Friday, August 30, 2013

Good News

This morning we ate croissants before school to celebrate that it's Friday -- the first full week down!

They (we) did it!  And so far, so good...

After we dropped the kids off, Ben took me, red-eyed and sunglasses-ed, to coffee, where we realized that, to add to the list of changes, Maeve needs a new car seat...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hot Diggity Dog

Over the last couple of years, I've read all sorts of recipes for hotdogs -- chili cheese dogs with maple bacon and gouda, hotdogs piled with roasted veggies, feta, hummus and dill, dogs with soba noodles and siracha, dogs doused in all sorts of sauces.  In Costa Mesa, LA's Pink's set up a stall at the fair and Dogzilla made regular appearances at the Wednesday farmer's market.

Last weekend, we finally tried our hand.  Friends brought dogs and buns and we made toppings. Most of the recipes below are at least loosely adapted from Sunset magazine.  

This was our menu {plus the Meditrranean Dog: hummus, olives, feta, cucumbers}

The Surfer Dog + carmelized onions

Gripping as We Go

I've been digging in my heels this August as school's pushed closer.  My resistance has really been about Eden's leaving for kindergarten (which, unhelpfully, is coinciding with weaning Maeve).  It feels like a loss all around: the loss of two hours alone with her before Silas comes home, the loss of 50% of her day being imagination and play,  the loss of a 15 minute drive together to and from school.  It's the loss of "pre" -- pre-school, pre-homework, pre-buying lunch food I've never seen in a far away lunchroom, pre-big kids all around.  It's the loss of sibling-summer-magic.  There's some good wholeness that happens when kids are thrown together day after day.  Even when they shake and tumble through it, they're together rather than on opposite sides of a wall.  Silas and Eden, who've always liked each other, have changed this summer to be more affectionate, sillier, fond of each other: they're good friends.  Starting a week from tomorrow, for almost 7 hours of the day, they'll be on different sides of a wall. 

I know this is rhythm.
I know millions of kids are starting school this month. 
I know all of this is normal. 
But I don't care.

Right now, after leaving Peter's apartment, change does not feel good.  I do not like time's insistence.  Constant movement feels unnatural, and some of it is.  

But here we are, on a planet with time and seasons.  
Here we are, in motion.
There is no protest (that's useful). 
There is no standing still.
There is only the choice of how we'll move.

Walking today, I noticed that the trees are already starting to change and drop little hints of what's to come, as if they're saying let's all hold hands and jump together because we're ready, and we're going.

They are ready, putting on their reds without resistance.  

As I picked up their little leaves, I felt for the first time this summer, that fall might be possible, that I might be able to bear Silas and Eden's going (will I write this same thing in fifteen years when they head back to college??), that they might be able to separate and stay connected, that going back to school might be ok, that it could possibly even be good.  

People have planted mums already.  Soon the maples will tip toward fire with shocking beauty, and the ground will be littered with little promises that movement is the way of life, the way to new life.

Regardless of my wanting to close my eyes or spin the earth backwards like Superman did, the air will start smelling colder, the trees will pelt the ground with acorns, Eden will fight me hard when she doesn't have her way, Maeve will begin to walk, and the trees will blacken and stand bare.

I kept an orange heart-shaped leaf from my walk and am carrying it with me as I think about Peter and about change, about how God sticks close to us and leads us through this wild windy land, about how hard we can grip His hand, about how even when we do a shitty job along the way -- flail and scream and hate the road -- he doesn't stand any farther from us because his nearness isn't dependent on how we do; it's dependent on how He loves.  (I will remind myself of that again and again).

So here, where the leaves are mostly green and the air still thick with summer, I will resolve to grip and put on my reds, too.

Revisiting Peter

This morning I went to Peter's apartment for the first time in weeks.

When I walked in the man at the front desk stopped me.
I'm going to 903 (a month and a half ago, the week after Peter died, he looked at me knowingly and nodded me on without my having to say anything).
Do they know you are coming?  Already picking up the phone, I will call up to make sure they know you are here.
Oh-- no, no one's there.  My uncle lived there.  He died.  A little while ago.  I'm just going up.
He stared at me long and hard as if trying to know something more from the words I said, until I walked out from under his sight.

