musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “mayhem musings”


I’m having a weird week. I wake up every morning feeling very weepy. I want to put it down to exhaustion and possible perimenopausal stuff.  It’s odd, like a biological impulse to cry. I don’t feel sad or anything, just as if I will burst into tears over the slightest thing.

Then there was Toots’s Preschool Art Show this morning and “Muffins with Mom” event, where I received a bunch of little hand and footprints accompanied by sweet little rhymes.  I swear they’re trying to kill me with the cute. I couldn’t even read the I leave my Handprints everywhere out loud for Toots when I unwrapped it, without catching a lump in my throat and my eyes becoming inexplicable fountains.

Tonight is Mr. Cynic’s high school jazz choir – the one that was Grand Champion in the Myrtle Beach regional competition – Spring Concert.


I will need a large box of tissues.  I couldn’t even make it through my niece’s dance recitals over the years. I suppose I can just bring Captain Comic and Toots and go into parental management mode. Nah, it’ll never work. Not this week. I think I will just let the tears roll.

Happy Mother’s Day to the other weepers out there.

to elaborate

Yesterday, I posted this picture, while talking about how stymied I felt. I think I was going for a sense of reach and didn’t quite make it, the branches reaching toward the sky.

A more accurate portrayal of my state of mind would have been to zoom in and depict the tangle of branches crisscrossing, high contrast of shadow and light of winter midday sun – to show the ideas and what thoughts are transpiring regarding what to do with weaving parts of the story together better. Um, rather like that sentence. I really like the way that one little branch in the bottom right quadrant is flinging itself our way from the big branch.

I had another thought while looking at pictures I took from the dunes boardwalk in Duck, NC on my walk toward the Currituck Sound.
See how that foreground tree is kind of leaning toward that little grove of sister trees in the distance? I like her.  She’s a nerd.  She’s inquiring. she wants to overhear what they’re talking about. And that’s kind of like my brain trying to listen through the nonsense to what my manuscript is trying to tell me.  It’s just out of reach.
But I’ll get there, soon. 

weekword: christmas

Allie in Wonderland has chosen this week’s Weekword, the seasonally appropriate, Christmas. Please go to her blog to see the rest of the participants’ creative endeavors. She will post links to all on Friday.

I have to admit, it’s coming in like a fast moving train to a deer on the tracks for me this year. I’ve barely done anything for it preparationwise, shoppingwise, etc and frankly I don’t know how I will.

My parents are planning on visiting for Christmas, too.  It’s a long ride for them from Connecticut to my out of the way corner of Virginia.  We spent a handful of Christmases on the road to visit my Grandparents in Atlanta and Orlando when I was growing up – and every summer, too.  So I know they can handle the ride, but they are much older now than the 1970s and 80s when we did it together, and I worry. I don’t want them to wear themselves out.  However, they are also planning to travel to more than just us.  They are doing a timeshare tour through the South apparently. So why should I worry?  Clearly they are ready for an adventure.

Last week was Toots’s pageant for her preschool. They were too cute. While I am not the most singularly religious person around, I am rather spiritually oriented and the tale of the manger gets me every time. Toots is the littlest lamb front and center, with curls and polka dots hanging out of her costume. Please note, my washer was kaput for about a week, and the repair man came that afternoon or she would have been at least wearing pants that weren’t too short. The kids were all adorable singing their songs with hand gesture prompts from their teachers.

Tomorrow night is Mr. Cynic’s Jazz Choir Winter Concert at his high school along with the other choirs and bands. His choir also sang last Sunday at the above church, which isn’t ours. I made it to see them for their first service performance but then I was at ours teaching the youth group and singing at our ordination for the rest of the day and into the evening.  Toots’s performance was last Thursday night, so that means, right before Christmas, I haven’t made it to the two main rehearsals to learn the music my choir will be singing for the Christmas Eve service.  And that pretty much sums up the way this season has gone since Thanksgiving. Then throw in a nasty cold virus and laryngitis.

So today I am hoping the cards are ready to be picked up that I ordered yesterday, finally, eventhough we had our photo shoot on the same busy weekend described above. Then I have to figure out and shop for Christmas meals, presents for niece and nephews on my side, and great nephews on Honey’s side, address a lot of cards, figure out and bake a lot of cookies, still pull the tree and decor for the season out of the attic and well, maybe you saw yesterday’s list of lists to get the idea…

But I will bake cookies, by gum!  That’s what I do.  I will bake at least gingerbread men and sugar cookies, and I may spiral some snickerdoodles, and then Grandma will likely make her fudge and ‘annizette’. Maybe by the time my parents arrive, we will have finished rolling out the homemade lasgna and it will be in the oven baking while I sing on Christmas eve, then we’ll come home, eat and…..well, you get the idea.

