Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The past few weeks this has been the sign hanging in the window of my life.

I am Shopkeeper.

It starts early in the morning when my teenager opens my bedroom door with far too much enthusiasm and half whispers/half shouts into my room, "Mom! Good morning! Get up!" If by chance I don't actually move my body to prove I'm awake she continues in German (singing mercilessly) for greater effect: "Guten Tag! Guten Tag!" Which, of course, gets me up ten-hut so she'll stop.

The life of a working mom is anything but monotonous. Between caring for people with the stomach flu, cooking meals, cleaning for six and keeping the home looking cozy and welcoming, there are dashes to the computer to craft linguistically sensual texts, make arrangements for my clients, smile and be professional while wiping orange juice up off the floor.

There are the nights we moms stay up helping kids get their projects completed (though we wish with all our hearts for bed), juxtaposed with the nights we stay up assisting professionals get their projects completed (still wishing for bed).

And yet, there is nothing I'd cut out of my day. But there is something I'd add to it: more love.

Do they sell that at my shop? Is there a "Help Yourself" sign at the register for when I'm busy stocking the shelves?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness over the knoll. A blessed day to my Americans.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Everything touched a chord: Midwest brick, pull up windows, arab style to crown the top, Old Glory waving proud. My heart swelled for just a moment as I recalled the scent of sharpened pencils from the 3rd grade, gold stars and chalk dust. Mrs. Birsch. Mrs. Hodson. Lipstick on a coffee mug and that curly-haired blond boy at my side (how I had wished he'd like me!).

My own children leave for a school so unlike the memories I carry with me. But when I see this flag, Allison in the second row always stands up no matter where she is; in her mind she places her hand over her heart and recites the Pledge of Allegiance. She envisions the founding fathers leaning over a wooden desk with their plumed pens and buckled shoes, she hears the fife and cornet, she sings the victory song sung in post-freedom-war agony.

And then the recess bell rings.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My brother-in-law drove me far into the Flint Hills to relish in wide open spaces - the joy of this heart - but my photo opportunities had to be quick.

It usually went something like this:

We barreled down the road with me hanging my head out the window like a dog, the wind so violent against my glasses I secretly feared they would be ripped off. I would spy some old lovely thing and squeal. B-i-L would pull over and the clock would start ticking... I had mere seconds to snap before he began pulling off the shoulder and back onto the road. Some squeals would go unanswered, and I quickly learned that I was only permitted so many squeal-stops per hour.

At one point I bolstered my quota by suggesting I buy him a Coke and some chips. We pulled over surprisingly quick for that, and I was in and out of the dollar store in no time and with a food supply that would make even the Pillsbury Dough Boy proud.

This is one of my favorite shots of that trip. As I was taking it, the ground rumbled up through my feet and deep into my chest as the longest train I'd ever seen roared past just feet away from me.

I was dangerously close, it's true, but that sound, that feeling, that deep shaking I will never forget.

Sigh. ♥

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I have hurt people in my life. And people have hurt me. You have, too, and they have you; only many don't care to admit that.

I remember a day long ago, early in my mothering career, when my eldest child had broken some boundary, who knows what, and had needed a talking to. I recall her outrage, her temper - not so unlike my own outrage and tempers, actually. I had waited for her to calm down, waited until I heard the padding of little feet cross the floor to the kitchen, waited to hear what she would say or see what she would do.

Mothering was new to me, and I was discovering what it meant to be on the other side of rebuke, to be on the receiving end of an apology. I hope to never forget the way she looked at me and wrapped her arms around my neck; her perfectly vulnerable willingness to trust me was overwhelming.

What do you say to a child who is asking you to forgive her? How do you reassure her that you do? Our hands wrapped together as on a whim I led her to the trash can, throat choking with the emotion of a lifetime, unaware that at that very moment I had taken myself by the hand and was leading me to forgiveness.

"Here, I forgive you with all my heart. Now let's put the whole thing in the trash can and forget about it. Ok?"

A mirrored smile. And a phrase neither of us would ever forget.

Thank God that bin is so big.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Not Here

There's courage involved if you want
to become truth. There is a broken-

open place in a lover. Where are
those qualities of bravery and sharp

compassion in this group? What's the
use of old and frozen thought? I want

a howling hurt. This is not a treasury
where gold is stored; this is for copper.

We alchemists look for talent that
can heat up and change. Lukewarm

won't do. Halfhearted holding back,
well-enough getting by? Not here.


From Soul of Rumi
by Coleman Barks
Beware who you let park in the driveway of your heart.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Here's something I never thought would happen to me: Choice Fatigue.

Coming from a European town that boasts two small grocery stores each the size of Dillon's fruit and vegetable section, I found myself overwhelmed, no, paralyzed with the selection.

I'm not saying I didn't like the variety - but have I really been away that long? :(

Every single kind you can imagine...

A cake like one of these neon specimens costs about 125 dollars where I live. My daughters dream...

Finally some American cheese.

And of all this delicious ham can you guess which one I chose to taste? Liverwurst... just like when I was a kid. Nostalgia got the better of me but the truth is it doesn't taste as good as my fertile imagination would like it to.

More akin to ... catfood? :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Twenty-four hours of transit, two planes, a train and a truck took me to her home in Kansas; I'd hardly call that next door. And yet, there is an unmistakable familiarity in the feel of her arms around me, her squeal as I lug my bags up the steep stairway, the oval frame that hangs in the doorway, the candle that always burns.

Tell me, can you build a plane that goes faster? An iphone app that makes it possible to step through the hedge fence to her kitchen for coffee?

We sit and consider sisters who live in the same town, attend the same church, shop together at the massive, overwhelming Target Superstore ... and sigh. This one week will have to do - seven days in which to pack a year full of normal life.

I packed two extra boxes coming back, full of baking goods and bits of home, but my niece articulated what I could not:

Would you like anything from Kansas? I asked.

"Just bring Aunt Linda."

But you know, she wouldn't fit.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One more trip to see someone who my heart can't live without ... and then I'll be home for the winter.

Watch the sky!