Anne Notations

Saturday, May 30, 2009

To be idle; to be blessed

Summer arrived today – not by the calendar, but in the warmth (at last) of the softened air, the triumphant appearance of the sun and puffy white clouds over the bay, the swollen buds of our roses and a striking black-maroon iris I must have planted last fall. The new pink peony will open tomorrow: I'd bet my life on it. (The poet Mary Oliver – see the last paragraph, below – has this to say about budding peonies: "This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready / to break my heart / as the sun rises, / as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers")

Felicia's clematis by the telephone pole between our driveways burst into deep magenta blossom. She says this is the most lush it's ever been.

During the week I oddly don't miss Michael. But when he arrived home last night at around 9 pm, I nearly velcroed myself to him. We watched an older episode of "Bones" with Melinda in the living room, and I was nearly in Michael's lap the whole time. It was thrilling to have his physical presence in the house. We've been together so many years, and yet I still get that tingle when I see his face after an absence.

Late this afternoon, after taking Daisy for a long walk, I sat in the breezy back yard and just was. I luxuriated in that soft breeze, in the smell of a shrub lilac in an adjacent yard and the blossoms on the honey locust tree next to our house. Daisy lay in the sunny grass, relaxing as only a dog can. "I should have brought my novel out here," I thought. (I'm reading an English epistolary cream puff called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.) Instead, I just soaked in the moment.

A few years ago I went through a phase of reading volumes of poetry by Mary Oliver. Here is one that suits my summer frame of mind.

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Home stretch

Yes, I'm alive. It's the busiest week of my work year, with commencement this weekend and the accompanying publications mash-up as well as my Web news site to update.

Michael's new digs, a.k.a. the Old Folks' Home. (It's a 55-and-over apartment complex!)

So much has been happening. Michael started his new job in Connecticut yesterday. He moved into his pied-à-terre in Bristol, CT, on Saturday in time to let the cable guy in.

Curious bit of outdoor "decor" at the Old Folks' Home.

This is the weirdest chapter in our 34-year marriage, living apart all week. We're both trying to keep it in perspective: a great opportunity for him, a good second income for us, affordable dental and vision insurance. Still... I miss him. I miss bumping up against his broad back in the middle of the night. I miss him shouting out the answers to questions on Jeopardy! every night at 7:30. I miss him fussing with the invasive Japanese knotweed across the road. More selfishly, I miss the dishes always being done and put away.

Melinda landed a fantastic summer job, full-time, with a Providence law firm. We commute in and home together every day.

Kevin and Livia, May 15, 2009.

Kevin has a few more weeks of school, which I hope we both survive with no drama. He went to his junior prom with a sweet, lovely girl in his class last Friday night; as always, I enjoyed joining a horde of parents at another girl's house for photos before the kids piled into a stretch limo bound for the dance.

I'm in the midst of a month of medical tune-ups: annual physical, annual gyn checkup, three-month shrink visit, annual mammogram, five-year colonoscopy, diagnostic abdominal ultrasound and soon a uterine biopsy, my second in as many years. My blood sugar is drifting on the high side and I need to lose 35 pounds. My psych meds were tweaked a bit and all is copasetic with my depression and my highway driving.

Warm weather is finally heading our way later this week. I planted a few vegetables, including the awesomely sweet "Sun Sugar" orange cherry tomatoes we grew last year. I put in some new perennials, having made a quick trip out to Four Town Farm on my lunch hour today. (That place feels like home: farmland, plants, and sprawling horse farms.)

Bottom line: Things could be a lot worse! When was the last time I could say that?

Meanwhile: to bed I go. Soon Daisy and I will be snoring a duet. This weekend Michael will join us for a buzzing nocturnal trio.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thank God for motherhood

Like some avatar of the Baby Boom generation, I became a mother via more than one route. I am a stepmother who helped raised her stepchildren, an older adoptive mother of children from another country and of a different race than I, a surprise biological mother at age 40, and now a (step-)grandmother.

Basically, I have been parenting children since I was 22 years old. Yes, for 35 years.

Someone close to me when I was growing up said that I was probably too selfish to be a good mother. (ouch) I believe, or at least, hope, that hasn't been the case. Thirty-five years is a long stint, and I'm not done yet! Parenthood is hard, hard work at times. It means not only financial and lifestyle sacrifices, but also less tangible ones for some of us: After we adopted, and then I got pregnant, I felt my ability to research and write long feature articles – a talent I had built my career on and won awards for – seeping out of my brain. I needed to divert a lot of my creativity to figuring out fulltime parenting with such a diverse brood, with some specific special needs, at such a late maternal age.

Je ne regrette rien. I love our kids and granddaughter more than life, and they delight me and nourish me without even trying. Their presence in my life still feels miraculous, as if I won a cosmic lottery. The blossoming of their unique personalities and potentials is an ongoing saga that absorbs me.

Dire family crises? Check. Learning disabilities and ADD? Check. A worrisome chronic medical condition? Check. Disappointments and that dreaded call from police about underage drinking? Check.

Big deal. My kids, wherever they originated and however they came to me, are priceless. Thank God I am privileged to be their mother.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Into each life

Rain, rain, rain. April showers got nothing on May's hereabouts.

This week's forecast. A bit tedious, isn't it:

Not even the damp chill and some low clouds could keep Daisy and me indoors yesterday. On a gray Sunday, color and amusement awaited us in the neighborhood.

First and foremost, there is green. Lots of green. Green upon green. I call this photo "The Thin Green Line."

Look down, underneath the maple tree: It's a Jackson Pollock homage in chartreuse micro tree flowers and various shades of rock.

A cherry tree between Iggy's restaurant and the beach is festooned with puffs of cotton candy.

OK, I know they're weeds, but... but... dandelions are SO CHEERFUL! As long as they're beside the walking path and not in the front yard....

Politically correct spray paint on Oakland Beach Ave. near the JONAH Center.

Sweet spring sight: A men's softball game on the ball field. Is it too soon for a picnic?

There will be lilacs! Even in the woods.

Later, just before it set, the sun filtered through clouds to light up the greenery opposite our house and a sailboat across Greenwich Bay.

Waiting on the front porch for his nightly ear-scratching and purring session: the local gentleman cat, Tux. I think ours is what you'd call a symbiotic relationship. He gets lovely stroking in all the right spots; I get that special calm that a gentle animal imparts.

You all know I love it when you click on my photos to enlarge them.