Oh wait, we still have to put up the lights on the house and japanese maple, too. And I forgot to mention what this season does for Captain Comic’s anticipation anxiety…The other night I caught him in a lie and used Santa even though I know he knows now.  His response was “That darned Santa’s got me every which way I turn.”

some days are just like that

Many years ago, I used to doodle a lot – to cope, to meditate, to blow off steam, to sort my head, just ’cause.  Apparently I have started again.  I need better tools, though.

tired and travel photo

I am exhausted. I think I crashed long after our whirlwind trip.  I haven’t been able to muster musings of the trip, though it was jampacked with visits with friends and family, a foot led wander of my favorite city, Boston.
Here is an iconic tourist shot of Copley Square: Trinity Church reflected in the Hancock Tower.  I even captured a Duck Tour in it.  Toots was enthralled with the fountain and chasing pigeons as the adults who walked around with her wanted to collapse in the grass and shade, which we did, taking turns keeping her out of the fountain and off of Boylston Street.
The above photo is one I never would have been caught dead taking when I lived there.  Although, secretly, even then, I loved the juxtaposition of the old gothic revival stone church reflected in the modern blue glass and steel structure.  The difference now, is that I can’t just walk into Copley any old time I want and see the changing light of day and season.  That’s why I took the photo, because I always did love this particular aspect of Boston, the blend of the classic and modern architecture.  The Victorian flavor of remembrance of things past while looking to the future that is still very much a part of the general character of the city and its populace.  Boston is simultaneously, continuously Colonial through Current, old ships and new museums.
Since I’ve been back, I have not gone to bed at a decent hour, and not for any good reason. I have been doing heavy gardening and yardwork manual labor, which has been very satisfying, but exhausting, especially in the heat.  I have tried doing things useful and fun with the kids, but not too far reaching.  Before the trip, we had visitors, while wonderful to see, little Baby G did not sleep much during the night, and Little M was a nearly 4 year old ball of energy.  During the trip, Honey and I definitely ran ourselves down, and exhausted Toots, too, by packing too much into too little time.  We tried to not be too ambitious, but, honestly, the trip itself was darned ambitious. The day we left our friends’ place in Cambridge for Connecticut, and picking up the boys, poor Toots was wailing protest over everything, very uncharacteristic behavior for her. 
I am past wailing protest tired at this point.  Now I just want to curl up with a good book and escape the world a bit.  I am absolutely grateful to have the boys back home and am enjoying them, but after the current load of laundry finishes, and after doing quite a bit more weeding out back by the broccoli and pepper plants before it gets too hot and muggy, I may just curl up with the book I am currently reading, and disappear into its Belizean rain forest.  It’s time for the vacation from the vacation.

Expect Delays Ahead

This was a sign we thankfully only saw blinking on rare occasions as we made our way North to visit my Beloved Boston, friends and family around Massachusetts and Connecticut as well as retrieve Captain Comic and Mr. Cynic from a month with their father. 
However, my head is about as useful as a puddle of cotton candy melting in the rain, so please bear with me as I try to sort out vacation yays and respites along the way.
One beautiful respite happened at Miranda Hersey-Helin’s lovely home in MA.  In the late afternoon, kids running around everywhere as a few of the Studio Mother cohorts got together, Toots decided to make a run for it up the grassy slope back toward the house.  Sunlight hit her and the grass just right so Honey snapped a bunch of pictures.  This shot reminds me of Andrew Wyeth’s painting, Christina’s World – in a good way.  The painting is more heavily wrought with meaning than Toots’ climb up the hill is, but I like the contemplative, view from the back resemblance, the long golden grasses, the breeze and sun in her hair.
I know, I said I’d give a full report, but the way I feel after air mattress surfing with Toots between Honey and me for 5 nights running, driving hither and yon, over hill and dale, and walking Boston, etc, then rash watch, I can’t do it in one shot.  Not that we didn’t appreciate the hosting, we are just still feeling the aftereffects, because we are no longer in our twenties and able to crash on people we love’s floors with the same bounceback these days.
So welcome to vacation replay week of highlights. 
Consider it like stop and go traffic on I-95: eventually, progress will be made.
I will also spare you the slide show.
Since we have been back, I have taken Captain Comic to the pediatrician for 2 days running, with two calls in between, for a mystery rash around his mouth.  He is now on a course of prednizone taper with bactroban ointment because between the pediatrician and me, we determined he’s having a pretty strong reaction to poison sumac and poison oak from the yard at my big brother’s new house.  And Impetigo seems to have joined the party.  They see a lot less cases of sumac and p. oak down here than up north, so first pediatric inspection was a bit un, un, oh I can’t think of the word. see?  melting cotton candy brain.
It’s actually an old house Big Bro and his significant other are restoring.  There was a lot of brush clearing involved.  And there’s still more to go. As we were at a big family picnic for both families, Captain Comic found some solace hovering around the edges of the yard at times, and if he did what he did to my little potted juniper in our driveway last school year while waiting for the bus to come in the morning, then he probably plucked some sumac and poison oak leaves, then touched around his mouth.  Bingo – rash.  Then picked at it, opening a door for an opportunistic bacteria to move in.
Lovely, isn’t it?  Glad I spared you the actual visual now, aren’t you?
So, please enjoy the shot of Toots. I’ll be replaying it in my mind as I find a way to get through the rest of today which includes more laundry and an aspie on prednizone.  That medicine made me insane when I took it for an allergic reaction years ago.  I can only wonder what it’ll do to Captain Comic. 

