musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the month “November, 2011”

because I don’t have enough mayhem

….I am starting a part time administrative assistant position at a retail furniture store,


during the holiday season.


Please wish me a lot of luck that everything will flow smoothly. Particularly considering all the craziness my family already has going on.


Here’s the neat little kicker:


My grandfather was a cabinet maker for the same company in the 1930s, when my father was born.




The best man is like water. Water is good it benefits all things and does not compete with them. It dwells in lowly places that all disdain. This is why it is so near to Tao. ~Lao Tzu

By the Water

I will always live by water
It is more than a drink
A bath
A pool to swim in

Water sustains me
Reminds me
Its ebb and flow
Cove’s stillness
Ocean storm violence
Have been here much longer than I
Longer than any of us

The amoeba the shark
Even the desert scorpion
Would not be
Without a drop

But that’s too deep
Too unfathomable
Will drive me to distraction

I walk by shorelines
Lake River Bay Sound Ocean
I am alive
I am grateful for the peace
I find in the murmur
By the water

sandy bottom

On Thanksgiving, we had guests and we ate a lot. On Friday, we couldn’t move, and half of those guests returned and we ate some more. On Saturday after two days of sitting around eating and bloating, we said, enough!  Plus it was a gorgeous day and unlikely to be too many more of these for some time.

Sandy Bottom is a nice little nature park tucked into the middle of Hampton, VA’s urban sprawl.  We love to go hike the trails, especially around the lake. Although the sound of traffic is loud enough to drown out conversation on one side of the lake.

Toots had something very important to tell her daddy on the fishing pier.

Someone is about to outgrow someone else. He is carrying his trusty Batman compendium of the old 60s television series.

There is a harmony in autumn, and a lustre in its sky.
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Two teens not quite growing like the trees.

My loves. Until moments before this shot, guess who had the bag of drinks  and stuff, camera and curious dog on a leash? Hint: I am not in the picture.

Toots wanted high piggie tails today. They are bouncing.

The rest and view deck on the opposite side of the lake from the fishing pier. There were ducks.

Someone started to get tired. She didn’t nap since Wednesday.

I love this guy. He is always seeking to learn. Just not always at school or while doing homework.

Love this girl. She is tracing her fingers in the sand.

I love this guy, too. He does not love having his picture taken.

Dog greeting committee: Their black one’s name was Lucy, too, just like ours!

A little artsy at the end of the day. I loved the long shadows.

odds and ends

1. Lots of landscaping this weekend and the plants purchased eons ago are now in the ground. Honey levelled and installed a lovely patio area by the front porch.

1.5. Lots of singing this weekend, too. (I thought of this when I was giving the list a once over)

2. Porch is a loose term. We live on a coastal plain, so have a slab foundation. No steps lead up to our door. We have no basement. Our two-car garage is wrongly named. Our cars are parked in the driveway.  The garage is full of what should be in the basement.

3. The boys had their wellness checkups yesterday. We are starting Captain Comic on Omega-3 fish oil and B-complex vitamins to help his anxiety.

4. We’re starting Mr. Cynic on protein shakes. He fell off the growth chart. How does a 16 year old male fall off the growth chart? I swear he’s not anorexic. Not even close.

5. Captain Comic officially out-weighs him.

6. I have writing group today.

7. Toots is going to shuffle from Grandma and the Y to her great-aunt’s house for childcare because Grandma and I had conflicting appointments.

8. Mr. Cynic is home sick from school today. He has a bad cold. He hasn’t missed school in well over a year. This is a marked improvement from his elementary days as Mr. Strep.

9. It’s raining.

10. In the driveway sits a wheel barrow loaded with dirt and a flat tire. Now it will be loaded with dirt and rain water.

11. We are hosting Thanksgiving for the in-laws.

12. Honey and I stayed up way too late last night for no discernibly good reason.

13. More coffee, please. I have writing group, and a house to clean. And a sweet potato souffle to cook.

14. And Mr. Cynic has snickerdoodles to cook for a class ‘spontaneous gathering of cultures’ – they can’t have parties at school these days.

15. My bed is calling.

16. So is my shower.

17. Have a great Thanksgiving if I don’t make it back here. I hope you spend it with people you love. If not, love the ones you’re with – CSNY was onto something. Or work a soup kitchen.





hoary frost


In the cloud gray mornings 
I heard the herons Flying 
And when I came into my garden, 
My silken outer-garment 
Trailed over withered leaves. 
A dried leaf crumbles at a touch, 
But I have seen many Autumns 
With herons blowing like smoke 
Across the sky. 

Amy Lowell 


For those of you who know me, even a bit, you know my prior couple of days contained more mayhem than usual. More is to come. Changes on the horizon.

