human was determined by the fact that you were human. Clear. Simple.

Two women, over a decade apart in age, different social brackets, different religions and interests… Both coming to the conclusion that heart and tenacity are better discriminators than color and creed. This is how i was raised.

Yes, there are times i find myself jumping to conclusions about people based on an accent,  bumper sticker, or hygiene habits. At those times, i forcibly remind myself that i could be them in another circumstance, or vice versa. And i remind myself that a lot of what i am might horrify them, too. And that puts us on an even playing field. I still might make the wrong judgement in the end, but at least it’s an honest mistake and not a thoughtless one.

So as i cruise my social media tonight, as i weed thru the Trumpsters hating on the immigrants, and the Dems hating on the Right, and everyone hating on the Muslims… I will try to remember that they probably have some valid points. That they have a right to express their anger, even if others don’t agree or sympathize. That they may not know or care that all i want to find on my home page tonight is a story about bikers helping kids or a video of guinea pigs talking about pumpkin spice. That they don’t realize how bitter they sound. I will try to remember because i don’t want to get caught up in the hatred. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hatred. And God/Goddess/Universe doesn’t like it when i hate.

I know, because my grandmothers told me so.

They also taught me that, in the face of hate, sometimes all you can do is refuse to play the game.


Unbatten the Hatches

My sister has an amazing memory. I’m sure, at our age now, she occasionally mixes up her kids’ names or forgets why she walked to the basement; but she remembers things from long past that i never could. She remembers the name of every teacher she ever had, every babysitter, every celebration. Me? Not so much. There are a lot of memories that my brain has either tossed out like garbage or buried deep in some trunk, including most of the memories before i turned 8 years old, when my parents were still married, and life was “normal”.  For me, those years aren’t crisp photos in some leather covered album. They’re more like a stack of Rorschach tests that have been used to soak up spilt milk. But there are a couple that remain clear. And days like today always remind me of one in particular.

When i was 6 or so, we lived in an apartment that was on the bottom floor of 3 stories. We had a patio that was sheltered by the balconies of the apartments above us. It wasn’t big, but it was big enough for our purposes. Fold up lawn chairs, a bike, a Big Wheel, the basics of the era.  In the winter, it was a place to stash those plastic roll-up sleds and to shed the snow coated jeans and parkas (So as not to drag the wet inside the house). In the summer, the cement was spotted with popsicle stains and fluffernutter sticky spots. But my favorite thing about the patio was the rain.

I’ve never asked him why he did it, if it was planned, or if it was for his own amusement or mine. And truthfully, i couldn’t tell you if it happened only one time or 100. But the memory is as vivid as if it happened this morning. (Or more vivid, really, since, as usual,  i can barely remember this morning.)

So as i sit here on my porch listening to the thunder roll and  the rain patter, i can’t help but be brought back to that patio.

Big bad thunderstorms can be scary when you’re a kid. But i don’t remember being afraid of them. What i remember is sitting on the patio with my dad. A big bowl of popcorn (Made the RIGHT way, with lots of butter in the big stock pot on the stove). Sitting next to him, watching the storm like it was a much anticipated movie. We’d count the seconds after each electric streak across the sky, we’d jump and squeal at each resounding boom, and then we’d figure how many miles away it was. I’d sit with my dad and watch the storm with safety and comfort and a belly full of good popcorn. And i wasn’t afraid. Instead of being an explosion of God’s wrath and all those other things we kids ascribe to it, it became a beautiful and wondrous bit of nature that i learned to love and appreciate.

And when my own weedlings were young, i did the same thing with them. Our own covered porch, a bowl of popcorn, the watching and waiting and counting.  And they were never scared either

I was afraid of a lot as a weedling. Hell, i’m afraid of a lot as an adult. But i’ve never been afraid of storms. In fact, i relish them. Maybe as i grow older, i will learn to appreciate storms of other varieties,the non-weather varieties, as much as i do Mother Nature’s. Maybe, in the midst of it all, i can imagine my dad, relaxed in one of those woven-strap lawn chairs, bowl of popcorn in this lap, telling me it’s ok and reminding me to count so i’ll know when the storm starts to go away. As all storms eventually do. Yes, maybe that would be something good to add to my self-improvement “to do” list.

Raindrops, wind, thunder… The sounds of a good full-blown storm…. Therapists use it to help their patients relax, unwind, clear anxiety. It does all those things for me, too. But it also makes me smile. And think of my Dad,