A walk

Please pardon the cell shot.
My ankle has not entirely healed, but it’s been nine weeks since the original owie, and I’m tired of not walking, doing yardwork, gardening, etc.  It’s a torn tendon, and takes time to heal, especially since I’m no spring chicken. 
Heck, I’m old enough to say, I’m no spring chicken.
Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic have been away for nearly three weeks now, and that means, between my ankle and the boys’ absence, Lucy has not been walked.
She has started to pee the rug and chew things again, much like when we first adopted her from the SPCA, three and a half years ago.  She chewed my aircast the other day.  I took it as a sign to stop wearing it.
I’m talking about the dog, not Toots, who is in the stroller wearing the Red Sox hat.
After a few days worth of yardwork in the well over ninety degree heat and humidity of nearly one hundred percent, I say nearly, because if it were 100%, it would be raining all weekend, which it didn’t, though it should have – horrible run on phrase within phrase, but I’m getting to it, really – I decided it was about time I took the dog and the girl for a walk. 
It is summer after all.
The ankle survived.  Sort of.
We saw a goose on the lake.
We saw lifeguards bored out of their skulls tossing a football across the pool, because it was too hot for anyone to swim, and dark thunderhead cumulous clouds were gathering.
We saw M, our 16 year old neighbor who asked when Mr. Cynic will be back, because the pool is no fun without him.  She was surprised by how much Toots had grown, since she saw her as a newborn.  I was surprised by how much M has grown.  I should have asked if she’s driving yet, but was in too much shock thinking how I met her as a tiny twelve year old.
We saw flowers and a low flying jet.
And we scooped a poop and carried it home.

aw jeez

This week entails cleaning out diningroom and livingroom furniture and walls of all breakables, etc before Thursday, because that’s when we are having the ugly old carpet removed and new flooring put in. 

Exciting, I know. 

But, when the guys are done with the floor, and move the furniture back in, supposedly all in the same day, we will have a new floor. 

Then early Saturday, couisins galore are coming to visit from Connecticut.  Buckets of baby smooshiemushies and kisses will ensue. Toots is approximately a year younger than one, and a year older than the other, and I believe the youngest outweighs ma petite fleur by half.  At least.

To say he is a chubby baby is an understatement.  I love chubby babies, but I’m not certain I’ll be able to lift this one.  I think my back may go out.  But I can’t wait to see those dimpled legs in person. 

So, manuscript awaits editing read through continuation at writing group tomorrow as I pack china and crystal away for the tumult of Thursday’s reflooring. 

And, once again, you may not being seeing too much of me this week.

Thursday’s goal is to be out of the house for the duration, if I can manage it.  What should I do with Toots while the flooring guys are here?  Hint: she’s lousy at movie theaters.

To Kill A Mockingbird

I may be a little late on this, but I don’t think anytime is a bad time to celebrate my personal favorite book of all time.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

I read this book every summer from the summer I was eight years old, admittedly an early age for the material, but I was more caught up with the stories of Scout, Jem, Dill and Boo than I was with the courtroom. I read it every summer until I was twenty-four.  I know, because I remember where I was that summer, reading it, the smells around me mingling with the smells in the book.  I can smell that stifling chicken wire ham costume right now.  and the Wrigley’s Double Mint gum in the tree, and Calpurnia’s breakfast.  I have read it periodically since, and always in the summer. When I was a kid reading it, I saw Atticus as a distant yet caring father with a lot on his mind.   The main thing I got from the book, was what Atticus taught them not just by his words but by his actions.

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.

~ Atticus

You do what is right, because it is the right thing to do. 