Hoary Frost

For now it is morning.
The frost sugars the grass and leaves.
Winter birds call to each other
and my little girl sings,
entertains herself with nonsense
that makes perfect sense to her.
Videogames punch and groan in the next room,
and a crayon scratches across paper,
across a plastic table’s roughed surface.

It is a November morning
like any November Saturday
that has ever come.
A little late and bright,
but early stillness reigns.
My warm coffee to my mouth,
traffic rolling by the big road
beyond the barer trees,
and my house reluctant
to remove the covers of sleep.

november rain

This is not a Guns & Roses song.

After five and a half years in southeastern Virginia, I have an enduring habit of comparing the seasonal weather changes to my lifetime of living and studying New England’s degrees of daily weather changes.

Some are monumental, a sudden ice storm overnight after a day when it was in the sixties. Some are so minute, it is the scent of an electro-magnetic charge in the atmosphere.

Yesterday, here in Virginia, a humid temperature hovered at eighty degrees. The leaves were more on the ground than trees from the prior days’ breezes.

This morning there is wet iron in the air. It finally feels like November to this old New Englander at heart.

Even the wisteria on the swing set is in mourning for the sun.

mind of a 3 year old

Toots: Grandma, why did you thwow my dvd in the garbage?

Grandma: I didn’t throw your dvd in the garbage.

Mom: I did. Remember?  It is all scratched and doesn’t work. And we can watch Busytown Mysteries on Netflix.

Toots: But I wannoo keep it.

(hugs the disc tightly in her little arms to her chest, as if she is in love with it)

Mom: But it’s broken. It’s not useful anymore.

Toots: I can fix it.  I can make it yewsfuw. Wiff paint.

Mom: You’re going to paint the dvd?

Toots: Yep, wike Super[Toots]. SUPER[TOOTS] – TO DA WESCUUUUUUE!


of dance and bushwack

Mr. Cynic had a very busy weekend. It included District Chorus volunteering on Friday, District Chorus Audition on Saturday and Saturday night, his junior year formal, The Ring Dance.

We didn’t have a ring dance when I grew up. The fall or winter dance my junior year was called LaSallette and was a girl asks  guy dance. I asked a friend. I dated a lot in high school, but that was one time I wasn’t. I knew the guy from taking cotillion classes during junior high, and he had just transferred to the public school after going to private school most of his life, I think. He was cute, and the kind of guy everyone likes. I asked him at the first opportunity. We remained friends after, and that was fine by both of us, I think. Although, he is one of the three guys my mother still sees around and occasionally will call and say, “You’ll never guess who I saw at [insert grocery, etc location here]! You should have married him.” She’s funny like that.

He was a good guy. We’re friends on facebook now. He has a beautiful family, and hey, so do I. Funny how this crazy old world works, huh? I don’t think the thought of marriage ever crossed our sixteen year old minds.

But this post isn’t about me. 🙂

When your kid goes to a formal, trips down Memory Lane are inevitable.

I actually got Mr. Cynic to smile, and show his teeth by acting like a lovey-dovey mom goofball. Not that I am or anything.

Stop laughing.

I can still hear you.

Mr. Cynic and one of the first people he met when we moved down here decided to split a ticket. There may have been a little mom-prompting behind their decision, but they probably would have anyway. They’ve been good friends for a long time now.

She took her shoes off for the pictures. And scrunched a little, too. She is taller than a lot of guys in their class, and Mr. Cynic is my little pipsqueak, cursed with a double dose of short genes. She has such a great smile and attitude. I promise you’ll see big things from her later in life. I’m not kidding.
A bunch of parents were a bit camera crazy when the gang got together at the girl in green’s house. All of the girls glowed and all the guys were slightly awkward, but had fun. We all had an oops moment re: the boutonnieres and corsages. Sequin dress was the only one who got one for her boyfriend, one of my son’s best buddies. The girls were all like, “Oh we don’t care about that anyway.”

See? awkward but fun in their pinstripes:

I had a busy weekend, too, the main focus of which was to yank out a bunch of overcrowded cat-pee smelling boxwoods to finally make room for the new smaller flowering bushes I bought a while back. We didn’t  get everything out of the ground, and there is a bit of compromising going on, so I’m not entirely sure how the new ones are going to fit at this point. We’re planning a small patio area by the front door to put in a decorative bench or swing. Not entirely certain how it will all come together just yet, but we’re getting there.

I couldn’t have done it without Honey. Toots ‘helped’ by digging holes all over the lawn with a trowel and staying out of traffic rather than taking her nap.

This morning, the light on the little crepe myrtle I planted when we moved in was gorgeous. It looked very coppery. I need a better camera to really do it justice. Didn’t quite catch that flickering in the sun look about it.
I hope your weekend was packed with fun and productivity like mine, or super relaxing. Whatever floats your boat. Maybe you were floating in a boat.
I do hope it showed you just how grand life is, regardless.  That’s what weekends are for, right?
Update: Mr. Cynic made District Chorus and was ranked 2nd place tenor. He took top honor for his school’s tenors, too. I couldn’t be prouder. 