Loosing the fact into the air felt sickening.

Some days it doesn't; it feels like fact.  But this morning, the words webbed into the air, I feel vulnerable to the bone: he lived and now he doesn't: a weight pressed hard to my chest.

Our culture is a strange one in how far we stand from death.  Even when a person dies we have no rituals of touch, of how to say goodbye.  Both times I have stood with people after they've died, I could not stop touching them -- cold hands, fingers, arms, face, head -- the last time I would touch their skin, those hands I've known.  How to ever stop, to allow the last contact and walk away?

He lived and then he didn't.

We can't stop it, the fact that those we love will cease to be with us.  We don't lie in wait for the next beloved to die -- we can't -- but we know it's out there, the ambush when once again we'll be seized to the point of breathlessness.

The waves will come.

Today is cloudy and wet.  It's in the 70's but the air is thick and damp.  I feel myself getting sucked into it, waterlogged.

I am sitting in the car outside Peter's apartment building where I've brought down a bowl of cherry tomatoes I picked from his still-living vine, rich red in the bowl.  My front seat is piled with suggestions of him I've carried here: a palm-sized white plate, a wooden spoon his hand held, a can of coconut milk he bought with some plan in mind, a mixing bowl, a book about prayer and one about writing.

I want to sit here, to sink farther into the seat, to become the seat for a little while as the humidity gathers on the windows.

So I am forcing myself out of the car, out into the muggy world -- where leaves are thick on trees and people are breathing -- to walk in it.

Thursday, August 01, 2013


It is a boring answer to 'how are you?', an insulting comment on how you look; a sometimes welcome explanation for why you feel angry/impatient/insecure; a given when the flu hits; a part of life when you love and travel across the country; a gift when you can sink into bed (and have uninterrupted sleep).

Tiredness is one of my least favorite feelings.
It, obviously, comes with the territory these days -- and years.  Today, this week, this summer, I am tired.  I feel it under my eyes.  I feel it at my edges, a rawness starting to creep toward center.  I feel like a drain is open, and I can't quite fill up.

Each night when I hit my wall, I almost go to bed.  But the evening is bright, sun still throws light across the grass -- it's summer.  So instead I open a book, I look at pictures, I talk with Ben, I sit at my computer, I watch a show (Newsroom is back!), I do something until the second wind hits.  These days that second wind is gusty, and I don't come down easily, and so I'm cycling: late night, Maeve at 5AM, late night, Maeve at 5AM.  Burning the candle at both ends, they say, or what it feels like is just melting in the middle.

I have alternated between alarm and sadness that we're flipping through summer days so quickly, that already, August, the month of school, is here.  I keep holding the kids' faces in my hands and staring at them; they seem to be changing in front of me.  Silas reminds me of my brother Eli; he looks different.  As I wrestle a brush through Eden's hair -- an inexplicable nest every morning and afternoon -- I notice her head against my ribs and her little bare feet on the floor as she waits for my help.  She will be going to kindergarten in a month, and my ache is deep.

This last month of summer, I've left the days wide open: no camps, no classes, just us.  We will swim and walk to the library and drive each other a little crazy.  I need to feel a little crazy-driven to be able to hold hands and walk those little bodies back out to the school bus, to let them climb up the steps and disappear for the day.

These days I want to feel energetic and unhurried with a plan up my sleeve.  Instead, I feel deficient and in need -- of help, iced tea, walks, quiet, sleep...

Need, I suppose, is a force that can change us.  Maybe God will use this to ready me for school, or to make me grateful.  Today, I am trying to find what to be thankful for in this sluggishness: right now, as I'm trying to type on my bed, Silas is lying full-weight across my back, Eden is tapping each of my toes singing "eeny meeny miney moe," and Maeve is yelling for me from her crib -- this, I know, is one thing.