You treat people with respect, no matter who they are, because respect is what you’ll get if you do.  And mostly, because it is the right thing to do. 

Just because you can shoot a gun better than anyone else in the county, doesn’t mean you go around showing off about it.

And you help those who can’t help themselves, because it is the right thing to do.

There’s plenty more.  The book is full of wisdom, beauty, life in a microcosm shedding light on humanity as a whole.  An excellent story on every level and there are many, and the writing is so good, straight and simple, I can cry from the opening line.

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

I know it, because I’ve read it so many times, but the whole of that tale is held in that sentence.  You feel it when you read it even for the first time.  You know immediately, something is up, and it’s big.  You just may not know how big it is til you get to it, but it is big.

I think I got my lifetime sense of needing to right the wrongs in this world from reading this book so many times and from such a young age.  I may not have really known what the courtroom stuff was about specifically, but I knew it was wrong to lie and accuse an innocent person of something that was clearly bad.  I knew it was wrong for that mob of neighbors to come to Tom Robinson’s jail cell in the cover of night. 

What I love more than anything about this book is Scout’s growth.  Narrator Scout tells of her own growth through her childhood fallibility.  She shows how hard it is and how simple it is to see wrong and make it right.  How hard it is to be wrong and have to admit it.  And how much easier the world comes to you once you accept how you’re wrong, and do what you can to change it.

I could go on.  I can talk about the kid’s adventures, Boo’s real gentleness. I can talk about  ‘a sin to kill a mockingbird’, the rabid dog, the relatives, the house burning down, the sitting with the sick old Mrs. Dubose for penance. I can talk about pies, pants caught on garden fence, and the collection tin at  Calpurnia’s church.  I can talk about  Atticus’s perceptive defense of Tom, the nervous trapped cat sense of Mayella, the snobby relatives, Walter Cunningham, fights, squabbles, making up, and the big brother saving the life of his sister with the help of a ghost of a man everyone fears. I can talk about kids and trains, and a sense of belonging we all long for and think we can find in a simpler time that was never so simple after all.

But mostly I can go read again (and suggest you may want to, too) the most simple, complex, learning tale of a girl, her father, a small town, and the need for justice.  Simple elegant justice, and how even when it seems so simple, so elegantly right, it can still go wrong, because we all, after all, are human, and still learning.

happy crabby

I had a busy and ultimately great weekend, capped by spending some really meaningful time with a group of women, most of whom, I really didn’t know.  As soon as we sat together, it became obvious, that these are people I am meant to know.

It’s been a long time since I intentionally sought out and planned a deeper level of communication.  It was truly an enriching experience, and a lot of fun getting to know these women. 

I think it is particularly important for woman to set aside time with each other in the midst of our lives, take time out for self and sharing our stories. It’s too easy to forget about this kind of taking care of ourselves in our daily this, that and everything else.

I think I’m at a particularly happy time in my life:  I am back working on the manuscript, I have plenty of evidence that I am doing a good job raising my kids, I am still healing from my big surgery in February, but there is a long term feeling of getting better overall.  I keep meeting others who have had the same surgery, and they assure me that it takes a good long time to heal and I should just keep that in mind. 

I don’t feel like I have to be in control of everything and force my way through life.  That is a big leap for me.  It brings a level of contentment where I previously had a general sense of agitation.

The crabby part is small.  I ovescheduled myself last week and weekend, and I contracted the cold the rest of my family had last week.  It’s just annoying really, but I was on such an upswing, that I feel somewhat thwarted.  I know it’s just my body telling me I need to rest. 

And as much as I love a good storm, or cloudy rainy days, the last few nights have been rather sleepless due to huge thunderstorms, and today, when I feel like the best thing for me would be to lie in the sun and read a good book, and the weather is not cooperating. It’s wet and grey.  Normally I do love this sort of day, but I really wanted a good dose of vitamin D and sunshine for my irritated throat and ears and stuffy sinuses.

And as much as I enjoyed my busy weekend, I missed my kids.  Mr. Cynic was away on retreat. I was out and about quite a bit, and only saw Captain Comic and Toots in small doses.  I kept thinking I’d rather be at the beach with all of them than what I was doing, even as I enjoyed, getting my hair cut, and meeting new friends Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

So I’m already looking forward to next weekend and the hope for fun in the sun with my family.

HHHmmm…what is scheduled? 

For starters, Friday afternoon, I have an IEP Transition meeting for Captain Comic to move into middle school in September. This is the first meeting that we are including him in the process, too.  He is already anxious about the changes to come with middle school. 

Ah, no wonder I feel crabby….but mostly it’s the cold.   ‘Sok, It shouldn’t last too long.

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