I have been working on my middle reader novel manuscript for a very long time. I am really ready to be done with it and send it out the old school channels in the publishing world.

However, it is not quite done with me.

I do struggle to have uninterrupted chunks of time to work on it. If I try to work on it in my house while all the kids are in their various schools, I always seem to find something else to do, like clean the pet fur that collects at the baseboards, rather than focus on the edits. Or I get yet another email or phone call from Captain Comic’s school about a latest fiasco, social or academic.

Or I just take a bit of a wandering mental break because I try to hold so much together in my head during the usual mayhem. When there is quiet, for even an hour, it feels like a luxury I need to indulge however brief it might be. Because quiet and alone are precious and rare. It’s like I just flew to the Bahamas in my mind. Except not. Usually I end up making lists of all the need to dos. But I wouldn’t have even made the lists if I didn’t have some time to myself.

So, for the summer, I made an excellent habit of going to the library to edit this big Draft Three. The boys were visiting their father out of state and Grandma would take Toots to the playroom where she works out. I would pack up this old laptop, and my New Orleans tourist bag full of critiqued manuscripts and leave the house. Then the boys came home, etc. and then school started, etc., and the mayhem resumed its usual pace. The critiqued manuscript bag gathered dust between sessions.

My writing group that usually meets twice a month on Tuesdays, like clockwork, also seems to have hit some glitches that are completely understandable, but I miss our regular sessions. We were supposed to meet up in Williamsburg yesterday, but that fell through, something came up for the host. Another has some serious stuff happening in her life, so that left two of us. My partner and I agreed to meet at my usual library space and dig back in.

Neither of us walked into the library in the headspace for writing, we both had a lot on our minds, but once we sat down and got to it, we were both pleasantly surprised by what came out of the session. She packed it in at 12:30, but I wanted to get to the end of the scene, and I finished an hour later.

I am nearly done. I have written the final catalyst scene for the 50th or so rewrite -the hardest scene for me to face because I hate having to hurt my main character, who has not grown up, but come of age over and over again throughout the lives of my two real life sons.

I truly am almost there. Even if I’ve said it a thousand times before, this time it’s for real.


small pleasures

Every preschool morning (three days a week), Toots and I drive by the horses, her big brothers’ schools, the road to where she will go to kindergarten and our favorite trees. She names the schools in order and who goes or will go to each. She looks for our favorite trees and if the horses are wearing their waincoats. She loves when the horses wear their raincoats, I love the morning light through the trees on the horses and hay while they have breakfast.

We take the smaller windy road rather than the bigger one that will get us there faster, but doesn’t have the same views, though they basically run right alongside each other.

There is a turn onto a side street instead of ramping back onto the main road sooner, and we take that, too. That is where our favorite trees are. Hers is at the beginning. It’s a really big tree over an old square farmhouse whose wraparound porch is covered in old toys I’ve never seen kids playing with outside. This big old rambling, paint crumbling house is incongruously set amongst 50s-60s style one floor brick ranches. It’s like a stalwart old aunt who refuses to pass on. A Mrs. Haversham house. I love the house. I fantasize about buying it someday, though it is a major fixer upper wedged into a pretty crazy 5way intersection.

But the big old tree over it is glorious, and that is Toots’s tree. This morning she remarked excitedly about how it has every color in it wight now. She is having a 3 year old’s love affair with that tree, no question. I think it is a big beech tree, like the yellow one at the corner of our back yard in the header above.

My favorite tree is a little farther along the windy little road. It sits at the edge of the road in front of a white clapboard Korean Baptist Church. It is an odd placement for an odd little church. I kind of want to check it out sometime, listen to the attempt at saving of my soul in Korean.

My tree is a sugar maple. Last year at this time, it was a radiant halo of yellow all around with a slight coppery burnish at the outermost leaves. This year, I seriously considered taking photos of it daily to post here, then decided I would just enjoy and appreciate its daily changes with Toots. This year, its coloration has been moving from a very Irish green to a deep orange around two thirds of it, but when I approach it from the opposite side after dropping her off at preschool, hints of that amazing glowing yellow of last year are emerging, turning that midtone green into a springy light-infused greenish yellow. The deep orange is its main color, though.  And that orange has its own kind of radiance in the morning sun.

Toots and I are fascinated by these trees. Between hers and mine,  as the road winds a smidge from one direction to the other around bends revealing reds and oranges and yellows and deep purples, she asks in sweet anticipation if we are going to see my favorite tree next.  And in between, during the asking and not yets, we oo and ah over the variances of all trees as they merge into view.

We are amazed every day by the same old route to preschool, and everything we encounter along the way, comfortingly familiar, yet constantly changing.



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